open thread – January 29-30, 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.

{ 1,073 comments… read them below }

  1. WonderMint*

    I applied to a startup-ish (~20people, 3 years) for a position I am qualified for, encouraged by a personal contact who is a C-suite executive at the company. I have been following the company since its inception since I believe in my contact, so I feel I know the product pretty well. I made it to the third round where I was assigned the (dreaded) interview assignment. There are ways to do these right, as Alison has wrote about, but here everything went wrong. I, blinded by being personally recommended and also sitting on my thumbs most day with the pandemic, took the bait.

    Here’s what went wrong:
    -I only got to speak to one person in the company, also a C-suite, before the assignment
    -The assignment was redoing a crucial component of the company’s product (it was not hypothetical)
    -It was lengthy!! It took me 12 hours from start to polish. Assigned on Friday, due on Monday. Impossible if I had any dependents
    -It was unpaid
    -It was to be submitted, not presented (big difference between having work and seeing work)

    When I received the rejection I asked for feedback on my interview/assignment, framing feedback as compensation for the work I put in. No response. I heard from my contact no finalists were hired. My contact feels awful about the whole thing.

    1. bunniferous*

      Sounds like you dodged a bullet….and that they got unpaid work out of you and presumably the other applicants. The fact they didn’t hire anyone sounds pretty hinky to me.

      1. Cj*

        Since they didn’t hire any of the finalists, it looks like the did the whole thing to get 12 hours free work out of 3 – 5 people.

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

          Sounds like an underhand way to generate 3-5 proposed solutions for an actual problem they have with that component and haven’t been able to solve…

    2. Gone Girl*

      I’ve had my share of these assignments, but it never makes it any easier; I’m really sorry. For what it’s worth, I really loved your strategy of positioning the feedback as a type of compensation (as much as they really should have paid you for doing the spec work on *their* product(!!!))

      Take-home assignments should just disappear from the hiring process in general; like you said, they put other people who may have dependents, 2nd jobs, etc. at a disadvantage and don’t necessarily do a good job of assessing a candidate’s skills in context of the job itself.

      This only decent one I’ve ever done was where I was asked to do a 30min sketch, and then had a 45min-1hr discussion with the team about my ideas and other possible solutions.

      1. WonderMint*

        I’m pretty upset that this person wouldn’t provide feedback. I give you hours of work and you can’t return an email?

        Couldn’t agree with you more – And normally I’m not a big complainer, but I want to shed light on this topic because take-homes should either go the way of the Dodo or be scrutinized until all parties are treated fairly.

        1. Gone Girl*

          100%. And I wouldn’t consider it complaining at all; it’s definitely a conversation worth having. If we’re in similar industries like I think we might be, it’s especially pertinent given the usual portfolio requirement on top of everything else.

          1. WonderMint*

            I think we are in similar, if not the same, industry! And yes, I do have a portfolio which adds to the frustration. How much work needs to be shown to make a decision by these hiring managers?

            I also have suspicions whether this hiring manager even looked at my portfolio since the second interview was a ‘portfolio walkthrough’ which I interpreted as a deep-dive of one of my projects, because SURELY this guy didn’t want me to hold his hand and guide him through my website? The whole thing was weird, I tell ya.

            1. Gone Girl*

              Everyone would say they have their own way of assessing candidates, but yeah, I’m definitely of the mindset that we’d all benefit from more thoughtful portfolio-based questions (and if the concern is that we didn’t do the work in the first place: ask the right questions and find out; it’ll be pretty easy to spot if someone is just BSing and doesn’t know what they’re talking about).

              Additionally, reeeeaaaally frustrating when the HM doesn’t do their homework (and recruiters for that matter too). I’m seconding everyone else and saying you probably dodged a bullet. A lot of times, your gut is usually right.

        2. Tired of Covid-and People*

          Call your local department of labor and file a complaint. You did unpaid work and deserve to be compensated.

      2. Anax*

        Similarly, I had one I loved where the interviewer told me what our practical exercise during the in-person interview would be, and let me prepare ahead of time before we did pair programming and discussed together in person. I was still doing practical coding work at home outside an interview, and I think I did spend a couple hours on it, but the upshot was that I was able to show how I think without being so nervous at being put on the spot, rather than feeling taken advantage of.

    3. Anononon*

      I’m not sure how close you are to your contact, but it’s really weird that a c-suite exec in a 20-person company doesn’t have any additional information to offer you. That sounds really sketchy, like they know that shady stuff is happening, but they can’t tell you.

      1. WonderMint*

        Good point. I think the WFH situation has further separated department communication , but next time I see my contact in person (whenever that may be) I’ll probe. Someone mentioned bullet dodged above, and I’m taking some solace in that!

    4. Lalla*

      I am sorry this was such a bad experience! It really seems like you dodged a bullet there…
      I am living this now from the other side. We decided to give an assignment as the second step of the process together with a technical interview, so at least we will review it with the candidates at that point.
      However…. My boss insisted I removed my instructions to “keep it to 2-3 hours” and to only write in depth code for an initial analysis, and mostly an explanation for the remaining steps. He said that if we leave it open to their own interpretation we can see “how motivated they are”. I felt shivers down my spine…
      But then I thought “Heck, we are showing them exactly as we are….expecting people to work at all hours” which is the reason why I’m about to jump ship as well. And to think think I was assured by everyone that things were not crazy in this startup before I started… At least these candidates have all the variables to make the decision.

      1. WonderMint*

        I’m glad you have your wits about this scenario. I wonder if your boss would change his tune if he considered that this approach would turn away some promising candidates.

        At my current company, we offer flat fees for the interview assignment – that way a candidate can determine how much time they want to spend on it. We’ve gotten some really good projects out of this, and even a moonlighting contract role with someone who didn’t get the full time position, but still showed promising work.

        1. Lalla*

          Ah! No way in hell! I tried to politely explain that good candidates would be turned off from worse things before (like the idea that remote people would need to work through a platform that stores a screenshot of their screen every 10 minutes) but he really doesn’t care…actually I think in his mind good candidate = accepts my micromanaging & has no life.
          I also think he is trying to push me out sooner than I want to… We are planning to go back to our country in the summer, so I won’t look for another job before then, I just have to smile at their attacks for about 5 months…
          The idea of a flat rate is good, thanks for the suggestion! My boss mentioned we would pay candidates that put a lot of work and weren’t selected, but I felt he meant that would happen only if they complained…

          1. WonderMint*

            Oh, man. Best of luck to you!! Talking about this boss sounds like a discussion best had over drinks :)

            1. Lalla*

              Indeed! It’s apéro hour here, I think I might videocall my sisters and have a venting session!
              Thanks for your wishes! Good luck to you too if you’re continuing your job search! :)

      2. Reba*

        Oh dear. I know that my spouse once dropped out of an interview process when he realized their take-home coding assignment was wayyyy too long and involved. And another former coworker of his did the same at the same company :(

        What you wanted to put in the instructions is much more humane, and I think “white board” style exercises are great in general because you can get a sense of how people reason as well as what they know… and it only takes 45 min or and hour.

        1. WonderMint*

          I’m all about white boarding assignments! Like I said, big difference between submit your work so we have it, and show your work so we can talk about it.

    5. Forkeater*

      I really feel like if a company requires a work assignment they should provide feedback to those candidates. I’ve only had two such assignments so far (and am at work on a third). First one was followed by a nice discussion with the company, second I heard nothing but crickets till the form rejection months later. I wonder what this third one will be. It’s so time consuming for the applicant.

      1. Nicotene*

        It’s so sad that companies have completely misapplied the suggestion to have an assignment as part of the interview process. In my opinion, the assignment should never take longer than an hour, total. There should not be any suggestion that doing it for longer will boost your chances (my last assignment say “2-3 hours” but then they gave us 48 hours to do it, and I started feeling like with that much time I should do more – this was partly on me but partly on their vague phrasing, and the task being extremely broad). Companies are going completely overboard on this, and there’s no way to push back on them as an applicant because of the power dynamics.

    6. Hmmm*

      Everyone is saying that you dodged a bullet, but from my perspective, it seems like you’ve already been hit by the bullet. The bullet was getting quality unpaid work out of you with no intention of every hiring you in the first place, so it seems like the company has certainly achieved what they wanted.

  2. AlexandrinaVictoria*

    Walker update! I had posted last week that my rollator was missing from my closed office. Facilities went on a hunt for it, and found it hidden in a closet…broken. Their guess is that some of the workers that were in the office in December adding higher plexiglass dividers to cubes for Covid safety were playing with it and squirreled it away so no one would know they damaged it. The company has already bought…and delivered!…a new one for me. Mystery solved.

    1. KiwiApple*

      Great that it was found in the end and even better that your company replaced it so quickly for you.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      For a second I thought you were talking about the new Walker, Texas Ranger show and had forgotten this wasn’t the weekend yet. And now I really want you to name your nice new rollator Walker, Texas Ranger.

        1. the cat's pajamas*

          Haha, that is great. I’m taking a programming class and they explained variables with post-it notes, e.g. imagine putting a post-it note on your chair that says “chair”, then they got into names, and it made me want to name more objects, lol. I have a few, for example, my coffee pot came with the name “Mr. Coffee” so I named my oven “Mr. Burns”

    3. BadWolf*

      Bummer that the previous one was broken, but hurray that they looked for it, found it and replaced it!! I hope the new one is better than the old one (or at least the same!).

    4. KuklaRed*

      Excellent update! I have thought about buying one of those and I know they are pricey. I’m glad your company did right by you.

    5. MissDisplaced*

      I’m glad it was found and there was an explanation that was not related to your coworkers or any employees, and that your company did the right thing here to replace it.
      But jeez! Who plays with and breaks a walker? And then hides it?

  3. Jack Be Nimble*

    How large does a company have to be before it has its own dedicated IT department?

    A friend of mine works at a start-up with about 60 employees and no internal IT. They have staff who maintain the online service the company sells, but no designated person to serve the staff’s IT needs. The office manager orders computers for new hires, but staff are expected to handle all of their own computer issues. I feel like a company much larger than 15-20 people needs IT staff, but are my expectations out of wack?

    1. Ashley*

      A company of any size that utilizes a server of backup almost always needs either an internal IT person who may do other things or contract with a company. We don’t maintain IT in house but there is a company we call when we have issues. Ever have a server break and you are dead in the water? Fast way to get the company to upgrade their IT help.

    2. TurkeyLurkey*

      The smallest company I’ve worked at (late stage startup) was about 80 people when I started and had an IT staff of about 5 at the time (about a decade ago.)

    3. Suzanne*

      No. Even a company of 15-20 needs IT staff whether it’s a staff or they hire a company. It’s not feasible or practical or smart even to expect employees to do it on their own!!

      1. Jack Be Nimble*

        Okay, that was my line of thinking, too! I’m not sure how much time the company loses a week with people having to troubleshoot an issue that an IT tech would handle at another company, but it’s greater than zero!

        1. Anax*

          There’s also some big risks when staff do their own IT work – not weekly costs, but CATASTROPHIC if they happen. What happens if the company servers get ransomware? What happens if someone gets hit by a bus and no one knows the password to their files? What happens if someone’s doing something illegal on the company network and you have to prove it was that employee, not the company itself, that was doing something wrong? So many scary risks!

    4. Dust Bunny*

      We’re about 40 people and have an IT team of three and a half (one has mixed responsibilities).

    5. CatCat*

      Maybe not their own IT staff, but definitely at least a contractor that can provide IT services to the company. I wouldn’t even know how to handle all my computer issues and I bet that’s the case for most people.

      1. Dewey Decibal*

        Yes- this! They need something, even if it’s not a dedicated in-house staff person. Many companies offer contracting services.

      2. Natalie*

        Even if everyone manages to figure it out themselves, can you imagine how inefficient that would be? Definitely more expensive than hiring a contractor that know what they’re doing.

      3. Jack Be Nimble*

        Their current solution for issues an employee can’t solve on their own is to pull one of the product developers off their projects to troubleshoot…

        They’re job hunting anyway, but they’re not convinced that the IT issue is an actual issue.

    6. Lilith*

      Smallest company I’ve worked for was about 10 people, and contracted out the IT work to a specialist company. Thinking of the companies I’ve worked for, I think all of the ones under about 200 people have contracted out the IT work.

      My current company is about 300 people and has a small IT team of 5 people, and still contracts with a big IT company for complicated jobs.

      I’d think that if I’m using company devices and company systems then a company IT person is definitely needed.

    7. Anonymous Educator*

      I worked at a company with 30 employees, and it had an internal IT staff. There is no number limit. Frankly, even if your company has only 1 employee, you need IT staff. Does that IT staff have to be internal? No. A lot of small business contract out to a managed service provider (MSP) that can manage its infrastructure or sometimes even do on-call tier 1 tech support. But you have to have some official support (external or internal) if you’re a serious business.

    8. Admin of Sys*

      I think it does depend on the type of work the company does? A 25 person App design company probably doesn’t need IT staff the same way a 25 person tea pot design company does, because folks doing app design probably should be able to handle installing their own software. But by the time you hit 50 employees, you’ve probably got admins and managers and sales force that are not 100% tech savvy and it’s silly to waste their time making them install excel or deal with that weird salesforce bug all the time.

      1. Momma Bear*

        I was thinking about this. I worked at a start up where people routinely built their own computers so a specific IT person wasn’t necessary in the same way. We did have an Office Manager whose role included getting things fixed under warranty as necessary or buying peripherals, etc. but it was the kind of shop where if you didn’t know how to handle Office 365, you weren’t likely to be working there.

      2. TechWorker*

        +1 the place I used to work had no dedicated IT staff, but it was entirely programmers and people-who-used-to-be-programmers. There were always people who knew ‘enough’ so not everyone had to be a whiz.

      3. AcademiaNut*

        On the flip side, tech heavy jobs can have more intense needs for high level expertise and quick turnarounds. I work in a STEM research environment where people are generally much more tech savvy than normal, but we have needs for IT support that are higher level and more varied than usual. Plus, there’s stuff that needs to be handled by a dedicated expert (network issues, being root on the system, system wide backups) rather than handing even tech savvy employees super user status and telling them to go to it. I do scientific software development and can administer my own machine with no problem, but you don’t want me in charge of the department’s computing systems.

    9. chickia*

      We are about 40 ppl and have a contract with an IT company. We have 1 regular guy from that company who comes in once a week on fridays to work on routine IT stuff, (setting up computers for new staff, handling upgrades, minor issues, server work, etc) and the company is available for emergencies as needed as well (we pay extra for those calls so try to save routine “this is acting weird” stuff for the friday list). At my last job I was the default onsite IT person because I set up the wifi router for our office . . . I have zero IT training so that was pretty awful. This is SO MUCH BETTER. It’s like IT light for a company that has an onsite server and needs real expert support, but doesn’t really have enough work for a person full time.

    10. Natalie*

      The only company I’ve ever worked with that has zero IT professionals, either in house or contract, are literally one person sole proprietorships that don’t really use computers for work (i.e. building trades, realtor, personal services). And even they contract out stuff like their website, payment processing, etc.

    11. Anonymous Badger*

      We have ten people at my company and a contract with a really excellent external IT company that handles any computer issues, although since I have some IT experience I’ll often try to do some basic troubleshooting with staff before we call them.

    12. lemon*

      Agree with others that even tiny companies need some kind of IT service. Even when I worked at a small, 10-person, family-owned business, we had an IT contractor to contact for serious issues.

    13. RussianInTexas*

      My company is about 50-ish (half is the warehouse staff and varies). We do not have a dedicated IT nor a dedicated HR departments. We have “Sam” who restarts the severs if they crash, and “Naomi” who does payroll, and “Helen, the CFO and the co-owner”, who does benefits (in December, when you can’t possibly select your spouse’s plan anymore).
      Yes, we’ve had issues due to the lack of both, why do you ask?

    14. Annie Moose*

      Is it an IT company? I work for a software development company with about 100 employees and we only have one dedicated IT person (and a couple others who perform light IT-related duties, but it’s not their primary role). I am surprised if they don’t have anyone with any dedicated IT responsibilities, but if it were a tech company with people who at least are partially assigned some IT duties, then that’s less surprising to me.

      If it’s a non-tech company, though–yes, that’s kind of weird!

      1. Jack Be Nimble*

        They’re tech adjacent. The company’s primary function is providing a particular, specialized service to other companies (it’s hard to get more specific without naming their exact function!), but they have a proprietary software they use to make that service work. They’re more like consultants, but they operate in a tech-y sphere.

        Based on my friend’s report, most of the staff is fairly tech savvy, but they have a growing number of staff who are in administrative and customer-service role who run the gamut.

    15. Ace in the Hole*

      We have 35 employees, but only about a third of us are doing office work that uses computers. So effectively 12 employees for IT purposes. We hire an outside company to do it – asking us to do all our IT stuff ourselves would be ridiculous!

    16. mreasy*

      A good friend works for a company of 100 people, entirely remote, with no IT. It makes zero sense and whenever he has computer problems he wastes a ton of time on the phone w computer mfr, repair, etc.

    17. Slipping The Leash*

      We are a 55 person firm. Back in the day, I was employee #20 and we already had an IT guy when I started. Now IT is a department of 5…and we keep them busy.

    18. Generic Name*

      When my company was 15 people we had our own part time system administrator/IT person. We are now at 70 and we contract with an outside company to provide IT services for us.

    19. Quinalla*

      Smallest I’ve worked for without dedicated IT had about 15 people, we did have external IT support from someone for servers, etc. just in case, though mostly there was someone who did IT as basically a side-job to their main job on staff. I think everyone needs some kind of IT support, no matter how small, there is support available from Microsoft, etc. even for tiny companies.

    20. KimmyBear*

      I worked at a tech startup of 25-30 people where we had no IT staff. Everyone was tech savvy enough to figure out most issues and we outsourced to a help desk company when needed (like when the intern downloaded a virus). However, it also meant that the Director of thingamabobs was getting paid way too much to deal with updating drivers and the Sales manager was spending time troubleshooting AV equipment.

    21. CFP Wannabe*

      I worked 12-8:30PM for about a year and a half when I was 24/25 and single and for me it did not work well. I got into a bad habit of staying up late and sleeping in super late. I was not taking advantage of my mornings the way I had assumed I would, and then I wasn’t getting home until 9/9:30. The only reason it was kind of okay was that I ended up becoming really close with a few of my coworkers and we ended up hanging out after work because most people did not want to hang out with people/do stuff after 9 pm on a weeknight but that was really my only “me” time because I slept in.
      I also found dating hard, and remember one person I liked quite a bit that was a teacher who had such an opposite schedule than me that it was really not possible to hang out during the week. He had to be up at 6/6:30 and I wasn’t available until 9/9:30.

      But now that I’m older and have kids, that schedule would simply not work. So, if you don’t have a lot of outside of work obligations and the job is short term, maybe it would be okay but I found it pretty draining.

    22. OtterB*

      We have 20 people now. We used to have a full time IT person but we also used to run our own server for our webpage. We no longer do that. Our last IT person went out on his own running an IT consulting company, with us as a client keeping him on retainer. If we have problems he will normally help, but there’s also one of his other staff available for backup if he’s not around. Works well.

    23. Choggy*

      I feel bad for those who work in this company who have even the remotest amount of technical savvy. I’ve been there, and created a career (somewhere else!) of it. It’s not an enviable position to be in, and would be best to keep it on the down low unless you want to be bombarded with questions from your less computer literate coworkers.

    24. fhqwhgads*

      A million years ago back when I worked in that area, the rule of thumb I was always told was there should be 1 IT person per 50 users and/or workstations+servers said IT person(s) would need to support.

      So a 60 person company should have either one internal IT person, or be contracted to some external IT that is on-call.

    25. Chaordic One*

      When I worked in a branch office with a staff of about 20, the IT department was located in a completely different office hundreds of miles away. They would send over someone about once every 2 or 3 weeks, but we finally appointed one of the more tech-savvy admins to work part-time as an IT and she would spend maybe anywhere from 4 to 16 hours a week doing more basic maintenance, updates and troubleshooting, as well as setting up new computers. (She got a raise along with the increased responsibilities.) We also had a couple of of admins who would do things like help tech-challenged department heads set up their email and help them with things that they should have been able to do on their own, but couldn’t figure out, such as installing basic software updates. Those kind of department heads are slowly aging out of their positions and retiring.

    26. Cj*

      I don’t think they necessarily need an in house IT person, but they should certainly work with an outside IT person with initial set up and any other issues that come up.

  4. Sydney Ellen Wade*

    Does anyone live on the east coast but work west coast hours? How did you adjust to the time change? I’m excited about sleeping in every day but am struggling with finishing work at 8 PM.

    1. Littorally*

      Oh, I used to, and I hated it with every fiber of my being. I work 9:30-6 now and even that feels much too late for me. I’m a morning person! Let me do morning person hours!

    2. Threeve*

      Start gradually pushing back your eating and caffeinating schedule to be in line with the time zone you’re working in.

    3. PolarVortex*

      While not quite in your boat – I work ridiculous o’clock morning hours to overlap with the international peoples of my company so I figure this should help:

      – Take your lunch hour if you’re not currently doing so. I see a lot of people who don’t do this and I am guilty of it myself. But if I take that hour to go do something else – walk, read a book, stare at a wall, whatever – it jump starts my ability to be productive for the latter half of my workday. I also shifted my lunch so that it’s 5-6 hours into my day (depending on meetings) so that I have extra pressure to get my EOD stuff done.

      – Plan out what you’re doing for the end of your shift. I know the last two hours of my shift are the ones I’m most likely to be non-productive. So I work what mindless tasks I have to those hours to make it easier for me to work through it. A variety of what I do with that time: completing training that comes through every so often, running mindless reports that we can’t automate, going through emails that are non-priority, but mostly: prepping for my shift the next day because those few hours in the morning are when I am most productive.

      It’s honestly just habit building like anything else in life. I’ve been in my current shift for 2 years now and I honestly hope it never changes because I’ve grown to adore it. (I’ve never been an afternoon person, I am both a morning and night person.)

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        A kindred spirit! Asked if I’m a morning person or a night person, I say neither. I like early mornings, late nights, and midday rest…. I’m a siesta person. Alas far from siesta countries.

    4. lapgiraffe*

      I’m single with no kids so I know this doesn’t work for everyone, but I loved working that schedule. It allowed me to work out in the morning without waking up too early, run errands, prep dinner, etc. Yes I would be working a bit later, but I’m so NOT a morning person and do my best work after lunch anyway so there were so many positives to outweigh the negatives. I did have flexibility to change up my day if, for instance, I wanted to go to a play or the symphony, or just had some sort of evening activity I needed to go to. And Fridays I basically always worked East coast hours, which was actually hard because those “early” mornings were hardest at the end of an exhausting week, but my job was such that there’s nothing time sensitive happening on Friday afternoons.

      1. Sydney Ellen Wade*

        I’m also single with no kids and not a morning person, which is why I think this can work, if I get acclimated to it. Thanks!

    5. Charlotte Lucas*

      I used to work for a call center in the Midwest that served customers in the Northwest. My hours were 11:25 am – 8 pm, & I loved it! But I can see how it’s hard for some people. I recommend what everyone else is saying. (It helps to be a bit of a night owl.) I also recommend taking advantage of freer mornings. I used to get my errands run much faster, because most places weren’t as busy. I also liked to get my dinner prepped & in the fridge in the morning, so I could just toss it in the oven when I got home. And I had plenty of sunshine to go for long walks/exercise in the morning, no matter the time of year.

      1. Sydney Ellen Wade*

        Meal prep is a good idea, thanks! I’m thinking of having lunch be my big meal of the day instead of dinner but it’d be nice to have meals ready ahead of time.

    6. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I started a job where most of my team is on the west coast or in China, so I’m trying to adjust. Working from home makes it a bit easier I think, so it will be interesting to see what happens when we go back to the office. I do start my day a bit later, usually 8:30, and use my mostly meeting free mornings to do work that is best uninterrupted – writing policies, creating trainings, etc. My afternoons are a mix of meetings, answering emails from people who are now in the office, and smaller tasks that aren’t hard to put down and then pick back up. I do flex my days when I know I have late calls – I might log off at 5 and make dinner, then jump back on at 7. Or, I’ll do a longer lunch hour and run an errand or grab groceries on days I know I’m on late calls. It’s definitely an adjustment for me and my partner, who is now in charge of more weekday meals. We try to sit down on the weekends and share our schedules so we can figure out who cooks which nights, or which nights we are just on our own for meals I also try to make sure that I finish any laundry I’m doing before noon so that I’m not rushing to change it out or fold it between meetings.

    7. Twenty Points for the Copier*

      I’m self-employed so I have a lot of flexibility and don’t work a pure west coast schedule, but I keep much closer to west coast hours than east coast ones (I am on the east coast but work with a lot of people on the west coast). Usually I’m starting by 9:30 or 10 and done by around 7. If you can do that much of a shift, I think it’s a lot easier than 12-8.

      I mostly love it – I always feel like I am ahead on the day relative to people on the west coast and I rarely have to set an alarm clock (just through habit I’m usually up by 8:30 or 9 though). I don’t have kids and have a spouse whose a night owl with a flexible schedule, so we just live late. I’ve just learned to accept that happy hour or early evening activities means taking time off (and is thus much more rare).

      1. Sydney Ellen Wade*

        I’m going to see if I can do 11-7 instead of 12-8, as I agree it would be easier. Thank you!

    8. Momma Bear*

      When I worked out of my employer’s time zone, I was part of their early crew. Their customers really appreciated it (as they were global, too). Then I clocked out at a normal to me hour while my West Coast coworkers picked up and kept working. We did, however, have “core hours” where people were expected to be available, be it for meetings or anything else. Maybe suggest that to your company – that everyone is available 10-4 their time and how you make up the other hours outside that is flexible? We had one meeting that was always in the afternoon b/c that was when most of the team was available.

    9. CFP Wannabe*

      I worked 12-8:30PM for about a year and a half when I was 24/25 and single and for me it did not work well. I got into a bad habit of staying up late and sleeping in super late. I was not taking advantage of my mornings the way I had assumed I would, and then I wasn’t getting home until 9/9:30. The only reason it was kind of okay was that I ended up becoming really close with a few of my coworkers and we ended up hanging out after work because most people did not want to hang out with people/do stuff after 9 pm on a weeknight but that was really my only “me” time because I slept in.
      I also found dating hard, and remember one person I liked quite a bit that was a teacher who had such an opposite schedule than me that it was really not possible to hang out during the week. He had to be up at 6/6:30 and I wasn’t available until 9/9:30.

      But now that I’m older and have kids, that schedule would simply not work. So, if you don’t have a lot of outside of work obligations and the job is short term, maybe it would be okay but I found it pretty draining.

    10. Sleepy*

      Plan out actual activities for your morning–it helps when you feel like you did something rather than whiling away time on your phone. Going to the gym, walking, shopping, coffee with friends (covid permitting).
      The great thing about this kind of schedule is that rather than doing your hobbies after work when you’re exhausted, it’s easier to do them before work when you have plenty of energy.
      Also, invest in a slow cooker and a slow cooker cookbook. Make your meals in the morning, stick them in the slow cooker, and then you can easily pull them out at dinner time.

      1. llama costume designer*

        We have about 50 people, a small IT team of 5, and a contract service provider for hardware and network stuff. Our company’s product is internet based and requires more IT support than regular office jobs. Having consistency makes it easier to manage with managing software rollouts/upgrades, ordering consistent hardware specs/keeping track of computer replacements, security etc. You can save money on buying multiple licenses of software and having someone manage who has what.

  5. No Tribble At All*

    I’ve officially given notice! I have a new job that I’ll start in a month. I’ve never quit a job before — this was the first company I worked at out of college — so any advice about quitting a job, especially quitting remotely? I’m trying to collect my thoughts for the exit interview, and I’m going to give my friends at work my personal contact information. Anything you wish you had or had not done?

    1. Box of Kittens*

      I wish I had advice for you, but I have solidarity! I am hoping to leave the only company I’ve ever worked at full-time soon and it will be weird. I don’t know if you’re leaving a small org or a behemoth, but whenever I can resign I’m planning on mentioning a few things I envision for my position going forward as well as warm fuzzy stuff about working here. :) Good luck to you!

    2. Virginia-Marie*

      Congratulations + Don’t sweat it. Ask for a phone call or video call with your supervisor and let them know you will follow up with an email. Cc your personal email so that you have record of your two weeks or longer and keep it brief. “Thank you for my time here, my last day will be xx and I’m committed to ensuring a smooth transition.” I would also not expect a lot of the exit interview, I may be jaded, but every place that’s done one has been pretty pro-forma. It’s also not the place to do an airing of grievances, even though that would be cathartic! Good luck

    3. Anononon*

      I just want to point out that you shouldn’t be surprised/upset if your work friends don’t really contact you or drift apart. In fact, I think it’s more unusual to stay in regular, friendly contact with work friends than not. It’s no fault on either side.

      1. Tacocat*

        And really at first you might need to take a break as much as you like them. I kept in close contact with my good work friends when I recently left my job and it made me miss them and feel a lot of regret because they were always at the forefront of my mind.

    4. Lilith*

      It’s a very small thing, but if it’s the kind of place where you send out a friendly goodbye email on the last day (and assuming you’re leaving on good terms), don’t leave it until your last minute there! Send it a few hours before and people will have time to respond and wish you luck, which is a nice positive note to finish on.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I would consider doing it the end of the previous day, because sometimes email accounts get shut off early. The public reason to tell anyone who asks is that you’re giving a last chance for people to remember questions or tasks they didn’t put on your wrapup list.

    5. Octopus*

      I have a comment about exit interviews. I would read Alison’s articles that describe exit interviews as “free consulting for the company.” I think that’s very apt, and I wish I’d read that before giving mine. Remember that you should only give honest feedback if you think it will be safe to do so (won’t jeopardize a reference). I’d also add it’s not worth sharing anything you don’t think they’ll implement/if they won’t change. Better to hold back and wish you said something than say something you wish you hadn’t (IMO).

      1. Quinalla*

        Agreed very much with this, only be as honest as is safe for you. My first job I quit I gave some very honest feedback that I knew would be valuable to my old boss, but some feedback I did not give or gave very lightly as I knew he wouldn’t listen to it and for some of it had even hired an outside consultant to improve the company and not listened to that feedback there already. I wanted to help my old boss, but I wasn’t going to be completely honest when I knew at best it would irritate him with no change or at worst might jeopardize my reference.

    6. Momma Bear*

      If you haven’t yet had a conversation with your boss, you should do that. Use video if you can but at least a phone call if you can’t. Then follow up with an email and/or whatever documentation HR needs from you.

      Let your teammates know you’re on the way out and follow HR guidance re: forms and procedures. Make sure that anything that’s really important is written somewhere, even if it’s just a quick Word doc. If you are handing your duties off to someone, work with that person to let them know scope and status, especially of anything you will not finish.

      Don’t be tempted to treat the exit interview like a scorched earth situation – you may need those references. Follow their lead. They may not even ask you to elaborate on your leaving and “new opportunities” covers a lot of ground.

      Congrats on the next step in your career!

  6. Should I apply*

    I want to share a positive experience I had about asking people their salaries. I am starting a job a search, and the typical salary sites were not helpful, either such broad ranges that they were meaningless or so low, that I knew they were not realistic for my market. I listened to a podcast that suggested reaching out to people on linkedin. While the idea made me pretty nervous, I went ahead with it, thinking what do I have to lose? I did primarly reach out to former co-workers that I had at least some experience with. I was expecting that maybe only a couple would respond, but the majority did. While the level of information provided varied, it really did help me get a better sense of the market and forms of compensation I hadn’t really considered before (stock options).

    What I thinked helped in getting a response, I asked former co-workers, I made it clear it was a favor and I would accept whatever information they were comfortable sharing, and I shared my current salary (eek!) so it wouldn’t feel like a one sided conversation.

    1. Mouse*

      This sounds great! I’m glad it worked for you. Could you share some of the wording you used for the request?

      1. Should I apply*

        It was pretty straight forward, but customized for each person. Hello, Hope you are doing well at your new role. I am asking for a favor, I am starting a job search and am trying to get a better understanding of market rates. Would you be willing to share any information related to salary? Current salary, pay band, % comparison to your old role, whatever you are comfortable sharing. For reference I am currently making X, for role Y. Thanks for your time, Should I apply

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      That’s great to hear! Yeah, if you share your salary first, I think that makes a huge difference in terms of other people sharing, too.

      I’ve also had good luck with creating anonymous surveys (like a Google Form) and distributing it to only an industry-specific mailing list or forum.

  7. Box of Kittens*

    HOW TO LEAVE A SMALL ORG??

    I have been looking for a next step from being a one-person marketing department at a small organization. Y’all have been super helpful with helping me decide the pros and cons of staying in my position vs leaving, and if the right opportunity presents itself, it’s probably time to move on. I’ve been interviewing and may have a new job within a few months if not sooner (crossed fingers). The thing is, I know that our leadership here has been looking at me as a possible person to groom for leadership (way down the line, but succession planning is one of the goals for this year). I know that putting in my resignation would blindside them a bit. I have mentioned at the places I’m interviewing that I’d prefer a 3-4 week notice so that I can wrap up some projects since I’m a one-person team, but resignation is still likely to be an awkward and emotional conversation. I know this is a business decision, and am definitely prepared with language to point to that, but my C-suite tends to be more emotional about people leaving, especially when I know they love me and are expecting to see me here for a long time. Does anyone have advice on navigating that?

    1. Just did this*

      I just left a smaller org that I had worked at for over 8 years and had worked with the management for about 14 years (small industry). It was hard. I hadn’t been happy there for a couple years and there were 100 reasons to leave but it was still hard. Write down all the reasons you are leaving and all the good things about the new place and keep it close when you give notice. When they try to convince to stay and you feel emotional about it, look at the list and remember why leaving is a good decision. Even better if you can have a family member or friend provide backup on why leaving will be good for you too.

      1. Box of Kittens*

        Thank you for this. It’s def good to know I’m not alone feeling like this. My husband has been very supportive about whatever decision I make so that’s been nice.

    2. Anxious Overdresser*

      I just left a small org! It was hard at first, they did feel totally blindsided and I got wheedled into giving an extra week. However, I left impossibly detailed (even pedantic) instructions, automated everything I could, and left everything impeccably organized with detailed instructions/links as to where it all was. The effort was noticed and appreciated, and they’re feeling much more confident. Not perfect, but way less stressful than it seemed at first.

      1. Box of Kittens*

        That’s what I’m hoping to be able to do, because I have built a lot of structure that wasn’t here before. A little overwhelming though! It’s good to hear that others have done it successfully.

    3. Anonymous Badger*

      I left an org I’d been at for a long time about a year and a half ago. Leadership was also grooming me for additional roles and reactions were mixed. My immediate supervisor and most of the other managers were super happy for me even though they were sad I was leaving. My department manager and her big boss took it badly, though. The big boss refused to talk to me or acknowledge me at all in the two weeks before I left, going so far as to literally turn and walk in the other direction when I said hello to her in passing.

      My department manager tried to avoid me as well, but I ultimately forced her to have a conversation with me about it (as in I barged into her office at the end of the day and said I was looking to say goodbye to her and to thank her for what she’d done to help my career). She told me she felt betrayed by my leaving, that they had poured so much time and effort into my development, and essentially tried to guilt-trip me, which mostly just served to reinforce to me that my decision was the right one. She then avoided me for the last few days I was still there.

      Ultimately, there’s no guarantee that people will have the reaction you want them to have. People are going to feel what they’re going to feel. But being professional and respectful is still a reasonable goal for you. So tell your supervisor in person first (or over the phone if COVID is a concern where you live). Send a resignation letter after to have something in writing. Do your best to give proper notice. And remember that just because someone is upset or angry about it doesn’t mean that you’ve done anything wrong.

      1. Momma Bear*

        My project manager avoided me during my notice period as well. It was a worse reflection on them than me, IMO.

        I like your last sentence. OP is not responsible for how they feel or wrong for leaving.

    4. Momma Bear*

      I left a small org and while it was a surprise to my boss, I think he also understood that this was a logical next step professionally. A downside of small teams is that you are one deep and sometimes there’s nowhere to go but out. I would be thankful for the opportunity but keep it professional and keep your eye on your next step.

    5. Well, this sucks!*

      No advice on navigating, but more on mindset.

      I worked for a small org for years (like it was the boss, me and one other person at our largest!) and I was really afraid that by leaving, the business would fail and I really liked my boss, but not the work anymore. I honestly stayed too long because of that.

      When I did leave, she was fine. I’m sure it was stressful and she probably had to make some changes, but I really wasn’t the heart and soul of the business in the way I thought I was. Ultimately, everyone is replaceable. It was a really good lesson for me, I just wish I learned it sooner!

      1. Box of Kittens*

        That’s honestly helpful to hear too, thank you. Part of why I’m looking to leave is that I feel like the person in my position should ideally have much more experience in marketing and even building a department from scratch, where I had nothing. I know they may not take my advice, but I really want to mention that through the resignation process. Not only am I replaceable but I truly don’t think at this point I or someone with similar experience as me is the best person for the job anymore.

        1. Well, this sucks!*

          I think it’s worth mentioning, but don’t put yourself down either! It sounds like you’ve been able to make it work. And I know how hard it is being a department of one! No one to mentor you, bounce ideas off of…

          1. Box of Kittens*

            That did come off kind of down-putting, didn’t it? I think I have fallen into that a lot lately just from not having someone to mentor me or kind of assess how I’m doing as you mentioned. But honestly having to rally and talk about myself for interviewing has helped with that a bit and this is a good reminder to make sure I’m sounding upbeat when I suggest a more experienced person for a replacement.

    6. Wordybird*

      At the end of last year, I left a very small non-profit (3 salaried employees and 3-4 PT/contractors), and while it had to be done, I didn’t enjoy doing it. To give you an idea of how close I was to everyone, all 3 salaried employees reached out to me on my birthday this month including one who left me a voicemail singing “Happy Birthday.”

      Since we were working from home, it was easier to not have to resign face-to-face as I knew my immediate supervisor would be blindsided and disappointed to lose me and I knew I would sense/feel that (hi, HSP!) and then try to fill in the awkward gap with too much information. I wrote down notes on what I was going to say and what I was NOT going to say and briefly went over them before I made the phone call. Most importantly, I reminded myself that I was not curing cancer or solving world hunger and however much they may have liked me and my work, that I was completely replaceable & life would go on without me there.

      The phone call with my supervisor was emotionally hard but we all survived. I did everything I could to make the transition easier including volunteering to come in for a couple hours with my replacement to show her the ropes (as she was planning on working out of the office part-time) as she was hired after my two week notice was over. I wrote thank-you/goodbye notes to my supervisor and the other two people I had worked most closely with, and that gave me (and hopefully them) the emotional closure needed.

      It was a business decision, and as much as I enjoyed working there, I treated it as such when I gave notice and completed my two weeks. I didn’t second-guess my decision or try to justify or explain it when volunteers asked why I was leaving. I know that my supervisor and the org itself was hoping I’d stay long-term since I was good at what I did but at the end of the day, I had to do what was best for me, for my family, and for my career. Staying long-term at a small non-profit for little money and benefits and no way to move up was not best.

  8. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    I’m dying over here! There’s a lot of deadlines for the end of the month and yesterday IT was fooling with the server and I couldn’t get my work in. ( It was out for at least three hours). Today I have to drive across town to get a piece of paper signed and this us also the day where I drive two hours round trip for an appointment. I had a lot of missing materials last month and my boss said it was fine. I’m thinking of not working over the weekend and just having my stuff be late. Should I?

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      Talk with your boss! It’s always better to set the expectation ahead of time rather than after the fact – a heads up that you’re not going to make a deadline is waaay better than just missing it without saying anything. Something breezy like “hey between the server being out, having to drive across town to get the signature, and my standing appointment, I’m not going to be have [project] done today but can have it for you [later date], does that work for you?” would go a long way.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Yea, since my boss is out this week we weren’t able to rebalance things but I’ll email her and explain that I am going to be having trouble getting the documents in. I at least know which will cause problems with the company getting paid and I’ll do those although I might have to work til 10 instead of my usual stopping time of 8

    2. LadyByTheLake*

      Talk to the boss — the server outage should be enough, but better to ask beforehand than to find out later it was a critical deadline.

    3. Vox Experientia*

      you might also mention to your boss that in most companies IT doesn’t touch the server during production hours for this very reason. server maintenance should be night/weekend only (for most businesses). even for 24/7 shops, IT should have a window determined by when customers and production will be least impacted by changes (change management).

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’m “IT adjacent” with close friends in that role. Some things have to be done ASAP. If they were affected by a security break, for instance, or if an outside vendor didn’t give lead-time for an update. By acknowledging that wiggle room when you mention the shutdown, you sound ultra reasonable, let them save face, and still get your point across.

      2. Anon E. Moose*

        Hey just uh chiming in here as IT – there are times that the problem didn’t originate with IT, but we are the ones communicating the urgent maintenance so we get blamed.

        So when you are crafting the message to your boss, keep a little “giving them grace” in your head while doing so. It might (or might not) have been their decision or issue that caused the unexpected outage, so approaching it like a problem to solve together might help set the right tone for the message.

  9. It's bananas*

    I’m working for a large school district, but my background is in the private/corporate world. I don’t know if this is normal for working in education or not, but it’s so disorganized. There are processes that I have to follow, yet people want to do their own thing and/or ignore the processes, etc. Most of my time is spent fixing their work, enforcing policies, etc. Communication isn’t always clear and I don’t know who to direct questions to and then I have directors upset because the email should have been given to them and not so-and-so. I send out emails, no one responds, etc. People are too busy to take the time to train or answer questions.

    I’ve dealt with this a little in the corporate world, but not as much/not to this extent.

    I feel very frustrated, but wonder if this is normal in education? Has anyone else experienced this?

    1. Admin to the stars*

      I am a staff member in academia and sadly this all sounds very familiar to me, especially the no policies and procedures and people ignoring emails. The longer your work there the easier it will be to figure out and remember all the little tricks and shortcuts that make the work easier. Plus, in my experience anyway, the nature of the job is very cyclical so once you get a year or two under your belt and figure out the big events and deadlines it will get easier. My biggest tip is document your job, make a manual for yourself with how-tos, contact info, instructions, etc. Mine is currently 25 pages long which seems crazy, but I use it every day.

      1. FunInAcademia*

        This comment certainly made me LOL literally! I work in public academia and this is so very true. As Admin to the stars says, the longer you are in the position the more you’ll develop the workarounds necessary to get things (somewhat) into an organized fashion. My own position manual runs over 30 pages as situations, policies and procedures change!

        1. Nope.*

          Where are you guys dealing with only 25-30 page manuals? Sorry, that sounds rude, I don’t mean it that way – I’m almost jealous, I guess. Between what I have to do prior to every semester beginning, after census for that semester passes, and what I have to do for the end of semester processes, I think I’m around 250 pages. Probably the same amount covers our vast daily processes – and by “our” I mean a team of two.

    2. A Teacher*

      Welcome to public education. Teacher with 12 years of experience speaking. Sometimes its just easier to go in our rooms as teachers close the door and do our own thing–which sounds counterproductive but often those at the top in admin have no clue what actually takes place in the classroom. The amount of meetings and emails that could be condescended is amazing. And SO many levels of management–so so many.

    3. Masquerade*

      I did a shadow day with someone who handles a more ‘industry-related’ aspect at a large research/medical school and this very much seemed to be their experience. They had a ‘herding cats’ joke picture on their desk, which I think is an apt metaphor for that line of work. I think a lot of their job was tracking down professors for forms, signatures, etc and dealing with them when they would get upset over a missing deadline (caused by their lack of filling out said form on time.

      As a grad student, there were multiple times when I had to get a deadline extension solely because someone I needed a signature from wouldn’t respond to emails or was never in their office.

      I think you’ll probably just need to get used to sending “gentle reminder” emails and documenting each time you try to reach someone and it goes unanswered.

    4. MechanicalPencil*

      One of my parents is a teacher, and the common complaint is that administration is constantly changing procedure, so they’re having to keep track of what way is the new/correct way to do The Thing. This is on top of the normal/expected teacher duties of planning/grading, and now on top of teaching in a pandemic, with half of the students being in-person and half virtual.

      Smart districts planned ahead. My parent’s district decidedly did not.

    5. Funbud*

      Have you ever seen “Up the Down Staircase” (1967)? It’s about a fledgling teacher (Sandy Dennis) at a NYC high school. Substitute typed & mimeographed memos for emails and your situation describes the plot perfectly. Some things never change.

    6. The New Normal*

      This is very normal in public education. One aspect of my job is to plan the graduation ceremony for my large high school. We are one of 7 high schools in the district and it is a top 10 (in size) district in California. They take graduation ridiculously serious. But last year not one single person responsible for planning graduations was involved in the district’s decision-making for graduations. It was horrible for us – they required us to do things that just did not make sense.

      So frankly, yes, all public schools will have this issue. Communication is not clear. The answers will change depending on who you talk to. CYA is a big deal. If it is said on a phone call, follow up with an email repeating what was said.

    7. James*

      My wife’s a teacher. She’s also been in the private sector. She complains about this many, many times! At times it’s useful, because it gives her the latitude to do what’s best for students. But just as often it’s frustrating because there’s no clear direction, or the students get confused about what’s needed.

      It’s amusing seeing it from my side (corporate world). I can tell what some of the policies my wife complains about are trying to do, and I can usually predict the problems that will arise and blindside the administration.

    8. Teacher’s kid*

      Child of a teacher. This is normal. As others have said, many teachers have limited experience working outside a school. Couple that with the fact school systems are very decentralized in many places (i.e. each principal/ teacher runs their own little fiefdom) and process goes out the window. Hang in there!

    9. Sleepy*

      This is super normal. I honestly think teachers are the worst at keeping to procedures & deadlines because they’re constantly bending procedures & deadlines for students. Also, teachers have so, so much work to do that everything else legitimately falls by the wayside.

    10. Me*

      Teacher here. I’ve never worked anywhere but a school district, but a friend who works in finance once described my job to her colleagues as such: Imagine that you have to give presentations all day. And then, all of the work that you would normally do all day needs to take place outside 8:00-2:45– except for the 45 minutes you have allotted to you to get it all done.

      Like I said, I’ve never worked outside the school system, but I find that people who often want to assert “if you’d just do this one thing…” don’t realize that I have 150 students, 200+ parents, 8+ supervisors, and numerous other people saying the exact same thing. And that easily becomes 100+ “if you’d just do this one thing/abide by this one deadline” at a time.

      Im a full-grown adult who is fully capable of understanding and abiding by deadlines, but having so many at once often means that something has to give, and when I have to choose between student learning and directives from central office, I’ll choose student learning.

      1. peasblossom*

        Yes, I’m in higher education so a different beast, but all of this is hugely relevant. I’m sure the above commenters lamenting the lack of professionalization/responsibility/bureaucratic hustle don’t realize how insulting they’re being, but education is a field with a lot of immediate, time-intensive work *and* a lot of paperwork. Most educators I know (unless they’re ancient tenured folk at elite institutions) have to make choices about their time because there are so many demands on it.

      2. Gamer Girl*

        This is exactly why I left teaching! Once I got out, I missed the students terribly, but I was so relieved that after my eight hours I could stop working! I spent 12+ hours daily, plus time on weekends, as a teacher grading and planning, plus all of the admin!

      1. Disco Janet*

        If she wants to wait to have it done. Breakdown of a teacher’s day (coming from a high school perspective:
        – Spend nearly all day with students in the room, teaching
        – Have one hour students are not in the room, during which you must decide whether your time is better spent responding to parents emails, making a dent in grading for your 150 students (since an hour is not enough time to grade 150 things), or planning/putting together materials for upcoming lessons. Often, you don’t get to do any of these things because you’re needed in an IEP meeting for one of your special education students.
        – Put in work after hours and on weekends to finish the above things you couldn’t complete during that hour without students, plus whatever documentation/processes your school requires. This can change regularly, so sometimes you might slip up and forget about a new procedure because you’re juggling so many things.

    11. Cascadia*

      Yep, super normal! One comment or above remarked that it is cyclical to the school year though. The first academic year is the hardest, the second year gets slightly better and by the end of the 3rd you have a much better sense of what you’re doing and how everything works. I can’t tell from your comment whether you’re working with other staff or with teachers. If you are working with teachers, please read all the other comments and understand teachers have a million things on their plate and dealing with administrative procedures is at the bottom of the list. Add on to that the fact that policies seem to change every year, and teachers only hear what their principals tell them, who in turn get mixed messages, and yea- it can be a real cf.

    12. Call Me Cordelia*

      Teacher of a decade here! Look-from 7:30-3 pm I am activity working with students in some capacity (IE when not directly doing lessons, I’m managing recess, etc). During that time I have exactly 20 minutes to each and use the bathroom and then another 45 minutes in which to email, grade, copy, plan. Honestly…the policies/paperwork etc that don’t directly impact my students or my paycheck are not my top priority. I’m fully capable of understanding the importance of deadlines, etc. But I have to prioritize otherwise I quickly find myself turning my job into 24 hour event.

      If you’re struggling with identifying who to talk to, start by identifying the major directors and asking them what issues they prefer to cover. I’d also start making phonically-they’re harder to ignore and will lend to some urgency. I’d also be patient, as some others pointed out, there’s an ebb and flow to the school year that you’ll begin to identify as well as the aspect of ‘fiefdoms’; ie every principal and teacher are somewhat contained to their own area. You’ll begin to learn who you need to ask to get things done. I also suggest planning ahead-teachers and admin generally can just get something done immediately. We have to build it into our schedule.

      Hope this helps!

  10. Amber Rose*

    Haaaa… We had a three hour meeting on Wednesday in which the CEO went over everyone’s new roles and stuff, and I was totally skipped over. You’d think I’d be used to it by now but it’s still kind of wearing after everything I’ve done.

    With that in mind, I have a resume question. Although they aren’t strictly defined, I can break up my employment here into sort of three main roles. When I list them on my resume, do I include dates, even though those dates would be guesses at best?

    1. Chauncy Gardener*

      Wow. That must sting! I’m very sorry you’re being treated that way.
      I think I would break up your roles that way. Or maybe just break them up and not put dates? Would the dates help show growth/increase in span of control/responsibilities?
      You could also just chunk the bullets for each ‘role’ together on your resume.

      1. Amber Rose*

        I’m just wondering about dates since the first “role” lasted about a year, the second about 4 years, and this latest one since last April. It’s been a definite progression, but I don’t want to misrepresent myself as having more experience in this latest role than I have.

        1. Two Dog Night*

          I agree with Ashley–
          most recent role (2020-current)
          middle role (2016-2020)
          first role (2015)

    2. LadyByTheLake*

      Or don’t bother with dates at all on the resume and just show the progression. Discuss the dates in the interview?

    3. cheapeats*

      I’m a hiring manager in a tech company (among my other hats). I’ve been here 20+ years and a hiring manager for 10 of those years. For the most part, I really don’t care about length of time in roles unless it’s so minimal that you haven’t mastered the role. I’d just structure it something like:

      Llamas, Inc, Dec 2015 – present
      During my tenure at the company, covered three primary areas of focus/responsibility
      Llama Wrangling – description
      Eyelash Combing – description
      Poop Scooping – description

      What I really want to know as a HM are the metrics that tell me why you were great in those roles, or the hard/soft skills you acquired, or the improvements you brought to bear that made a difference in your company. Not how long you were there. YMMV.

  11. Indisch Blau*

    When colleagues won’t cooperate

    A friend of mine was in an interview for a position as a bookkeeper/accountant. She was asked how she would handle it when co-workers were late getting information or parts of reports to her so that she could put together a final report in time for the deadline. She didn’t really have a good answer and said something about maybe offering to help. She didn’t get the job and thought she had probably dodged a bullet.
    We wonder, though, how can an employee motivate others to finish their part of a project on time? And what would be a good answer in an interview when one doesn’t know much about the company culture?
    In my firm we’ve had similar problems with invoices being signed off and turned in quite late – not so late that fees are incurred but late enough that the monthly accounting had to be re-done. Our bookkeeper has tried stern talking to, showing (or offering to show) the offenders how much work they’re causing her and threatening to take the problem to the boss. And imposing “fines” in the form of candy for the dish on her desk. All of these have helped to some extent, without alleviating the problem completely.

    1. Picard*

      For us, our POs have to be signed off on – once the PO is signed, if the invoices matches, its paid without any further signatures. No PO? It doesnt get ordered. :) Very occasionally we would have invoices that didnt have POs and then they were forwarded to the manager responsible for signature. Any late fees or accounting mess ups were charged directly to that managers department.

      That said, we used to have an old school AP manager who literally would walk invoices around to get signatures. Thankfully when they retired, the new person transitioned to electronic approvals (ie an email saying ok to pay)

    2. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Management needs to step in. If late fees are being incurred/in danger of being incurred, that’s a real cost. So is redoing close. If this is happening regularly, then maybe you delay final close for a few days.

      1. Indisch Blau*

        But what to say in a job interview? I wouldn’t want to say, “not my problem, management needs to step in” – even if that’s the case. Nor would I say, “What’s helped me in the past is to impose candy fines.”
        Is there a good answer? Or do you just register the information and weigh it if you’re offered the job?

        1. Me*

          You say something along the lines of examining the process to ensure there’s not things under your control that can be fixed such as moving the deadline, calling in a request instead of email etc obviously depending on what it is. Somewhere in there is a talk with the offenders to try to determine where the break down is happening and what can be done about it. And then yes finally barring all else, you bring it to management with a list of what you’ve tried to do to resolve the issue and ask for guidance.

          This is more or less what I’ve said during interviews and its received well.

        2. Cat Tree*

          Hmm, if the problem is widespread enough, you could develop a tracking system, preferably one that is mostly automated through an IT system. Then have it send automated reminders at a reasonable interval (typically monthly or weekly but a few types of work warrant more frequency), with direct manager copied when it reaches a certain criticality. I had moderate success with this strategy when I worked at a place with useless management.

          However, after working at a place like that I would only go back if I was desperate for a job, and I agree with your friend that it’s a bullet dodged.

    3. Louise*

      This is the story of my life. I am regularly forced to work with disorganized people that don’t do paperwork, but their job requires tons of paperwork. The best I have done is give them a clear deadline and when they don’t meet it alert our common manager. I have tried the bigger picture conversations with both manager and co-worker and it can help for a few weeks. Basically the manager needs to believe there is a need to step in and make this a performance issue.

      1. Cassidy*

        >…the manager needs to believe there is a need to step in and make this a performance issue.

        This, precisely. Would sure be nice to see accountability make a comeback.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I would have gone to the boss before now. I am not very patient with those who chronically don’t do their jobs.

      What I have seen done in some places is an annoucement is made that invoices not received by x time or y day will be rolled onto next month. Even then people can’t be bothered. There are those who will be totally shocked, “What do you mean I have to wait until next month to be paid?”

      Candy dish, really? No. This is the company’s money. Part of the job is to responsibily submit all invoices/whatever in a timely manner. If you cannot do that, then you are not doing one of the key components of the job.

    5. RagingADHD*

      I would talk about the fundamental problem that occurs when people are allowed to offload their responsibilities onto others to compensate. And how it’s important to understand your own sphere of influence and work effectively within it.

      My way of coping with that would be to talk to my own manager about how to properly give responsibility (and consequences) back to the right person.

      For example, setting a hard deadline for deliverables in a regular report that allows enough time to produce it. If the material isn’t provided timely their team gets a blank page in the report with “information not available,” or something similar.

      If the lateness causes someone to work overtime or incurs external fees or penalties, that needs to be documented so they are charged to the correct cost center. Then the lateness becomes the responsibility of the manager who is supposed to control those costs.

      Usually what’s going on in these scenarios is that someone junior is being forced to take responsibility and try to avert consequences that they have to authority to really change. Transparency about where the problem actually lies, and the issues it’s causing, can make a big difference.

    6. Bagpuss*

      I think you need management to get involved and to make very clear what the expectations are – e.g. a deadline as to when invoices have to be signed off and returned, and be very clear that failure to comply with the policies will result in disciplinary issues.
      Spell out the requirements and knock on effects

      e.g.
      – invoices MUST be checked and approved, and submitted to accounts, no later than days prior to the due date , or no later than x days prior to month end if sooner. (or whatever is appropriate)
      – In the event that invoices are not submitted within the timescale required, accounts cannot guarantee that they will be processed / paid by the due date.
      – It is the responsibility of the individual receiving the invoice to ensure that it is signed off and submitted to accounts within the required timescales.

      Failure to follow these processes will be a disciplinary matter .

      I’d also explicitly spell out that accounts are having to re-do work and to work late in order to cover for other staff failing to submit requests in a timely way, and that this is not acceptable, nor is it their responsibility.

      And then follow through

      1. Malika*

        I second spelling out the requirements. Additionaly i’d suggest a how- to about the whole process from A to Z and clear dates and cut off times to hand in invoices. As a former assistant, part of my responsibilities was making sure the executives approved the invoices and allocated it to the right cost center. I found it very confusing, because at the beginning there were no instructions on which invoices needed to be handled/split in the right way and constantly had to remind the executives to have another look at invoices, sign them off again etc. Speaking from the other side of this process: An accountancy department that clearly spells out what is needed by when, makes life much easier.

    7. Rachel in NYC*

      I’m coming from a different field- but I handle this in a variety of ways depending on the situation, starting with reminders to the person(s), and then determining when it’s appropriate to bring in to the conversation their boss, my boss, coworkers, whoever. I vary the choice depending on the situation and what will result on creating pressure on the person I need a response from.

      I will say that something like “showing (or offering to show) the offenders how much work they’re causing her and threatening to take the problem to the boss” is unlikely to work. Most people aren’t impacted by the work they cause other people. That doesn’t impact them.

      Looping in a boss could be helpful. But I’m not sure threats of it would be useful. There needs to be a discussion in advance with the boss of Offenders A, B, C, and D have been regularly late with their invoices. This is causing the company to incur additional costs. The invoices need to be signed off by Date. If they aren’t received, what step would Boss like taken.

      If Boss is fine with the additional costs- you get it in writing and move on. Otherwise, you come up with a plan with Boss about handling it. Even if it’s just emailing Offenders A, B, C, and D at EOB on Date that their signed invoices haven’t been received cc:ing Boss.

    8. I miss my former great boss*

      Oh, this is a coincidence! I was recently asked the same question in an interview and one of my interviewers later commented how they liked my response. It was based on examples from a newsletter I subscribe to, meant to teach business analysts how to motivate people to do what we want. It’s called Behavioral Insights for Business Analysts (single payment for a year’s subscription, I think it cost me $54).

      In my answer I talked about how we are used to try rational arguments to persuade people, but in reality behavioral science offers more effective approaches (change the environment to make the desired behavior easier to adopt, use social proof, etc.).

      I’m having great success with the techniques I’ve learned so far to address struggles at my current job too. If you have the book Influence from Robert Cialdini, and don’t want another paid resource, I recommend rereading it for ideas, but if you can spare the money, I’d subscribe to the newsletter because you’ll get examples that match exactly the kinds of scenario individual contributors without positional power face all the time when trying to get others to change their behavior. To check it out go to bealprojects dot com > Learning Center (Issue 1 can be downloaded for free there–I don’t want my colleagues to read it and figure out what I’m up to, but glad to share with a complete stranger who might find it useful too ;-).

  12. Anxious Overdresser*

    I’m starting a new job Monday! The interviews were all over Zoom (where everyone was at home and wearing tee-shirts), but the first week will be (masked) and in person.

    HR sent out an email containing the dress code, which was dated from 2015 and called for “business professional light” clarifying “dark shoes, ties unnecessary.” Cool! Except I’m a lady who doesn’t wear ties, and I get incredibly flustered and anxious if I feel overdressed (I’m well aware it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed. Still get super flustered!)

    I’ve only ever worked with males in a business casual setting and struggles to get female professional dress norms anyways. (This team will also be all male, except for me). What do I wear? Suck it up and go full skirt suit? Nice dress and bring a blazer just in case? Do I have to wear heels (flustered + heels = clumsy combo!) Do I sound unprofessional if I ask HR to clarify?

    1. OyHiOh*

      I would ask HR to clarify expectations for women’s dress. Barring clarification, I’d wear dressy slacks, sleek blouse, and blazer, and flat shoes.

    2. Kimmy Schmidt*

      I think you’d be totally fine to ask HR to clarify!
      Definitely don’t wear heels if you don’t want to or feel comfortable in them. You might be walking around meeting new people or learning where things are, and I think a wobbly heel is more unprofessional than a smart flat. I think you should aim to be as boringly polished as possible until you see what your coworkers actually wear. I like the dress and blazer idea.

    3. JokeyJules*

      do you have a contact there you could ask? Perhaps your new manager, or even the hiring manager. I’d just ask for any insights or examples so you can acclimate.

    4. Managing In*

      Wear something you feel comfortable and confident in for the first day and adjust up or down from there. The “light” tells me no, you absolutely don’t need heels and a full skirt suit unless YOU feel your best in that. Nice dress and wear the blazer. Or wear pants. It is not unprofessional to wear nice slacks, a blazer, and flats.

      Disregard if you are in something known to be extremely formal like finance, I’m not familiar with that.

    5. NotAPirate*

      I would go with a nice collared shirt with a suit jacket and slacks or skirt depending on your preference. Collared shirt because if it turns out no one else is in suit jackets you can just take it off and still be formal looking. I would go with flats or low heel (<2in) just so your comfortable. Whatever you feel confident walking in. It's the first time for alot of them back in person too it sounds like so I bet everyone will be re-adapting to the dress code.

      For me I rank outfits like this;
      Most professional
      Full suit (Collared shirt + suit jacket)
      Partial suit (nice blouse + suit jacket)
      Nice blouse + sweater/other jacket
      Collared shirt, no jacket
      polo short sleeves
      tshirt and jeans
      Least professional

      Pant/skirt wise – unless in a couple specific fields they are interchangeable. Black pants seem more common than khakis but that's pretty regional. Grey (suit material) pants also common.
      Dresses – depends on the dress honestly, they can range anywhere from very casual (sundress, thinner straps) to very formal. Length, material, what you accessorize with (suit jack over dress vs sweater etc).

      One of my fav bosses always did a long sleeve collared shirt and wore a cotton-polyester long sleeve sweater over it. Looked pretty casual that way. Then for meetings you'd always see him pulling off the sweater and pulling on the exact same blazer he kept in his office. Looked formal that way. It was a little bit Mr. Rogers style the way he'd swap. Try and go for something like that were you can swap your formality levels.

    6. Hawkeye is in the details*

      I think you’re fine to ask for clarification from HR! Point out that you know norms have changed in this last year, and you’re wondering if professional slacks, blouse and cardigan or blazer (or whatever your ideal combo would be) are acceptable for your time in the office.

      I think closed toe, professional flats are a safe bet. No expectation of heels of men don’t have to wear ties.

      If you don’t want to contact HR, the above mentioned combo strikes the right balance, I think.

    7. BadWolf*

      If ties are unnecessary, I feel like skirts and heels are unnecessary (unless you are comfy in a skirt). I would not wear heels if you are not comfortable in them. I agree on dress pants, blouse, blazer (or nice button front shirt if you don’t have a blazer) and flats/nice shoes of some kind.

      1. ABK*

        this. no ties on men, no heals on me. Flats are soooooo common and accepted. Blazers are nice because you can take it off it it’s too formal, maybe bring a cardigan in case you’re too formal and too cold.

    8. Amtelope*

      Dress and blazer, or slacks (black dress pants are a very neutral/safe choice), simple shell/blouse, and blazer. If they don’t require ties, I can’t imagine they require heels.

      A dress code that mentions men’s clothes but not women’s clothes is a pretty good marker for a company that assumes employees = male. Keep an eye out for that in other ways (Does this company have a maternity leave policy? Does it sound like it was written by people who have for a single minute imagined that an employee might actually be pregnant? Etc.)

    9. Not So NewReader*

      You can wear a jacket but take the jacket off if you feel over dressed.

      For flustering, I like to make sure my clothes fit me properly and the colors are things I am comfortable wearing.
      You could start out with a very plain, classic look and then tweak as you go.

      I hope you chuckle. My boss was picking out something for me for Christmas. She was trying to decide between two sweaters. Her friend (I see the friend often) chimed in to say, “Oh, Not So New wears classics. Get this sweater.” My boss laughed and bought that sweater. When she told me what her friend said, “I said yep, I actually prefer the cooler clothes, but I wear the classics because it saves tons of money as I don’t have to keep buying clothes.”

      1. Anxious Overdresser*

        Yes, I totally understand the employees = male assumption, as my former company has only had 3 female employees in its 25 year history (none overlapping with me). It’s been a struggle! Luckily, the new company is actually headquartered in Europe, so maternity leave would be 4 months (!!!) but the (small) local office with the dress code is all male. I’m cautiously optimistic that this will be an improvement. Thanks for the advice!

      2. Anxious Overdresser*

        Sorry – meant to reply above – but I did laugh at your story! My business casual is 100% classics as well because it’s so low hassle – I imagine “business professional light” would also fall into this!

    10. LadyByTheLake*

      Attorney here — full skirt suits, even as “business professional heavy” went out of fashion in about 1996. I would read this as slacks, dressy flats or heels, a nice top (nice sweater or blouse)

    11. Chriama*

      Standards of dress are generally more flexible for women than for men, just because the range of women’s styles is a lot wider. I never wear heels and strongly believe they have no bearing on business formal (it’s a hill I’d be willing to die on, professionally speaking), but a full on skirt suit seems on the high end of business formal. A nice dress with or without a blazer makes sense, but so does a blouse/dress shirt and dress pants if that’s what you’re more comfortable in.

      Also, it’s definitely not unprofessional to ask HR to clarify! Business professional light could mean “we’re an incredibly stodgy place trying to lighten up a bit”, or it could mean “we said business casual and had people arguing their dark wash jeans counted as dress pants”. The clarification of “dark shoes” rather than “dress shoes” has me leaning towards the former, unless that was a typo.

      If you’re really worried, pick something that looks good with or without a blazer, and bring the blazer as backup. So a nice dress or blouse+pants/skirt combo would work with out without a blazer, but a skirt suit without the blazer would look unfinished. I hope that makes sense!

    12. Haha Lala*

      I agree with what everyone’s said so far, but also have this to add:
      If you’re the only woman on a team full of men, you’ll have a little leeway for determining your own dress code. Speaking from experience as the only female engineer in an office of 20+ men, your wardrobe will stick out from the rest of the team’s no matter what, so don’t worry about being a little overdressed. Wear something you’re comfortable in and you feel looks professional.

      I find that jewelry can make any outfit slightly dressier. You could wear something that doesn’t “feel” overdressed, but add a pretty necklace and instantly look more polished.

      1. Quinalla*

        Agreed as a woman who works with mostly men that you can very much set your own dress code. Dress codes are honestly not set up well for women’s fashion as women’s fashion is much more variable.

        And yeah, don’t feel bad about clarifying the dress code. I always do this for new companies, unfamiliar situations, etc. No one has ever batted an eye at me asking or acted like I was silly for doing so.

    13. Distractinator*

      My advice, any dress code is really specifying a range of what’s ok; so figure out the male dress code, set your mental picture of that range as precisely as possible, and then mimic it with whatever from your closet feels similar. Dark shoes, ties unnecessary? Implies collared shirt with the top button open, maybe loafers and khakis would be standard for male dress (what I think of as my-dad-the-engineer’s outfit, that’s always a checkered or striped shirt). The tendency to aim slightly higher on the first day means solid-colored collar shirt rather than patterned, grey or black slacks instead of khakis, black leather laced shoes rather than loafers. So the women’s dress code equivalent? Certainly doesn’t require a skirt or heels. This is exactly the midground of my workplace, exactly the range of what an “average day” looks like. Look in your closet and see what you’ve got – my go-to at this level is grey pants, black rubber-soled mary-janes, a solid-colored long-sleeved blouse, then depending on season maybe a cardigan, soft blazer (they make really comfy knit ones that feel more like a cardigan!) or maybe decorative scarf or necklace if it’s too warm for layers.

  13. cabbagepants*

    How to walk the line between “being a team player” but also getting the credit, accolades, raises, etc that you deserve for work you did well? For reference, I am a white woman in a male-dominated field and there there is one person in particular who consistently takes credit for my work.

    In my annual performance review, my boss told me that I did really good work this year BUT I needed to not put so much emphasis on when *I* have done something rather than “a team effort.” I always give credit where credit is due, but also struggled this year with having my work attributed to the nearest man. In fact, I almost missed out on a big promotion because everyone assumed that a particularly important, high visibility project was being done by my male colleague “Jim” when in fact I made it a success with no help or input from Jim at all. Jim consistently takes credit for my work AND he’s on my team, so “a team effort” gets turned into “Jim did this” almost by default.

    Any advice? My boss is generally focused on his own day-to-day drama. I can’t get away from Jim and anyway, Jim isn’t the only one doing this. My boss does *try* to be relatively open-minded about social issues but also is a terrible gossip so I’m not sure how to be clear about the issue without having him trample the already-delicate politics around Jim.

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      Honestly? I think you should consider leaving this job. A place that routinely allows your work to be credited to someone else, and what little credit you are allowed is apparently too much and should be spread to others? This is a culture that isn’t going to let you succeed, I think you’re better off finding a job somewhere else that does want you to succeed.

      1. ArtK*

        I agree. There’s a bad culture here and I doubt it’s possible to change it. At least not without being labeled an “aggressive” woman, or “shrill”, or any of those other adjectives used to tell women to shut up and sit down.

        1. m&m*

          Yep. If you can’t even explain to your boss *why* you have to work so hard to emphasize your own achievements because they are too busy tip toeing around Jim, the one who is making the problems happen, then I can’t see a solution that doesn’t ruffle many feathers.

          If you don’t mind upsetting people, then continue taking credit for work you did and if you can, shut Jim and his ilk down in the moment if they get credit for your stuff in meetings, reports, etc. But I don’t see a long term answer that doesn’t involve a new team.

      2. Librarian of SHIELD*

        I agree with this. Basically, your boss has decided it’s cool if all the credit goes to Jim and “the team” and none of it goes to anybody else, and that makes him not a very good boss. Start job searching and find a place that will respect you in the way you deserve.

    2. LDN Layabout*

      Can you break it down into something like lead, support, helpful?

      So instead of a team effort, you led on the project and Jim provided reports X and Y which were helpful. Or you did X, Y and Z, with support from Jimmy in A.

    3. Threeve*

      Give up on being a team player. Get territorial. If you continue to get criticism about not being a team player, well…all of us have our faults. Jim obviously gets to have his. Boss can continue to be unhappy with it. If he brings it up again you can continue to explain why you feel it’s appropriate if you want, or you can plead ignorance (“oh, I didn’t realize I was doing that.”)

      “Actually, I flew solo on that one, Jim has been exclusively on [x] lately.”
      “I’ve been mostly working independently lately, that was one of my projects. I’m really pleased it’s been well-received.”
      “Our team definitely produces some great work collaboratively, but each of us does a lot independently, too; I handled that one from start to finish.”
      “Jim mostly works on [x], I’m not sure why there’s an assumption that he’s involved in everything–there’s only so many hours in the day! [Y] was pretty much just mine from start to finish.”

    4. Shirley Keeldar*

      Oooh, I’m mad.

      What would happen if you asked your boss exactly this? “So, Boss, I have been thinking about your feedback at my performance review. I really value my team; they’re great at X and Y. Of course I want to give credit where it’s due! But it seems that others in the company aren’t always aware of what I’m working on. For example, I almost missed out on a promotion because people thought Jim had been handling the Marigold project, when that was my project from the beginning. What do you think is a good way to handle this? And of course, I’m sure you know that women are frequently advised not to claim credit for their work, but men are not, and that can lead to real gender imbalances in the workplace. Just out of curiosity, did you tell any of your male reports that they shouldn’t claim credit for their accomplishments and should instead praise their team?”

      Okay, leave out the last two sentences if you think he’ll get salty. But grrrrrrrr.

      1. Kes*

        Yeah, I would bring it up again with boss in your next check-in: “I was thinking about your feedback and I think the reason that I sometimes am insistent on credit is that I’ve found if I don’t say something people don’t seem to know what I did. For example, I found out that people thought Jim was responsible for x project when actually I was running it and he wasn’t even involved. As you may know, this is kind of a common problem for women in this field, so I want to make sure both that my team gets the credit they’re due for their work, and that I get the credit I’m due for mine. And I’ve also found that if people don’t know about the work I’m currently doing they may not think to ask or nominate me for other opportunities that can leverage it, so I want to make sure they have that information.”
        If you know for a fact that the promotion was due to that you can cite that as well.

      2. cabbagepants*

        I like the question of “how should I handle this?” !
        1) Reiterate on how I almost missed a promotion due to higher up folks not knowing what I was doing (this is not something I have to tiptoe around, thankfully).
        2) How should I handle this, since obviously it is best for the organization to have the right work be done by the right people?

        1. Shirley Keeldar*

          Your #2 point is so great. Of COURSE you are concerned with what’s best for the company…such a team player! He can’t argue with that!

      3. MacGillicuddy*

        This. Absolutely point out to boss about how you almost missed a promotion because of this. How boss reacts will tell you how fast you need to polish your resume and job hunt.
        And ask him point blank “so, if I’m the sole contributor on a project, why should I credit the team with doing it?”

      4. pcake*

        Actually I’d absolutely go with that last sentence, but then I’m known to be “brutally honest” – and that really is a quote.

    5. should i apply?*

      I feel your pain. While I haven’t been been told I need to be a better team player, I did just sit through a company wide meeting, where our CEO gave credit for a successful project to a male colleague who did maybe half the work I did on it. Its one of the reasons I am actively looking for a new job. My manager knows I do the work, but it doesn’t penetrate the upper levels.

    6. Choggy*

      I’m really confused how someone else can get the credit for an important, high visibility project you handled alone? When I handle a project there is usually a kick-off meeting where I provide the project plan and why it’s being done, and who is involved (even if it’s only me). I’m constantly providing updates, from the start to the end of the project, I coordinate and facilitate any meetings, provide training/documentation as necessary, etc. How did you make it clear to your company that you were the one handling the entire project (especially after it was attributed to someone who contributed nothing? You should really take a long, hard look at the company you are working for, people who have no qualms about taking credit for, and, this is the most important part, being ALLOWED to take credit for your work is not a place I’d want to be. Why should you have to fight to be recognized, and then, when doing so are told to be a team player? Nah, you’re better than that!

      1. cabbagepants*

        The challenge is that there is so much work going on all the time, it’s hard to draw attention to individual projects. Jim taking credit is pretty insidious. For example, the culture in my company is that if a question is asked, the person who answers it is the lead/expert/owner of the topic or issue. This is culture and not written or formalized. But when a question is asked about my work, Jim will jump in and loudly answer. These answers are often incorrect so then I have to correct him, but he doesn’t acknowledge that he was wrong, just interrupts as soon as he realizes what I’m getting at and repeats what I said as if it was his idea.

        1. The New Wanderer*

          Getting interrupted while trying to provide the right information so *he* can still take credit for answering would burn me up! More so if the rest of the crowd just allowed it. How would Jim respond if, when he’s giving the wrong info, you just said “That’s incorrect” and let it hang there until he stopped talking or flailed around to correct himself or (best, but least likely) someone asked *you* for the correct information.

          Do you have any allies? Anyone who could make sure you get to talk or respond by calling you by name? I’m really appreciating our entirely virtual culture right now where if someone gets talked over, the person who talked over them addresses it with “Sorry I cut you off, Name, what were you saying?” Or the host will speak up to give the stage to Name if it was clear they were trying to add something.

          That would be the short term solution but ultimately, as your boss is of the mindset that credit is something your colleagues get to claim but you don’t, and more, he’s okay with Jim claiming credit for your work and not okay with you getting your own credit, that’s not an environment where you can be successful. Your boss and your coworker suck.

          1. Quinalla*

            Yes, I would push harder against Jim, but stay polite and professional and yes recruit allies. Other women if there are any, men if not – especially others that are victims of Jim, and say I’ll speak up for you if you speak up for me. It will make your group all looks like “team players” and help give credit to people who deserve it.

        2. Bex*

          Honestly, I think you might need to start calling it out and politely shutting Jim down. For example, when Jim tries to jump in say “Thanks Jim, but since I lead this project I think I’m best placed to answer the question. If he tries to interrupt, say “Just a moment please” and continue talking. In my experience, the key is to keep your tone in the “helpful and friendly, and slightly confused as to why Jim is talking” range, without letting your frustration show.

        3. Choggy*

          Does Jim do this to anyone else, or just to you? Have you spoken with him directly and asked him not to answer questions about your work? Have that conversation, and then make sure to reiterate when he speaks for you with the statement that you can respond for yourself.

      2. starsaphire*

        Not the OP, but, for example:

        * A male co-worker used to do an end-run around me and handle the kickoff meetings himself. I’d schedule the meeting and be told ‘we already had it,’ or I’d be left cooling my heels in the lobby waiting for my guests to show up and he’d have let them in another door and started the meeting without me. And every time I complained, I got told “that’s just how he is, ignore it.”

        * A different male co-worker would send belittling “thanks for doing the paperwork” emails after I sent out the materials/documentation to the team, to make it look like I was an admin just handling the details, while he was calling all the shots.

        That’s how.

        OP, please, start looking yesterday. This management chain will never value you, and resents constantly being reminded that they made a poor hire in Jim.

    7. Cat Tree*

      With good management, “team player” means each person has a specific role on the project so your boss should already have a good idea of what you are contributing to the project. It sounds like poor management and that’s hard to deal with.

    8. voyager1*

      Did you ask for examples of when you were being to “self centered” vs “team centered.” This is one of things you have to address in the moment of the review.

      1. cabbagepants*

        I did ask. The only example he had was the fact that I send my boss a weekly report of my own activities in addition to the team report that goes out to everyone. When I reminded him that HE asked me to send this report, he just said “I know.”

        Big WTF moment.

        1. Chriama*

          That… is not a good look for your manager. I’m curious what would have happened if you’d responded to his “I know” with “so you’re asking me to stop doing something you told me to do? I’m not really sure how to implement your feedback now.” I think you can probably still go back and talk to him. Rather than asking for examples of what you did wrong, ask him to tell you what behaviours he actually wants from you. If he can’t articulate any, I would push back with him (really emphasize the gendered nature of his criticism, ask if he’s given the same feedback to your male colleagues and if not, what makes you different, and emphasize the promotion you almost missed out on) depending on how much you like your job, what you’re willing to risk, and how much capital you have to spend.

    9. Policy Wonk*

      Your boss is sexist. Women are supposed to be team players, men are supposed to get the credit. Keep doing what you are doing, and start looking for a new job.

      It sounds to me like Jim might be priming the pump by whining to the boss that you are taking credit for his work. The next time your boss raises this (trust me, he will) ask for examples of what he means – where did you take credit for someone else’s work? If he has a valid example, it may reframe this, but I’d guess he will highlight something that you did and Jim has taken credit for – then you can set him straight.

      You might also want to keep documentation of who does/has done what on projects to pull out when needed. Jim is likely taking credit for others’ work as well – so if you can point out that no, that was actually done by Fergus, it will add to your credibility.

      1. Lizzo*

        Yes, asking for examples can be a powerful way to shut things down. At a previous job, I had been in the role a year when a new manager was hired (the one who hired me had left about 9 months after I started with the organization). After a month, boss called me into her office and said she’d had complaints about me. I asked for specific examples; she had none. I mentioned three recent issues that I could think of that might have generated complaints, explained how I’d resolved each of those issues, and asked, “Were the complaints about those things?” Answer: no.

        I said, “I can’t address something undefined–I really need specific examples. Please raise them when you have them and we can work on them.” It was terrifying to push back and set a boundary, especially with a boss who didn’t know me well, but in retrospect, it was the right call, and my boss eventually respected me because of it.

        Now, it sounds like this approach might not go as well in your workplace, but it’s worth trying. In the meantime, you should definitely be job searching.

    10. The Rural Juror*

      A female friend of mine DID miss out on a promotion because a male coworker took credit for her work. Not only that, she missed out on a huge commission check. That jerk took hard-earned recognition and money from her, and unfortunately her manager didn’t do anything to correct the situation. So she quit and went to work for their competitor, where she’s doing much better and seems to be happier.

      I know it’s easier said than done to just find something else, but remember that you don’t owe anything to this company. Do what you need to to advocate for and take care of yourself. GOOD LUCK!!!

    11. James*

      Your boss is too focused on day-to-day drama to effectively manage his teams, he’s allowing people to take credit for work they didn’t do, he’s criticizing you for it, and he’s obviously playing favorites. This place is dysfunctional.

      The best advice is to get out. You won’t fix the situation, and there’s not much value to sticking around.

      Until then, as others have stated, start out any project with a kickoff meeting where everyone’s roles are clearly defined. Then, make sure people stick to it.

  14. Rock Prof*

    I’ve had some graduates from my program recently email me about how they’re having trouble finding jobs. For most of them, I think it’s a combination of competition with more experienced people looking for jobs who might have lost their jobs due to covid, as well as applying out of state for entry level positions. But this got me thinking about their cover letters because, well, some of them are terrible.
    A lot of the jobs that the graduates are looking at are very focused on specific skills, thinking digging holes or using a microscope, that have been taught in their classes, so I’m hoping this would be an okay place and time for them to talk about class work when they don’t have much experience outside of it.
    I was looking through the archives here and coming up a bit short, but I was wondering if anyone had links or examples to good cover letters for those who are straight-out-of-college. I’m basically just telling them to make sure that their cover letter really discuss examples of how they actually have the background the jobs wants them to have versus being a generic, “I have experience with geology!” statement.

      1. Rock Prof*

        Thanks! That seems most applicable to grad students, so I’m not sure how well it will work for my undergrads but there’s definitely some overlap. (I realize now when I wrote “graduates” that I went students who have recently graduated from my program which is only undergrad and not graduate students.)

        1. NotAPirate*

          Ah, I usually use “undergrads” and “grads” so that led to the mix-up.

          Make sure they’re not repeating their resume, I see that a lot with undergrads. The cover letter shouldn’t say anything the resume does basically. It’s for the stuff that didn’t fit on the resume, the why do you want to work for XYZ company, how did you hear about job/connection to company, (show you’ve researched them). Describing how a project you did is similar to their specialty and led you to want to work more in that specialty and how excited you are for the chance to pursue this with company XYZ. If really no projects then you’re stuck with coursework and going for a class mentioned topic ABC and that led me to research it further on my own and develop a passion for it. Also put a timeline in, make sure to mention the graduation date and how looking to start immediately (that’ll give them an edge over seniors looking for jobs now too). If it’s out of state also add the trying to relocate line too. Here’s a more experienced geologist cover letter at least https://imgur.com/nmpGuwZ .

          Also for the resume, tell them to stress what leadership they had. They have more leeway as undergrad resumes. Volunteer experience can still be listed, board member of college clubs can be listed, any scholarships or deans list can be included in an achievements section. Also sometimes still list your high school summer jobs on an undergrad resume – it shows history of work ethic. Also how good are the things they list under the jobs? Make sure they’re listing achievements at jobs not just worked date to date. (Supervised and maintained schedule for 3 employees; Reduced wait times; reads better than just worked at Ice Cream Shack May-September). Another big one is matching keywords in job descriptions to their resume the computer looks for them, if they’re not getting interviews they may not be getting to the point where a person is even seeing it.

    1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      I don’t have any examples but definitely encourage them to fricken spell. it. out. Their cover letter should be full of examples of them using that particular skill since they don’t have any workplace experience yet. Did they use it in a class? TA for a lab? Do research with a professor? If the jobs are focused on that one skill they should feel like their cover letter is hitting the hiring manager over the head with stories of them doing it.

      1. Rock Prof*

        Thanks, this is exactly what I’ve been trying to tell them. The job’s are literally listing what they want you to be able to do, you need to spell out that you have actually been successful at that!
        One of my graduates listed that they enjoy “hands-on work” in their cover letter, and I was told them that they should instead give examples of how they can work in challenging conditions instead (like digging holes in the rain or whatever). Like it’s a job for a field geologist! Everything is “hands-on!” Show them you’re up to it!

        1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

          In early versions of my résumé and cover letters when I was looking for my first field jobs (I’m an archaeologist but I reckon it’s fairly similar) I included quite a few details about what exactly I did during course work.

          We have to do “field school” which is usually a few weeks at least of working on a real excavation project and learning to use various bits of equipment and techniques, so I’d definitely write about that. Like the general date of the site, the actual weather (especially if anything dramatic happened like a big thunderstorm that flooded all the trenches or ridiculously hot weather that turned to soil into concrete and how you dealt with it), whether you got to use semi specialist gear (augur, laser scanner, handheld xrf) or circumstances (confined spaces, working at height, having to trek in to remote areas on foot, camping on site). Doesn’t have to be a long account but a little blurb about it. Also if they have their own suitable transportation, which is definitely a factor in field work in my area these days. There are urban jobs where you can get to site via public transportation but you’re more likely to get hired if you can drive yourself there.

  15. MD-to-industry?*

    I’m an MD/PhD (post-residency/board-certified, currently completing another board-accredited fellowship in an in-demand area) trying to transition into industry mid-2021 but have been discouraged by the lack of response so far. My ideal would be a physician-scientist type role in R&D that’s relevant to my subspeciality (genomics) and prior PhD background (early stage drug discovery), but I could see myself doing well in medical affairs or other R&D roles too. I’ve applied to 5-6 biotech/pharma jobs over the past 6 weeks that I thought would fit my skill set (associate medical director, or roles requesting someone of my specialty specifically, with 0-3 years industry experience) and haven’t heard back from any of them yet for even just a phone screen. I’ve been trying my best to use my network. I have a complete, active LinkedIn account and have been searching for 2nd and 3rd degree connections who might work at industry organizations I’m interested in. I’ve asked my contacts for leads with mixed/no results. Any other tips?

    1. SnowWhiteClaw*

      Five or six jobs over 6 weeks? I had to apply for about 50 jobs before I found a scientific job. Keep trying! You also might have to be willing to relocate.

      1. MD-to-industry?*

        I’ve made it clear on my resume that while I’m currently completing my training in city A, I’m looking to relocate back to my hometown of city X/region Y (a mid-sized hub for biotech) in July 2021. Due to a number of family/dependent issues, I’m not to search with total geographic freedom (i.e., the Bay Area hub is unfortunately not an option for me).

        I wish I could apply for 50+ jobs, but there aren’t that many relevant medical director track openings for people with no/little prior industry experience, especially in my specialty.

    2. Lora*

      Big Pharma geek here.

      In hardcore molecular bio R&D we are typically looking for, and get loads of CVs from, people with at least one and often two industry postdocs. Where you’d probably be a better fit would be clinical trial type work, which often has a couple of in-house folks working with a clinical trial management company like Parexel or IQVIA. We do almost none of that in-house. For medical affairs we typically look for someone with some experience in patient care, depending on the level can be a little or a lot, but for higher level roles we usually want, you know, 10 years of caring for AIDS patients in DRC type of thing; most of the medical affairs directors I’ve known have come from 15+ years in a hospital or large clinic with previous experience running clinical trials.

      Also 6 weeks is not at all long for us. We move sloooooowww. I’ve applied for jobs via my network (in other words, someone who already works there sent my CV and vouched for me, I didn’t have to wrangle automated screening software) and heard back only 3-6 months later. Our hiring process just for a regular entry level bachelor’s degree job takes, at last complaint to HR, 100 days on average. Senior level job searches take over a year, sometimes two, while the headhunters talk the hiring managers down from whatever Purple Squirrel combination of skills and experience they insist is absolutely necessary. Senior level CVs usually come to us from headhunters or from our network, and resumes coming from someone completely unknown are …well, we don’t know you, and we don’t know anyone who knows you. That’s not to say you aren’t qualified, but out of the 50 reasonably-qualified CVs on our desk, we probably have some kind of connection to at least 5 of them. We will definitely prefer someone with industry experience, even only a couple of years, if we can get them.

      Targeting the smaller biotechs is a good idea, I think you just have to be super patient with the slowness of the process. I wouldn’t bother trying to contact 3rd degree LI contacts, and for 2nd degree contacts ask your mutual friend to introduce you first – we get plenty of random people contacting us and mostly ignore them. Since we do so much through headhunters, it may be worth trying to find one or two who can help specifically with the clients you’re looking for, pharma recruiters are usually specialists more familiar with the technical lingo. You may also want to consider the clinical CROs – that’s definitely a stepping stone and will significantly broaden your network, as when clients of the CRO like you a lot, they will be interested enough to approach you with “hey, how about you come to the other side?” type of offers.

      1. MD-to-industry?*

        Thank you for those insights! I’m in pathology (doing further training in molecular genetic pathology aka genomic medicine/diagnostics), not a patient-facing specialty, so I don’t think I’d be the the best choice for a clinical trial management type role.

        It’s good to know that hiring takes longer than I previously thought. The issue is that I’ve also applied for academic physician faculty positions as backups, which also have notoriously slow hiring processes, but I’m at the final interview stage with several places right now. (I don’t see myself staying in academia, but from talking w/ others in my specialty who’ve transitioned to industry, many of them did work as attendings in an academic medical center for a few years first. So my plan B is to be an attending for 2-3 years, continue growing my pubs including some senior authorships, then job search in industry again.) There’s one role in particular at a big name institution that I would be pretty foolish to turn down if offered, if I have no other compelling job offers by then.

        I’ll see if I can find headhunters. I’ve tried one so far, but she didn’t understand my specialty and was sending me totally off-base job suggestions (jobs requiring only bachelor’s degrees, doing bench work, making a salary similar to what I’m making as a PGY trainee), but hopefully there are folks out there who might help get me what I’m looking for (or give me a reality check if that’s not realistic at my career stage).

        1. Lora*

          No, you know what, pathology is still good for clinical trial mgmt because a LOT of that is about reading diagnostics and pathology reports and trying to piece things together about patients you’ve never seen. (“Oh, look at this interesting subgroup…”) They’ll have some data sets off monitoring devices patients are wearing or something like that, and it’ll be RNs and NPs doing the actual patient interactions. I wouldn’t discount looking at places like Parexel / IQVIA / Covance, they also have loads of Medical Director and similar roles – and they have a lot (A LOT) more of those roles than pharma does, in various and sundry locations. Like I said, we will have like…ehhhh a handful of people at most, and their job is largely interacting with our CROs, and they are based where our large sites are. We don’t really do that stuff ourselves, we rarely even do our own tox screening.

          The other thing that may be a problem for you if you have to live in a certain area – there’s a nonzero amount of travel involved. It’s not as much as I do personally (I have to go to sites we are building out for often a few months at a time, run back and forth to European headquarters every so often), but you still have to sometimes go places for meetings and it won’t be remote after Covid. Like when we are setting up a new collaboration or a new trial / project / whatever with Major Health Center, the medical directors have to go there too, so we can exchange coffee cups and whatnot. Or if god forbid something goes wrong and you have to investigate personally what happened because nobody on the phone gives you a straight answer, you have to get on a plane and go. I do not know of any Director level person anywhere who does not travel more than they want to, and the only ones who have not had to relocate at least twice are near retirement age at this point.

      2. MochaJane*

        Are post docs mostly/always necessary for biotech/pharmacy jobs? I’d rather avoid another “training position” where I’m doing the work of a research scientist for 1/2 the pay.

        1. MD-to-industry?*

          I’m certainly not planning to postdoc. If I take an attending faculty position in my subspecialty, I’d most likely be making $250-$350K (depending on the geographic area/academic vs private practice) my first year. In industry I’m willing to take a slightly lower base salary (excluding bonuses/other compensation) if there’s growth potential within a few years.

          1. MochaJane*

            Wow that’s awesome and a far cry away from a post doc salary! I’m going to try for research scientist positions myself (finishing my PhD this summer).

        2. Lora*

          For biotech PhD level and up, the only time I’ve seen them not on someone’s CV was when the person started working there as a Master’s level scientist and went back for the PhD after they’d been working a while – then they already had a track record to point to. Without previous experience in the field, coming directly out of a PhD…I’m not gonna say it never ever happens, but I’ve only seen it at very small startups paying peanuts anyway, so…same difference and less prestige than a Novartis / Pfizer / Merck level postdoc.

          Key thing about industry postdocs as opposed to academic ones though – the pay is $60-70k, but the hours are Normal Sane Person hours, and you get a very reasonable amount of structure, guidance etc or you can get it easily enough by asking in most places. You’re not working yourself to the bone 80+ hours/week, you’re not supervising Masters students, you are Doing Science 40-50 hours/week and nothing else, you can focus on it, and you can have a reasonable quality of life. You don’t get stuck in it for years, either, which I know academic postdocs can be these horrible indefinite servitude type of deal. Knew a dude once who postdoc’ed for 14 years. Same postdoc. He said he really liked his PI so didn’t quit, but that’s a very long time not to have full benefits or a retirement account in my opinion…

    3. Cat Tree*

      My advice is just patience. Desirable industries can get hundreds of applications per posting, even for higher level roles and especially in this economy. Consider looking for an adequate but relevant job somewhere else, then keep checking the big places for openings that you are qualified for and apply as you have been doing. But it could take several years for that to work out, so in the meantime at least you have a paycheck and won’t feel as much pressure.

      You might also consider expanding your search and looking at jobs that are one level lower than your current goal. There’s a balance and you don’t want to be too over qualified, but sometimes you need to enter the company at a lower level and work your way up from the inside.

      1. MD-to-industry?*

        Thank you, but that’s pretty far outside my target sector. I’m targeting companies like Abbvie, Abbott, Novartis, Eli Lilly, GSK, Genentech, Roche, AstraZeneca, etc.

    4. Handwashing Hero*

      Agreed on this as biotech/pharma person, 5-6 job apps is NOTHING. As an aside I have 15 years experience in the industry and was looking for something specific (WFH position) but I sent out hundreds of applications over the last 9 months of pandemic searching.

      This is not academia, you do not send in one or two lovely apps and go through the process. Most places don’t glance at your application or see you haven’t been in the industry and don’t want to bother to train you up. Which sorry to be a bummer but $250k for a starting scientist in R&D is going to break your heart. Aka, not going to happen.

      I wish you luck but be prepared to be sending in 5-6 applications A DAY. You’re targeting the big pharma companies, well so is everyone else and they likely have the luxury of working in pharma a long time to get noticed by the bigger companies.

      1. MD-to-industry?*

        I’m not looking for a starting scientist position, though — I’m looking for an associate medical director role. I’ve searched Glassdoor and asked some senior MD colleagues in pharma, and they say low 200s with generous year-end bonuses (1/4 to 1/3 salary) is pretty typical for associate medical directors, with a bump up to 250ish base once you get promoted to full medical director.

        1. Handwashing Hero*

          Okay sure, but do you have the skills for an associate medical director role? Pharma is very much less about what degrees you have and more about what skills and experience you bring to the table. Just trying to share my experience from it, it’s a very different world than Academia. That’s a pretty large role to walk into when you haven’t worked a drug product from development phase to commercialization.

            1. Sam*

              In your original post you mentioned that your PhD involved early stage drug discovery. Are you aiming to stay closer to discovery/preclinical or move towards clinical development? I’m guessing the latter. With the combo of pathology and genomic medicine, you might be able to target specific functions within one of those companies like biomarker/CDx development.

    5. Lizzo*

      A friend of mine works as a…career counselor? freelance recruiter? not sure how to describe her, but her specialty is STEM professionals looking to make career changes (e.g. to industry).

      I won’t include a link because that will send this to moderation but the site is scientific -hyphen- connections dot com. Her name is Merle. Good info on her website!

    6. Tacocat*

      Would you consider medical communications? That way you’re working with pharma clients and making connections. It wouldn’t pay 200k right out of the gate but you would get hired really fast and I’ve seen a lot of scientists transition to large pharma companies from agencies.

    7. Jobbyjob*

      It seems like a lot of folks answering you are not as familiar with the parts of industry that you are trying to apply to. I think it does say something that you haven’t received a phone screen from the roles you’ve applied to so far, given your education and target roles I wouldn’t expect you’d apply to hundreds of jobs, maaaabe dozens. Can you reach out to come folks on LinkedIn for informational interviews to get a non sugarcoated assessment of what might be lacking in your background for the roles you want? I’d also try the app “Blind” for advice which has some medical directors in the healthcare subpage. And pharma hiring really does move sloooow, 6 weeks might not be enough time for your materials to have been reviewed. In general your position and salary expectations don’t sound unreasonable, you just have to figure out what’s keeping you from floating to the top of the applicant pile.

  16. Well, this sucks!*

    I’m going to be laid off at some point in the next 2-3 months and given the option to work as a contractor for my soon-to-be-former employer.

    What all do I need to do to get ready for this switch? I’m talking with HR and my boss about severance, etc. but I’m feeling lost when it comes to health insurance, unemployment benefits, etc.

    For people who have been in this situation, what did you do (or not do!) to get yourself set up as well as possible for being unemployed?

    1. ThatGirl*

      For health insurance, it depends a little on your severance — with my last layoff, part of the package was that they would pay for COBRA coverage (essentially keeping the same insurance) for three months. After that I could have kept the COBRA on my own or switched to an ACA plan. Your options will likely be the same, but COBRA coverage is usually insanely expensive if the company isn’t subsidizing it.

      Unemployment – you can file right away, as soon as you’re no longer getting paid; it may take a couple weeks depending on your state and their backlog.

      I’ve never had advanced notice of a layoff, but if I had, I would sock as much money as possible away, get your resume ready to go and start looking for new jobs now.

      1. Well, this sucks!*

        Thank you! I am asking about continuing my coverage, but this language is really helpful. I’m def. starting my job search now!

    2. Ashley*

      I believe starting next month you can signup at healthcare.gov so I would start shopping insurance plans. If you do take the contractor route make sure you account for taxes in your salary negotiations. If you have a 401(k) don’t forget to ask about how that is handled.

      1. Natalie*

        OP doesn’t need to sign up during an open enrollment period – losing eligibility for their employer provided coverage is a qualifying life event and they will be able to enroll at that time. There’s really no reason to sign up early, you’ll likely be paying more for insurance when you could have just stayed on your employer plan until the actual layoff date.

        1. Well, this sucks!*

          Thank you both! I’ve been poking around on healthcare.gov.

          Fortunately my 401k is 100% vested, so I can take it all with me.

        2. Part of a mass layoff*

          This was a few years ago, but I’ve been told that when employer stops paying for COBRA isn’t a qualifying life event. You should check and confirm if this is still true and plan accordingly. Lucky for me, I didn’t have to figure out this particular issue but other folks who were part of the layoff were deciding to sign up for open enrollment because a) employer paid COBRA started before/during open enrollment but ended a few months afterwards b) they weren’t sure if they’d find another job (and be covered) in time c) paying out of pocket to continue COBRA was stupidly expensive and d) the mandatory health coverage law was in effect.

          1. Natalie*

            I wasn’t referring to COBRA coverage. The OP is still working and still covered by their employer plan as normal, they aren’t going to be laid off for a few months. There’s no reason for them to rush to sign up for a plan during the upcoming open enrollment, because they will qualify for enrollment when they are actually laid off. If their employer offers a few months of COBRA, when that ends they also qualify for Marketplace enrollment.

            It is true that deciding to drop COBRA coverage simply because you don’t want it anymore isn’t a qualifying event. Your eligibility has to end, or your costs change because employer subsidy has ended. So, basically, before you opt to pay for COBRA *with your own money*, make sure you’re happy paying for it until at least the next ACA open enrollment period.

    3. Cat Tree*

      I worked as a contractor when I was young and naive. Don’t be afraid to ask for an hourly rate that seems exorbitant to you. It should not be just slightly higher than your current pay. If you get no company contributions to health care, no paid sick or vacation time (maybe not even paid holidays), no annual bonus, no 401k matching, and no formal path for raises and promotions, you will need quite a lot more to cover all that yourself. And it will still be cheaper for the company. Of course, you’re not in a strong position to negotiate but you can at least ask for it.

      1. Filosofickle*

        Agreed. Translate your salary to an hourly then add minimum 25% , ideally 50%. And that’s for a FT role. For a non-FT / project / consultant type role, my rate is double or more.

        1. Well, this sucks!*

          I feel good about the rate I need to charge. I’ve freelanced before and I know what’s standard in my industry. My employer may not like it as it’s quite a bit higher than my salary, but I know they aren’t going to find someone with my skillset for less than what I’ll be asking.

        2. Filosofickle*

          Clicked too soon! More info.

          That extra pays for:
          Additional taxes (set aside lots for taxes!)
          Health insurance premiums
          Unpaid vacation and sick time
          Uncertainty

          It does depend if you’ll be a W2 or a 1099. Many contract employees are processed through a staffing firm so you’re a W2 of that firm to avoid legal liability. In that case, the staffing firm will take care of your taxes and may even provide some benefits. That generally pays on the lower end, in part because your company has to pay that staffing firm a fee for that service. (Being a W2 also sets you up for future unemployment at the end of the contract.) If you will be a 1099, you need to cover your own taxes and benefits etc and you should ask for more.

          1. Well, this sucks!*

            I will be a 1099. I’m trying to figure out how that impacts my eligibility for unemployment. Would it make sense for me to not even be a contractor and just collect unemployment until I find a new job?

            I currently have no guarantee of work after my position is eliminated, just that they have certain projects they really want me to work on.

            1. ThatGirl*

              Well, if they’re still going to have you working, just not as an employee, you wouldn’t be eligible for unemployment. In my experience (I’m pretty sure this is true across states, but ymmv) you can earn up to a certain (low) amount each week and then they start reducing your unemployment benefits. So if you’d be working more than even a few hours a week, it’s enough income to make you ineligible for UE.

              1. Well, this sucks!*

                Thank you! That’s what I was thinking. I’m also trying to figure out if I take contract work, and then that dries up, am I still eligible for unemployment. I don’t think so…

                1. Natalie*

                  Double check in your state, but I think in most states it shouldn’t make you ineligible unless it is full time contract work. Essentially, you get laid off, you file for UI, and then you report your freelancing earnings each week to the UI office so they can calculate what your UI payment is.

                2. Filosofickle*

                  That does feel like a critical question to sort out if that’s a concern. I don’t know how you’d find a definitive answer, though. In my state (CA) you would be eligible for UE if you go 1099 and that ends, or at least that’s how it’s supposed to be working during the pandemic

                3. ronda*

                  your state should have an unemplyment website that sets out the rules and allows you to apply.
                  in ga, I had to document 3 job seeking activities a week to get my weekly check.

                  One of the things they asked about weekly is if you were offered work and turned it down (I believe they want to stop paying you then)

                  I do think you might still be eligible for unemployment if your contract job dries up.
                  They did base the benefit amount on your earnings for the periods before you apply (went back 2 years I think), and I was a w2 employee, so that was all reported by my employer… not sure if 1099 $ are reported to unemployment.

              2. WellRed*

                I do wonder if changing someone from FT employee to a contractor status counts as enough a job change that you qualify for UI. I’d bet yes.

      2. MacGillicuddy*

        There are legal implications for a company that eliminates a full time position and then hires a contractor to do the same work. Alison has written about this problem many times. The issue is that if you’re doing the same job as a contractor that you did as a full time employee, then you’re not really a contractor.
        Additionally, in some states companies have to wait several months (6 I think) after eliminating a position before hiring a contractor to do the same job.

        Here’s an older post where the reply addresses this: https://www.askamanager.org/2012/07/employer-wants-to-illegal-treat-me-as-a-contractor-rather-than-an-employee.html

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          One clarification on this — if they restructure the work so that it meets the legal requirements for an independent contractor role, they can do that. But they can’t have you keep doing the job just like an employee would.

          1. Well, this sucks!*

            Thank you both. I think they can restructure it so it’s legal. I think I will have to keep on them to keep it that way though. There’s no plan for anyone else to take over my day-to-day administrative-type duties and I don’t think they’re prepared to have someone take on gathering all the assets I’ll need to do a project. Typically I would hunt down everything I need from people in other offices, run project intake meetings to get a sense of timeline, deliverables, etc.

    4. Lifelong student*

      Where are the legal/HR department for companies that think they can change an employee to a contractor! If that person is essentially in the same role- under the same constraints and controls- they are an employee! There are specific standards for differentiating between employee and contractor- both at federal and state levels.

      1. Well, this sucks!*

        From what I can tell, they will be changing my job enough for it to be a legal change. I’m the director of design/branding and they will be offering me discrete projects as a contractor. So I set my hours, where I work, etc.

        The only thing that I’m not sure about is it sounds like they’ll still want me to handle the admin side of things (handling asset requests and organization), but again, without constraints on my time, location, etc.

    5. ronda*

      also about 401k.. you usaully have the option to stay in your employer plan or rollover to IRAs
      they should send you a document telling you about your options when you are severed.
      You dont have to do the rollover right away, you can do it much later if you want to wait.

      http://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/071715/8-reasons-roll-over-your-401k-ira.asp
      http://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/080315/top-reasons-not-roll-over-your-401k-ira.asp

      another reason not to do the rollover is if you want to do the mega backdoor roth ira.
      If you have your company stock in your 401k.. there is a beneficial tax treatment called NUA that you need to do exactly right to have it work and not be a penalty. (this is mentioned in the article)

  17. Missed Call Mystery*

    I’m usually a huge proponent of “do not respond to a missed call unless they also left a voicemail” but I’m having a weird situation that I wanted to run by the group. I had 2-3 missed calls from the same number the past two days. I was never able to answer it – they always called when I was on another call I couldn’t excuse myself from or in the bathroom – and they never left a message. The number showed on my screen as being from a national title company I sometimes work with (I’m a real estate lawyer), but I searched the number in my email and nothing came up, and I currently am not working on any projects that involve that title company or the area code from where they were calling. I’ve never encountered a spam caller who calls so many times from the same number which makes me think it’s legit, but if it was, I would think they would leave a message. So far no calls today, and I’m going to try to answer if they do, but should I have tried calling the number back yesterday?

    1. Missed Call Mystery*

      To clarify – I just checked my call log and it was 4 calls Wednesday and 2 calls yesterday. Not just 2 calls over two days.

    2. Anononon*

      As a lawyer who works in a field adjacent to yours, I wouldn’t answer it. People know how to leave voicemails – if it’s not worth it for them to leave one, I’m not wasting my time in calling them back.

      1. Missed Call Mystery*

        Yeah, in my experience it’s the rare lawyer who doesn’t love to leave a voicemail. But then local title companies can also have quirks, so it’s been a toss-up!

    3. Pond*

      This is now a thing that spam callers do (spoofing a legitimate phone number and calling multiple times), so I wouldn’t worry about it. If it would give you peace of mind perhaps you could call or email/message one of your contacts at that company and say ‘hey this happened, just want to check it wasn’t actually you trying to reach me.’ That would also alert them that a spammer is spoofing their number in case they get calls from people thinking they interacted with the company. However, I don’t think that is necessary and would be a bit much.

    4. Ashley*

      One of the problems I run into in the no voicemail, text message, or email followup is who to ask for if it isn’t a direct line. If they are calling on a work cell where the number is given out regularly and not just my personal phone I would probably try calling once and leave a message if you can.

    5. Emi*

      I get repeat spam calls from the same number all the time, to the point where I add them to my contacts as “SPAM.” Personally I would ignore unless/until they leave a message.

    6. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I sometimes get repeat calls from a number I don’t know that doesn’t leave a message, and I’ve started googling the number when it happens. If it pops up as being the official number of a business that I actually have a reason to talk to, I’ll call them. But usually, it’s just a string of those “look up this number” websites, which I take to mean it’s a spam call.

    7. Bagpuss*

      I think you are fine – not least as if you did call back, if it’s not someone’s direct line then the first thing you’re likely to be asked is who you want to speak to…

    8. RagingADHD*

      I would just make sure the voicemail is working properly, and then ignore it.

      If it’s a work call, there is no reason they can’t leave you a message, and you said the title company has emailed with you before.

      1. Annie Moose*

        Was going to say–double-check that your voicemail isn’t full or something, but if not, then they’ll leave a voicemail if it’s deeply important!

        1. Missed Call Mystery*

          I’ve gotten voicemails from other people while this was happening, and I always delete everything, so that’s not the issue. (They also only rang three times once – I had just taken a giant bite of food and by the time I swallowed the phone stopped ringing.)

          1. Enough*

            Three rings is usually a sign of spam calls. If they are computer generated they call multiple number at once and when someone answers the other calls get dropped. Also as most voice mail is set up to pick up after 5-10 rings they don’t want to get caught up in that.

    9. Anxious Overdresser*

      Tech companies pay new grads to make cold calls. Often, they have call quotas – but if you don’t answer, you still count towards their quota (and they can call you 3 times a day and get 3 calls closer to quota daily if you don’t answer!) Someone may have you listed as someone who they could sell a new software to.

    10. Choggy*

      Nope, if it was important, they would have left a vm, don’t worry about it and if you find it annoying, just block them. I can’t tell you how many calls I get that are spoofed from legit numbers that do call me. If they don’t leave a message, and I can’t verify the number, the number is blocked.

    11. Dr.KMnO4*

      Does your phone have a “screen call” (I think that’s what it’s called) option? My Google Pixel has a feature where I can have my phone “answer” the call and say a prerecorded message that asks the caller to ID who they are and why they’re calling. It transcribes their response and I can decide to answer it or not. Most spam callers just hang up at that point. That might be an option if your phone has that feature.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Oh, is that what it’s doing? I have the same setup, apparently, but I thought maybe it changed the format of the visual voicemail for some calls. Can vouch that it’s worked well for my legitimate calls so far. I never pick up unknown numbers and I have gotten repeat calls from some of them that are definitely spam/spoofed.

    12. Lifelong student*

      I have received calls from numbers I do not know and not answered them only to find out that it was a WFH call from someone at a business or medical practice I am involved with. The no voice mail may be because of privacy or HIPPA restrictions. Just a thought.

      1. Choggy*

        They should still leave a message without including any sensitive details, just the call back information, I can’t imagine that falls under privacy or HIPPA?

    13. Policy Wonk*

      They probably want to tell you that your vehicle’s extended warranty is about to expire. I’d wait for them to call back.

      1. PollyQ*

        I’ve gotten several of those over the past couple weeks, although they’ve all left pre-recorded messages.

    14. Haha Lala*

      Do you have a contact at that title company that you can check in with directly and see if they know if someone’s been trying to reach you? That way you’re not responding to the potential spam number, but not completely ignoring something that may need your attention. And if it is a case of scammers duplicating their numbers, then at least you alerted the company.

    15. Not So NewReader*

      Maybe I am old? But if a person cannot bother to leave a message, I am not willing to play, “Guess what they want?”

      You may find it helpful to avoid looking at the list of callers to see who did not leave a message. That’s my plan and I am sticking to it.
      For the most part, they don’t leave messages when it’s too detailed or too personal to put in a vm.

  18. MMM*

    I’m currently working a temporary position, so I’ve been casually job searching knowing that I will need a new job come September. I just got switched to a new role within that position (now working a call center) This made my job search a lot more desperate. Will it look strange or flighty to be interviewing 8 months ahead of time? I’m not sure how skeptical interviewers would be of someone trying to leave their temporary job before the year is up.

    1. Allypopx*

      Are you on a contract or could you leave if an opportunity came up now?

      I ask just because it’s going to be a lot harder to find a position if you can’t start for 8 months – I think the circumstances make sense, and I’m not sure the interviewers would be skeptical persay. It’s just unlikely you’d meet their needs.

      If you AREN’T on a contract “the terms of my temporary position changed” is a perfectly legitimate reason to leave early and you won’t look flighty.

      1. MMM*

        No, not a contract, and the end date is firm, so wouldn’t have been an opportunity for it to be extended or converted to permanent anyway. That’s reassuring, obviously job hunting is hard in normal times, but with everyone else also looking I don’t want things to come down to the wire at the end!

        1. Cat Tree*

          This is where “at-will” employment benefits employees too. If something better comes along you are perfectly free to move on.

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      If you are able to get a permanent job offer now you should just take it and not worry about making it until September. Unless you took a temp position that was specifically contracted for and about a specific time length (ie covering a maternity leave, a leave of absence, etc), leaving a temp job when a permanent position came up is super normal. Wanting to leave a temp job early because they changed your role is also another good reason to want to make a switch early, I don’t think anyone would look at that poorly.

    3. Ellen*

      It makes sense to start job hunting early, because the process can be very lengthy, so I don’t think you’re wildly out of whack on the timing. You could also potentially spin it as ‘I moved my job hunt along faster when I saw [this opening] because it seemed like a great fit’ during the interview.

    4. RagingADHD*

      Anybody who would think it’s wierd to leave a temporary call-center gig ASAP is out of touch with reality and you don’t want to work with them anyway.

    5. SomebodyElse*

      Look now and don’t wait until you are near the end. The nature of temporary positions is that they are temporary. It’s accepted and understood that temp employees are a greater flight risk than permanent ones are.

      It will not look strange, unprofessional, or flighty for you to do this. In fact most people would question why you waited until the end to look for something else.

    6. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Agreeing with everyone, my understanding is that temp roles are expected to have turnover.

      Just in case it’s not on there, note you’re currently in a temp role, so it’s clear why you’re applying for new roles even though you’ve only been there for a short time, e.g.

      Call Center admin (temp), Jan 2021-present

    7. Chriama*

      It’s very common for people to leave temp work for full time work, regardless of how far away your end date is (assuming it’s not highly paid, and if they want you making cold calls it sure doesn’t sound like it). It won’t look flighty at all. Apply for jobs now and leave when you get a good offer. You have the benefit of being able to be picky for the next few months.

  19. Synonymous*

    I am working on paring down my work wardrobe and investing in quality pieces that will last. As you have moved up in your career, what work wardrobe upgrades have you made that you love and have held up over time (bonus points for sustainability)? Personally I have started buying cashmere sweaters from Naadam and flats from Rothy’s. The cashmere makes the sweaters a pain to wash, but they are the softest things I’ve ever owned. And I love the Rothy’s color and comfort.

    1. Chauncy Gardener*

      I love any kind of high quality sweater jacket. They read ‘jacket’ but feel like jammies. ;) I have quite a few of them, warmer for winter and lighter for summer.
      Turtlenecks in winter and sleeveless shells in the summer for underneath.
      A couple of pairs of high quality slacks and/or skirts and you’re good to go, I’d say.

    2. PolarVortex*

      Comfortable pants are worth the investment, particularly of fabric that is not as likely to wrinkle. Back when I went in to work, I practically lived in the same three pairs of pants, all of which were ridiculously comfortable and didn’t wrinkle. They could dress up or down depending on whether I had to meet with the powers that be or not that day.

      Also, I own what probably most resembles a shorter kurta, which looks very professional and bonus lightweight for summer.

      Honestly I usually don’t have to dress up for my job but I’m all about comfort myself too. My theory runs: if I wouldn’t wear it laying on the couch it’s not worth my effort investing for it at work.

    3. Ashley*

      The work sleeveless black dress. It is easy to update with a new cardigan. I think I got mine from Ann Taylor outlets.

    4. A Simple Narwhal*

      If they’re your style, a high-quality high-waisted pencil skirt is a must-have, mine is definitely the most versatile item in my wardrobe. It works in warm weather with a breezy blouse and heels/flats, it works when it’s cold with a sweater/turtleneck/blazer and tights and boots. It looks sleek and is very flattering to my shape, I always feel very well put together when I wear it! I struggled early in my career to find work clothes that were professional but also made me feel good – for the longest time I didn’t think I could look professional without looking frumpy or feel true to my style at all. Developing my own style in business attire has been something I’m pleased to have grown in over the years, I finally feel like I can look professional but also look and feel good at the same time!

      I’ve enjoyed living in lounge wear essentially for the last 11 months, but when/if I do go back in to the office I’ll be happy to break out my pencil skirt once again!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I wish I could pull off a pencil skirt, I love them on everyone except me. Haha. But I am a Viking lass with hips built for child-bearing and legs that will cover leagues, and a pencil skirt emphasizes those things in all the wrong ways. My equivalent is a long a-line skirt, and I have those in about two dozen patterns/colors :)

    5. Another JD*

      Tailoring well-made pieces has made all the difference for me.

      My favorite pair of work pants were $250, but the material is exquisite, and the fabric falls just so. Ten years later, they still look new.

      I also love my leather Coach purse. It was from the outlets so only $350, but I’ve used it every day for four years and aside from some wear on the straps, it’s in fabulous shape. My mom was gifted a high-end purse (I forget the brand but remember the price – an eye-watering $750!). She’s had it for 15 years and it still looks new.

      How do you wash your cashmere sweaters? Mine haven’t held up as well over time as my wool ones.

      1. Synonymous*

        I’m curious where you’ve gotten your pants!

        For the cashmere, I’ve been wearing them with t- or long sleeve shirt underneath, something to keep them away from my armpits! The I follow the company’s directions to wash them by hand with baby shampoo. They’ve held up so far, but the one I’ve had the longest is probably only a year-ish old.

        1. Teach*

          Also look at washes marketed toward the knitting community – there are really gentle, wonderful products for sweaters that also condition the yarn (it’s hair, after all!) I buy Soak unscented, but Eucalan is another popular brand.

    6. SomebodyElse*

      Silk blouses.

      They are expensive, but worth it. First and foremost they don’t have nearly the static cling that synthetic blouses have. They work just as well with a blazer or sweater (I generally wear sweaters) and can be worn with slacks or jeans (I wear jeans in my home office and slacks when I travel).

      I won’t link, but if you google vince silk blouse you can find the ones I like best on the vince website or even amazon.

    7. Just a PM*

      Upgrading from cardigans to blazers and jackets, and especially getting them tailored to fit perfectly.

      Though I must confess: I actually haven’t gotten any of mine tailored yet. I was going to get my first jacket tailored and then COVID hit. All the work clothes went back into my closet and I resumed dressing like the 22 year old coder I was in the beginning with t-shirts and hoodies. But when COVID goes away, I will begin tailoring my blazers and jackets.

    8. Hooray for Gamestop*

      +1 to PolarVortex’s non-wrinkly comfortable pants comment.

      Also want to shout-out custom shirts from a tailor. They are expensive but worth it IMO. You can ask a tailor to also alter shirts for you, for example men’s shirts off-the-rack that are too long in the sleeve for you. Women’s off-the-rack button shirts that fit me for length were too small for my upper arms. I felt and looked a little like Hulk, about to break the shirt. Not a good look and I did indeed break a few. It’s one thing to be careful in an outfit for a club (“no jumping jacks in this dress”) but another to do for a work shirt (“no bending my arms in this shirt”).

      I’m a little overweight but nothing extreme. The custom shirts totally fit (of course that’s the point) and no more Hulk shirt worries.

    9. Policy Wonk*

      Good quality blazers and jackets in classic fabrics/styles. They will draw the focus and can be worn with pants, skirts, dresses. Blouses/shells/scarves can change with fashion and keep the look up to date. As for sustainability, check consignment shops. Good quality lasts, so you can often find them there.

    10. cactus lady*

      Not a particular wardrobe piece but something that has helped me a lot – all the clothes I buy match each other. So I never have to worry about which pieces I’m picking out and whether the outfit will go. This probably comes from wearing a school uniform in my childhood, but I get a lot of anxiety trying to figure out outfits, and this way they all feel figured out already.

    11. tab*

      I wear dress pants (from Talbots) with a cotton shell and cardigan in the summer, and cashmere sweaters or a blazer with shell in the winter. I throw my sweaters in the washer and wash them with Woolite on the delicate setting, and lay them flat to dry. It doesn’t seem to hurt them.

    12. Sue*

      Eileen Fisher black pants. If money is no object, Misook skirts, pants, jackets will last a lifetime. They are knit, pack beautifully without wrinkles, machine wash and are mix and match. Very high quality but definitely expensive.

  20. Niniel*

    It’s the slower season at my job. The workload I have today could be finished in about 2 weeks, but I have no incentive to finish it because I know that I can’t just take off work for a couple weeks after that. I wish more companies would allow taking time off (aside from vacation days) once your workload is done. I’d be so much more motivated to finish work quickly if I knew I could take a day off at the end of the week!

  21. Minhag*

    Does anyone have a solid rule of thumb for picking a target salary when negotiating? Something like, “figure out what you think the salary should be, then add 20%” or “always ask for $15,000 more than what you are hoping for”?

    1. Mbarr*

      I heard the suggestion that you should always ask for $5000 more than what you want. That being said, at my current job, I asked for $15,000 more, because after the interview I realized the job was way more in-depth than anticipated.

    2. ThatGirl*

      When I was interviewing for the job I just started, I gave a range that ended about $10k above my last job. They offered me that number. Now I wish I had aimed a little higher – although, to be clear, I think I’m being paid fairly and well. It just made me think maybe they would have gone higher if I’d asked. So never be afraid to tack another $5k or whatever on. :)

    3. Chaordic One*

      I’ve always heard that when you are making a lateral move to a different company where you’ll be doing pretty much what you do in your current position, you should ask for and get at least 10% more than your current salary. If the benefits are better or worse, you might vary that a bit up or down to compensate for that.

  22. Accounting Student*

    Any suggestions for accounting related websites/news/resources? I’m studying accounting in college (in the US) and planning on some sort of career in accounting, and I’m having difficulty finding information on accounting careers other than starting in public/at the Big 4 for a few years before switching into private. I’m more interested in tax than audit, but there are definitely other areas of accounting I just don’t know about and want to learn.

    1. Chauncy Gardener*

      Honestly, if you have the grades etc to get hired into the Final Four, you should go for it. It will give you the experience and the cred you’ll always be glad you have. Plus your CPA. Most public accounting firms will let you try both tax and audit.
      What other areas are you interested in? Are there career counseling resources at your school? Do you know anyone in the field that you could get an informational interview with?

      1. Accounting Student*

        I’ll probably but not for certain be able to go for the Big 4. My school has an internship program with them that I’ll probably apply for next year, and if I can do that I’ll probably be offered a job at the end. So that seems like a great option.
        However, last semester was my first intermediate accounting class, material directly relevant to the CPA, and I did really badly in it. Of course I’m not sure how much was because of the general insaneness of the world/COVID/online classes and how much is difficulty with the actual material, but it has seriously shaken my confidence and now I’m really questioning whether I should go for the CPA and that path at all.

        1. Lifelong student*

          Intermediate is often the hardest accounting course. The material can be very confusing. When I was a beginning accountant, I kept my intermediate textbook in my office. It was not uncommon for even partners to come to consult it!

      2. Accounting Student*

        It’s hard to figure out what other areas I’m interested in because it’s hard to find information. The only accounting related news/website I’ve found is Going Concern, which isn’t exactly helpful.
        I have done a couple informational interviews and I’ll try to do some more in the next year. The only people I know to ask are people who have done the big 4/CPA path, and I don’t know where to find people who haven’t done that, which I think would be helpful for a different perspective.

        1. Chauncy Gardener*

          Potatoes (with the awesome username) below makes great recommendations.
          I think what usually happens is you start in public (so maybe Big 4, maybe not) and that gives you a pretty broad exposure to a bunch of different companies. Then, if you decide you don’t love public and want to go on the partner track, you jump to private, either in tax or accounting. Or if you’re in tax, you could go to the IRS or a local government. Local government in turn could lead to going back to private as a SALT specialist.
          Audit can lead to “regular” accounting jobs (financial analyst, Accounting Manager, on up, depending at what level you leave public) in private (and things are SO different from company to company and industry to industry) or things like forensic auditing
          I think the main thing at your point is not to overthink things. You have no idea what you’ll like or dislike until you start doing it! And don’t get freaked out by not doing well in Intermediate Accounting. See if you can get some extra help, just to get your feet under you, and then I’m sure you’ll do fine!

    2. Potatoes gonna potate*

      For tax, Kelly Phillips Erbs is a great person to follow. IRS is the main resource but I know lots of professionals who use Sequoia to obtain CPE credits. and this may sound a little silly but I’ve joined a few tax groups on Facebook and they are pretty helpful (so long as you go in wanting to learn and make it clear that you’re a student and not practicing).

    3. CupcakeCounter*

      So I am an accountant who skipped the CPA route and went straight into corporate accounting – 10+ years later I am a Senior Financial Analyst for a manufacturer doing a mix of general accounting, budget/forecasting, and inventory management. There are TONS of options to choose from – Cost Accounting for manufacturing companies, general accountant which does the monthly books as well as a lot of reporting, Financial Planning and Analysis which does a lot of the budget and forecasting and then analysis of the variances of budget to actual, etc…
      2 things to keep in mind: 1) an audit background is basically a guarantee of a corporate job at publicly traded companies since they have to do quarterly and annual filings and having someone on staff who understands what the auditors look for is a huge plus. If tax is your jam, great! There are still a lot of options for tax in public accounting as well as the corporate sector but there is a lot less variety in what you can transition into.
      2) Having your CPA opens up a lot of jobs later on in your career and many public firms will help pay for it – both the test and prep courses – so don’t let that one class scare you off. The first intermediate accounting class is a bear for many successful accountants – in my class we had a 20% drop out rate.

      My recommendation would be look for a public internship as well as a corporate internship – those will help more than any articles or publications. I prefer corporate accounting – I never had any intention of going the public route – but there are significant long-term advantages to having your CPA and a few years of public accounting under your belt. My classmates who went into public accounting and got their CPA are making at least 25% more than I am and I have done a fairly decent job for advocating for myself and feel my compensation is fair.

      1. Lifelong student*

        Not every state requires actual public accounting experience to get a CPA license. PA changed its rules a few years back. The experience requirements for those who are not in public can be difficult to meet- but it is a path to licensure.

    4. Mr. Goo*

      Check out the subreddit r/accounting. A lot of folks are in public accounting but there are a number who skipped doing that and went right into industry. Some of the industry and government positions still allowed them to get their CPA licenses, too.

      I went through public accounting so I don’t have any advice for you. If you’re able to get your CPA without going public that would be a much easier life. And don’t let recruiters or classmates try to convince you’ll make way more money doing public. The initial pay is higher but don’t let that fool you. I did 6 years in public and am going to start a government job next month. I’ll be making the same amount of money but I was putting in 300 hours of overtime a year at my firm.

    5. ronda*

      I got my cpa a long time ago, but didnt do audit/ accounting firm. It required more years of experience than if I had been at public accounting to get the CPA. But each state has it’s own rules about this kind of stuff. public accounting firms are a little more likely to have some support around this, like study time for cpa exam, cpe opportunities cause they generally have more employees needing it than a private company.

      I do have the impression that the big accounting firms have a churn going on. they hire a lot of new graduates every year and expect them to start moving up of leave after a year or few. Lots of travel is a benefit for some and a deterrent for others (often at client sites).

      My sister works in tax. Sales tax, which is totally different than income tax. It is a private company and they have income tax people too… she just likes sales tax better.

      After doing some years of accounting stuff, I moved to systems stuff. That is another big practice at the big firms, software consulting and management consulting. Systems might seem like an IT area, but it is also a finance/accounting area cause they need help with the systems and generally like a mix of accounting and systems knowledge.

      There are lots of options and you can try some out as you get the chance and see what you like.

      1. ronda*

        also, I volunteered to be a tax-aide tax preparer for this year. It is sponsored by the irs to help people who need assistance filing their income taxes. The one I volunteered with is run by aarp.

        Doing this might give you a little insight into personal income tax preparation. And might be a way to see what you think of tax. It is limited in the scope of tax situations it will take on, so it really only shows you some of the tax situations that you might encounter if you went into it as a career. And it does focus on personal vs corporate tax, so there is that too.
        If you wanted to make a few bucks doing this, instead of volunteering, you might try working for one of the retail tax preparers. I hear they pay minimum wage, but if you want to try it out, it might be worth it.

        Look for training on their websites in Fall if you are interested. Look up irs tax volunteers on their website for more info on that program.

    6. Red Boxes and Arrows*

      I recently went back to school to finish my Bachelor’s (in Accounting) and get my Master’s (in Accounting). I was hired immediately after graduation as a Senior IT Internal Auditor at Awful Fortune 5 Company (I have an IT background) but now am a Senior [Everything] Internal Auditor at Awesome Mid-Level Manufacturer. I didn’t even know that internal audit was a thing until I was in my 3rd-to-last undergrad semester.

      The people in my cohort who went Big 4 hate it. Insane hours for low pay. Other friends of mine are at mid-tier consulting firms and, while they enjoy it, don’t have plans to stay. [To be fair, though, a Senior Manager of mine at Awful Fortune 5 Company quit and went back to one of the Big 4, so industry isn’t for everyone.]

      From my perspective, the people who went straight to industry — as either internal auditors or corporate accountants — appear to be the most satisfied with their work and pay. It may be true, as CupcakeCounter says above, that folks who go the Big4 route and get their CPA make a lot more, but there’s a work/life balance trade-off. I *will* say that you can go the industry/corporate route, get your CPA, and then command more money in corporate accounting for having that license (without ever working in public accounting).

      In my company, we have tax accountants, cost accountants, corporate and consolidations accountants (international company with multiple sub-companies whose financials need to be rolled into one set of financial statements), risk/compliance analysts (a blend of legal and accounting), financial analysts, pricing analysts, manufacturing plant controllers, payables accountants, accounting people who work in supply chain, and so much more.

      I’ll echo the advice to try to do two internships, one at a public accounting firm and one in a corporate accounting role, so you can compare for yourself. And, be forewarned, if you do an OK job at the public accounting internship, they will press you to sign on for a permanent job when you graduate, even if graduation is still several semesters away. One of my co-IT-audit-interns at Fortune 5 had previously done an internship at one of the Big 4. Without knowing any better, she committed to working for them after she graduated, which was immediately after our co-internship ended. Except. . . Big 4 wanted to pay her $55K (with “great” growth potential and a 3% annual performance bonus) and Fortune 5 offered her $80K plus an annual bonus of 25% of her base pay. She *almost* took the Big 4 job out of some misplaced loyalty.

    7. Accounting Student*

      Thank you all for the suggestions and sharing your experiences, this definitely gives me more things to look into!

    8. Annie’s Mom*

      I’m another accountant that skipped the public route, and went into the private sector after graduation. I had just gotten married, and actually wanted to spend some time at home vs. the travel and long hours of public accounting. I’ve worked at the same company for 15 years, in family wealth management. Ended up getting my cpa abt 8 years after graduating, it’s helpful for my job, although I don’t work much with tax. I love working in a small company— I wear lots of different hats, so it never gets boring, and even after all of these years, I still learn new things. And I’m paid really well, and have a fair amount of flexibility.

  23. Mbarr*

    Stuck between a rock and a hard place. I’m a Software Program Manager (I don’t have that official title) but I’m not good at my job. I wasn’t trained to be a PM. I also don’t understand enough about our processes/software so I’m floundering right now. I don’t dislike (but I also don’t like) my manager. I keep vacillating between wanting to job hunt, and hoping things get better.

    On Monday, I found out I’m going to be offered an internal position with another team. It would mean working with other PMs. And I know my PM work will go to this new team regardless. The problem is:
    1. This new team will see right through me that I’m Not Good at my work.
    2. The manager is a suuuuper Type A personality and I suspect I’d be super stressed out working for her.
    3. I’ve also had some bad experiences with their VP (like, bad enough that I complained to my own manager about it).

    The thing is, I WANT to be a better PM. Career-wise, it would be amazing for me (if I can actually rise up and understand what the heck my company does). And I’m wondering if, as part of the new team, I’d get the support I need to excel in this row. (It’s like I’m a Chef working among mechanics right now. If I move to the new team, I’d be a Chef working with other Chefs.)

    Alternatively, if I stay with my current team, I’d get rid of the work that’s stressing me out. But I’d be left with other unappealing work that also sometimes stresses me out.

    1. Threeve*

      I can’t give much advice, except: you’re not bad at your job! You’re under-trained at your job!

      1. EMP*

        seconding this! If you make that move to the PM team, would it help your comfort and your training to point out that elephant in the room? Something like “Since I came into this role from Teapot Painter there’s a lot I still need to learn about being a PM and I’m excited to learn from everyone here.”

    2. Lilith*

      I firstly want to say that if they are intending on offering you a new post in a specialised PM team, then they must value your work as it’s to their benefit if you succeed. They clearly want you to stay, so that must mean that you’re doing better than you might perceive yourself to be.

      Do you know anyone on the other team that you can ask about what it’s like, and that you could use as a bit of guide if you move to their team? I think I’m at a lower level than you, but am fairly similar in that I’m a fairly recent PM and am being slowly absorbed into the IT team (though I have no knowledge and little interest in IT work) – I’ve managed it by really owning what I don’t know and so asking all the questions. I know they’ve found it helpful as me trying to clarify how some processes work has thrown up that they’re not that efficient, and I’ve also actively decided not to let my manager’s very ‘all or nothing’ stress outbursts not affect me (which I know not everyone can do).

      Of course, if you move to the new team and you don’t like it, you can always keep job hunting then.

    3. fish*

      My own rule is that I always pick the choice offering the most growth. Sometimes it’s scary but I just have to believe in myself that I’ll be able to do it. I believe you can do it too!

      When accepting the offer, you can be very upfront about what you’re hoping to learn and improve on. I wouldn’t frame it as, “I feel like I’m awful at X, I suck,” but more like, “I’m really excited to take this role. I especially am excited for the opportunity to learn more about X, which I’ve seen, but haven’t yet been formally trained on.”

      Example: my rabbi had no experience as a hospice chaplain but thought it would be useful to her. She asked the congregation to let her take a course in it as a condition of her hire. They agreed because they thought it would be useful to have a rabbi with that training. They weren’t mad she didn’t already have it.

    4. TiffIf*

      If you are being offered a position with another team, then there is obviously something about you/your work that they like or want. Maybe ask what it is?

      If you’re moving to a new team, do they work on a different product or different aspect of the product? I work in software as well and we have distinct roles among our PMs for the Residential side of our product and the Commercial side of our product (we’re insurance industry adjacent)–but the needs and expectations and relationship of the Residential clients vs the Commercial clients can be very different even though technically its the same product. If the new team works on a different product or different aspect of the product, use it as a chance to learn more about the product in general and your new role specifically.

      If you stay with your current team are you going to be able to figure out what your company does and how you can be a better PM in your current position?

      1. Mbarr*

        Essentially the move is to get all Program Managers under one team. I would literally be doing most of my same work – I’d just lose a few responsibilities that belong to the old team.

        I’d still be the odd duck on the new team – everyone else are PMs for Llama-tronics, and I’d be the PM for software programs that help run the Llama machines. They’d be able to teach me how to be a better PM. Learning about my products are harder. But you’ve given me food for thought. :D

    5. James*

      I’m pretty new at PMing myself, and my company strongly believes in learning by doing, so my training has been “Here’s a project. Have fun”. Yes, more seasoned PMs will see right through you. But good ones won’t be malicious about it. It’s more “Yeah, we all made that mistake. Here’s what you do instead.”

      I’d also suggest a formal or informal mentor. Someone you trust to tell you when you’re making mistakes, with the intent to help you fix them. Everyone makes mistakes, especially when they’re new, and a mentor will help keep mistakes from becoming catastrophic. They can also help with networking–providing subcontractor and vender names, introducing you to key players above you, that sort of thing.

      You could also see if the company could help with the cost of PM training. I’ve got a friend who’s going through such a program, with her company paying. A combination of practical and theoretical training can be useful in really driving home the concepts you learn in classes.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Seconding the suggestion for a mentor. In addition to the PM work stuff, you could get insights into how to work effectively with the new group’s manager and whether the VP has any impact on the PM work.

        Also, more generally I’ve found that when I’m working in a new-to-me area where I just don’t know much, asking basic questions usually turns out just fine. If someone gets grumpy about you asking a rookie question when you’re obviously a rookie, that’s not about you. Lately I feel like that’s most of my job, to be the one who says hey, before we really get into X, can we talk about what the goal of X is, why we’re doing it, and how will it be used. Not all of that would be applicable to you, maybe, but the idea is to get the bigger picture before you get swamped in the details.

    6. Yikes!*

      OMG, don’t take the transfer! Normally I’m all for taking new responsibilities/jobs that challenge me, but you already know you don’t like these parts of your job, and if you stay where you are the stressful parts will go away, that seems like a godsend! And getting thrown in with people who are good at it who you already suspect will NOT be supportive as you learn sounds like torture. Sounds to me like you can stay where you are and dodge a lot of bullets. Maybe you’ll keep some stressful parts of the job but maybe you can pick up others that you like / that are less stressful.

  24. Lilith*

    For people who use the same mobile phone for both personal and work purposes, what do you do when you have a day off? Do you still check work emails as they come in, or do you disconnect from the email app for the day? Do you answer phone calls and just take a message for yourself, or ignore calls and hope they weren’t personal?

    My current company pays people to use their personal device (not much, but it would cover my very low monthly contract), and I’m wondering if it would be worth it. I do really appreciate being able to switch off the work phone when I’m not working though, so that I don’t even have to think about the office.

    1. lapgiraffe*

      If you have the option to have a separate phone, do that. My whole career is on my personal phone and there’s just no way to not be bothered by it, I can’t tell you how many nice moments have been marred by a stupid work email or text that did not need my attention at the time but got it anyway since it’s mixed in with the rest of my life.

    2. CatCat*

      I would set up a Google voice number if they’re not giving you a work number you can forward. That lets you control the calls coming in to Google voice (like setting it to go straight to voicemail on the weekends).

      I have a work provided number that forwards to my phone. I turn off the phone forwarding on the weekend and it would then go straight to my work voicemail. I can check email on my phone, but I don’t on the weekend (there isn’t an app, there’s a mobile site for Outlook and I just don’t go to the site, but if there was an app, I would disable it.)

      My boss has my personal number so if there was something truly urgent after-hours and when I am off, he can call or text me there.

      1. Me*

        Seconding the google voice. I have a phone paid for by my work. I ported my personal cell number to a google voice number and set that up on my phone. That lets me have a personal number and a business number on the same device. Plus when I leave, I will just port my google voice number back to a new personal phone.

      2. Nela*

        I’m a freelancer and have one home. I have separate inboxes for work and personal emails and I don’t check my work inbox outside of business hours, and if I’m on vacation I peek in once a day. If you don’t have this option, use a different email app for work. I keep all emai notifications off all the time.

        Calls are not a big deal since clients don’t call me often, and never on the weekends, but I’ve had folks text me and I would leave unread and reply via email, requesting that in the future they always email and never text because I don’t use texting apps for work and I need to keep all my work communication in the same place and not spread across different apps where it’s impossible to track down. I know some clients find texting easier, but I’m not having it and I’m holding a firm boundary on this.

    3. TextHead*

      I do, but I also have very few of my work apps on my phone. For my work email, I have it so it can be easily accessed if I need to check it, but it’s not synced, so I don’t get notifications for it.

    4. Lucette Kensack*

      I strongly prefer having a different phone for work, but I use my personal phone for my current role. What I do:

      – Keep all email notifications turned off. No sound, no popup, no counter on the icon. I look at it when I need to, and ignore it otherwise.
      – Keep the email icon buried on a secondary screen, not on the home page.
      – If I’m in a particularly stressful period, or if I’m away on vacation, I remove the email app for as long as needed.
      – Have my desk phone line redirect to my mobile during work hours, and disconnect it when I’m not working (so I don’t have to give out my personal number).

    5. Ashley*

      I wish years ago I would have done a separate phone number. Voicemails are pretty easy because you can change the outgoing message and people that know me don’t really leave voicemails anyway. The text messages when off are the worst though. I have had different approaches depending on the level of messages I am getting. My favorite sush people option is put a handful of people in favorites and just receive notifications from them and then redo the setting when I return to work.
      Because I don’t check email on vacation I delete the app and use a different email for any vacation related travel arrangement stuff I may need to access.

    6. Just a PM*

      (This is a different perspective than what you asked for) My mom used her work cell as her personal phone. She *never* turned it off. We’d be out to dinner at a restaurant and she’d be checking emails. We’d be on vacation, and she’s checking email. We’d be in the car going somewhere — yep, checking email. And she didn’t have the kind of job that required her to be “on” 24/7 like that. All our vacation/milestone photos ended up on her work phone and because she couldn’t connect it to her personal laptop at home guess what…all those photos got deleted.

      I can say that as her child, it was super disappointing and very hard to get her to disconnect to be present. So if you have children, I would really encourage you to have two phones. Leave the work phone in your work bag when you come home. Don’t let your kids’ memories of last summer’s beach trip be you on your phone answering emails between pictures of them burying Dad in sand.

    7. RagingADHD*

      I don’t answer calls unless they are a recognized contact anyway, so when I’m not working I only answer friends & family.

    8. OneTwoThree*

      I use my personal phone for work as well. Most of my work phone calls and emails can be saved until I return to the office. Some of them should be dealt with or redirected sooner. In an effort to mentally take a break during vacation time, I’ll turn on do not disturb on my phone for few hours. I’ll listen to voicemails and scan emails a few times a day that way. I’ll deal with emergencies and save the rest for the next time I’m in the office.

      If you want to leave your general notifications on, but turn off your work notifications there are a few ways to do that. My “outlook” app allows for me to snooze notifications for a period of time – I use that most frequently for a day off here and there. I also have “digital wellbeing” on my phone. In the past I’ve setup times that alerts can come through for work related apps while on longer vacations. It “blocks” the work apps so I’m forced to enjoy my time off outside of these pre-set windows.

    9. CTT*

      I have a separate work number so that’s not an issue for me, but I do have my work email connected to my phone. I usually mute notifications if I’m out and let a few colleagues know they can text me if there’s something I legit need to see (we all do this for each other so no one abuses that). If I’m going to be out for more than a day, I do take five minutes each morning to triage my email – I won’t respond to anything, but I’ll delete things that I won’t need (office-wide emails asking if someone can notarize a doc, the daily special at the restaurant in my building, etc.). That way when I come back I’m not wading through a lot of unnecessary stuff.

    10. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      I don’t check my emails on days off. As for calls, I ignore them after a certain time ( about 5) because they have been told how to call on call or call 911 if it’s a real emergency

    11. Choggy*

      I use my work phone as my personal phone and don’t even look at it when I’m off work, or only look at it to see who is calling, and then not answer if it’s someone from work. I do create an Out of Office message for email and voicemail so they know who to contact in my absence.

    12. Aubrey*

      If you have the option of a completely separate work phone, I’d keep that. I get pretty much daily emails/text messages on my personal phone from coworkers – not excessive, but generally at least once or twice a day, even if I’m off the clock, and the messages usually aren’t even intended for me specifically. I still find it stressful when I’m trying to relax on my day off and someone else’s work conversations are suddenly intruding into “my” space. I definitely prefer a firm line between work and everything else, though, so YMMV.

      (For the record, most of what I get is all-team messages that don’t really require a response anyway. My supervisor is also fond of sending group text messages just to the people that are on shift on a given day, but naturally people somehow find a way to respond to the wrong ones, i.e. ones that include me when I’m NOT on shift, or send questions meant for her in an old group thread instead of texting directly, etc. I usually read them just to clear the notification, roll my eyes, and go back to whatever else I was doing. If I do get something that needs a response or that was actually meant for me personally, I usually read it but don’t respond until my next day at work.)

    13. Anonosaurus*

      I am very firmly in the have-two-phones camp. It is a hassle if I want to take both out with me, but I can live with that for the sake of being able to put work in a desk drawer after hours and leave. it. there.

      If you can discipline yourself/use hacks so you don’t get work emails or calls claiming your attention out of hours, that’s great. I know that I can’t make that work, so I have to be able to physically separate the two.

    14. Hillary*

      I’m also in the two phones camp. I’ve used my personal phone/# at a couple jobs – I now strongly prefer having everything separate. Last time I had one phone, I was very judicious about who had the number, probably less than 5% of my work contacts. And it wasn’t on my business card. I turned off the mail account (iphone user here, from settings-accounts) when I was on vacation. But I also quit the job for something with better work-life balance.

    15. MacGillicuddy*

      Find out what happens if you leave the company. A large unnamed famous company will pay for employee’s cell phones, but wipe the phones when the person leaves the company.
      I’d prefer 2 phones to having all my data eliminated if I found a new job.

    16. MTBer*

      For the email, I have it be pull only (no push notifications) and don’t check it on days off. For any phone calls (I get very few) if I answer and it is a colleague, I let them know it is my day off and ask them to call back later.

    17. allathian*

      I have my own phone and a work phone. No other option really, because I work for the government and we aren’t allowed to use any personal devices at all for work stuff. I have my manager’s work phone number and my closest coworker’s work and home phone numbers for emergencies on my own phone, but so far, I’ve never needed to use them. We’re totally mobile, so I don’t even have a work desk phone.

    18. Esme Estrella*

      I didn’t connect my work email to the Outlook app on my work/personal phone. I have a shortcut to the web version of outlook on my phone screen so it is easy to access if I want to check it, but I don’t get notifications. I get a lot of emails that don’t require my immediate attention or that aren’t actually relevant, so notifications would be nonstop if I allowed them.
      Outside of work hours, people know to call or text. During work hours I use my laptop for email, and if I’m running errands or going to an appointment I can check my work email easily on my phone, at times I choose.

  25. Aziraphale*

    Maybe it’s just because it feels like COVID is never going to end . . . but I’m starting to feel like I’m hitting a wall. Does anyone have suggestions on how they “leave work at work”? I’m finding I’m having a hard time disconnecting from work and it’s not as simple as trying to stop checking my email on an off day — it’s spending a lot of time thinking about issues, or people (or issues with people). Maybe it’s because I’ve recently had to follow through and write up a few people, but I’m starting to feel like I just can’t disconnect. Help me, hive mind!!! And thank you! :)

    1. Web Crawler*

      Ideas in no particular order:

      – How do you destress? Can you plan to do a hobby directly after work so that you have another thing to think about?

      – I find that I need a change in scenery after work, so I go on a walk. The walk seems to tell my brain “hey, this isn’t work anymore”

      – Sometimes I need to process emotions to get through them. Writing up people is stressful, and brains are good at holding onto stressful topics, no matter how much you want to move on. I journal or talk to a friend with the focus on my own feelings. Think “this makes me feel x”, not “what should I do?”

    2. Dave*

      I am here COVID or not. Hobbies / house projects help me turn it off to a certain amount. House demo is a great stress reliever for me.

    3. PolarVortex*

      If you can swing going out and about for a walk, do it after work. Think of it as your “commute” and do your usual commute things during it. (Me I listen to music but I know people like audio books and podcasts.) This should help you reset being “home” from “work”.

      Beyond that it’s redirecting your thought process. The moment you begin thinking about work, pause. Acknowledge that thought. (I’ve done this outloud, eg: “I cannot stop worrying about how Adam and Eve are doing on a project by themselves after upsetting the Big Boss.”) Then reminding yourself now is not the time. (“Okay, I’ll throw a check in with them on the calendar tomorrow morning if I still think it’s a problem when I wake up.”) Then redirecting. (“Time for me to reorganize my library. Does espionage history go with cryptography history or should it be with submarine history if all my espionage history is about submarines? And does Julie Child belong with espionage history, WW2 history/biographies, or my cooking biographies?”)

    4. Twisted Lion*

      Someone suggested a long time ago to actually leave your house and come back inside. I took it further one day and sat in my car for ten minutes and then came in. it did help.

      1. Reba*

        Taking a walk at the end of the day is wonderful (especially now that it’s light past 4 pm). Since getting a dog, this walk is now mandatory and it’s been great to both clear my head and make a break between the work day and free time.

        1. Hotdog not dog*

          This is what is preserving the last frayed remnants of my sanity! The dog is walked at 4:30, and not a minute later. He runs to the back door as soon as he hears me close the laptop. It really helps me to clear my head and transition from work mode.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      This is going to sound stupid, bear with me. Take the last 15 minutes of each workday and write down your to-do list for tomorrow. Spill your thoughts out on paper. I couldn’t believe how such a little thing could make a difference.

    6. Intermittent Introvert*

      I put my “work stuff” in a box. The notebook, work pen (different from personal pens), the work laptop, headphones, etc. My workstation transforms to my home.

    7. allathian*

      Do something that’ll help you transition. I close my work laptop and go for a walk unless the weather’s absolutely awful. That said, I’m an individual contributor rather than a manager, so I rarely find myself thinking about work stuff when I’m not actually working.

  26. LQ*

    I have an excruciatingly meaningless question.

    I have someone who reports to me who uses a special font in outlook. It’s brutally hard to read. (Dotum) It’s not a fixed with font, she’s not a developer, it’s not a dyslexia friendly font, it’s not a more readable font under any metric. It’s really hard to read.

    She sends very complex questions to me for approval and she’s very smart but not a good described of problems and I often have to take apart what she wrote and redo it to understand what she’s asking for approval on. When I do this I usually just paste it into another document and change the font and rewrite it to get the what she’s asking for.

    Her overall communication needs work but she’s got so much on her plate right now its fine, I’ll spend the time to take apart what she wrote to make sense of it and get her what she needs. At some point in the future we’ll work on her writing.

    Would I be really annoying and shitty if I asked her to change her default font in outlook? Should I suck it up and live with it?
    (*side note there’s a conversation I’ve been having with everyone here and there about accessibility overall and this is absolutely NOT a font that is good for accessibility. This is a font that falls on the “make it hard to read to slow people down so they spend time with your copy” side of the fence rather than a “get out of the way of the message” side. Part of our work does include accessibility, much less for the specific work she’s doing now but it is a part of the work that we’d like her to be able to grow into, and that she’d like to grow into.)

    1. Allypopx*

      I think that’s a perfectly reasonable request. You can frame it under the accessibility conversation if that makes you feel less jerky (you’re not, btw) but you can also just flag it as unprofessional and unreadable and tell her it has to change. That’s well within your rights as her manager.

    2. LDF*

      I think it’s fine to tell your report the font is hard to read and that you would like her to change it back to the default.

    3. NotAPirate*

      I think it’s fine to request. That gives her the chance to bring up if there is some reason she’s using it. I’d offer her a list of acceptable fonts too. “Hey this is minor but your outlook font is hard to read, can you drop it back to the default or Courier or Arial or Times New Roman or Comic Sans? Thanks” I know several people who use default font but their default signature line has a interesting font choice.

    4. Morticia*

      Just tell her. She’s creating extra work for you. I’m sure you would have mentioned if you thought that was her goal, so, since it’s not, telling her would be a kindness. Especially since you are most likely not alone.

    5. Littorally*

      That’s a perfectly reasonable request.

      “Hey, Jane, I’m having a really difficult time reading this font you use in your emails. When emailing me, can you be sure to use a font like [Insert Font Here] so that I can focus on the substance of your questions?” You might also consider listing qualities of a font — ie, serif vs sans-serif, fixed-width if that’s what you’re looking for, etc, as well as giving a couple font names you find particularly readable.

      Let her make the decision whether to change the default font or to select a font specifically for emails to you. Is it a concern of yours if she emails others with this same font? (It might be, since she reports to you, but it also might not be.)

    6. Librarian of SHIELD*

      This is a completely reasonable thing for you to ask.

      If the work you do has an accessibility component, you may actually want to see if it’s possible to put together an email policy that gives a list of acceptable fonts and some signature dos and don’ts. That way, all of your staff will be on the same page and any external people you may need to send emails to will have a consistent experience with your staff.

    7. RagingADHD*

      You’re overthinking it.

      “Report, from now on please use only the default font in Outlook. Your custom font is hard to read.”

      You’re the manager. It’s okay to give instructions.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yes, please just instruct her as to what you need. Next time don’t let something like this go on and on. Just say it the first time you see it. It’s a minor thing. If she does not react like it’s a minor thing that is good information to know and tell her that you will answer the emails that are written in the font you requested.

      1. Malika*

        What i immediately thought of too. In the short term ctrl+a > ctrl+c > ctrl+z onto Word from e-mail and change the font. In the long term, asking her to change the font is not a big ask. I had colleagues that would use weird colours for sending out standard e-mails and it was really jaaring. I can imagine that fonts give you a similar reaction.

    8. Policy Wonk*

      We have standard fonts. They have changed a couple of times due to management preference, but everyone uses the same one. Standard, no need for adjustment. You can tell her to use a different font, or you can just tell everyone to use e.g., Times New Roman 12.

    9. Never Nicky*

      Does she use this font for people outside the organisation? That wouldn’t be a good look.

      Which is why Comms teams like mine spend a lot of thought and time producing guidelines for fonts, colours, signatures, logos etc – and enforcing them.

      If you have brand guidelines, it might make this conversation more neutral.

    10. The Real Persephone Mongoose*

      It’s a reasonable and legit request. I had my direct manager ask me to not use a specific font that was a bit more ornate than normal because it didn’t display well on mobile devices. Was simple and quick request. I changed the font. No hard feelings. Request was made nicely and explained. So ask her to change it. Explain why you are asking. If she doesn’t comply, reiterate it. If it still doesn’t change, start responding to her emails with ‘I’ve requested you change fonts to something more legible. Please resend this email using a more suitable font as requested.” Lather, rinse, repeat. Hopefully, it won’t go to that point though.

    11. fhqwhgads*

      It’s neither annoying nor shitty. It’s reasonable.
      FWIW, also every job I’ve had for the past 15 years had a style guide requirement that everyone use the same font, size and color for company email. So it’s really not unheard of that she wouldn’t get to choose whatever font she wants anyway.

    12. Chaordic One*

      I think you’re being perfectly reasonable, but you do sometimes run into someone who will take offense at your suggestion. The framing it as an accessibility issue was an excellent recommendation. When I was an admin, my boss regularly corresponded with someone who used a hard-to-read font. The person who was sending the correspondence was supposedly “high strung” and using the font was an expression of herself and it would disrespectful to her to ask her to change it. My boss would forward it to me and have me reformat everything into Times Roman and then send it back to her. (rolls eyes)

    13. allathian*

      Totally OK to ask her to change the font. If you can combine it with the accessibility talks you’ve been having with other reports, even better. Email font choice isn’t really the place to express your personality at work, especially if the font is hard to read.

    14. Usagi*

      I didn’t see anyone else bring this up, but just so we’re covering all bases: if I’m not mistaken Dotum is the Korean font, right? Is this employee Korean, that is, their first language is Korean, their default language on their computer is Korean, etc.? This could be a reason their default font is set to Dotum (not to mention the issues you allude to about her communication).

      That’s not to say you can’t ask them to change it, my point is more along the lines of if they’re Korean, just be careful you’re not singling them out for this; are there any other employees who use custom fonts that you’re not asking to change? You don’t want to create the perception that you’re discriminating against the one Korean person on your team, but allowing all the Americans (or whatever nationality is applicable) to do whatever they want.

      Or maybe they don’t have any relation to Korea at all and just chose it for a different reason. Still, something to consider.

      All that said, I might pull back on the assumption that Dotum is a font that’s made to “make it hard to read” on purpose… it’s designed as such since Korean letters are a lot more complex than many others (including English), and need more space. You’ll see similar designs in Japanese and Chinese fonts (MS Gothic for Japanese and MingLiu for Chinese, if you want to try them out in an Office application). Yeah, from an English-speaking perspective it doesn’t look great compared to, say, Calibri or Arial, but there’s a reason for it.

  27. Cobblestone*

    What do you do when someone uses the wrong pronouns for someone else on a virtual meeting?

    I attended a virtual workshop of about 50 attendees. There were many people from different organizations (i.e., not my company) in attendance. There were several presentation updates from the different organizations, and one presenter, “J”, stated that they use they/them pronouns. After their update, their supervisor presented, and in referring to J’s work, used she/her multiple times (without correcting himself). Afterward, another colleague of J’s presented and also used she/her pronouns (again without correcting himself) when referring to J’s previous update.

    It upset me, but I’m not sure what I should have done. All of them were not from my company, and I don’t personally know any of them. Should I have interrupted them during their presentations to correct them? Message the host (who was also not part of their company)?

    1. NotAPirate*

      I’ve seen people change their zoom name to be Name (pronouns). If its people from their own org that’s just nasty. I don’t think you can do anything in the moment, I’d have tried to ask a question and use the correct pronouns just to make a point. The workshop should have a policy going forward, whether that’s the host interjecting via chat or interrupting. Are you going to work with J again? If so you could ask them how they’d prefer you handle it.

      1. Cobblestone*

        Yeah, maybe I will send a note to the host (whom I know better) for next time there’s a similar meeting. I’ve never worked with J directly, but if we do in the future, I’ll send them a message. Thanks, that’s good advice.

    2. Dave*

      I would chat box privately to point out to someone in my company or who I knew really well. If I was in a leadership role I think you could have a big picture note but otherwise not much you can do. I do think people adding pronouns to their zoom name can be helpful.

      1. Cobblestone*

        Thanks — I’ll bring it up with one of the hosts. I’m not in a leadership position, but I know there’s been an increase in diversity inclusion within my own company at least.

    3. PolarVortex*

      Poor J! I am mis-pronouned in my work so perhaps I can speak on this a bit. I appreciate it when people ask what they should do to me, because they don’t want to rock my boat.

      But honestly? The nicest things people have done for me is either a) asking a question that uses my correct pronouns “I had a question for Polar, does his work with x affect y”, or b) when they’ve been in a position in that meeting of power (another speaker, the person leading the thing, etc) gently reminding others. “Just a gentle reminder to all, Polar said he prefers he/him pronouns, mine are he/him or they/them.”

      Quite honestly, the people I always see misgender me are the people who struggle with change anyhow, so you sort of get used to it and stop fighting the battle, but just people saying they care or quietly using the right ones in the same meeting as the ones who keep ignoring me makes everything brighter.

      1. Cobblestone*

        I wish I had done that (deliberately used their correct pronouns)! I’ll keep that in mind for next time, thanks!

        1. PolarVortex*

          Thank you for caring enough to ask and learn! Honestly people like you are the ones who truly make me pause and remember there are some flipping wonderful people in this world who love and respect me as I am and I am grateful every day for them.

      2. Littorally*

        All of this.

        Another thing that a friend does socially for me, and which you might use as well, is to get out in front of the misgendering and very deliberately use the right pronouns at the start, as a reminder.

        “Hey all, I’m so glad to see J on the call this week. I’ve got some questions about Y that pertain to their work in X.”

        Obviously that depends on a natural way to work that into the convo. Don’t force it. But it can be helpful.

      3. Aubrey*

        I second the “deliberately using their pronouns anywhere it feels natural” advice. Unfortunately if the person is from another company and you’re not in any kind of leadership role, there’s probably not much else you can do. Definitely don’t cut in and correct people unless you know J personally and have confirmed *with them* that it’s something they’d appreciate. I’ve had very well-meaning friends do this for me in social situations and still hated it – I think I’d die of shame if it happened in a work context. Some people might appreciate it, but personally I don’t want that kind of attention drawn to me.

        Also, Polar, all the sympathy! My current job is the first one that I’ve felt ok to tentatively let people know my pronouns, and I don’t think I’ve ever once heard anyone actually use the correct ones.

        1. PolarVortex*

          The first steps are the hardest! Honestly I’m lucky that I have people who are willing to care so much at work, and I’m happy to be the irritating piece of sand if it’ll make this company into a pearl for future non-cisgendered people.

          Just keep on keeping on, know that it’ll get better.

    4. anonforthis*

      I am cisgender, but we have one person on a small staff who is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns. I’d say, if you’re going to continue to have contact with these people, ask J if they want you to gently correct others on the team behind their back.

      In practice, when our non-binary colleague isn’t in the room, we have three categories of people: those who nonchalantly use their pronouns, those who use them but seem to be working pretty hard at it, and a few who don’t even try and just misgender the person.

    5. Flair of Ashes*

      Unless you’re in some kind of leadership position I wouldn’t say anything to the ppl using the wrong pronouns. However, what you could do is take any available opportunity to address ‘J’ (let’s face it, there will be more meetings and more Js treated this way, deliberately or otherwise) using the correct pronoun or name they’ve chosen for themselves. Whether spectators notice or notice, J will and they’ll appreciate you for respecting and upholding their personal gender identity. Additionally, you using the right pronouns will hopefully make the next person to address J aware of what they prefer.
      If it were deliberately done maybe J is the only person in the ‘room’ deserving of your respect anyways.

      1. Cobblestone*

        Thanks! I’m not in a leadership position (and junior within my own company) but I’ll contact the host and hopefully future meetings will be more inclusive. I will try as well to use their correct pronouns deliberately — I wish I had done so!

  28. Potatoes gonna potate*

    For those of you who took a break from working – when did you decide it was time to go back to work?

    This is the first January in a decade that I’m not working and it feels weird. 

    Still super embarrassed and ashamed to say it out loud but I was fired from 2 jobs last year. I feel like sh*t. First was a 5+ year job, was “furloughed” at the start of COVID. Second was a few weeks in September….performance issues. After the short stint, I took a break – timing worked out since we had some stuff going on. All that’s done and were settled now.

    Well, it’s really silly but earlier this week my husband shared a tiktok that reeeeally made me miss work. It sparked a conversation and how it may be a good idea for me to get back in to work in any capacity (contract, FT/PT etc).

    Thing is, I’m kind of torn. I have no idea what I want. I don’t want finances or desperation to dictate my choices again. But I am also enjoying my free time right now–I had desperately wanted some free time to get my health in order, cultivate some hobbies etc but didnt want to take the leap and quit my job. Well, when I did lose my job, I was pregnant and high risk so I couldn’t really go out and do anything; being stuck at home made me too depressed and anxious to do anything productive. Now I have a baby and free time to myself is even more precious now.

    I guess I’m also worried about my own competence and skill level. I started as staff and worked my way up to manager at my long term job and had good reviews but informally I sucked? At the short term job, I was hired as a senior and promptly fired for not producing at a level of a senior because there were things I literally didn’t know and was too slow to catch on. I feel like I should look for lower level positions next time but idk if I’d even be hireable at that point.

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      Out of curiosity, what’s the quoted “furloughed” part about? Getting furloughed at the start of the pandemic doesn’t mean you weren’t good or competent at your job, plenty of people lost their jobs due to covid, and it has nothing to do with their worth or capabilities. As for the second one, honestly it just doesn’t sound like it was a good fit. I can’t think of a reasonable place that would get rid of someone only a few weeks in that wasn’t due to poor hiring or unreasonable expectations, so I’d honestly write that one off. Also, it sounds like you may have been going back to work with a newborn after a high-risk pregnancy? You also mentioned wanting to get your health in order, so I think there was a lot going on that you can stop blaming yourself for, and be a little kinder to yourself.

      Overall, I think if you want to get back into the workplace you can, but try not to worry about your own competence and skill level. You sound like a very capable person who worked hard and progressed and earned their way up the ladder, and then had a rough year in which a pandemic happened (and continues to happen!), had a high-risk pregnancy, and got hired at a crappy place that treated you poorly. I think it’s also okay to not go back to work if you’re not ready (and it sounds like you might not need to financially) – there’s absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying your baby, exploring hobbies, and enjoying your free time now if you’re able to. It might also be good to talk with a therapist if you aren’t already – I’m a huge proponent of therapy for all, and as you navigate these life changes it’s always good to have a neutral third-party to discuss these things with.

      Good luck! I’m rooting for 2021 to better to you than 2020 was.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Quotes because COVID was the official reason but real reason was that my grand boss hated me from day 1 and just needed a valid reason. Why she kept
        me on for 5 years, continually berating me yet prompting me…idk. Nothing I can prove though so.

    2. RagingADHD*

      Honestly? I wasn’t intending to go back at the time. My husband’s job was eliminated and we needed an income immediately. He had specialized skills that required a long complex search, and I had generalized skills that let me walk into the nearest temp agency and have a decent job in a week.

      Not a dream job. Not a job I was thrilled about (that took years to find). But it met our needs at the time, and was fair, low-stress, pleasant environment, and stable.

      In the long run, that was very healthy for me because it changed my priorities and attitude to the type of satisfaction I was looking for at work vs. in the rest of my life.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        If I do go back that’s what I’m looking for. Pleasant, low stress, benefits. The more I think about it the more I miss the lifestyle the main job brought me than the actual job — stability, health insurance, socialization, steady paycheck, getting dressed up, separation of home and work. All of which I fear I will never get back in any capacity

    3. Annabeth Nass*

      First, congratulations on your new baby!

      If you have the option to stay home, why not do it? Depending on your industry, you might be able to get a certificate or some type of training in your field while you are out of work, so that you don’t feel cut off from the working world.

      Also, being furloughed is not the same as being fired, and shouldn’t cause you to feel bad about yourself at all! It’s business and it happened to a lot of people in 2020.

    4. lapgiraffe*

      Potatoes, I’m starting to think we are the same person. I’m in the same boat (minus the children) and I appreciate the feedback you’ve gotten on this so far – your furlough was not a firing, for starters – but I will also validate your feelings because I’m feeling the same way, and it sucks. I don’t think isolation helps, either. I’d take the time (if you can) to process and move past the major self esteem blow, and enjoy the time with your new baby while you’re doing it. You are definitely hirable, you will be tomorrow and you will be a year from now or five years from now.

    5. Malika*

      I have been where you are and it is a very big challenge to go back to work, especially in this climate.

      Only you know whether you are ready to go back to work. Finances can make a return urgent, but if you crash out in a couple of months, returning to work early can be counterproductive. Are you able to take a temporary assignment or part time work? These constructions make it a lot easier to go back to work after a break, and you can always scale up to a permanent position or full time work when you are more ready. Do you know what skills you need to work on that you missed in the past couple of jobs? Courses and consistent training of those weak areas can make a world of difference in your new job.

      It’s very normal to doubt your skill level when you got fired from a job and then have a spell of unemployment. My contract was not extended after a year because I couldn’t keep up with the workload, and found it hard to communicate effectively with very chaotic and at the same time type A executives. A combination of burnout and pandemic then had me out of a job for 1.5 year. Since three months i am back at work doing something completely different for a very small pay cut and haven’t felt this good in years. I found pivoting to a different type of job and working on my weak areas (planning my workload and speaking up) to be game changers. I hope you are able to find yours and get back to work when you are ready.

  29. Newbie*

    I just started a new internship this week and it’s been off to a really great start! I’m working with a PR/comms firm but i have noticed one thing. When my boss asks me to write some short copy (social media, statements, etc) I always ask for feedback and she has responded every time with “amazing” or “it’s really great” and then maybe one very small thing like don’t forget to abbreviate X into Y or something that doesn’t really have so much to do with the quality of the work. Then she’ll go to edit it and sometimes either she or her bosses will then almost completely rewrite what I have written. I’m not offended by this – they know our clients best and are obviously more experienced and better writers but should I be pushing for more feedback? I want to improve my writing. I also want to feel like what I’ve written hasn’t just slowed us down but has been actually helpful. At the same time, there’s a part of me thinking if I have satisfied my boss then that’s all I can do and I shouldn’t be concerned if her bosses rewrite my work. Any and all advice would be appreciated!

    1. Jaded Millenial*

      The best internships are where the company helps you just as much as you help them. Trust your boss, listen to the feedback, and try to integrate it into your future work. You have JUST STARTED. Be patient and things will feel more balanced as you move forward.

    2. Chauncy Gardener*

      I would take the final version and compare it in detail with what you originally submitted and try to see what changes were made. Then incorporate those into your next piece of work and see if it sticks. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    3. WellRed*

      It’s been a week. I work for a news publication and we have pretty much zero expectations for actual writing hires for the first three months. We ease them into house style and the industry we cover. And for the first year, as I recall, I was constantly thinking “OMG! What am I doing!”

    4. linger*

      Maybe you could try making that explicit when asking for feedback: “Is there anything I can do in terms of style or content to reduce the amount of editing my writing needs?”
      But also bear in mind that it’s usually a lot easier to edit something (even if it’s an almost total rewrite) than to write from scratch, so your contribution may still be helpful even if little of it is ultimately used. It is entirely possible that the best they expect (especially from an intern) is that what you supply is grammatically correct, and has relevant and thematically organized content, so that it can be easily reworked.

    5. Newbie*

      thank everyone for your help!! I think I’m just a bit self-conscious because this is my first role in this field t(that I’m really interested in exploring further) and they’ve also made it clear they do look to hire some interns full time so I wanted to make sure my work is up to snuff and that I was doing everything I could.

    6. More Coffee Please*

      Just wanted to say that this is something I’ve experienced at work, too – getting good feedback on something only to see it be changed completely without anyone coming back to me and saying why. Agree with the suggestion above to do the work yourself and compare what you wrote with the final version to identify the differences. If more time has passed and this is still happening, you could ask your boss about it more generally (like feedback on your writing in general rather than for a specific assignment).

  30. Rusty Shackelford*

    Things you wanted to say to your coworkers this week, but couldn’t:

    I am very, very aware that when you say “You’re the expert on this, so you should do it the way you want to do it” you really mean “I find this part of my job boring and I don’t really want to spend any time on it at all.” And you should be very, very aware that fobbing the whole thing off on me, instead of doing the parts you can/should do and letting me do the parts you’re unable to do, means your little project is going to be pretty low on my list of priorities.

    1. Cendol*

      Ha! Yes. What I wanted to say this week: “Yes, I know you’re upset about the new administration, but don’t take it out on me! New regs are coming whether you like it or not.”

    2. Web Crawler*

      “quit leaving Ravi off the code reviews! It’s rude, it’s racist, and this is why nobody wants to work with you”

      We now have exactly one non-white developer on our team, Ravi, and my awful coworker John keeps leaving him off of every single code review. And then I silently add Ravi to every code review. I talked to the team lead who says it’s an accident. I left comments on a few of John’s code reviews saying “hey, you left out Ravi, be more careful next time” which John ignored. And I’m so frustrated. I don’t know if the rest of the team, including Ravi, even notices

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Once or twice is an accident. This is a deliberate. Email the lead each time it happens.

      2. TechWorker*

        Can you passive aggressively forget John a few times? (Probably not a *good* way to deal with it but like…) or can you start using a mailer for code reviews so it’s impossible to exclude people?

      3. MacGillicuddy*

        How about “Hey John, why do you always leave Ravi off the code review mailing list?”

        And then wait for him to answer while you stare innocently into his face.

        1. tangerineRose*

          Yeah, this. Or say to him “John, it looks… odd when you leave Ravi off the list. If you keep doing that, people are going to think you’re racist.”

          (Yes, we all already think this, but saying it this way might get him to stop doing this.)

    3. Just a PM*

      Mine is “Of all the problems we’re having on this project, *you’re* concerned about how much blank space is in the margin? Not the 3-months-late calendar plugin? Not all the data that got corrupted when you migrated the database? Not the broken RSS feeds that need to be reconfigured? Not the incorrect configuration that’s preventing users from collaborating on documents together?” It came out as “Hmm, I see what you’re saying.”

    4. Dave*

      Mine is “do your job” and “answer the question I asked please” (although the second one I have used a few times this week in frustration)

    5. Lucky*

      This week a prevented myself from telling my coworker “I’m explaining how to do this thing because I had a really good interview this morning and don’t plan to be here for much longer.”

    6. Pippa K*

      Oh dear. When I say “you’re the expert on this” I literally mean “I respect your expertise and don’t want to step on your toes here.” I hope I haven’t been communicating something completely different by accident!

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Probably not. There’s a big difference between “I respect your expertise so I’m going to consult you and/or let you do something I’m not qualified to do” and “I don’t want to do this so I’m going to pretend I don’t know how.”

        1. Claire*

          Ugh i have this exact issue with one of my staff and am really reaching the end of my rope. She thinks everything is beneath her and so either “forgets” to do it or does a shit job until eventually i do just take it away from her and complete it myself. She then makes comments about how I’m really the best person to do the thing…ok but you are the assistant and I’m you’re director, so if you can’t do your job of assisting me then why are you here???

    7. anonymous for this*

      “You have set up a perfect missing stair situation, TWICE, and your advice is for the rest of us to be really nice about it because supposedly there is nothing that can be done about it. Why are you surprised that everybody else is unhappy?”

    8. Incognito just this once*

      Mine’s not very exciting, but I’d really like my boss to stop and consider that “not everyone has drank the korporate kool aid regarding using all MS products all the time!”

      (Trust me, the MS environment is pretty new for our former MAC-based team) and she hasn’t considered that. Case in point: She has been sending TEAMS invite for our weekly team meeting for five monts. Two weeks ago, she made it a recurring invite which apparently autopopulates your Outlook calendar forever. Half of us don’t use Outlook for email and therefore did not have the meeting invite and did not know we were missing it.

    9. RagingADHD*

      If you want me to come up with a brilliant theme that ties our spring campaign together, you will need to actually give me some smidgen of information about what we are promoting.

      Otherwise, you’re going to get “Yay for us because awesomeness is awesome.”

      I can spin straw into gold, but I can’t spin nothing into something.

    10. LadyByTheLake*

      My “couldn’t say it but got darn close” this week:

      I know that you have a grand vision that you just thought up for a complicated, highly regulated, super-risky thing that you want to do, but it is complicated, highly regulated and super-risky and it will take months to build (let alone build properly), so maybe you shouldn’t have promised the investors that it will be part of next week’s roll out.

    11. Dumpster Fire*

      Mine is: “If you want to be the union president [public school teachers], you shouldn’t just sit there with a goofy smile on your face while the school board is talking about bringing thousands of kids back to school weeks earlier than planned and – even with 80% of the students still remote – we have the most Covid cases of any district in the state. You should open your mouth and stand up for your colleagues, but you aren’t doing that because you get to teach fully remotely.”

    12. Can't Sit Still*

      Do not text me on my personal cell while I am on vacation to ask what your cost center is. Your cost center is the same as it’s always been and is conveniently located in multiple places, including Outlook, right next to your name.

    13. Hotdog not dog*

      The status on the teapot project is that instead of getting it done, here we are discussing why it isn’t finished yet!

    14. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      No, we do not need to have a meeting to relay new instructions just because half the people getting the new instructions don’t bother to read their emails. The people who aren’t reading their emails are also not listening in the meetings, and if we put it in email, they have it in writing for future reference and we have it in writing that we gave it to them and will be holding them accountable for it. What on god’s green earth makes you think a meeting is a better plan for this.

    15. curly sue*

      Not co-workers, but…

      It’s in the syllabus. It’s in the syllabus. IT’S IN THE GODFORSAKEN SYLLABUS.

    16. Mimmy*

      “Why do you laugh at everything you say???” – I want to say this to one of the supervisors during meetings.

      “Will you please *&$%ing mute yourself??” – I think we all want to say this, but there’s one person in particular who does. not. mute. They are rather slow with technology so I kinda get it, but I wish our manager, who runs the meeting, would say something.

    17. MTBer*

      “You, the CEO, are asking me in front of 5 of our own execs and half-a-dozen people from another company if it is okay if I lead this project that we haven’t talked about and is going to be a mess? How could I say no? (Really, how could I?)”

    18. Chaordic One*

      Yes, we know. There is a reference manual citation for that. (There’s also a needle in a haystack.) Moreover, if there’s a reference manual citation for that, it’s probably incomplete and will include additional citations that you’ll have to look and (which may or may not be relevant to the issue at hand) and which will include references to obscure terms which you’ll also have to look up.

    19. KoiFeeder*

      Also not a coworker, but:

      At this point, it doesn’t matter whether you’re incompetent or malicious. If you don’t intend to do your job, I will drop this class and I will tell student services that I am dropping this class because you have failed to uphold your end of the bargain, the fact that it’ll push back my graduation be damned.

  31. Anon for this*

    Just a brief rant. Had a group brainstorming session where my grandboss told me to stop wasting his time, in front of everyone! (The whole point of these sessions is to spitball. We always have some wacky ideas. Mine were actually work-related, instead of being about, say, llamas in space.) My coworkers messaged me in solidarity afterward, which was nice, but I’ve been stomping around angrily at home thinking, well, fine, I’m not going to waste *my* time doing more than the bare minimum, since you find no value in my contributions. I probably need to take a few days off…

    1. Octopus*

      That’s brutal and sounds really unfair. I would feel super demoralizing in your shoes (and probably check out job postings out of spite). I don’t really have any other advice for you apart from that!

    2. Mockingjay*

      I just took two days off. In the middle of the week. With like 2 hours notice to my supervisor.

      I’ve been wanting a break for a while, but kept putting it off because I got stuck in the mindset that I had to have a REASON, even though I’ve been tired, cranky, and unproductive for months. The last couple of years my time off has been used to care for ill family members, so I’ve been hoarding PTO. I finally realized I need to take care of me before I do anything else.

      I feel so much better – not 100%, but better. I actually did real work yesterday and and today. Still would like a real vacation – wouldn’t we all! – but I’m going to try for at least one Friday off each month for a long weekend.

      1. Mockingjay*

        *sorry, pressed [Enter] too soon.

        If you have the leave, I heartily recommend you take it. Turn off the computer, disable the email on your phone, and unplug for a day or two. It won’t solve anything, but will put you in a better frame of mind to deal with (ignore) Grandboss.

    3. Caterpie*

      So sorry that happened to you! Spitballing/brainstorming sessions can be really fraught, in my experience. I’d be tempted not to participate ever again as well. I’m glad it seems like you have nice coworkers though!

  32. Good Vibes Steve*

    I would love some tips to be better at sharing my achievements at work. I grew up in a culture in which bragging is a big No-no, and I’ve internalized this to the point that people at work don’t know all that I’ve done. So, how do you share achievements without feeling like a bragger?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      What opportunities do you have to share your achievements? Do you have regular one-on-one meetings with your manager? Some kind of annual or semi-annual performance review?

    2. NotAPirate*

      You can work it into the how are you type conversations, How’s your day going? Better than expected just found out I was nominated for XYZ award!

      But I don’t think your coworkers need to be kept up to date on a lot of your achievements. Saved the company 200k! Your bosses know, and they’re the ones who will use that information when you say I deserve a raise I did this 200k save last quarter. Telling your coworkers that seems off to me.

      How do you observe your coworkers sharing their achievements? Mimic them to match the office culture.

      1. Octopus*

        I think one way to do this (if the culture in your office is good) is to make a point of publicly praising when your coworkers help you out/achieve something. At least in my experience, people tend to reciprocate that public praise when you then help them out/go above and beyond. (i.e., next team meeting, you can I want to thank Tim for the extra hours he put in on the Y report. Really helped us get it across the finish line and looking polished). And then when you help out Tim/have an accomplishment he’s aware of, hopefully he’ll give you a shoutout.

        I think it’s always a little transparent when people toot their own horn, but that’s life. You should at least keep written doc or something so you can reference these accomplishments when relevant (reviews, salary negotiations, etc.).

    3. DerJungerLudendorff*

      You may have to feel like a bragger sometimes!
      Since not doing so got you here in the first place. So your idea of bragging is probably too broad for your own good, and recalibrating that will sometimes feel uncomfortable and like you’re overdoing it.

  33. Eager Beaver*

    I have a really weird issue that probably seems like a non-problem, but it’s really bothering me – my boss keeps calling me “amazing” and “a genius” when I’m doing literally nothing. Every time she says it (both in one-on-ones and in meetings with others) I feel really uncomfortable and I’m not sure how to handle it. I guess really this is two questions – how do I handle not having any work to do, and how do I handle my boss heaping me with over-the-top praise for the few things I am doing?

    Some context: I work in higher education in a student support role. I just started this job at the end of November, which is a weird time to be onboarded since I only had a couple weeks of work before everyone was off for Christmas. My role is brand-new to the institution – someone had my job title before me, but they had a completely different job description. When that person retired, the role was re-imagined and I was brought in to fill it. The problem is that there’s not really any work for me to do right now. The focus of the role as it currently exists is primarily to plan new initiatives and programs, get them approved by various institutional stakeholders, and then manage/run the programs once they’re operational. My first few weeks, my boss handed off some very preliminary thoughts and ideas and asked me to build on them. I created some great plans (apparently, “GENIUS” plans), but because I’m so new I don’t really have the institutional knowledge or social capital to be able to take the lead on the approval processes. My boss, meanwhile, is completely overloaded (which is part of the reason my role was created) and doesn’t really have the bandwidth to champion these projects. Every week in our one-on-ones I ask her “what needs to happen next?”, and it’s always that she needs to reach out to so-and-so for feedback, or get approval from the Provost to do such-and-such – and there are valid reasons why I can’t do those things myself yet (institutional politics, mainly). But in the meantime there’s not really anything I CAN do. I also ask her every week if there are tasks that I can take on or things I can take off her plate, and sometimes she gives me some busywork-type stuff to do, but it’s never anything substantial. I don’t know how much of that is inability to delegate and how much is just because I’m too new to be of much use. I straight up told her on Monday that I’m bored and want to do more – the impacts of that conversation have yet to be seen. The projects I’ve been planning will create substantial work for me once they get up and running, but that probably won’t happen fully until August.

    The past couple of weeks, she has finally been able to put some things in motion towards getting our plans approved. Whenever we have meetings with faculty members or other stakeholders about these projects, she always goes on and on about what a GENIUS I am, and how AMAZING this plan I created is. The first few times it was a really nice feeling to be praised so vociferously and publicly. But now that there have been so many weeks of me doing basically nothing, it’s starting to feel ungenuine and uncomfortable. A couple of times I’ve jokingly said “well I’m not sure if I can live up to (boss’s) comments, but I’ll do my best!”, but that feels like I’m disparaging my ideas/work, which I’m not – I’m proud of the work I’ve done, I just want to do a lot more of it! The culture of the institution in general is that everyone is wearing multiple hats and juggling lots of responsibilities, and I constantly feel torn between feeling guilty that I’m doing so little, and feeling frustrated that my boss isn’t doing a better job of onboarding me. I’m not really sure how to proceed at this point. Do I address the praise, or just the lack of work? HOW do I address the lack of work beyond what I’ve already done?

    1. AGD*

      I commiserate. I also work in education, and one of my superiors keeps calling me things like “an MS Office genius,” to the point that I haven’t shared any of their feedback with one of my other superiors since the rhetoric about me is so hyperbolic it’s barely worth taking seriously. I think it’s because that superior is heavily overloaded, runs into tasks they wouldn’t know how to begin to address, and then sees me take care of them as if by magic. I wonder if a flat, gentle, positive, repetitive “this is what I was brought on to do” would eventually get the idea across that you’re just doing the bare minimum.

    2. RagingADHD*

      Is your boss hyperbolic in speech generally?

      I have a friend who calls everyone she likes “amazing” and “genius” almost as a verbal tic. If your boss is effusive by nature, this may be her way of reassuring you that you are appreciated and she’s glad to have you on the team despite the current roadblocks.

    3. Girasol*

      Sounds like the boss knows you’re under-challenged and is perhaps feeling a little guilty that they can’t find appropriate work for you just now. So they’re offering excessive praise to make you feel valued and encourage you to stick around until the job gets more interesting.

    4. Hi there*

      Another higher ed person here. I think your boss is very excited about your ideas and potential but overwhelmed. I’ve been in this situation, where I was the logjam and didn’t make the most of the talent I had available. You need to drag your boss’s attention away from the present and somehow into planning for your role/project to be a success. Can you raise the fear of Covid budget cuts if you don’t get more done? At the very least your boss can make a list of stakeholders at your level or other folks you should meet to build a little support for your ideas and help implementing once the time comes.

  34. peachy*

    I’m probably overreacting on this, but would like to hear thoughts from the commentariat. My manager and I were discussing performance goals over email. In that email, they gave me the only feedback I’ve received from them in the almost 2 years I’ve worked with them: “nice job. you’re very efficient.”

    Something about the word “efficient” irks me to no end. First, the only reason they think I’m efficient is because the work my manager gives me is incredibly simple work that anyone with my level of experience would find to be too easy. Think: the equivalent of asking a graphic designer to print something out or format a simple Word document.

    Second, I feel like “efficient” is a weird word to use. I’m not “efficient,” I’m highly skilled and experienced. Something about the word has the connotation at being good at following orders or procedures, and feels like it’s discounting my experience and skill level, and my ability to think independently and exercise judgment. This stands in stark contrast to feedback I’ve received from the heads of other departments: “very creative and hardworking,” which is feedback I was very grateful and appreciative to receive.

    So… I guess my question is: do other people have the same baggage with the word “efficient”? Or am I being weird about this? (As you can tell, this relationship has not been going well, and it’s quite possible I’m at the BEC stage with my manager.)

    1. Kramerica Industries*

      I had the same reaction before during a 1:1 review with my manager and I think she noticed that my face twitched when she said “efficient”. I said that I wouldn’t consider myself efficient because the work was simple and straight-forward.

      Her response was that me thinking that the work is easy is what makes me efficient. She can trust that I will just get it done, she doesn’t have to ask me about meeting deadlines, and that even if I think it’s easy, I’m still motivated to do the work well. Think about the times you’ve rolled your eyes and thought “X is so easy, why is this person making it complicated/not getting it done?” Framing it that way helped me to understand how “efficient” was a positive in my favour. “Efficient” is more of an overarching term for the way you respond to the work and how other people perceive you in doing it.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      do other people have the same baggage with the word “efficient”?

      I’m pretty proud of being efficient. I actually like being efficient and think it’s one of the several qualities I bring to the workplace.

      Or am I being weird about this?

      That said, I don’t think you’re being weird about this. While I am proud of being efficient, I don’t want that to be the only thing I’m described as being, especially if it’s reference to easy tasks. Part of my efficiency is doing quickly and well what others take much longer to do (or what others do sloppily in the same amount of time). It sounds as if your manager has said “You do only one thing well, and it’s this simple thing,” and not really “You are so efficient in ways no one else is.”

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Ditto: I also like “efficient,” and for a training exercise this past week I had to contact three leaders in my department and ask them for their top three words to describe me – “efficient” was the first of my boss’s three. But at the end of the exercise the whole list also included thorough, focused, dependable, meticulous, and proficient — to me, efficient is a good way to be in combination with those other things, like I can be all of those things AND it doesn’t slow me down. “Efficient” by itself without any other qualifiers I think would be a different can of worms.

    3. Octopus*

      I think “efficient” is coming off weirdly to you because you’re feeling undervalued, etc. I definitely don’t think efficient by itself has baggage/negative connotations, and I like people thinking (and I take pride in) being efficient. I think of it as people someone who is focused, meets deadlines without issues, ability to quickly turn things around, etc. Sure, it might not be the thing you most value about yourself as an employee, but I don’t think it should inherently sting. I think you might be focusing on a small (not very damaging piece) of a much more damaging picture (only feedback in 2 years, only given simple tasks). I would try not to worry about the efficiency piece any more and focus on those bigger issues, FWIW.

      1. peachy*

        you hit the nail on the head about feeling undervalued, and that this is just a small piece of a much bigger issue. thanks for the perspective!

    4. RagingADHD*

      Someone with low skills and no experience would not be efficient. Efficiency means the best output with no waste. It’s a good thing.

      However, it is a pretty low-effort comment to be the only feedback in 2 years! I’d be at BEC as well.

    5. LadyByTheLake*

      I like the word “efficient” when used properly — I can see that the issue here is that it is being used wrong and it’s annoying. I am really efficient — I like to see how systems are working and improve them — I often do things much faster than other people doing the same thing do them because I am efficient. I’m happy to be called efficient there. The problem for you is that the word is being used almost in a demeaning way — you aren’t improving on systems or processes, you are just doing insultingly easy work quickly. That’s not “efficient” — that’s just being overqualified.

      1. peachy*

        yes, i definitely think there’s something about being described as efficient when the work is so unbelievably simple that feels weirdly insulting. that’s a big part of my overreaction.

    6. Choggy*

      So many managers are just not good at giving meaningful feedback. My former manager sucked at it, as she literally copied/pasted the same information from review to review, even the same information from staff to staff. She had no interest in discussing areas of development because she just had no interest in the area she was managing. She moved to a different area in the same department and I got a new manager, so we’ll see how this goes, he doesn’t seem to be any more involved than she. Just hanging in there for a few more years before retirement.

      1. peachy*

        wow, that sounds so frustrating. copy/pasting the same info from review to review is so insulting to everyone’s work.

        my previous boss was pretty bad about reviews, too. they had goals on my review that referenced work that had nothing to do with me and we’d never discussed before– like “translated content into Russian,” when my job had nothing to do with translation or Russian.

        i hope the new boss is a little more invested!

    7. Not So NewReader*

      To me, the word efficent is a symptom and not the real problem.

      In grammar school the pastor would come to the school and hand out report cards to each one of us. Every. single year the the pastor told me I was consistent. “Very consistent, NSNR, very consistent.”

      If a person cannot tell if something is a compliment or an insult, the default people go to is “insult”. I was insulted.

      But more importantly why was I so hot-heated about such a little thing? And that is where the word “consistent’ becomes a symptom not the core problem. There were problems A, B and C going on and nothing was done. There were additional problems that were AGAINST the law and they had closed their circle to fortify against claims about these illegal things. Then there were other problems X, Y and Z happening. (Insert pages of writing here.)

      It’s a straw on the camel’s back. I’d suggest looking at the load the camel is already carrying.

    8. nep*

      I would like for a boss to find me efficient, and I value this highly in colleagues.
      You say you’re highly skilled and experienced; in my view someone cannot be efficient at something if they are not skilled and experienced.

    9. Weekend Please*

      Efficient is a compliment. I think the problem is that they are complimenting how well you do a task that you are overqualified for with no indication that they are going to give you higher level work. Especially in the context of discussing performance goals, it makes it seem like that is all they see you doing. The word isn’t the problem. The problem is that they are indicating that they want you to keep doing this level work instead of giving you anything remotely challenging.

  35. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

    Does anyone else find that no matter what they do/where they work, they’re never really happy?

    I don’t mean that I’m miserable, more just…it’s work. I don’t love it. I don’t hate it. I do my job, sometimes deal with BS from coworkers, but generally am left alone.

    People keep insisting that there is some magical job world that I’m apparently missing where I would be happy and enjoy waking up to go do a job. I’ve worked in a lot of jobs in a lot of fields trying to find this. I’ve done years of therapy, I take medications…but why would I want to go to work? I like my life outside of work, and simply work to pay the bills.

    Am I missing something?

    1. londonedit*

      I definitely don’t think that magical work world exists! Certainly not for most people. There’s so much talk nowadays about how you have to love your job, how it has to be your ‘passion’, how you mustn’t settle for anything less than a job that makes you bounce out of bed in the morning. And…I think that’s rubbish. Of course I think people deserve to be broadly satisfied with their work, and they deserve to be treated well, but beyond that I don’t think it’s weird not to totally love your job. I’m lucky – I work for a decent company, I enjoy most of my job, my colleagues are friendly and nice to work with, I feel appreciated. But I’d still pack it all in tomorrow if I won the lottery, and I really believe I’d be happier if I didn’t have to work! I’m definitely a work-to-live person – if my job is vaguely enjoyable and it pays the bills and allows me the time and money to do the things I want to do in the rest of my life, great.

      1. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

        Thank you. I was feeling very frustrated when I wrote my post this morning, and this helps, a lot.

    2. Jaded Millenial*

      Nope. Not missing something. These “people” you refer to either have different ideas on happiness, are deluding themselves, or haven’t had the chance to find happiness outside of their day job for one reason or another.

      If I could still get my paycheck without going into the office, I would not experience a reduction in my happiness. Probably quite the opposite.

      1. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

        I’m glad I am not the only jaded millenial haha.

        Thank you. It’s nice to know I’m not crazy or missing something.

        1. NACSACJACK*

          Or Gen-Xer. Yeah, where is this dream job? (Of course it would help to apply elsewhere and not be working in a dying programming language.

    3. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      If you’re missing something, then so am I. And I like my job! But when you get right down to it, I do work (which my company finds valuable), and my company gives me money (which I find valuable). If we ever find ourselves in disagreement about the relative values of my work/their money, it’s time to either renegotiate or part ways. And I’m totally OK with this! I mean, I like what I do, and I’m good at what I do, but not so much that I’m going to offer to start volunteering to do my job for my employer (even if it was legal to do so). I like getting paid a wage that lets me afford to do non-work things that do make me happy.

      (And like Jaded Millenial, I also would not experience a reduction in happiness if I could continue to be paid my current salary without having to work.)

      1. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

        I’m glad to hear there are many others like me. I was starting to feel like I must be missing something, and it’s so nice to hear that others would gladly walk away from their job if they won the lotto :)

    4. Fiona*

      Are you American? I am and I feel like there’s such an intense emphasis in American culture re: finding your purpose and fulfillment through work. If you can, that’s great, but I think it’s good to extricate ourselves from that pressure.

      1. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

        Ha, good guess, and you’re correct.

        It really is though. It sometimes feels like the *only* thing that matters is finding your “dream job”. My dream job involves a hammock, a library of books in my house, and no schedule haha.

        I’ve gotta get better at just telling people about my pet rock collection next time they want to talk about work haha.

    5. CatCat*

      This is where I am. I have a very good job for where I am at my stage in my career. But, at the end of the day, I’d rather not be working than working. My goal is to start working less than full time in the next few years.

      1. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

        I’d love to be in that position someday, that would be amazing!! I hope you get there soon.

    6. Anonymous Educator*

      I agree with you that you don’t need to be happy, and as long as you aren’t deeply unhappy, work is just a way to make money. But I’ve been happy at work. I still wanted to get paid. And there were still always moments when I was asked to do something I wasn’t jazzed about. But there have been workplaces where I was excited to go to work and genuinely enjoyed about 70-90% of the work I did.

    7. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I think more people feel the same way as you than admit it. I’m currently struggling a bit with this as well. I moved to a more senior level job, the kind where you are supposed to have a lot of enthusiasm and passion for the job. I love the money I get from working, not working itself. I’m well paid, so I am as enthusiastic as needed to be effective in my job, but as you asked me if I loved my job, no, I don’t. My job doesn’t make the top ten list of things I love, probably not even the top 20. But, in exchange for working, I get paid, which allows me to do things I do love. So in my mind it’s an even exchange. I know that this is a pretty privilege position to be in, so please don’t think I’m unaware of it. I guess in the end I don’t care if I love my job; it’s a necessary evil.

      1. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

        “I’m well paid, so I am as enthusiastic as needed to be effective in my job”

        I like this in particular…it’s a good reminder to get your fair worth from the place you work. Thank you!

    8. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I think the “Find a job that’s amazing and wonderful and defines you and becomes the reason you get up in the morning” mentality springs from the fact that salaries are so much lower than they should be. People aren’t getting paid enough for the work they’re doing and they’re trying to compensate for that by coming up with all these other non-material benefits you could theoretically receive from a job. And on one level, it’s a little bit true. Nobody in my field applies for public library jobs for the money, there are emotional and psychological reasons we enter this field. But even still, it’s not a magical unicorn job where I’m 1000% happy all the time and I bounce out of bed in the morning breathless with the anticipation of a wonderful day at work.

      I say, look for a job where you’re adequately compensated that doesn’t make you miserable. If you feel a sense of purpose related to that job, great. But if not, a job isn’t the only way to have a sense of purpose and you’re still probably fine.

      1. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

        Yeah, you’re absolutely right. I need to focus my purpose on places I want it to be.

        Thank you!

    9. Super Duper Anon*

      I think of it like a bell curve. There is a small percent of people on the left side of the curve that are truly miserable at work, like mental or physical health suffering, caused by any number of factors like a toxic job, abusive people, unsafe conditions, etc. I have been in one such job and left it. There is also a small percent of people on the right side of the curve who truly love either just working in general, or have found a job that is such a passion to them that they wake up happy and excited every day to go to work. I have never experienced this.

      The vast majority of us are in the middle of the curve, work is what we do to get money to meet both our basic needs and our wants. It is simply a way to live in the world, not our driving force. We get more happiness from the things we do outside of work than in it. If we were given enough money to not work for the rest of our lives, we would quit immediately.

      1. Kimmy Schmidt*

        This is how I think of it too! And there are different ways and places to be in the middle of that bell curve, where some individuals might be smack dab in the middle of indifference on every part of their job, while others like some aspects and hate others. If you don’t like your colleagues you like your boss and if you don’t like your boss you like the flexibility and if you don’t like the flexibility you like the prestige and if you don’t like the prestige you like the money etc etc.

        I’m in a “passion field”, but my first boss told me she’d leave this job if she won the lottery, which I think helped calibrate my thinking that no job is perfect and it’s ok to work for money.

      2. allathian*

        That’s a great way of looking at it. I’m definitely somewhere in the middle. Mondays don’t fill me with dread and I enjoy my job somewhat, but if I could keep my current lifestyle without working and without being financially dependent on anyone else, I’d quit immediately.

    10. KatieHR*

      You are not missing anything. I have a friend like this who thinks she is living in this perfect job and the company thinks she is so amazing and gives her these “awards.” Yet, they surprised her and went through a big restructure and she is still trying to figure out what happened. She did not get fired but a lot of the team she worked on got moved around. I work to live, do my job, but always remember that my company wouldn’t blink an eye to get rid of me if it suited them.

    11. LadyByTheLake*

      I am certain that Alison has a couple posts on this very issue, that there’s this false narrative (esp in the US) that somehow jobs are supposed to be magical and fun and the fact is that most of them are a way to pay the bills and that trying to impose this unrealistic expectation is a quick way to disappointment.

      1. Mockingjay*

        Alison has been posting about this issue for over a decade. A quick search in the archives gave me all of these hits:

        “do what you love: is not great advice
        https://www.askamanager.org/2012/09/do-what-you-love-is-not-great-advice.html

        what’s wrong with “do what you love”
        https://www.askamanager.org/2014/02/whats-wrong-with-do-what-you-love-how-employers-can-get-your-salary-history-and-more.html
        Second at the link

        why you shouldn’t follow your passion
        https://www.askamanager.org/2013/04/why-you-shouldnt-follow-your-passion.html

        I feel “meh” about working — am I supposed to be more passionate?
        https://www.askamanager.org/2015/08/i-feel-meh-about-working-am-i-supposed-to-be-more-passionate.html

        think you’re applying for your “dream job”? think again!
        https://www.askamanager.org/2013/01/stop-thinking-youre-applying-for-your-dream-job.html

        am I going to regret not pursuing a more high-powered career?
        https://www.askamanager.org/2020/11/am-i-going-to-regret-not-pursuing-a-more-high-powered-career.html

    12. RagingADHD*

      Nope, I think you have a perfectly fine attitude to work. Your work is a job, not an identity. That’s normal: “Work to live, don’t live to work” used to be a very common saying.

      If you’re never happy about anything in life, that’s a problem. But if work is just okay and your happiness is elsewhere, that’s not a problem.

      TBH, I think it’s very freeing to see your happiness as separate from your job. It gives you a great deal of immunity from office-related BS, helps you clearly see the value of what you do, and puts you in a strong position to let your work stand on its merits and resist manipulation or compromising your principles.

      It makes you more businesslike and less likely to make emotional decisions.

      1. allathian*

        Your last sentence is spot on. Some employers are very keen on hiring people whose personal values match the company’s values. That’s as good as it goes and the values should certainly not be diametically opposite, but an employee who identifies too closely with the company is more likely to feel that a failure at work is a personal failure, and is also more likely to react adversely to stress and get burned out. Whereas if the job is just a job rather than a part of your identity, it’s much easier to leave work issues at work. There’s some research showing that companies where matching personal and company values are crucial are less successful and they suffer from more interpersonal conflicts.

    13. lemon*

      I think this whole “love what you do” myth is really pernicious. It makes you feel like you’re failing if you don’t feel passionate about your job. And it also gets people to accept low pay or terrible working conditions, because putting up with that is supposed to be worth it to pursue your passion (think: anything in the arts, academia).

      Sarah Jaffe takes a look at this in her new book Work Won’t Love You Back— I haven’t read it yet, but there’s a good review in The New Republic. Might be worth a Google.

      Lately, I’ve just been trying to focus on work that I find enjoyable, rather than loveable. Like, I’m not one of these “technology will save the world!” people who want to solve every single social issue with code– it’s not my passion. But, I enjoy sitting down for a few hours and writing some code while listening to a podcast– it’s fun and I get to see immediate results when I solve a problem. And then I’m able to clock out at 5:30 and go for a walk or watch a good tv show or read a good book. I think it’s a much more realistic view of what work is supposed to do for you on a personal level.

    14. AnotherLibrarian*

      No. I think that’s actually a super destructive myth and it is super prevalent in the library work, especially. I’m guessing from your user name you have some experience in that world. I enjoy what I do. It’s still work. There are still mornings when I crawl out of bed grouchy and annoyed. There are still days I spend doing things I don’t enjoy. That’s why they have to pay me to be here. You have to remember that as much as you may find meaning in your job, allowing it to define you and make you “happy” is going to be a really unhealthy thing in the long term. Now, if you’re miserable every day then maybe that’s something to think about more deeply, but a job is a job. That’s all it is.

    15. Collette*

      The only times I have ever found work that made me feel deeply happy and fulfilled have been when I was doing purely creative work and when I was running my own business. It turns out that I need three things to feel that way:
      1. No ho0ps to jump through, I can just get on with the work
      2. Work that I can actually see making a difference for other people
      3. Work that is never the same twice

      If I’m doing something pointless or, even worse, something detrimental to other people, I lose all enthusiasm quickly. Same for having to follow a mindless routine. Then work becomes a chore and I start hating it all over again.

    16. Not So NewReader*

      Oh we are supposed to be HAPPY at work?

      It cracks me up when ads say “looking for passionate employee”, yes because there are so many of us having torrid affairs with our jobs. [snort]

      If you have work that you can do and do well; if you have a boss who seems to be human; if you have a couple of cohorts you like then you are doing very well.

    17. Hillary*

      I’ve worked with a lot of people who want to put in their 40 hours, get their paycheck, and spend their free time (with family, fishing, playing badminton, whatever). I even know some who’ve worked the same manufacturing position for 10+ years. What matters is if you’re happy with your life. Work is only one part of it.

    18. Vicky Austin*

      I concur with everyone else. In my entire 43 years, I have only met two or three people who LOVE what they do for work.

    19. ronda*

      you are not missing something.
      I think many employers try to keep this myth going with their wanting you to be committed to the company mission and asking in interview why you want the job (so you will pay me?) :)

      you might be ready for the FIRE (financial independence /retire early) blog crowd.

      I did find in reading the FIRE blogs …. lots of people need work for the structure it gives life and to feel like they have a purpose. But those of us who really try can be satisfied without the work structure.

  36. Humble Schoolmarm*

    A colleague has been having a rough go with mental health this week (shared this pretty openly in an after work chat). I’m one of our workplace union reps, so I know of some resources and support that can be accessed through the union. I have no idea whether colleague already knows about or uses these resources (they’re publicized by the union, but a lot of folks don’t have the bandwidth to read union emails and info). Would it be a good idea or overstepping to send a quick text or email with links to these resources to my colleague?

    1. Me*

      I think it’s fine. Just say pretty much what you said here. That after your last talk you just wanted to make sure they had x resources available through the union.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Added step, make it your habit to do this again in a similar situation. That way you can say, “this is what I do – I make sure this info is available for everyone, it may or may not be of use for you.”

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      I don’t think it’s overstepping. I’ve done something similar with colleagues during WFH, & nobody’s ever been irritated by it. I always frame it as something they might find useful (And let them know if I’ve used the resource.)

  37. saffie_girl*

    Here’s a funny happening for the week:

    My company had a “Managing Remote Staff” training session lead by HR this week. Yes, a bit late, but I guess better than never.

    In it we were told that staff should not be working remotely in our PJs.

    Luckily, all of our meetings are audio only (as the organizations systems cannot handle video) so they could not see me roll my eyes…

    1. Zephy*

      How and why would the managers even know what staff are wearing while WFH? What difference does it make, if you’re not using video? I’m so glad my company hasn’t mandated video calls while WFH, not least because there is literally no part of my entire job that requires the client to be able to visually perceive me. But also because the only headset microphone I have is a big gaming headset and I look ridiculous wearing it – it wouldn’t matter what I have on my body, this big red glowing apparatus on my head is unprofessional enough.

    2. Girasol*

      I’m imagining the advice that should logically follow: “So managers, be sure to ask your staff to describe what they are wearing right now!”

  38. MidwesternEditor*

    I’m recently starting to do some freelance writing/editing after leaving my full-time editorial job this spring. I’m looking for your favorite resources for a) finding interesting work and b) setting up the business side of things (taxes, etc.). I’ve done freelance work occasionally over the years, but I’m always looking to improve the efficiency of my business and the scope of how fulfilling it can be. Thanks in advance!

    1. RagingADHD*

      Call a local CPA about business setup/ tax stuff and don’t rely on general internet advice. It’s extremely dependent on your jurisdiction what is required or advisable.

      In my city, I don’t need a business license or any kind of entity because I have no in-person customers and no physical product. That would be different in the municipality next door, or outside the city limit.

      In some areas, setting up an LLC is cheap and a smart move for any solopreneur. In my state it costs several thousand dollars and requires extensive annual paperwork to remain in good standing.

      Good advice is hyperlocal on this stuff.

      I keep a separate checking account for all my freelance income, and use a dedicated credit card for business expenses so it’s easy to pull the gross numbers in 1 fell swoop. They aren’t officially designated as “business” accounts by the bank, that’s just how I use them.

  39. Toxic Waste*

    Any advice for dealing with a dramatic/attention seeking coworker? “Cersei” will put herself down one second, then attack you or argue with you the next. It’s a very weird and confusing experience. I don’t know if she’s looking for compliments/attention by calling herself “dumb” and “stupid”. Then when we have conversations, she’ll take the opposite side and argue it, even if you agree with her in the first place! I try not to engage with her or mainly just listen, but then she accuses me of not liking her or liking “Fergus” or “John” better than her!

    Cersei is in her 60s. I’m not sure if this is just her personality or whether she has stuff going on in her life, but it’s exhausting. I’m already stressed about work and to add all of this emotional drama into the mix isn’t helping.

    Has anyone else experienced this? What did you do?

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      Don’t feed the drama llama. If you stop giving her what she wants, she might move on to the next person.

      Cersei: “Ugh! I’m such an idiot!”
      You: …
      Cersei: “Also, I can’t believe you made such a stupid mistake!”
      You: “Huh.”

      (Have you ever seen the Pete Davidson’s Chad character on Saturday Night Live? Try to channel Chad.)

      1. RagingADHD*

        I don’t even like the Chad sketches, but this is a perfect example.

        Chad is the quintessential gray rock.

    2. whistle*

      Ignore, ignore, ignore. Be as boring as possible with her. There is no way for you to win this game.

    3. CatCat*

      Ugh, I had an ex-boss that would do this kind of thing. We’ll call her Jane. I switched from her team to a different team. After that, she would make comments in the hallway to me about leaving the team because I didn’t like her or them. At one point, I’d had it and said in a voice loud enough for others in the vicinity to hear, “You know Jane, it makes me really uncomfortable when you say things like that.” Those kind of comments immediately died off.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I have a friend who makes me chuckle. If she catches anyone putting themselves down she’d say, “Oh, compliment hunting today?”

      As far as telling you that you don’t like her as much as others or any other time she informs you of what you think- you can just say, “Since there is no way for you to read my mind, then there is no way to know for sure what it is I think. So if you tell me what I think, I will not be responding to you.”
      Later you can follow up with, “You aren’t telling me what I think again, are you?”

      [What I really would like to say, “If you know what I think already then why ask?”]

      For the conversation flips just land the plane. “When you started this conversation you said it would rain today. I was agreeing with you that it would indeed rain today. Now you are saying it will NOT rain today. Looks like you are disagreeing with your own self and there’s really not a lot I can contribute there.”

  40. Not So Super-visor*

    a question that I’m dying to have answered by all of the HR folks that may read:
    how much info should HR be sharing with a manager about an FMLA request?

    To be clear: I’m not asking to know details about an employee’s health condition. I just want to know when an employee has filed for FMLA, the type, and what (# of occurances, end date, etc) has been approved.
    I have twice now been surprised by an employee calling in to use intermittent FMLA that I didn’t know that they’d filed for or been approved for. I was lambasted by HR for allowing an employee to go over the # of approved occurances (tripled) in a month even though they never told me what he was appoved for, and my lastest is finding out that an employee on continous leave is a week past what she was approved for and our HR asking me why I didn’t follow up on her return date (you never told me!!). Is this normal? Again, I don’t need to know medical details, but this seems like my HR is not communicating with me and then getting upset with me for not managing an employee’s absences.

    1. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

      Not in HR, but it absolutely seems as though you should be informed that it has been approved, when it starts, end date, continuous vs. intermittent, number of occurrences, etc.

      Especially if HR is going to come after you when an employee “goes over”.

    2. HRMgr*

      HR Manager here, and your HR department is falling short here. There are guidelines around sharing the employee’s medical information, but details about approval and frequency should absolutely be communicated with a manager!

    3. Natalie*

      Uh, you kind of have to be informed of someone’s FMLA status so you don’t, say, accidentally retaliate or interfere with their leave usage.

      Is it possible your company is using a 3rd party administrator (ours uses Unum) and they think you’re getting notified through them?

  41. Me*

    I work for county government emergency management and am thus involved in Covid land. I’ve dealt with the public as a government employee for close to 20 years so I’m used to getting unhappy people. But recently the people I’m dealing with are making me wish I could drink on the job. I try to remember people are just scared and anxious but the entitlement and demands for special treatment and appointments that we just don’t have are starting to wear on me.

    Then looking down the line and realizing I have to deal with this for at least 6 months.

    Just be nice to government employees. They are doing the best they can with what they have.

    1. Lizzie*

      Hi Me, just to say I did laugh at your comment that you sometimes wished you could drink on the job. Personally (when in reception) I would like a cone of silence that I could drop over people when they have confirmed their apt time or whatever, and then feel the need to talk to me at length while I answer the phones, deal with other people, try to get work done etc.

  42. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw*

    It’s been a while since I posted here. Updates!

    1) I got my COL raise this month! Whoohoo, a whole $1,500 a year!

    2) My fiancé is still struggling to find work in his field and we’re getting kind of desperate.

    3) I keep wistfully looking at job ads in another state I’m barred in because that state has available jobs both in my field and his. I have to remind myself that there’s a reason I’m not practicing there, and it’s because I applied for jobs and couldn’t find any!

    4) Is anyone else only just now getting hit with isolation burnout? I was fine for months, but we’re a month shy of a whole year on lockdown and I’m starting to lose focus in my work, can’t stay on task, and simultaneously bored and crunched.

    1. Box of Kittens*

      4) I got kind of depressed late last summer/fall. I think it was because it finally hit me that COVID wasn’t going away anytime soon, plus I always have a delayed reaction to stress anyway. You are def not the only one with late covid burnout! I wish I had better advice but I can commiserate. Having a counselor or therapist would be nice too, so maybe if that’s an avenue open to you that could be a good idea.

    2. Laura H.*

      Firstly, the username makes me smile.

      Secondly, I feel that isolation burnout/ I’m DONE with it (I’ll keep abiding by it though, I’m not a jerk). I don’t work regularly but you’re not alone in that burnt out feeling. I’ve avoided non-essential social Zoom meetings for the past month, mostly cause I don’t have that mental bandwidth (as well as because of a seasonal gig & mild COVID infection and recovery).

      Popping outside in the sun helps, having a routine helps, tea helps- these things don’t prevent isolation burnout or fatigue but IME, they’ve made it more bearable. All the air hugs and best of luck.

    3. Filosofickle*

      I read “barred in” to mean “barred from” (especially since you were looking wistfully) and thought wait, what? How? Why? Then I saw Laura point out your user name and it made more sense. :)

    4. Sally*

      4) Burnout has hit everyone I’ve talked to in the last 2 weeks.

      One thing to consider if you live in the US and the last 4 years have been particularly difficult for you: trauma responses don’t always happen immediately after the trauma occurs. Often, your body and psyche will wait until you feel “safe,” and then unleash the awful. That may be part of it.

    5. Tinker*

      “simultaneously bored and crunched” <- that is exactly my feeling.

      A bit before the end of the year, the project I was on where I was somewhat like "this project is going in a direction that works for me, so I won't leave yet" was significantly impacted by a reorg — reorg roulette being one of the items on the list of things I am getting salty about — in a way that pretty much does ultimately add another action item to my to-do list.

      On top of that, it's dark and often cold, and my original plans to be particularly cautious through the holiday season has now hit up against that our numbers are down but there's this talk of new variants and also an endpoint vaccine-wise. So now I'm thinking I ought to hold out even into the summer, but the impact on how much physical activity and outside stimulation I get has been rough.

      So I'm bored, intensely so in the work part of my life (on a personal level, I can at least do things that involve movement and activity and some amount of concrete progress, but it's things like working through my crafting project backlog), and then at the same time I feel as if I'm "terribly behind" in such a way that what I am behind on and hence how to be not behind is unactionably vague.

      I do not like. I am tired of it. Somewhat, I want to just give up and do nothing but speak vague platitudes in meetings until June or whenever the vaccination line gets to fully remote workers, but I also intensely don't want to be in exactly the same place in six months.

    6. Lizzo*

      #4 – Yep! All of the yucky psychological effects of lockdown can only be contained/compartmentalized for so long. The arrival of winter + fewer hours of daylight + very little sun here for the first two weeks of the year = THINGS FEEL HOPELESS.

      Try giving yourself permission to:
      1) Just focus on getting one thing done per day. It can be a small thing. But try and build some momentum by taking care of one thing at a time.
      2) Give yourself permission to just rest when you’re not working. Try and make your life as easy as possible outside of work.
      3) Make the best possible choices re: your health, which includes prioritizing nourishing food, good quality sleep, and some level of movement that feels appropriate for what your body can handle (yoga, walking, gentle stretching, running, etc.).

      Just as an example: I had carrot sticks + toast + an apple for dinner tonight. Lunch tomorrow is probably going to be a fruit smoothie, some cheese and crackers, and a sliced avocado. If I’m taking the time to cook anything, I’m doing it in the oven/crockpot, and I’m making enough servings for six meals so that I don’t have to make any significant effort for the next three days. I’m also taking lots of naps and spending lots of time on the couch, under a blanket, with my extra snuggly dog.

      It is totally against my nature to be so still…and if I’m being honest, I feel kind of lazy…but I figure if I can ride out the next 6-8 weeks, we’ll be on the verge of spring, and that’s going to make things so much better, and I trust that my brain and body will perk up again!

      Hang in there! xo

  43. Advice is Nice!*

    I was out of work for 3 months, I got fired from a toxic job and I was super happy about it honestly.
    Just this past week, I started a 3 month contract with one company doing a new job that is a new skill I’ve been really wanting to get more experience in. In the meantime, another company I interviewed with got back to me with a job offer. That position is very similar to what I used to do at toxic job, also it’s a nonprofit like toxic job was. The biggest win in my opinion is it’s salaried with benefits, something I don’t have right now.
    I know I sound like I’m complaining about good things. I’m young and pretty new to the workforce so I’m genuinely not sure what to do here. I like this contract work a lot, there’s room to extend and potentially become full time but it could take a while. On the other hand, there’s stability in the other offer. I’m worried I will feel similar to when I was at toxic job, but also what if it takes a while to find another job if this contract ends at 3 months?

    1. JohannaCabal*

      With this climate right now, I’d bank on stability from a full-time position over the contract job.

      How would this contract job feel about you leaving? Make sure you leave on good terms (to be honest, if one of our contractors left for a full-time job, I would totally understand.

      Also, how did you explain the firing interviews and on applications? I had a firing in the past (same situation, three month stint at a toxic place and I was in the wrong role) and had some trouble getting past it.

      1. Advice is Nice!*

        I was as honest as I could be without flat out saying that place was toxic. In all honesty, some people asked asked and some didn’t. I found it best to be along the lines of ‘the work I was doing was not at a level that management/my supervisor/whoever thought it should be at. I’ve learned from that and I always deliver my work/tasks/whatever to the best of my ability. I’m going to continue to do the same but I hope that at this job there’s more room for collaboration or feedback so I know if I’m on the right track or way off base on the work I’m producing.’
        You can also easily say that at the time you thought the role was a good spot for you but after your time there, you realized you were better suited elsewhere.

    2. Hmmm*

      what specifically about your previous job that made it toxic? was it the manager’s communication/management style? the people/work culture? or was it the job responsibilities inherent in the role that made you miserable? Just because you happened to have a bad experience with one nonprofit doesn’t mean that toxicity is pervasive throughout ALL nonprofits. Think really hard about what factors made your last job toxic and see if you can spot any of those potential issues with this new job offer.

      How different is your contract job from this FT job? Is there room for you to take on similar duties that you do at the contract while you’re working at this new FT job?

    3. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Okay, I’m not super clear on what a contract means versus being a contractor, so this may not work: Could you do both…?

      Obviously, this would be an enormous amount of work for three months, but it might doable and worthwhile, if you wanted to try to swing it.

      I had a full-time job and taught community college on the side for a while, which isn’t quite the same

  44. Outlet Mall*

    Looking for advice about worker’s compensation. I was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome recently. I submitted worker’s comp claim but was denied. Anyone have similar experience with worker’s comp? Or thoracic outlet, any advice there also appreciated. I am trying not to let it affect work performance but hard as I can barely function on the computer which I use all day.

    1. Might Be Spam*

      I had surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome. I wish I had the surgery years earlier. It was so bad, that my arm was paralyzed when I was in certain positions and unfortunately paralyzed didn’t mean no pain. When I woke up after surgery I wasn’t supposed to move my arm, but I was able to move my hand, so I knew the surgery worked.

      Definitely do the physical therapy, but don’t push through pain. Stop when you feel the stretch or you will make things worse. I now have full mobility. There must have been a lot of referred pain pre-surgery, because now a lot of other things that used to hurt, feel perfectly fine now.
      Good luck with your treatment.

      1. Outlet Mall*

        Appreciate your response, thanks! Getting evaluated by a thoracic specialist in a few weeks, neurologist did diagnosis but beyond that is not very helpful.

  45. Just a PM*

    The question the other day about workplace gossip made me remember a sticky situation I got dragged into. I’m wondering what others would do. Three bosses ago, my boss was someone who LOVED gossip, except she used it as ammunition. If she had a problem with you or you told her something in confidence that she could leverage for capital, she would tell everyone but you to undermine your status and reputation in the company.

    So here’s the “what would you do.” This boss and I are in 1:1 about something project-related. Somehow she brings up that one of my coworkers has 3 kids. Which might’ve been OK, except this coworker has only ever mentioned two children, and then she started speculating on why he never talks about that third child. I felt icky (none of my business!), shut that conversation down, and dragged her back on topic. I really struggled with whether I should have told my coworker that she’s spilling private details about his personal life. Ultimately I didn’t say anything but should I have?

    1. Dave*

      Unless you knew this co-worker really well and knew why she didn’t talk about kid 3 or knew kid 3 didn’t exist, my guess it is would have just caused me problems. One of my favorite ways to get the office gossip to leave me alone is to change the topic and not share what was said.

    2. RagingADHD*

      Nope. Unless the rumor is obviously damaging and could have consequences, don’t carry it back. That just stirs the pot and feeds the drama monster, which gossips love.

    3. Annie Moose*

      Honestly I think you handled it all right! If you weren’t close enough to the coworker to already know about this third kid–if this third kid exists and isn’t some invention or confusion of the boss!–then you’re probably not close enough to have that, like, “dude, the boss is gossiping weird stuff about you” conversation.

      Part of the risk, I think, is that if you aren’t already quite close to the target, bringing it up to them could make it seem like you want more details–like you’re only sharing it with him because you want him to explain himself. And that’s definitely something you want to avoid!

      I think the exception would be if you think the coworker is actively being harmed by the gossip–like if the boss was like “oh I’m not giving X this assignment because of [insert gossip here]”, then it’d be more reasonable to give them a heads up–but otherwise, I would just try to ignore the boss as much as possible. Getting involved in a gossip’s business rarely ends well.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      From my own experience the person probably lost a child and forgets to say 3 not 2. I’d just pretend to skate by it, not notice, whatever.

      I had an employee whose wages were garnished. For whatever reason my boss took it upon herself to set my employee straight. “You need to pay that off!” I told my boss we needed to mind our own business. It could be that the employee feels the garnishing was unjust for [reasons] and we need to just let her handle it as she sees fit.

      In another example boss got upset because a cohort inherited some money. I knew the amount so I started laughing. It’s not the kind of money you quit a job for. But boss went on and on and I really could not contain my laughter, so that kind of killed the conversation.

      Don’t bother telling your cohort(s) about her spilling the beans. They already figured it out because they see what she thinks of to say about you behind your back.

  46. NewManager999NotInvited*

    I was wondering if anyone had a script or advice on what to say to one’s boss when they aren’t including you in meetings that you probably should be at? And this is the second time you’ve mentioned this to them?

    I’m in a newly created role and I’m responsible for the day to day management of making chocolate teapots. My boss created this role so they can focus on the bigger picture of making chocolate teapots. I also knew going in that it might be a challenge as my boss isn’t the best about keeping everyone informed. Now that I’m in the role, and with no surprise to me, I’m finding out secondhand about all these pivotal discussions that took place without my involvement. These discussions/meetings have been on things that impact my ability to perform my job well.

    I already mentioned this once to my boss that if they know of any meetings that I should be included on to include me as well, but they haven’t really been doing this. I also am reaching out to people that have been having these meetings to include me in the future, but it’s a bit hard to predict meetings. I feel like if my boss could tell people to invite me too, I wouldn’t still be having this problem.

    1. Volunteer Enforcer*

      Perhaps if you try pointing out to your boss the concrete impact this has on your role? Apologies if this is obvious.

      1. NewManager999NotInvited*

        No apologies needed. I’m thinking that’s what I need to do, too. I just don’t know how to do it gracefully without turning all rage hulk smash.

        1. TechWorker*

          Treat it as ‘boss is so used to being the only person from her in these meetings that she forgets they might be useful to other people’ rather than bad intent. (If you can!)

          Whenever you notice it ‘Hi boss, I realised I didn’t have context on x,y,z because I missed the meeting with Bob, can you invite me to the next one?’

          Depending on your org/project setup and who is setting up the meetings it might also be appropriate to ask the other team to include you (Eg ‘I’m also working on llama grooming now, can you add me in?). I totally admit as a manager I get loads of meeting invites and occasionally get to a meeting only to realise one of my team isn’t there and I should have forwarded it).

    2. SomebodyElse*

      I’ve been in both your shoes and your manager’s shoes. It sucks either way.

      You are doing the right thing by going to people directly and that is probably the most effective. It will take time for your manager to figure out when and where to include you, and in fairness it’s not always easy to tell ahead of time.

      Do you have 1:1’s with your boss weekly? If not, ask for them. There is a lot of job sharing in the new role and if you aren’t having frequent meetings it’s going to be hard. Then during the meetings ask what’s coming up the next week that you should know about. Specifically ask at that time if there are any meetings you should be planning for or attending.

    3. Distractinator*

      You mentioned? that if they knew of any? Hypothetically? No. Tell them. I know they’re your boss so you have to be polite, but this is a case that you’re just explaining the facts. “The meeting last week where you and Fergus discussed X and Y – that’s information that I need because [reason]. I know it may not seem critical at the time, but if I don’t get the information until a couple of weeks later, that can cause [problem]. It seems to me that the easiest thing is to invite me, and make sure Fergus Jane and Wakeen all know to invite me. If I’m wrong and there’s a reason I shouldn’t be there, what’s the best way to make sure I get the key pieces of information as reliably as possible?” If you have a couple of specific examples, both of the information, the problems, and the meetings you’re referring to, that will help.
      One way I heard this happening when we added someone to my team was that they would specifically ask – “Fergus, what do you know about schedule on X? If you and Jane are planning to talk about that this week, please include me on the meeting” and just kept asking to be included until everyone would naturally think of them. It also helped that they treated it as “sitting in” at first, rather than digging into the discussion; I know that’s not the right long-term strategy, but in the short term (first couple of meetings) make sure they don’t regret inviting you!

    4. NewManager999NotInvited*

      Thank you everyone for the advice and scripts. This helps a lot and I feel more confident about what to say to my boss in our next 1:1. It might take some time for them to finally get it, but I have to keep trying.

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

      Are you sure your boss is the one who created the role or is it possible that the work has been split out without your boss really being part of the decision making process?

  47. SnowWhiteClaw*

    I feel like I am classified incorrectly under the new minimum wage laws. My HR person says I am not overtime eligible. I make about 37,000 gross per year.

    I live in Colorado and work as a professional research assistant at a state university.

    Who do I talk to about this? Should I even try to speak to anyone? Should I just not ever work overtime under any circumstance to circumvent it?

      1. SnowWhiteClaw*

        My role was exempt in 2020. According to Alisons previous post: “To be exempt, you must earn a salary of at least $35,568 and perform relatively high-level work as your primary duties.”

        I don’t think I should be exempt this year due to the minimum wage law changes. Here’s the ones for CO:

        “Ne new Colorado state law (effective March 16, 2020), sets the minimum salary for these exemptions at $684/week as of July 1, 2020 (note, under federal law, the minimum salary for these exemptions is $684/week as of 1/1/2020).

        This minimum salary will increase as follows:

        July 1, 2020 – $684/week or $35,568/year
        January 1, 2021 – $778.85/week or $40,500/year”

        Since I make less than 40,500 per year I should be non-exempt and eligible for overtime in 2021, right?

        1. Allypopx*

          That’s my read on it yeah. I’d push back or as Octopus suggested, check with your labor board.

          If you push back I’d probably say something like “I know I was exempt last year, but since Colorado updated their minimum exemption salary in March I don’t think my role still qualifies. Can you provide some clarification?” (provide a .gov or otherwise state sponsored link if you can).

        2. HR from CT*

          [I think my comment with the link got lost somewhere]. Exemption isn’t based solely on salary. There is a “rules test” to bump up against your daily work, link in next comment–I hope that works for you.

          1. SnowWhiteClaw*

            Right, I get that exemption isn’t solely based on salary.

            But to qualify as exempt, you have to have a specific set of duties AND make above a certain salary. Is my understanding of this correct? All the rules on that sheet you linked state “The employee must be compensated on a salary or fee basis (as defined in the regulations) at a rate not less than $684* per week;” to qualify as exempt?

            1. ThatGirl*

              What it means is that if you qualify as exempt, they have to pay you that much. You’re not non exempt because you’re underpaid, you’re non exempt and being illegally underpaid.

    1. PollyQ*

      I found a source that says the new minimum salary for an employee to be exempt in Colorado as of 1/1/2021 is $40,500, so regardless of your job duties, it looks like you’re non-exempt. (link to follow)

      1. PollyQ*