open thread – January 8-9, 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.

{ 1,168 comments… read them below }

  1. Hogsmeade AirBNB*

    Sending my support and hugs (if wanted) to everyone finding it really, really hard to concentrate on work in the last few days.

    1. Web Crawler*

      Thank you for the socially-distant hug! (Although my concentation is 90% awful back pain and only 10% compulsuvely checking the news.)

    2. OyHiOh*

      My boss is a history nerd and has an all-but-dissertation in US history, focus on 20th century. I stumbled through work yesterday morning and finally went to his office in the afternoon to just debrief for a minute. Ten minutes (COVID precautions in place, y’all) helped tremendously and I was able to focus better after that.

      1. TJ*

        If you don’t mind my asking, what did the debrief involve? Just you venting to him or did he help by giving you historical context or legal insight for the situation or something like that?

    3. Sylvan*

      Thank you. <3 It hasn't been easy to focus.

      I know we have some DC residents here – I hope they're all safe and doing well.

      1. Kate H*

        Same, but from 3pm. I should’ve taken PTO but I thought I would get back to work. I had a video meeting at four and I didn’t take in a word of what was said. Yesterday was almost as bad.

    4. Ama*

      I really appreciated that our CEO sent out an email basically saying it was okay to not be okay. (She was an intern on Capitol Hill many years ago so she might have been the least okay of any of us.)

      1. JustaTech*

        I actually had a semi-social meeting with our CEO on Thursday morning and he said exactly nothing.

        Then later in the meeting someone said something about how “company culture can’t be all talk” and I thought “yup, like failing to say a single thing, sure makes it seem like all the talk this summer about race and stuff was just talk and no lasting action.”

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          Yeah, saying nothing is really insensitive. I haven’t yet got over the fact that not a single person at the head office in the north of France bothered to ask those of us in the Paris office whether we were OK after the attacks in 2015. They saw we were online and assumed that meant we were OK. We were not OK. Every single one of us had spent Friday worrying about our loved ones – like my daughter had told us she was going to the worst hit area that night for drinks with friends. The minute she learned of the attacks (maybe half an hour after it all started), she sent us as a message to let us know that she was at her friend’s place and would be staying put, but there were so many messages flying about that night we only got it about ten hours later. My colleagues all had similar stories.
          By the afternoon, after getting a message from my immediate boss where she failed to mention it, I wrote back saying that no, I wasn’t available for a meeting, I was still in a state of shock, compounded with being upset that none of our colleagues cared enough to check up on us. She wrote back that they had had a minute of silence to honour the victims. Yeah, and what about those of us who are still alive, don’t we matter?

      2. Mimmy*

        Major kudos to your boss – I don’t ever like to be told that you need to get over it. I am really not okay this week for several reasons, and hearing this from others would mean the world to me.

    5. extra anon for this*

      I am a Washingtonian, and while I think everyone across the country was stressed for very valid reasons on Wednesday, trying to work through sirens and commotion outside my window definitely added several layers of anxiety. It was not a productive day, but fortunately my organizational leadership has been understanding. We are normally essential but preemptively made the smart decision to have my team work remotely Wednesday. Still had to go in Tuesday and Thursday for reasons directly related to the riots which was rough (we provide some non-law enforcement crisis services), but fortunately we are all okay. Rattled, but okay.

    6. NopeNopeNope*

      I was in a meeting when it happened. A colleague in the meeting is originally from Iran, and she said she always thought Americans took our democracy for granted, that it was more fragile then we realized.

    7. Doug Judy*

      It is so hard. Even harder when I work closely with people who support treason. I don’t know how I can deal with working with them in person again. Hopefully that’s a long way off but I am having a real hard time knowing who they are on the inside.

    8. Mantis Toboggan, MD*

      Omg this week has been horrible with the underlying anxiety of falling behind on top of regular anxiety from being glued to the news

    9. Notthemomma*

      I was lucky to be leading a training yesterday and this morning, but as one attendee said, “this week has already been a long year.”

      For all who are dealing with this more directly than I; actual prayers, tight virtual hugs, good vibes, and a good beverage.

      1. Malarkey01*

        I said as much as 2020 felt like the longest year ever, the first full week of 2021 felt longer than all of 2020.

        I have never felt this completely wiped out. I want to crawl into bed for a week and have a good cry. Brighter days are coming and we all need to be as kind as possible to each other while we work to get there.

        1. JustaTech*

          One of the better things I made for myself over the pandemic was a literal nest on the floor. A bright cushion big enough to curl up on, a sweatshirt-material blanket and a pillow from and old T-shirt. Sometimes I just take a break from the world in my nest.

        2. Keymaster of Gozer*

          Not ashamed to say I spent part of last week crying ugly tears as the UK went back into full lockdown (pretty much everything shut and ordered to stay home) and then I saw BBC news….I can’t cope.

          But, I try to remember that the vaccines are being rolled out, they appear to be effective against the new strain appearing here, there’s actions being taken against a lot of bad stuff happening again.

          There’s still a visible end point to all this. There’s hope we didn’t have in 2020. I’ve got hope.

      2. tink*

        I saw someone say something to the effect “Ok, I’ve tried the 7-day free trial of 2021 and I’d like to return it, please.”

    10. A Poster Has No Name*

      Oh, yeah, productivity was pretty much at an all-time low this week.

      Hope everyone is staying safe & sane this week.

    11. Cendol*

      Seriously. I have a project due today and lost two days to doomscrolling/lying down on the floor trying not to hyperventilate.

      1. Anax*

        Yuuuup, same. Project due yesterday, demo today, and about five other tickets I need to address by the end of the day, and I’m so tired.

    12. Quinalla*

      This is definitely me, focus is very hard this week for a lot of reasons :( Thanks for the support and hugs!

    13. North European*

      Thank you! I am not even American, but my anxiety has been bad the past two days. I have nightmares. Today my first thought when I woke up was: ”I wonder whether he has pressed the nuclear button while we were sleeping” :-(
      I grew up in the 1980s, when fear for 3rd WW and nuclear destruction were real.

      1. Anax*

        Some sort of reassuring news there – that’s definitely being considered, and steps are being taken to prevent any military/nuclear craziness.

        Per the New York Times, “Ms. Pelosi [one of the top Democrat legislators] also said she had spoken with Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, about “preventing an unstable president from initiating military hostilities or accessing the launch codes.” A spokesman for General Milley, Col. Dave Butler, confirmed that the two had spoken and said the general had “answered her questions regarding the process of nuclear command authority.””

    14. Momma Bear*

      Thanks. I had an informal touch base meeting with a volunteer group I am in. We all just basically needed to be like “Did that just happen??” The kids are scared, too. That was hard. To be honest but also trying to be reassuring.

    15. Not So NewReader*

      Not since the WTC have I seen so many ashen faces and tears at work.

      I’ll accept the virtual hugs and support, Hogs and I will pay them forward to anyone who wants them.

      I sat there thinking that day. And one of the 10k thoughts I had was, “I hope that Alison is able to get her forum up on Friday.”

      Not only am I grateful for our democracy, but I am grateful for all that is allowed to exist in it, such as AAM and this group of people here.

    16. It's not ok.*

      Thank you! Much needed! I’ve barely slept, have been reading news for the past… forever… and I’m dealing with coworkers pulling their same petty bullshit. Can this week just be over already?

    17. Erika22*

      Grateful for this solidarity. As an expat in the UK, it was weird starting my Thursday completely anxious and exhausted and not having my colleagues feeling the same way, like I was overreacting or in an alternate universe or something. Luckily I have a couple of professional colleagues who are also expats who I was meeting that day anyway, so I didn’t feel completely alone. Our CEO published an internal letter that was frankly – to me – a weak response. I was gratified by a couple of people commenting on his letter that they would have liked to see an explicit stance from him internally at least, but the majority of comments were “grateful for this statement” or something similar – so again, felt like I was experiencing something completely different, like I shouldn’t have been on the verge of tears all day. *internet hugs*

    18. Captain Marvel*

      Thank you. I had a bit of scare on Wednesday when my partner (who has to go into the office) didn’t come home at his usual time and wasn’t picking up. Couldn’t concentrate on any work until he made it home with the explanation that he was driving his co-worker home so they didn’t have to take the metro and would get back before curfew.

  2. LTL*

    Do you feel that it’s harder to work a job or harder to job hunt? Which takes up more energy? Or is it the same for you? My sister said that a full time job hunt was more draining than a full time job so now I’m curious.

    1. Hogsmeade AirBNB*

      Hmm… I think there are too many variables either way. Depends on the job, depends on the hunt.

    2. What's in a name?*

      I would say the job hunt is because it is not something I enjoy or I find to be part of my expertise.

      1. JustaTech*

        Exactly. I feel competent at my work. I don’t feel competent at job hunting. (The drumbeat of “nope, nope, nope” when just looking at postings exhausts me, even if it’s me saying “I don’t want that” rather than “I can’ do that”.)

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          oh yeah. Everyone is asking for somebody dynamic, upbeat, enthusiastic… I can be all those things if you give me interesting work, and I’m interested in a ton of different things, but it’s something that will come naturally, it’s not something I can drum up. It is indeed exhausting.

    3. Weekend Please*

      I think the fact that I am paid to work but not to job hunt makes a full time job hunt more stressful because of the inherent insecurity.

      1. LizzE*

        This. Even if your job sucks, there is something freeing about not worrying about when the next paycheck comes in. There are probably some rare exceptions where your job is so toxic and you have the necessary funds to quit without something lined up that when you do get around to jump hunting, it might end up being therapeutic. But again, that comes down to your financial situation.

    4. violet04*

      My husband was job searching for a few months after being laid off. He found the job hunt more emotionally draining because he was worried about being unemployed and wasn’t sure how long it would last. He works in facility maintenance so the actual work he does takes more physical energy, but it’s one of those jobs that he can literally leave at the office before coming home.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Agreed. You can put everything you have into a job search but have nothing to show for it. If you get interviews, then it’s easier to maintain hope and stay motivated. But if you get a one or two week spell with no responses, eesh, it’s really hard to keep investing the time in cover letters and crafted resumes.
        When you are working, you can see the process moving forward. But job searching is like shoveling coal into a void, you don’t know what is happening on the other side.

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          Yeah, and even if stuff is not moving forward at work, you’re at least getting paid.

    5. Okumura Haru*

      The hunt was worse for me. It felt like an impossible, sisyphean task.
      My job has it’s frustrations, but it’s better than constantly hunting.

    6. LogicalOne*

      For me, job hunting would be more draining. With having a full-time job, you at least for the most part know what to do and how to do the job and there’s the financial security as well. With job hunting, some may not have financial security which adds stress and drains you quicker. Worrying about money alone is enough stress. So yeah, IMO job hunting is more draining. (assuming they are actually job hunting). Good luck to your sister!

    7. Colette*

      I’d say the job hunt is more emotionally draining – you control very little of the process and it’s difficult to feel like you’ve actually accomplished something.

      But a job can be more physically demanding, and of course there can be days at work that are emotionally draining.

    8. RagingADHD*

      Job hunt, absolutely.

      Because you always feel you could/should be doing more, but in reality there’s so much that you can’t control. A lot of it comes down to timing – other people’s timing.

      You’re constantly making decisions and choosing priorities based on little or no useful information. And every choice feels like it’s high stakes, but you have no way of really knowing what the stakes actually are.

      You rarely end a day feeling like you accomplished anything constructive, no matter how many tasks you did. And it is true that most of those tasks will lead to nothing. But you have to do them anyway, because you don’t know which are worthwhile and which aren’t.

      I suppose there are jobs like that, but in my book they would be absolute nightmares.

    9. Beth Jacobs*

      Although a job hunt doesn’t take up 40+ hours a week, I would agree that it’s much more emotionally draining. You’re constantly asking people to hire you, which is effectively asking them to find you worthy. And most of the time, they don’t.

    10. D3*

      Physically? Mentally? Full time job. At least for me. The daily grind, the monotony, the commute.

      Emotionally? Psychologically? Job hunt. The constant putting yourself out there and either getting flat out rejected, or getting your hopes up and then dashed is just awful. As is the lack of income and not knowing when it might end.

      YMMV

    11. Rayray*

      Job hunting is especially draining emotionally and mentally, you feel like you aren’t good enough for anything. You get rejected over and over again. You’ll have interviews that go really
      Badly. You’ll apply for a job that sounds great, only to get rejected but asked if you’re interested in a much lower paying job or something you’re simply not interested in. You get ghosted by recruiters and hiring managers even after speaking on the phone, in person, via zoom etc. Every day you log on to your email, you see copy/paste rejections from donotreply. You few tired of having to talk to people about your job search or deal with well-meaning but terrible advice. You feel hopeless at times.

      On the other hand, it can be a much needed break to recharge. I got laid off in March from
      a job that just destroyed me mentally and emotionally. My nearly five month unemployment gave me time to just have a break. I could sleep in, get on a good exercise routine, and just breathe. I had worked for a micromanager and it was so nice to just be able to live and not be nitpicked or yelled at over any move I made. My constant anxiety melted away. My dark circles under my eyes vanished. I was no longer on edge constantly. I never again screamed at the top of my lungs in my car. That stretch of unemployment was difficult in many ways, but was also the best thing that could have happened to me.

      1. Rayray*

        Just to add on, now that I am back to working full time, I definitely have less time to focus on my physical health. However, it’s the least toxic place I have ever worked and once I’m off the clock, I’m just done, unlike unemployment that constantly loomed. So
        Both situations have their food and bad.

    12. Ashloo*

      A necessary job hunt from a layoff or something would give me such massive anxiety, for me that would tip the scales. It would be more about the insecurity than prepping materials. Maybe that’s where she’s coming from?

    13. Anonymous Educator*

      Hunting for a job is 100% more mentally draining. Is it “harder work” or take more hours to do than regular work? No. But a lot of us also look for jobs when we already have jobs, so that is extra work on top of our regular work. And when you’re looking for a job when you don’t have a job, there’s a lot of extra stress of “What if I never find a job? How will I pay my rent/mortgage?”

    14. Paris Geller*

      I think working full-time is harder on average, but the full time job hunt is more *draining*. It’s more emotionally exhausting, whereas any full-time job I’ve ever had is just normal exhausting.

    15. Hotdog not dog*

      It really depends. A job hunt during a pandemic while unemployed and over 50 is its own special circle of Hell…other job searches in the past were actually energizing.

    16. Managerrrr*

      Job hunting is definitely more stressful, with so much start-stop. There’s only so much you can do until next steps are out of your hands and you just have to sit and wait.

    17. Green Goose*

      In my experience the full time job hunt is more draining because it can be pretty demoralizing when it extends longer than planned. There can be financial implications, identity implications and that feeling of repeated rejection can really get to you.

      I’ve also worked at one job at I really disliked, and I still think I was more stressed when job hunting with no job.

    18. Mockingjay*

      The hunt.

      It’s the marketing aspect of job hunting which is difficult for me. I am not a natural salesperson and “selling myself” is extremely difficult. The one good thing about my industry (fed contracting) is that it can be very staid and hiring managers look for qualification matches first (ExToxicJob excepted), so my resume is scripted for that. Interviews tend to focus on specific experience with XYZ system and compliance standards, to which I can speak knowledgably.

    19. MissDisplaced*

      I find an actual job sucks way more energy. It’s an everyday thing. Sometimes even weekends.
      Not that job hunting can’t be, but a job search always felt to me more like fits and starts where you’d be busy some weeks and nothing other weeks.

    20. AnotherLibrarian*

      Job hunting is probably among the most demoralizing awful experiences, especially if it drags on and on. So, yeah, I don’t know which is more draining, because there are super toxic jobs out there. However, I would generally take employment over job hunting most of the time.

    21. Chasethedanger*

      For me the job hunt is harder because I have less control over the situation. I can control my CV and how I behave in the interview. I can’t control the job market, who will get back to me, if I will fit their culture. I’m doing as much as I can to get hired, sometimes under duress. The full time job I have control over to some extent.

    22. Aphrodite*

      It’s much harder to job hunt. I remember during my 18-month hunt wishing I had to get up on Monday mornings to go to work and envying those who were. And ever since then I have not ever groaned about Monday mornings I actually celebrate them. And I will never take them for granted ever again.

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

      Job hunting, although I’d say it’s comparable to the first week or so at a new job.

    24. Nacho*

      Harder to job hunt. Job hunting is a process of constantly putting yourself out there and being told you’re not good enough, or somethings learning you’re not even good enough to be told you’re not good enough when nobody gets back to you. Every job you don’t get is 100% wasted effort since you get neither money nor experience from the failure.

    25. Jennifer*

      This past year – the job was more stressful because they weren’t taking COVID seriously. Looking for a job at my own pace while getting unemployment was peaceful.

    26. OTGW*

      Job hunt. I…. am displeased with my job (customer service) but at least it’s contained. But job hunting never ends. And also I fcking hate cover letters. Literally the worst thing ever they need to be erased from existence

      1. MacGillicuddy*

        If you’re unemployed, the job hunt is more stressful. You don’t know how long it will last. You have to keep it going even if you’re getting interviews, because it takes too long to “load the pipeline” if you stop initiating new applications.

        At least in a crazy job you can usually pretend you’re an anthropologist and get through each day. Meanwhile there’s a paycheck and hopefully health insurance.

  3. Yellow Warbler*

    Conversation had during my year-end review:

    Boss: “So your adjustment for next year will be X%, which bring you to [salary update].”

    Me: “Okay, thanks. So what does ‘adjustment’ actually mean, is this considered a raise?”

    Boss: “There are cases where people’s salaries are reduced, so that’s why they prefer to call it an ‘adjustment’, because it can go either way.”

    Me: *long awkward pause* “…so how does that happen?”

    Boss: “It really depends on the individual circumstance.”

    Me: *staring in nervous confusion*

    Boss: *quiet, giving away nothing*

    Me: “…okay.”

    Boss: “On to your performance goals.”

    This is the third year I’ve asked her to clarify if the money increase is due to merit or COL, and she always plays word games and avoids the question…but this is the first I’ve heard of the possibility of money actually being taken away. I have no idea how, why, or what would warrant it. She wouldn’t tell me. We have to obsessively track our time using a PM system, so I assume crunching those numbers would be involved, but I couldn’t get verification.

    WHY am I not allowed to know if I’m earning a true raise, or if this is just due to inflation, FFS? Anyone have insight, similar stories, advice?

    1. JokeyJules*

      i would venture to guess that if they never say “it’s a performance raise” or “its a COL raise”, it reduces the ability for employees to discuss that aspect of their pay. similar for the reductions. if someone gets a 5% “adjustment” and someone else gets an 11% adjustment, who’s to say either person for something for COL vs performance base raise.

    2. it_guy*

      Actual conversation:
      “We were going to give your “Excellent” on your performance review, but that would make your bonus too big. So we are going to give you an “Average” so more people can have a larger bonus.”

      1. D3*

        Similarly “I’d love to rate your performance as excellent, because it is, but I’m not allowed to ever give anyone a top rating, because management wants to make sure you always know there’s room for improvement.”

        1. Dobermom*

          Yep! This just happened to me. My boss had LITERALLY no recommendations for improving my performance. But, “We have a scale of 1-5, but the highest I am allowed to give is 3. So 3 is ‘Meets Expectations,’ but you exceed expectations. But I can’t really give you that.”

          1. Chasethedanger*

            This happened to me after I had spent 6 months working beyond my role of an administrator, developing training for the role, delivering it to 30 people, managing those people through a new product launch and solving all roadblocks that came up. Got a meets expectations. I left, and it took 3 people to replace me.

        2. TooCold*

          I worked for a boss like that some time ago. It was entirely HIS choice to rate employees like that. It was frustrating and unfair because other managers did not have that mindset and your raise amount, if any, was tied to your manager’s rating of your work. So we who worked under Mr.-Always-Room-For-Improvement always got pittance raises while people who worked for other managers got much bigger raises. Note to managers: this system is not a way to inculcate loyalty or harder/better work or positive attitudes or teamwork across divisions.

        3. JustaTech*

          I hate that this happens to other people, but at least I’m in good company. Last year the PTB decided that too many people had gotten an “exceeds” (or whatever we call it) *after* they sent out the new compensation letters.
          So HR called my boss (first week of COVID home, too) and told him to take my raise back. He told them that it was their mistake and if they really thought that it was a good idea to take away someone’s raise because the Overlords didn’t like our rating system, then HR could do it because he wasn’t going to. HR caved, I kept my raise, and you bet your buttons I rated myself even higher this year.

        4. TJ*

          I hate that “room for improvement” BS. “Excellent” does not and has never meant “perfect”. If they’re not going to use the top of their scale, they should just chop it off. If my boss says the highest score I can get is a 3 and I do, then I consider myself as getting the highest score even if the scale technically goes up to 5.

      2. Ashloo*

        Happened repeatedly to my dad at Ford when he neared the top of his band. Demoralising to say the least.

      3. Aquawoman*

        Actual conversation: “You got a excellent rather than an outstanding. My rating was reduced for [thing that happened] and it can’t just be my fault.”

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

        I’ve had that but without the performance review part since they really don’t tie our review to any pay adjustment it seems. The boss just says he’s been given $X amount in his budget for increases and can allocate it however he wants, so if he gives me x% then one of my coworkers can only have y%; so we all end up just getting even amounts regardless of our performance.

      5. A Teacher*

        Had that happen when I worked for a large physical therapy company-think like one of the largest in the country now– They decided to “change the bonus structure to better reflect the culture” So as someone that had always been in the 90th percentile and one of the top 5 performers in my department, I walked into my annual review to be told I only met 88% of the metric. We hadn’t had a raise in over a year, not even cost of living and our insurance had gone up. Bonsuses were the only way to make extra money. So instead of being eligible for 94% of the bonus, I only got 88% of it. When I asked for clarification or how I could improve I was told, oh you did everything correctly, you don’t have to change anything. Its just harder now.” I started looking that day for a new job. They were shocked I tell you when I left with a very short notice period–that’s a whole other story.

      6. MissDisplaced*

        I had to do that at one place where I managed a small team. We had COLA raises that were 3%-5% but none could be more than 5% So if someone were Excellent across the board they might get 5% but were only barely above the minimum of the worst performer who got 3% no matter what.

        I was told by my manager that rarely are people Excellent in everything. :-(

      7. tangerineRose*

        I don’t get it. I remember one year that was tough for the company I worked for, and the way they dealt with it was to give appropriate reviews and give small bonuses and let us know that was all they could handle then.

      8. RegularInFormAndAuthentic*

        I had a fun one once:
        Boss: “I could have gotten you promoted but I decided not to.”
        Me: “I’m sorry, what?”
        Boss: “If I’d put you up for promotion, it would have gone through.”
        Me: …
        Me: …
        Me: “So, is there anything you wanted me to work on to enable the promotion or any specific feedback or areas of improvement?”
        Boss: “No. No feedback.”

    3. fhqwhgads*

      I don’t know if your employer means it this way, but to me “adjustment” means it’s not a merit raise or a COLA. That sounds to me more like they investigated potential discriminatory pay disparities and the resulting changes were to fix that. Especially since they mentioned it could’ve gone up or down. But if they never use the terms merit raise or COLA, then yeah they might just being ambiguous about all of the Why, but who knows what the motivation is there.

      1. kittymommy*

        Yeah, when my workplace did this it was to try to get more in line (as much as we can being government) with the market averages for that type of position.

      2. AnotherLibrarian*

        Yeah, my former work did this. They didn’t call it raises. because they were dealing with some… issues involving gender and pay in a specific department that ended up filtering out to the whole campus. Such a mess.

    4. hello*

      “This is the third year I’ve asked her to clarify if the money increase is due to merit or COL, and she always plays word games and avoids the question…”

      But you didn’t actually ask that, if your description of the conversation is correct. Have you tried saying the words “is this a merit increase or a cost of living increase?”

      Your boss may be being quiet because she doesn’t want to go into the reasons why people’s salaries might be decreased, whether performance problems or larger budget problems. If what you actually want to know is whether you’re earning a merit increase or cost of living increase, say that. I wouldn’t know what someone means by a “true raise,” so your boss probably doesn’t know either.

      1. Yellow Warbler*

        I said exactly that the first year, and still got a runaround. I’ve tried slightly tweaking my wording in subsequent years, all with no luck.

        1. Yellow Warbler*

          Since what I want to know is how they make the decision, so I can maximize the results, maybe I should instead find a tactful way to ask how to do that? I just want some transparency in the process.

          1. EW*

            Agreed. Obviously it’s a raise, since it’s more money. Being precise about the question might get the info that is being sought.

          2. ReeserchKemust*

            Is your employer large enough to have an HR group that can answer these questions for you? My large corporate employer has internal websites with a wealth of material describing the performance evaluation and rewards processes. They also task supervisors with explaining it (I am one, so I do this), but…YMMV there. At least there are resources from HR.

          3. College Career Counselor*

            Perhaps this makes me cynical (not to mention spectacularly uninformed, as I don ‘t work in your company), but I would speculate that the process used varies from year to year and unfortunately is likely largely outside your direct influence. They have X amount of funds (varying year to year) to distribute/remove to remain within their budgetary goals for the department/unit/firm. So, the performance that might get you 5% one year may only get you 2% in another year (because the pool of $$ was smaller) or the performance that you got you 2% in one year got you 5% in another year (because a bunch of people left, got their salary reduced, etc.). Outside of some serious outliers (“Yellow Warbler saved us millions this year” or “Jimbo in Accounting got fired for embezzlement, so we have his entire salary to spread around since we re-distributed his duties”), you might have the same (or better/lower) performance and not have it tied to a specific outcome.

            All that said, it probably couldn’t hurt to ask for what you can do to improve to be in the running for higher compensation consideration.

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

            I agree with College Career Counselor, they don’t want to commit to a policy/formula or be transparent because they don’t want employees to hold them to it. If they create a formal policy, and don’t apply it evenly, it could put them in legal jeopardy. They like the control of giving or taking away as they see fit.

          5. Claire*

            Ok so it sounds like you have never actually asked what you really want to know which is why there is confusion. Honestly as a manager I would find the questions you asked so far a bit odd and wouldn’t know what you were trying to get at. Obviously I can’t speak to what your company does but at many places these days the answer would be that it’s a combination of both- can take multiple factors into account, such as length of time at company, job performance, how much higher/lower your salary is from the company average for your role, etc. Are you looking to get the exact mathematical formula used? Even your manager wouldn’t know that as it’s probably calculated by some computer program.

      2. LogicalOne*

        I agree with you. The OP should have been more direct and asked if this was a merit or cost of living increase. Though the OP asked, “is this considered a raise?”, I would have pressed on with the question. Whether the OP was nervous, tired, caught offguard, that’s a whole other situation. Sometimes bosses give tone to discussions in hopes that staff might not feel comfortable speaking up because the boss is already in a “mood” per se. I wonder if this situation was like that and the OP was too uncomfortable speaking up, hence their “okay” response. But I would’ve been totally frustrated if I were the OP.

    5. Colette*

      There are lots of reasons for raises, and they’re not all as clearly defined as you seem to want.

      In my experience, large organizations get a target for raises – e.g. 3%. That means 3% of the salary budget across the board is available for raises. Someone might get 0% (if they are at the top of their salary band); someone else might get 10% (because a review of salaries showed that they were underpaid). Neither of those people got a raise specifically for cost of living, but overall the organization raised salaries to meet the rate of inflation.

    6. Cranky Pants*

      This happened during the right-sizing that happened in the early 2000s.
      “Downward adjustment”: individuals so adjusted were frat buddies who had been hired by a (now-fired) good ol’ boy (GOB) – and when corporate did a diversity salary comparison, they found that, on average, GOB hired women at only 60% salary at which he hired men. There was not a sufficient population to compare white vs. non-white.
      Corporate adjusted the individual salaries, but corporate also understood exactly what liability they would incur if the reason for the salary adjustments got out (that is, fines, legal liability for back salaries, etc.) I only found out because someone was indiscreet while talking and walking in the parking garage.

    7. Aly_b*

      If it’s above about 1-2% it’s unlikely to be cost of living, and is either merit or related to moving pay bands or equity. If it’s in that range, it’s likely COL but they may not want to frame it as that since people expect it and if their performance kinda sucks you might just keep them flat for a year. Reducing someone’s pay sucks unless they’re very significantly changing roles. Honestly if your performance rating is good I wouldn’t worry about it, and if you want to advocate for a particular raise then do it regardless!

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Oh, I’d have to reframe the question.
      “So then how do I make sure I avoid a pay decrease? What can I do better or differently so I know I am in a good spot?”

    9. Peppermint Patty*

      It always amazes me when managers can’t rate you higher than a 3 “meets expectation” on your annual performance evaluation, but then they want everyone to fill out an engagement survey and give the company all 5s. If employees are only 3s, how can the company be a 5?

    10. MacGillicuddy*

      The next time she says “ it depends on the individual circumstance”, reply to her “OK, what is it in MY circumstance? Cost of living or merit?”

  4. LTL*

    Second post for a separate question: Is it a faux pas to leave a temp position early, similar to how you shouldn’t leave a contract job before the final date? Or is normal for people to leave temp positions (with two weeks notice) when they find full time work?

    1. Ellen*

      very very normal. i would even argue that two weeks notice is overkill (although very gracious of you)

    2. Harriet*

      It is very normal to leave a temp position at any time, especially for a full time one. It is one of the accepted drawbacks of hiring a temp.

      1. Momma Bear*

        Agreed. I’d give them a standard 2 weeks notice so they can be a good reference for you but if a company doesn’t offer a temp a job after a while, they have to expect that the temp will leave.

    3. Weekend Please*

      My sister was working with temps for a while. A lot of them quit with no notice. One simply didn’t come back from lunch. I think quitting for a full time job is very normal and offering notice is a nice idea but not necessarily standard depending on the type of temp position you have. As a temp, they may turn down the two weeks and make the day you gave notice your last day. Depending on the type of temp job they don’t need any time to get someone else into the position and since you were there for a short time you probably don’t need to train your replacement or wrap anything up.

    4. AndersonDarling*

      The only time it is really bad is if it was a limited temp position, like a two month temp position to handle the overflow from a project where they had to invest in training you for a few days. It would be crappy to quit at week 6 leaving them without someone for the last 2 weeks.
      That said…I did leave a 6 week contract early because I found a perm job. But I worked with the employer to wrap up the project early, so it actually saved them money.

      1. M. Albertine*

        Yup, I was in this position last year: I signed on with a tax firm for tax season, then got offered a full-time position three weeks into the job. I ended up negotiating a delayed start date for the full time job to be able to extend the temp position to get them through March 15th. (Tax season being extended after that helped them cover my position, as well)
        They were very understanding about my leaving early at any rate. I could have “gotten away” with the standard two weeks, but again, the time invested in training, the fact I was doing a mutually beneficial favor for a mentor, and the new job’s understanding all contributed to my decision to be flexible.

      1. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

        Same. I was on a temp to perm assignment that was supposed to turn permanent at 90 days. Six months in despite my following up there was no movement. There was a buyout that resulted in most of the co-workers in my chain of command being let go on a random Friday with no notice. I cut my losses, told my contact at the placement agency I was done, and quickly cleaned out my desk of the few personal items I had at the end of the day and ran to my car.

        I would have never considered doing that as an employee – I had never walked off a job with no notice in my over 20 year career before that, but being kept in limbo as a temp kept me from being fully engaged enough to care what was going to happen without me there.

    5. NowWhat?465*

      It depends if it is a temp position or a contract role. I’ve had people on my team in contract roles who have left before their contract was up, and it was super frustrating because we signed them through X date because we needed them for events and post-mortems through that date. That being said, we’re understanding that it wasn’t a permanent gig but please give us a heads up if it looks like you’re leaving earlier than expected! We know you’re only here to May, but if it looks like you’re dipping out in April, let me know ASAP so we can plan accordingly.

      Temp position without a specified “need through” date and no specific project based work? No issues. I have left temp roles before when finding full time work and they were completely understanding because they didn’t know how long they would even need temps, and it would be unreasonable to ask us to stay until they decided they didn’t want us. I did give a 1 week notice in that role, just because my new position needed me to start immediately.

    6. Nonny-nonny-non*

      At my company (US global corp but I’m in the UK) we can theoretically give a temp an hour’s notice that we don’t want them any more, thank you and goodbye. But, the reverse is also true; they can do that to us.
      Bearing in mind the perm heads here mostly have to give either one or two months’ notice, we’d not look kindly on a temp who left with only an hour’s notice (and, outside of egregious issues we wouldn’t do that to a temp either), but I’d say a week would be considered reasonable and we’d rehire them in future.

      1. Momma Bear*

        I had a job like that. Company just needed to get caught up and as soon as they did they announced that we should all go home. We worked until our mandated lunch break (in part to give the manager time to go around and get signatures on our last time sheet) and that was it.

    7. Double A*

      The whole point of temps is you don’t have the commitment to them that you do with a permanent employee, and that works both ways. Unless you have an actual contract, you can quit whenever you want (2 weeks notice is a nice courtesy of course). It’s less impactful for the company anyway, because presumably, they can get another temp through the staffing agency if they need it.

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

      My experience is that temps (as opposed to contract workers) are usually hired through an agency, they aren’t directly our employee. So if a temp leaves, the agency just sends someone new immediately. I guess if you were hired directly by the company knowing that it was a temporary hire, then 2 weeks notice would be a courtesy, but if you’re hired through an agency, it’s totally unnecessary.

    9. AnotherLibrarian*

      Very normal. And people will usually (if it’s a healthy organization) be happy for you. But yeah, I would give the standard 2 weeks notice.

    10. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It’s normal.

      However, do you expect to ever need this temp agency again? If you don’t want to burn that bridge with the agency [assuming that’s the case, since most temps are through that method], you will want to speak with them about the best way to approach it. Then can then be ready to take care of the client when you leave, instead of just dropping off the face of the planet.

      The difference is always who signs the contract. Is it you or is it an agency that placed you. The person who signed it technically has the most responsibility. But if you don’t want to be blacklisted by the agency and the recruitment folks who placed you, I’d say you be as professional as possible.

    11. CSR by Day*

      I certainly don’t think so. I once quit a temp job after only a couple of hours because I could tell that I wasn’t up to the job. (Strange unique custom software designed for this client only and it was just weird to use. It seemed like I was making a lot of mistakes and not getting the hang of it. Maybe I was having a very off day) I called the agency right away and apologized and let them know so they could send someone with better skills, then I apologized to the client and left. I guess the agency sent someone who could do the job. The agency called me back later and had other work for me, so they didn’t seem too worried about it.

      OTOH, I was once let go from a temp position with no notice. I got a call from the agency shortly before lunch that the client didn’t need me anymore and not to come back after lunch. The client didn’t say the quality of my work was bad or anything like that and the agency never said anything either. I thought it weird at the time, and kind of rude that no one from the client’s office said anything. I guess they were just a rude client. I was a bit miffed with the agency after that and was able to easily find work at other agencies, so I never worked with that agency again by my choice, but I’m sure they had lots of other workers they could send out.

  5. Goose*

    I got a job!! I got a job!! I actually got two offers this week and used one to negotiate a higher salary for the one I wanted so as of Feb 1 I am officially employed! ~~~~Sending out job vibes to everyone here still looking ~~~~

    Question: What does business casual look like in Miami? What does it look like for someone going for an androgynous look?

      1. Goose*

        Thank you! It all happened Tuesday/Wednesday so I am still processing *all* of my feelings from the past few days… but today I’m finally feeling the excitement!

        1. madge*

          Whew, what a rollercoaster. Congratulations on your new job and for being in such a beautiful city with warm winters! Envying you from the midwest!

    1. LKW*

      WOOOOO!

      Miami biz casual is going to be slim pants, a little ankle showing. Button down long sleeve. Think suit without the jacket. If it’s more casual than business then khakis and a button down or golf shirt.

    2. PolarVortex*

      Congrats!!!!

      I have no idea about Miami, but I live in button down shirts for my own gender neutral preferences.

      1. Bostonian*

        +1 Calvin Klein has some great button-down shirts that are really light material but not see-through. (I’m wearing one right now and I’m freezing!)

    3. Zephy*

      What awesome news!!

      Miami is a pretty vibrant city so you can probably get away with brighter colors or more fun patterns in your workwear than you might be able to in other places. I’d still start pretty basic and neutral – “suit without the jacket” is a good way to think about it – and see what sorts of things and colors your coworkers wear.

      1. Igelfreundin*

        I lived in Miami five years ago, and found that people were more “dressed up” than I expected from living elsewhere on the East Coast. Women had higher heels and more makeup, and all genders wore more jewelry. I would err on the side of more polished, but don’t equate polished with staid. Color is and interesting fashion is definitely more common there.

  6. What's in a name?*

    Does anyone have tips for effectively reading the comments on this site? There are so many posted that it gets hard to wrap my mind around all of them.

    1. Who moved my cheese?*

      I use and love the “collapse all threaded comments” button (I remember when we were first graced with its wonderful presence) and, after the open thread is more than a few hours old, I start from the bottom. Depending on your browser and cookie settings, you should also see a blue line on the left of new comments that have been added since the last time you were on the page.

      1. Former Usher*

        I’ve been reading this site for years, and somehow never noticed the button until you mentioned it. Thanks!

    2. Web Crawler*

      I skim for interesting content and use the little “collapse” link often, when the parent comment isn’t relevant to me

    3. Sylvan*

      Collapse them all. Only read threads where something’s interesting to you, you recognize the name of a poster whose comments are good, you see a question you can answer, etc. If you’ve gotten into a conversation, expand all the comments and ctrl+F your name to find your thread.

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        Also, there’s an invisible asterisk (*) after all of our user names, to make it easier to use your browser’s find function for a particular user.

          1. I Want To Go Outside.*

            Hi, TJ, the search results will omit references to your name in other threads, like this one.

    4. Squigs*

      I hear you. One thing I would love to see is a way to highlight when the OP posts in the comments. I always love to read their updates or clarifications.

      1. redwinemom*

        Oftentimes, the OP using that exact name when updating in the comments.
        You can search for that OP by doing a search through the comments looking for that ‘exact name” – and add an asterisk after OP. (*)
        So, do “Ctrl F” which brings up a box for you to enter their name: OP*
        Then you can scroll down by clicking on the down arrow in that box to see all their comments. Sometimes there are several comments, sometimes non.

        1. redwinemom*

          But sometimes, the OP uses their regular sign on name. (As an example, I would use redwinemom instead of OP*.) Then it is more difficult to search for the person who submitted the story/question unless you just happen to come across their comment.

    5. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

      I wish there was an option to see newest posts at the top. It would be especially helpful at the end of the open thread period.

      1. Cascadia*

        Yes, I wish there was a way a tracking if someone commented on your comment other than just sitting and watching the thread.

    6. Danish*

      I set my default state to collapse all threads, so I only ever see top levels. Then I can expand what interests me and move on if not. I’m on mobile and it’s been entirely necessary just from a technical standpoint, but it’s great for not being overwhelmed otherwise too.

    7. gsa*

      If I have commented on something and comes back to see if there were more comments on that post or if anyone commented on my comment I “Expand All” and search for my own name.

      Expand/Collapse is the ticket!!!

    8. Practicalities*

      In addition to all these great tips, I’ll also do a ctrl-F for ask a m—short for Ask a Manager. I really enjoy reading what Alison has to say about others’ comments. Some end up being more interesting than the original letter!

  7. Who moved my cheese?*

    We returned to the office with COVID safety and mitigation protocols in place, including distancing and reduced staff rotating in. I noticed some of my coworkers I come into contact with are wearing the type of runners’ neck mask that a study this Spring said was *less* effective than wearing *no* mask because it *increased* the spread of droplets n stuff. I’ll find and link the study again. My question: how can I address this? I’m lucky to have good HR and a large supportive upper management team. But I don’t want to be a troublemaker, make anyone feel singled out, or complicate a coworker relationship that needs to stay amicable.

    1. Blackcat*

      Not saying that neck gators are effective, but that study was designed to test methods for testing mask types. It was not a rigorous attempt to test different types, so you can’t conclude that neck gators are less effective than no masks. Just that the particular one in that particular study did less well under very particular conditions.

      One option: You can point to standards from the rest of the world that specifically state requirements for facemasks to be “fitted” around the face to be effective. Wearing a neck gator still gets you fined when the mask requirement is in effect in Victoria, Australia, for instance.

      But honestly, given that the science is not totally on your side, I don’t know if you have much reason to push back. I think your best bet is to have your employer provide a liberal amount really comfy masks and encourage your coworkers to wear those instead.

      1. Who moved my cheese?*

        Thank you! You are right. I found a follow up from MIT that I will link in a follow up comment. They are better than nothing.

        1. The Rural Juror*

          I work in construction, and our approach so far has been that it’s better than nothing. It’s easier to get the people on our jobsites to wear a bandanna or neck gaitor than it is to get them to wear something around their ears. If people on the site wear something that’s attached to them versus something they can take off and put in their pocket…it’s kind of a win. Granted, so far our jobsite this year have been open air and it’s easier to be socially distant. We make a show of adjusting our mask or somehow drawing attention to it as we approach people and need to communicate with them, it signals them to mask up.

          However, we’re going to have to start being more strict since the site will start to be more enclosed soon…

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          For what it’s worth, my understanding of clothing and homemade masks is that tightly woven natural fibers are working better than artificial, or knit fabric. The first effectivity study I saw had tested stretchy fleece gaiters so that combined several issues in one.

          1. Who moved my cheese?*

            Unfortunately I’m encountering use of stretchy, single-layer artificial fabric gaiters

      2. Who moved my cheese?*

        Request to stop commenting on the science study alone (I’ve been corrected and provided with follow-up research) and focus on the work question, unless your comment is along the lines of ‘you shouldn’t bring this up at work because of the science.’ Thank you to everyone who’s replied so far!

    2. Natalie*

      That was *not* a study of mask effectiveness, it was a proof of concept for a method to test mask effectiveness. Only 1 person wore the different types of masks, making it completely worthless as a data set.

      Address your complaints to the abysmal state of science journalism, I guess.

    3. Weekend Please*

      I wasn’t aware of that study. I would have thought it was better than nothing. When you find the link can you share it?

    4. C6 CEO*

      I would first check with the return to work guidelines in your county. There’s a chance that they include detail about the type of face covering required, like “multi-layer or non-woven fabric) which would exclude gaiters.

    5. Katie Porter's Whiteboard*

      I think a conversation with your HR is a good way to go. You could ask if they’re aware of the studies into different types of facemasks and their efficacy, referencing the issue with some masks decreasing the size of droplets.

      I’ve seen some masks that look like those stretchy gators but are actually multi-layered or the area in front of the mouth are multi-layered and the rest is stretchy to allow for a close fit so it’s hard to tell. If you’re in a situation where someone has one of those masks, standing a little further away is a safe bet. You could even say something like “I’ve read that some of the stretchy masks aren’t as effective so I’m going to adhere pretty strictly to social distancing.”

      My workplace requires that all masks be ‘double-layered and fitted to the face’ and specifically say that material such as a folded bandana aren’t considered acceptable.

    6. HerdingCatsWouldBeEasier*

      I’ll link to an MIT post on this in a separate reply, but echoing Blackcat, neck gaiters have been found to be somewhat effective (although not as effective as fitted masks). I agree they should be wearing better masks, but you don’t want to oversell it to HR and have your concerns dismissed. I would check with your local hospital’s rules for patients- I know the hospital system I work for doesn’t allow them, even for patients.

    7. Satisfactory Worker*

      Cheese – I implemented the mask rules for our agency. I, too, saw the information about gaiters a while back. I myself had been wearing them occasionally and stopped, but I didn’t make anyone else for a few reasons: 1) the science wasn’t clear how much less effective it was, 2) it wasn’t an extended study because it was only a proof of concept for how to test effectiveness, 3) we were already having problems with compliance and the gaiters were better than nothing.

      I did put my foot down about the respirator masks with vents (the vents open when you exhale, so they don’t protect anyone around you–only you).

      1. Double Vented*

        What about vented masks that filter both inhaled and exhaled air? I have these and use P100 filters in them. I would be furious if I was told I couldn’t wear them when others were wearing next to nothing (gaiters).

      1. Blackcat*

        No, their science was totally fine!

        “Can we accurately test things using this set up?” was the research question!

        People interpreted the study as “Which type of mask is most effective?” which was NOT the research study.

        The original study was fine. Like, not great, but totally fine, adequate science. The issue was the science journalism around it. I’m going to drop a link to one of my favorite pieces about public interpretation of studies.

    8. Teacher’s wife*

      My husband wears a gator rather than a fitted mask. He teaches remotely from his classroom (for the time being). Because he has such a large head, he has not found a comfortable face mask (we have tried several kinds and will be ordering yet another kind this weekend). I feel it is better than nothing and, combined with other precautions, is keeping him safe until he gets vaccinated. It’s not perfect, but it’s at least something.

      1. Hillary*

        I enlarged the Tom Bihn x-large pattern to 110% to fit my partner’s extremely large head – message me at marguerida on instagram if you’d like me to send a couple. I’ve gotten to production sewing speeds. :-)

      2. Realistic*

        King Sized Direct has XL face masks that are very adjustable, have a pocket for a tissue or filter, and fit very large heads. They’re about $8 and wash up well, too. We’ve ordered a lot of them because they’re the only kind that fit.

      3. Rachel in NYC*

        I’ll add nothing to masks that might fit but I will say that they may need to be hand washed for your husband. I’ve found most masks shrunk in the washing machine- which was great when that was the goal but not when they fit before they went in.

        (I’ve also purchased additional elastic and the like because I do have that issue.)

      4. Frank Doyle*

        My husband also preferred wearing a gaitor (actually a Buff) because it’s convenient to always have it around his neck, and masks didn’t fit great. I wasn’t thrilled about that because they’re so thin and flimsy, so now when he’s going out he puts the cloth mask I made between the layers of the Buff, so he can still pull it up and it sits where he wants it and doesn’t fall down, but he’s got the extra protection of the 3 layers of fabric in the fabric mask.

      5. TJ*

        I wear a bandana folded twice lengthwise (so a long strip about 4″ wide) and then secure it with a stretchy cord looped around my head and tied around the ends of the folded bandana. It doesn’t look nice, but it’s a lot more comfortable than any other mask I’ve tried. Maybe your husband could try something similar?

      6. Bagpuss*

        I’ve found masks with elastic which goes round my head are much more comfortable and fit better than any which go over my ears, and my dad (from whom I inherit my large head) has said the same. I have some I bought on Etsy and some that my mum made me using them as a guide. the ones my mum made are better, as the elastic I got her is slightly thicker and softer, so although it’s mostly over my hair, the places where it’s right on my skin are more comfortable.
        I also wear glasses and find they are better in terms of not getting the mask elastic entangled on the arms of the glasses.

    9. Who moved my cheese?*

      Request to stop commenting on the science study alone (I’ve been corrected and provided with follow-up research) and focus on the work question, unless your comment is along the lines of ‘you shouldn’t bring this up at work because of the science.’ Thank you to everyone who’s replied so far!

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        My apologies for not seeing your request before I answered your question. I do have one more thing to suggest you add when you talk to the powers-that-be at your company …specifically ban inflatable Halloween costumes. Google dinosaur costume at a hospital in California. Employee didn’t know she was exposed and contagious when she got silly to cheer up people. :(

    10. Campfire Raccoon*

      My husband and his crew wear the gaiters that have the three-layers sown in, and can be turned around for the filter insert. I imagine you aren’t seeing the fancy-dance ones like that.

      If you are concerned, have a convo with HR. They’ll have a better idea what the company’s policies are, and will have the clout to enforce them.

    11. Momma Bear*

      Does the company provide any masks? I ask because we experimented with a number of kinds of masks early on and the company settled on providing surgical masks after a time. There are boxes everywhere so there is no excuse not to grab one as needed. I have not seen any neck gaitors since. It also helps that the CEO has laid out that he does not want to see any socializing in the kitchens, etc., either, and wears a mask himself. Most of us still wear our own masks, but of the multiple layers of cotton variety. No valves allowed.

      This mentions gaitors so it won’t *really* back you up but other info might: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/about-face-coverings.html

    12. Sunflower*

      I think this depends on your location but I’m not sure you would have a case with HR. I think most places in the US with requirements require ‘face coverings’ and there’s nothing that specifies it must be a mask. I don’t think it would get you singled out but I also don’t know if HR would find value in raising it with the wearer.

    13. TL -*

      So if they’re outside or in large common rooms (ideally, with good ventilation) unless HR is willing to enforce a specific type of mask rule (ours has, but hospital, and we provide them), it’ll be a hard go of it.

      For your office, or conference room, or any other enclosed spaces, you can bring disposable masks and ask people to wear them for meetings with you, or to alternatively take meetings outside or in a larger area. (I would work this as, “I’m so sorry. I really appreciate you wearing a face covering, but do you mind switching to a mask for the duration of our meeting? Given that it’s in a small, confined space, I want to go with most effective face covering possible, which is X.”)

    14. LGC*

      With the disclaimer that the study was…ambiguous, from my recollection: Address it with HR as a general issue. My workplace has banned neck gaiters and valved masks. It’s not unheard of.

      I wouldn’t address it directly with your coworkers unless you’re responsible for mask enforcement. And also, this is a new thing! Several people are making the same mistake, it sounds like. This is actually one of those times where it’s good to do a group announcement – because this changes things for everyone.

  8. fhqwhgads*

    If your employer has paid public holidays, and you go on FMLA which is unpaid but could be partially paid by using vacation time concurrently, and the leave overlaps those paid holidays (say for example, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, NYE and New Year’s Day), should you expect to be paid for those holidays, even if the other days those weeks were unpaid leave? And also, would those days count toward your total FMLA time?
    I am asking both questions in a legal sense as well as a “reasonable employers would do X” sense.

    1. Anon-mama*

      I can’t recall–I’d have to look at my paystubs, as I definitely had 5 state/federal holidays during my leave a couple years ago. They may have cataloged it as intermittent leave, so I was on FMLA for all days surrounding the federal holiday, but as not on FMLA the paid holidays. Our contact specifies leave by days, not weeks, so I feel like they did not count as part of the total, which is how I got three solid months off. The annoying part is I did not accrue sick leave, which was much worse to lose.

    2. Natalie*

      By law, the employer has to treat FMLA and non-FMLA leaves equally. So if they normally cover holidays when you are out on paid leave, then they can’t change that policy because your paid leave portion is FMLA-protected. If they don’t normally cover holidays during unpaid leave (which is the usual policy in my experience) than they don’t have to during the unpaid portion of FMLA leave.

    3. LargeHippo*

      I was on FMLA and asked this exact question as two paid holidays fell during my break. The answer was no, I did not get paid for them

      1. LargeHippo*

        oh – I also asked if I could get those two days tacked onto my leave and their answer was also no.

    4. Sabrina Spellman*

      I was on FMLA/parental leave from the end of September through the middle of December. If it’s a paid day off for everyone, I got paid for it, though I did have enough banked sick/vacation time that I was paid at my regular rate through my entire leave.

    5. Aurora Leigh*

      At my company, you only get holiday pay if you are working or using PTO the day before the holiday. If you’re out without pay the day before you don’t get paid for the holiday. So if you were just on unpaid FMLA the holiday would count as just a regular day, but if you’re using banked time it would be paid. It still counts at part of your 12 weeks though.

      1. kittymommy*

        Same. We also have to supply a dr’s note if you call in sick if it’s a day next to a holiday. (Normally we only need a note if you’re out for a few days in a row.)

    6. Picard*

      holidays are not required to be paid if you are on FMLA depending on your employers regular policy.

      Under 29 C.F.R. § 825.209 and 29 C.F.R. § 825.215(c)(2), whether an employee on FMLA leave must receive holiday pay depends on whether the employer would make the payment if the employee were on a non-FMLA leave. If an employer’s policy provides that an employee who is off work the day before the holiday will get holiday pay only if the time off is paid (with PTO or vacation, for example), then the employer must provide holiday pay to an employee who is on FMLA leave only if the FMLA leave is paid. An employer with such a policy is not required to provide holiday pay to an employee on unpaid FMLA leave. In other words, employers must treat employees on FMLA leave consistent with those who are on similar forms of non-FMLA leave.

      This issue is governed by 29 C.F.R. § 825.209(h), which states:

      An employee’s entitlement to benefits other than group health benefits during a period of FMLA leave (e.g., holiday pay) is to be determined by the employer’s established policy for providing such benefits when the employee is on other forms of leave (paid or unpaid, as appropriate).

      I dont know if those days count towards your total FMLA without doing some research but I suspect not.

    7. New Mom*

      Just got back from leave and asked the same question as we had multiple holidays during my leave and no I did not get paid for them (CA).

    8. Bear Shark*

      When I was on FMLA for parental leave that included paid holidays, I was paid for those as holidays by my employer. I was being paid for the other days through banked PTO. A portion of my time was paid through Short-Term Disability, and holidays were treated the same as any other business day for STD purposes. Holiday days counted toward my total FMLA time. My employer doesn’t allow intermittent FMLA parental leave.

    9. Librarian of SHIELD*

      It’s going to be different from company to company, since FMLA allows companies to pay for medical leave but doesn’t require it, so every company’s going to have their own rules. I’m public sector, and our policy is that if a person is eligible for holiday pay, they receive holiday pay whether that was a day they’d ordinarily be working or not. I was working a Tuesday-Saturday schedule for a while, and I always had to have an extra day off somewhere if it was a week with a Monday holiday, because I was required to receive that holiday pay. I was on FMLA over 4th of July weekend one year and I ended up only having to use 9 days of my sick time instead of 10, because the 10th day was my 4th of July holiday pay.

      But again, getting paid during FMLA is a company-by-company decision.

    10. Cascadia*

      Agreed it varies company by company. I work for a school and if you are a teacher and go on FMLA for maternity/paternity leave, it doesn’t matter when that leave falls in the school year, you get the same time off. So, if you had a baby in June and got 3 months off you’d come back in September – basically just your summer vacation you normally get. But if you had the baby in March, you’d get March-June off for FMLA, plus normal summer vacation. Timing matters for teachers and babies, if only these things were easily planned.

    11. LGC*

      Disclaimer: My employer is in New Jersey (yes, everything is legal here), so this might be different if you’re in California or something (or even New York). Or – like – Texas.

      At my company: you shouldn’t expect to be paid for those holidays if your remaining time off doesn’t overlap with those holidays. I don’t know if it’d count towards your total FMLA time, though. The way we’ve treated it is like if the employee is temporarily off payroll (because…well, they are). I don’t think I’ve ever had an instance where an employee’s leave PTO has overlapped with a paid holiday, but our general policy is to not deduct PTO for holidays.

  9. Amber Rose*

    OK you all helped me now please help my husband: what jobs can he do/would he maybe enjoy with his unusual combo of education and experience?

    Education: BA in political science
    Experience: Government for 6 years working with finances and contracts. He drafts the contracts that gets certain people paid, and also manages budget spreadsheets, tracks spending, etc. Has been involved in a limited way in some HR type stuff like interviewing and such.

    The problem is that even with 6 years of finance experience, without a finance degree it seems impossible to unlikely that he could get similar work outside the government. But due to vengeful management, he can’t leave or progress at his current job, and due to vengeful government he can’t get raises or respect either, so we really want to get him the heck out of there. He’s so miserable. :(

    1. Harriet*

      Grant writing maybe? A friend of mine used to be in bookkeeping for government contracts, then she was asked to help write a grant, and now there is so much demand that she could easily do 2 jobs worth of it.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Yep, I went right to Grant Writing. He would just need to take a weekend course to get up to speed on the nuances of the artform.

      2. Murphy*

        I was going to say Research Administration on the financial side. Possibly more on the post-award side (bookeeping after the award has been made) than the pre-award side.

        1. RabbitRabbir*

          This. In research hospitals or at universities – the former might be more stable right now. I work in a research hospital and we’re always looking for research admin or research contracts people.

          1. College Career Counselor*

            Agreed on this. In addition, contracts/budget analyst/administration work in any college is a possibility as well. Depending on his level of experience, some financial analysis positions might be available to him, although he might have to train/take certifications. Would his current employer authorize him to pursue those?

        2. Beatrix*

          Definitely research administration. There’s no consistent path into research admin, so the basic requirements are much lower than other finance jobs.

    2. LKW*

      I know people with no finance degree that do contract management in terms of contract standards, vendor management, vendor selection and quality metrics management. The focus is less on the contract than standardization of the contract and measurement processes.

      1. Dave*

        Definitely would qualify for some jobs here especially if it overlapped with the types of contracts he always reviews.

      2. Jules the 3rd*

        This. I work in this area, and the range of degrees is *wide*. From Theater to Business to Industrial Engineer.

        However, some classes at a local community college in accounting will help him out.

        1. Rain In Spain*

          Thirding- purchasing/supply chain/contract management could be a great fit for his experience!

    3. female-type person*

      Policy or legislative analysis. People who can read a bill or a law and create a spreadsheet to calculate costs to taxpayers or impacted organizations or political subdivisions would be valuable to lobbying firms or non-profits that do their own lobbying. A related skill would be drafting legislation or policy.

    4. Blackcat*

      Look into grants administration and other support positions in higher ed. Lots of institutions have grants offices where the job is often to help people draft budgets for grant submissions and do the follow up accounting for that.

      1. Ama*

        Nonprofits also have positions like this — both nonprofits that fund themselves with grants and nonprofits that give out grants need people with a good grasp of financial tracking and budgets, but unless you are actually applying to the accounting department, work experience is usually given preference over certifications.

        I am a nonprofit grant administrator for a medical science funder — my educational background is in literature and writing, no formal science degree or financial training. Your husband would actually look better on paper applying for my job than I did.

    5. Free Meerkats*

      Move to a different governmental entity, maybe?

      I was going nowhere at the county here, moved to the city in a related field and now I manage the program.

      1. Haha Lala*

        This! My brother also has a poli sci degree and works in finance for a local municipality. The only way he’s been able to advance is by applying for jobs a level up in a different city/county.

        And adjacent thought– Has your husband thought about getting a masters degree or some sort of advanced certificate? He might be getting passed over for promotions if his competition has more qualifications.

    6. PolarVortex*

      Oh! Contract Management, look for that title specifically although I’ve heard it called other things. A lot of larger companies use this field to identify contract improvement ideas for customers, deal with finance related things like rate reductions and credits, it’s the prefect launch for his background into non-government work. While it’s not a perfect fit for his previous experience, his work with both finance things and with contract language will really benefit him here. A lot of companies – mine included – don’t require previous experience in the field, nor a legal or finance degree. We have legal to approve contract changes, and finance to do the actual financial reporting. CM is there to look for ways to retain customers, improve retention/stop money loss, etc. It tends to be a bit customer facing though.

    7. Anon pour ce poste*

      I think a lot of this analysis type stuff maps to many Analyst roles. I have a BA in History.
      The closest experience I have to your husband’s was when I worked in the Procurement department of a multinational company (I had no previous finance experience). I came on board to help the department transition to some new software (mapping out processes, writing training, prepping for the transition, etc.) but after we transitioned, I ran spend reports, helped establish further new processes to improve the department, ran training sessions for implementing the processes. Later I moved into the Sourcing department where I assisted the people who reached out to vendors to establish contracts, etc.
      Otherwise, just spin the resume to show how his skills match other jobs that require thinking/analysis. I’ve been a tech writer, worked on training people how to use Salesforce, and am now in a Centre of Excellence (COE) department for a manufacturing/logistics company. (Seriously, check out the latter – I run So. Many. Finance. Reports. We have a Finance department, but our COE managers need help generating their own views of the data.

    8. NowWhat?465*

      Procurement sounds like it would be a great fit for him! I work at a large university and a lot of times we have to go through our Procurement office to purchase things instead of just going to buy them. They handle contracts with our big vendors, evaluate what is reimbursable or taxable, assist new programs with set up, and look over or create contracts with individual vendors.

    9. T. Boone Pickens*

      Just spitballing but could he pursue getting a PMP cert? That might make him more attractive to outside employers. I was going to suggest back of the house financial services licenses like a Series 24 but that requires a FINRA member to sponsor you.

    10. Roza*

      How good is he with the coding/analytics side of things? I’m in a tech, and for enterprise software there are roles with names like “product specialist”, “solutions engineer”, sometimes other stuff, and it basically entails owning big customer engagements, tracking requirements, working with engineering/data science/whatever to get the custom bits built. Especially if it’s software that’s sold to the government, his experience would be really valuable. The titles are so varied that they’re hard to Google, but maybe he could do some research into software products used in or trying to break into his area of gov?

    11. Hillary*

      My undergrad is in poli sci. I’m now in procurement/supply chain for a manufacturer.

      His contract work now would fall under our contract manager/analyst roles or category managers. He’d be qualified for contract analyst based on experience, maybe manager if he owned the negotiations. Our category managers do contracts as a secondary responsibility, we’re primarily responsible for negotiating, running bids, and managing vendor relationships. The budget & spending stuff is mostly done by our systems. It’s good knowledge but doesn’t directly point to a role.

    12. New Mom*

      Is he interested in being a financial planner? Or he could look for nonprofits that work with the government and would like his insider knowledge of systems.

    13. Seeking Second Childhood*

      In some companies, there’s overlap with business analysis and business development.

    14. Generic Name*

      I would look into contract manager and project controller jobs. Does he have experience (beyond being an end user) of software like PeopleSoft?

    15. AnotherLibrarian*

      A few thoughts would be- contracts/grants/budget analyst/administration work. Basically, anything involving money at a large organization. Also consider City Government, they employ folks to do similar work or, if you’re near the seat of government, state legislatures usually have budget analysis folks who don’t work for the executive branch (i.e. standard state government) and run their own show. I used to work for legislative affairs and it was a much healthier place than the main state government. Funny enough, the legislature tends to look after their own non-partisan staff and we were well protected from the drama the rest of the state went through. Also, the court system needs budget people and contract folks.

    16. MissDisplaced*

      I work in private sector tech/IT services sales and we have people who are specifically for services design and activation. Basically they are part of the pre-sales process and help the sales reps with the following:

      > Draw up the contracts and accompanying paperwork (finance review)
      > Deal analysis and structures – How much should we charge and will this be profitable for us?
      > Write the Proposals and Statement of Work (SoW)
      > Navigate the back and forth with client, legal, etc. to close sales deals
      > Help kickoff the new customer onboarding (which is handed off to other managers)
      > Monitor the accounts for profitability, accurate billing, forecasting revenue and resource planning

      They’re kind of a bridge between sales and accounting really.
      Services Sales Consultant, or maybe part of a Business Development team. It sounds like your husband could do this. You don’t need a finance degree for this role, but one does need a fair bit of experience with financials to analyze and setup strategic deals. Most in the role have seem to have an MBA, but not all do.
      We just hired someone like this. If you want to see the qualifications. (missdisplaced@yahoo.com)

    17. Rachel in NYC*

      I work in finance in university licensing with a JD. Some of those skill sets would cross over to the area of finance I work in (basically really specialized accounts payable.) I enjoy working for a university- the pay is less but the benefits are decent. (Though the reality is that I like my co-workers and that’s the difference.)

      Maybe contract management or contract administration. Procurement? Depending on his skill set project management?

    18. Amber Rose*

      I can’t reply to everyone, but thank you so much on behalf of both of us! I think husband has some good ideas now and it looks like there are some interesting jobs he can take a look at.

    19. Just Stopping by to chat*

      You husband should still apply for finance jobs or jobs that require budget experience. Not all employers are just looking for the finance degree.

  10. Grad school debt while changing jobs?*

    Hi all, has anyone ever changed jobs while using a company’s tuition reimbursement? I currently work for company X, and I’m using their tuition reimbursement program to pay for (most of) my master’s degree. I’m considering leaving, which means I’d have to pay back company X the tuition for the past 2 years (per the tuition guidelines). It’s doable, but a while ago a former coworker said that when he switched jobs in a similar situation, he got the new company to pay off the old company. I don’t remember if it was a signing bonus or a direct payment to the old company.

    Anyone done this before? Get the new company to pay off the “dowry” of the old company? Coworker is a software engineer, so this might be some Silicon Valley-only stuff. Should I just ask about New Company’s tuition reimbursement and mention that I owe old company, and see if they say anything? Or would I sound like a loon bringing this up at all?

    1. cat lady*

      My sister did this when one of her grad school profs poached her for their own company! She did have to pay back a portion, but I think it’s definitely worth asking about New Company’s tuition reimbursement. They know you’re finishing your Master’s, so this won’t be a surprise.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      If you have a “hot” job, or are in a more senior level position, then it is possible that they would offer a sign on bonus to cover a part or all the tuition.

    3. Yellow Warbler*

      I have a friend who did this, she was working on her MBA while moving from an account controller to an e-commerce manager.

      I don’t know the exact wording she used, but she did ask them to cover the 2 years of time she would owe back. I believe they asked for documentation to show the exact amount.

    4. cheapeats*

      Ask. I’m in tech and this is common for the new company to pay off the old company’s remaining reimbursement requirement. (not directly to the old company- to you as part of sign-on agreement.)

    5. ABC*

      Hello, I don’t mean to nitpick your language, but as someone coming from a region where people have been killed (and still are) over dowry demands, could you please not misuse that word? Thanks!

  11. funkydonut*

    Has anyone else in the US struggled with feeling like work is even more stupid and pointless than ever right now? Like, I can’t believe I’m just supposed to sit at this desk when a government building is under siege? My boss barely acknowledged it – at the end of a (virtual) meeting the other day, she just said “okay go check the news now.” Are other people’s bosses being more understanding? How is everyone coping with this?

    1. Frustrated Employee*

      I just wrote a whole comment below about a tone-deaf email we got from our company president. God forbid something get in the way of making a profit, whether it’s a pandemic or attempted coup of our government.

    2. Rebecca Black*

      My manager didn’t come to work and did not respond to an email asking if we should make a statement. I am doing the bare minimal and that seems to work for me.

    3. Dwight Schrute*

      Yeah I’ve been having a tough time focusing and being productive. I mean what an absolute mess we’re enduring right now. I don’t see how people are so tone deaf about this

    4. Sylvan*

      Not exactly (my job’s very useful to our clients, so I can make my work feel like it matters). But it’s so hard to focus. It seems to be stressful for everyone.

    5. LKW*

      I’m sorry you’re struggling. My leadership put out videos and messages and reminders of our EAP program as well as other resources. I log onto news sites about 12 times a day. I don’t think it’s helping me, but knowing that my company and my client are both aghast and OK if we take a couple of minutes to vent

      1. lemon*

        We got a similar “your EAP is there to help you,” email. And like… I know there’s not much that anyone can do to help right now, but really, how is an EAP supposed to help with this right now? I’m just imagining how that conversation would go:

        “It’s hard for me to work because people are trying to overthrow the government right now.”
        “I’m sorry, that sounds difficult. Have you tried practicing mindfulness using an app? Or tried being resilient? I can send you articles on how to be resilient!”

        It feels like the best thing that employers can do right now is just… manage expectations. I haven’t had non-digital human interaction in almost a year, I fear for my physical health everyday, and now we’re in an unprecedented political crisis– answering emails isn’t at the top of my priority list right now.

        1. Tris Prior*

          I reached out to my EAP late last year when the confluence of pandemic plus politics plus personally stressful stuff (unemployment and having our housing situation threatened) got to be too much.
          And I am sorry to say that this is EXACTLY what I got from the therapist.

          I was told to try mindfulness apps, which was especially offensive since one of the things I brought up initially was “I do not like screens, screens stress me out, the fact that life has to mostly happen on screens now is really hard for me.” So clearly the solution is…. more screens?

          I was told to exercise (which I was already doing a lot of) and that if the weather was bad I should deal with my stress and anxiety and horror by pacing around my small apartment. When I said that I wasn’t sure that would help given how bad things are, I was told, “well, you know, you can choose to be anxious too, if that is what you want.” Uhhhh.

          I am SO glad that I was not paying for that therapy.
          It probably didn’t help that only one person on the 10-therapist list that the EAP sent me had any availability at all for new clients.

    6. Blackcat*

      I got the helpful “Everyone should be used to this kind of thing happening” comment yesterday…

      1. PolarVortex*

        What the what?!

        One should never get used to this, if this becomes normalized that’s not okay.

    7. OyHiOh*

      I’m very lucky to have a boss with a deep dive perspective on the US (he took this job in the middle of writing his dissertation). He kept current events out of our staff meeting yesterday, but was available for a debrief when I asked for it later in the day. There’s a subset of American culture that’s weirdly anti intellectual (and always has been) but for me, it was tremendously helpful to get a deeply educated and thoughtful point of view, with comparisons to US historical events that are in some ways similar.

      And then I went back to my office and played the soundtrack to Parade for the rest of the day (“Parade is a musical with a book by Alfred Uhry and music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown. The musical is a dramatization of the 1913 trial and imprisonment, and 1915 lynching, of Jewish American Leo Frank in [Atlanta] Georgia.”) Quote is from Wiki, which has a very good page on the musical and the story behind it. In my theater/writer/performer brain, it felt appropriate for the week.

    8. Katie Porter's Whiteboard*

      My direct manager sent a message to her reports on Wednesday telling us to take whatever time we needed and to go home if we needed that space to process. I proactively told her that I didn’t want to discuss our upcoming meeting and she totally respected that. I manage some students and I reached out, cancelled all meetings for Thursday/Friday, offered to reschedule for something that worked for them, and told them that I would be available to talk, either about the coup attempt or avoiding that topic altogether.

      But I’ve been incredibly disappointed in our director and parent institution for their complete radio silence on it.

      1. funkydonut*

        It sounds to me like you handled it really well with your students. I would have definitely appreciated a message from my direct manager like you got. Instead we just got a sort of “yeah this is crazy!” message on our slack thread about it and then the “go check the news now” sentence at the end of our meeting the day after.

    9. RagingADHD*

      I got lucky that my client cancelled our call this week for unrelated reasons. All my work is generated by such calls, so I’m effectively on an extra holiday week.

      I wouldn’t have been able to focus on anything anyway – which reminds me, I haven’t even updated my project manager about the schedule. Better do that today.

    10. Fiona*

      I’ve had a lot of trouble focusing. I feel fortunate that we got an email on Wednesday late afternoon from a high up boss saying we should feel free to cancel meetings / log off / take care of ourselves. And my immediate team met on Thursday to just debrief. But it’s tough not to feel horribly distracted and depressed.

    11. AceInPlainSight*

      I’ve been struggling since the beginning of the pandemic- I work in R&D with lots of government contracts, and we’ve been classed as essential so that we can continue to go to the lab. We’re only essential in that the military ‘needs’ slightly better toys than it already has. It all just feels pointless.

    12. Donkey Hotey*

      Right there with you, friend.
      Wednesday, I think I managed an entire half hour’s worth of work in eight hours.
      Thankfully, I’m up to date and ahead on all my projects, so it comes out in the wash, BUT STILL.
      Related, I have learned that it is possible to work with people I don’t respect.

    13. Ashloo*

      Not a word from our leadership. I had such a headache Wednesday hitting evening deadlines. It’s been difficult to care about anything other than doing enough to keep the job and make sure clients are just satisfied for months now. No complaints from anyone, thankfully.

    14. Hotdog not dog*

      “We” are apparently pretending nothing much is going on in the world….but I am far from the only employee at my company who is not well focused on work right now.

    15. Reba*

      I’m in DC. Yes.

      We got a message from the top that actually did a great job striking the balance of “take care of yourself and here’s the safety plan” / “the work we do is important, we are proud of you and let’s keep going.” I appreciated it, anyway.

      Issue I’m facing the past couple days is that I ought to be communicating with people in other places… Putting it off because it feels very odd *not* to acknowledge what’s happening, but I just do not want to go there!

      1. funkydonut*

        I’m sorry you’re dealing with this while living there! I grew up in the DC area though I’m not there anymore and I can’t imagine the stress. I am glad you got a good message from above.

    16. Jules the 3rd*

      The CEO of the company that I work for put out a letter saying we condemn the violence. Internally, it’s been only ‘suspend scheduled social media updates and here’s the EAP’. My manager works in Europe, dead silence. But he barely remembers me in the best of times.

    17. Victoria, Please*

      Somehow on Wednesday itself I managed to hang in there. Yesterday was maybe my least productive day in months; I feel like I should take a retroactive sick day (state worker here, very sensitive to my responsibility to taxpayers!).

      I encouraged my team to do what they needed to do, checked in with them, etc.

    18. Anon for this*

      My boss was wonderful. She told us to be kind to ourselves and that if we needed to check out (we’re all working from home), take some time, take a nap, whatever we needed to do it.

      As for coping, Wed and Thursday I was mostly contacting my elected officials, rage donating and doomscrolling. Today, I’ve been able to focus a bit more.

    19. Toothless*

      One of the managers in the chain between me and the CEO is married to a congresswoman, so everyone that reports to him got an email expressing his sadness about the events and talking about what the company is doing to speak out against the rioters, along with some generic “take care of yourself and be kind to each other” stuff.

    20. MissDisplaced*

      Oh yes. I think nearly ALL OF the United States is having a stress crisis right now. Things are just really, really trying all over with the Pandemic and the Orange Crazy Man and all the anger and division and chaos he’s caused.

      I work for a big company and a few people have died in recent months (whether from COVID or other issues they won’t say). But the work just goes on and we’re expected to keep our numbers up and just, you know, sort of ignore that people have died and won’t be on this or that team anymore. It’s almost as if they got laid off or left, not died.

    21. Fed Anon*

      I work for the federal government out of DC, although I’m personally located elsewhere. We had a call to check in on Thursday that involved multiple people openly crying and talk of resignations. These are civilian bureaucrats that have worked 20-30 years without political affiliation, but are feeling so lost and ashamed of being associated with this administration.

      The assault is bad enough but coupled with the contrast with BLM, and many of our black coworkers are absolutely devastated. I worked in DC on 9/11, and this felt so much worse to me, even though I could see the smoking pentagon from my office on that day.

    22. JustaTech*

      My direct boss said nothing, nor did the CEO in the semi-social meeting I had with him (and a dozen other people) on Thursday morning. I brought it up to my skip-level boss in our meeting this morning and he was like “yeah, that was a thing!”

      My spouse’s boss, on the other hand explicitly said “I understand if you don’t get a lot of work done today. Please check in on your reports, especially the politically involved or sensitive ones.”

      Personally, I’ve been hiding in data analysis and trying to stay off Twitter. Hasn’t been working, but I’ve tried.

    23. Quinalla*

      I don’t feel like my job is pointless, but I am having a hard time focusing. Nothing has been addressed by leadership (but might today as they tend to send out weekly emails on Friday that address big picture things), but folks have talked about it in a few meetings, trying to keep their personal politics out of it which has been good because we all definitely do NOT agree on those :)

    24. Not So NewReader*

      I had to hang on to something my late husband said after the WTC: We reeeally need to see each other doing our jobs and keeping our systems working. I did leave a bit ahead of schedule, but I went back in the next day. Sometimes it just makes sense to go home if possible.

      Courage and encouragement come in odd packages.

      Personally, I think people need to see each other and talk to each other first and foremost. After that we need to see that others are still going forward with their work as best they can.

    25. KR*

      My company is full steam ahead and so extremely busy. I think if I mentioned feeling distracted or anxious about the news they’d probably tell me it’s understandable but I need to focus on work when I’m at work and these deliverables have to happen as soon as possible, which is frustrating and why I haven’t bothered to bring anything up. It’s annoying though.

    26. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I honestly didn’t even try Thursday. I had been allowed to carry over three vacation days from last year, and I’m under instruction to use them up as soon as possible. So I took one on Thursday. Physical chores helped a little.

    27. Simpsons Did It First*

      It’s been so frustrating. My company made a big show of support this summer but crickets this week. They reminded us we can use the EAP or take time off. Except we’re understaffed so any time I take off makes me have to work more hours and there’s no relief in sight (even before this week’s events). I applied to 1 job this week and think I might start a search, tho I’m sure it’s awful at many companies.

    28. Kate H*

      Yes. At four on Wednesday my boss held a (virtual) meeting to talk about how we need to standardize naming conventions for our files and how we should be using a certain project management software. It was a thirty-minute meeting and I didn’t take in a single word. We usually use video but I left mine off because I didn’t want them to know that I was glued to the news. He also started the meeting by commenting on how quiet we all were and making a joke about how we all just wanted to go home. I have to believe that he didn’t know what was happening.

      Our CEO sent out a company-wide email the next morning and it’s literally the only time I’ve heard anyone mention it at work. As for how I’m coping, I spent Thursday barely able to function and Friday in an endless round of training meetings that made me want to scream but at least distracted me from the news.

  12. Anon for this here post*

    Can someone explain the role of an “Assistant to the Department”? Does this person support everyone in the department? Do they have seniority over others, or does it depend on the role/person/boss?

    1. JokeyJules*

      typically that would be an admin-like role. no seniority over anyone, but also not reporting to anyone but the dept manager. I’ve held this position before and supported staff with various admin-type tasks like tracking work projects, making sure the back end of everything was running smoothly (everyone is on the email group, everyones added to meetings, maintaining a pto schedule, ordering materials the staff need). it was very clearly established that i did not report to anyone but the manager of the whole dept.

    2. RagingADHD*

      I have seen roles similar to this, as described by Jules, but that reported to either an office manager or to a head of admin staff who was outside the department.

      …At least, on paper. The downside of a reporting structure like that is you are taking assignments & direction from everyone in the department but you may not have anyone in the department looking out for you or backing you up.

      You really need that manager to be strong & invest a *lot* of trust in you, for the outside-reporting situation to work well.

      1. JokeyJules*

        yep, i definitely had to work to establish a “i’m not asking you, i’m telling you, and you are not directing me, you’re asking me” type of relationship with my peers when it came to assigning projects or other tasks, and that required a lot of backup from the dept manager. consistency and being fair was HUGELY important as well.

    3. The New Normal*

      I’ve had that position. I reported to the department manager directly, but my job was to assist anyone in the department who needed it. I had my regular assignments from the manager for my day-to-day tasks, but I would often be approached to help draft a letter or email, assist with project tracking, be the main point of contact for the department, and overall manage workflow.

      1. Anon4This*

        This is how our department assistant works. They report to me, but they do projects for all the other managers as well as pinch hit with project teams when we’re slammed. Ours is exceptional and has been given a lot of special projects based off their track record. They are responsible for routine tasks like reporting and scheduling but have a pretty broad portfolio for various members of the department.

    4. pretzelgirl*

      I do this now. I am happy to help answer any other questions you may have. I report directly to our department head. But support a large department with several tasks, along with other daily tasks I do. Basically people can give me work to do, but most of the time my boss knows about it and approves. I am lucky to work for a great group of people. They are understanding of my time and thank me all the time. The nice part about this (at least for me) is that most the department I support is very busy so I am usually left to handle my work load as I see fit. The downside is sometimes I get slammed with stuff to do for others, that I have to accomplish on top of other stuff I do. But I am always open and honest with people about time. Which I think is important. I really like it. I also like my boss and colleagues. I could see it being the opposite if you did’nt have a good boss and team.

      I do not have seniority, but my I have a great team and boss. Who literally always have my back. My boss has gone to bat for me several times, as has my team. I love them. My pay is not great, but I have worked HORRIBLE places before and honestly I cant imagine leaving at this point in my life.

    5. AnotherLibrarian*

      In the world of academics, this would be basically an admirative assistant who helps out the whole department rather than one person. In my school, they work for the department head, technically, but basically deal with everyone’s stuff. Can be thankless, but some people love it. Larger departments, they might manage student assistants or staff, but not too often.

      1. tamarack and fireweed*

        I might add, also in academic and similar loosely structured environments: There may only one (part-time) assistant for a whole multi-person department, so individual employees cannot expect much special help. The bulk of the responsibilities would be administrative tasks for the dept. as a whole: answer external phone calls that don’t go to an individual employee and questions about what-is-where, own conference room booking and internal communication, oversee the work of janitorial staff and facilities workers checking out something-or-other, ensure incoming and outgoing paperwork is routed correctly, key requests, functioning of copiers and other office equipment, ordering of supplies, events etc. as well as possibly reporting on any of these.

    6. The Other Dawn*

      We had a role like that at a previous company and she was the admin for the department, helping all of us in some way and having no managerial duties. It was the lowest level role in the department in terms of seniority.

  13. Frustrated Employee*

    Is it possible to give feedback to executives on a tone-deaf company-wide email?

    I’m sure we’re all aware of Wednesday’s attempted coup. On Thursday, we got an email from our company president, saying “the images many of us watched unfold yesterday in our nation’s capital were deeply troubling … Yet, within hours, order was restored, and members of Congress returned to their work … I also want to stress the importance of us staying focused on the work we do.”

    Personally, I found Wednesday’s events far more than just “deeply troubling.” I was in tears. Congress went back to work because they were Constitutionally mandated to. They should have been able to go home and get therapy and process the trauma. And as more news is published about this (the failure to timely deploy the National Guard, etc.), the more outraged I feel. I can’t sit by and do nothing, I want to write my Congresspeople, call them, and DO SOMETHING.

    But sure, let me focus on coding an email to sell your webinars on the services we provide (that fewer people are able to use because financial and business impacts of the pandemic).

    1. hello*

      If you’re feeling traumatized by this event (or any other), it’s okay to take a day off. I think your emotions are getting in the way of your perception of a perfectly normal corporate email.

      1. Fiona*

        Eh, I would be bothered by this email too. “It’s important to stay focused on the work we do” is not the appropriate message here.

      2. cat lady*

        HARD disagree that this was a “perfectly normal corporate email.” It was an unprecedented event, brought about by years of traumatizing rhetoric, and deserves a thoughtful response that acknowledges how not normal the event was.

    2. CovidTester*

      I appreciate that our congresscritters stepped back in to do the job they were there to do. Personally, as someone that works in covid testing and has had physical threats over whether or not the science we do is ‘fraudulent’, adrenaline has absolutely made some of us MORE empowered to carry out very important jobs to keep society moving forward.

      The idea of working on a team (whether diagnostics or legislation) towards a common goal can carry people beyond their trauma – that’s why the military emphasizes team cohesion over individuality. Some jobs just require that.

      Confirming our next president ESPECIALLY in the face of such an attack was a powerful and needed move for the country’s psyche.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep. This. We needed to see people acting strong in spite of their fears. And, phew, boy, did we ever.

      2. Bubble Teacher*

        I’m not American, so caveat that this is from a horrified bystander, but I was deeply impressed by the Oh HELL NO! determination of many members of the senate on Wednesday night.

        Jedi hugs to you all. The rest of the world isn’t laughing, we’re horrified and standing behind those of you who are feeling the same.

    3. RagingADHD*

      I understand how you feel, but unless your company embraces a very flat org chart and the president has previously shown themselves open to feedback, I don’t think there’s any point.

      It’s the kind of thing that will harm your standing without any useful upside.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        +1 Channel that pain / anger into action, and find ways to process it. Some options:
        1) Joining a voter registration group in your state. League of Women Voters usually has a good registration branch, or NAACP or NOW.
        2) Research what GA activists did, and find people who are trying to move that model to your state. Reading about Abrams AND Ufot AND Campbell AND Scott AND Brown is inspiring. representcollaborative.com has a good story on them, and there’s lot of links to / from their respective orgs. I have noticed a significant difference in rallies in Nov / Dec vs earlier ones, as my state progressives study their model.
        3) Spend some time reading / watching Heather Cox Richardson’s history posts on facebook, she really puts it all in perspective
        4) Consume a bunch of Michael Harriot , at The Root or Very Smart Brothas, or his poetry, or his podcast. He makes me laugh and cry, often at the same time.
        5) I’ve had Donald Glover’s “This Is America” on replay a lot, along with Rage Against The Machine and different versions of “Lift Every Voice and Sing”. Whatever your protest music is, now is the time.
        6) Review your local landscape, and see if there’s anything you can do. I need to drag a trashbag on one of my neighborhood walks and spend 15 minutes picking up, for example. Maybe this weekend if it’s not too wet… But there’s also local food banks that would love volunteers or $$. Again, a plug for NAACP as a worthy and effective organization.

        Yeah, it’s been tough. I made my kid stop school so we could watch what was going on together. This was at least 9/11 important, even if they were not able to stop our democratic process, just delay it. Because this was our own neighbors, sometimes even our own families, and that’s hard.

        1. kt*

          I love your comments, as it’s how I think too.

          One more music suggestion: Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer.

        2. Urban Prof*

          Great post, Jules the 3rd. Michael Harriot is a particular favorite of mine. He’s flat-out brilliant.

      2. Littorally*

        Agreed. There is nothing to be gained and much to be lost by trying to give feedback to the president on this.

    4. singularity*

      I got an equally tone-deaf email explaining the importance of remaining politically neutral during these “historic events” and ‘keeping to the facts.’ I work as a high school teacher. I get where administration is coming from, but what the heck is that supposed to mean? I have to ‘strive for impartiality’ and ‘encourage civility’ when discussing it… I’m supposed to remain neutral how exactly? Right-wing extremists stormed the capitol building attempting a coup at the encouragement of our President. Where is the neutrality? I am deeply uncomfortable with what the email asked of us.

      1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

        Sounds like the principal doesn’t want to deal with crazy right wing parents accusing you of indoctrinating their kids. I’m so sorry you have to deal with that on top of the actual work of educating young minds.

        1. kittymommy*

          And if you work for a publicly funded school you may be required to stay politically neutral, at least while on the clock. I work for municipal government and we cannot show a political leaning while at work.

          1. Malarkey01*

            The fact that condemning armed attacks and riots on the capitol with the stated aim of disrupting and destroying the democratic process is not a universal political stance and not a leaning is scary as crap.

      2. Veronica*

        Our school admin sent out an email to say that what happened was against the values the school requires of students to uphold democracy. It was signed by all the principal’s and senior administrators. They were very clear that one of the major purposes of the school system is to educate citizens to function in a democracy. The tone was politically neutral and focused on the democratic process. So it is possible.

      3. Disco Janet*

        One of my coworkers was officially reprimanded for saying that what happened at the Capitol was wrong. I am baffled and angry and question the district I work for. Not being proud to be a part of it.

        Saying that what happened is wrong should not be seen as a biased statement. It should just be a fact. I’m so over the emphasis being on not upsetting the conservative parents in our community who are extreme enough that they support this.

        And I’m supposed to be doing a unit on vaccines and herd immunity soon! Not by my choice – it’s in my curriculum. But be impartial and don’t say anything that will offend anyone. Which seems to be impossible.

    5. funkydonut*

      I’m so sorry you got that horribly inappropriate email. I would not respond to it, however, as I don’t think it would be taken well.

    6. Yellow Warbler*

      I (and a lot of people in my circle) just took a LOT of PTO for the holiday, so taking time off in the first couple of weeks of January is “just not done”. That seems to be the fallback excuse, which is not a good scapegoat given the insanity of what’s going on.

    7. Maggie*

      It depends on how much you want to expend on that feedback. It sounds like you’re already stressed and upset so getting into what could be a heated discussion or emotional conversation with executives probably wouldn’t serve you well. I think Congress was doing their jobs and should have had to go back to work that night and I’m glad they did. I try to remind myself of all the very difficult situations that we’ve had through history and people keep on going somehow which I find very inspiring. So, I understand that the email was upsetting for you and that’s ok but I don’t think it would actually improve anything to expend energy on it. :/

  14. Rebecca Black*

    What are good questions to ask during a job interview to determine the vibe of a place? Also, what are good answers to discuss why you are leaving an environment that is difficult, without throwing your current employer under the bus?

    1. warmeverythingbagel*

      Some common questions I ask: How would you describe the company culture? What type of people really thrive at your company? What do you love about working here? How often do people work cross-departmentally? What might that look like in this role? How would you describe the work-life balance here? Are there a lot of out-of-office commitments (like evening events, late scrambling or weekend emails)? Is there a busy season for this role? What does that look like verses the off-season? What challenges would this position face?

      As to why leaving, I always take a hard look at the reasons I’m leaving and then soften and simplify it. Toxic culture? “I’m looking for a better fit.” Unrealistic expectations from your boss? “I was being stretched thin in too many ways, and want a role that lets me focus my energy in one direction.”

      1. Bostonian*

        I like the “what type of people thrive at your company” angle to the question (or any one of those more specific ones than “describe company culture”), because culture can include a lot of things, so the interviewer may focus on a few things without hitting exactly what you want to know.

        1. warmeverythingbagel*

          Totally agree! I like the basic company culture question first because 1) it’s a fairly common question and a nice softball to get into a good rapport with the interviewer, and 2) it’s often quite revealing what they focus on (“we’re very social and have company happy hours often” tells me something different than “we often work with other departments on projects”). Then I ask follow up questions with more specific things!

    2. AndersonDarling*

      I have a magic question…
      “Let’s say it’s my first day and you only have one hour available to talk with me. What would you discuss during that meeting?”
      I’m a woman in tech and I use this to fish out misogynists. A jerk will use this time to talk about themselves and the company. But a good manager will use this time to ask for your opinion on current problems and get feedback on their processes.
      Good managers want to learn from you, and learn with you. Bad managers just want to tell you what to do.

      1. HD*

        That’s really interesting. I’m also a woman in tech and I’ll have to keep that question in mind.

      2. CovidTester*

        >But a good manager will use this time to ask for your opinion on current problems and get feedback on their processes.

        Hmm, I don’t fully agree. I’m also a woman in tech and I wouldn’t expect or want to be asked about my new employer’s current problems on my first day at work! I’d feel much more more comfortable reporting to a boss that told me how the company operates and has the authority to get things done beyond “management by consensus” which seems to be all the rage, with some opinion asking thrown in. I’d say 80% 20% in favor of following what a leader expects.

        1. AndersonDarling*

          Yeah, it probably depends on what kind of role you have. I’m mid a career and most of my job is bringing legacy systems up to modern times. You’d think that anyone that hired me would be ready to have me step up and roll out changes, but twice I’ve changed jobs just to be ignored. *insert Charlie Brown ARRGH*
          I wouldn’t expect a Jr. Analyst to speak to process updates on the first day. But you can tell a lot from a manager that just talks about how great they are vs asking about your successes.

    3. Ama*

      When I left my most dysfunctional job, I tried to think of ways to rephrase what I was trying to get away from as what I was hoping to move towards. For example, old job was constantly putting out fires because everyone waited until the last minute to make decisions, so I would tell employers that I was looking to move into a job that had more of an emphasis on proactive planning and long-term strategy (this might have actually gotten me my current job — the hiring manager’s face lit up when I elaborated and said I preferred to plan projects out weeks, if not months, in advance).

      Old job also had me doing everything from managing a donor database to building management because they were in denial about the amount of staff they really needed, so I also said I was looking for a more focused set of responsibilities that would allow me to truly learn and grow my skills in my area of interest.

    4. Lifeandlimb*

      I’ve usually gotten interesting replies to, “What are your favorite and least favorite things about this job?”
      Also, “Would you describe the office environment as more casual or formal?” “What is the social environment like for employees here?” “What is management like when dealing with employee issues?”

    5. shoutouts*

      Focus on what you’re running towards, not what you’re running away from. “While I currently do llama grooming and tea cup design, I find myself getting more interested in llamas and so your position, which is llamacentric, appealed to me.”

      I’ve heard on this board that some companies dig deep and press for why you’re leaving, but in my experience both as a job seeker and someone who’s been on LOTS of hiring committees, it’s best to pivot towards what draws you to the new place.

    6. pretzelgirl*

      How do you handle work life balance? Can I float holidays? Can I flex time for doctor’s appointments, school functions for my kids? How is the culture here?

      These are important to me. I have 3 little kids. I will need time off for doctor appointments, school functions (in regular non-pandemic times) etc. How they respond is key. If they look annoyed by this question, stumble etc. I run. I need work life balance.

      1. Midwest writer*

        My last job and my current job both emphasized flexibility and the ability to make changes on the fly for childcare. They meant it and it has meant a world of difference to me. Someday, my kids will be big enough this won’t be such an issue, but right now it’s huge.

    7. reject187*

      You can also ask the interviewer if there’s any current employees you could talk to about the environment and culture. My husband was given the opportunity to talk to two or three people before he was offered the job, and they all said most of the same things about the culture, which helped him decide to take the position. Of course they might be cherry-picked by the company to say good things, but if they refuse to let you talk to anyone, that’s also something to keep in mind as you make a decision.

    8. Filosofickle*

      A couple of things I’ve asked…
      How long they’ve been there, and why they joined (if new) and stay (if long time). Stay is the one that helps here.
      What 3 words they’d use to describe the culture. (That’s basically the vibe question, directly.)
      What they like about working for their boss (for a peer level interview)

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

      I guess I would ask (if they didn’t offer) if I could walk through the office and meet potential coworkers and associates. I think careful observation of what the environment looks like conveys more than words: are all the doors closed, do people have photos and fun things on their desks (or does Franklin Hart, Jr. run the place), how is everyone dressed, are there people in the break room, do people look stressed and barely acknowledge you, are there lots of empty desks or is every nook and cranny filled, is the place dirty and falling apart.

      If you can’t see the office you’ll be working in, you could ask if you’ll have a training/transition period or be expected to hit the ground running. IME “ground-running” type offices tend to mean the didn’t/don’t plan ahead and don’t value training and development of employees.

    10. voluptuousfire*

      I ask “what are the expected hours?” I started asking that to get an idea of general business hours vs. hours people usually put in. Some places may be 9-6 business hours but people may work 8-7 or something because of “hustle” culture or whatever.

    11. TL -*

      I don’t know if you could ask this question, but one of the most enlightening questions I’ve asked in my brief interviewing experience is, “Deadlines get pushed and missed sometimes. How do you handle it when it’s clear a deadline isn’t going to be met?”

  15. irene adler*

    I think I was hazed at the start of a recent job interview.

    Yellow flag? Or is this a new way to evaluate job candidates that I’m not familiar with?

    Details:

    Phone screen: went well.

    First interview with the Hiring Manager. This went very well.

    Second interview with the 5 co-workers (panel interview via Zoom).

    Here’s where things went wrong. The first interviewer’s very first question was “You have a great resume. However, this position requires accuracy and attention to detail. And I see you have misspelled ‘attention to detail’ on your resume. How do you explain that?”

    Before I could respond, all 4 of the co-workers jumped on the first interviewer. I heard: “Move on! Ask your next question.”, “Aww, don’t do that.”, “Don’t ask that question!” As this was on Zoom, things got a bit garbled so I couldn’t catch everything that was said. But I got the gist. The remainder of the panel did not like that question.

    The problem: Throughout the balance of the interview, I was preoccupied with the “attention to detail” comment. I couldn’t fully focus on my responses to the subsequent questions (which were all normal interview questions). I felt ‘off-base’ wondering if I had in fact made such a blundering error on my resume.

    After the interview concluded, I read through my entire resume. The phrase “attention to detail” isn’t even on there (and there are no misspellings)!

    So what was the point of asking such a question?

    (I haven’t been rejected -yet -for consideration for this role. Maybe I did okay. )

    1. Frustrated Employee*

      Ideally, you would have had a copy of your resume in front of you. If you had, you’d have been able to ensure that the person on the interview panel had the correct resume in front of them.

      1. irene adler*

        I did. But I didn’t want to stop things and read it. The remaining 4 on the panel wanted to move on. So I figured I shouldn’t belabor the point.

    2. JokeyJules*

      it sounds like the first interviewer is kind of a jerk, and the rest of the team is aware of that. it was likely a “strategy” to see how confidently you deal with questions like that, which the first interviewer thinks will indicate how well you think on your feet, if you’ll push back and correct him, etc.

      1. The Rural Juror*

        It speaks to the rest of the team that they shot that person down. At least you would have 4 people in your corner!

        1. JokeyJules*

          definitely an upside! but the upside/downside is now you see that interviewer 1 does that stuff, the other 4 say something….aaaaand 1 still does it.

    3. MissGirl*

      It sounds like this one employee is a bit of a jerk who was messing with you or testing you for an asinine reason and the other coworkers called him out on it. (He’s probably done it before.) I would send an email to the hiring manager say something like, “I was a bit confused by John’s comment about my resume as that phrase doesn’t appear there.” Then see how the manager responds.

      1. Threeve*

        Yeah, he either thinks this is a good interview strategy or it’s “funny.” Either way, you know you’re dealing with someone who is kind of an a-hole who won’t listen when his coworkers ask him to stop doing something.

        It’s kind of worse if it’s supposed to be a joke, because then you know you’re dealing with someone willing to make jokes at the expense of others. It’s a bit of a yellow flag, and I would ask what the deal with it was and try to get a sense of how closely you’d be working with him.

      2. tamarack and fireweed*

        Yes, good advice!

        It’s unfortunate they assembled a panel that was, manifestly, not really up to doing the task correctly. The jerk being called out is good, but it still confused and derailed the OP. Not much they can do about it, but a short two-sentence paragraph in the follow-up email may be the best bet.

    4. MMMMmmmmmmmMMM*

      I’VE HAD THIS HAPPEN TO ME TOO! Different phrase that was “misspelled” but still nothing was incorrect.

      It was incredibly jarring and upsetting. Ideally you’d have your resume in front of you, and you could say, “I’m sorry, do you have the right copy, mine doesn’t use that phrase.”

      In my case, I was doing a phone interview in my car and did not have my resume in front of me. Afterwards I looked through it and was baffled because nothing was wrong.

      1. irene adler*

        I’m glad I’m not the only one. Thank you for posting.
        But I’m not pleased there’s more than one asshat out there doing this to people. And I’m sorry you experienced this.

    5. kbeers0su*

      Considering how quickly the rest of the group jumped on Interviewer 1, I would bet Interviewer 1 is the type of person who doesn’t understand how interviews are actually supposed to be run. Probably also the kind of person who judges someone on their handshake or asks questions like “what kind of animal would you be or why” and actually tries to interpret the candidate’s response. I know these people, I hate these people, and I’ll hope the other interviewers in the room will tell whoever they report back to (hiring manager) that Interviewer 1 was a jerk to you. Sorry that happened!

    6. WellRed*

      Probably some asshole’s idea of a “clever” question to see how you respond under pressure.

      1. Dave*

        This is my guess along with recall detail for what you have on your resume. Seems like a bit of a jerk move way to test it though.

      2. tamarack and fireweed*

        … which was almost certainly coloring outside the lines of the mission he was supposed to fulfill by being on the panel.

        Though if it *was* the OP is well shot of this company.

    7. HD*

      Wow. Yeah, this is almost certainly someone being funny or playing games at the expense of a job candidate. It’s something you and your coworkers maybe joke about doing but don’t actually do. I’m glad everyone called this guy out.

    8. RagingADHD*

      Over the years, I have learned that the best way to handle things when I’m flustered or thrown off balance is to stop, acknowledge that, and address it directly.

      It has a number of advantages:

      1) It doesn’t make you look stupid. It makes you look calm, thoughtful, and resilient.

      2) It immediately takes the conversation out of gamesmanship or showmanship and makes it an authentic human conversation.

      3) People who are good to work with will consider it a reasonable and normal response. People you don’t want to work with will react badly.

      4) It demonstrates the ability to cope with new, odd, or stressful situations in a realistic and constructive way.

      5) It frustrates people who are trying to throw you on purpose, by denying them the opportunity. In that sense it’s a kind of “power move.” (Though that’s just a side bonus).

      I’m sorry this guy was a jerk. I agree with others that it sounds like he’s the Known Isssue on the team, and the other panelists will consider your interview in a sympathetic light.

      If you do get an offer, consider that apparently this guy is a Known Issue, and somebody put him on the interview panel anyway. So he will be an issue you’d have to deal with regularly. Make sure the offer is worth it.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Agree with all and particularly the last point – that guy was clearly asking an unapproved question based on the reactions of the others, the others were clearly expecting him to do so (and probably asked him not to beforehand) based on the quickness of the multiple responses, and as it was based on a lie it was completely invalid anyway. Having that guy on the panel was a waste of the panel’s time, but maybe not yours if it gives you an insight into the group dynamics. They were willing to risk a candidate’s potentially negative reaction (to a ridiculous, provocative, and false-premised question) by having him on the panel.

    9. Yellow Warbler*

      I would follow up, from the perspective that recruiters in some fields are infamous for jailbreaking resumes and changing them however they want. I’d want to make sure the version they had was the one I submitted.

  16. Hairy Poppins*

    My boss has a reputation for being difficult. (Unfortunately I didn’t didn’t find this out until after I was hired.) When she gets mad, she makes it personal and will go on a rant about the person. For example, she was mad at the executive assistant in another department and went on a rant about how she was “probably drinking all night instead of working” and “at the bar all night” (This was before they closed places/stopped indoor dining.) This was said during our staff meeting. (The executive assistant wasn’t there in the meeting.) No one said anything, but I thought that it was inappropriate and unprofessional.

    Plus, I assume that she does the same thing when she gets mad at one of us in our department for something.

    Has anyone else experienced this? What did you do?

    1. LKW*

      Unfortunately yes and I left within 3 months. You really don’t have the leverage or seniority to make this better. Someone who is in a leadership position and doesn’t understand how to constructively argue or disagree is not something you can change.

      Until then if it’s directed at you, you can, using your stern librarian quiet voice, say something like personal attacks are not constructive and you’d like her to focus on the specific issues she has with your work so that you can improve. But yah, you got to start looking again. Sorry.

      1. Who moved my cheese?*

        Seconding this. I left, the 2+ people after me left, the 3 people before me left. Obviously find someone else as a reference and if anyone asks for your boss specifically, you can say “I don’t feel that she will provide an accurate reference, as I have heard her say things about coworkers that I know to be untrue, so I won’t be using her as a reference.” They can contact her independently if they want.

        If she says something disparaging about someone’s character (“Warbelina is so stupid!”) you can politely disagree based on your own observations.

    2. JustKnope*

      My recommendation is to stay as neutral as possible when she goes on those rants. I had a boss like this when I first started out in the corporate world, and I let myself get really wrapped up in her emotional outbursts and would start participating. *shudder* Granted I was 23, and didn’t really know better, but she warped my sense of what was “normal” for a long time. I finally got enough solid feedback from mentors that I learned to keep my face and language very neutral when she would start freaking out, and not to get sucked into complaining/ranting/whining with her. Other tips: build solid relationships for yourself so people can see that you are not your boss; keep lots of written documentation of decisions/instructions; get direct exposure to Grandboss(es) when possible. I ended up building enough credibility and an excellent performance track record to say to Grandboss during a reorg – I either get a new boss or I’m out. Still shocked they listened to someone so young, but I was shouldering a ton of responsibility at that point.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Yes, it is inappropriate and unprofessional.

      Yes, she absolutely talks that way about you & everyone else behind your backs.

      You deal with it by remembering those 2 facts at all times, and conduct your relationship with her accordingly. That includes keeping her at arm’s length, never giving her ammunition about yourself or anyone else, and making sure you have opportunities to show your real ability & character to senior people, so they know she’s lying when she badmouths you.

      And of course, it always includes knowing exactly what you are getting out of the job, what it’s worth, and what it would take to find the same pay/benefits/opportunities elsewhere.

    4. Teensy*

      I started looking for other work. That’s the only solution I can think of when it’s your boss.

    5. TL -*

      Ugh. One thing you can do is acknowledge and softly redirect to a better excuse, something like, “Oh that sounds so frustrating and I have no idea why she didn’t make that deadline! I know she’s swamped, but it’s completely reasonable to expect an email if different priorities pop up!”

      I do this with my way, way, way more reasonable boss when she’s processing difficult feedback (usually people complaining about things we can’t change) and it’s effective – lets her vent and feel heard but also softly reminds her that other people don’t have the context and are probably reasonably frustrated.

      That being said, my boss would NEVER say someone was probably out drinking all night (!!). At most, she would say firmly that was a very reasonable deadline and it should have been met and it’s frustrating that it wasn’t. So IDK if this will work for your boss.

  17. C6 CEO*

    I need your help deciding what to do about a work from home stipend. I’m thinking $110-$120/mo to help employees offset costs like phone, internet, utilities. A few legacy employees have their full cell phone bills covered, but if I go with a stipend I would end that.

    When we first went remote, I told employees to take home whatever office equipment they needed. That doesn’t cover everyone’s needs plus we have a couple new employees who are fully remote and didn’t have that opportunity. So, I was thinking a one-time stipend of $300 (?) for setting up their home workspace.

    We’re a 501(c)6 nonprofit trade association with a small staff and a small budget.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. PolarVortex*

      I honestly think any money is better than none but a thought on your stipend/phone situation: how much do your employees use their phone as a part of their job? Might be good to look into an internet phone situation – you can take calls through your internet/computer usually via headset, or if you don’t like that, there’s an app for your cell phone for a lot of them. Bypasses paying for some employees’ cell plans and stipending the rest when cell plans aren’t that cheap.

      My company shifted to this long before shifting to WFH, but it’s been an extra benefit now.

      1. C6 CEO*

        Thanks. We have a super low call volume and the office manager is the only one reasonably expected to take phone calls. Currently, we have the main office number forwarded to her cell phone. I was looking at a VOIP system but I think it might be overkill for us and I am thinking of making the office number a cell number that has its own phone. Everyone else can use their phone for business at their convenience, but most of our other business communications happen via Zoom and Slack now.

    2. WellRed*

      That actually seems really high to me to cover it month in and month out. Maybe I’m just jealous. I’d love a one-time stiped on $100 to put toward a desk.

    3. I'm that guy*

      First of all thank you for thinking of your employees. There was a discussion earlier this week about how some companies were using WFH to cut office costs and push them onto their employees. What you are thinking seems very fair to me.

      My company gave us a $750 stipend back in April of last year to pay for moving to WFH. We can also order home office supplies through a company website as needed. I also work for a large BioPharma company so a completely different scale from yours.

      1. C6 CEO*

        Thanks! I have also separately asked if anyone needed anything else, like our office manager expenses printer ink and will be getting a new printer. Our needs are pretty minimal, though.

    4. Coverage Associate*

      My monthly phone bill is $85 and home internet is $55, for reference. A wfh problem over the summer was lack of air conditioning. I stopped work when my living room got to 85 degrees.

      Consider whether a monthly amount or a one time amount or a combination makes more sense. My company gave nothing, and as a result I only put $20 into my wfh set up (a lap desk). If I had a stipend, I would have arranged a super professional video call space, maybe gotten a monitor for efficiency, etc.

      1. C6 CEO*

        Thanks. We’ll do a combination of monthly and one time. I have been hesitant to make a decision because I wasn’t sure about amounts. I am not trying to cover people’s costs, just offset them.

    5. Dave*

      I think some of this depends on your region and if you are providing a computer for new hires. (And if you are not I would just include that in the job listing.)
      This seems really high to me but I live in low COLA. But I already had home internet and will always have that. As far the the phone I guess it depends on if they need a smart phone with lots of data or if they are just making calls and texting.

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

        But I already had home internet and will always have that.

        There’s an interesting point to be had here about what’s ‘equal’ vs ‘equitable’ treatment… like Dave in the comment above, I was already paying for “unlimited” internet as I do a lot of streaming etc, and already have a good desk/chair/computer set up for personal projects – but I know a lot of my co-workers are not in the same situation and before WFH they didn’t use the internet much at home or only used it on a tablet/phone (rather than a full on PC/Laptop), don’t have a dedicated office area etc.

        So $200 (or whatever the amount is) to me or to my co-workers with a less optimal setup is ‘equal’ but probably not ‘equitable’ in impact. (You could say that it’s additional wear and tear on my computer and that would be true, but I’d put that in the same category as wear and tear on clothes needed to go into the office, especially for people who need to buy “professional”/”formal” clothing which you wouldn’t wear at home… or wear and tear on my car in carrying out the commute — i.e. costs to be borne by me as a cost of doing business!)

        I don’t know what the answer is to this equal vs equitable thing, though. I’ve found myself feeling resentful in the past (a long time in the past, now!) when a company offered, I think it was £100 at the time, to put towards give up smoking / weight loss initiatives (like Weight Watchers type of thing) … the idea I guess was that the health benefit goes to the company as well as the individual. I’ve never been a smoker and didn’t need to lose weight at the time and caught myself thinking “so why can’t I just be given the £100 as I am already a non-smoker” etc. (I still think a better approach would be £100 or whatever towards “healthy initiatives” more generally, such as towards the cost of a gym, mindfulness classes, etc etc).

        1. C6 CEO*

          When I was younger I was so resentful of smoke breaks! I told my boss that nonsmokers should get extra vacation time since we didn’t spend up to an hour a day outside chatting with our friends. Surprisingly, that never happened.

          For employees who didn’t want to take home their giant iMac desktops, or didn’t have room for them, we replaced them with laptops. One employee doesn’t have room for our big office chairs so is buying a different chair. I am hoping to come up with a stipend that seems fair across the board, but then be flexible for those employees who really have different needs.

      2. C6 CEO*

        Thanks. We are based in LA, so not cheap at all, and very expensive to cool your house in the summer. None of our employees except the office manager actually needs phone service to do their jobs, so use of the phone is really at their own convenience.

    6. English, not American*

      My workplace (a nonprofit charity) has been offering £100 toward a desk, £75 toward an office chair, and they provide a laptop/up to 2 monitors/mouse/keyboard. We have to claim the money via a form and it’s paid as a benefit through payroll (so is taxed etc). Our phone lines have been internet-based for years, so that’s not a consideration. The government in the UK has allowed for a tax deduction on £6/wk, which we are getting through payroll but that is the only ongoing payment.

      Obviously costs are vastly different UK vs US, so I don’t feel qualified to name $ figures, but I would probably prioritise the one-off setup stipend over an ongoing one, since phones and broadband are fairly compulsory for working-age people these days, it’s not unreasonable to expect that people have them. Heating and cooling will make the biggest impact to energy bills, but are also much harder to measure what’s “fair”.

      1. C6 CEO*

        Thanks! Your example if helpful. You’re right about the heating/cooling. We are in LA. Our office manager lives in the hottest area and her cooling bills over the summer were astronomical.

    7. C3 Director*

      I think my company has been great with this–we were already receiving $60 per month for phone, and they added another $60 to offset internet or utilities, plus $20 for any additional supplies. So now we receive an extra $140, which has been hugely helpful. I should say that we’re in a high COL area, and we have about 400 employees.

      1. C6 CEO*

        Thanks for the examples. We are in LA, so it is pretty expensive here, but we have fewer than 10 employees.

    8. Deborah*

      My employer provides my laptop, docking station, internet based phone, and headset for calls (actually, I just took all that home with me; I work in IT and am salaried so my regular computer is a laptop with docking station at the office). I didn’t really think about it, because I have a good desk and chair; the desk was expensive but you can get a serviceable one for about $100-150 (the put together manufactured wood) or cheaper for used I suppose, and honestly I bought a chair for $75 that was the best one under $500 at the office store a couple years ago. I priced some of the equipment recently: docking station around $100 (the laptop is so small it doesn’t have an Ethernet port), headset around $30, etc. I assume you are providing the computer, since that is more in the range of $1000 unless they can do it with a cheap Chromebook.

      My cell phone bill is a bit high, at $100 per month, but I think on a cheaper service you might be able to do around $60 for an individual. My internet bill is far too high at $125, but one can usually argue with the cable provider for about $60 if you are willing to put in the effort.

      There is the compensation of not having to commute which may or may not be of value. In a big city with very long commutes that might be a factor, especially if it requires expensive parking or if there are costs related to public transit.

      Setup:
      Desk: $100-$150
      Chair: $75-$150
      Various computer equipment

      Ongoing:
      Internet: $60-$120
      Cell phone: $60-100

    9. Quinalla*

      Hard to say on the amounts, seems high to me too for the monthly stipend but in a lower COLA here too. I like that you are doing a one-time setup and a monthly stipend, I think that is great!

    10. WFH Full Time is a new normal*

      You should consider how long your employees are going to need to WFH. I know people who are trying to work from their couch and it’s not ergonomic and very uncomfortable for very long. Once I started WFH I realized that I was stuck at my desk all day and that desk and chair needed to be much more comfortable than the dining room table and chair that was ok for an occasional afternoon WFH session.

      My situation: I didn’t have a desk, I didn’t have a good chair. I brought home my work monitor and my laptop, but the docking station wasn’t working so needed to replace that as well. I got a standing desk (equal or better quality than what was in my office at work) and a nice chair. I expensed the desk ($500 of it) and didn’t expense the chair. I also expensed my headset as the one provided was uncomfortable for more than 30 mins and I’m on video calls 10 hours a day. I’ve probably only expensed half of what I bought to make an environment that works for me, but I did expense what I could. I don’t get reimbursed for my internet, or electricity or AC or heat.

      My suggestion would be provide a one time amount up to $500 per person. If everyone was able to take home a chair (I wasn’t) then maybe lower that a bit. To offset monthly costs, maybe $50 to be spent on internet or phone or whatever that person feels is needed; but don’t be stingy about some get and some don’t. It sounds like the one person who is using their phone for business purposes should have that as a separate expense outside the stipend.

  18. blooming*

    Removed at commenter’s request. (I prefer not to do this, y’all, since other people put time into responding, so please make sure you’re comfortable with what you’re posting before you post it.) – Alison

  19. curious*

    Has anyone every not done a business transaction (a contract, business deal, accepted a job, etc) where everything was perfect but you turned it down due to a gut instinct?

    This was our water cooler talk the other day… it got me thinking.

    1. Sylvan*

      I’ve ignored my bad feeling about accepting a job twice, and regretted it both times. Paying attention to that bad feeling has been helpful in smaller work-related decisions. Also, I’ve listened to my instincts in non-work situations and been very glad I did. As the annoying saying goes, ~gut feelings are guardian angels~. What were you and you coworkers talking over?

      1. JohannaCabal*

        Yup, ignored my gut feeling and took a job. Of course, this was 2009 and I was reeling from a layoff, and to be fair I was receiving unemployment and under the impression I had to take any job offered to me (I may have been wrong). Barely lasted three months before I was fired.

        I also ignored gut feelings about the job that laid me off. In 2008, some financial things went down and a project I was involved in stalled.

      2. curious*

        I like that gut feelings are guardian angels.

        Our coworker conversation was more of a would you? should you? could you? conversation.

        Personally I’ve had this happen. I’m actually debating the situation now. I found a new general practioner doctor, outstanding reviews, nicest person, thorough, pays attention to my concerns…. but I just have this weird feeling about using this doctor. I just can’t put my finger on it. I’m not ready to jump ship yet but my guard is up for no fault of the doctor.

        Professionally I’ve had your situation – years ago I accepted a job offer from an amazing but had that gut feeling. I took the positon thinking I would only stay until I found something else. I found out years later in industry talks and networking that this company is not as great as it appears. But during that time I really suffered in so many ways at that job.

        1. Web Crawler*

          I often go off of my gut feelings, especially with sensitive relationships like doctors/therapists that require trust.

          I probably would in a business setting too, but I’d do my best to back up my gut feeling with any facts that I could get ahold of. Because “they have multiple reviews accusing them of misleading customers” is more persuasive than “I got real bad vibes from them” even if the bad vibes were what made me skim 5 pages of reviews to look for patterns.

          I 99% trust my gut, and the 1% are specific phobias and stereotypes that I’m aware of. (Like being afraid of people who own red pickup trucks. I know. I’m working on it.)

    2. JokeyJules*

      yes. i’ve turned down positions before because of just a genuine bad gut feeling. everyone seemed nice, the company seemed fine, but something just felt off and i couldn’t place it.
      I ration it with if my gut is right – great, i was right, issue avoided. Alternately, if i’m wrong – then ok, i was wrong, and the risk wasn’t worth the reward for me.
      I have no idea if something skeevy was going on or if there was an actual issue with the company – and i never will! but that’s fine. i’m content with where i am.

      1. voluptuousfire*

        Same. I ended up rejecting a job offer a few years ago before I started my current role because my gut was telling me “NOOOOOO!!!” when the interview was perfectly fine. My gut/experience told me I wasn’t being hired because I was the bona fide best candidate for the job but I was the least bad out of a handful of people interviewed. I’m really glad I did that because the job I accepted ended up being a great fit.

    3. Data Diva*

      Yes! I had two interviews with a company and then withdrew from the hiring process when they called for a final skills test. I couldn’t put my finger on anything specific, but I just didn’t feel good about the idea of working there. Turned out that the owner had been financially mis-managing the company for years and it ended up folding about eight months later. I still couldn’t give you a concrete reason why I withdrew- I just didn’t feel good about the company.

      1. curious*

        This is what I’m talking about! Sadly I’ve been in the case where I convinced myself I was just picky and ended up with the short end of the stick. I interviewed once for a company (see above) and just something about the manager I couldn’t pinpoint. I later learned she was viewed as a tyrant from outsiders. I always like to see “proof” before making such a decision but am starting to realize that gut instincts sometimes need to be factored in.

        1. Data Diva*

          I’ve always been of the belief that gut feelings are really our brains trying to get us to notice something that we haven’t yet. I’m sure there were things in the interviews that my subconscious was noticing, but never coalesced into conscious thought- body language of the owner, hesitancies in the way employees answered questions, something about the space. I just know that I had this overwhelming feeling after the second interview that I needed to withdraw and immediately felt at peace once I did. I did not have that same feeling when I interviewed for my current role and working here has been great.

          1. Filosofickle*

            100%. I believe gut feelings / instincts / intuition are our experience and wisdom applied really really fast. It’s not magic, it’s subconscious logic that’s way ahead of our conscious brain.

          2. Quinalla*

            Agreed, sometimes they also come from our stereotypes and such too which is why I don’t fully trust my gut instincts, but I always listen and interrogate them. I tend to get gut instincts about project timelines.(I do consulting work that is deadline driven, we are rarely setting the deadlines.) I “just know” when a project is going to push back even if the architect says nothing and yes it is definitely from experience and reading body language/verbal ticks/between the lines of emails. Trying to point it all out would be hard to do, but I tend to be a trust, but verify kind of person with my gut instincts. They are almost always right, but when they are wrong it is often my privilege or stereotypes getting in the way.

            1. Filosofickle*

              Thanks for calling out subconscious bias. I just said above I believe instinct is logic, but I forgot to caveat that! I’ve spent years learning to trust my instincts at the same time becoming aware of how implicit bias works. Definitely listen and interrogate.

      2. AndersonDarling*

        I posted below you at the same time and you proved me wrong. :)
        Do you think there was some nervousness in the people you interacted with? Did people not make eye contact? Maybe some subtle things you couldn’t articulate but your subconscious noticed and said “run away!”

        1. Data Diva*

          Oh for sure, I’m 100% sure my subconscious was noticing something- hesitations in answers, something about the way the owner answered questions, something about the physical working space. I don’t really know, because those things never really coalesced into any conscious thoughts. I just felt this internal sense of dread at taking the job. I said this above, but I’ll repeat it here that I didn’t have that feeling at all at my current job and it has been a great role and fit.

        2. College Career Counselor*

          I interviewed for a job several years ago at a Very Prestigious Institution and was struck by how cold and miserable everyone I interviewed with looked at all times. I was ultimately not offered the job, but I got the distinct impression that I would not have fit in there. I like to think I would have listened to my gut, but I am not sure!

    4. AndersonDarling*

      It’s kind of a paradox. If the job turns out to be bad, then you will remember all the little things that happened while interviewing and think they were red flags, or the nervousness about changing jobs will be interpreted as a bad gut feeling. But we never question those things if we go to a good job, but we have the same nervousness and odd ball things that happen while interviewing.
      If there is such a strong gut instinct to reject a perfectly good job, then it’s likely more than just a vague, ghostly feeling. It can likely be traced back to some exact things that were said or witnessed.
      That said, I’d like to hear from anyone who rejected a good job because of a bad dream. That would be a story!

    5. New Mom*

      I hope this counts:
      I moved to South Korea to teach English after undergrad and the company that hired me gave foreign employees a small housing stipend and helped them find housing during the first week in the country. I was really excited at the prospect of getting to choose which neighborhood to live in and did a lot of research before I arrived so I was prepared when house hunting.
      The house hunting experience was not as advertised when I was still in my home country. The day that the real estate point of contact met me, he informed me that we were going to an expat neighborhood to look at places even though it wasn’t on my list, and he said I had to pick one of the places that day as I only had one day to look (over the phone this was not what I was told).
      I argued that I did not want to live in the expat neighborhood but he took me there anyway, and was kind of an aggressive jerk about it. He showed me places that were way out of my budget and too big. It was just me and he was taking me to 3-4 bedroom apartments when I wanted a cheap studio. He then suggested that I could live with my new male coworker that I had just met the day before to cut costs (umm no).
      I got a really weird vibe from the neighborhood and the apartments and basically had to throw a fit to be taken to a different neighborhood that I had researched and wanted to live in. He was so angry that he would barely speak to me for the rest of the day when we went to the other neighborhood. I ended up agreeing to a studio in my chosen location that was only slightly above what I wanted to pay. I’m so glad I stood up for myself in a really awkward situation because I loved where I ended up living and it really made my whole experience positive.
      And the neighborhood he was pressuring me to live in? I came to find out it was known for being a huge party area (definitely fun for some nights out but not to live) and even though Korea is the safest places I’ve ever lived, that was the one neighborhood that ended up being “seedy” and sometimes even dangerous. I never found out why he was so pushy about me living there.

      1. RagingADHD*

        If he’s the designated point of contact you were referred to by the program, he most likely has some kind of deal with the landlords in that area (or singular landlord?) where he gets a larger commission or a bonus for placing people.

        Or possibly, the program, the landlords, and the realtor are all in business together and he will get backlash for “failing” to place you in one of those units.

        1. New Mom*

          I think he must have had a deal with landlords in the expat neighborhood, and maybe got more money the more expensive the unit was? Because the company employed probably a couple of hundred teachers across the country and there were about five others who lived in my neighborhood so it wasn’t that we couldn’t live there. There was definitely something going on because he was pushing so hard for the expat neighborhood.

    6. RagingADHD*

      I’ve never had a situation where I would define everything as “perfect.” But that’s because when my gut instinct goes off that way, I investigate and usually find the reason. So then I walk away for that reason, not just because of the instinct.

      I’ve had situations I agreed to where the downsides turned out to be worse than I expected, and ones where they turned out to be less of a problem than I expected.

      My current situation is as close to perfect as I’ve ever been in, to the point that I was really on guard and did lots of extra due diligence because it seemed too good to be true. It wasn’t- it was just a very good situation with some realistic but quite acceptable downsides.

      So far, there’s a bit more hassle/annoyance than I realized going in, but nothing major.

    7. AnotherLibrarian*

      Yes, and I was right both times I did it. Once it was an art commission and something about the phrasing weirded me out. After I learned more, I found out the organization supported somethings that were troubling like conversion therapy. The other was a job and I just knew I didn’t want it. Nothing was “wrong,” but it felt off. I later learned it was extremely and deeply toxic.

    8. Hillary*

      Yes. I’ve stopped doing business with vendors because something felt off and things went badly for those companies not long after, usually service degradation or financial issues. I worked for someone who had to replace a key supplier once because his CFO had a bad feeling about them. The owners of the supplier were under federal indictment a year later.

      I’ve declined to hire vendors for the same reason. During one assessment we got into the car after a meeting, my first sentence was the senior person we had just met with was sexist and my colleague thought he was racist. On paper it was a good proposal that fit our needs, but they were removed from the rfp.

      There’s a meme going around about believing people are who they show you. It’s selection bias because we only remember the ones that turned out right, but it’s good to develop and trust your instincts.

      1. Quinalla*

        This is why I try to right down whenever I have a gut instinct and come and check later (if possible) if I was right/wrong and try to figure out what evidence I had available that made that gut instinct occur.

  20. libgirl2020*

    I am filling in as a librarian in a department for a specialized skill. I applied for a supervisor position for this department, but having worked in the department I don’t think I’m interested in it anymore. It’s a pretty dysfunctional department and I really want to preserve my work/life balance I had in my permanent role. I am thinking about declining an interview. How bad is this? I just have experienced a lot of stress that as a new manager I don’t think I would be prepared to deal with or receive much support.

    1. curious*

      I’d look at the interview as an opportunity and decide from there. If anything maybe go on the interview for the experience? They may go in another direction, but with your fabulous AAM knowledge you could impress an interviewer for another job opening. As has been mentioned on AAm before an interview is a two way street – you find out about the company, they learn more about you – it doesn’t mean your hired or have to accept. In addition maybe you can bring up your concerns during the interview process and a solution can be found. You don’t need to make a decision today. Me personally, I’d take the interview, keep an open mind, weigh all the factors.

      1. Sara without an H*

        That’s probably what I’d do, too. Interview practice is always a good thing. Prepare some probing questions about the issues that concern you and see what you find out.

        1. libgirl2020*

          I just feel like I’m being trained to do the job and the trainer is leaving, so I’ll be sort of it…I don’t want to feel like I don’t have a choice. I sort of didn’t have a choice about coming to this department. They just told me, you’re leaving next week. I think I will think about this. It might help me to see how they will present the job.

          1. Hillary*

            Have they offered an interview yet? You can withdraw your application if you’re sure you don’t want the job. If they press, say something noncommittal and vague, maybe about family commitments changing.

            1. libgirl2020*

              They haven’t yet, so it might be moot! But I think with my skills they will. I just don’t want to waste their time either.

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

        If anything maybe go on the interview for the experience?

        I don’t know much about the library world so it’s possible things are different there, but in the companies I’ve worked in, it would have been frowned upon to apply for an internal role and go through with an interview just for ‘practice’ already intending not to take the job if it was offered. Partly because in applying internally there’s a significant amount of work that goes on already between the two (old and new) managers, HR etc. (Of course, some would say it’s not good form to apply to a different company and do the interview just for practice either, but this is much less visible/political!)

        You could have the discussion but I think that would probably be outside of the interview process itself.

    2. dear liza dear liza*

      If you’re sure you don’t want it (and with those red flags, it sounds like you’re right), decline the interview. It’s perfectly fine to say you’re happy with your current position. It’s more work for the higherups (and therefore more likely to singe some bridges) if you go through the hiring process, are offered the job, and then turn it down. I could also see them not trying too hard to recruit good candidates because they think they have a bird in the hand, and then getting unjustifiably annoyed at you when you say no.

      1. libgirl2020*

        Yeah, I just recognize that right now might not be a good time for a move for me. I was happy where I was. If I become a manager or leader I want to be engaged and support my staff. The fact that I’m frazzled now isn’t a good sign. The reason I left my last position was that after cancer I just did not want to deal with feeling frustrated. I wanted to worry about my health. If I say no, there might be some annoyance, but better than them going through background checks, etc and then I turn them down.

        1. dear liza dear liza*

          You’re in a great position to thank them for the opportunity the temporary placement provided as it helped clarify your professional goals and make you realize how much you love what you’re doing. You can keep the door open- “Who knows what the future holds but for now, I want to keep being the Best Other Librarian Type I can be.” You can win points by being gracious.

  21. Work and Social Media*

    This is part work/part personal, but since it involves work people I think it’s more appropriate for this open thread, but Alison, feel free to delete as needed.

    I have a general rule that while I’m okay being Facebook friends with colleagues, I do not let them follow me on Instagram. It’s not like I’m doing a lot of “#tbt to the time I went on a cocaine binge!” but my Instagram feels like a separate part of my personality that doesn’t overlap much with work. Luckily, very few of them use Instagram, so it hasn’t really been a problem until now.

    One of my colleagues sent me two follow requests in November which I ignored. Last week, I unlocked my Instagram account so I could generate that Best Nine picture, and forgot to relock it immediately afterwards. In that 72 hours I had it open, that colleague started following me and liked a few of my pictures. I’m going to remove her from my followers, but I’m wondering I should explain to her why. If we were all in the office, I think it would be easy to see her in the kitchen and say “oh by the way, nothing personal, I have a work-free Instagram!” But we’re all remote and calling or sending an email specifically to say this feels very…like sending a cease and desist letter, or something. Would love to hear others’ thoughts on this.

    1. Kimmy Schmidt*

      How close are you with this colleague? If you’re work friends, lunch buddies, email gifs level friends, I’d think it a kindness to explain. But if you just happen to work on the same team, I’d probably just remove her without comment.

    2. Katie Porter's Whiteboard*

      Do you have a chat service, like Google Chat, that you could use? If not, I think a short email is fine but I would try to keep it really casual. Normally, my work emails start with “Hi Coworker’s Name, here’s my message. best, Katie Porter’s Whiteboard.” In this case, I would just say something like “Hey Coworker, I realized that I accidentally unlocked my insta and it made it public when I normally keep it separate from work. I just updated those settings but I wanted to let you know so you don’t think it’s anything personal! Katie Porter’s Whiteboard”

    3. CovidTester*

      I would block and not say anything – sometimes people just go “oh, a familiar face” and follow indiscriminately without it being super personal.

      If they bring it up in person I would then follow up with your explanation about a work-free ‘gram.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        People ask to follow three times, indiscriminately? I don’t know insta, but on facebook that would only come up if we have friends in common, or if I searched for them.

        I think WaSM does need to explicitely let the co-worker know, but it can just be a casual chat or email, like Katie Porter’s Whiteboard’s script.

    4. TL -*

      can you send them a DM on instagram? like, “Hey I really appreciate the follow but I actually have a strict no-coworkers rule on IG! I’m going to remove you from my list and lock my profile back down, but I wanted to make sure you knew it wasn’t because of you; it’s just my preference for my IG account.”

    5. Skeeder Jones*

      I’ve been on the receiving end of a denial of a facebook friend request from a coworker. She came and just said there was a problem at a previous job where a coworker had facebook open and their boss saw some photos that were just normal young single girl kind of pics but overreacted. She explained that due to this, she just has a no coworkers on social media policy. I was glad she explained it to me instead of me just getting this denial and taking it personally. The truth was a relief.

  22. should i apply?*

    Project Managers / Team Leaders – What is your best advice to get a team to make / agree with a decision.

    I am a new project manager, and I need my team to make a proposal to the business for the next milestone. This is not a clear cut yes / no type decision, but an advanced development project with fuzzy objectives. We need to tell the business this is the solution path we are recommending. Right now the team is all over the board. I am not looking for 100% consensus, but at least enough agreement that I don’t think the team will undercut me when I am talking to stakeholders. In general the people are good to work with, and no one is obviously playing devils advocate, there are just a lot of different opinions.

    1. LKW*

      I put down all of the options – even the ones I know are ridiculous and will be rejected, lay out the risks & benefits and key considerations and then highlight the one that I would recommend. I try to treat each option as valuable and complete the details as objectively as possible and if new information is shared during the discussion that changes the balance between risk/benefit – I note it and get the team to give me a decision.

      If I really think the decision is the wrong one, I may ask for time for some more research and confirmation of assumptions so that I can either steer them towards the preferred option or see if I can reduce the risks on the selected option.

    2. James*

      I’ve handled this a few ways.

      You can try setting up a call with folks with particular knowledge of the issue with the objective of defining a path forward. Make it about a week out, and give everyone time to marshal their resources and get their ideas finalized. Then make it clear that by the end of the meeting, you’ll have one path forward.

      Sometimes, though, you need to assert your authority. “Okay, we all have different ideas, but we need one path forward, so this is what we’re going to do.” You’ll annoy a lot of people, but since you’ll likely be annoying everyone it generally goes okay. Ultimately the project is on you, so ultimately it’s your decision. As long as all options are reasonable it likely doesn’t matter, in the grand scheme of things, which you pick–any clear path forward will be better than endless debate.

      I run into this a lot, both as a PM and as a subject matter expert. As an SME, part of the job is having my ideas shot down; as a PM, part of my job is telling people smarter than me that we’re not following their advice. If someone’s really upset you can make a point to listen closer to them next time a decision needs to be made, but usually good people understand that ultimately it is the PM’s decision.

    3. Hillary*

      I have one-on-one conversations with the influencers about the path I want and why. People start piling on and going negative when they hear each others’ objections, but they tend to be more polite when they hear that I’m listening to them. I talk through their objections and make sure they have the context for why I want what I want (usually because another part of the business that they’re not familiar with needs it). If their objections are reasonable for all the businesses we start talking alternatives. Depending on relationship I may explicitly ask them to back me during the team meeting, or sometimes to lead the conversation. There are things they can propose but I can’t say because of politics.

      Ideally you’ve built that consensus before you’re in the room.

    4. ArgleBarge*

      Some of this depends on your specific situation/how YOU want this process to go (for example: are you making the final decision about what goes into the proposal, or are you guiding other team members/subject matter experts to make decisions?) – but general strategies I use:
      – Define the development process up front, especially how individual recommendations will be reviewed and incorporated (or not!)
      – Discuss lingering issues/objections one-on-one where possible
      – Reach out to influential team members in advance – assign them particular roles in facilitating, or talk to them about supporting the process – to get their buy-in up front.

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

      enough agreement that I don’t think the team will undercut me when I am talking to stakeholders

      Forgive me if this is an overstep, but this jumped out at me from your comment. There are a lot of ways to influence, persuade and negotiate people into agreeing with your decision, or reaching consensus on ‘a’ decision, which other comments covered.

      I would be concerned though that even if you don’t have consensus/support about a decision, it seems like ultimately you have the most say (?) and the final decision over what to present to stakeholders. As such it’s a worrying situation if you can’t trust your team to go along with the “team’s” decision but instead ‘undercut’ you to stakeholders. Do you have any history indicating that they are likely to do this or is it more of a fear?

      1. should i apply?*

        I have seen it in other project presentations, where the PM is presenting, but the team members are in the room. A stakeholder will ask a team member a question and it is clear that the team member doesn’t agree with the recommendation that the PM is presenting. I will say this mostly occurs with a weak PM, that either doesn’t listen or doesn’t understand their team.

        It is also complicated because I am dual role PM/ Technical lead. So while I do have (strong) opinions I don’t want to give the impression that I am not considering the input of the other team members.

    6. ten-four*

      Former PM here, current Director/client lead! Start with establishing the key outcomes, then put them in order by priority. Once you’ve got alignment on what outcomes are most important to the business, then the conversation about how to best deliver against those priorities gets easier.

      If you’re lucky one clear path will emerge. If you net out at 2 or 3 paths, then do some quick scenario planning to map out the pros and cons of each path and put the choice to your stakeholders.

  23. On camera*

    This week my boss decided that cameras have to be on for zoom mtgs. Previously he encouraged it but didn’t require it.

    He’s usually super reasonable but for some reason this a Big Thing for him.

    We are a small team so there’s not really an argument about bandwidth and such. No one has pushed back and we all have an attitude of ‘ugh. Fine. We’ll do it’.

    How long did it take for those always on camera during mtgs to get used to it? I feel more fidgety now that before but mostly because I’m so much more conscious of my movements.

      1. saltedchocolatechip*

        Yes! And if there’s no hide self option but you can rearrange where you are in the grid, try moving your square to one end and dragging the window till you are offscreen.

    1. Anon for this*

      My boss recently switched us from conference calls to Zoom meetings and admitted it was because he doesn’t see people anymore and needs the contact, wants to see us. He also finds it easier to read cues for who wants to speak, etc. so we don’t waste a lot of time on several people talking at once, then stopping and nobody talks, leading to several rounds of no, you go ahead, etc.

      Given the size of your team, it might be something similar. Just treat it like it is an in person meeting. What would you do there? My go-to is to take notes. Helps me focus, gives me something to do with my hands.

    2. funkydonut*

      You can put a post-it note over your own face so you don’t find yourself watching yourself only and not looking at anyone else. I’m pretty used to camera on (I think I got used to it quickly?) but I might also just stare only at myself all the time like a dang narcissist.

      1. Filosofickle*

        OMG I hid my self view for the first time yesterday and my eyes would not stop scanning for my face! Apparently I stare at myself way too much on video.

    3. Malarkey01*

      I was a BIG hater of cameras before CoVid, but when the entire company shit down they asked that we use video. I grumbled for the first 2 weeks, then learned to ignore it, and now I hate to admit it but kind of love it and really benefit from it.

      I hide my pic after the initial sign on check that I’m not pointing at the ceiling or have something in my teeth. Then I just act like I would in any in person meeting which does include some fidgeting, leg crossing, note taking (also taking notes helped me to not focus on myself a lot).

    4. Quinalla*

      For internal meetings we are encouraged to and I make a point to turn on my camera on as I appreciate others doing so. I’ve gotten used to it by watching how much other people fidget, have a drink, fix their hair, scoot in their chair, etc. and know I do it a lot less so now I’m ok with it.

    5. Cameras are good!*

      I manage several teams. One team almost always has their cameras on – the other doesn’t. There’s a noted difference between the vibe those meetings have. The one with cameras on feels more friendly and it’s easier to see who is talking, or who might have something to say by a gesture so they don’t just talk over the other person who is already talking. There’s also more of a sense of camaraderie on that team. Not everyone has their cameras on all the time – but the majority do and it really helps.

      I’ve started to encourage the non-camera team to turn cameras on. I talked with several of the team 1:1 and said I’d like to start seeing more cameras on and why. Most agreed with my reasons, and generally I think it’s making a difference.

      There are some meetings where I’m just listening in and I won’t have my camera on so the team can do their thing without worrying about me being there. That’s effective also! I’ll usually turn my camera on if I need to jump in and participate.

  24. Anon-mama*

    I can’t recall–I’d have to look at my paystubs, as I definitely had 5 state/federal holidays during my leave a couple years ago. They may have cataloged it as intermittent leave, so I was on FMLA for all days surrounding the federal holiday, but as not on FMLA the paid holidays. Our contact specifies leave by days, not weeks, so I feel like they did not count as part of the total, which is how I got three solid months off. The annoying part is I did not accrue sick leave, which was much worse to lose.

  25. Video surprise*

    I had a screening interview yesterday. They had emailed me to ask if I was interested in a phone screen and verified my phone number. I said yes and we set up a time. They also sent a meeting request for Teams. I’ve never used teams but I figured it was just like an office meeting request to block off time. I guess it wasn’t. Turned out to be a team meetings call I was late to because I had to download the app AND it was also a video call which I wasn’t prepared for. I didn’t look terrible but I definitely didn’t look how I would have for an interview plus my background was a little messy.
    I apologized and they apologized for the confusion. I think the rest of the interview went well enough. My question is whether I should mention it in my follow up thank you letter. I don’t want it to seem like I’m harping on it because I do feel it was their mistake. They verified my phone number! But I do think it had an effect on my performance a little. Should I mention it? Apologize for the cluttered background and my appearance?

    1. C6 CEO*

      I wouldn’t mention it. You’re fine. Don’t worry about this one, but be better prepared next time.

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        I agree, no need to mention it.

        You and they apologized in the meeting, it’s a closed discussion and everyone has moved on.

    2. Slipping The Leash*

      On the Teams version my office uses, the calendar appointment thingee automatically provides a dial-in-by-phone number as well as the link to the video call – though I suppose your call’s organizer could have deleted that from the invite.
      But if you a caught off guard like this in the future, just leave your camera off and apologize to the interviewer, saying that using your darned camera has been dropping you out of calls all day.

    3. Haha Lala*

      I wouldn’t worry about it, especially if it was just a screening interview. And I wouldn’t mention it your follow up, just emphasize that you’re looking forward to the next interview.

      But if they do schedule another video interview, I’d make sure to be extra prepared, just in case that’s a lingering concern on their end. All the bells and whistles!

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

      I wouldn’t mention it in the thank you letter, especially as it sounds like you handled it well in the moment and brushed it off successfully! (And especially as you view it as their mistake more than yours so I think it would be difficult to come off gracefully.)

      I expect in this pandemic era they are fully used to seeing people “not quite put together” in the video meetings that they are probably having all day on Teams if it’s anything like my company, and aren’t expecting full on “nothing visible in the background” etc. By now they are probably on autopilot when setting up a meeting: 10-11am (or whatever), hit “Teams meeting”, press send.

      If an opportunity comes up organically in the next interview, you could light-heartedly allude to it (if it’s with the same people) if this fits with the tone.

    5. Job Seeker*

      I agree that there’s no need to mention it again. Recently, a job coach told me to always be prepared to be on camera, even when you think it’s just a phone screen. I didn’t believe him until a week later a recruiter *turned on Facetime* while we were on the phone. To be more clear, we were on the phone and then she said, “I’d like to do a video call so that I can tell the client I’ve seen you in person. So, I’m going to go ahead and switch to Facetime now.” Since then, I’m always prepared for video even if it should be a phone all.

  26. Anon Existential Angst*

    I’m in a job that is just not a good fit for my life right now. It’s incredibly high stress, with tight deadlines and some extremely challenging interpersonal relationships. Any other year, it’d be an incredible growth opportunity, but in 2020/2021 I just do not have the emotional capacity to continue to do it. I’ve had health issues that I haven’t dealt with in over a decade flair up again because of the stress.

    I know ultimately my health is most important and I need to quit. I have a little savings and a pension I could cash out that would float me comfortably for 6-9 months (I’m pretty early in my career and have a decent 401K) and have insurance through my partner. I have a side project I’ve been working on that I would love to try to turn into my full-time gig, but the income is miniscule right now and will probably never get to the level I’m currently making.

    But I’m scared! I feel like I’m blowing up my career and giving up a steady source of income in the midst of a global pandemic. On the other hand, this is unsustainable and I’m worried about permanent health effects. Has anyone done something similar? How did you muster the courage to make the leap and put yourself/your dreams first?

    1. Colette*

      Is there another option? I.e. could you look for another, less stressful job that would allow you time to work on your side project?

      I will say that 6-9 months in a global pandemic doesn’t sound like enough. I’ve spent that long out of work in much better times.

      1. Anon Existential Angst*

        I am applying to other jobs as well. My issue is I really need something low stress right now to recover from this, so I’m overqualified for everything I apply for. I’ve tried addressing that upfront in my cover letters, but so far no bites.

    2. HD*

      When I’ve been in a similar situation, I’ve tried to shift some of my focus over to the new side gig/job/career transition while staying in my current situation. Usually that’s made the current job easier to deal with as well because I know I have other things I’m working on and the job isn’t the whole of my professional life anymore.

      Good luck with the new project!

      1. Anon Existential Angst*

        I have been trying to do this but I really struggle to emotionally disengage from the job. I could probably make it work if I was able to do that successfully, but it feels like every time I start to emotionally disinvest, something goes wrong that would have been prevented if I was more invested. Hope that makes sense.

    3. anon pour ce poste*

      Personally, I’d err on the side of caution – but I don’t have a pension to cash out. (I have the Canadian equivalent of an 401k though.)

      I’m in the same boat. My job is stressing me out. I’ve been unhappy at work places before, but I’ve never had anxiety about work until now. I was hoping to make it to 2 years before I cut and ran (my 2 year anniversary is in April). I even had my first (suuuuuper mild) panic attack.

      The regrettable things are, I’m going to have to take a 20k (at least) pay cut when I leave this place. I’m paid really well… But I’m also really really bad at my job. I just don’t understand what my team does, and I don’t know if I’ll ever grasp it (I’m a non-technical person working with engineers). I also… Don’t care enough to grasp it. The other downside is that my company is doing REALLY strongly during the pandemic. We sell warehouse/logistics solutions, so we’re actually in a boom after all the chaos that hit supply chains.

      Best of luck!

    4. LKW*

      I got laid off, had a decent severance package and enough savings to take a year off to focus on my health. So I did. It was wonderful. I went to the gym every day. I joined a book club. I lost weight! When I was searching again a friend I’d made at a former employer said they were hiring again and a couple of months later I was rehired.

      1. Anon Existential Angst*

        To wake up every day and not immediately feel stressed about work obligations feels like a dream! But I’m worried financial insecurity stress will replace job stress, even if I know I could be comfortable for a little while…

        1. LKW*

          The biggest concern was my health coverage and the severance package gave me a year of benefits for the same cost I paid as an employee. It was like $40 a month (it was a great healthcare package too).

          I live pretty simply, I had my monthly rent and utilities but I don’t own a car and I kept my food costs low. After that, my biggest expense was the gym.

    5. Hillary*

      Sympathies. This isn’t what you asked, but when I was in a similar situation I added therapy and focused on a job hunt. I ultimately quit without a new job lined up thanks to my partner’s support, but I ended up getting an offer while I was sitting in my exit interview. I’ve always been a perfectionist – therapy helped me disengage to a more sustainable level. I’m still very committed to my job but it’s not my life anymore. Not sure if this is what you mean, but cashing out your 401k has some nasty tax implications as well as reducing your retirement income, getting as much saved as possible early in your career really helps with compound interest.

      The pandemic will end and our emotional reserves will rebound. Is this the career you want to have afterwards?

      1. Anon Existential Angst*

        Thank you for the advice and sympathies. I am already in therapy, which is probably the only reason I had a complete breakdown. I really struggle to prioritize myself over work, and it’s something I’ve been working on all of 2020. But lifelong habits are hard to unlearn, especially in times of such emotional distress.

        This job is not one I want long term, although I would potentially return to this industry if I couldn’t make my side project work as a full-time gig. I’d ideally leave it behind all together, but I have some niche experience at a high profile company so I think a return to this industry would be possible if I needed it.

        I have both a pension and a 401K from my current employer. I would cash out the pension and leave the 401K untouched. The 6-9 month calculation is assuming I’d need to save at least 30% of the pension for tax implications.

        I’m only 10 years into my career so the grocery money I’d get from the pension after I retire doesn’t seem as significant as the potential freedom/stability cashing it out now would give me. But admittedly it’s hard to take the long view when we’ve learned over the past year how quickly the entire world can change.

        1. Hillary*

          Makes sense. My partner was a huge help in untangling the mess along with my therapist – conversations with your partner might help clarify what you want. You’re thinking about it very reasonably and I don’t see any angles you haven’t considered. When I started thinking about it I didn’t consider that it wasn’t just me, it was both of us. He helped me understand that it wasn’t as big a risk because it was ours.

          If it helps, you have hugs and permission from an internet stranger to take the leap and fly.

          1. Anon Existential Angst*

            Thank you so much! It really helps to have someone else validate that I’m thinking reasonably.

    6. Super Duper Anon*

      I think it really depends on your risk tolerance. The only time I have been out of work like that was when the company for my first job was not doing well financially and they closed my division and laid a bunch of us off. I had unemployment money and my husband was working, so we were tight but OK in the financial department. I was only off for two months between leaving one job and starting the next one, but I hated it. I am a planner and very risk intolerant and the uncertainty of finding a new job drove me crazy. Since then, I have always found a new job before leaving one. However, if you feel like you would be able to relax and decompress while still job hunting, then go for it.

      1. Anon Existential Angst*

        Thanks for your reply. You are correct it’s basically all about risk tolerance. Mine is low, especially when it comes to financial things, and so is my partner’s. If my risk tolerance was higher I would have quit already.

    7. NACSACJACK*

      Hi Do not cash out your pension or 401K. You will have to pay taxes on it as though it is income to you for that year + an additional 10% penalty for cashing out early. You are sacrificing your retirement for your future. If someone had advised me sooner, I never would have a) invested in a 401K when I had a job I thought was temporary and b) when I had a permanent job, rolled it over into an IRA or left it in place until I landed someplace new and rolled it into their 401K. If I had done both those, a) I would have saved for college sooner and b) I could probably retire @ 59 1/2 or 62.

      My recommendation for you is: If you need to save more to get a cushion, reduce or stop saving to your 401K. Also, look at getting a job at Target or Amazon while you also look or work your side gig. Just having a job, any job, will keep you to a routine.

      1. Anon Existential Angst*

        Thanks for taking the time to respond.

        I have both a pension and a 401K from my current employer. I would cash out the pension and leave the 401K untouched. The 6-9 month calculation assumes I’d put away 30% of the balance for taxes/savings.

        I’m only 10 years into my career so the grocery money I’d get from the pension after I retire doesn’t seem as significant as the potential freedom/stability cashing it out now would give me. Retiring at 60 doesn’t seem worth a heart attack at 35 (not my real health issue but similar severity). But admittedly it’s hard to take the long view when we’ve learned over the past year how quickly the entire world can change.

        The “side gig” is more substantial than I’ve let on for anonymity. It could be a full time job, and the more time I put into it the more fruitful it would be, and it’s never going to get to that point with my current job.

    8. BRR*

      For me part of it would be how quickly I would be able to find a new job in my field. My last job was awful and affecting my health but there was no telling how long it would take me to find a new one.

      Is taking FMLA an option? While you obviously wouldn’t have an income, it would let you hopefully recover somewhat and you then have the option of going back if you need to save a bit more. Plus if you find a job in the meantime then you wouldn’t have to go back.

      1. Anon Existential Angst*

        Honestly I can’t imagine ever wanting to go back, and I think I’d feel too guilty taking FMLA and then spending that time trying to make my side gig work as a full time thing. I appreciate the thought though. I hope you’re free and clear of Awful Job by now :)

        1. ten-four*

          Hey, FMLA is a benefit that is available to you! You should ABSOLUTELY consider taking it as a path. I have worked with two people who took FMLA and didn’t come back; it’s not some outlandish, immoral, sneak! Take the FMLA and give yourself a bit more runway before you cash out your pension, etc.

          From the perspective of the business, the only important thing was that the person taking FMLA communicated their plans to leave in a timely way. There are rules about having NO CONTACT with work while you’re on leave, and the exception is at the end to tell them you’re leaving. I had one person who communicated, and one who ghosted us. I would give a great reference for the communicator, and a less glowing but still overall positive reference for the ghoster. As far as I know, both were in a similar spot as you: trying to get some runway to switch to a job that better suited their legitimate health needs.

          You are in a health crisis in a pandemic. It’s not your fault that the social safety net in the United States is practically nonexistent and that we’ve all been conditioned to talk ourselves out of taking the support available to us because we “would feel guilty” or “don’t need it enough.” Take every possible advantage available to you to get through it.

  27. Keymaster of Gozer*

    By request: how do my fellow tall people (hi, I’m female and over 6 foot tall) cope with comments at work? Specifically stuff like how we’re ‘intimidating’ to other staff or telling us to not wear heels or to slouch to make us look shorter?

    (Also, the weather up here? Is fine thanks ;)

    1. mbarr*

      Wait, what? People say you’re intimidating and tell you not to wear heels or to slouch?

      Go out and buy the highest heels you can. Work on improving your posture to be as tall as you can be. Eff ’em.

      Can you reverse it on them?
      Them: Can you try to slouch?
      You: Can you wear stilts instead?

    2. LKW*

      As an very short person from a very short family (at 5’3″ I am the tallest woman in my family) your coworkers are being absolutely ridiculous. You should wear high heels because they are designed for big feet! A long foot in a 5 inch heel has a more gentle slope than someone with a size 6 foot.

      Tell them that they should learn to stand up straighter and maybe get some shoe lifts if they feel their height is too limiting.

      The ONLY time you need to manage your height around work is when you’re taking group photos with short people. Then you should do a little crouch so you don’t look like a kindergarten teacher with her class.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        They tried to get me to crouch down for a team photo once. I pointed to my cane and said ‘haven’t been able to do that for nearly two decades!”. So I got to sit in a chair, which worked!

    3. Frustrated Employee*

      I’m the tallest person in my department (maybe even on the whole floor when we were actually in the office), and no one has ever made comments like that to me.

    4. kbeers0su*

      UGHHHHH. Can I tell you how often I’ve gotten these kinds of comments? It’s obnoxious. I hate having to think so much about my wardrobe. Like who else will be there? Will I be the tallest person in the room? Do I want to be the tallest person in the room? (Yes, I do sometimes wear heels to add a few inches to my natural 6′ because I want to use my height to my advantage.)

      With new teams I try to address it up front with a joke and/or comment about how I can’t control it. (“Yep- got those good Midwestern genes. Too bad I can’t dribble and run at the same time, or I would have gone WNBA!”) I have found that for some people, pointing out that my height can add an automatic intimidation factor to their perception of me actually helped them move past that. I worked with students for a long time, and this was especially true with them. Though I once had a Dean (who was maybe 5’3″) who never got past the fact that I wasn’t “approachable enough” despite my rave reviews from students and me pasting a smile to my face every time I saw him to make myself look “nice.” I think it was just his own dissatisfaction with his petite stature.

    5. Mickey Q*

      Nobody has ever teased me for being tall because I tell them I can easily kick them in the face. I put the karate trophies in my office to prove it. People are always very sweet to me.

    6. Msnotmrs*

      If someone says something like “don’t wear heels” or “please slouch”, can you look at them with a furrowed brow and say something like “what an odd request”? Just to really drive it home how inappropriate it is.

    7. 7310*

      Give them a very confused look and walk away (if possible) or reply with, “Why would you suggest that?”

    8. Roy G. Biv*

      I am a short person living among taller people. One of my favorite coworkers was quite tall, well over 6 foot, and she regularly wore heels. Her point was, what difference does a 3 inch heel make? Will you that 3 inch +/- make you see her as what? 5 foot 6? When will people learn to stop commenting upon personal appearance.

      Please, Keymaster of Gozer, wear your heels, do not slouch, and continue to kindly reach things off the top shelf for short little hobbits like myself.

    9. Monty and Millie's Mom*

      Lean into it. Loom over people with an intense look. Wear heels to be even taller. Clothing with padded shoulders, too! If you are intimidating enough, they’ll stop mentioning it! (I know you can’t tell, but I’m just kidding with this stuff! ….unless you think it’ll work…?) Anyway, seriously, I’m sorry you have to deal with this, I wish I had advice for you!

    10. CupcakeCounter*

      You work with a bunch of jackasses. Own your height!!! I’m 5’9″ and female and love it (wanted to be 6′). One of my former female coworkers is 6’3″ and hated it growing up even though I live in an area of the US with a lot of tulips and blonde people known for their height. She did the slouch thing for years and is now suffering from major back issues.
      For the intimidating comments, I would simply respond with “Why are the length of my bones an issue for Fergus?” As for slouching, “No…I have no intention of putting my self in pain for optics”.
      If these aren’t coming from HR, I might check with them but I’m afraid that’s where you are hearing this stuff from. For the record…I’ve been taller than my last 3 male bosses and the only one who had an issue with it was also a terrible boss.
      This isn’t a you problem. Return the awkward to sender.

      1. Sandman*

        CupcakeCounter, I think there’s a 50% chance you’re in my town (there’s probably only one other place that can be described that way!). Living here I’m relatively short, but raising tall daughters and appreciate these perspectives.

    11. Choggy*

      Wow, is it just one person making these comments, or multiple people? Are any of them managers? Are they men/women? I work with two women who are about 6 feet tall, and I’ve NEVER thought of making any kind of derogatory comments towards them (or any comments about their height at all). Please do not feel like you have to take them up on doing any of those things, stand your tall self up, and wear any shoes you want! :)

      1. Inefficient Cat Herder*

        I’ve even gotten the “how’s the weather up there” from men TALLER than me!

    12. August*

      Fellow 6ft lady here! It depends on the office environment, but in the past I’ve gotten comments to stop after leaning into it and joking around about it (a la standing up on my tiptoes and declaring that, as the tallest in the office, I’m the new director now, that’s how that’s decided, right? I’m a gorgeous, hulking oak tree of a person, you’re correct). But if you’re getting people straight-up telling you to slouch, that’s…super rude and sexist, and you’d also be justified in outright telling them to stop.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        I love your approach of ‘I’m tallest so I’m senior!’ joke. May borrow it :)

    13. Sled dog mama*

      Wow! at 5’6” I’m the shortest person in my family and taller than most of the women I work with.
      People need to get over themselves. There is no reason for you to minimize anything about yourself to make them more comfortable, and that applies doubly for things outside your control like height, skin color and sexuality.
      Embrace your height! And have fun with the wardrobe items you can pull off that us shorties look terrible in.

    14. Slipping The Leash*

      Maybe a simple “I’d appreciate if you didn’t make comments about my body — it’s inappropriate” would do the trick?

    15. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

      By wearing even higher heels. Think Abby Sciuto from NCIS, when I can get away with it (thick, chunky platform goth-chick from the 1990’s style is another description).

      1. NeonFireworks*

        Seriously. I know a woman who is 6’1″ and she wears amazing heels. She’s going to be tall either way!

    16. RagingADHD*

      If the comment about intimidating people could have some validity — as in the person in question is actually quite short, uses a wheelchair, is junior to you, etc, then maybe make an effort to stand further away, not hover behind them, or sit down when you speak to them. I’m tall, and what people perceive as “too close” is different. (Of course, current distancing guidelines should
      probably fix that anyway.)

      If it is, as I suspect, just about ego and gender, then just ignore the whole thing. Or tell them “that sounds like a personal problem.”

      Unless this is from your manager, and they intend it as actual feedback. That you should take up with HR.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Nah, actually I’m the disabled one tired of people standing too close to me if anything! Do get a few ‘how can you wear heels and be disabled?’ comments at first with new people but I’ve tended to explain that walking in flat shoes really makes my old back injury hurt.

        Then they drop it. I’m good natured about jokes about my height (not about my weight, I don’t accept any comments on that. Yes I’m fat) because they’re usually ok. It’s just baffling when I am being told to change it somehow, unless there is a miniaturisation ray I don’t know about :p

    17. Campfire Raccoon*

      I’m 5’11” and my younger sister is 6’4″.

      “No.” is a complete sentence. Feel free to bellow so they can hear you down there.

    18. Cedrus Libani*

      I am a 6′ lady, and I don’t slouch for anyone. My aunt is 6’2″ and tried to slouch it away – by the time she was in her late 40s, she’d retired on disability, because she’d permanently messed up her back. My dad wasn’t going to let that happen to his also-tall children. We had to learn good posture, and it stuck.

      In my view, there’s a social contract. Yes, I am physically intimidating, and it really is an unfair advantage. This wasn’t a choice, it’s an accident of birth. I’m not going to lean into it – I make a point of sitting down for contentious discussions, and I cheerfully allow myself to be used as a human stepladder when it’s relevant. But I’m not going to apologize for it either, and if you try to make me, I’m going to call you out. Dude, this is what my body looks like, I’m not doing it on purpose.

      I’d have the same expectations for other inborn advantages. Maybe you’re drop-dead gorgeous, maybe you’re brilliant, maybe you’re the niece of the CEO. You didn’t choose that. You aren’t allowed to belittle people who don’t have the same advantage, but you’re allowed to acknowledge it as a fact.

      Admittedly, I don’t wear heels. For my shoe size, there’s the occasional orthopedic shoe and the 8″ fetish heels – and my ginormous feet would rather be barefoot. But I’d still have the right to do it.

    19. Maggie*

      Hmm, I’ve never encountered more than ‘you’re tall!’ before. Sorry you’re dealing with that

    20. Realistic*

      I’m also 6’0″ and happen to be the shortest in my family. I’ve gotten “you should be a linebacker!” “ooooh, don’t break me, sis!” and a whole lot of “can I help you, sir” comments. I’ve been told to “sit down more” and “get to the meeting early, sit down and stay seated” and “wear more flats.” It’s exhausting. Too many “sirs” in one week can be demoralizing, even though it has nothing to do with how I look. Mostly, I stand tall, walk fast, and dazzle them with my competence. I’m not from the town of blondes, but there sure was a lot of German farm folks breeding around where I lived, we procreate sturdy!! I’m so unathletic the only compliment I ever got from gym teachers was “she has good posture” :) :)

    21. Quinalla*

      Ugh, I’m 5’11” so I hear you, though honestly I don’t really get those comments much anymore at work thank goodness, but I definitely do intimidate people with just my height, but that isn’t really anything I can control. Wear the heels, don’t slouch, etc. that’s just ridiculous. I don’t like heels myself, but I would wear them all the time if I did with no worries :)

      Run into any table lately? That’s my major disadvantage to being so tall is I run into tables, etc. all the time and I bruise easily so have bruises at table height pretty much all the time :)

  28. Watry*

    My supervisor just emailed me that she wants to put me into our training program for employees identified as potential supervisor candidates! I’ve been dissociating for the past day or two (in the US, you can imagine why), and that is such good news it slammed me back into reality.

  29. Sick Of Applying*

    What to do about previous employer checks?

    I’ve been out of work because of Covid for 4 months now tomorrow. It’s the longest period of time that I’ve been unemployed and it’s really getting to me. Especially since I used to work from home before my layoff so spending almost 8 hours a day tailoring my stuff and filling out info in the ATS is really feeling like a job (a very crappy paying job). With the help of this site (Thank you Allison), I’ve DRASTICALLY improved my interview skills, and I’ve tweaked my resume and cover letters to get a decent amount of interviews (averaging 3X a week and I frequently make it to the next rounds).

    This all sounds great… except… I’ve been the # 2 choice about 5 times now and I’m getting paranoid. I’m up for a great job and will find out early next week if I got it. I found out they called my former employers (their ATS requires address, and phone number to all previous roles and the dreaded “May we contact this former employer?” The only way I found out they were calling is the HR person called me and said none have called her back yet. Knowing that the ATS didn’t ask for my list of references, I knew that she was calling all the old places.

    Here’s the thing; I have 2 former managers as trusted references so I immediately got them to call her back, and I emailed her my other references of former colleagues. My concern are the other places (which are my last 2 recent employers). The covid layoff place took PPP money that they don’t want to pay back so while they haven’t blocked my unemployment, I suspect they aren’t calling my layoff what it is (1/3 of my department was cut along with me), so I’m terrified that they are calling it something more sinister. The one before it, I just could not stand any longer, it was the worst fit of my life, and as soon as I hit a decent amount of time, I put in my notice. I was told they would provide a reference, but I don’t trust them (the management team either loves you, or hates you, and it changes by the day), so I would prefer them not to be called (but I know I can’t put that on the application).

    After all of this time and getting so close, I’m terrified this is why I have been the # 2 choice so often. Is there anything I can do? Do you think it’s a coincidence? I want to work. I need to work. If my unemployment goes any longer, I fear that I’m going to get that stink of long-term unemployment and it will be just another hurdle to jump. I’m able to hide the desperation in Teams/Zoom, but I don’t know how much I can bear.

    Do I have legit concerns, or do I need to take my chill pills? Thanks all!

    Then

    1. WellRed*

      I think you need to, in your words, chill a bit. It’s a pandemic. It’s not odd for people to be out of work. It’s not odd that it’s hard to find something. However, there is also nothing stopping you from having a friend call them for a reference and see what they say.

      1. WellRed*

        ALso, Alison has addressed this many times. It’s a pandemic. Unemployment is not a surprise to hiring managers. Four months is nothing.
        Can you take a short break from job searching? A long weekend or even a week?

      2. Sick Of Applying*

        Thank you. I don’t know anyone that I feel I could ask to do that. What’s fueling the anxiety are two things:

        1. I’m losing count of how many times I was the #2. It’s happened about 1x-2x a month now.
        2. My savings is getting really low (last job had us take drastic pay cuts to avoid layoffs, then ended up doing them anyway), plus my state has had such bad fraud with unemployment that I haven’t been paid for over a month as they “verify my identity”. I’ll eventually get it. But I don’t know when.

        1. Sandman*

          Is there any kind of temp work you could take on while you keep searching? Or volunteering? I went to temp work first because it could help ease the financial stress, but I’ve done both when between jobs and both made a huge difference in my mental state – just getting out of my head, being with other people, and contributing in some way. COVID makes all that harder, but not impossible. You WILL get through this. I hear that it feels impossible right now, but you’ll get to the other side.

        2. PollyQ*

          Have you asked any of those jobs for feedback as to why you weren’t chosen? It’s possible (though maybe a long shot) that one of them will have something useful to tell you.

  30. My Real Name is Jane*

    I just started a new job (yay!), and my employer utilizes a tool called 15Five. I had never heard of it before. Is anyone here familiar with it?

    I’m not sure how I feel about it. Once a week, we’re required to log in and fill out a survey on things like “How are you feeling about your job this week?” or “What are your priorities for next week?” There’s a question where you can share your accomplishments for the week or what challenges you’re facing. And there’s one asking if your manager could be doing anything differently.

    Employee answers are not anonymous, but the answers are only able to be viewed by each person’s individual manager and the executive director of the whole team. Participation is mandatory. How honest should I be? So far, I’m having a good experience here–but of course at some point I’m going to have a bad week or be frustrated with something my manager is doing. I’m nervous of providing candid feedback to management that isn’t anonymous.

    Thoughts?

    1. Web Crawler*

      My (uninformed) take would be to treat this like a direct conversation with your boss, minus the part where you get any response (verbal or non-verbal) to your feedback. I would tread carefully until you have more info

    2. Librarian of SHIELD*

      We used these at one of my previous jobs, and they were mostly a tool for supervisors to use in writing the employee evaluations. I’d recommend sticking with your “preparedness for work” feelings rather than your emotional feelings. So answer the question about how you feel about your work this week with “I feel confident that I’ll meet the deadline for the grape popsicle project” or “I realize now that I could use more training on the creamsicle protocol to make sure we can keep that process moving smoothly.” When you’re detailing the challenges you’re facing, try to be as dry and factual as possible. “The last batch of popsicle sticks we ordered seemed more brittle than usual, we may need to look into another sourcing option” rather than “Jane knows I hate when she orders the discount popsicle sticks but she keeps doing it anyway.”

    3. RagingADHD*

      This is the kind of thing you can suss out with your coworkers as you get to know them better — Whether this is used well, and what the conventions are about how to express challenges, and how candid people usually are.

    4. Scarlett*

      Ahhh—I have not used 15Five before, but my previous company used a similar software, called Lattice. It was used to build 1:1 agendas between managers and their direct reports, and also had options for annual performance reviews, etc. etc. I find it strange that your manager didn’t talk to you about how they will use it before asking you to complete the information. At my organization, it was a great way to share information with my manager (and get information from my direct reports) about how things are going at work. We used it to communicate back-and-forth between our weekly 1:1s. How safe/secure the information is depends on how your organization chooses to use it. At my organization, my manager only knew information from my direct reports if I chose to share it with her. And I only ever shared that information with prior consent from my direct reports. As someone who completed it to send to my manager, I found it a helpful way to share things that can sometimes be difficult to raise voice-to-voice in a 1:1. But I can see how what you write might be easily shared out in lest trustworthy organizations, FWIW.

    5. Tris Prior*

      We have to do this, but not online, we have to submit 15Five reports weekly in writing. And we don’t have the softer questions about how we feel about our jobs, it’s all, what were your big wins, what is coming up next, do you need your manager to escalate anything.

      It’s a pain and feels like yet another “justify the existence of your job” hoop to jump through. I am trying to look at it as, all year I am writing down accomplishments that I can put in my self-assessment at year’s end. I really do NOT want to repeat December 2020’s system of sorting through a year’s worth of emails to figure out what all I even worked on, much less what I did well, since this whole year was such a blur.

    6. Walk on the left side*

      My “new” job (close to 1 year now) uses 15five. I manage about a half-dozen folks, and we’re set up to fill them out every two weeks. When my people do fill them out, I find them useful. I’ve told my folks directly that if they don’t have anything to put for a given question/area, they can just put “nothing big” or “n/a” or whatever, because I’d prefer to have the rest of it than lose the whole thing because of a question where they didn’t have much to say.

      In general, both in what’s valuable from my employees and what I tend to write, I treat it much like a the list of stuff I’d bring to my one-on-one with my boss. There is an ability for comments back, and I’ve also definitely taken topics from it for conversations with my supervisees.

      This does more or less hinge on having a good boss though. If your boss is questionable, keep updates as bland and accomplishment-focused as possible. If you can’t provide even moderate, constructive feedback up the chain without it being done anonymously, you’ve got a bad management group on your hands. :(

  31. C in the Hood*

    Thinking back to the worker who didn’t call out from work & her employer showed up…Alison & others suggested calling the emergency contact. So my question: is this the purpose of an emergency contact (i.e. an alternative way of reaching the employee)? Or is the purpose that, if a certain employee has an accident or something bad happens (i.e. heart attack at work, or whatever), the employer calls the contact to let them know?
    The reason I ask is that I’m an emergency contact for an unmarried/no kids family member, and I’ve been called because they couldn’t get in touch with her after a no-show (she says she decided to take the day off & “forgot” to call in advance; whatever). Another time I’ve been called is from her doctor’s office, who was getting back to her on something & her voice mail was full.
    I don’t mind being an “emergency” contact, but I do mind being considered this family member’s receptionist. Thoughts?

    1. pyewacket*

      I do HR in a small manufacturing company and the only times I initiated calling the emergency contacts were 1) an employee did a no show for 2 days, 2) I was traveling in an ambulance with employee and contact needed to meet me at the ER, and 3) another employee was going to the ER and emergency contact was to meet me at ER. In the case of #1 I knew that several employees were trying to contact the no show employee on the first day but after his shift started on the second day I called the emergency contact. I also had follow up interactions with all 3 emergency contacts relating to the issues.
      The doctor’s office sounds like she signed an additional HIPPA form saying they could contact you in case she was unavailable but that is only from a personal experience.

    2. Veronica*

      These seem like legit reasons to call an emergency contact. It sounds like you need to tell your family member that thet needs to be able to have a working voicemail or you won’t be able to be their emergency contact.

    3. WellRed*

      I wondered this as well. My main emergency contact is my mom but she lives fur hours away and wouldn’t be able to check on me. She’s listed in case I wind up in a hospital or something.

      1. pyewacket*

        Your Mom though could confirm your you are ok or there is something wrong and ask the company to initiate a welfare check with the police. The idea is that the emergency contact is the closest person to you and they are the starting point.

    4. fhqwhgads*

      I’m not touching the doctor’s office angle, but from a work standpoint, I’d say it’s both. They contact you if there’s been an emergency at work involving the person OR if they are concerned the person may be having an emergency outside of work (such as not showing up without saying so and being unreachable when both are very out of character). Theoretically, the latter situation would be something like….they’re in the hospital for emergency surgery and didn’t have a chance to tell work, but you know this happened and can tell them that so they stop panicking. Or alternately, you don’t know that but also don’t know of a reason such as that, so if the person whose contact you are might be dying on their living room floor, you take some action on the person’s behalf.

    5. Wicked Witch of the West*

      I’m a friend’s emergency contact, and I’m on the other side of the country. I have all the medical paperwork and could FAX it at the drop of a hat. The only time I got a call was from the doctor’s office, they got a weird message on her cell and couldn’t leave a message. I said I would call her at work and have her call them. She had forgotten to pay her cell bill.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          Like a fax machine? Thing where you basically scan a document and it sends it over a phone line and spits it out on a similar machine at the destination number.

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

      As I understand it the emergency contact is for just that.. an emergency (or possible emergency). So the employee being in a serious accident at work, yes, or no-call-no-showed and it’s out of character for them, etc.

      The family member who forgot to call in advance – arguable. I think if it’s out of character for her to do that, you’d probably rather get a call and it turns out to be nothing, than they don’t call and god forbid something has happened to her and it isn’t discovered until a couple of days later…

      The doctor’s office calling the emergency contact because voicemail was full — not a valid use of an emergency contact, unless the nature of the call was (e.g.) that there was something so alarming in a test result that she needs to immediately go to the ER for example.

  32. Colleague’s Dog’s Viking Funeral*

    Did anyone watch “The Neighborhood” this week? The episode made my Ask a Manager senses tingle, so I think this is the right place to ask.
    Main characters are two married couples. Married couple 1: Gemma and Dave.
    Gemma is school principal. Her sister has started a bespoke clothing line. Gemma says that she will have a home party and invite her coworkers.
    Clothing line turns out to be kinky sex outfits.
    Gemma is upset, tells sister that she is embarrassing her in front of her employees.
    In the end, it’s ok because all the women buy things.
    Gemma: “who knew all my staff were freaks”
    Did the people who wrote EVER work any where other than a writers’ room?

    1. JohannaCabal*

      Honestly, anything job-related on TV is off. On House doctors were always shown at the hospital doing labwork and MRIs (lab and imaging technicians I know hate how they never get any recognition on TV shows). Most of the courtroom attorneys on TV would be disbarred too. I’m sure CSI techs wish they had the state-of-the-art equipment seen on TV.

      My favorite is when families are shown enjoying a full leisurely breakfast on a weekday, especially families with teenagers. First period started at 7:20 AM in my neck of the woods!

      1. James*

        “I’m sure CSI techs wish they had the state-of-the-art equipment seen on TV.”

        Oh you have NO idea!!!! :D

        I remember one episode where they used calcium carbonate to absorb material for mass spectrometer analysis, to save money due to budget cuts. Okay, yeah, that substrate would save money–but compared to the cost of operating a mass spectrometer (often around or over a million dollars for the machine and upkeep, along with dedicated and highly-trained staff to run it, continuous calibration and QC samples, annual checks by various entities, etc etc etc, and that’d on the cheap end) it’s laughable. Add in the likelihood of sample errors from using more or less random material as substrate (as opposed to uniform material) and the idea would get laughed out of any serious discussion of sample methods.

        Turn around times are also wild. I have a suite of samples that went into a lab yesterday for routine chemical analysis (environmental samples, but it’s the same labs). I’m hoping to get results by next Friday, and that’s because we’re paying extra for a rush job. On CSI, they get samples the same day. Guess the lab has no backlog, no issues with the equipment (an unexpectedly high concentration of certain chemicals can fry machines, for example), no QC standards to run, no data validation procedures to comply with….and therefore all of it would get thrown out of court. The judge wouldn’t even wait for the defense to object, he’d just toss it in the garbage.

        Also, I am no longer allowed to comment on the sample glove brands. Warehouse 13 used the good ones (a deep purple color, nice and thick, don’t tend to rip). I hate the brand that sells the baby-blue ones; they’re too thin, constantly come apart when you put them on.

        1. TL -*

          I want their magic machine that does complete DNA testing and matching against database or other samples in the amount of time it takes to run a full PCR cycle…

      2. Square Root of Minus One*

        Yeah. Some real-life CSI techs also wish some clients would stop watching The Experts and send samples bigger than a thumbnail.
        Just sayin’.

      3. lemon*

        The earlier episodes of House addressed the weirdness of the team doing its own labwork and tests by explaining that House was such a mistrustful misanthrope that he didn’t trust the lab and the techs not to screw up. I know, still highly unrealistic, but at least the writers attempted some kind of explanation.

      4. TL -*

        That season where Grey’s Anatomy had their doctors doing research made me laugh so hard. I think my favorite part was where Alex picked up a little thyroid or thymus or some T-named organ they’d grown in the lab, with his BARE HANDS, and took it out of the hood to show someone, before putting it back into the hood so it could later be transplanted into a patient.

        And the why they used serological pipettes as basically flower arrangements in beakers. That was special.

      5. Old and Don’t Care*

        I think that most workplace stuff on tv can be either wildly off base and work for story purposes or wildly off base and not work for story purposes. To me, if it’s something I’m noticing and getting worked up about, the show is probably not very good.

    2. Sabrina Spellman*

      I can’t wait to watch this episode now! I feel like this comment came more from Gemma growing up in the midwest (Michigan, I believe) so she’s still more small town at heart.

    3. I'm that guy*

      If Gemma is a principal her co-workers would be her subordinates which would make this an abuse of power. They were probably buying the clothing to keep from being punished not because they were freaks.

      1. Colleague’s Dog’s Viking Funeral*

        Exactly!
        all I could think was , you are the boss, what are they going to say?
        and then when she made a snarky comment…
        I was just so annoyed for just that reason!
        “You don’t have to buy anything”
        is in the top three greatest lies ever told.

    4. Msnotmrs*

      As a librarian, don’t get me started on the way certain professions get treated in movies/TV…

      1. Colleague’s Dog’s Viking Funeral*

        seriously, librarians get the worst of it.
        Hell, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” George not dying made his brother able to save a ship full of sailors and keep Mary from becoming a librarian.
        And that’s on the virgin mary side of the coin,
        not even looking at the flip side….

        1. Msnotmrs*

          THANK YOU. I can’t hardly name a depiction in a mainstream show/movie that doesn’t depict us as shrewish, shushing book police.

          1. tangerineRose*

            Aurora Teagarden is portrayed as a librarian who isn’t like that, but she works with someone who fits the stereotype.

    5. lapgiraffe*

      There’s a show on Netflix, Easy, and one storyline has brothers who brewed beer together in their garage going legit and starting a craft brewery. One brother continues to brew and the other becomes the sales guy. They show the sales guy with a buyer at a bar/restaurant, and the buyer is totally nice, gives him direct feedback to the effect of “love this new beer but don’t have a space for it, maybe in a few months though, and people still love your flagship so please send me some more kegs of that, great to see you.” Sales guy brother goes back to home or office and complains about what a awful, terrible day he had and I have never laughed outloud alone so hard.

      I sell wine and spirits but it’s the same gig, different product, and yeah it sucks if I can’t sell my new product to someone, but if the buyer treats me with that level of respect and direct communication and gives me a reorder that is sooooooo far from a terrible horrible no good very bad day. I think the storyline was heading in a “maybe this isn’t going to work out” direction but it was because the brothers didn’t work well together, not because sales brother clearly doesn’t have it to last two weeks on the road, much less long enough to build the brand and then hire a poor sap to take this terrible job from him so he can go back to the office and only deal with the good customers moving forward.

      1. Colleague’s Dog’s Viking Funeral*

        Truly! Like the writers don’t know what a bad day at work is. They need to come here!

      2. Wino Who Says Ni*

        I work similarly in wine retail. Depictions of sommeliers and the like are either hilarious (thank you, “Parks and Rec”) or give the impression that we sit around and drink wine all day between glamorous visits to wine country. It’s been quite a ride this year, and hope you’re able to get a little respite after this OND.

  33. Lost in the Library*

    This might seem like a bit of a strange question, but how does one accept that you’re just never going to have a “good” and/or “successful career? I’m in my early 30s and I’ve been making TERRIBLE career decisions since I was an undergrad in university and I’m truly at a loss for the next steps to take. I really need to re-assess what I’m doing career-wise, because I am deeply unhappy and behind so many of my peers career-wise.

    Despite all warnings against it, I decided to get an MLIS and become a librarian… and well, I guess it’s turned out about as well as one would expect. There’s just nothing else that I can “imagine” doing for work! I’m not really that smart and/or good at skills that are valued. I’m not very mechanical, I don’t know how to do programming, I’m not a natural writer, I don’t have the constitution to work in health care. I just don’t know what else to do, or what I can do to get myself out of this mess!!!

    I moved away for a 1-year librarian position last year. It was generally a good experience. The job has ended. I’m back at my old job for now. I was able to take a leave of absence and I’ve been placed in a temporary position by HR until they can find me a “permanent” position, which they are required to do due to the terms of the leave. Last year, my hours were cut in half which is what motivated me to get that other job in the first place. As a result, I’m working part-time now. It’s okay, my benefits are great. I do feel a bit upset knowing that I could get more money on EI than working part-time w/ the school board. I’ve had to move back home, which makes financial sense. I’m applying to jobs in different cities and it doesn’t make sense to get a place of my own when I might have to break a lease.

    I just don’t think staying in librarianship makes sense anymore. Jobs were scarce prior to covid, but it’s even worse now. I haven’t seen a job I could apply to (I’m not applying for jobs in competitive provinces like Ontario or BC) in a month and a half!!!!!!!! I have to admit that I don’t think this career avenue really isn’t going to work out. What do I do now? I’m so embarrassed that I chose this. How can I get another career path? What should I be doing? I’m so upset with myself for being so stupid.

    1. PolarVortex*

      I’m about the same age, but hopefully I can provide some help. You’re frustrated and lost, so you’re devaluing your skills, but I bet you’re good at a lot to get an MLIS, it’s not an easy path to take. Take a moment to think about what you’re good at: do you make friends easily? Put people at ease easily? Are you the organizer of your family/friend group and always know what is going on anywhere? Are you the resource for your team, you recall all historical information about all the ways the library used to do things? Think about what you’re naturally good at in life, think about what you enjoy about work/volunteering. (I myself really, really enjoy tearing down a crappy process and fixing it so it’s better for everyone.)

      All those things can be parlayed into skills to add to a resume for any job. Sure if they require an accounting degree, that might stop you, but most jobs are looking for you to be committed to working and decent at it. Skills from one job can be applied to another unrelated job.

      A lot of corporations will take people with zero experience in a field – I work for a technology company, and all my degrees are not in technology. Look for companies that the feel of the company suits you – do you prefer a more formal setting like a bank? An informal like a tech company?

      Lastly: I have no idea what my career is going to look like. I couldn’t tell you where I’ll be 5 years from now. What I want in life is a job I feel fulfilled in, that challenges me, and a company that allows a work-life balance and that supports who I am as a trans person. I’ve re-evaluated a lot of my thoughts when I was younger – I could never work for a corporation because I’d have to dress formal and be soulless (I wear jeans and tshirts), I need a capital C Career (I have several path options open for me in the next 5 years, and I’m sure several more will show up as time goes onwards), I have zero skills to sell (No, I am a kick butt fixer, the best person to manage remote people, and can make your data sing).

      Be proud of yourself and your skill sets, think about what you want in life and work, and take what Allison has on here to rework your resume and throw yourself into your future.

    2. Not a Real Giraffe*

      First of all, you are not stupid for not being able to accurately predict the future. You made a decision based on what you knew about yourself at the time, and what you envisioned would work well for you down the road. That’s how most people plan their careers, and I imagine there are FAR more people out there who feel like they’re in exactly this same boat than you think.

      Second, you say you are “not good at skills that are valued,” and I am curious what you think those skills are? Outside of those skills, what are things you think you ARE good at? There are billions of different kinds of jobs. There is something for everyone. What things do you like and are good at?

      Third, it’s perfectly fine for your job to not be a “career.” You can find fulfillment outside of work, and simply view your job as a means to an end. This is perfectly reasonable! Maybe looking at it that will will relieve some of the pressure you’re putting on yourself?

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Following up on both “not good at skills that are valued” and “don’t know how to program, I’ll give you an example from my life.

        Years ago I took, and dropped, a computer programming class in college. I had done some more basic programming in high school but this was just awful and I hated it because I could not ‘get’ it. Dropping the course changed my major options so it was kind of a big deal to me at the time, but that’s just how it had to be. However, a few years ago I seriously considered retraining into a different career (data science) that basically requires programming abilities. So, I took an online certificate program in one of the main languages to try it out and found that I really grasped it this time and could actually see it being a real option. I don’t know if it was because I had a different attitude, accumulated knowledge, or maybe it was just the way it was presented/taught this time. I didn’t end up switching career tracks, but I can and have used that new skill in my current job.

        My point is, don’t let your past experiences limit what you might do now. Maybe you still won’t like programming or those other valued skills, but maybe you will.

    3. Aurora Leigh*

      First don’t kick yourself while you’re down! So many people are in the same boat. I never went for the MLIS, but I’ve worked in and around libraries since high school and it really is a broken system in so many ways that people on the outside of it really can’t grasp.

      If you’ve had public facing roles, you’re probably pretty good at customer service skills, so look for those type jobs. They’re not prestigious, but the pay is usually better than minimum wage. Look for openings at companies that market to schools and libraries — they’ll really appreciate your field experience (this is what I’m doing now).

    4. Colette*

      First of all, I’d like to say that there are a lot of ways to have a successful career. And it sounds like you made a reasonable decision – you got a 1-year position, and you liked it. That’s success.

      That doesn’t mean you have to stay on a career path that doesn’t have tons of jobs available; but you’re stupid because your first choice didn’t work out.

      What do you do at the school board? What kinds of skills does it need, and what other jobs use those skills?

      Can you use your research skills to look into jobs you don’t know exist? Materials management, for example?

    5. LKW*

      Hold up – research is always needed. So your MLIS still has value. Companies like Garner or Reuters are always looking for people with research/writing skills. Companies need people who can synthesize ideas in areas of market research & competitor intelligence. Large consulting firms have huge research needs across industries and also have significant libraries of contracts, client work, white papers and other stuff that need to be classified, evaluated for relevancy etc.

      But what interests you? If you had to start over, knowing what you know now – what would you do differently? And what, aside from money, is preventing you from doing that now? People have gone back to medical school at 50 – so being 30 is not a terminal career point. You don’t have to live the rest of your life looking for a library.

    6. Kimmy Schmidt*

      What type of librarianship did you do, or want to do? What would have been your ideal specialty? What was is about librarianship that attracted you? What kinds of skills do you have, even if you’re not sure they’re valuable? Are you wiling to move?

    7. Asenath*

      First of all, take a deep breath, and stop being upset with yourself for being stupid! A great many people spend time in careers or jobs that aren’t what they had hope for or dreamed of, even in times when the entire economy HASN’T been disrupted by COVID! Mistakes might come into it, unexpected changes in the economy are important – but stupidity is often not to blame. Very intelligent people make mistakes.

      I can’t tell you what to do. I can tell you a little of what I did when I realized that a job I thought would be my lifetime career was, well, not. Maybe that will be helpful. First, don’t do what I did and stick with something you are obviously completely unsuited for much, much too long – but if you do, chalk it up to experience, pick yourself up, and start again. It’s just a mistake, not stupidity. I won’t go into too many possibly identifying details, but I (a) tried to keep working at ANYTHING to keep a roof over my head – a part-time job with benefits sounds very useful as something to keep you going for a while – and (b) tried to figure out where to go from there. Actually, one of the options I considered was librarianship, but I decided against it, partly for financial reasons – I’d have had to move away to take the program and the cost would be too high. I did train for another field, related to what I had been in, but in the end one of my temporary part-time jobs turned into a permanent one, and I stuck with that. Just as well, since I never got so much as an interview for a job in my “new” field. I stopped thinking in terms of “career” and started thinking in terms of “job”, or more specifically, “Can I do it with reasonable ease and enjoyment, and will they pay me enough?” I got over the feelings of envy of my former co-workers who were good at job 1, while I was doing a lower status and less well paid job because I eventually realized how horrible it was for me an everyone around me when I was in a job I wasn’t good at and hated. I found out that I liked working a steady and lower stress type of job that I could leave behind at the end of the day. So – I can’t tell if you should continue to look for jobs in librarianship. If you like doing that, maybe a month and a half in bad times is not long to wait. But you can also look into adding a second part time job to keep your income up, at least to something above EI, try out for even part time jobs in different areas to give you an idea of what options you have – and treat your job hunt as a job; do it for a little each workday and then do something else. That, and avoiding thinking in terms of needing to have a lifelong career, helped me keep things in perspective.

      Good luck.

    8. EMarie*

      I just wanted to chime in and say that I found your comment well-written, for what it’s worth. I’m sorry you’re feeling this way. I go through phases like this too, and have made some career choices that I don’t necessarily regret, but looking back, don’t think they were the best choices. What helps me is to remember: 1) my worth as a person and my happiness are NOT dependent on career success, that is a capitalist value being shoved down my throat by our culture; and 2) careers are long and there is plenty of time to course-correct to find a better fit.

    9. AnotherLibrarian*

      First off, you aren’t stupid and I don’t think you made terrible decisions. You made the best decision you could with the information you had presented to you. Job hunting is probably the most demoralizing experience you can have, so try not to beat yourself up too much. I know it sucks.

      Let me tell you about what I did when I was in a similar spot.

      Two years ago, when I was about 9 months into an unsuccessful job hunt (while employed in my field and pretty miserable) I sat down and made a list of everything I was good at. I then asked several friends I trusted to tell me what they thought I was good at. Some of their answers shocked me, but it was super helpful. Then I tried to decide what jobs would be good for me based on that list. Some of them were library adjacent, some of them were 100% not library related. A few things I considered- Instructional Design, Highschool History Teaching, and Customer Service/Public Service Roles in State Government.

      If you don’t love working with the public, consider other options. A dear friend who left library work managed to turn her super organized brain into a high level administrative assistant role and now works for the head of a major state organization making about four times what she made as a cataloger and loves it.

      Another good list to make is this- What do you want? For me, I knew I wanted a decent amount of PTO and I didn’t want a job I would “take home” with me. I also needed to make a certain salary to feel comfortable and afford to live.

      While I did all this, I kept job hunting and, two years later, am now happily working in my field (special collections) in my home state, but I also had a few interviews that were nothing to do with library work. In the end, I stayed in the field. But I know now what I would do if/when I decide to leave for something else. You can do this and your lack of success at finding a job isn’t proof you are a failure in any way.

    10. RagingADHD*

      I banked everything in my early career on a risky creative pursuit where I didn’t get quick success, and couldn’t sustain the lifestyle to hold out for slow success.

      And yeah, early 30s is about when you start doing this kind of calculus.

      The course I took was first, just to find any honest work that would support a reasonably safe & stable life, and then try stuff I was interested in.

      What you’re looking for long-term isn’t natural gifts. It’s work that you like well enough to spend time getting good at. Then you create an upward cycle, where the work is intrinsically rewarding because you see your improvement, and externally rewarding because your increased skill draws more value.

      For example, there’s no such thing as a “natural writer.” And most people who consider themselves as such write cringey, derivative, pointless dreck. There are writers who want to write well, so they practice.

      Contrary to the popular narrative, you don’t need talent or passion to have a satisfying and rewarding work life. You need curiosity, and a sense of accomplishment from doing something that’s worth doing well. An appreciation for craftsmanship, if you will.

      Caveat: this approach demands that you separate your work from your identity. There’s more support for that now than when I was 30, but it still goes against the mainstream. I think it’s much healthier.

    11. Miss Direction*

      I also did an MLIS as I was advised that I would never be able to move up from a paraprofessional position in libraries without the degree. Turns out I now can’t get ANY job in a library, as a librarian or otherwise. But what I did manage to get with my MLIS was a job in records management. If you like the organizing/classifying/cataloging part of librarianship, you might want to look at RM jobs. They run the gamut of places that are still heavily paper based to those that are mostly electronic records–most places are moving from A to B and if you have any interest or skills in change management this might be an area for you. I had NO experience in RM, didn’t take any classes in it at all during my MLIS but got my first job out of grad school as a records analyst. I’m in one of those competitive provinces and have found RM work in government settings to be pretty pandemic-proof, unlike library work. Hang in there.

    12. Cedrus Libani*

      I suspect that it’s only a small minority that take the straight-and-narrow path. Go to school, get MLIS, get job as librarian. Go to school, learn to program, get job as programmer. It does happen, but most people end up in their careers more or less by luck.

      I graduated into the teeth of the 2008 recession, and I had to take a “survival job”. I wept as I filled out the paperwork to accept that job. The future I’d dreamed of was gone. But as it turned out, while I was hired to do grunt-work, I was also the only person in the building with a relevant skill from College Field…and that turned into my career. You don’t have to get everything figured out on the first step, just try to get yourself into a place where you will have next steps.

    13. Not So NewReader*

      Every time you catch yourself saying something negative like stupid, embarrassed, etc., make you correct yourself. You did not get this far because you are stupid, etc. Remind yourself of that.

      Next, our career path is not genetically encoded in us at birth so we immediately know which route to take.
      But it SHOULD be, what’s up with that.

      Just my opinion, but life doesn’t start to settle down until we are in our 40s. Again, this too seems wildly unfair.

      In looking over social security here in the US, it would be strategic for me to work until I am 70. This means you could have 40 more years to sort this out and have a few wins and perhaps make a few more mistakes. It’s not over yet. And it will not always appear like it does now. Keep going this will change.

      The best advice I read was to work at a job until a better job or better idea comes along. You can also leverage what you have- perhaps there are jobs in other schools that will appeal to you because the job is closer, different, better pay or something else. So your next stepping stone might appear to be more of the same, but somehow it turns and goes in a new direction for you.

      A friend started out in teaching, ended up working in a school library, after decades of teaching. Where we start usually is not where we land. But we have to start somewhere. For some reason I too thought I should be settled by my 30s. I wasn’t. I really think that is a myth and we can work on abolishing that myth by calling the myth out into the light of day.

  34. Discouraged Grad*

    Legal Job-Hunting Advice

    Background: I am a May 2020 JD graduate who recently found out that I passed the bar exam. I was EIC of my journal, team captain of a moot team, but my GPA was 3.16 (my all A spring doesn’t count towards my overall GPA because of the pandemic policies). Although I originally anticipated moving to help out as my dad was dying, he passed away before I graduated but after I had already applied for the bar exam in the jurisdiction where my parents live/d. At this point, I like where I live (DMV area) and am working on applying for reciprocity here.

    Job Search: I am currently working as a part-time law clerk, but am still looking for full-time positions. Despite really trying to implement Alison’s advice, I’ve only received rejections when I get a response at all. I’m looking at both government and non-government positions. Can anyone give me any advice, recruiter information, legal job search boards, or share something that they feel would be helpful right now? I know we’re in a pandemic right now, but I’m getting very discouraged that nothing has come up yet.

    1. CTT*

      Are you a member of your local bar organization? Mine will send around job openings semi-regularly; I’m in a smaller market, so I would imagine the DMV associations might be more active on that front. If you know anyone who is a member, it could be worth asking how often entry-level job postings come through that channel before putting down money to join.

      Also, are you female? I’m a member of my state’s Girl Attorney facebook group, and while I 1) hate the name and 2) find the membership borderline-hilariously ignorant of what transactional lawyers do (since you’re clerking and did moot court, that doesn’t sound like it would be an issue for you like it is for me), I do regularly see people posting job openings on there.

      1. Discouraged Grad*

        I’m part of the 2/3 of the bar associations, but I’ll look and see if there are any more for my county or the counties I’m interested in working in. You hit the nail on the head concerning paying for a fee that may not result in anything, which is why I haven’t joined a few of the local/niche bar associations yet. I’ll send out emails today to ask if this is something worth doing.

        Also, I am female. I haven’t checked Facebook yet, but will also do that today. I am a new member of the DCWBA, which my boss, also a woman, signed me up for since she’s knows I’m still looking for full-time work.

        Thank you for the advice! It’s been hard to balance the knowledge that there is an ongoing pandemic with major economic ratifications while also being frustrated that it’s impacting my post-grad job search.

    2. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Join your local bar association(s) and any committees covering the areas of law that particularly interest you, including the Young Lawyers Division or whatever it’s called for people new to the profession. Your membership in the bar association will likely include access to a job board. Attending committee meetings will get your face in front of other lawyers.

      Look into whether your local court system has a program for new lawyers to intern with judges. It may be unpaid, but it will give you experience, networking connections, and a good entry on your resume. A colleague of mine in a Major East Coast City went this route in the early 2010’s and parlayed it into a successful criminal law practice.

      1. Discouraged Grad*

        I’ve joined 2/3 of the nearby state bar associations and will reach out to the third one today. I’m also part of the Young Lawyers Division for the jurisdiction that I’ll be sworn into next week, but didn’t think I could join the local ones until I was barred here. I’ll email them today to see what their procedure is for someone like me.

        Also, I haven’t heard of this type of program, but I’ll look into it. I have a few friends that are clerking at the local courts who may know so I’ll reach out to them. Thank you for the advice!

    3. LadyByTheLake*

      Law is relationship driven. It is hard when you are straight out of law school, but doable. Instead of blasting out resumes, join the section of the local bar association that you are interested in (for example, if it is bankruptcy, join the bankruptcy section of your state or city (if very large city) bar. Talk to people (harder during Covid) but there may be discussion forums or other online activities. Write some articles for the local bar association– usually the state, local, and ABA bar newsletters are always looking for articles (I know, I am a co-editor of a large ABA committee newsletter and we’re always asking for stuff). Keep in mind that this isn’t full blown law review stuff — it can just be a summary of a recent interesting case of other development. Get your name out there.

      1. Discouraged Grad*

        I agree 100% that law is relationship driven. Pre-pandemic I was regularly getting coffee with attorneys, prior supervisors, professors, etc. To be honest, one of the main draws I had to the legal profession was how relationship driven it is. I like getting to know new people and talking about a mutual interest. Funny enough, my first legal internship was because I met an attorney at a table-top board game event. At the time, his agency did not have any openings for summer legal interns, but that changed and I was first up on the list because we got along well. It’s been hard to keep this up during the pandemic though.

        I’ll see if there are any forums or other online activities that I could participate in. Although I’m interested in tax law and did well in all of the tax classes I attended, I know that an LLM is the next step if I want to pursue that as a career. Since I’m open to other areas of the law, I was hoping to work and to a part-time LLM program. However, I know that that may not work out based on my current application responses. I’m already working on a few tax law articles with a friend/fellow graduate who actually put my resume forward for my current clerkship. She’s being groomed to be her firm’s main tax attorney and want her to start publishing tax-related articles.

        I hear what you’re saying concerning law-review type articles. I’m currently working with two editorial boards for law journal articles which will be published in a few months. Providing a general overview seems like it wouldn’t be wanted, but I’ll start writing shorter articles since I have the time to do so right now (the Cares Act and tax law have an interesting intersection which could be a good starting point).

        Thank you for your advice on getting my name out there. I think the pandemic has thrown my normal methods out the window and I’m trying to adjust accordingly. I appreciate your tips and will start working on writing articles for newsletters and attending forums ASAP.

    4. Joielle*

      Congrats on passing the bar! I knew I wanted to work in the public sector so my legal job search consisted entirely of OBSESSIVELY checking the job boards for my state, city, and county, and applying for pretty much any entry level lawyer job that popped up within a semi-reasonable commuting distance. After a few months and a LOT of applications, I ended up getting a job as a judicial law clerk, which was a great career move (and a pretty fun job, I worked for a great judge). A ton of lawyers start out as judicial clerks so I think it’s pretty widely understood what types of skills you can expect when someone has that on their resume. I stayed for about 18 months before moving on to a state agency.

      Personally, I didn’t find bar association membership to be that helpful – of course, networking is good no matter what job you’re looking for, but government jobs are a little less tied to who you know. I did have a few coffee meetings with people through my school’s alumni network, which didn’t directly get me a job but helped me figure out what I wanted to do after the clerkship. That was a great help.

      It sounds like you have a really solid resume with the moot court and EIC, so it’s just going to be a matter of persistence. Good luck!

      1. Discouraged Grad*

        Thank you so much for sharing your experience and your advice! Honestly, I would love to clerk for a judge, but an ave been rejected from every clerkship I’ve applied to. My career services essentially said to not expect much with those applications since my GPA is so low. Did you him find your GPA to be a barrier for clerking?

    5. Policy Wonk*

      Not sure if the timing of your degree makes you eligible, but check with your university about the Presidential Management Fellows program. Federal hiring managers like to bring entry level people in from programs like this that have already vetted candidates, as opposed to the deluge of applications that USA Jobs would produce.

      1. Discouraged Grad*

        Fortunately, I’m still able to apply for the PMF program. I didn’t make it this cycle, but I will try again next year. Hopefully I’ll find full time job before that cycle starts, but it’s definitely something that I’m keeping in mind. I’m also applying for Policy Analyst positions on USAJobs just to get my foot in the door.

    6. Once A Lawyer*

      When I graduated law school, I was highly ranked but my school only officially recognized or ranked the top graduate. My dean and the career office told me to put my “unofficial class rank” and label it as such.

      How much do the A’s this semester improve your GPA? If they do, can you put that GPA on your resume with some appropriate labeling? “Cumulative GPA 3.5 (unofficial due to School’s policy regarding grades in the spring of 2020).” You’re going to provide a transcript on request, so you’re not hiding the official GPA.

      I don’t have a lot of advice about the job search. You sound like someone who made good community connections, though, and had a high profile on campus. Were any of your professors adjuncts who have a legal practice? If so, definitely reach out to them. Also any practicing lawyers who judged your moot court.

      1. Discouraged Grad*

        I hadn’t thought of putting my unofficial GPA on my resume. Ironically, I earned all A grades last spring and although it’s not a major boost, it still would have placed me back to where I was before last fall.

        I’ve reached out to most of my professors. My school has a really strong part-time program, so most of my profs were also working in government or major to big law firms. I’ve reached out to the ones who works in areas that I like and they said that they’re keeping their eyes open. That said, there are a few other profs I haven’t updated yet about the bar exam and publication news, so I’ll make it a point to reach out to them over the weekend. Thanks for the idea/advice!

    7. Another govt attorney*

      Government hiring is *not* like public sector hiring and navigating it from the outside can be difficult both as a new grad and as a mid-career attorney.

      I’ve now been on both sides of a number of state government interview panels, here’s a few things I learned sitting on the other side of the table:

      1) A lot of new grads and early career attorneys trying to get into government positions send out the same form resume and cover letter for each position. When reviewing applications, it’s very easy to tell. If someone is applying for a in-house counsel type role but has an application that is litigation focused (or vice versa), and the applicant’s materials don’t explain why they’re applying or make the connection between their experience and skills with the job as explained in duty statement, they probably won’t make it to the interview stage.

      2) Be specific and detailed when describing your experience. Don’t just say “drafted memoranda” if you researched and drafted memoranda on 1) the application of the takings clause in ABC context and on 2) a specific provision of a state’s sunshine law. If an application just says drafted memoranda, I can’t tell if the applicant has done it once or 15 times, and have to score accordingly. This can feel like you’re listing everything you ever did, when it comes to government applications (at least in my state) that’s not a bad thing.

      3) If you don’t have government internship experience but took admin law or other courses relevant to the agency that you’re applying to, include this in the application materials, it might help with a scorer that’s looking for experience with a specific type of law.

      4) Grades are not the be all end all at my agency. Provided you have a good writing sample, demonstrated interest in a subject matter can count a heck of a lot more. It’s important to show your interest both on your resume/application and when you get to the interview stage. During an interview it’s easy to tell the difference between someone who was cramming on a subject the night before and someone who took a course or attended some free CLEs and can talk knowledgeably about a specific issue.

      5) Writing samples. Your writing sample should be easy to read, demonstrate your overall analytical skills, consistent use of IRAC, and proper grammar and citation. (The usual.)

      I can’t stress this enough: obey the page limits. If there are no page limits, don’t send more than 8-10, since I typically know everything I need to about someone’s writing by page 5. If your sample is on some esoteric point of ERISA preemption and I have no personal or professional interest in ERISA preemption sending a 32 page writing sample I have to slog through when scoring an application is going to irritate me. You can bet I will be calling whoever was responsible for the job posting to insist on page limits next time.

      Other thoughts: Look at the duty statement/job description and craft your application to speak to it point by point. If the job description includes drafting regulations, which you have no experience in, but you do have experience with regulatory interpretation make sure you speak to it. Sometimes an adjacent skill is close enough to get a toe in the door.

      It looks like you did an internship at an agency, if you’re still on good terms with any of the attorneys there, you should consider asking them to review the resume/application you use for government jobs and provide feedback (esp. if it was federal or in a state you’re applying for). The attorneys I work with genuinely like to help our former interns succeed, and I can’t imagine them being unwilling to do this.

  35. Clinical Trial Career Advice*

    Anyone here work in clinical trials? My partner would like to work in that space and we are trying to figure out where to live after finishing up PhDs (in biomedicine). The choice is down to (1) Boston or (2) the Research Triangle Park area of North Carolina. Both seem like good biotech hubs, is either location easier to get an entry level clinical trial assistant or coordinator job?

    Is it hard to break into this career with a science/bio PhD but without clinical experience?

    If we say that I have a ‘soft’ offer for a job of my own in Boston, which includes help with networking to find my partner a job, does that weight Boston better than the RTP? Thank you to the AAM community for any advice!

    1. Blackcat*

      I’ve lived in both areas.

      Honestly, they are *really, really different.* You can probably get jobs in either (I can’t speak to biotech, though I know lots of folks who’ve been in biotech via living in both cities). But I’d focus more on where do you want to live.

      Urban, reasonable transit, HCOL, proper winter, sunsets at 4pm in December?
      Suburban, almost non-existent transit, middle COL, summer is hot as balls?

      I’d pick Boston over the Triangle any day for quality of life reasons. But I also pay 1.5x what I would in NC for housing, and 2x for daycare for my child. But the schools in greater Boston are, on the whole, much better than most in the Triangle area, largely due to funding concerns. That obviously doesn’t matter if you don’t have kids/don’t plan to have kids. But it matters to me. I also REALLY prefer living in an area with good public transit. Greater Boston is a much more geographically compact urban area than the Triangle (see also: one city vs 3). Pre-COVID, I walked a mile to work while my husband biked 3 miles. This comes with sacrifices, of course, but the ability to live with one car as a family and build exercise into our daily commutes was a massive quality of life issue. Sure, we now are raising a family in a house much smaller than the apartment we had in NC, but that’s an okay trade off for us. Less time in a yard, but more time in public spaces (there are more here!).

      Honestly my biggest issue with Boston are the winter sunsets–we really ought to be in Atlantic time rather than eastern. But otherwise? For me, Boston is the place to live, hands down.

    2. a triangle resident*

      I can’t speak to your job question, but as a Triangle resident (and former DC resident w/ friends in the Boston area) I can say that it’s decidedly cheaper to live here. Public transport is decidedly worse, so you’d need cars. But there’s beautiful places to walk/hike, warmer weather (e.g. today has snow in the forecast but the ground isn’t cold enough for it to stick), and Durham/Chapel Hill (while they have their issues) are more progressive than the rest of the state. good luck with your job searches!

    3. LKW*

      If I had to pick one, Boston is more expensive but that area is exploding with biotech companies and every major pharma company has a satellite in Cambridge. You simply have more options in my opinion. But as people have noted, housing in Boston & Cambridge is pricey and commuting by car into Cambridge is a nightmare.

      1. Bostonian*

        Agreed with the plethora of choices. In addition to Boston and Cambridge, nearby Waltham also has a lot of biotech industry, but is even worse to get to since there is no public transportation, and 95 during rush hour suuuucks.

        As to the LW’s question about no clinical experience- in my experience, the PhD will get you pretty far in a lot of roles starting out.

      2. Blackcat*

        “commuting by car into Cambridge is a nightmare.”

        But once we all have vaccines (which Boston loves! MA has the highest vaccination rates in the country. We love Big Pharma) and can use transit again, there are many relatively affordable option that are quick on transit. It’s not necessarily the drive times, but the parking that will get you.

        Waltham, Arlington, Belmont, etc. Lots of good options that aren’t Boston/Cambridge/Newton prices and are still ~20-30 minutes by bus.

    4. Clinical Researcher*

      I worked in clinical trials in the California Bay Area. Much better weather than either Boston or Research Triangle Park. Decent public transportation. Lots of biotech. In any location look into a CRO (Clinical Research Organization). They are usually a good way to break into clinical research & they’ll provide valuable regulatory & on-the-job training.

      1. Damn it, Hardison!*

        I second the recommendation to look at CROs. A lot of biotechs and pharmacy use them, and they are a great way of getting experience. A lot of the folks in the clinical operations of my previous company came from CROs. On location, my vote is for Boston, because there are so many biotechs and CROs in the area.

    5. Argye*

      Come join us in Maryland! We’re the 4th largest biotech hub in the country, and growing rapidly. A little cheaper than Boston, but still good mass transit. I run a Biotech training program here, and we can place graduates as soon as possible. We’ve even got a Biotech bootcamp program running to teach displaced restaurant workers how to do cell culture to get a biotech job. Astra Zeneca, American Gene Technologies, Lonza, are all hiring as fast as humanly possible.

  36. Anon for reasons*

    I would love to hear how other organizations handle anonymous feedback. Senior leadership at my organization is leery of anonymous feedback and questions. The sentiment is that anonymity stifles transparency. Though I understand their thinking, my feeling is that not everyone is comfortable raising concerns to management on sensitive topics. What do other organizations do and how do you feel about it?

    1. mbarr*

      So two things:

      1. Anonymous feedback can obviously be a rabbit hole. My multi-national company recently had an anonymous employee engagement survey (mostly multiple choice)… But then we found out that managers with 5+ employees would get their teams’ anonymously written comments sent to them. Depending on what was written, suddenly managers could figure out who said what. So if you advocate for anonymous feedback, make sure details like the above are outlined ahead of time.

      2. Back in 2004, I worked for a company that accepted any and all employee feedback (not anonymous). Employees could write suggestions for any department or any problem they saw. Suggestions were entered into a tracking system and routed to the relevant teams for their feedback. The teams would either accept it, or reject it, with comments, then they’d provide updates on the suggestion within the system. It gave writers a sense of ownership, and let them see the results of their suggestions. Here’s a (terribly written) example:
      Suggestion: I saw some employees by building X performing work without a safety harness.
      *Routed to Safety team of building X
      Safety team: We accept this. We’ll re-review safety requirements with all staff in this building.
      Safety team: Upon investigation, we learned that one harnesses was broken, and that’s why it wasn’t used. Someone forgot to submit a request to buy a new one.
      *Routed to procurement team
      Procurement team: We’ll buy a new harness
      Safety team: harness is now available
      Ticket closed

    2. shoutouts*

      As a contributor, I completely understand and appreciate the ability to give constructive comments about my higher ups (although I’ve never actually seen anything change.)

      As a manager, the anonymous comments are frustrating. My unit did a 360 evaluation and one of the comments was, “shoutouts needs to be more flexible.” No such sentiment had been expressed to me before, and I always strived to be flexible about hours and policies. But that’s what went into my evaluation, although my boss had no idea what I was not being flexible about, and I didn’t know how I was supposed to improve. Years later, I found out that it was an employee who was unhappy that I told them they couldn’t make a major change to their job duties. But what if it had been something I *could* have changed? I love actionable comments. All too often, though, the comments are short and lack context so you know what to do with them.

      1. Middle Manager*

        Same. While I appreciate the idea of having a safe way to give feedback to those above you, my experience with a 360 was so frustrating. I don’t know if it was just the tool used, but I literally didn’t know what some of the comments meant without more context and had no way to follow up then of course to get clarification. I also had one disgruntled employee at the time (she was on a PIP then and has since left), so it was hard to know if some of the feedback from several staff tor some of it was just this person taking an opportunity to bash me anonymously.

        I feel like the better option is creating an environment where it is safe to share constructive feedback up the chain of command without fear of reprisal. But obviously that’s way harder to do than an anonymous survey.

        1. shoutouts*

          Yes! And I think people (often for good reason) don’t trust that the comments will be kept anonymous so they make them super vague to avoid identification. But rarely does that lead to anything valuable to be learned.

    1. Kimmybear*

      There is a lot of stuff on lots of topics. Some is better than others. I find the intro level materials are a good start on many topics but often not deep enough for a more advanced learner

    2. mbarr*

      For others, FYI some local libraries provide access to it through your library card. :)

      I usually just focus on training materials that are relevant to my current pain points. E.g. Got assigned work as a Product Manager? I better look up Product Manager fundamentals videos.

      1. ThinMint*

        That’s awesome about the library tip. My spouse wants to do some of the videos but his company doesn’t have a partnership.

    3. Kate H*

      My company uses it too and we’re allowed to allocate time to view materials during work hours. I have an insane workload so I rarely have time to partake but I’ve watched a couple videos on Excel (one of which taught me XLOOKUP functions and changed my life) and one on SEO (okay, not great).

  37. pyewacket*

    Has anyone ever went back to school for an MS in Engineering Management? I’m really at a crossroads and not sure what I want to do for a job and/or school. I graduated with a BS Mechanical Engineering with minors in accounting, math, business and physics. Worked for about 5 years as an ME, now Director of Operations (16 years) for a small manufacturing company. So I do anything from HR, IT, finances, customer service, CNC programming and even running machines. My projects through the years have been based off of lean mfg/six sigma concepts but are watered down. I have a lot of broad knowledge and experience but not in depth and that makes me think I should go back to school. I think its going to be hard time finding a job. Any advice or suggestions is greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    1. Jules the 3rd*

      Have you ever thought about an MBA? I did one geared towards geeks, with strong Supply Chain and Entrepeneurial Development concentrations, and it was a good springboard for moving industries.

      But it really depends on what you want to do in the future – start a new company, switch industries, or move to a C-suite position in a bigger company? MBA’s good for that. Dive deeper into DofO type positions?