open thread – February 26-27, 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.

{ 1,151 comments… read them below }

  1. TKB from Texas*

    Last week I posted about a recruiter (this was someone internal, it would have been better to title her as a talent manager) sending me an outage map of my neighborhood after I requested postponing an interview due to the Texas utility crisis. Here’s the (unexciting) update:

    I responded and pulled out of the interview process. I am currently employed and while I thought of this to be an interesting opportunity, I wouldn’t consider my excitement level through the roof. Against every petty bone in my body, I did not bring up the utility map. I kept it polite and boilerplate. Her response to me dropping out was also polite and boilerplate, so my hope is that the outage map email was truly been an ignorant and insensitive misstep. It’s not the juicy redemption story I wish I could share, but that’s what happened!

    That said, I will be keeping my ear to the ground for reports of this company. This industry is well connected in my city and I’m apart of a number of groups. If a report of this company acting ill-intentioned is mentioned, I’ll have the email chain to provide another example of unfavorable behavior.

    Thanks to everyone and their well wishes for the situation in Texas. I am currently sitting in my home with power on, water running and an Internet signal. To my fellow Texans, you have all been in my thoughts, here’s to the end of doomsdays!

    1. TKB from Texas*

      Adding a note: There were SO many replies (I think around 70!) That I felt I had to send an update. I couldn’t reply to everyone, but please know I did read every single comment!

      1. Jean*

        Thanks for the update! I’m glad to hear that you trusted your instincts and didn’t move forward. Just reading it set off all my “sketchy” alarms.

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      Thanks for the update! I think you did the right thing – it can be sooo tempting to give into your pettiness, but it would only feel good in the moment, the polite response was better for you in the long run.

  2. cabbagepants*

    What do you do when you’re interviewing with someone who wants to dive deeply into a specific topic that is only tangential to the job description, that you neither have nor ever claimed to have deep knowledge about?

    My initial take was that he wanted to see how I solved problems in general, and I did my best, but he kept wanting very specific answers and kept going well past the point where I was point-blank saying “I don’t know.”

    Specifics: I am interviewing for a general ruminant herder position. I have various experience, including llama grooming, though it’s not a llama- or grooming-centric position. My last interview was with a senior llama scientist. He wanted to talk about llama hair growth genetics. He rapidly got to the end of my knowledge, and I did my best to answer his questions (or how I’d go about answering them), but he just kept digging. “And at what stage during llama blastocyst formation is the LlA1 gene activated? Well, think it through.” Things like this.

    My industry has lots of people with bad social skills, and this was just one of several interviews for the position (the others went great!), so I’m comfortable chalking it up to “odd dude”… or worst case, well, I learned early that this is not the right role for me. But I want to hear your thoughts!

    1. ThatGirl*

      Maybe they want to know how you’d find that information? Sometimes those out-of-left-field questions are really more about your thought process – though I can’t say that for sure. But I’d probably answer it with something like “I don’t really know offhand, but if I needed to find out, I’d ask around for resources or do some searching on my own” — and mention any industry-specific resources, for instance.

      1. cabbagepants*

        I did that first, and talked through my thought process, but it didn’t satisfy them. Or sometimes his response was, “Well, why wouldn’t you check the Llama Gene Activation Timeline Database?” And I’d be like, Oh well I’ve never heard of that, but since you mention it, it does sound like a great place to get this kind of info!

        This felt like a fact quiz, not a “how do you think things through” interview.

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

          There are 2 possibilities: they already have a candidate in mind who isn’t you (see e.g. the episode of Friends where “Benjy” interviews Ross and two other candidates), who would presumably know the LGATD. Or – they pulled in someone to “interviewing” who for whatever reason was hyper-focused on some specific aspect and doesn’t really know how to interview people. I would probably chalk it up to an odd person (“dude”) but be alert to other flags.

          1. Joan Rivers*

            Sometimes someone just wants to show off what he knows. Not sure how to ask how his questions would apply to the job, but “would there be a lot of [xxx] in the job?” gets at the point.

            1. Hufflepuff hobbit*

              Concur. Also, my experience with a lot of senior people who study specific gene pathways is that that’s what they like to talk about, kinda no matter what they are supposed to be talking about

    2. A Brew Yet*

      I think you have to ask another person in the interview process about it. Just to put your mind at ease. Something like “Hey Chair of Ruminant Relations, I had a really tangential chat with Senior Llama Scientist. While I enjoyed meeting him and engaging with him in a llama pas de deux, I was a little thrown by some of his questions. His Big Bang Theory level of knowledge about llama genetics and his specific questions about the LlA1 gene left me with the impression that I was supposed to bring that level of knowledge to this role. Can you and I chat that through? I’d hate to think that I wouldn’t exceed your expectations in this role given my excellent Llama hair braiding experience and high level understanding of llama genetics.”

    3. Firecat*

      When this happened to me, it was because two SR leaders had different views of what the role would be and why.

      Eventually the hiring manager lost the right and I was not hired. It’s possible this is something hong similar – where this leader feels the science is much more important then others in the process do. She could be right or wrong. It’s weird they pushed once it was obvious you didn’t know the answer though – I’d chalk that up to bad interviewing skills.

      1. Postdoc*

        That’s what it sounds like to me as well. This person is under the impression that deep knowledge of Llama genetics is essential to the role. It may be worth while to think about how his position relates to the one being hired for and whether this is something that should concern you.

    4. chemanon*

      I had a similar interview a couple months ago. I am 5 years out of grad school, yet the interviewer kept asking me specifics about my graduate work. It felt like my defense… (and no, my graduate work wasn’t related to the job lol). I bs’d my way through because really, who would remember specifics 5 years out??

      My favorite exchange –
      Interviewer: do you think what you learned in grad school helped you in your sales role?
      Me: No. My previous role in the lab for that my specific product line helped me prepare for selling that product line.

      Anyway, because of that decided the job wouldn’t be a right fit and dropped out of the running soon after. they were shocked. (??)

      1. Former Usher*

        That reminds me of the time where an interviewer was quizzing me on which textbooks I used in graduate school. When I couldn’t remember one (probably because that professor taught from his notes and rarely referred to the book!), he proudly told me that he remembered every textbook he had ever used.

        1. Mimi*

          “That’s lovely for you. I tend to forget details that are no longer relevant to my life, in favor of remembering things that are currently useful or important for me.”

          (Would I actually say that in an interview? Maybe not. But I’d be very tempted.)

          1. irene adler*

            Yeah, tempting.
            I’d probably stop at “That’s lovely for you.”
            And wonder how bad it would be to work with/for someone who’s claim to fame is good recall of unimportant things.

      2. MacGillicuddy*

        I had a similar experience of an interviewer asking about things that were more than 20 years in the past. Sometimes there’s an ulterior motive.

        I worked for many years in the education field, moved, took a course in something different, and changed careers completely. None of my education jobs are on my resume. Neither are my graduation dates. But this interviewer couldn’t get past my MS degree in education. Kept pressing with things like “but why didn’t you ever teach when you got your degree in Education?” Told him that I did “for a while” but changed careers. “But why…?” Etc.

        I finally said “you know, I have over 25 years of really great experience in llama grooming. That is why I’m applying for your llama grooming job.”

        He mumbled something about how “yes, your resume shows that you have excellent llama experience.”

        I really think his intent was to figure out how old I was. I never told him how many years I taught, or on the “in-between” jobs (also not on my resume) before I settled into llama grooming.

        There were other red flags and I didn’t take the job. But thinking back, I wish I’d been more direct and asked him “are you trying to find out how many years I worked in education? Why do you keep asking about that, and what does it have to do with the job I’m applying for?”

        I would have loved to watch him dig his way out of that.

    5. TimeTravlR*

      I had a very similar interview once. They wanted to fill position A but started asking questions that were more suited to a more senior level in a similar position. I did my best but ultimately, I didn’t have the level of knowledge or experience so was not offered the position. Some years later, I took a different position with that same entity and the hiring manager with the crazy questions actually brought it up and said, “We really missed out by not hiring you sooner.” So, redemption at least!

      1. cabbagepants*

        I kind of wonder if this is happening. Clearly there is a lot of interest at this company in llama hair and so when I mentioned llama grooming, they got excited that I could be their next llama hair scientist. Llama hair is great and I love it, but their role requires 10 years of experience. While I have that in general ruminant herding, I definitely don’t have it for llama hair specifically.

    6. Malarkey01*

      I think you can say “I don’t know, is that something that this position handles/does/will involve?” is a way to find out if you misunderstood the position and assuming you didn’t, get the interviewer back on track. Even with good interviewers you sometimes can start down a path and lose a little focus on the position. I’ve unfortunately done this a time or two when I hire for overlapping or different levels where I start asking digging into how far someone’s knowledge goes just to figure out which job to slot them into or a case of woah she’s here for llama groomer but man she’d be great at llama hair replacement.

      1. cabbagepants*

        D’oh! That’s the perfect question to have asked and I didn’t ask it! But maybe I can follow up with the hiring manager assuming they haven’t already ruled me out.

    7. JustaTech*

      Oh, I’d call that the “I love talking about my very very very specific area of expertise!” person. Scientists in general have a bad habit about doing this – especially if they’ve recently come from academia, where it’s a combination of teaching through questions and constantly talking about your super exciting (to you) research.

      If everyone else was normal I wouldn’t call it a red flag, but it would be a point of note about what that person is probably going to be like to work with. Possibly just awkward and excitable, possibly annoyingly egotistical (“only *my* interests count”).

      1. Past life scientist*

        (Former) scientist here, this is spot on. Best way to interview with a scientist is to ask them questions, to which they’ll fill up the whole interview slot answering. Time will fly (for them) and they’ll be happy they got to talk about their passion for 30 min – 1 hour straight and look back very favorably on the interview.

    8. Yellow Warbler*

      I felt completely terrorized by an interviewer who was aggressive about this. He kept getting louder with each back-and-forth until he was basically yelling at me. I went back to my car and sobbed.

      To give actual context, I was interviewing for a technical writer job, and he was asking me to explain complex calculus concepts. It was like I’d wandered into an engineering interview by mistake.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        My first tech writing interview was with someone who was very enthusiastic about my generalist background, but then HIS manager showed up and started reeling me en engineering specifics. Very obviously he wanted someone with a related STEM degree. I was actually glad to be turned down for that role, because it’s no fun being caught between a manager and a grand-manager with different definitions of the job!

      2. Katrinka*

        That definitely sounds like he thought the position required an engineer-level of knowledge. And that his anger was more directed at the people in his company that didn’t agree with him. I’ve seen that before.

    9. Esmeralda*

      I had a similar interview a few years ago. I ticked all the boxes (100%, that NEVER happens!) in the posting and very quickly got a phone screen and then a phone interview. One of the committee members focused just like that on an area I know about, but I’m no expert and I don’t have experience addressing the related issues. I figured that this was an area they really needed help addressing, it wasn’t in the posting so no way to know that, and no matter how fabulous I was otherwise, it was going to be hard for me to get that job.
      I didn’t get the job, and the person they hired does have experience in that unexpected area.

    10. New Mom*

      Is it possible that there was internal misalignment about the role you were applying for? or was it a brand new role? I ask because at my org, sometimes we will create a new role, let’s say we have Llama Groomers and Llama Feed Experts and we decide to create a Llama Liason for both. Well, the Llama Groomers might want the Liason to have x, y, and z skills while the Feed Experts want the Liason to have a, b, and c skills.

    11. meyer lemon*

      I had a weird co-op interview like this. I was a second-year undergrad student, this was a federal research assistant position. I did not claim to have any specific knowledge about the research area (something pretty niche that wouldn’t typically come up in any undergrad program). But they kept digging about what my background was in the field, even though I thought it was pretty clear from my resume that my background was non-existent. It came up over and over again in the interview. It still confuses me now. I have to imagine that either there was some kind of mix-up about what job I was applying for or they had one interview script that they used for every candidate and would not deviate from it.

      1. meyer lemon*

        My experience of that interview was also informed by the fact that it was held in a sweltering underground bunker in the dead of summer. Sometime around the fourth question about my previous work experience in the niche field, I was starting to wonder if I was actually in hell.

    12. MissDisplaced*

      It makes me wonder if lama hair growth genetics really IS a requirement for the job? Or maybe that particular person wants it to be a requirement for the job. But yeah, that’s kind of weird. I suppose I’d answer with something like: “That is a little beyond my expertise of lama hair growth, so I’d have to do some more research to familiarize myself within this area. Is this something that is needed often?”

      It hasn’t happened to me in a while, but I have had that happen in an interview about a particular software or skill that was listed as more of a “nice to have,” but then somehow became essential.

    13. LabTechNoMore*

      I’ve had a variant of this kind of interview, where the interviewer would also reject the answer, regardless what I said. (e.g. “What is PCR?” “Polymerase Chain Reaction.” “No. It’s used to copy DNA.”) It was a bizarre and deeply upsetting experience.

    14. Emilitron*

      My sympathies! Don’t let the one guy keep you from taking the job if the rest of the deal seems good. I had a really weird interview once where it seemed like the PhD-from-fancy-school scientist was being a jerk basically to prove that fancy schools are fancier than mine. He asked if a device I’d used was version A or B, because I’d said A and he was so certain he’d read that it was B. It is absolutely impossible to prove one way or the other, it makes zero difference in function or design, and the only possible solution would be to go to a computer and google it for this a particular site. Yet he insisted he was right, and when I explained that there was no way to tell and no measurable difference it would make, and no way we could conclude anything based on logic alone, he just would not drop it. So I had to navigate the politics of insisting he was wrong (which maybe they were looking for in a crackerjack new hire?! or maybe I’m supposed to be respectful?!) vs shrugging and saying it was unprovable, and convincing him to let it drop. Turns out I was reading way more into the situation than necessary, he was just a smart guy working in a fairly routine R&D lab who was enjoying dragging out the technical conversation for as long as possible. I took the job, and he was not even the biggest “character” on the site; aside from a few quirks a super nice guy who was not at all the elite-school critic he seemed to be. But wow was I weirded out after the interview! (I went back and read up on it, initial design had been B but they realized A was cheaper and same result so they built it as A, you would only think it was B if you had been assiduously reading science news 30 years ago)
      So if he’s not the primary person you’d be working with, don’t let this be the red flag that makes you turn down the offer. And just because he was critical don’t assume you bombed the interview.

  3. Ann O'Nemity*

    What’s your favorite planner/journal?

    I use a Moleskine basic journal to keep work notes in a bullet-ish format. Recently I’ve been wishing the journal had built-in annual or monthly calendars. I don’t want the style that breaks all note-taking into days; as some days I take tons of notes and others not at all. I’ve tried online shopping for new planner/journal styles and there are too many options! So I’m turning to the AAM community – what are your best recommendations?

    1. Escaped a Work Cult*

      I really like the Rocketbook Panda planner since I get up track and erase things as I go on. As ADHD person, this planner actually works for me so I’m singing praises.

    2. Elementary Fan*

      leuchtturm1917 is my favorite because it has page numbers and some perforated pages at the back so you can tear them out. It also has a table of contents in the beginning.

      I recommend looking into bullet journal techniques. You can jot down a quick “future log” with important dates to remember.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        Thanks for the recommendations! I actually used to follow the Bullet Journal format pretty faithfully, but have eased up on all the specific signifiers and migration stuff. So I say “bullet-ish.”

      2. RabbitRabbit*

        Do you have a good gel/felt-tip pen recommendation for this journal? I have a Leuchtturm1917, and my beloved Pilot G2 (0.7) smears like no one’s business in there, especially when I try to use a ruler to make grids.

        1. no dogs on the moon*

          i had great luck with the STAEDTLER triplus fineliners (most pens in this vein will do in my experience – michaels has a store-brand version that’s cheaper and also worked great) and the papermate inkjoys!

          1. Ann O'Nemity*

            Love these. I was at a conference a few years back and saw a fellow attendee pull out a multicolor 20-pack. I was so impressed I ended up ordering a pack myself. They’re pretty awesome, but will bleed through thinner paper.

          2. Anax*

            I swear by Papermate InkJoy gel pens. They say on the package that they “dry 3x as fast”, and they really do dry quickly enough – at least on regular paper! – that I don’t have any smearing problems, and as a leftie, those are constant with most pens.

            (Also, fairly cheap, many colors, fairly slow to dry out, readily available online or at most drugstores and office supply stores. The one downside is that they do NOT dry quickly on glossy paper, like some greeting cards.)

        2. AllTheBirds*

          Pilot Frixion Erasable Gel Pens are life. Lots of colors if you like that sort of thing (I nerd out on the turquoise).

        3. MissCoco*

          Uniball Signo for similarity to G2 – you’ll still get some schmearing, but much less. At least that’s true of the 0.38s .

          Also seconding pilot frixion, smudge -free plus the erasibility is great for those times your ruler slips while marking grids.

    3. OyHiOh*

      My desk book is a “standard agenda” book. It has all the months across the top of each page, and all possible dates for all months under that. Then a double solid line, and ruled pages under that. It’s intended to be used as a bullet journal although I don’t. Mark the month/day when I get to work, jot notes as needed.

    4. JennyFour*

      I just draw monthly calendars in the front of my bullet journal (I use a dot-grid moleskine notebook). It takes a little time but I only have to do it once a year! I use a two-page spread for each month.

    5. WorkNowPaintLater*

      Currently using a Markings (C.R. Gibson) Freestyle Planning Journal. 3 ribbons, comes with ruler with stencils. Each page is a dot grid on one side, a small calendar with a to-do list and other preprinted items on the other page. I’ve been using the dotted side to make a weekly calendar and use the preprinted calendar to mark the week these two pages are covering.

      1. 653-CXK*

        I bought a similar journal from Markings and it’s fantastic. Circle the day, use the ruler to make little tables, and I have information at a glance without having to rifle through numerous files.

    6. Zephy*

      I use a Leuchtturm1917, and that’s pretty much where my system divorces itself from the “official” Bullet Journal system. I personally don’t find month- or year-at-a-glance spreads very useful, having spent a lot of time over the last couple of years setting them up only to never look at them again, so my journal doesn’t have them this year. But uh, if you have a blank journal, what’s stopping you from just making the spreads you want to use?

      The “planner” part of my journal is just 52 weekly two-page spreads, and I note the page where the month starts in the table of contents at the beginning. A typical week involves five 8×24 boxes and one 8×12 box for the weekend; one line per hour of the day, easy to write in a keyword for the appointment scheduled at that time (usually just the client’s last name). Scheduled on the hour gets written on the left, on the half-hour gets written on the right. Use a highlighter to mark the hours I’m working.

      If you’re mostly using your journal to take notes for work, why not just have a rolling daily page? Take whatever notes you need for the day, skip a line or two, start the next day’s notes. You can draw lines to demarcate where one day ends and another begins, put the date right above where the notes start. Wide washi tape is easy to wrap around the edge of a page to mark sections, however you want to designate that – maybe you mark notes about the Johnson account with blue tape, notes from the budget meetings with green tape, whatever.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        Thanks, great info! Here’s a few specific responses:

        “What’s stopping you from just making the spreads you want to use?”

        Honestly… laziness. I never liked manually creating the calendar pages. And I never liked the Bullet Journal calendar list format as much as the standard calendar boxes style. I was thinking that for the price of a Moleskine, I could find a journal that already has the calendars built in.

        “If you’re mostly using your journal to take notes for work, why not just have a rolling daily page? Take whatever notes you need for the day, skip a line or two, start the next day’s notes.”

        Yep, this is exactly what I do now. Usually I like to start a new page, unless it’s like 1-2 lines only and then I’ll draw a line for the next day. Never tried the tape, but I do like to use different colored pens. I’m a sucker for pens.

        1. TortalHareBrain*

          I purchased a monthly planner from Plum Paper and added notes pages to each month for my husband. A complicated system didn’t work for him, but this kept things in groups enough while giving him a general idea of the date/relation to when the next thing was happening.

          I prefer their horizontal notes/days layout as I make a to-do list for the week in notes, and use the days as a schedule. I tend to keep meeting notes and other things in a separate notebook since I have far fewer notes than just general to-dos.

        2. Makare*

          You could also print out half-page calendar spreads and tape/paste them into the journal where you want them. Less work, but still making the format work for you, and no need to buy a whole new notebook. My art teacher turned me onto this, like why buy a different sketchbook for every kind of medium? If you want to do some watercolors in your drawing sketchbook, cut a piece of watercolor paper to fit and tape it into the sketchbook, and ta-da! Instant mixed media sketchbook.

      2. RabbitRabbit*

        Repeating my question from above – what pen do you use with yours? I find the Pilot G2 (0.7) smears a lot, especially when I draw grids with a ruler.

            1. Constance Lloyd*

              They’re a little spendier, but I like the copic markers. They use archival ink that won’t bleed if I drip water on it (a recurring problem) and come in more colors than the papermates.

      3. TardyTardis*

        I bought a $12 Diary from Amazon which has the monthly calendar and the daily page in ruled paper. They still split a page on Sat/Sun, which annoys me, but the only book that doesn’t do that is the Brownline Standard Diary (that I know of) but that doesn’t stay open very well.

    7. MMMMmmmmmmmMMM*

      I found that I like to build mine from purchased printouts from etsy and use a 6-ringed binder (I have one from kikki-k). That way, I can customize the insert to what I want. For example, I found I like a one page week with grids on the opposite page, but I also don’t use a monthly calendar. Be careful, because it can be a rabbit hole of small purchases from etsy!

      1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

        This is what I do. I ordered mine from a European shop on Etsy so the printouts come in both A4 and A5 pdf sizes. I have a tinier A5 binder for this and LOVE it because I can just print out the pages I need and in the number I need.

        1. Constance Lloyd*

          I do this, but instead of a binder I just glue them into my rhodia. It’s only a few pages so it doesn’t get too bulky and I set it up so the calendar grid is on the left and a blank page for any notes I might want to add is in the right.

      2. Happy Lurker*

        I tried doing that a few years back and it didn’t work for me. I carry mine back and forth daily and couln’t find a binder I really liked.

        For the last 6 or 7 years I have made a hardcover book through Blurb. They have a planner option. I pick the size I like, populate the pages with the pre-printed planner option and the dates go in automatically. I then add pictures all over the place, so I have happy things to look at. I love that I can pick a few great options and have my pictures too! I add monthly and annual calendars, tons of lined pages, colorful flourishes and my favorite pictures on the front and back. The planner pages are in the week format that works for me and there a NO LINES. I just can’t stand daily lines. There are either never enough or not enough space to write in them. It takes me a few hours every year, but in 25 years of using a planner they are my favorite.
        It’s the size that has always worked for me. If I had a different profession I would probably need a much larger planner.

    8. Two Dog Night*

      Levenger has a line called Circa that you might want to look at. It’s kind of pricy, but it’s very customizable. You could get a bunch of blank pages (there are multiple formats) and add yearly and/or monthly calendars, if that would work.

      That said, I’ve switched from paper to using OneNote–one page per week tracking my to-do list and activities, notes taken on separate pages and linked from the journal page. This is the first electronic method I’ve been happy with, and I’m enjoying not dealing with paper.

      1. SyFyGeek*

        And very similar to Circa, Office Depot has Tul and Staples has Arc- they’re all interchangeable and can be customized. I’ve been using one for 2 years now- I call it my Franken Binder- I use parts from different suppliers to put in exactly what I want. I use a small binder to takes notes on the go, then pull the page out and put it in the big binder.

    9. EMP*

      I have a Hightide Diary Iris that I love. It’s a weekly planner but it has built in monthly calendars at the front, lays flat when you open it, and has plenty of space per day for planning and notes. I used to use a Moleskine. Last year I switched from Moleskin to a different Hightide weekly planner (the minute manager), this year I tried the Diary Iris and I like this one the best of the ones I’ve used!

    10. Rainy*

      I use a Passion Planner. I need the appointment-style time grid, and I like the monthly and annual calendars and the space for a to-do list and notes on each page. I’ve been a Passion Planner for four years now!

      I honestly don’t care so much about the actual “passion plan” and while I sometimes fill out the reflection pages, at this point I just really like the layout and I’m used to it. So don’t think getting one will turn you into a person who fills out reflection pages lol.

      1. Putting the "pro" in "procrastinate"*

        +1 to all of this. I really like the weekly layout of the Passion Planner, with the appointment-style grid and the space for to-do lists and other notes. I don’t care as much about the passion plan stuff, and I cross out the headings on the “reflection” pages and just use them for my own notes.

      2. Quinalla*

        I like the passion planner too! I’ve moved to mostly electronic for my calendar/to dos/etc. but I still usually get a passion planner every year just for random note taking at meetings, doing some of the reflection and long term planning as I love that on paper, etc. because it is reasonably priced, nice looking and I like to support the company.

    11. Not_Kate_Winslet*

      Check out the Clever Fox Planner Pro. It’s a perfect (IMO) mix of pre-printed and free-form/blank pages.

    12. Donkey Hotey*

      Just filled my fist Leuchtturm 1917 in December. I decided to splurge on a Citrus Book Bindery custom journal for 2021-22. Love the paper options and made to the page count I want. (I was scared I’d run out of pages on the Leuchtturm)
      And I hear you about bullet-ish. May the devotees of Saint Ryder forgive me, but I can’t go with the whole “you have to make your icons this way” stuff, but I love being able to create my own layouts.

    13. Kage*

      I love the Commit30 brand and have their Deluxe Planner currently for my work/personal life tracking (small, woman-owned company). I don’t use the appointments/times that much as my Outlook calendar does that mess and is always changing. There’s not a ton in that one for notes but I’ve been looking at potentially getting the Daily one as well for my project log/notes.

    14. Binderry*

      It may not fit your needs, but like Agendio, which let’s you create your own planner and customize it. It’s a bit pricey, but it’s a once a year splurge that is personalized to my needs

    15. subjective milk hotel*

      I like the Hobonichi Day Free! I have the same problem where I don’t like my planners to be too structured. The Day Free has all the calendar pages at the beginning and the rest is just blank grid paper for me to use as needed, which is great for my use case (mostly notes/lists/etc. I’m not huge on creating spreads from scratch for work-related stuff).

    16. I'm just here for the cats*

      I use Happy Planner. They are very pretty but functional. I like the vertical layout but they have other types and sizes. It’s great because it is disc-bound, so you can remove, rearrange, and add pages. They also have a wide variety of accessories and other companion pages. The down side is there are very few neutral options as they tend to be geared for women. In the last few years they have gotten a bit more neutral but I do wish they were not as gendered (lots of colors, sparkly, drawings of women).

      Another thing that kinda bugs me is that the planners are not standard size. Half letter/ A5, Letter, Personal size are the standard planer sizes. They are always a few inches off.

      There are huge communities online dedicated to Happy Planner. From everything to using it functionally to decorating it with stickers.

    17. kt*

      I loved using the Leuchtturm etc back when I did, but I’ve recently switched to Silk & Sonder, a small company that sends out monthly planners that are inspired by bullet journaling. It’s not perfect, but recently it’s been working well for me as it has 4 months of forward-looking calendar, a weekly spread, lots of pages for notes, and other habit-tracking etc that I pick and choose from. It’s a bit focused on “wellness” so may not serve everyone. I got bored of drawing my own spreads, and this has the ones I use and ones I don’t. It’s also pretty and I like getting something pretty in the mail and reviewing my month regularly.

      1. kt*

        When I was picking a planner recently I also checked out Cloth & Paper, which has *beautiful* to me planners and planner pages and a lot of customizability and also monthly subscription boxes of stationery and pens; I went with Silk & Sonder for now because i had a discount code :)

    18. James*

      Depends on the purpose.

      I keep a blank sketch book for notes on skills I’m learning–more or less a way to keep track of data so I can find it again. I find that the act of writing things down helps me as much as re-reading my notes.

      For scheduling I keep a planner with pages showing monthly and weekly schedules. I also keep a small notebook for daily activities. Sounds cumbersome, but it’s really not. I use the planner at my desk (which I’m not always at), and the small notebook I keep on me when I’m on jobsites.

      I’ve tried the bullet journal thing and a few other methods, and they all seem overly complicated. Then again, a lot of my work is either due by COB some specific date, or not amenable to planning (if you could plan a spill or an injury they wouldn’t happen).

    19. Intermittent Introvert*

      I love Agendio planner/calendars. You can completely personalize them on their website and they save your choices from the year before.

    20. MissDisplaced*

      I’ve tried a lot of different things, but I keep going back to a simple legal tablet pad, which I then tear off and keep stapled together by month and store in a “notes” folder. I’m cheap I guess.

      Basically, at the start of every month, I type out and print my “to do” project list of about 10-12 things, at the top it says MONTH/YR in a big box. I printout this update weekly for boss reporting. All handwritten tablet notes for that same month get stapled to that printout unless they belong to a specific project (which is sometimes the case). I usually keep each packet of notes for about 6 months before tossing.

  4. Confused Anon*

    In my previous position, my boss would say things just to get me to react. One week she would tell me that I’m doing a great job and that she wants to promote me, the next she was telling me that my work was horrible and there would be no promotion. She would also pit me and my coworker against each, but claim that our old boss did that. After one particularly stressful meeting, I almost started crying in the meeting and she exclaimed, “There! Finally! Some emotion!”

    In my current job, I have coworkers who try the same thing sometimes. I don’t know if they just like pushing buttons, or what, but it’s annoying. They can tell that I’m upset because the one talks to the other and they stop for the moment. I would report it to my boss, but she is close friends with them, so it would be pointless.

    Am I missing something? I’m quiet, so maybe they just want to engage, but it seems a little toxic.

    I’m told that I’m a hard worker, so what’s the problem? Am I just in bad places?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Yeah, you’ve just been unlucky with those places.

      There are plenty of industries and career fields where being emotional and pushing buttons are just. plain. wrong.

    2. Reba*

      Yes, I think you have just landed in two bad environments in a row. I’m sorry, it sounds stressful. Some people really do enjoy needling other people and then they have plausible deniability for being cruel, because they were “just giving you a hard time.”

    3. Jean*

      This behavior isn’t caused by anything you’re doing. Some people just enjoy trying to get a rise out of others, because it makes them feel powerful and important. This goes double when it’s someone who is normally quiet and reserved. Again, that doesn’t make this your fault or something you’re asking for. People try it with me too and I usually shut it down with gray-rocking – over the years I’ve become VERY good at doing this, and they hate it, which makes them lose interest in me as a target.

    4. A Simple Narwhal*

      Your old boss sounds terrible. I’ve struggled in the past to please an unpleasable boss, and it’s only with distance and the benefit of hindsight that I was able to recognize that it wasn’t me, and no amount of trying was going to make things work.

      As for your current coworkers (who don’t sound great), I’d recommend trying your boss at least once. Present it first as asking her advice on how to handle something: “hey I was hoping you could give me your opinion on something. I’ve found that my coworkers tend to run hot and cold with me – one moment they’re my best friend [give examples], the next they’re making rude comments/personal attacks/etc [give examples], it honestly feels like they’re purposely pushing my buttons. I’ve found it disruptive to getting work done and forming a professional relationship with them, but I want to make sure I’m not missing something before I address it with them. Have you noticed this, or is there any insight you could offer on how best to approach them?” (Of course tweak this to better fit your voice and the actual situation.)

      It brings the situation to her attention, but not in a “I haven’t tried to fix the problem, solve it for me” way. It also offers the opportunity for her to let you know if there is something you’re missing, or if it is behavior that alarms her and she’s just going to handle it herself.

      Also, there’s a chance you’ve just had bad luck and run into two bad workplaces in a row. Culture fit is truly a thing that can affect your ability to be successful and happy at a job, if it turns out you’re at a place that is just ball-busty (and I can’t really tell what you’re coworkers are actually doing from what you posted, so maybe a little more info would clarify what’s going on) and that just doesn’t work for you, it would absolutely be ok to look for a new job, even if your current job is otherwise great.

    5. Buni*

      My very first ever job, 16yrs old working the till at a high street pharmacy, my (much older, male) boss asked me a specific question and, when I answered it, said “Well you’ve just got an answer for everything, don’t you!”.

      Dude. You…asked me a question.

      My point is, some people are just ass-hats, and there are people who will deliberately pick on ‘quiet’ people just to get a rise. You’ve been unlucky twice, and it’s nothing to do with you or anything you’ve done.

      1. Roy G. Biv*

        “and there are people who will deliberately pick on ‘quiet’ people just to get a rise. ” And then they are SO shocked and offended when the quiet person has finally been pushed too far.

        Beware the fury of a patient man. (Or coworker.)

        1. always a nurse*

          I misread (Or coworker.) as “or cucumber” and I couldn’t figure out how one would know that a cucumber was furious.

      2. Lana Kane*

        I had that from a previous manager, who would think she was catching mistakes but she didn’t know enough of the workflow to know who actually made it. So she ususally assumed it was us.

        When she said that to me, I said, “Well…yes, when I have an answer, I give it to you.” What I wanted to say was, “I can do my job so yeah, that’s why I always have an answer.”

        Weirdly, she always praised how I stepped up when the mistake was truly on me. You’d think then she’d believe my answers when it wasn’t.

        1. Buni*

          I vaguely remember my answer was along the same lines, like “If I know the answer why would I not say it?”. I do very distinctly remember it wasn’t remotely a work-related question…

    6. Not A Manager*

      I don’t disagree with everyone else. The most likely explanation is that these people are jerks. But I’m struck by your saying that you are quiet, and by your old boss’s comment about showing emotion. IF YOU WANT TO and if it feels safe to you, you could ask a personal friend, or a work colleague, if you are coming off as especially cold or unemotional in general. I’m not saying that if you are, it gives people the right to pester you; it doesn’t.

      But having that information gives you the option either to decide that they can pound sand, or to decide to make a bit more chit-chat or whatever else could alleviate this impression (if it exists). I’m suggesting this not to place any responsibility on you for their bad behavior, but because I think that sometimes more information gives you more options.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Normal relationships do not involve provoking emotions out of people, because there is no need.
        Why did the boss need to see you emote, what purpose does that serve?

        I was bullied in my earlier school years. Fast forward, last day of senior year of high school, a person I thought was a friend made a strong reference to that bullying. The only way she would know the reference would be upsetting is if she spent a lot of time talking to someone about me.
        On that particular day, I was recuperating from a bad car crash and dealing with a VERY ill mother. I wasn’t far from tears to begin with, additionally, I had zero energy for any form of arguing. She made her little statement that she just HAD to make and I busted out crying.
        I looked at her and said, “Why did you just say that?”
        She said, “I wanted to see you cry.”
        Because of the zero energy thing I just stared at her briefly and walked away from her without saying a word.

        People do this for varying reasons. Their life sucks and they want other people to experience the pain also.
        Or for reasons real or imagined, they want to knock the person down a peg or two. My choice of framing was to think of it as she believed her life had tanked so low that stepping on ME was the only way she could elevate herself. It had more to do with her than it did me.

        I think this is where you are at. It has more to do with that bizarre boss than it did with you. Likewise these current cohorts. Maybe someone told them you were going to get their jobs and they were going to be pushed out the door. It would be interesting to find out why the last person left, maybe they drain everyone who works with them.

        Hang on to this thought: One of the things we are compensated for is our willingness to get along with others. And this applies to THEM also. They need to be willing to get along with YOU. You are only responsible for your half of the relationship.

        I wish younger me had learned to set a time frame such as “Give this x months, if there is no improvement then get out.” Don’t waste your time around people like this. Don’t make yourself keep trying, when they may have already decided to try to defeat any kind overtures to them that you make.

        1. RC Rascal*

          IME people who have little emotional control themselves tend to see others who can control their emotions as not taking things seriously. If they can’t visibly see a dramatic reaction in you they aren’t satisfied.

          1. Rebecca Stewart*

            I am autistic, and from a family of origin in which women were not allowed to be angry or sad around other people. Anger, especially, was punished.

            I married someone who, it turned out, was used to a parental dynamic in which people yelled at each other and then had glorious makeups until the next fight. He would yell. I would get quiet, precise, and sharp. He would yell until I cried and was emotionally begging him to just not hurt me any more, and after thirty minutes cool-off, he was fine. I….was not. Turned out he was trying to get me to yell, because if I cared enough to yell about it he should listen. Also related was that the only pain I had that was real pain was bad enough to make me cry. Not much makes me cry.
            Yes, we are now divorced.

            1. Momma Bear*

              Even had you not had that family of origin, his behavior sounds horrible and abusive. I’m sorry you had to go through that.

            2. Confused Anon*

              I’m so sorry that you went through that with your husband. Thank you for sharing your story.

              Growing up my parents never yelled at my sister and I in front of others-they would wait until we were at home in private. Also, when we were in trouble, they would just have to give us “the look” and we knew were in trouble. If they had to yell at us, it was really bad. They were also from another country, so I’m sure that plays a part too.

            3. allathian*

              I’m sorry you had to go through that, and a double whammy at that. First growing up in a family where you couldn’t show half your emotional range, and then marrying a guy who ended up abusing you because the way you learned to deal with the abuse from your family of origin made you unable to cope with him. Some people absolutely thrive in an environment where everyone shouts, I hope your ex can find someone who was raised in a similar environment and who thrived in it, because many people who were raised in a family where everyone shouts would rather live in a quieter environment. I also hope that you can find or have found someone who’s more understanding of your needs.

      2. Joan Rivers*

        I once peeked at a job interviewer’s notes when she left the room.
        She wrote “controlled” and that came as a surprise because I’m pretty expressive. We don’t know how others see us or what they’re trying to get from us.
        I thought SHE was “controlled.”

  5. Rayray*

    I’m wondering if anyone has been able to successfully ask for and receive more flexibility in working hours. My workplace is already pretty flexible, you can work basically any 8 hour shift you want, whether it be 5:00 AM – 1:30 PM (yes, some people do that) or 8:30 – 5:00 etc. Unfortunately our jobs don’t allow for work from home (simply because we handle many sensitive documents and can’t just take them home).

    One thing many of us want is an option do either work 4 10s or even Just longer days with one half day. This isn’t really allowed but I can’t really see why. They are very accommodating if you have appointments or things to do, but it’s not really acceptable to do it as your regular schedules. Most of our work is done independently, and we don’t really have many meetings (even if we did, they could just schedule them early or on any day M-Th anyway).

    Any ideas how we could approach management and ask for this? I was thinking how it could be a nice perk since we don’t get the option to work from home. It would also be nice because it doesn’t make much of a difference how we fill our 40 hours so long as we get the job done and we have been told by management many times that we are the best team they’ve ever had in this department. Apparently we have less people doing more work than before.

    Just looking for advice, appreciate any help!

    1. Snuffleupagus*

      Come prepared with how this would work when same day requests come up. I work somewhere that is exactly this (6-2pm person checking in, love my afternoons!) that shot down 4-10s before I joined. Same day requests come up very rarely here, but upper admin puts a high value on having the *option* to contact us immediately each business day even if they don’t use it. Interruption to core hours (outside of using our PTO benefits, of course) is not tolerated. Staggered consistent schedules might work for you (you always work M-Th, Joe always works T-F, so they always have someone who can answer the question on site every day) – it didn’t work for the people who tried it here because there are there are too many lower level employees for upper admin to want to remember schedules like that, but it might work for you!

    2. WellRed*

      Have a plan and make sure this doesn’t mean everyone is off in Fridays or whatever. Also I know you work independently, but also decide how you can assure that there will be no gaps if applicable. We have one team member who doesn’t work Fridays, which I totally support but it’s ocassionally frustrating to realize I’ll have to wait til Monday for something I need to finish my piece.

    3. Mirve*

      Are you exempt or non-exempt? If non-exempt, it may be overtime issues. For instance, in California, I understand that any hours over 8 in a day are treated as overtime even if the total for the week is 40.

    4. Red5*

      Some states’ labor laws require OT to be paid after 8 hours in a day, not 40 in a week. Could this be the case where you are?

      1. Rayray*

        I’m in Utah and as far as I know, overtime is calculated once you go over 40 hours for the week.

        I totally understand peoples points about availability, but one idea that I would actually kinda prefer and I think would be easier to get is simply proposing working longer four days of the week so you can have one short day. We’d still come in each day. It you could work a shorter shift and be out the door after 4-5 hours.

        1. ThatGirl*

          A lot of companies do that sort of thing for Summer Fridays – work a little longer each day for a half-day on Friday – and my last company extended it through the end of the year as a “goodwill” gesture due to covid. Maybe you could propose it as a trial for 3 months or something?

        2. SentientAmoeba*

          At work we have what’s know as a 549. M-T are 9 hour days. 1st Friday is 8 hours, 2 Friday everyone is off.

          Another way is to get feedback from everyone who want’s the flexibility and present it as a group with built in solutions for coverage etc. I’m willing to bet that consistency will be your linch pin i.e. You work Tue-Fri each week rather than changing around your day off.

          1. Person from the Resume*

            I do this too, but we don’t all get the same days off but I think this is generally illegal for non-exempt employees except for the federal govt (which exempts itself from the law) as overtime is usually required to be calculated on a weekly basis of some sort so you end up with one week of 44 hours (4 hours OT) and one week of 36 hours every single time. You can’t not pay that 4 hours as OT because you’re calculating an 80 hour/2 week pay period.

            1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

              My workplace does this schedule as well, we are a branch of local government in CA. We call it ‘9-80″. My brain is exploding at “549”!

    5. MMMMmmmmmmmMMM*

      I think they might be worried everyone might take the same day off? So if you go in saying you’d do 4-10s M-Th and Janet would do T-F, that might help?

      1. Ashley*

        or alternating Friday’s off? Sometimes the other issue can be tracking people or if there is a Friday afternoon emergency project and so be prepared on how to have that discussion. There are bonus points if you office has an odd payroll schedule where working the weekend doesn’t necessarily mean overtime because sometimes for emergencies that is worth normally working 4 10’s.

    6. Cascadia*

      I don’t have any specific experience requesting this, but I feel like Allison’s advice is always to propose a trial run for a limited time – maybe a month or two months? – and then allow management to reassess after that time period.

      1. Rayray*

        This is a good idea. Another commenter suggested this too so maybe I’ll bring it up.

        Summers are traditionally the busiest period for this industry so I’ll definitely try to bring it up and hopefully we can try it before summer because I know there’s no way they’d try it for the first time then, but if we can prove ourselves, hopefully we can make it stick!

    7. Twisted Lion*

      My work (Federal govt) lets people do an alternate work schedule where they get one day off per two week pay period. So my coworker works 9 hours 8 days a week and one 8 hour shift on one day. You might get a little further with that than the 4 10s.

        1. cheapeats*

          My company does this and it’s worked well for years. We just have folks on alternate Fridays so there is always coverage.

    8. Natalie*

      It seems like the first thing to do is ask what the concerns are about 4-10s or 4-9s and a half day. Trying to guess at what their objections are so you can counter them seems rather inefficient.

    9. pyewacket*

      My manufacturing shop went to 4 10s because of how much money it would save us on electricity. I also know in the local school districts (US, East Coast) they move to 4 10s in all of their facilities for the summer. Same reason that it saves on electricity costs. Doing a cost study might help.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      It may have something to do with the building maintenance or security.
      Since management seems pretty agreeable otherwise, I suspect there is a built in limit/boundary that just cannot be flexed.
      Or it could be a concern regarding workflows, perhaps they could let a few do it, but not everyone so that is why they say no.

      I don’t know how much ground you will gain without knowing WHY they are saying no. Try to focus on finding out the reason for the objection. I think that would be your strongest inroad.

    11. Leah K.*

      This week, I had 3 days of nothing but back to back meetings for 8 hours. Straight. The remaining two days had about 6 hours of meetings each.

    12. Malarkey01*

      Not to be the voice of Debbie Downer but we’ve done a few different workload studies over the years and have consistently found across business lines, positions, and general demographics that individuals are less productive under 10/4s than they are 8/5s. There are a few theories why, but the most common is that extra 2 hours a day has people more burned out than an entire fresh day, and you have the scheduling issue where you are only available 4 of the 5 workdays.

      We’ve had to move away from it.

    13. coffeeandzoom*

      I just successfully negotiated for every other Friday schedule (if you have 40 hour workweeks then that would be called a 9/80 schedule — 9 days to do 80 hours worth of work). I work extra hours Tuesdays through Thursdays in order to have every other Friday off, and I used this article to help make my case:
      The above article mentions of pros and cons of it, so I’m actually in the midst of a 2 month trial period where I’m trying this schedule out and then my manager and I will chat toward the end of that trial period on if I can continue it going forward.
      Good luck navigating your schedule change! Flexibility makes a big difference in “work/life balance” for sure.

    14. I'm just here for the cats*

      A concern that might come up is that if everyone is working 10 hour shifts M-Th who is going to be working Friday at 2 PM? Do you work where there is an expectation that SOMEONE will be available at a certain time.

      You might need to come up with a plan such as these people will work m-th, while these other people will work t-th.

      Another consideration, would working 40 hours in 4 days somehow be against company policy or put people into overtime. Or could there be labor regulations like they would have to give you an extra 15 minute break or something? I could be wrong, but I thought I read someplace that some states have regulations that if a person works over 8 hours in a day they are considered working overtime, even if they have 40 hours in the pay period. I could totally be wrong and confusing stuff.

  6. Sunflower*

    How many hours do you spend in meetings a week? I came from 2 very non-meeting heavy jobs. I would say I probably spent 1 hour in meetings/week at first job and 3-4 hours total in meetings a week before. Now I’m averaging 3 hours a day except Fridays.

    What about you guys? And do you think you spend too much time or are you happy with it?

    1. ThatGirl*

      I went from a fairly meeting-light culture – maybe 2-3 hours a week max, including a team check-in — to my new job which is VERY meeting heavy and I seem to average 2-3 a day. Some of that is stuff that would not be a meeting if we were in an office, but even so. I don’t love it, but there are a lot of projects and I’m still learning a lot of things, so I don’t really have standing to push back on most of them.

    2. whocanpickone*

      My last 2 jobs have been extremely meeting heavy – averaging about half of any given week spent in meetings. It is way too much.

      I think 2 hrs/day would be fine, or like one day each week that is mostly meetings and another day completely free.

    3. londonedit*

      My current job is very light on meetings. I have a weekly catch-up meeting with my boss, and a fortnightly catch-up with another department I work closely with, but those are my only regular meetings. Sometimes I need to dial in to other meetings but it’s not every week.

      I’m really happy with it because I can’t do my job if my day is too disrupted – I need stretches of time and space to do things like checking proof corrections.

    4. Spearmint*

      3-5 hours a week is pretty typical for me, and I think that’s fine, though it would be even less time if the meetings were run more efficiently and I had more latitude to skip meetings that aren’t super relevant to me. But I’m entry level, and it seems like more senior people in my field (government) spend more time in meetings.

    5. Two Dog Night*

      Probably 4-6 hours a week, and I’m fine with that–pretty much all the meetings are necessary and productive.

      If you’re not a manager, 3 hours a day seems excessive. Are you getting something out of all of them?

    6. Amber Rose*

      Half an hour on Mondays, 1-2 hours on Wednesdays, and then as needed, usually in short little bursts here and there. We have a lot of meetings going on, but I’m not in all the groups that meet so I think some of the others have a lot more than I do. I know that each group has a weekly meeting on different days of the week, so someone in a lot of groups would probably end up in a couple of hours of meetings every day.

    7. Tired*

      35-40 meetings per week, it comes out to about 6-7 hours per day. I know there was a week in the fall where I had 60+ in a week. I work in project management and design and with the current WFH environment we’re extremely meeting heavy. Pre Covid it was probably 3-5 per day. It’s awful. We all know it is. I work 10-11 hour days so I can get non meeting work done. But it won’t change anytime soon.

      1. Bostonian*

        I feel you on this. I work in a similar culture. Luckily my role doesn’t have a lot of meetings (about 10 hours/week), but I know people who have back-to-back meetings 6-8 hours a day. This is the company’s way of showing that we’re “collaborative”. Oh, they’ll say we should try to reduce meeting burden, but there’s little follow-through. We all also do our “actual” work outside of working hours to get it done.

      2. stephistication1*

        Same here. I’m in meetings from 8am – 3 or 4 everyday. I have to intentionally block out time on my calendar to breath or prepare for upcoming meetings. Then I’m up all night working on the things we talked about. Only saving grace is my compensation, lovely colleagues, visible work and an awesome manager.

      3. A tester, not a developer*

        Yep – I’m doing project work, and the meeting load is very similar. WFH was actually reduced it a bit for us – now a meeting can ping me if an issue comes up they need me for, instead of me having to attend the in person daily/weekly touchpoint ‘just in case’.

        If it was a short term thing we could live with it – but we’re 3 years into an 8 year project, and it’s steadily getting worse. Sadly, at my organization the sponsors won’t consider it a problem until we have some sort of catastrophic (read: expensive) error.

    8. Paris Geller*

      I don’t spend much time in meetings each week–some weeks it’s 0, some it’s maybe 1 or two. But I am on a lot of teams that have monthly meetings. So on average I spent maybe an hour or two a week in a meeting, but in reality I spend 0 hours in meetings two weeks out of the month and then a half day and almost full day in a meeting twice a month.

    9. Project Manager here*

      **Laughs in Project Management**

      On most days, I have 5-7 hours of meetings, and I basically never have less than 3. We are currently 100% remote, so everything that requires actual conversation ends up being a meeting.

        1. Quaremie*

          Same. I am also exhausted (I’m not a PM but work closely with them). It’s rare to have a day with less than 4 h of meetings, typically more like 6 (and sometimes 8!) My actual work gets done by multitasking and not being engaged in my meetings, and then working late and weekends for work requiring focus. I took a PTO yesterday and still had to join 7 calls. OK vent over.

          1. Formerly in HR*

            +1. It was slow for a while, for it creeped up badly eonce WFH was more established. Like it was not enough to have days with 3-5 hours of meetings, this (calendar) year brought two more variations: meetings scheduled over lunch hour (as the only time when people do not have conflicts – duh, that’s for a reason) and back-to-back meetings from 10 to 4 or so, including lunch hour. While our type lf work sometimes caused lomg, unwanted medtings when we were in the office, WFH erased all boundaries. Everything is a meeting, people ping constantly on the many office communicator tools, at least the phone is not ringing too often. I half listen in many meetings I should have not been invited to or do not get listened to even if I have things to share, but there are days when I do not manage to do any work otehr than dial in and switch between meeting codes.

      1. Person from the Resume*


        My new project has been meeting light so 10 hours per week. My old one had lots of meetings so it was more like 20+ hours per week.

        To be fair project management involves lots of coordinating which often gets done in meetings.

        But also when the team is or some members of the team are overwhelmed by too much work that may be the only way to get their attention or decision.

    10. FoolishFox*

      for the last few months, one meeting a month. prior to us joining a bigger firm, none in 18 months. And yes, that includes not one meeting with my boss in over a year. no check-ins to see how a new employee was adapting, no feedback or reviews, nothing. Yeah, he’s an awful boss.

    11. saffie_girl*

      Mine can vary widely throughout the month because there are about 20 hrs worth of additional meetings in the first week, but otherwise it is about 5-8 hrs a week. I have found that this is far easier to handle with Teams/Zoom as I can look items up as we are talking about them, we can share screens easily and everyone can keep their own notes in their preferred format.

      I’m ok with this amount of time as long as they are productive, and with the disparate location technology, they are. If they were all in person, sitting around a conference table, a lot remains unresolved and I don’t find it a good use of time.

    12. Rainy*

      My meeting schedule is thus:
      Weekly standing meetings: 4hrs
      Every 3 weeks standing meetings: .5hrs
      Monthly standing meetings: 2hrs
      Incidental meetings: probably a total of 2-3 hours over the course of a month

      Those are just meeting-meetings. Part of my work is seeing appointments, and that’s another 12-15 hours of my week, but I don’t think of those as meetings per se. I will say that many of my organizational partners are as eager as I am to keep meetings down, so there are a lot of things that used to be meetings when we were in person and are now emails, for which I thank the gods every day on my knees.

      I’m not at the lowest rung in my office–people at lower rungs have fewer meetings–and the next step up from me is group manager, and the meeting time jumps to something like 3-4hrs/day.

    13. e*

      This is super job-dependent. I worked in a relatively meeting heavy role and culture and had generally 15-20 hours of meetings a week. Now I’m in a pretty interaction-lite role and a culture more interested in asynchronous communication -> 3 hours of meetings a week.

    14. Hillary*

      I spend anywhere from 10 to 40 hours a week in meetings, on average probably 20-25. I’m happy with it – my job is about relationships and influence. The meetings are how I stay on track with my stakeholders and partners.

      It can be exhausting when I have seven or eight meetings a day, especially if it’s back to back meetings with extremely different tones. If I see a day filling up I block an hour for lunch so I have a break to reset (otherwise I just take my lunch when I feel like it).

    15. Sylvan*

      Three hours a day?! What for? A reasonable amount of meeting time is going to depend on your industry and role, but… Three hours… :/

      I’m a copywriter and I spend less than an hour a week in meetings during most weeks. I have about one week a month where meeting time adds up to one or two hours. Our managers avoid unnecessary meetings and keep the necessary meetings brief.

      1. Sylvan*

        After reading the thread, I see many people spend much more time in meetings than I would’ve expected! Don’t know how you do it, guys.

        1. TechWorker*

          Mine varies but I do have days where it’s more than half in meetings. I’m pretty sure my managers job is mostly being in meetings…

      2. ThatGirl*

        I’m a copywriter too, but we have a lot of project-related meetings (kickoffs, updates, discussions), biweekly department meetings, monthly division meetings, etc. This company is very collaborative, which has its upsides and downsides…

      3. Malarkey01*

        I think a lot of that has to do with what work you accomplish in meetings. I’m someone with 6-8 hours a day in meetings typically but that’s where all the decisions are being made, collaborative design is happening, and documentation is done. So yes it seems like a lot, but I accomplish 90% of my job during those meetings. With another 1 or so a day doing the management documentation stuff, personal administrative stuff, and planning.

        That’s really different from team information meetings where you are talked at for an hour and leave thinking that could have been an email.

    16. 867-5309*

      About half of my day+ is spent in meetings… At a past job, I averaged 8-10 hours of meetings each day due to double and triple booking. The more senior you are, the more your day is filled with meetings.

      I actually find myself less productive on days without meetings because there isn’t the urgency to get things done in a shortened time period. I find myself loafing more, especially working from home.

    17. Donkey Hotey*

      For better or worse, my current job was 1/2 hour a week before the pandemic. Compared to my previous job (3-4 hours/week), I feel like a mushroom.

    18. JustaTech*

      I’ve got up to 2 hours a week of weekly meetings (both on Monday, and usually they’re not the whole time), and then one hour-long bi-weekly meeting, and then 4-5 hour-long monthly meetings.
      I rarely go a whole week with no meetings, but I usually have 2-3 days a week with no meetings.
      I’m a data and report generating technical person.

      My spouse, who is a low-to-mid level manager has at least 3 hours of meetings every day, and some days has meetings booked straight through 9-6, where I have to slip them a plate of lunch or they wouldn’t get to eat. Their meeting schedule has gotten much, much heavier as a consequence of work-from-home because they can’t just stop by someone’s desk.

    19. mreasy*

      Lol at least 4 hours a day, sometimes more. I’ve had 3 hours of meetings already today and it’s noon!

    20. Kara S*

      I am in a meeting-heavy industry and my current job (>1 hour per day) is the least amount of meetings I’ve ever had. My past job could be 8 hours a day of meetings. I felt maybe 2 hours of that each day was needed.

    21. Erika22*

      I started my current role at the beginning Of lockdown so it’s tough to say what it would have been like before, but my lightest meeting days are 1-2 hours of meetings (Monday and Friday) and the others are anywhere from 3-6 hours of meetings depending on the day. I have several projects going, each with a different team across at least two time zones, so even just one or two meetings per project per week, plus team meetings, adds up. My previous role was maybe 3 hours of meetings a week, but it was also 100% in office, no remote colleagues at all. I’ve taken to blocking out one full hour at lunch to ensure I have time to eat and do something productive, and sometimes also block out sporadic 30 min-1 hour chunks of “focus time” just to do things!

    22. Middle Manager*

      50% of my time, minimum, is in meetings. One bad days/weeks, it’s more like 80% of my scheduled hours. Which means I have to work unpaid overtime (I’m, correctly, a salaried management level employee) to do the actual work. It’s not great and only gets worse as you go up the chain. Those at the director level and above are lucky if they are only booked at 100% meetings, the are often double and triple booked for meetings in the same time slot.

      It’s not great. It’s leading to significant overwork and then burnout. Don’t recommend. Wish I knew better ways to push back on the culture.

    23. Alex*

      My meetings have ballooned over the past few years. I used to only have one meeting every two weeks, plus a meeting once a quarter.

      Now? So many a week. It varies, but there are days when I’ll have 4 meetings.

      The frustrating part is 99% of these meetings are useless. We have a lot of “meetings about meetings”. Ugh. In my opinion mostly people schedule a meeting when they don’t actually want to deal with something.

    24. comityoferrors*

      I have 4-10 hours of meetings scheduled every week, and by the nature of my role I also field a lot of ad hoc questions so I usually have ~5 hours of “off-the-books” meetings every week as well. This has increased dramatically as I’m training a new staff member (understandably) to the point that I’m probably pushing 20-25 hours of meetings/non-independent-work-time every week.

      It’s a lot! I’m not unhappy with it, but I’ve definitely shifted my priorities as a result to make sure I’m accomplishing all the non-meeting stuff I need to do and rescheduling the things that can wait.

      I also find myself really emotionally drained at the end of days with 3-4+ hours of meetings, even if I’m not leading or contributing much at all. I don’t know how y’all manage – I admire you!

    25. Sleepy*

      I can easily get up to 5-6 hours of meetings at least 2 days per week. It is hell and makes me rethink my job, which I usually like.

    26. Ciela*

      I can’t even imagine that much meeting time. We used to have a 30-45 minute meeting every Monday. We all hated it. It was just a waste of time. Now we only have very short meetings, more like announcements. Changes to the insurance plan / hirings and leavings / schedule changes, etc. Maybe 30 minutes a month?

    27. Oxford Comma*

      Pre pandemic, it was about 3 hours a week. Now? Now I’m at about 3-4 hours a day and my soul is dying.

    28. Bored IT Guy*

      I think I have 8-10 regular meetings a week on my calendar (some are only every other week). Usually takes about 10 hours for my regularly scheduled meetings.

    29. KR*

      I spend about 4-6 hours a week on meetings and I think it’s way too much, but I’m also an individual contributor and not a manager so I don’t have a lot to say. So many of these meetings are things I just have to listen to and be aware of and could have been an email.

      1. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

        +1000! I’m a low tier manager and I spend so much time in meetings where the only thing I say is “AAL from Organization X” during the roll call.

    30. Comp Expert*

      This past week I had meetings every single day, back to back, from 8:30am to 5:30pm (and a couple of days they ran long and finished at 6:30pm). Next week is the same. It is insane and also the nature of my job.


      I’m a court reporter working in depositions, which are basically meetings in a sense. So my typical workday is a 4 to 8 hour long meeting. I only do three or four days a week because outside of the time I’m on the record, I have to produce the transcripts, which takes equal time or more (a transcript for a full-day deposition might take me another 8 or more hours to finalize.) The thing I find most difficult in our new remote world is my on-camera presence… in person, I would be at the head of the conference table and largely “invisible” to the participants talking to each other across the table. But with virtual, I’m just as visible as everyone else in our little boxes, and I struggle to keep my face in pleasant repose while I’m concentrating intensely and working furiously with my fingers!

    32. allathian*

      Most weeks I have one mandatory meeting, usually either 45 minutes or 90 minutes on alternate weeks. We also have an optional coffee half-hour on Friday afternoons, but they haven’t been very well-attended lately. Zoom/Teams/Skype fatigue is a thing and most of the people in my team sit in a lot more meetings than I do. We also have informational meetings for the whole department, where I’m not expected to contribute, once a month. Those usually last 90 minutes as well.

      So even when my ordinary meetings max out, I’m attending them for 3.5 hours/week at most, so less than 10 percent of my workweek.

      I’m very happy with this, because my job doesn’t require a lot of synchronous collaboration, where meetings are necessary.

    33. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      Pre-COVID, I would say I would have about 4 hours of meetings a day; for some reason Thursday’s are exceptionally heavy, so Thursdays are almost all day. During COVID, like some have said, it’s basically non-stop meetings. But some of it for me, is people being a little bit more considerate of each other’s time and trying to schedule a meeting for a conversation that would take more than 5 minutes. I kind of like it because that way can say ‘hey, I walk the dog from 4-5pm, but I can take the call before 4 or after 5.’ But I do hate that now there is non-stop meetings I have much less time to get my independent work done and its beginning to really stress me out that my individual project aren’t going as well as I like.

  7. MOOC on Resume*

    How should I include my MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on my resume?

    I’m halfway through a Udacity Digital Marketing Nanodegree paid for by my county government as part of a Digital Career Transformation effort. As such, I’m updating my resume and wondering where to include it.

    Should it be under education, certifications or somewhere else? Also, should I mention the Digital Career Transformation program on my cover letter? I earned a scholarship to attend the program.

    Thanks for your help!

    1. Reba*

      Yes to the letter, and I might put the course under Certifications or Continuing Education if that is a thing in your field. I might also just call it a course or training rather than a MOOC.

        1. MOOC on Resume*

          Sorry, I’m confused. I didn’t intend to add a MOOC section to my resume. Udacity and similar programs are considered MOOCs because they are for-profit, not accredited and accessible to people across the globe.

          The sections where I could include it are education or certification. I don’t even have room on my resume for an entirely new section, especially not for a three-month online class.

          1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

            No, I meant don’t even label it as a MOOC like “Completed a MOOC”, just use the course name.

          2. Reba*

            Yeah, we know! Sorry. I think both Teekanne and I are saying to use the heading “Certifications” and to call it
            “Digital Marketing Nanodegree, 3 month course — Udacity”

            while avoiding having the term “MOOC” itself appear on the resume. It’s jargon, so some people won’t know what it is, and some people who do know what it means will have some prejudice that it is unserious.

            1. MOOC on Resume*

              Thanks for responding, but I’m still unclear where I stated that I would be calling the Udacity Nanodegree a MOOC on my resume.

              In fact, I went back and reviewed my initial comment. The exact question I asked was “Should it be under education, certifications or somewhere else?”

              I am also going to note that I used the term MOOC as a catch-all in the title because the Nanodegree is NOT a standard degree.

              With this comment, I hope the confusion has been alleviated. Please let me know. Thanks!

              1. Cassidy*

                I interpreted the responses to your initial comment as 1-offs about MOOCs, i.e. “Also, in case you were thinking of doing so, don’t refer to the course as a MOOC.”

                1. Reba*

                  Exactly! It was an “in case you are thinking about” kind of advice. Since OP asked about a MOOC, it’s not unreasonable to suppose that you might use the term “MOOC” to talk about it in other contexts. :)

    2. Foxgloves*

      I work in the field of MOOCs/ SPOCs/ MicroMasters/ etc, and MOOCs and Nanodegrees are two really different things. Don’t list this as a MOOC! I’d put this under “Continuing Professional Development” personally along with other significant learning programmes/ certifications (e.g. PRINCE2, etc), and I’d write it as:
      Digital Marketing Nanodegree – Udacity (3 months, ongoing)
      Digital Marketing Nanodegree- Udacity (June-August 2020)

      If it *was* a MOOC, I wouldn’t put it on there at all- even as someone who works in the field, they don’t carry enough weight. These longer form programmes do though! And yes, definitely mention the Digital Career Transformation programme in your cover letter!

      1. MOOC on Resume*

        I found that many websites consider Udacity’s Nanodegrees to be MOOCs. Among the sites that list that do are:,,,,, among others. These sites all rank highly on Google and have detailed reviews of Udacity and other MOOCs. I accept their assessments, especially when taken in aggregate.

        Besides, my question wasn’t about semantics. It concerned where to add the course to my resume, which you answered. Thank you for doing so.

    3. Katrinka*

      I’m currently doing this through Coursera. I list it under Education and as a certification rather than a degree. FOR the one I’ve completed, I list it like this:
      MAY 2020
      * Online training course (through Coursera)
      * Scored 99.1%

      For the one I’m working on:
      Currently Enrolled
      * Online training classes (through Coursera)
      * Anticipate completing before mid-March 2021
      * Course listing, syllabi and progress available upon request
      Listing them also helps to answer the question of what I’ve been doing while I’m out of work.

      If it’s an application and they have a section for certificates, it often doesn’t work to list them there because the section asks for certificate expiration dates and there aren’t any (and the online applications don’t let you skip fields).

      1. MOOC on Resume*

        Thank you for the detailed and helpful response!

        I will look into formatting my resume addition in a similar way.

        Lastly, congrats on your ongoing education through Coursera! Balancing work/life/pandemic stress and everything else while continuing to learn is truly impressive.

    4. coldfeet*

      I’ve now started two jobs remotely this last year. I think it’s helpful to ask people in your introductory meetings how best they like to communicate (phone, email, IM, whatever) and their working hours if that’s not clear. Then use that info and customize your approach to each person.

      I found with my first job that onboarding remotely meant that I was missing all of that more casual kitchen/hallway/lunch conversations when you can learn a little more about each person as a human being. I’m pretty introverted and tend to not make a lot of small talk in Zoom meetings, so I ended up not really knowing much about my coworkers and them not knowing much about me. So with my latest new job, I made an effort in the intro meetings, once we’d talked about the work stuff we needed to cover, I volunteered personal info about me (where I live, my family, how I spend my time these days, etc) and asked them if they were willing to share some more information about themselves since it’s hard to get to know folks over Zoom. Everyone was really receptive! And when I did this in my first meeting with my small team (4 of us), they all learned lots of new things about each other too!

  8. No Tribble At All*

    I’m starting my new job next week! It’ll be remote until Covid gets better. So, what tips do y’all have for starting remotely? I tend to be a fairly chatty person, so I want to make sure I’m not bugging people by IMing them.

    1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

      Ask your manager or trainer if there are any existing Zoom socializing events like a Zoom happy hour or something. Being able to introduce yourself and integrate to your team is important. Feel free to ask your co-workers questions about the job/culture/themselves and add the caveat that they can respond whenever is convenient. :) Congrats!

    2. Bostonian*

      I think it’s understood that the first few weeks for a new hire will include introductions, etc., so people won’t be “bugged” by being Im’d. You will be able to get a sense in your initial conversations who you gel with/who also enjoys chatting, so you can be more focused going forward.

    3. Qwerty*

      Please IM them! I think one of the hardest things about starting remote is feeling like you are bugging people when asking for help.

      – If you have a lot of questions, ask if it would be easier to have a call to go through them
      – Distinguish important chats using notifications (like tagging their username on Slack). Leave it off for less urgent messages so you don’t break their workflow. To me, the only time I feel like I’m really being bugged is when someone uses the notifications too frequently, because it makes the app flash and demand my attention.
      – Try to schedule an informal 15min getting-to-know-you call with the people that you’ll be working closely with. Knowing each other as people will make the IM conversations feel more natural
      – Do you have people in your personal life for fulfilling the social part of the chattiness? My work from home days usually involve a call to a family member or texting a lot with a friend so I have an outlet for how lonely remote work can be.

      1. Cascadia*

        I agree with this. My husband was just telling me that they are seeing a real work decline with some new hires over the past year, and they think it’s because they’ve lost the inability to just “pop down the hall and ask a question” of a more senior person. We were brainstorming ways to make IMs and question asking happen more so that the new hires are more supported and feel comfortable getting help when needed.

    4. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      We’ve had a few people join the team remotely, and it’s been harder for me because you just get wrapped up in work and meetings that you kind of forget to check in where you would see them every day at work and remember to check in.

      -I would ask how people like your manager prefer to be contacted. Using their preferred method always sets you up for success.
      -Be ready to just be given a lot of reading, take notes, and then ask to set up a meeting with a subject matter expert when they have open time.
      -Expect that there is going to be some heavy lifting on your side. I’m trying to get better, but again, it is so easy to get distracted by work and by the time I remember that I need to check-in with people it’s pretty much Friday. I would recommend sending an email with some questions or notes to check in with whomever you go to for training/work with, that way they can better help you. It’s harder now to gauge what you know and what you need help with. Plus it will help them plan how much time to block off in their schedules.
      -Let people know what is priority and what can wait until they have open time.
      -Understand that some organizations are just within the past year adding people to the team virtually, so it’s been challenging for us too. So basically, it’s not you, it’s us.

  9. Awkward*

    One of my employees may be getting fired next week after a pre-set length of time guided by state rules for them to present evidence to our director. It’s awkward to work together and discuss future projects knowing he may not be around for them. He knows it. I know it. And we don’t talk about it.

    1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

      So, did he not defend himself or appeal to the director at all? Maybe he’s just resigned to his fate. How deliciously awkward.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      The best you can do here is be a decent human being and carry on. Sometimes that is as good as good gets.
      Sorry, I know this sucks. Hopefully the situation will not be in limbo for long.

  10. It's All Elementary*

    I have hearing loss and use hearing aids. I will be getting new HA’s that are Bluetooth compatible. I would like to request phone accommodations from my employer but wonder if anyone has successfully advocated for themselves and can give me some pointers. How do I word the accommodation? And does anyone have recommendations for specific brand attachments to a business landline phone. Thanks

    1. Just a PM*

      Yes! I did this! Be as specific as you can when making your request. I had to intimidate my chain of command with data so they could fully understand and grasp what the problem was. Don’t hesitate to ask your audiologist or doctor for help on how to phrase things. I found that I have to educate people about my hearing loss and assistive listening technologies while asking for the accommodation.

      Here is what I wrote in my accommodation request (yes, I kept it):
      “I have severe bilateral sensorineural hearing loss. I augment my hearing loss through the use of personal hearing aids and lip-reading to obtain a level of cognitive understanding and comprehension of approximately 85-90%; however, without any visual cues (e.g., voice-only conversations via phone call), my understanding and comprehension of the information being discussed drops to approximately 16-20%. A significant issue with relying on voice-only conversations via phone is that I am unable to increase the volume on my landline phone to a loud enough point that I can fully hear, without the use of a speaker or someone sitting next to me to relay what was said, and comprehend what is being said and often there is electromagnetic interference between my hearing aid and the phone. With bluetooth-enabled hearing aids, it is now fully possible for me to stream audio directly into my hearing aids, which not only eliminates electromagnetic interference, but also provides a full ‘surround-sound’ listening experience into both ears. This increases my ability to hear and understand what is being said over the phone by at least 50-60%, almost the equivalent of an in-person face-to-face conversation, and negates the need for a speaker or a ‘translator’.”

      I can’t give you any recommendations for rand attachments to a landline, though. I used my political capital to get a company iPhone and set up call-forwarding to the iPhone from my desk landline. Would that be an option for you? If not, hopefully the other commentators have recommendations for you or maybe check with your audiologist.

      Good luck!

      1. It's All Elementary*

        Ooh! I like what you’ve done. And I’m certainly glad you kept it and was willing to share with me. I know that I’m going to have to actively advocate for myself because I don’t know that there is anyone else in my situation and it will be totally new for them to deal with. I think I will give them a couple of options and the iphone might be an option. Could be relatively cheap and easy to set up and manage.
        Thank you so much!

    2. Quaremie*

      My husband uses hearing aids and he has a phone that translates the words to text. I am not sure of the brand name but will ask him and respond back.

      1. It's All Elementary*

        I’m hoping I can get some Bluetooth capability. It would make the job much easier if I can just hear people as they talk. Cross your fingers for me!

    3. Hillary*

      Is your work phone a true landline or VOIP? If it’s VOIP your IT department may already have a solution – the phones at my last company could be paired with a variety of headsets and would probably work with your hearing aids out of the box. I only found out because the IT department was two guys and they were helpful finding equipment we found comfortable to use.

      1. It's All Elementary*

        It could very well be VOIP so I will make sure I have that option as a choice in my accommodation request.

        1. Hillary*

          Do they already know about your hearing loss? And do you have anyone in IT you know/trust? You might be able to sound out IT informally before you submit the request. Good luck! Just in case reassurance will help, this would be a very small ask at my current and last two employers.

          1. It's All Elementary*

            My immediate co-workers/boss know but beyond that, no. I’ve been able to avoid the phones for the most part but I’m having to answer them more and the hearing is getting worse so now I need to step it up and work out a solution.

    4. Sam*

      If it’s necessary, you might be able to forward the landline calls to your cellphone as a stopgap measure.

    5. Annika Hansen*

      Our university uses Cisco Phones. If your company uses Cisco, the 8851 phone model can connect to Bluetooth hearing aids (no additional equipment needed). It’s a pretty common phone for business.

    6. OneTwoThree*

      I used to sell phone systems – this is very easy to do with newer phones! There are several manufacturers that sell Bluetooth enabled phones out of the box. Some phones can be retrofitted with a module on the back to make it Bluetooth capable.

      I know someone mentioned Cisco Phones. Mitel and Polycom phones also have these capabilities that I know of. Someone also mentioned VOIP phones. I would even generalize a bit more saying they only need to be IP phones.

      There are also certain phones that have special handsets that will work better with hearing aids. I’m not sure of the logistics, but it helps prevent feedback and whatnot. I would only say that is applicable if you can’t get the Bluetooth working.

      1. It's All Elementary*

        I have not been successful in using handsets that are capable of working with hearing aids. I have been doing better by just taking out my hearing aid and listening at full volume but that sometimes brings distortion to the sound which defeats the purpose. Some voices are easier to hear than others and some have crappy phone systems that transmit poor quality and then there are the people who just don’t talk clearly at all. I will review all your suggestions though and see what I can work with. Thank you.

  11. What are jobs?*

    Why do so few online job descriptions actually describe jobs?

    I choose my career path as a teenager and I didn’t have a whole lot of information at the time about what other jobs existed or what people who had those jobs did. My industry has changed dramatically in the last 20 years in an attempt to “stay relevant” and as a result, it’s not a career path I’m interested in any longer.

    But I’ve been scrolling through LinkedIn and Indeed for the last couple of weeks, and almost every job posting is a vague sounding title with a description like “come work with this vibrant and dynamic company!” And I just want to know what the person who has this job will be doing all day.

    Is there any sort of resource for this? Like a list somewhere online of common job titles and what people in those jobs do? I’m desperate to leave my job, but I don’t want to spend forever applying to jobs when I don’t even know if I want them because I don’t know what they are.

    1. Picard*

      Maybe tell us a little bit about what you like to do and folks can respond with the jobs they do that match?

    2. HR Exec Popping In*

      The reason job posting are written like that is because they are advertisements, not actual job descriptions. They are written to attract qualified candidates.

      If you are interested in moving into a specific industry or role, you may want to network and talk to people in those types of jobs to learn what exactly the work is like.

    3. Esmeralda*

      onetonline DOT org
      breaks down tasks, skills, work activities, tech skills, work styles etc etc.
      Doesn’t have every job, but an awful lot of them. Easy to use.
      If you’re in the US: your tax dollars at work!

    4. Boundaries*

      Those kinds of resources do exist. Though where they are would probably vary by industry.

      I’d throw a title and an industry into Google and see what pops up. Or if you can be more specific about the industry, maybe people can point you to a specific website.

    5. Overeducated*

      This is a really good question and one where I think informational interviews are WAY more useful than what you can find online.

      For example, let’s take a job title that isn’t mine, but is related enough that I can use as an example. Say you want to be an ecologist. If you Google “what does an ecologist do on a day-to-day basis,” you’ll see, “Ecologists may do fieldwork to collect and analyze data on environmental conditions, or to assess or certify a habitat. They use the information they gather to plan habitat management or environmental restoration projects, including procedures, resources, schedules, and budgets.”

      This is kind of accurate but doesn’t really address the range of variation and how that impacts your work life and conditions, and may be a little misleading for people who are interested in the career because they get to spend lots of time outside. For instance, if you’re an academic ecologist, you are likely to spend a small portion of the year in the field and conducting analysis, and larger portions teaching intro biology/ecology/geosciences classes, writing grant applications, and trying to publish your findings. If you work for an environmental resource management company, you may spend a larger portion of the year in the field, OR you may be mostly supervising employees, doing project management, putting in proposals to bring in business, or doing paperwork for regulatory compliance. If you work for a public agency, you may be spending a LOT of time on regulatory compliance paperwork, coordinating with other divisions for planning management, restoration, or construction activities, etc., and you may spend very little time in the field, depending on where you sit. Or you could even wind up in a funding agency where you spend a lot of your time running grant competitions for OTHER people to do ecological research or restoration, and you’ll be 100% in front of a computer.

      So it’s not just the job title, but the setting. And this is where talking to people in the field is key, to get an idea about not just what you want to do, but where you want to do it.

      1. Usagi*

        Absolutely this! You can some very general information online, and the title might give you a hint as to what they do but very often companies/organizations use the same titles to mean very different things. I’m living proof of that. On my resume, I’ve been a “Llama Wrangling Specialist” three times at three different companies, but each time was a completely different job. The first time was at a Llamas R Us retail location, and my job wasn’t so much to wrangle llamas, as it was to help customers understand the different llama wrangling goods we carried. The second time was at a huge multinational corporation, and my job was now to create training content for others in my company to learn how to wrangle llamas. Finally, at my current company, I’m actually wrangling llamas.

        Anyway, (echoing Overeducated) my point is that just because the title says XYZ doesn’t mean that every company will have you doing ABC. You need to talk to someone from the company to figure out exactly what your day to day will be.

  12. ghostlight*

    Hey everyone. Just wanted to see if anyone here is also job-searching in the theatre or other arts-related/non-profit industries. It’s been frustrating given how few jobs are available and how competitive all of the available jobs are. I was a finalist for a job that had over 300 applicants (!) and that was at a tiny, local company that would be lucky to have 50 applicants in a normal year. I alsoapplied for a job at a summerstock that I got offered two years ago, and I haven’t even heard back from them. Would love some encouragement/to hear how everyone else is handling it.

    1. Not A Manager*

      My theatre/arts adult child was fortunate to get a job in an unrelated field but utilizing his professional skills and hopefully continuing to grow them. (In the theatre world, he makes tea for the actors and has to keep current on theatrical teas and tea technology; he got a job watering llamas and has to learn a lot about llama beverages and llama infrastructure, but most of beverage information will help him when he moves back to theatrical tea work.) Maybe you can apply to something adjacent to your field that still utilizes your skills?

    2. A. Ham*

      It sucks. No question about it. I was furloughed from my last job in the industry and did somehow manage to get hired somewhere else but I’m still not totally sure how I pulled that off.
      Here’s the good news- but it may not be the right news that you want to hear, because it means waiting longer than you already have been – I think there are lots and lots of companies out there planning a Fall season and will be looking to rehire positions that they had to lay off last year. Or, on the production/tech side, positions that they didn’t hire for this “season” to begin with, but will be doing so again next season. On our last all staff zoom my company (medium sized LORT) they said that over the next 4ish months we will probably be hiring 40-50 people. That is a mix of admin, FOH, production, etc.
      So, finally, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
      Keep an eye out. More jobs are coming. Hang in there.

      1. ghostlight*

        Yeah I’m under that impression too about companies rehiring. And it’s definitely picked up from last year. I got a decent office job after getting laid off in March 2020 from my previous job, so I’m fine financially, but it’s so boring to me compared to my old work in theatre admin. I’m just itching to get back in theatre again.

        Thanks for your kind words,
        A. Burr

    3. GoodLuck*

      No encouragement, just commiseration. I’m a museum curator, and my field was already at the 300+ applicants per opening level before the pandemic. Jobs are as bad as I’ve seen them in 10+ years in the field. I haven’t sent a competitive application since last summer. Fortunately, I still have a couple of years left in a term-limited position. I’m hoping the field will “bounce back” (whatever that means!) by then–but that’s pretty optimistic based on what I’m hearing from current management. A lot of institutions were already in bad financial shape and a hiring freeze is the easiest way to reduce payroll. But I also have a plan B in a more employable field (grantwriting). Highly competitive fields often bring periods of unemployment, so it’s really smart to have a plan B ready even if you don’t ever need to use it. For me, I feel less stressed by my poor job prospects because I know my worst case scenario isn’t that bad.

    4. Skippy*

      Yes, that’s me too — I’ve worked in the arts and culture industry for over 15 years, and was laid off shortly before the pandemic. This is the worst job market I’ve ever seen, with 100+ applicants for even the lowest-paying part-time jobs. I’ve been a finalist for three jobs but no offers yet. However, I do think the market is getting better — I’ve seen a lot more job listings since the first of the year, as I think institutions are starting to bring back staff in anticipation of reduced restrictions in the coming months. I’m also happy to see there is money allocated for arts funding in the new Covid relief bill — hopefully that will help a bit. And the unemployment extensions and add-ons have been a lifesaver.

      Good luck!


      To commiserate, my boyfriend says he’s watched his entire industry(theatre tech) get wiped out. That you are finding jobs at is a positive note in itself.

      Theatre itself may turn more virtual in the foreseeable future (1-3 years), but eventually everyone will want to go to the theatre. if you go off and do something unrelated, those in the industry will understand and welcome you back when it is time.

      For positivity, once the $600 a week bonus (and his unemployment) ran out, he got a job in a pottery studio. He sees art every day and works with his hands. Some of his friends are taking classes for other careers such as data analytics and it is a surprise to them as well as their professors and fellow students just how good they are at it.

      As they say, this too shall end. Tie a rope on a branch in whatever industry you can find a job and hang tight.

    6. Dancing Otter*

      Networking is key.
      As you say, the advertised openings (ArtSearch, e.g.) are inundated with applicants.
      My theatre tech offspring has had several gigs since being furloughed, and all have come through referrals. The orchestra director recommends this sound designer. The sound designer recommends that sound engineer. The designer or engineer knows someone who plays X instrument when the planned X-player has to quarantine. Sometimes the referrals are even across fields, like a lighting person worked with a great costume designer in the past, and recommends them.
      I sometimes think they’re spending half their waking hours on the phone and social media, but it’s paid off. Mind, if they didn’t have a sterling reputation, no one would recommend them however much they tried: nobody needs to put up with attitude or mediocrity in such a hirers’ market.

  13. Drama Llamas*

    I was absent from work because I wasn’t feeling well. That same day I had a covid vaccine scheduled through my work place. They had already told us that you couldn’t change appointments and since I didn’t want to miss the appointment, I went to get my vaccine. (I checked with my doctor and he said that it was okay to go.)

    Since the vaccines were being given at work, I saw a couple of coworkers there and they were surprised to see me. I explained that my doctor said it was okay to receive it and that I didn’t want to miss my appointment.

    We chatted for a little, but then when I was able to leave, I said good bye and one coworker suddenly ignored me. (She turned her chair around and just spent time reading the vaccine info packet.)

    The next day at work, the same coworker was ignoring me and giving me the cold shoulder. She was leaving me out of conversations and even gave me a dirty look.

    Now I don’t know if she thought it was unusual that I was out sick, yet showed up for the vaccine, but I didn’t want to miss the vaccine and my doctor said it was okay to go.

    This coworker is known for being moody, but it’s exhausting and I don’t handle drama well- it makes me physically upset. I don’t want to ask why or if she is upset with me, but it’s confusing when one second she is talking to you and the next she isn’t.

    Any advice? Do you just ignore people like this? How do you not let it affect you?

    1. SomebodyElse*

      Ignore, and don’t give it any more headspace. She’s in a snit about something and will either get over it or not. Unless it escalates somehow or gets unprofessional it’s really something you should ignore if she has form for it.

      If you are up for it, you can challenge it, “Hey Jane, is something wrong? Do we need to clear the air about something?” Sometimes this can be effective if you want to go this route.

    2. Jean*

      Ignore it. You being bothered by her petty bitchiness is exactly what she wants, so don’t give it to her. I like to be extra cheery and friendly with people like this just to needle them, but I’m also a very spiteful person who gives as good as I get.

    3. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

      My mom had six teenagers at one time and gave us the BEST advice for drama in the workplace/school/whatever: just assume it isn’t about you. Because you’d be surprised how often it really, truly isn’t and is coming from some other source. So much of the time we spend worrying what others are thinking about us when they’re worrying the same thing and not thinking about us at all. It’s paid off loads!

    4. Sabine the Very Mean*

      I used to be an elementary school teacher working as a specialist where I pulled students out of class for individualized instruction and then sent them back. This happened until their skills improved enough.

      One student decided it must have been a huge personal slight that she was sent back to class and no longer needed to be pulled out. When I saw her in the hall, I’d say “Hi Sam!” and she’d literally push her nose up in the air and smile a sly little shitty smile and she’d turn her head away.

      Treat your coworker like you would this child. Since I was not a child, I simply chose to keep saying hello to her like I would all my other students. When I really needed her to respond, I would say, “Sam, when I’m asking you a question, I need you to answer me. There’s not an option not to.”

      I would say, do not name her feelings–those are her business. Who cares if she’s upset or why? Don’t ignore her but don’t make a show of getting her attention. Don’t react to a dirty look at all. Practice looking through her when she does that. You do not owe other adults an explanation of your adulting.

    5. Dust Bunny*

      Ignore. She’s a twit and worrying about What’s Bothering Her This Time is a waste of energy because something will always be bothering her. This is someone who is looking to be miffed about stuff.

    6. Rusty Shackelford*

      You weren’t feeling well enough to work and yet you still managed to show up for a vaccine? How dare you.

      {rolling my eyes}

      I used to have someone like this in my department (she ran hot and cold; sometimes she’d chat me up and other times she’d completely ignore me) and I took great joy in being as cheery and chipper to her as possible when she wasn’t speaking to me. “Good morning, Jane! How are YOU today?” Basically forcing her, in front of witnesses, to either speak to me or let them see she was ignoring me. But then, I’m petty.

    7. Chilipepper*

      I love Alison’s advice to watch the drama like you would a TV show or movie. Get out the mental popcorn and just watch. Combine that with Teekanne’s advice to assume it is not about you and I think it will help you remove your emotions.

      1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

        This made me laugh out loud because EVERY day we would come home from school and mom would sit in her recliner with an actual bowl of popcorn to get the latest drama, all while knowing that none of us were really suffering from any of it. “Bless her heart”, then munches a handful of popcorn. “Do you think he know’s he’s being cheated on?”, more popcorn. It was the best relationship anyone could have ever had with half a dozen teens at once.

    8. Asenath*

      Ignore her – not totally, of course. Speak to her professionally when it is necessary, but ignore the cold shoulder and the dirty looks. You can’t read her mind, it’s not your responsibility to do so, and in the unlikely event she really has some serious issue with you, it’s up to her to tell you about it, not up to you to interpret her hints. I used to be advised to “grow a thick skin”, which really comes down to not allowing other people to make their problems yours. It really helps to reduce drama. I hate drama in the workplace – it belongs on a stage.

    9. SentientAmoeba*

      Would her behavior bother you as much if you weren’t already concerned about the optics of showing up in the office on a day you called out sick?

    10. Not So NewReader*

      ” How do you not let it affect you?”

      By saying over and over, “She doesn’t sign my paycheck. She doesn’t sign my paycheck… “[on and on until it sunk into my skull.]
      Another good way to dampen her effect on you is to bury yourself in your work. Ask for a new task, or volunteer for a task no one is doing. Fill up that space in your brain so you have something else to think about.

    11. PollyQ*

      Captain Awkward has said that the silent treatment from someone can be a gift, if you let it. If she’s not talking to you, she’s also not hassling you. As long as you can both be polite & professional when working together, that’s all that’s needed. If you need a mantra, “Her behavior is not about me, it’s about her” might help.

  14. Escaped a Work Cult*

    I’m managing a creative employee who never remembers what their tasks are. They are told to complete x task, I get “ok!”, and three hours later I receive a “what was I supposed to do” message. I’m at my wits’ end as coaching conversations about keeping track of notes and takeaways have failed.

    Does anyone have a suggestion on how I should approach them?

    1. Picard*

      Email them instead of giving verbal tasks…. its obvious they dont process auditory instructions well (says the person who doesnt process auditory stuff well)

      1. Spearmint*

        Yes this. Also, if you must give tasks verbally, saying something like (“this is important, you may want to write it down”) can help too.

      2. Lana Kane*

        Agreed – I tend to follow up on these conversations with an email, and I always say “so we both remember the instructions” or “for both our reference”. (grammatically correct? dunno!)

        I was the teenager whose mom gave her 5 tasks and remembered 3 at most. I do better when I have things in writing.

      3. allathian*

        I don’t process auditory stuff well, either. I’m just glad that for as long as I’ve worked in an office environment, I’ve always had bosses who preferred to assign tasks to me in writing.

    2. Snuffleupagus*

      If verbal instructions have failed, have you tried just switching to email or print out that they can refer to later? I know the gut instinct might be “I don’t want to take that time upfront when I can just tell them” but if you’re having to repeat it later, it might save you net time in the end.

      I’m not a creative but I do work in the sorts of processes that can get me into a similar flow, and it’s super easy for someone to verbally ask me something while I’m in a flow, and for me to think I’ve absorbed it (even taking notes!) and it totally washes away by the time I finish my current process. Email requests are thankfully my work culture’s norm and I refer back to them often.

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Have a task log of some kind. If you don’t have project management software of some kind, then do it in a shared spreadsheet or document.

      Include what the task is, when you assigned it (date & time), when you need it done, when it’s actually finished.

      You enter the task in the document *before* you assign it to the person.

    4. Over There!*

      Have you considered a task management program like Trello? That way, you can make assignments as you see fit, then your employee can see every step they have to do to complete it.

    5. Tracy*

      I would give them written guidelines on the task with due dates and details about what you want done, in email form.

      Some people are just bad with verbal instructions. I am one of them and honestly I am not a flake, I have full intentions of getting the work done. There are times I get a lot of interruptions (I am the front desk person) and if I don’t get an opportunity to write things down or flush them out on paper …. there they go, with the breeze.

    6. SomebodyElse*

      Do they write things down when you give them a task? I tell all of my employees that they should get in the habit of having a way to take notes any time they meet with someone. If it’s a hallway conversation, they need to get in the habit of writing down anything as soon as they are back to their desk. (It sounds like you’ve already had this conversation so I’d move on to step #2)

      You need to manage this employee by having the conversation that it is their responsibility to capture tasks the first time. Then, (It’s not my favorite but sometimes you need to build a habit for your employees.) do they come to meetings without paper? Send them back to their desk to get some (every time), do they come to your office/desk and ask you things without paper… don’t answer any questions until they have paper and pen in hand (every time). When they ask you “What was I supposed to do?” ask them “What did you write down?” when they say “Umm I forgot to write it down” Then you draw a line “Well that’s unfortunate, because you were given a task and now you don’t know what it is. How are you going to fix this?”

      Right now, your employee has trained you to be their reminder system. I have no patience for this. So you need to train them to be responsible and reliant on themselves.

      1. Escaped a Work Cult*

        I like this method a lot! Especially when we have a task management system and I still have to repeat back.

      2. AllTheBirds*

        Everything SomebodyElse said.

        You can’t take their notes for them or compile a list, it’s not your job as a manager.

        They have to be responsible for their own work, period.

        1. allathian*

          Depends on the manager. I’ve been lucky enough to always have managers who either assigned tasks to me in writing, or else followed up with an email.

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I mean, if my manager gave me instructions and I regularly had to ask her to repeat them because I couldn’t bother to keep track of them, even after she’d talked to me about how this was a problem, I would expect that it would become a disciplinary issue and if I didn’t figure out a way to do my job (namely, do the thing my manager needs me to do without her holding my hand) then I would probably be losing said job posthaste.

      If you’re not giving the directions in a written format, you could TRY that first, but at this point, y’all both know it’s a problem, you’ve discussed that it’s a problem, and they’re not bothering to do anything to fix it. They are not doing their job.

    8. Dust Bunny*

      Email. I’m not “creative” but I’m incapable of remembering more than like three things at one time, and verbal communication never sticks. Require an email receipt if you think that will help.

      1. Productively Forgetful*

        I disagree with the suggestions to send emails or write things down for the employee. I’m incapable of remembering things myself, and for that reason when my boss asks me to stop by her desk, I always bring pen and paper. No reason for me to make my problem become my boss’ problem!

        OP, I think your approach so far is not helping. “I’ve repeated this three times, you need to have it sink in your brain” conversations are not very effective, as you’ve already noticed. You shouldn’t have to repeat your instructions even once, only answer questions if there are any.

        I like the suggestions to tell the employee to write things down so they can refer to the notes later, and also to explain that figuring out how to take care of the task without interrupting you because they forgot is part of the job. The employee has a performance problem and should be responsible to solve it him/herself. For all we know, they aren’t good with written instructions either, and would prefer to record a message to themselves when they are at their desk that they can late replay to refresh their memory. As long as they can retrieve the information required to complete the task without wasting OP’s time, the exact approach isn’t important.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, this. That said, some managers prefer to give their instructions in writing. If I got a manager who preferred assigning tasks to me verbally, I’d always send them an email to confirm that I understood them correctly. I’d also be looking for a new job because I prefer working for a manager who gives instructions in writing.

    9. BRR*

      Have you brought up the issue directly? That you’ve noticed they frequently have to circle back to you on tasks and ask what’s going on?

      1. Escaped a Work Cult*

        I should be more direct. We’ve had “I’ve repeated this three times, you need to have it sink in your brain” but I honestly think I’m missing the feedback. Why is this employee not catching

        1. Sylvan*

          Oh boy. It sounds like they’re kind of comfortable dropping the ball.

          If you think it truly is a memory issue, try giving instructions and other information in writing. I have ADHD and the working memory issues that come with it, and some solutions have been:

          – Taking notes on paper, although it sounds like your employee isn’t taking notes
          – Keeping notes in the Sticky Notes app and keeping them visible all day long
          – Using my phone or Alexa to set future reminders for myself
          – Taking photos of things (ex. non-confidential documents, locations of items I think I’ll lose)

          Also, if I feel I’ve forgotten something, I try searching my email inbox and Teams for a few relevant words or phrases. These are all things she can try — if she can remember to try them. But it’s ultimately her responsibility, not yours.

          1. Sylvan*

            By the way, when I’m suggesting giving instructions in writing, I don’t mean anything particularly formal or demanding (if you have time to try it at all). I mean if you need to ask her to do something, and you can choose to message or email her instead of asking out loud, try that.

    10. Chriama*

      Have them take notes and read their notes back to you before you leave. Also serious coaching about how this is a performance issue that could affect raises/his continued employment with you.

    11. Middle Manager*

      I use OneNote with my staff during their 1-1 meetings. Both of us can type in it while we talk adding “to-do items” based on the conversation. I prefer that the staff add the items themselves, but for some of my more disorganized staff, I’d rather do more of the entry than have to repeat the instruction later. It’s also nice that they can check them off as done in the OneNote and I’ll see it without having to ask them about it.

    12. PollyQ*

      I like the suggestions of giving them their instructions in written form, but I wonder if you’ve named the general problem with them? “Fergus, I find that when I tell you to do something, you have a great deal of trouble remembering and keeping track of it. Being responsible for this on your own, without repeatedly asking me, is a core function of your job.” Then ask them what they think might be helpful, and see if that’s a reasonable way for you to go forward. It’s sort of too bad that you can’t ask about possible medical issues, because I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s something like that in play here, but I gather that’s a real no-no under ADA.

      Ultimately though, there’s only so much coaching a boss can do, and an employee keeping track of the work they’ve been given is a basic part of almost every job. If they can’t or won’t do that, you’ll need to think about moving them out of the role.

    13. Emilitron*

      First step – bring it up as an ongoing problem that needs to be fixed, not an adorable quirk or the way things are.
      Second step – tell them to take notes (sounds like you have).
      But now they have to use those notes – when they say “ok” ask them to repeat back to you the outline of what they’re going to go do. If it’s vague ask details (you wrote down “Jeff”, do you remember what you need to get from him?)
      I mean, you say coaching conversations have failed, now what? Either more coaching else tell them they’re headed to PIP, or maybe intermediate step work on the consequences – right now they don’t remember so they ask you and you tell them. That’s a problem for you because it’s wasting your time, but is it a problem for them? How can you make it their problem? Maybe you start coaching them on what to do instead of asking you, if you weren’t available what would they do, and maybe after they waste their own time doing the wrong thing they’ll feel the pain a bit more and be more ready to make a change. Or maybe they do actually kind of know and they’re just insecure about doing it when they aren’t 100% certain – so instead of asking you “what do I do” get them to start asking you “is X the right thing”.

  15. Betty*

    A former colleague got in touch a few months ago about an opening at her new company. It is basically my current role, but at a more functional workplace. I talked to her about the position and the company and decided to apply. I did a screening interview with HR, an interview with the hiring manager, and then a final interview 1/2 day interview with a bunch of folks I would be working with plus the hiring manager. My former colleague was part of this and texted me after to say she thought I did great. It’s now about a week after when the hiring manager had expected to have a decision. Would it be inappropriate/annoying/pushy to contact my former colleague and see if she has any inside info on whether they’ve decided to go with another candidate? Should I give it another week or so?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’d leave her out of it at this point – if she knows they’re going with someone else, it’s a little awkward for her to have that conversation with you, plus as not-the-hiring-manager, it’s super not her role in the situation to be the one telling you pretty much anything about the decision making process, and if she does she could get in trouble with her employer.

      1. Betty*

        Thanks! I was thinking the same, but my impatience was starting to get the best of me thinking “hmmm….maybe that’s an okay thing to ask her.” I very much appreciate your response!

    2. AuntieCorn*

      I’d give it another week or so. I make the hiring decisions for my time and sometimes despite my best intentions, things just take longer than expected due to any number/combination of unrelated issues. Two weeks would be reasonable to check with your connection there to see if she has any insight on the expected timeline.

      1. Cj*

        ^^This. Ask about the timeline for a decision, but not about whether they decided to go with another candidate. Even is they decided to go with you, and she knows it, it is not her place to tell you.

    3. SentientAmoeba*

      I feel your pain on the waiting. I was invited to apply for an amazing job that would be a step up from where I am now. I made it to the final 2 and she promised a decision within a week. That was 3 weeks ago. I already sent a follow up and I am itching to send another.

      1. Product Person*

        It may help to think this way:

        Sending follow ups is highly unlike to make things go faster, and may very well create unnecessary friction in your relationship with the potential employer. Unless you want to inform them that now you have another offer and would appreciate if they have any updates because they are your first choice but you will need to make a decision soon, there’s no benefit for the recipient. When I’m hiring, follow-up emails only add to my workload and make things slow down because I can’t just ignore them and now need to stop what I’m doing to see if anyone has a new timeline fot ne to provide to the candidate.

        Things get delayed for all sorts of reasons: a signature is needed from someone who is out sick, or the meeting to approve the budget got postponed, etc. Better to accept this reality and move on as if you didn’t get the job. Hopefully things just slowed down and and you’ll be pleasantly surprised when they get back to you with good news.

  16. LessNosy*

    Today is my last day at my current job!! I start my new job next Friday (but that day will be mostly setting up my computer equipment and signing up for benefits).

    I was wondering if anyone had any advice on letting go? I’m already finding it difficult to just let go of projects. I’m trying to micromanage and set things in place up until the very last minute. I’ve been here 7 years so I guess that makes sense…

    I’m planning on reserving a specific time of day to answer any texts or emails with questions from my old coworkers/boss about my responsibilities and projects, but is there anything else anyone can suggest to fully transition my brain out of this job, and especially to take advantage of the week I have off before starting my new job? :)

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      This time reservation for questions, is this just a personal thing where you’ve mentally budgeted some time to respond to any quick questions you’ve received just after you left, like “I’m going to take a look and spend one half hour of one Saturday while I drink coffee to see if they needed anything”, or are you planning on offering your soon-to-be-old-job essentially office hours and invite them to contact you with questions? I wouldn’t do any of that honestly. It’s kind, but you won’t work there anymore, it literally won’t be your job to answer their questions. Alison has mentioned that it’s nice to answer one or two quick questions, but they needed to use your notice period to ask any questions and get everything they need, if you got hit by a bus they would have to figure things out on their own.

      The best way to take advantage of the week you have off before starting your new job is to not spend any of it doing things for your old job. Congrats on the new job!

    2. New Mom*

      I would recommend offering to be a paid consultant versus allowing them to reach out for questions on an ongoing basis.

    3. Cascadia*

      I think you’ll find that once you start the new job the old job will fade away! It’s hard to let go when you’re still in it, but once you’re not doing the work every day, and you’re focused on something new, I think you’ll just naturally let it all go. It may happen a bit at a time, but I’m betting a month from now you won’t be thinking about old job, and a few months from now it’ll be completely gone from your brain.

  17. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    Having a hard week this week. There was a boil water advisory so I couldn’t get coffee, they scheduled intensive training for the end of the month ( break out rooms and little projects. Couldn’t get anything done). I had an emergency on Monday that pushed me back and now we find that one of the physical forms can only be started on the 21st? That usually gives a single week and if the person you need is not there, you have missing documentation. And of course one big piece can only be STARTED on the 25th- pushing all your regular work ( still all due in 24 hours!) To the side.
    I’ve been working 12 hour days and not making much of a dent in my workload. I nearly screamed when the new girl got a set of five all by herself and I was going to need to help, but luckily, they somehow figured that out without me. Next month, the same thing again, but hopefully I’ll remember that events that did not happen can’t be logged on the same day ( EVEN FOR THE SAME SET!) I’m dying here.

    1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

      From the Baytown area of Houston? Because my family has been dealing with boil water notices for weeks. I’m so sorry!

        1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

          As far as feeling like you’re not making a dent in your workload, what helped me stop pulling my hair out was actually writing down the things I accomplished, and I mean even the SMALLEST parts because some were so important and I kind of disregarded them because they “were too easy, or what I would do anyway, or not specialized tasks, or things anyone can do”. Replied to emails? Important. Researched a term? Important. No matter how small. This helps me against imposter syndom too when I feel like I just am not accomplishing anything. It will also really help you get a better picture of how your time is spent, AND be handy documentation should you ever need to discuss delegating tasks with your boss.

          1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

            I have two separate organizers. One a to do list and one a chart I print off with end of the month tasks.( it would take too much time to do tasks x person) I knock off a good number of to dos but more come to replace them.

            1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

              Then it sounds like you really have enough evidence to perhaps go to your boss to ask for back-up? An assistant? More people in the department?

              1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

                ….it is a one person job. I think several roles have been compressed or…conflated here so that what was once possible for one person to do became super crazy.

    2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      My mom is like ” you work so long because you are a perfectionist ” No, I work so long because I am scraping my brain fot no information that doesn’t exist and looking at other people’s work because sometimes they say I didn’t do something even though I included it I’m the same place with the same amount of detail that other people are using!

  18. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

    Anyone know the customary time to follow up after an interview in Germany? Interview was last Friday, was promised to hear back with a decision on Monday, and now it’s Friday. Alison says for the states to wait a week or two. But here?

        1. Anne Kaffeekanne*

          German here, and yes, I think you can definitely follow up after Monday. I’d give it longer if they hadn’t given you a timeframe.

    1. Usedtoliveingermany*

      The more formal (hierarchical) the company culture, the longer I’d wait to check in. You’re probably safe to check in this coming week but do so extra politely.

    2. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

      Thanks everyone! 9 hours after posting this they contacted me with an offer! I give a lot of credit to the good juju in this commentariat :D I’ve been job searching for 18 months so this is SUCH a blessing. Thank you!

  19. NeonDreams*

    Two senior people have left or are leaving my department this month. I’m so jealous because I’m barely keep my head above water emotionally even though I desperately want to leave. I wish I had the strength and competence they do.

      1. NeonDreams*

        I’m burnt out at my job. It takes all of my mental energy to do it every day that I don’t have any left to do any searching after work. I say competence because I’m not very confident in my abilities since I’m spending so much time just holding myself together. Yes, I’m in therapy and I’m working on it.

        1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

          OOOHH I was RIGHT there in 2018. I would come home and absolutely zone out, or cry, or just scroll till I slept. What helped me SO much was actually writing out possible “getting out plans”, even if they were absolutely unrealistic. I wrote down such things as “become a military chaplain”, “go to grad school”, “move out of the country”, all random and whatever came to mind. Ya know what? I ended up leaving the country to go back to Germany with my husband where we could afford rent on lower-paying jobs. It was completely the opposite of my plans but it wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t just start my brain working on possible escape plans to make myself feel a little more empowered and a lot less trapped.

        2. Asenath*

          I was in a very bad position once with a job I was afraid to leave. I got out of that situation and have had an infinitely better life since – but if I could go back and talk to my younger self, I’d have told myself to make the time to find a different job even if I had to do in in tiny baby steps. Checking job lists one day, deciding what to do about one possibility another day and a second possibility or maybe another job resource on another day. Nothing that took more than a few minutes at a time, but something that gave me the feeling I was heading out of the morass. Being so exhausted and stressed that I thought I couldn’t job hunt just meant that things got worse until I had to do that anyway. Talk to your therapist about your confidence in your competence and your lack of mental energy – both very common reactions to such a situation – and take baby steps to move on, without pressuring yourself to do a job hunt completely and perfectly.

  20. CatCat*

    Is two weeks still standard notice for someone working part-time?

    In this situation, the employee used to work full-time, but hours were cut early in the pandemic and never restored (despite a promise to restore the hours in the fall). The employee has been looking for a different, full-time job ever since the restoration of hours never materialized. The employee really needs full-time work and now has promising leads. It seems odd to me that 2 weeks would still be standard here, but I don’t know if I’m off base.

      1. CatCat*

        Because it seems like one week should be enough. If the org really needs 40 hours worth of work in the notice period, they can get that in one week instead of dragging the employee through two 20 hour weeks (which was not what the employee even signed up for when they took the job).

        1. Chriama*

          2 weeks’ notice is standard. However, this seems a little more like leaving a temp job to me. Like, of course you’re going to go for the full time job with benefits over the job that cut your hours. If they wanted you to stay, they would have paid you. I would give as little notice as you need, and if anyone tries to make something of this in the future you tell them “they cut my hours and pay by 50% and I couldn’t afford to stay longer. (BTW cutting your pay by that much sounds like constructive dismissal, which means you would have been eligible for unemployment. I’m not sure how that works now that you’re leaving, but maybe contact someone and see if you can get it backdated. It could be a nice little bonus to start your new job with!)

        2. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

          Hm, I don’t usually think of it as “40 hours worth of work” in the notice period, but more like 2 working weeks to get a plan of coverage together for when the position is vacant. But in this case (like most cases) the employee should do what’s best for them even if that means not giving a standard 2 week notice.

          1. Cj*

            Yes, but you could do the same 40 hours of getting the plan together working full time in one week as if you spread the 40 hours over two 20 hour weeks.

    1. Coco*

      How part time? Like a consistent, set schedule of 20ish hours a week? Or do they get scheduled here and there and it isn’t consistent? If the latter, I’d think less than 2 weeks would be fine. If the former, 2 weeks sounds standard.

    2. Boundaries*

      Unwritten rules for where I am are either two weeks (usually shift work) or the paycheck interval (salaried/full time), unless specified.

    3. kt*

      I’d think that if there are other part-timers, one week would be fine because someone else could pick up the hours.

    4. Malarkey01*

      I think 2 weeks is still standard, BUT with the caveat that if you were reduced to PT by a company, a company should understand that you are going to need to jump ship to FT faster since you probably really need the money. Although a totally valid business decision, they forfeit some of the transition expectations when they previously cut your hours and pay in my opinion.

    5. NopityNope*

      So the company cuts their hours—and income!—by half, but expects two weeks’ notice? Get real. If a company did that to me, I’d happily walk out the door with NO notice as soon as I got a full-time job. It’s a custom, not a rule, and it doesn’t override someone’s need to pay the damned bills. Any decent manager would understand this. And realistically, should be expecting it when they take away half of someone’s income. It doesn’t really matter if the cutbacks were because of COVID. The employee has to look out for their own interests—because the company is definitely looking out only for the company’s interest.

    6. PollyQ*

      Give 2 weeks, not because the company “deserves” it, but because doing anything else may burn a bridge WRT to future references. And it isn’t just a question of how much work the employee will get done, it’s how much time the other employees get to deal with the transition of knowledge.

      (Theoretically, one could make an argument that the notice time should be longer, so that the rest of the office gets the full 80 hours of handover time that a fulltime employee who gave 2 weeks notice would. I personally would not make that argument, but if you think about it from the standpoint of what notice is for, it would make a certain amount of sense.)

  21. Amber Rose*

    My employee review is this afternoon and I’m tense. The last couple months have not been sparkling rays of productive sunshine from me, and I’ve been reprimanded once for it already. For various reasons, right after Christmas break my mental health just tanked and I’m not sleeping or eating well so I’m basically a walking disaster and this level of half-assed is literally my best effort since 90% of my focus is on not collapsing. That said, I’m working on improving it anyway. Bit by bit.

    Last year I accomplished tons of stuff, and I’m still responsive and getting work done, so I guess I’m wondering, in people’s experience, how bad is it that my last 2 months have been a little rough if overall I’m still doing my job and prior to this patch I was doing great?

    As an aside, please don’t even start with the therapy talk. I. Do. Not. Have. Money. In fact I have less money than ever because my husband is looking at pay cuts.

    1. Can't Sit Still*

      It sounds like you are doing as well as could be expected by a reasonable person. I suspect that your boss isn’t reasonable, though.

      I hope your review goes well this afternoon.

    2. ThatGirl*

      I think it’s normal to hit a wall sometimes, and I know a lot of people have had a rough winter! It’s OK to be gentle with/kind to yourself.

      I hope that therapy could be an option someday, but in the meantime, can you take a day or a long weekend off? Give yourself a mental break? Do things that make you feel restored — a hot bath or a long walk or a good book or a talk with a friend? (Just suggestions – you know yourself best.)

      1. Amber Rose*

        I have a 4 day weekend booked in two weeks. I tried to take one over my birthday last week but the person I share reception responsibilities with beat me to it so I couldn’t.

        I’m planning on a significant chunk of time off in June for my 10th anniversary so I’m limited in how much time I can take off anyway.

    3. Annie Moose*

      Oh man, this could describe me. Ironically my employee review turned out better than I expected… I think sometimes we build things up as worse than they are because we’re so close to our problems and we know them so well, but to an outsider they genuinely might not realize the same way.

      I feel like a reasonable manager would be able to look at things overall and be like, hmm, something happened here, but up until recently everything was good. Everything depends on what your manager is like, of course, but a decent manager should be willing to hear acknowledgement that yes, things slipped, but you’ve been working to course correct and have made improvements on XYZ/are trying strategy ABC. (even if secretly you’re thinking that it’s not all magically fixed… I know that feeling all too well!)

      Best of luck with your review. Good or bad, I’m sure it will be a relief to just have it be over!

    4. HR Exec Popping In*

      I am sorry you are struggling. It is hard to answer your question because it will depend on your manager and how significant the performance change has been. If your manager is generally reasonable and the change in performance went from slightly above average most of the year to slightly below average for the last few months, I wouldn’t expect this to be a problem, but your manager would still likely acknowledge the change in performance. If you went from the highest performance level to just barely average, you might see an impact on your performance rating and in this case your manager will absolutely want to talk about what has happened. Now, if someone’s performance level drops to a level that is significantly below average for any sustained period of time, this could result in someone being placed on a PIP, but that does not sound like your situation.

      If you trust your manager, be honest that you are struggling with some non-work related issues right now that you know are effecting your performance level but that you are working on fixing this. Be prepared to answer a question about what you need from your manager to help.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      If I am following along correctly your place is a hot mess.

      Eh, we have had 11 months of Covid. If your last two months were bad, then you are probably doing better than 50% of the people out there.

      It doesn’t really matter what we think, what is important here is to figure out how you want to respond to a bad eval.
      Make a list of things you have done well. (Pick like 5 strong things.)
      Then make a list of things you plan on beefing up. (Pick maybe 3 things.)

      Then go into the meeting knowing that you have lined up something you can say in that meeting.

      1. Joan Rivers*

        There are non-profits w/sliding fee scales sometimes offering therapy. It may not be quite as “sophisticated” as more expensive therapy.

        But when my mediocre therapist used to be late — a real NO-NO to me — I realized I started the “process” w/o her, organizing my thoughts and prioritizing what I wanted to discuss.

        We still end up deciding if we accept or reject a therapist’s advice, so we have to remember they’re not doing “magic” — it’s all on us ultimately. But we can learn the process.

  22. Exhausted Frontline Worker*

    I am likely getting a job offer from local government (large city) soon. Current and ex-government employees, what should I know about transitioning from private/non-profit sector to government?

    What I think I’m most anxious about is right now I have a ton of freedom in my job, and I know I’ll probably lose that in a government setting. Like I have very few deadlines or deliverables expected of me in my current job, I’m just given a very broad goals and told to work towards it however I see fit (as long as I spend $0!) and my supervision is minimal. There’s always so much work to be done, but I’m just trusted to figure it out and do it. Over a few years I’ve been able to figure out how to manage that type of environment and lack of structure, but it was initially a struggle and not everyone performs well in that environment. It’s also been a big source of stress for me and a reason I’ve been looking to change jobs, but at the same time I think it will be hard to move back into a very structured environment. For context, I’d be moving from working in social services to program administration in social services–most social services in my area are largely funded by local and state government grants.

    1. Spearmint*

      I’ve only worked in government jobs and know many people who also have. Something I didn’t appreciate at first is how the scope of the program or service your running will defined by law, and so there is much less room to start new projects or initiatives, even when you and management agree that a particular project would be worthwhile. This is liberating and constraining in different ways. On the positive side, the scope of your work is truly finite, and this contributes to a slower pace and better work-life balance. On the negative side, it can slow your career growth and, perhaps, make work a bit more boring at times.

      That said, don’t make assumptions about what you can and can’t do. Ask! There’s a lot of variability about how much structure, and what is and is not set in stone, between departments and roles.

    2. Paris Geller*

      You might be surprised! I’m a municipal employee and I have a lot of freedom in my job. To be fair, a lot of that has to do with my manager being relatively hands-off (she’s great–not negligent, just gives me a lot of freedom. I know that set up doesn’t work for everyone but I love it). I’m a librarian, so the context is different, but while our department does have certain things that have to be done, we have a lot of freedom in how we do it. This is not the first city I’ve worked for, though, so I will say every city is different. You probably will have more deadlines since it sounds like a large portion of what you’ll be doing is grant-funded, but you might have more freedom in how things get done then you think.

      As for what you should know. . . well, it’s probably something you already know, but expect a lot of red tape for things that traditionally don’t even require red tape. Since you’ve worked in social services you may be more used to that, but when you’re working for any government at any level, there’s just a lot of crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s to make sure everything is above board. Of course, I think most of us ARE above board employees and 90% of the requirements make sense, but there will definitely be times when you think, “Really?? I have to go through all THAT just to get this?”. Again, if you’ve worked with grant-funded projects before you’re probably use to this, but be prepared to justify everything, from supplies requested to how much time you spend on project X.

      1. Msnotmrs*

        State librarian here, and I agree with this 100%. In my role (1-person library in a larger institutional setting) I have a great deal of freedom to do what I want, but I sometimes get completely blindsided by the constraints of red tape, rules and regs, etc. I also operate with a minimum of oversight; my boss is great but she doesn’t know my job and doesn’t pretend she knows it, and she has a whole program she runs in addition to being my manager.

    3. Workerbee*

      The structure of government work varies widely, depending on the actual job. My job has a combination of mandatory paperwork that must be filed in a mandatory order by certain deadlines, and the flexibility to get that done however I like. My usual day is about 60% unstructured. Program administration would be more structured than that.

    4. Monty and Millie's Mom*

      I’ve been in gov’t job for about 2 1/2 years now. You know all the complaints about inefficiency of government and how they don’t get things done, or it takes a million years? Yeah, I’ve found that those have real merit. The system isn’t set up to change on a whim, and I KINDA get that, but also – this is very much a chain-of-command type place, which is somewhat difficult across departments, at least the ones I deal with. Some will deal only with lead worker or supervisor or manager level, and since I’m below that, it can take awhile to get a response b/c it has to go through so many levels! Just – it’s inefficient. If you are okay with that, you might find a fair amount of freedom, but if you’re a “there’s a much better way to do this, let’s get this changed”, go-getter kind of person, you might find that frustrating!
      That said, someone mentioned above that government jobs vary quite a bit, so maybe they are not all like this?

      1. Paris Geller*

        Yes. I think that’s what I was trying at in my comment above–everything in local government, in my experience, is on a very much need-to-know basis, even things that aren’t that important. A lot of things will need to be signed off on before you can proceed, and that can be very frustrating, especially if you’re in a department that doesn’t operate strict 9-to-5 and having to communicate with departments that do.

    5. Policy Wonk*

      Don’t assume you know what the government does in this area, just because you worked with the government on the outside. New people from outside government often make helpful suggestions that we should consider doing x, something we’ve been doing for years.

      In program administration there are often lots of documents and forms that are standard. If you are tired of saying happy and change it to glad someone might think it means there is a change in policy. So keep that staid, boring language unless you really do mean to change things.

      Given that you’re coming from social services, you are probably already accustomed to delays in getting supplies, or lots of paperwork to request new equipment, but that is a fact of life in government.

      Like any other job, how much freedom you have will depend on your actual supervisor, not the nature of the job.

      Good luck with your new challenges!

    6. Exhausted Frontline Worker*

      Thanks everyone for your insights! I have also been told by others outside of AAM to expect a lot of bureaucracy and for things to move very slowly. I live in a large city (over 500k population) with a proportionally large local government, but I imagine there may not necessarily be the same amount of bureaucracy working for a smaller municipality. Working in social services has indeed made me good at navigating bureaucracy created by other organizations, but I still think it will be a shift in perspective being on the inside maintaining the status quo versus the outside trying to untangle it. I’m still worried about the pace of things being too slow because I know I have a tendency to get bored and frustrated. I’ve spent the last few years juggling too many balls–and they’re always all on fire–so while this will be a healthier balance, I’ve gotten accustomed to it. But the pay bump alone will be worth it!

  23. Goose*

    Today is a s**tshow, but it’s fine. I’m a wreck, I’m doing my best, and I am eating hamentashen by the handful. When your topsy turvy day is on Purim, you know there’s some humor in the universe. Chag sameach all!

  24. Don't personality type me*

    Got the dreaded (and unexpected) personality test, to be followed by an as yet, unscheduled “workshop” being disguised as “training.” This one is Insights Discovery. Anyone tried this one? Any better or worse than others?

    1. Green Snickers*

      I did that one about a year ago. I actually found it more helpful than most assessments I’ve done before and seemed more personalized others. The one I did produced a 3 page report of my personality traits and I found it to be very accurate.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      I haven’t, but your post made me think that we need to have personality tests to see which personality test is best suited for each person.

    3. Cat Tree*

      I’ve done that one. It wasn’t as terrible as some, but also not particularly helpful. I somehow managed to land in two opposite categories.

    4. Hillary*

      I like that one – it wasn’t much of a surprise to me, but it was a larger surprise to some of my less self-aware colleagues. And it was helpful to understand just how similar we all are and the pitfalls from it. Sometimes we use it as a shortcut for moods or approaches talking to people, it works surprisingly well.

      1. WellRed*

        So in the workshop, will they be sharing everyone’s results around to the group? Which should be interesting, since my little team doesn’t know or work with the main team and mostly never will (we were acquired by bigger company and there’s no intersection most of the time, certainly not for my role).

    5. Your Local Cdn*

      The assessment you get is pretty detailed (I’ll be honest – I gamed the test because I dislike these things), but what they actually share is your most prominent “colour” – one of 4, which is very high level. The workshop leader will discuss what the detailed results could indicate but your individual results aren’t generally shared with other people.

  25. Free Meerkats*

    I have done very little hiring, and that I’ve done has been has been through the Civil Service system.

    My question is, Why the prejudice against applicants who are unemployed? The common rubric is that it’s easier to get a job if you have a job, why is that?

    1. D3*

      If you’re unemployed, there must be something wrong with you.
      If you’re unemployed, it’s because no one else wants you, so why should I?
      If you’re unemployed, you must not be able to keep a job.

      I don’t agree with it, but that’s the thinking.

    2. Jenn*

      When I was job searching after being laid off, I saw something that said companies assume there is a reason that were laid off. Even if there were multiple layoffs for business reasons, the perception is that the former employer picked the under performing to sacrifice. And once you are unemployed, it’s “obviously” your fault that you couldn’t find another job immediately (never mind that your field is oversaturated. It took me 18 months to find a new job and I beat out 150+ applicants for a job in a not-very-appealing part of the country.) And the longer you are unemployed, the more your skills supposedly deteriorate (never mind that you may be engaging in training to make yourself a stronger candidate.)

      1. londonedit*

        Yes. There’s just been a study published that suggests a fairly shocking number of people in the UK believe that anyone who’s lost their job over the last year must be in some way responsible – that it must have come down to poor performance rather than the sheer bad luck of working in a hard-hit industry during a global pandemic. If people think that about job losses in 2020, imagine what they must think in ‘normal times’. It’s completely unfair and unfounded, but I think there will always – in some people’s minds at least – be a suspicion attached to someone who’s left a job before they have another one lined up. I’ve done it once during my career, and while there were interviewers who totally accepted my ‘It wasn’t the right fit, and I decided to use the opportunity to do some freelance work while looking for a job that was truly right for me’ explanation, there were definitely others who seemed convinced that there must be some sort of dark secret hiding behind it all.

        1. Cj*

          I did have a dark secret hiding behind why I left a job. But it wasn’t my secret, it was the companies, and I couldn’t share it because of an NDA. I wasn’t even supposed to say I had an NDA. It was interesting in interviews when asked why I left my previous job.

    3. Semi Woke Small Business Owner*

      As an employer, when times were more normal, I did look at the circumstances if someone was unemployed. Were they laid off and then sat home collecting unemployment for 6 months before even starting to look for another job? Were they let go for poor performance? It all depended on why they were unemployed, and definitely check references to verify. With Covid, lots more unemployed people so I would certainly not let it be a deal breaker. Advantage is if they are not employed they may be able to start right away.

      1. Free Meerkats*

        “Were they laid off and then sat home collecting unemployment for 6 months…?”

        That’s the kind of prejudice I’m talking about. Why does that matter? Are they not showing enough gumption? Maybe they needed the 6 months to recharge. Maybe they had the savings and decided to take a break. Please explain the reasoning behind that view.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Shall we say, “lesser talented”? Lesser talented managers rely on superficial things to guide their decision making.

          Sometimes they need a reason to eliminate a candidate and any reason will do, after all there are just too many applications to deal with.

        2. aarti*

          Or maybe they had health issues they’re not comfortable revealing?

          Or maybe they’re applying only to jobs that they’re a good fit for, not just sending applications for the sake of it?

          Totally agree this is a poor metric.

      2. Large Hippo*

        How would you have access to the knowledge that someone “sat home collecting unemployment for 6 months before even starting to look for a job”? Lay offs can come as a huge surprise to a lot of people and it may take some time to get a job search going. They can also be a huge blow to a person’s mental health which can be a hurdle that needs to be jumped before starting a job search. Also, they could have started job searching the moment they were let go and you’re just making an assumption because finding a job is taking longer than you think it should.

      3. Double A*

        Looking for a job is a condition of collecting unemployment, so if they are collecting unemployment, they are inherently looking for a job.

    4. deesse877*

      Honestly, it’s just a proxy for bigotry, like so much else. Effectively favors the already-privileged.

    5. HR Exec Popping In*

      I actually think it is a lazy way to screen candidates out as it is possible the candidate got fired. Often hiring managers have so many qualified candidates you are looking for ways to screen out candidates as you can’t talk to all of them.

    6. BRR*

      I think the common concerns are A) Wondering if a candidate was fired B) If a candidate left with nothing lined up, perhaps because a job was toxic, is the candidate high maintenance C) are the candidate’s skills stale

      1. Cj*

        If they left because the job with nothing lined up because the job was toxic, it was probably somebody else, not them, who was high maintenance.

        1. BRR*

          I agree! I meant what the hiring side’s perspective/concern might be. I personally think it’s absurd that candidates can’t really be supper honest if they left a toxic job.

    7. RC Rascal*

      I also think that most people who work for corporations and have never been laid off grossly underestimate their own employability. They are not realistic about what goes into job searches and how long they can sometimes take. Therefore, they do not appreciate the unemployed candidate.

  26. Theory of Eeveelution*

    I lost my job last April due to COVID, and since I’m still unemployed I’m very seriously considering going back to school for a second bachelor’s degree. I’d love to hear from others who have done this. I’m a bit apprehensive about being a 35 year-old woman back in undergrad, especially since I have a master’s: I’m now very used to the professor-grad student dynamic, and I feel like it’s going to be hard being an undergrad again.


    1. Bex*

      My big question is why? Do you think you need a second degree for a career change? Do you like school and just want to go back?

    2. ThatGirl*

      If you already have a master’s degree, what would you gain by getting another bachelor’s? A second bachelor’s degree is rarely very useful anyway. What field would you like to go into that you think another degree would help with?

      1. Theory of Eeveelution*

        Because my previous degrees are in fine arts. I’m going back for computer science. A complete career change.

        1. EconomySized*

          At my current company (in software) we’ve hired quite a few engineers with fine arts backgrounds who attended coding boot camps.
          If you find the right program, it might be a better alternative to a 4 year degree.

          1. Theory of Eeveelution*

            Coding bootcamps are criminally expensive, though. I’ve thought about it, but I just can’t afford it. At least with a BS I can apply for scholarships. Also a second bachelor’s isn’t 4 years, it’s only 30 credit hours.

            1. kt*

              That’s really interesting. Where I live, there is a mix of criminally expensive and quite cost-effective bootcamps. They serve different populations. My company also has a training program for non-traditional software engineers, in which participants get training 50% of the time and are assigned to work projects 50% of the time. This program has been really useful in both helping people get into the field and, frankly, getting us cost-effective and talented people (someone with 0 experience is paid less, but still a decent wage, and it’s my understanding that salary goes up as you complete the program — and it saves you the cost of the bootcamp/degree).

              Anyhow, I’m sure you’ve looked into your local options, but these bridge programs from some corporations are sometimes less well known.

            2. meyer lemon*

              Forgive me if you’ve already done this, but have you tried broadening your search for coding bootcamps that are outside of your region? It seems likely that most are being offered remotely at the moment. I just ask because I know a few people who have done them, and they were much, much cheaper than an undergrad degree (particularly if you factor in living expenses). I’m sure some are better than others, but my local one is very focused on job placement.

              1. meyer lemon*

                I should add, while I’m sure computer science degrees vary too, I know a couple of people who completed them and then needed to do a coding bootcamp or a lot of personal projects because their CS degree didn’t actually teach them practical coding skills.

        2. Epsilon Delta*

          You might want to consider a two year/associates degree in computer science. Quality and price can vary, but it is definitely worth looking into.

    3. AcademiaNut*

      I do know one person who did this – they went back for a had science degree with specific career goals when their first degree was in social sciences, and are now working in the new field. I also know a few people who did bachelor’s degrees in their thirties.

      I would say you’d need very strong, focussed and well thought out career reasons for doing so, in a field with good job prospects, and have a plan that doesn’t involve taking out extensive student loans. Doing a random second degree is a really expensive and time consuming way to keep yourself occupied, unless you happen to be independently wealthy and don’t need the income.

      1. Theory of Eeveelution*

        Second degree isn’t random: it’s in computer science. My BFA and MFA are in fine arts. That’s a pretty solid career change. Money isn’t an issue.

        1. Peachtree*

          It’s a bit confusing – you say that money isn’t an issue but you can’t afford a coding camp. But I can’t imagine that a coding camp is cheaper than college? Am I missing something?

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      What would be your purpose in doing so?

      Personal experience: I went for a second bachelor degree after finishing two masters, when I was also in my mid-30s. But mine was literally just questing for the piece of paper – I didn’t change career fields or anything, I wanted to take the high-level certification exam in my current career field and it requires a bachelor (or masters) degree in Health Information Management from a program accredited by a specific accrediting body to qualify to sit the exam – my public health degree and masters degrees were not enough to cut it. So I selected a self-paced online program through WGU that let me hurry through the degree. I had zero interactions with any other students in my school or program, but there was generally very little that I was actually needing to learn from the program since I’d already been working in the career field for almost fifteen years. (Disclaimer: I have a lot of grumbles about the whole situation on several levels. :P It didn’t feel like a particularly academic experience, and it wasn’t a useful experience at all, but I passed my certification exam, which was my ultimate goal. However, I passed the exam based entirely on my experience, with pretty much nothing useful having come out of the academic program. I do not recommend WGU as anything other than a “I’ve been doing this for years and I need to tick the box that says I have this degree” school; their teaching is crap.)

      All that to say, depending on what your goal is, you might have options that could make the experience look very different. Also, take into consideration: apparently some universities won’t accept people into bachelor degree programs who already have a bachelor degree. (Every time I say I have two bachelor degrees, a few people get all weird like “how is that even possible, they don’t allow that.”)

      1. Theory of Eeveelution*

        This is interesting. I was originally thinking about a fully online program, and ended up decided to go back to the same school that I got my master’s from. I feared exactly what you write here, that an online experience wouldn’t feel academic.

        This would be a complete career change. My BFA and MFA are in fine arts, and I’m going back for computer science. I could probably knock it out in 3 semesters.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Well, let me clarify — *an* online school experience can totally feel academic. One of my two masters programs was fully online and that was absolutely a valuable academic experience.

          *THIS* online experience, with WGU, in which I had no interaction with instructors or fellow students (literally I can count on one hand the number of times I interacted with an instructor), didn’t feel like an academic experience at all. But that was because of the way the school constructs their classes and the way the program was structured.

          I think in computer science you would probably not be the only non-traditional student, so it might not be as bad as you’re worrying. You could also check in with the student affairs office and ask them about ways they support nontraditional students. (And prepare for some funny stories. At one point in grad school, I was in a public policy seminar and we were watching a slightly dated video where they started talking about a boombox. Me and the professor were both in our mid 30s, the other two women in the seminar had gone straight from undergrad to grad school so they were 21, 22. We had to stop the video and explain to them what a boombox was, because they legitimately didn’t know the term.)

          1. SentientAmoeba*

            When I did my MBA there was a disconnect in the class when we talked about the actual workplace vs. modelling it. I had an authenticator for logging in remotely to work and to the under 23 crowd, it was a cool gadget (This was before everyone started doing it as a text message or on an app).
            We would also have some discussions about workplaces and you could easily tell who had never had a professional role before.

    5. Twisted Lion*

      I did this because I wanted to switch the STEM. I found with STEM professional certifications will get you further than a degree. I dont know if this helps at all. It did help me reorient my career but Im not working in STEM yet (sigh) but its ok, Im happy with the direction Im going.

      1. Theory of Eeveelution*

        This is a career switch to STEM. My other degrees are in fine arts, and I’m going back for computer science. What professional certifications do you wish you’d done?

        1. Twisted Lion*

          Any of the CompTia ones like Security+ or Network+. Or the Cisco ones. You might look into boot camps in your area or even just getting a one of those IT certificates Ive seen some schools offer instead of a full bachelors.

    6. Don't personality type me*

      I can’t speak from per sonal experience, by my aunt had an MBA, then, probably around age 40 or 45 went back for her BS in computer science. Never looked back, got a job with the state and retired a few years ago. She was the only woman in the group and older, but she still made friends with fellow students.

    7. AGD*

      A friend of mine did a BA in the social sciences, and now works as a software engineer. In between, she didn’t do a second BA, but training with Flatiron School.

    8. byte me*

      I went back for a second bachelors because I wanted to change careers from a teacher to a software engineer. After a couple semesters, I was able to get a job in the tech field (not as an engineer since I didn’t have the right degree for that), and a few years later switched to software, without actually completing the degree. I did already have a BS (it wasn’t a technical degree though), so they did give me the engineer title when I switched to software. With your BA, you may actually need to finish the degree to get an engineering title/pay.

      As for worrying about being older, there were several others in the degree program that were older and we all kinda grouped together. I was the youngest in the group since I was only in my mid-20s at the time (the others were in their 30s/40s), but I already felt out of touch with the kids just out of high school.

    9. Chilipepper*

      I got a second bachelors in my 40s and it really was so much fun because I only took courses in the major. I enjoyed every minute of it. I found that I had such a handle on getting things done that it everything was so much better the second time. For me it was a way to explore a new direction when my SAHM years were ending and I had been away from work for so long that I wanted a pathway back.

      I dropped out of a grad program before the SAHM years so I was used to the prof-grad student dynamic. I found that it was not much different with the second bachelors. I was testing the waters at first and keeping a low profile but after a semester or so, they knew me and it was really the same dynamic in many ways.

      1. Chilipepper*

        Oh, and I stayed in that department for the masters (all in person) and then work paid for a masters in our specific degree (totally redundant but they want it). The second one was all online and I loved it. Using social media I had more connections with other students than I did in the in person program.

      2. Theory of Eeveelution*

        Thanks for sharing your experience! Yep, I will only be taking classes in the major. I’m really looking forward to it!

    10. lemon*

      I’m also wondering about why you’re going back for a bachelor’s. I saw your other comments about switching your career to computer science. I think even though your background is in fine arts, a STEM master’s might be a better option. It’ll take you farther professionally, and you won’t have to deal with the awkwardness of being a 35 year-old undergrad.

      A lot of STEM master’s are designed for people who have no background in the subject. I’m in a similar spot–my undergrad is in liberal arts/creative writing, and I’m in a STEM master’s now. Some programs will expect you to complete some foundational coursework if you don’t have a computer science background. But, you can get around that either by taking cheaper classes at community college and then transferring the credits over. Or, you can do self-study and usually test out of the foundational courses.

    11. Julianna*

      Have you written any code? Sat down and made a short javascript game or coded up a quick script?

      Before deciding if you want to be a software engineer, I suggest going through something like learn Ruby the Hard Way and trying to figure out if you really like it.

      If you sit down and discover you really like coding and you learn better in an academic environment or think that it would make you focus on learning those skills, by all means go ahead and get the degree! But software development is honestly not something you learn primarily in a classroom, so the degree is really just to try and get you a first job. If you don’t like problem solving or enjoy writing code, it might not be worth it. If you are motivated enough to self teach, you don’t need the degree if you can prove your skills (to be clear, I am in no way that motivated and would not be able to do that, so this is said with zero judgement).

      Source: I’m a self taught software developer, without a degree in the field, though I got lucky and basically taught myself on the job.

      1. kt*

        I think this is really good advice.

        I’ll also say that when we are hiring software engineers, the degree carries relatively little weight, as so much is self-taught or learned on the job or through certifications. A degree is useful. We have some folks with only high school diplomas or GEDs. We’ve also definitely not hired folks with degrees who didn’t seem to actually know how to do anything. There is an unfortunate disconnect between undergrad computer science and jobs in software engineering, and if you return for the degree you’ll need to be aware of this and demonstrate through projects etc that you actually know how to do stuff. Set up your Github page now and start putting up crappy toy projects about things you like. I think at one point I started an app where you input beers and what you thought of their flavor profiles, and it compared you to your friends who also did so. It was a fun exercise even though I never finished it.

      2. Theory of Eeveelution*

        Yes. I’ve been making websites since I was in middle school, and I did Learn Python The Hard Way. Thanks for your concern, though.

    12. Derivative Poster*

      I got a 2nd bachelor’s in CS in my 30’s. I’m glad I didn’t go straight to a master’s: I wouldn’t have been comfortable taking grad-level CS courses without a solid foundation, although that might be a function of my personality. There certainly are tech jobs you can get without a degree, but the degree opens a lot of doors and might be necessary, depending on what exactly you want to do and your location. The age thing was no big deal, perhaps because I went to a state university in a military town so several students were getting their degrees after having served or were otherwise non-traditional. Happy to answer any more specific questions!

      1. Theory of Eeveelution*

        Thanks for sharing your experience! I have similar concerns about going straight into a master’s. I’m like you, I like to know I understand the basics before I start doing anything else.

    13. tangerineRose*

      When I was in college, the non-traditional students in class tended to do well because they were motivated. Sometimes I did notice a non-traditional student being annoyed when the professor spoke to the class like we were all kids.

    14. Lasciel*

      So I have a masters in IT and the amount of people trying to break into becoming junior developers due to school or bootcamps has gotten pretty crazy. It’s to the point where our company usually tries to hire engineers with practical experience, viable github portfolios, etc to differentiate. I think people that’s never tried programming don’t realize that learning the language is pretty easy but being able to build clean and efficient code takes experience and knowledge. Before I even started my career in IT, was play around and creating programs in visual basic while in high school and made a few personal websites for fun so it was a bit easier for me to get into the field.

      That being said, if you really think that’s what you want to do, I would definitely recommend at least trying out some coding online courses to see how you feel about it. For some people, it’ll click and for other’s it won’t at first so you have to keep at it for a bit.

      Also! I almost forgot, since you’re a creative, have you looked into UX and UI design? With fine arts, along with some tech background, you would almost be the perfect fit for it. UX and UI is basically User Experience / User Interface design and it encompasses things like visual and audio experiences of the end user for websites, software, etc. User interface is like this site, where the buttons are, the white background, where the topics, etc are. Honestly, I would recommend looking into different fields in tech if you really want to get into it instead of just getting CS degree without exactly knowing what you want.


      1. Theory of Eeveelution*

        UX/UI is the most oversaturated field I’ve ever come across. I initially thought I wanted to do this, and took a few classes on it toward the beginning of my long unemployment, but I soon realized that no one was going to hire me on the strength of a few Udemy class projects.

        “Honestly, I would recommend looking into different fields in tech if you really want to get into it instead of just getting CS degree without exactly knowing what you want.”

        I never said I don’t know exactly what I want! I’ve been writing code since I was in middle school. Thanks for this condescending thought, though!

        1. Lasciel*

          Wow…I wasn’t trying to be condescending as you asked thoughts about going back to school and I noticed that you mentioned you were going to get a cs degree. I actually was trying to offer advice as you asked thoughts on.

          Our company has a internship program for junior programmers and UX researchers and I was going recommend some professional groups that I belong to help jump start someone’s career as it’s one of the best way to get into the field. I belong to a program and mentorship for women developers and engineers the friends in companies are always looking for talented people no matter where they are in their career. When you have connections and a mentor that can recommend you to their peers in other organizations or companies.

          I’m not sure what else say as I was honestly surprised by the response as I was truly trying to be helpful, either way, good luck with your search.

        2. fhqwhgads*

          I’m a self-taught software engineer with a completely unrelated degree. In all my jobs, of people I’ve worked with fewer than 10% had a cs degree. Most were either self-taught or went to a bootcamp. I’m hard pressed to think of a bootcamp that costs more than a 3 year degree. I know you mentioned scholarships, but I’m skeptical.
          You say you’ve been coding a long while, so I’m not sure why you think the degree would be useful. I think you’d be throwing your money away, and taking years to get there when you could probably take weeks to get something resume-worthy that would illustrate your capability to do whatever jobs you might intend to apply to in the future.

        3. Owler*

          Several of your responses seem defensive; I think you’re seeing condescension where there is only advice. Perhaps just pass over the comments where you don’t identify with the advice?

  27. Career Change Engineer*

    I’m an engineer looking to make somewhat of a career change, but I’m not sure what would fit with my experience that isn’t the same field I’m currently in.

    I currently work as a controls engineer (I program machines that go into factories). I’ve realized I’d like to transition to something with else demanding hours, among other things. The roles I’m sure I’m qualified for would be my same job at a different company or a plant engineer, neither of which I’m really interested in.

    Does anyone have any suggestions for fields/jobs to look into? Thank you!

    1. Jubilance*

      Could you go into something adjacent – Quality, process improvement, maybe an Agile Scrum master or something?

    2. Betty*

      Would you consider HVAC controls? There are a lot of possibilities to work directly for a controls company (Johnson Controls, Siemens, Automated Logic), an independent service contractor, or in-house at a larger company (definitely in higher-Ed and research facilities, not sure about others).

    3. Rachel*

      I work in a tech startup involved in industrial automation which sounds adjacent to what you do. We have applications engineers who work on applying our tech to specific customer problems. The hours are a little more than 9-5 as customer deadlines take priority but afaik they don’t feel overworked. That said I’m not sure if that’s different enough from what you do now, or an easy job opening to find.

    4. Donkey Hotey*

      No clue about other possibilities because our company REALLY needs competent controls engineers.
      Good luck!

    5. Policy Wonk*

      If your field is regulated, look into working for the regulator, or for a company or non-profit that helps companies deal with regulation.

      You may also want to consider working for an industry association.

      Not knowing what kind of credentials are needed, you could consider working for a school that trains technicians or other specialists that would work in your field.

  28. Over There!*

    How have people in liberal arts fields (media, comms) transitioned into more tech heavy fields? I’m working in the social media and public relations field, but I want to move on. I love data (Google Analytics and Tableau are great), but am not formally trained. What are some steps I can take to move closer to my goal? Class or book recs would be great!

    1. Workerbee*

      Statistics! Learn statistics to go with the data. You can start with some introductory books to see if you like it. Just start with free library and online ones, and if a book or lesson is unclear, try another one. Don’t think that you are bad at it when starting because a lot of math text are badly written, plus people’s learning styles differ.

    2. 867-5309*

      Marketing analytics is a highly sought after field. Start getting the analytics certificates from places like Google and start to network with others. There is also an Insights Professional Certification from the Insights Association. A couple of my colleagues in consumer insights have that.

      Make sure in your current work you are thinking this way: How are you measuring and communicating success? How are you contextualizing the results?

      You might have to go down a level or two but with an existing background in marketing, a couple certifications, plus real-work examples from your projects, I think you could find a gig.

    3. Malika*

      With the right certification, it is easier than you would think. When the CEO at my tech startup was hiring, he appreciated the different perspective a liberal arts background could bring, provided the additional technical skills had been sufficiently developed. The ability to think of the bigger picture, instead of getting bogged down in technical detail, was very much valued. Being able to write coherently and communicate your ideas effectively can be taken for granted when surrounded by fellow liberal arts graduates. Not so much in the tech industry.
      A friend of mine transitioned from literary publishing to data analytics by asking around which courses got taken the most seriously and crafting 20 hours of study next to her job. She is now in a Data Analytics position and thriving. Ask around and do a bit of networking. In no time, you will discover the steps you need to take.

  29. saffie_girl*

    My organization is discussing how best to return to the office (whenever that time comes), and I would love to hear your ideas!

    The office staff has been fully WFH throughout Covid, and the assumption is that we will need to transition back to office work, but no exceptions that we will be back in the office 5 days a week initially (Hooray!). Typically, within departments we have various teams, and while there is collaboration between teams, I do not see a need for all people within a department to be in at the exact same time on a regular basis, but we will need to be in the office on a regular basis.

    So what would you want? What would you want to avoid? Thanks!

    1. Ashley*

      I want all my co-workers vaccinated before I return plus be vaccinated myself with the 3 weeks post vaccine for full effect.
      I also want an honest discussion about how much I need to be in the office in person given how successful WFH the past year has been for me. So does it make sense to assign Tuesday as a day that everyone knows I will be in the office for any person kind of stuff make sense?

      1. HRBee*

        I think this is going to be a hard line to draw. You will inevitably have at least one person not get vaccinated whether for religious, medical, or just plain doesn’t want to reasons. If the line is “every coworker” is vaccinated then no one is ever going to go back to work.

        As an industry that never sent people home (food production), we’ve found diligent adherence to masking, social distancing, daily deep cleaning, and hand washing have worked wonders. We haven’t have a positive case since May 2020.

        1. Natalie*

          I don’t see how that would prevent returning to the office. If you have employees with sincerely held religious objections or bona fide medical contraindications, you approach it like any other accommodation, where you and the employee engage in an interactive process to figure out how they can continue to do their job. Other employees aren’t really entitled to the details, and since workplaces should continue to require masking and distancing for the near future, it shouldn’t really impact their coworkers much anyway.

          As far as “just doesn’t want to”, maybe this comes from working at a healthcare provider that mandates a number of vaccinations, but I don’t find that especially compelling.

        2. KatieHR*

          I am also in the food production industry and have been in office the whole time. We have temp checks at every door, masking, social distancing, daily deep cleaning, and hand washing have also helped. We are also fortunate to have an on site doctor office that has 15 min rapid testing. We’ve had a scatter of positive cases but nothing like it was back in April/May 2020. We are still waiting on the vaccine but I know we have a handful of people that don’t want to get it and how can your force someone to get it? That is going to be a hard line to have everyone be vaccinated. That being said, I think companies can implement some good measures and successfully return.

    2. ThatGirl*

      My company is having similar discussions, with the expectation that most people will continue to work from home part or most of the time. For me, I’d like the vaccine to be widely available and our local/state case rates to be extremely low and steadily so. My manager has been mentioning having one set day we’re all in the office — I actually do miss seeing coworkers casually in non-video-chat settings, and I like having a dedicated workspace/desk (we don’t currently have space for a proper home office setup here) though I also like the freedom and flexibility of working from home.

    3. Mockingjay*

      I would suggest a staggered return. Maybe half of each team to start. Definitely loop in IT. You do NOT want 100 people reconnecting to the network and printers on the same day.

      Decide what precautions are mandated/required/recommended. Will company provide masks or do employees wear their own? Cube and floor rules – X marks on the floor to maintain separation? And so on.

      My company is doing a multitier approach, something like this:
      Condition A – nearly 100% telework employees. Only handful of designated essential staff in office (mostly IT and staff for delivery receipt). Masks required, no visitors.
      Condition B – management and designated essential employees. Masks required, limited visitors who must remain masked for duration of 1 hour. Telework staff can come in for occasional meetings/use special equipment, but must clear with manager first. [Where we are today]
      Condition C – all employees return. Masks still required until company deems pandemic under control/mitigated/etc. Employees will be asked to return by teams/groups to schedule IT connections, password resets, etc.

      My company decided not to use vaccination percentage as a return metric, as each state is handling the rollout differently/better/poorly. We have offices in several states. Site managers are monitoring local case trends as part of the decision making. So Office in State B may reopen fully while Office in State A is still in Condition B. It’s more work for our executives and upper managers, but I am so grateful that they take employee protection seriously.

      Some employees are asking to permanently telework. These requests are considered individually. We work on/bill to government contracts and most require a majority of employees to be on site or readily available, so all may not be granted. (We can do a lot of work remotely, but our work involves design, install, test, and maintenance of actual equipment, so eventually we have to go back to our widgets. The programs are falling behind. I predict a busy summer.)

    4. AnonPi*

      We’re in early discussions about this since we probably won’t return to work until the end of the year or early next, and there’s talk that everyone that can work from home will have the option to do so at least some of the time. One of the things someone suggested was to work half days and I put my foot down there. I am not driving almost 2 hours back and forth everyday just to work a half day on site – schedule for a whole day on site, or a whole day at home.

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

      some of the things we’ve been discussing are access to communal office items like water coolers, refrigerators, shared coffee pots and supplies, and microwaves being available. We’ve had a few people going into the office all along, but all water deliveries and office supply orders have ceased; microwaves are available but we’re required to wipe everything down with sanitizing wipes when we use it and only 1 person in the break room at a time; which is fine with only 1-2 people in the office at a time, but will be difficult if 40 people come back at once. If someone in the office wants coffee/water/food they need to bring it from home in their own container. We will probably keep that up even as more people return to the office.

  30. So relieved I cried*

    Attention managers:
    My boss did this to us. He scheduled our entire department for 1:1 meetings in 15 minute increments, but wouldn’t say why.
    We all thought we were going to be laid off, because everyone had an appointment and no one knew why.
    But he just wanted to connect with each of us and see how we were feeling about continuing to work from home vs going back to the office.
    When I told him I thought I was losing my job, he said “Why does everyone think that! If I want to talk to my employees, I get to do that. I don’t owe them the why in advance!” No, you don’t “owe them” but you sure as hell could understand how ominous it feels.
    Why this was a secret, no one knows. But it sure has been an anxious week here…and at least my resume is polished up?

      1. D3*

        Not perfect, but too bad. I really think he’s just doubling down because he’s embarrassed. Said he didn’t know how to phrase it the short way and so he put nothing, and “the crisis was all in your imaginations”
        The real test will be if he does better moving forward.

        1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          I doubt your manager is open to suggestions, but the phrasing could be:

          “General check-in/how are you doing?”
          “Check-in, WFH versus the office”

          I’m internally rolling my eyes at your manager’s reaction.

        2. SentientAmoeba*

          Remind him that if everyone assumed there was a crisis, then there was a definitely problem with the delivery.

        3. Roy G. Biv*

          It is human nature to err. It is a really human trait to stubbornly double down on the error when it is pointed out.

    1. many bells down*

      Oh God this is such a peeve of my husband’s. He frequently gets “important mandatory all company meeting Monday 9am” emails with NO other info. And they’ve had layoffs not that long ago! Of course he panics! And then this super important meeting ends up being “meet the new VP of marketing” which could have totally been in the damn email.

    2. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

      “I don’t owe them the why in advance!”. I’m SUPER curious to know how long he will last in his position because that type of thing erodes trust so fast. My boss in college did this type of thing often, sent us our work schedules for the week an hour before a shift, wouldn’t explain why people were suddenly dropped from shifts with no explanation. His boss came by and asked us who he would see working tomorrow, and no one could answer. “How can you have all forgotten your schedule?!”. “Sir, we won’t have our schedule until an hour before opening tomorrow”. “Have you guys spoken to him about the problem that causes for you?”. “Yes sir, he says he doesn’t owe us an explanation”. Dude was out by the end of the month.

    3. Corky's wife Bonnie*

      Oh my gosh, I would think the same thing!! I hope he realized he called a lot of unnecessary distress for all of you!

    4. ThatGirl*

      Yeah that’s pretty terrible. I’ve had two mysterious meetings scheduled in my career that both turned out to be layoffs, so it’s very understandable that you would jump to that.

    5. Persephone Mongoose*

      This makes me so angry. I have pretty bad anxiety and it goes THROUGH THE ROOF when I get a 1:1 meeting put on my calendar with zero context. There is no reason he couldn’t just call the calendar event “[Name] 1:1 Check-In” and save everyone a lot of grief. Or even just shoot an email to people letting them know what he was doing.

      Your boss is an ass.

    6. Frankie Bergstein*

      I totally empathize. Even the most confident among us feel a rush of anxiety when someone says, “hey – call me” or “here’s an invite to meeting with someone senior” with no topic or explanation. I wish your manager got that!

      1. Cj*

        Just today the big boss buzzed me right and noon, and in a quite angry voice asked me to come to his office. I was all “Oh, my God, what did I do?”. Turns out he was frustrated with what he was working on and wanted my help. At least I found that out in 30 seconds and didn’t have to worry about waiting for a meeting.

    7. Tris Prior*

      Oh… that is so not cool.
      My company has frequent layoffs and eventually my team trained our boss to say “this is not a bad-news meeting, HR is not involved” in the meeting invite. So even if she didn’t want to tell us what it was about, we at least knew we weren’t getting canned. She was surprised that we worried about this, but we were like, OK, look at how many layoffs we’ve had, we think this is a totally reasonable fear!

      After she heard it from enough of us, it stopped being a problem. I feel like it costs a manager nothing to at least say a bare minimum of info like that.

    8. Can't Sit Still*

      My manager does this with compensation reviews. This year, I went ahead and scheduled them that way. She’s scared too many people with them in the past. She’s otherwise a great manager, this is just a huge blind spot for her.

    9. Double A*

      Not that this is the case here, but sometimes this can be so tricky if you have good/neutral information you need to deliver in person, so putting a topic in the meeting invite would defeat the purpose of an in-person meeting.

      When I asked to set up a quick chat with my supervisor, I needed to tell her I’m pregnant. But I wanted to do that in person so… how to keep the ask vague but also let her know I’m not quitting? And funnily enough when I told her, she was like, “Oh, I was so worried you were going to tell me you were quitting or something!” I thought it’s funny that bosses have the same reaction about a vague meeting request, to immediately assume the worst.

      1. kt*

        What I did for a similar meeting was call it “summer scheduling” or “summer planning” or something like that — sort of mysterious, but also accurate for a summer mat leave, and hopefully anxiety-reducing.

    10. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      Ugh my leadership used to do this too. My VP seemed to love scheduling department wide 20 minute meetings with 24 hours notice – just enough time to really stoke the rumor mill.

    11. Eleanor Knope*

      That’s terrible, especially that he doubled down! My SVP once scheduled a meeting called “discussion” with my entire team at the last minute. We were all panicking. It ended up being about how HR had reminded managers about our chairs’ ergonomic features, and her demonstrating them for us and reminding us we could get an ergonomics assessment done if we wanted. Fine meeting, but not worth the stress beforehand!

    12. Mockingjay*

      My project lead is like this. Schedules meetings all the time without an agenda/heads up. I’ve learned it’s not personal or bad news. He often has so much going on (and he’s terribly disorganized and resistant to fixing that – ugh) that he simply schedules meetings in the moment, then moves immediately onto the next thing. Day of the meeting:

      “So, Mockingjay, what did you want to talk about?”
      “You scheduled this meeting.”
      *Looks blank, scratches head for a moment. “Oh yeah, about the new design. Where are we on the test report?”

    13. Not So NewReader*

      Eh, all of you could ask for a one-on-one with him and not tell him the topic. Let him think you all are quitting.

      Then you could say, “It’s not important to announce the topic.”

    14. Sleepy*

      Omg. HR once scheduled a meeting with my partner at 4:30pm on a Friday with no agenda. He was terrified he was being fired and also baffled because he had just received a workplace excellence award. Turned out HR was missing his signature on something. But wtf.

    15. meyer lemon*

      My boss once sent a really ominous-looking meeting invitation which turned out to be so he could distribute the contents of a gift basket. What an emotional rollercoaster.

    16. Middle Manager*

      I think “owe” is the wrong take on it. Is it required, I guess not. But if you don’t want to be a jerk and you are knowingly causing stress to your employees, why not just say in advance you’re doing a general check in, nothing to be concerned about. I get that things sometimes come up last minute and you might not have a chance to offer that. But if you’ve taken the time to schedule a bunch of 15 minute appointments, is it really that hard to “cut and paste” that into the meeting invites?

  31. Casey*

    I’m doing a brief virtual informational interview with an alum from my school who’s currently working at a super cool company in my field. I did reach out because her employer is hiring, but I promise I know the difference between a job interview and an informational interview!
    I’m looking to get her insight on this specific company — they’re doing work that’s relatively uncommon and matches with my moral compass and technical skills.
    I’ve got a few questions I know I want to ask her, like “how did you know this company was a good fit for you?” and “what kind of projects do you work on day-to-day, are they all the big flashy ones on the website?”
    What are some other questions I can ask to gauge whether this company is a good fit for me? Also, it’d be okay if I asked her if she knew of other companies doing similar work, right?

    1. EMP*

      I once got asked “what’s your least favorite part of your job” and I thought that was really cogent for an informational interview.
      Is there non-work stuff that’s important to you? Work-life balance is a big deal for me, for example. If you’re still in school and figuring out exactly what track you want to take in this industry you might ask about that (e.g. you’re starting as an individual contributor but think in 10 years you’d like to move to management, you could ask her if she sees that much or what a typical career path looks like).
      I definitely think it’s OK (good, even!) to ask about other companies.

    2. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

      I might leave out the question about other companies doing similar work. You could also ask what percentage of her day she spends actually working on projects vs. in meetings, doing mundane tasks/ what does a typical day look like for you vs. “an exciting day”.
      You can also ask:
      Are there opportunities for professional development within the company?
      How closely do you work with other departments/members of your department. Or, what departments/other people do you rely on the most?
      Just a few!

    3. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      “Could you share some stories of people who you’ve seen thrive at this company? Who have you seen struggle here?”

    4. WandaVision*

      Since it’s an informational interview, I think you should not focus too much on the fact that their company is hiring. If you get an offer from their company, that is a good time to consider if it’s a good fit for you. If you leave the meeting knowing for sure that you would love to work at this company but then never get an interview, that’s a bit of a wasted opportunity, you know? Consider what information you would like from this person if you knew for sure that you were not going to get a job at their company: stuff like their path into the industry, how they have seen others get a foothold, where they read about industry news online, etc. I think the question about competitors is good because they will likely know and that can help direct your job search. Best of luck!

  32. AnonToday*

    Fellow data analysts – I have a final interview coming up for a Senior Data Analyst role and it will have a virtual whiteboarding component. I’m guessing probably some statistical analysis & SQL coding. Any suggestions on websites or resources to use to help me prep for the interview? For context I’ve worked as a data analyst for the past 5 years, I regularly code in SQL but I am a “write something & test it” type coder, I don’t spit code off the top of my head. I am just now learning Python & R which the hiring manager is aware of & I don’t think I’ll get any questions about those. In my current role I don’t do a ton of statistical analysis, it’s mostly regressions.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Just tell them your working style up front – “write something and test it” is a perfectly valid way to do code.

  33. Seeking Second Childhood*

    Anyone else have issues & solutions for windows & office setup? Lower-case windows, lower case office — as in arranging monitors to reduce sunglare. And deciding whether it’s worth it to rearrange an otherwise pleasant & functional setup.

    1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

      Can you install curtains at all? We just used command strips and installed really lightweight rods and cotton curtains that reduced glare but didn’t kill the natural light too badly.

    2. Bob Howard*

      Please pay attention to the acoustics. Curtains, carpets or anything soft will tend to absorb sound & prevent echos, making a quieter and less stressful office. Is it possible to set rules about radios, speakerphones, zoom/teams calls etc? Quier aircon, compuer fans etc are all worthwhile.

      Please make sure your carpets are anti-static so that you do not get zapped when you reach for the stair-rail.

      Have 1 or 2 dummy thermostats to appear to 0control the temperature, e.g one on each side of the room. Make sure the location of the real thermostat is well hidden.

      But if everyone is generally happy with the configuration, and the only problem is sun-glare on monitors, as others have posted, curtains, blinds or window-film are good options.

        1. Bob Howard*

          Shame. Can you tell me which law & in which country/state? It will prevent me making a fool of myself in public again!

          1. Robin Ellacott*

            I think Teekanne was using the D&D alignment thing (lawful good; lawful neutral; lawful evil; unlawful good etc.) not suggesting they were actually against the real law.

            And it’s a GREAT idea. The illusion of control is often enough to make people happy!

          2. The teapots are on fire*

            I think this is roleplaying game terminology, in which characters can be lawful, unlawful, or chaotic, and good, neutral, or evil…if I remember correctly. I’m sure the real gamers will be along soon to correct me.

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      I like to have my desk perpendicular to the wall with the window. That way, I don’t have my monitor(s) facing the window, but I can still see out of it.

    4. Juneybug*

      Few suggestions –
      1. Anti-glare screen covers
      2. Window film to help reduce the glare but still allow light in
      3. Desk lamp to balance out the lighting
      4. Turn off one or more overhead lights
      5. Cubic walls extenders/privacy panels
      Hope this helps!

  34. AnonBurnOut*

    How are you all dealing with burn out these days? I barely have the energy to work so adding in a job search seems challenging. The sad thing is, I like my job, but we’ve been understaffed for about a year now and there’s no sign of improvement. (I should also add, my job requires me to talk to people all day, often on camera, so some of the productivity tips I’ve seen don’t apply when I’m in back to back meetings). I saw a therapist but all she did was tell me to go outside during the pandemic, so I stopped seeing her.

    1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

      Yeah that therapist wasn’t for you. I wouldn’t give up on therapy though, and a lot of us are in the same boat. Have you looked into switching into a different role in the same company? Or, what is it about your job that you like vs. the requirements that are burning you out? Maybe you could take what you like and find it elsewhere or in a different role at your present firm?

      1. AnonBurnOut*

        Thank you. I’m seeing a different therapist soon. And I have applied to a few internal roles, was interviewed for 1 but wasn’t selected. I’ll keep thinking about the pros/cons and figure out if I want to spend any energy on a new search. Thanks for your reply!

    2. Still Me*

      My boss was just fired, two weeks ago another person on our team was fired and my direct report just resigned. I have extended the rubber band of stress and burnout as far as it will go. Here is what I am trying to do:

      – I walk20-30 minutes everyday, while it is still daylight outside
      – I try to do a couple meetings each day (usually internal) on my mobile so I can pace and talk (moving around a bit helps)
      – I do not work past 7:00 PM
      – I put my mobile phone down from 6:00-7:00 PM each night
      – Stopped drinking alcohol and reduced my caffeine – anything that can affect my mood
      – I keep wanting to put my mobile phone down for the night at 10:00 PM but have so far been fully unsuccessful and instead read the AITA thread on Reddit until 12:30 AM – not helpful

      (Posting this reply under a different Name.)

      1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

        Dang! I am going to adopt some of those, this is great stuff! I wish I had anything further to offer, it sounds like you’re handling it better than most of us could.

      2. Smitten By Juneau*

        It sounds like you’ve got a good plan and are making decent strides in implementing it! Keep up the good work.

        Please remember to be kind to yourself if you aren’t able to change everything all at once (e.g. reading Reddit late.) You need to change at a pace that works for you in order for things to stick. Otherwise you are likely to just rubber-band back to where you were when you started.

      3. AnonBurnOut*

        Thanks for sharing your schedule! I do try to get outside, too, it just doesn’t solve the workload, you know? I will work on setting boundaries that work for me. Thanks for your reply!

  35. HopingForBetter*

    I’m going to be second-round interviewing soon for a new position and I’m looking for advice about questions to ask the committee. I’m interviewing for non-management professional positions in higher ed.

    One of the biggest reasons I am leaving my current position is because my manager is not effectively advocating for our department to administration and therefore our department is constantly getting its budget cut, positions eliminated, etc. and as a result we are understaffed and it feels like we’re always just struggling to keep our heads above water. I’m getting burnt out.

    Any ideas about questions I can ask that will give me an idea of how well the management at these new positions is able to advocate for their department beyond simply asking, “what’s your relationship like with university administration?”

    1. irene adler*

      This is probably out of line, but wouldn’t this make for a good behavioral question to ask the hiring manager?

      Something along the lines of: “Tell me about a time when management reduced your department budget.”
      Might add: “How did you negotiate things to keep your staff intact?”

      1. HopingForBetter*

        I agree it’s a scenario that could really be applied to a behavioral question! The jury’s still out on whether I have the chutzpah to turn the tables that way!

    2. Not a Real Giraffe*

      Sometimes I find naming the exact issue and asking what their experience with that has been is effective. (“One of the reasons I am looking for a new role is XYZ. What has your experience with that been?”)

      It can feel like a bold way to phrase it, and asking it can really depend on how strong of a candidate you feel you are and how senior the role is, but it may help avoid you getting answers that don’t quite answer your “real” question if you ask something more vague.

      1. HopingForBetter*

        I’m going to try this out. I welcome any feedback! :)

        “Many campuses nationwide are experiencing shortfalls and cuts due to a variety of challenges currently facing higher ed. In my career, I’ve noted how important it is for [department] management to have a strong relationship with university administration to ensure [department’s] needs are met and [department] can continue meeting the needs of the faculty and students it serves.

        With that in mind, who do you feel is [department’s] biggest champion on campus? What do you think is your biggest challenge when representing [department] to university administration? What do you think has been [department’s] greatest recent success when pitching a new initiative to administration?”

        Is this on the right track?

        1. Not a Real Giraffe*

          I think these sound good — they are certainly not vague, and should hopefully help you glean some key info! Good luck!!

    3. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      Oof, this is a tough one. The hard truth is that higher ed budgets are being slashed all over the place, and the budget process may not be swayed by a department manager advocating for their team. Higher ed staff are overwhelmed and overburdened everywhere. I’m in higher ed too, and even though our university is in a relatively strong position (we’ve been able to avoid layoffs and furloughs, for example) and unusually consensus-driven, there’s basically a hiring freeze, salary freeze, benefit cuts, and extra work – the performance expectations have never been higher and everyone’s on edge. Our budgeting process takes a year because every single department manager is consulted and it still resulted in an X% reduction across the board.

      I wonder whether it makes sense to consider a career change outside of higher ed in this current job search; virtually any institution you join would also be facing budget cuts, and they might see your question about budget cuts as a red flag that you wouldn’t be happy there. On the other hand, if the budget cuts are the only thing driving you to look at a new job maybe it helps to know it’s not just your current org going through it? I obviously don’t know your situation and I apologize if I seem harsh, I just see in my own org how the staff who make public complaints in our budget town hall meetings look increasingly out of touch with the reality of the situation.

      1. HopingForBetter*

        I hear what you’re saying and I appreciate your points! I do strongly feel like the difficulties I’m currently experiencing are due in large part to my manager’s inability to represent our department (although I also recognize that budget stressors are a universal fact in higher ed right now).

        For many reasons, I just don’t think my director is respected by her own manager in administration. The most glaring example is that we are currently undergoing a reorganization, and my director is essentially being demoted. Someone who was once parallel to her is now becoming her manager. In any other university I have worked at or seen, my director’s position is the executive director of the unit, but instead she will be reporting to the ED. Another example is that our building was renovated about 3 years ago, and we lost a significant amount of square footage and office space to the new ED’s department. So while I’ve worded it as a budget/staffing issue in my original question, the reality is it’s an issue with every resource we compete for on campus. It’s not just that we’re not getting money, it’s that we’re losing out to other departments. FWIW, I made the decision to leave based on these issues before COVID and its associated budget pressures and am only just now able to do a job search and leave.

        1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

          Oh wow, that is a bit different! I think your questions above are great and will certainly help you suss out the atmosphere (and however they answer will give you insight). I’d also suggest taking a close look at how visible the department is on the university website, maps, strategic plan, etc. I would bet a department that’s linked right on the homepage is better-resourced than one that takes 10 clicks to find their site.

          If the university has a current strategic plan, I’d also suggest asking in your interview how the department fits into that plan and what resources have been/will be made available to meet those goals.

          1. HopingForBetter*

            Those are great ideas, thanks so much for your input! It’s good to have some perspective from someone else in the higher ed world.

  36. Very Sus Circumstances*

    I’m in the process of leaving my current company. I gave notice to my boss last week and he has been excessively passive-aggressive and immature about things – giving me the cold shoulder, snapping at me, etc – which is a theme, and a big part of the reason I am leaving in the first place.

    I haven’t heard about any interviews or job postings to fill my position, and my boss and colleague have been taking on a majority of my tasks since I gave notice. Right now this is a slow season so that is reasonable, but things will kick up soon and while I know it is not my place to care, I know that they will have issues in training because of the aforementioned level of professionalism this man exudes.

    I asked the person who is the go-between with my facility and HR if there was something I should do to give notice to that end, since I had assumed that my boss would follow the normal chain of command and pass that along as is done for everyone else, and they had no idea I had even given him my notice. I have a sinking feeling that I will be let go before my notice is over since it was never put through in the proper way – is there anything I should be doing for my own purposes in the meantime? How do I cover myself in the event that I am terminated instead of being able to finish my notice period?

    1. Reba*

      I would say keep talking with HR and don’t count on your boss to handle anything. I’m not sure what your concerns are that you need to cover. Any chance you could try to negotiate severance or continuation of certain benefits (again via HR) if you are pushed out, since you can say you attempted to give the full amount of notice and your boss mishandled?

      I’m assuming your notice period is longer than the US two weeks, since you’re asking. But regardless, the notice period is not for hiring your replacement. And this company’s future training issues are, happily, not your problem! Congrats on leaving!

    2. LuckySophia*

      I’m not an expert, but it seems like the reasonable thing to do is:
      — Get an appointment to meet with HR as soon as possible (either by contacting them directly, or via the go-between person).
      — Give the HR person a copy of the resignation letter you gave your boss. Confirm to HR “I met with boss on (date) at (time) to inform him I would be resigning and give my (two weeks’ or whatever time period applies) notice. ”
      — Ask HR what procedures you need to follow/what paperwork needs to be done, as part of your exit process.
      For example, if you have to formally turn in a badge, or keys, or equipment, to whom do you turn it in, to Boss? The Facilities go-between? to HR? Is there a form someone has to sign, and do you get a copy, to confirm you’ve fulfilled that requirement? Ask HR about any benefits: do they pay you for unused vacation time? When does your company-paid medical coverage (if you have any) end? What are your options, if any, for continuing that coverage on your own? If you expect to use this company as a reference, ask HR what is their policy– do they give references or at least confirm titles/dates of employment? Maybe ask HR if future employers can contact HR rather than Boss, since Boss has been hostile since you announced your resignation.

    3. MrsPeaches*

      Did you give a written resignation to your boss? If so, forward that to HR. If not, write one up ASAP with language like “Per our conversation on February 20…” and send it to the boss and copy HR. That way at least HR will have it in their file as a resignation for when future employers conduct verifications.

  37. Help with Clear Gender Bias!*

    I am on the board for an organization that recently went through a search for a new executive director. At one point in the process, we had several candidates meet with senior staff to get staff feedback on their potential new boss. I was shocked at the gender bias that staff showed in their feedback. All of the male candidates were strong and passionate and had clear, concrete plans. All of the female candidates were flaky, generic, and so unqualified they shouldn’t even have advanced that far into the process. To be clear, several board members sat in on these staff meetings and these candidates were no different with the staff than they had been with the board in the process so far. The female and male candidates were all equally qualified. In fact, several of the female candidates were actually significantly more qualified than the male candidates.
    I am heartbroken. This is an organization that espouses values of equality and inclusion and yet it is very clear that there is a toxic masculinity among the organization’s senior leadership. The board has discussed how to elevate a female executive director if one is installed, but we also need ways to address this generally, no matter who the ED ends up being.Does anyone have any suggestions?

    1. Long torso*

      YUCK! You need a new senior leadership team. Sadly I don’t think there’s any training that will cause them to pull their heads out of their asses. Whatever the gender of the new ED is, they need to be given a heads-up about this issue and the full support of the board to manage these misogynists out of the organization.

      I was in a similar situation recently at a nonprofit where the ED was female and the board mostly male. The ED was treated as a secretary and her experience (20+ years, not her first ED job) was ignored in favor of uninformed suggestions from male board members who had no experience in the sector. It was highly dysfunctional and upsetting to be a staff member there.

      1. Help with Clear Gender Bias!*

        This organization is a startup and most of the senior leadership team is fairly young. Do you think there’s a chance they could be educated about this issue to see their own bias and work to create a better environment? Is it possible this is just youthful, professionally immature ignorance?
        I fear a new ED will mean serious turnover in the coming months, primarily from male senior leadership. And, considering what I’ve seen, I’m ok with that. But I feel like it would be a disservice to just let that happen without calling out this situation and addressing it head on somehow.

        1. Long torso*

          I mean, yeah, I guess it couldn’t hurt to do some sort of training around implicit bias but I wouldn’t count on it doing much. The nonprofit board I mentioned above was older on average and went through a DEI retreat–I didn’t notice any change, and in fact many of the board members complained that it was a waste of time & money.

          I am a woman in my mid-30s and a few years ago I managed two youngish men (I was older than one and younger than the other). I had significantly more experience in the field than either of them–like, more than double the years. They wouldn’t listen to a word I said. I recall one situation where I called them out and it did not go well. We had a standing monthly meeting with members of our dept and board. The meeting took place after work hours and we served dinner. The “boys” always found a reason to leave early, which meant that the cleanup was left to their female colleagues. After this happened three times in a row I told them that on nights when we had the meeting, they needed to be available and stay through cleanup, and pointed out the gendered issue that was happening. Both of them got immediately very defensive. One of them claimed “I NEVER leave early and I ALWAYS stay to help with cleanup” even though he had left early and didn’t help with cleanup just the night before! I realize this may seem relatively minor in the grand scheme of things, but I promise that this similar issues were happening on a weekly, if not daily basis.

    2. tangerineRose*

      Are you in a position to talk to some of the senior staff and ask, for example “I was surprised you spoke of Susan as “flaky, generic, and unqualified” since her qualifications are …

      Might maybe get them to at least think about it.

      1. Help with Clear Gender Bias!*

        Yes, this is one of the things the board discussed as a way to address conversations about the female candidates.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I am not clear here- is all the senior staff male? If no, what did the women say about other women?

      What if senior staff was given a written set of guidelines to evaluate a potential ED or whatever while interviewing?

      I think in the future, that senior staff should be told they cannot use vague words such as flaky, generic or unqualified. They must give hard examples from what is said in the interview to substantiate their statement.

      1. Help with Clear Gender Bias!*

        Senior staff is about 50% male, but the male senior staff were disrespectfully harsh on all of the female candidates. It then seemed like a “group think” mentality took over and the female senior staff members would say things like “Oh yes. That’s a good point. I agree.” The male senior staff members were definitely leading and directing the harshness.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Oh this is 27 layers of ICK.

          If they would not say it to a man then they should not be saying it to a woman.

          Just my idea, but I think this would be a great question for Alison to answer with her specific steps that she usually outlines so well. Have you emailed Alison?

  38. Sanders*

    How do I fix my brain and re-gain my productivity? I used to be so on top of my sh*t. But now I feel like the pandemic, having children, and my damn smartphone have ruined my ability to focus and stay motivated at work. I only do the urgent, low-hanging fruit and completely neglect the important stuff until I’m so behind that I’m practically in tears. How can I inch my way back to being a focused, productive individual at work?

    1. Reba*

      I don’t have solutions but just solidarity. I have NO memory/retention these days and only work through longer periods due to the pomodoro extension.

      1. many bells down*

        Same. My concentration is shot to hell, and anything that doesn’t have a firm and imminent deadline can’t hold my attention for shit.
        Be kind to yourself. No one should have to deal with all this.

    2. Coenobita*

      Oof, I’m 100% there with you. I just had a whole conversation with my therapist about how I feel like I have pandemic-onset ADHD (a year ago, I had none of the signs/symptoms; now I have so many). And I feel like I don’t have the bandwidth to do the hard/important things, so instead I procrastinate and worry about them instead of doing them – or instead of doing anything, really, so I’m not even doing the low-hanging fruit.

      I have been having marginal success with this technique (recommended by my boss, actually): just pick one thing, and do it. It doesn’t matter what it is. Just pick one thing, and do it. Every time your mind wanders or you click away to something else, say to yourself, kindly and gently, “I am doing this thing” and go back to it. It seems so simple but it is HARD, almost physically hard. It’s like I’m using a muscle that I haven’t in a long time.

      I’m trying not to beat myself up too badly about my lack of productivity (because: everything) but still get more things done or at least feel like I’m being productive. I’ll be coming back to this thread to see what others recommend!

      1. Shirley Keeldar*

        I have a friend who, when we used to be co-workers, would call me up and say, “Please tell me to just pick one thing off my list and do it.” And I would tell her exactly that, and she would do it. Somehow, it seemed to help.

    3. Web Crawler*

      To focus, I find that I need to take more breaks. Real breaks where I get up, separate myself from my laptop, and check in with my body. Checking askamanager while telling myself “this is basically work” doesn’t count as a real break for me.

    4. Rara Avis*

      I’ve been struggling with that too. Sometimes I can get going if I tackle an important job with the idea, “I’ll just do 15 minutes on it.” Once I get going, I often am able to get on a roll. Or break the big job into little parts and aim to knock off one or two parts.

      1. Sanders*

        It’s so true – just getting started is the hardest part. Once I’m in the middle of something I’m usually happy to keep going, but that first 10 minutes is such a huge hill for me these days. I’m a pro at avoiding the important things. The only way I can get something important done is by avoiding something else MORE important. Ha.

    5. Emily*

      Maybe looking up productivity resources for people with ADHD could be helpful? There’s lots of stuff out there, but if you’d like a starting place, I’d suggest the “How to ADHD” Youtube channel.

    6. Double A*

      This is so weird, I don’t remember posting this yet here’s my life on the internet….

      Ugh, this is so hard. Part of what’s hard is I kind of fundamentally don’t WANT to fix my issues. I know leaving my phone upstairs means I won’t look at it. But… I want to. So I do.

      I think a huge part of it is that I’m not working towards anything. I’m at a steady point in my career and I don’t WANT to be ambitious right now because we’re building our family right now and that’s where my energy is really going. Since I’ve always been quite goal-oriented, adjusting to a “maintain course” mentality about my job was already a bit of a challenge before the pandemic, but now we’re living in this undifferentiated fog in our personal lives as well.

      Here are some ideas that I’m working on:
      -Leaving my phone in another room. Especially after work so I can actually be present with my family.
      -On weekends, planning SOMETHING. A place to go. A project to do. It’s not going to make our lives feel magically purposeful, but gives some structure and just, like, waymarkers in the fog.
      -I’ve been tempted to experiment with a shortened day. I think I could get all my work done in 6 hours, but I feel like I “should” sit here for 8… so I often waste like 4 of them then rush to fill the other 4.

      1. Sanders*

        You are definitely my twin, Double A. :-) I used to be an ambitious, career-oriented person, but ever since having my 2 little kids I have just been coasting at my job, in a way that probably seems adequate to my coworkers but feels shameful to me.

        I like the shortened workday concept. If I were able to focus better, I could certainly accomplish most of what I need to do in 6 hours/day. But instead, I sit at my desk in a fog of distraction, scattered meetings, and email management, and somehow 8 hours slip by.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I tend to be this way at home. One thing I have found very helpful is to write a list of goals for the next day before bed time. I don’t beat myself up if I don’t do them all- I just carry the unfinished over to the list for the following day.

      At work, I make a list of things that need to be done and I also have a stack to process. What is getting me is that doing one task can trigger remembering that I need to do 5 more tasks at some point. How many weeks have I let those slide?

      I am trying to make myself be aware of the stuff that is sliding and do a few each day. Most of them are 5 minutes except for the ones that take me hours. (sigh) Eat an elephant one bite at a time. Talk nicer to yourself- when you get 1 or 2 things done should have been done a while ago- congratulate yourself, as opposed to beating yourself with the list of what yet needs to be done.

      One thing that has helped me is to think about going to our new normal- whatever that is. It encourages me to pick up things that have been dropped and move them along. The key is to think about going towards something.

      Rely on lists and notes more often.
      Try to make more of an effort to notice things that are not necessary and are sucking up your time and brain space. Ditch those things or streamline them in some way. In a silly example, I have friends who won’t sign up for automatic oil delivery. The amount of time they spend talking about forgetting to order oil is amazing. In some instances it has lead to problems with empty oil tanks- now that is pretty stressful. In both cases, it has taken me years of saying, “This stress and extra energy can be avoided if you set up for auto-delivery.” Not everything can be an A-1 priority. This is one example, but look at things around you with fresh eyes, what can you off-load in some manner?

      1. Lizzie*

        Get a physical check up and some blood tests done if you can. An under active thyroid, low iron levels, etc etc can all impact on your stamina and focus. We often look for a psychological fix first, when the physical body we live in is the part that needs attention!

  39. Coenobita*

    Anyone have any fun video chat fails recently?

    The place I work has a very cameras-on culture; nothing mandatory, but we did a lot of video calls even pre-covid and it’s common for the majority of people in meetings to have their cameras on. Folks’ kids/pets/roommates/partners pop up on screen from time to time and it’s fine.

    So in this meeting, a senior manager’s cat strolls onto his desk. Aww! Kitty! How cute! Way to make our meeting more fun! Except then Kitty turns to face Manager to be better positioned for pets. Kitty’s rear end is now perfectly lined up with Manager’s laptop camera. And instead of Manager’s face, it’s Kitty’s butthole front & center in the little zoom window. Manager is, apparently, oblivious to this and continues petting Kitty. For a LONG time.

    1. Donkey Hotey*

      I’m stuck between making the obvious “My boss is an @sshole” joke and the more recent meme of “I am not a cat’s butt, your honor.”

    2. Helvetica*

      My co-worker’s parrot kept screaming in the background of her call. It was quite funny and we couldn’t see it. She was very apologetic about not being able to move and we all had a good laugh.

    3. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      We have had the occasional kid or pet making an appearance on a staff meeting call, but yesterday my boss apparently had enough with one particular cat and kept telling it’s owner that he was going to have to break out the Benadryl if she didn’t get it off the screen. It was a “joke” but, like, not really.

    4. Might Be Spam*

      I’m not used to leading meetings because I never had to do it pre-covid. Halfway through leading a meeting, my software glitched and turned my image sideways. I couldn’t get it back to vertical. So I announced that we’ll just have to live with it. We spent a few minutes sharing video chat woes and finished the meeting with my image sideways. Afterwards, the only way to fix it was to uninstall and reinstall the software. I’ve had so many computer issues of one kind or another during meetings that it seldom bothers me any more.

      Another time we thought we were being Zoom-bombed and my co-host kept kicking out an unidentified participant. It turned out to be someone signing in from a guest account. After they texted me about having trouble signing in, we let them in. We did come clean about kicking them out. Fortunately they have a good sense of humor.

  40. Hope Springs Eternal*

    I am a nonprofit Executive Director who started approximately 18 months ago. In that time, I have been working on instituting HR policies, a culture of accountability, program management systems, and diversifying fundraising, communication, and marketing channels while still managing an essential services organization that has remained open during Covid. The organization had a teapot sales director (the title anyway) at my time of hire and we have had a bumpy 12 months, with resistance to all of the above.

    Earlier this week, the director inadvertently sent a text message about me to me. I offered to delete the message when she came into my office to “own the message she sent” as I had not yet read it. She declined the offer to delete and instead, sat down for forty minutes to tell me I was unkind, toxic, had unobtainable standards, impossible to please, and more. She (finally) admitted that she does not know the foundational skills for teapot sales, and while this has been known by me and my Board for some time, Covid has taken almost all the focus.

    Against all my judgment, I am willing to offer her a second chance but not in the teapot sales realm (she has other responsibilities that need more time and focus). Will this just backfire on me? Or do I take into account that she has never had professional mentors, never worked in a culture of accountability or even metrics? My Board chair is comfortable with either decision. I just wonder if I am being too soft with a bit of distance between the events and today. I do have a meeting scheduled with her first thing Monday and I’ve written up a new job description but should I listen to my gut?

      1. Hope Springs Eternal*

        That’s fair! My perspective is, yes I do have high standards and I do to be presented with mostly fully-formed ideas. One of the things that came up with “I destroy her ideas” and when I asked for examples, it was about when we discussed was her idea to launch an specific ecommerce platform (that is not in our current strategic plan that is accessible by all staff). In that discussion, I told her I was willing to consider it and then asked some quick questions about payment processor, inventory management, and who among the staff would build and manage the platform and receiving no answers, I asked her to consider those types of questions before making the proposal. Other examples she gave are that I don’t communicate with her and when I asked if she considered the project management platform a form of communication (which I use daily), she said no, she wants 1:1 meetings and I don’t respect her need for that. She also said she doesn’t like the project management platform because the other members of the teapot sales team can see the conversation / feedback / pace of work.

        I am willing to bend on issues of communication to a degree but I don’t have the time for 1:1 meetings multiple times per week. I also don’t mind indulging idea generation and “throw things against a wall and see what sticks” when problem-solving or growing programs but when being presented with an idea that is no where in the strategic planning or current workflow, I do like to see some thought put into how it could work.

        I could be very much in the wrong here. Please be honest!

        1. Twisted Lion*

          I think you should listen to your gut here. Ive worked in the non-profit world and saw someone push back like this in a development director position because they didn’t have the experience. She created an awful situation for her team and they were constantly trying to figure out what was supposed to be done. She kept claiming it was the system we used and other things and when given goals she would push back constantly saying she was doing the best she could and that she did x, y, z at a previous org. She also didnt have the skills and instead of saying “Hey I think I need some help with this” she deflected and eventually lied.

          I think if someone is uncomfortable by accountability it should be a red flag and her unloading on you in an inappropriate manner was the other.

        2. Don't personality type me*

          I suspect, after reading this and other comments, she’s a bad fit, for the role. The organization. maybe both.

        3. The New Wanderer*

          It really sounds like she tried to spin everything you did and are in the worst possible light, before even admitting that it’s actually her bad fit in her current role that is the problem in this situation.

          You said ‘against your better judgment’ – if your best judgment is to cut her loose, I think that’s the best approach. Stuff isn’t going to get magically better if she’s in a better-for-her role, she’s still inclined to see the worst in you. And then text about it rather than talk to you like a professional about how to improve your relationship (which also sounds like she just wants you to do everything she says without question or accountability). Yes, she may be unhappy in her current role, but this is not someone who will be successful in another role under you.

        4. Just a Minion*

          I don’t think it would be a good idea to offer her a 2nd chance. She sounds pretty toxic. If you replace this person it would be beneficial to have a recurring 1:1. While I do not think you should have multiple 1:1 meetings a week, once every other week or once a month for 30 min may be beneficial to you and your reports.

        5. Binky*

          She sounds awful, why would you want to keep her? If she were amazing at her work I could imagine trying to work with her on the above, but she apparently has no substantive expertise.

          There are lots of qualified unemployed people right now who would not be nightmares, why not give one of them a shot?

    1. Web Crawler*

      I wouldn’t offer a second chance to somebody who told me for 40 minutes that I’m unkind, toxic, and impossible to please. If she says that to you, I can’t imagine how she talks to and about her coworkers.

    2. pancakes*

      I’m not clear on why this person would want to continue to work with you if that’s how they feel. If, at the end of that conversation, they’d tried to redirect it a bit and said something along the lines of, “teapot sales doesn’t suit me at all and I think that’s why we’re clashing, but I think I could use my skills in [other position],” that would make sense, but it doesn’t sound like that happened.

      I’m not sure exactly what you mean by “culture of accountability,” either, but it seems like impromptu unloading on one’s boss for 40 minutes would be at odds with it!

      1. Hope Springs Eternal*

        Again, fair question! I mean meeting deadlines, producing work that does not require significant multiple revisions (for example, submitting incomplete data), staying on top of email, requesting time off and not just announcing it, and similar.

        I guess part of me is just reacting to being called unkind and toxic, when I thought during the unloading “I’m sitting here letting you unload on me and how exactly is that unkind and toxic” but also “clearly, no one has ever taught you how to constructively discuss disagreements in the workplace”. I am willing to give her the other responsibilities as she can handle them but I worry about the general demeanor and tenor of future interactions.

        As for why to continue with the organization, we do niche work and the mission is of personal significance to her.

        1. pancakes*

          If you are going to keep her, it would probably be for the best to have some sort of structured coaching or mentoring for her, rather than let her go on with this sort of thing for 40 minutes. I don’t know whether that’s doable in terms of how your org is structured, or whether it’s something she would be amenable to. If you have a fair number of employees who are new to the workforce or to the work your org does, it could be a benefit to all to have some sort of program in place to get everyone on the same page, but if it’s just this one employee who isn’t on the same page that’s probably not the right approach.

    3. Lora*

      If you are all kinds of terrible, why does she want to keep working for you? What did she expect you to say, “gosh, you know what, you are right, I shall commence with the tea and dumplings forthwith”?

      I don’t know what she expected to achieve with that 40-minute speech. Unless it is a preface to, “and here is my resignation, goodbye” what did she want to come out of that?

      1. retired*

        I once had a staff member do this. I had joined the organization (female) with no experience in its work (a type of government work different than the government work I’d done before). I just told him that he hadn’t said anything my teenagers hadn’t told me. I later recommended him (with qualifications about needing improvement in his writing) for a promotion he really wanted. In that particular culture, it got bought me credit.

    4. Not A Manager*

      This sounds like someone who does not want the job. “Accidentally” sending you a mean text, and then ON PURPOSE refusing your very generous offer to delete it unread, is either self-sabotage or it’s heading to an outcome that she actually wants. I predict that whatever new job you give her, she will find some reason that you’ve wronged her.

      If you do decide to continue this dialogue with her or to offer her a new job, I would not ignore the elephant in the room. Be very clear that you can’t do endless one-on-ones, that you will continue to require accountability based on metrics, etc. and ask her to really think about whether she can commit to the new role under those circumstances. Lean into the actual, reasonable traits that she’s mischaracterized. Don’t deceive yourself or her by watering them down or pretending that they are negotiable.

      1. Hope Springs Eternal*

        Thank you for this feedback. You are absolutely correct and I am grateful for the insights and advice because this situation is so new to me. I usually have the opposite problem, my previous direct reports ask to come with me when I join new organizations, so this just has thrown me for a loop.

        1. JessicaTate*

          When you’ve had a long track record as a “good boss,” somebody acting like this can really throw you. So, I advise to sit with that. How much of wanting to give her a second chance is a misdirected, “But I KNOW I’m not toxic” impulse? And how much is legit, “She was just having a moment. I can give some grace.” (And I think either/both can be true.)

          I strongly agree with Not A Manager that, if you do give her the new job / second chance, to be really clear about expectations and what is non-negotiable (and non-debatable). Endless one-on-ones are not possible, and the PM software is required. If there’s an accommodation you can make to her performance anxiety (I get that a little — does everything have to be visible to everyone? maybe it does), do it; but I wouldn’t let her opt-out of something that improves efficiency. I’d use Alison’s classic: “Do you think that’s something you can live up to?”

          To give her some grace, I might say to you: It does sound like she was in over her head with her job, and she knew it. That can make a person project all sorts of blame to cope. If you think this new job is something she could genuinely excel at, AND you think she can adapt to the process-y things that you need, it might be worth giving her the chance to live up to your expectations. And if I really thought that this was all bubbling up from insecurity of being bad at her job AND I believed she’d try, I might frame it as, “I see this as a fresh start. I know you can excel at this, and I can’t wait to be part of that.” She’s been feeling incompetent for who knows how long; having a boss say, “I believe in you” and truly mean it can be restorative. If she’s just naturally a drama-llama pill… well, I wouldn’t say that.

          To give you some grace (because no one does that for the boss): You are kind. For pete’s sake, you offered to delete the text sight-unseen! You have expectations, and they are reasonable. And you are thinking about her perspective in all of this. Whatever you decide, it will be with good judgement. No matter how she responds.

          1. Hope Springs Eternal*

            Thank you for the kind words. You put into words what I have been feeling but couldn’t quite articulate. I do understand feeling like you are flailing and are trying to grab onto anything that feels like it will arrest the fall. I also like your framing of the conversation for a fresh start, which I believe is a better frame than second chance because it can wipe the slate clean.

    5. 8675309*

      I would differ from others who have commented so far and give her another chance. She may see you as blunt and straightforward and tried to reflect that back to you, although poorly. Giving her a chance in another role with maybe weekly 1:1 as a mentor, or assign her o e, at first and less later may allow her to shine or fail. It may also provide you with some organizational insights you may not otherwise recieve.

        1. Burnt eggs*

          Whoopsie and sincere apologies. I will change. Thought I was being clever in changing up from a name I wanted to shed.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      From what you have here, you sound like an awesome ED and it sounds like you have a good board behind you.
      The fact that they are letting you decide, shows what the board thinks of your abilities. It’s a huge compliment.
      I am on a board, so BTDT.

      One of the questions you are being paid to consider is, “Is this person an asset or a liability to the organization and its goals?”
      What I like about this question is that it depersonalizes everything. It takes you (or me, if I use my own examples) out of the equation. It’s also a good tool for stepping back and looking at the big picture. I tend to believe there is always a larger and larger picture and we can just keep stepping back and back.

      So this employee is going to need some remedial work. Let’s say at least a year of personalized attention. Do you think this person has the capabilities to enhance/add to the organization? I would do it if I really thought the situation would turn around and the person could excel later on. Do you have the bandwidth to take this on? If NO, then let her go now.

      Let’s say you decide to take this on. Set clear boundaries, put the boundaries in writing. Set clear goals, put the goals in writing.

      Boundary: Must use computer programs as instructed. It’s part of the job and it’s the same requirement everyone else has. In the future any new program becomes implemented she will be required along with everyone else to learn the program.
      Goal: In X time frame, Employee must be using Y program on a routine basis. Not optional.

      Boundary: Must work at changes and updates going on in the organization.
      Goal: Must be in compliance with policies, regs and legal requirements. Not optional, everyone must do this or the organization can be fined/reprimanded/whatever. This goal starts immediately and there is no end date. Failure to be in compliance can result in dismissal, period.

      You probably see the overall pattern here. My guess would be that she shapes up quickly or hands in her notice very soon. But the goal here is not to get her to hand in notice. The goal is to get her to keep her job based on her own merit. There is nothing here that is not required of everyone else.

      What you want to do is build in stop-gaps so this does not go on forever. Not only are you going through this, her cohorts are putting up with crap, too. [Remember she was sending that negative crap to someone else! Maybe they don’t want to listen to this crap any more.] And in the end, it’s truly not just about you, it’s about the organization as a whole.

      I lean toward letting her go now. Think of it this way, your gut is saying NOOOO. For her half of the story she can do a 40 minute tirade and she is probably done with the job in her mind. If you frame it as neither one of you has a mindset of reconstructing/reknitting, you can see this is almost a set up to fail situation. While you might be able to flex some, she might not be able to return from the negative spot she now occupies in her mind.

      1. Lizzie*

        You say she inadvertently sent the text message about you, to you. Who was she intending to send it to? Was it meant for you, or is she bad-mouthing you behind your back?
        This bit just wasn’t clear to me, so I thought I would check, as it is a much worse situation if she meant to send it to someone else and then realised she had sent it to you. If she is deliberately undermining you, it’s time for her to move on. It seems like she does not value, or want to support the changes you are there to initiate.

        1. Hope Springs Eternal*

          It was bad-mouthing me behind my back. And as I type all of this out, and review all these replies, it has given me more to consider. I actually do understand needing to vent sometimes about your boss and especially when the new boss is so different than the old boss — the old boss would be gone for months at a time, would check-in sporadically over email, and when old boss did show up, it was an absolute chaotic whirlwind. The transition from a free-for-all to the ongoing move to a more structured, professional workplace has been HARD for many of the staff. It has been hard on me too because I didn’t anticipate building significant internal processes and procedures.

          Not So NewReader, thank you for your comment. I agree with you that, if a fresh start is offered, both of us need a mindset of reconstructing and boundaries with deliverables. I also love your framing of boundaries and goals as well as stop-gaps because this cannot be a “second verse, same as the first” situation.

          Again, thank you to everyone. I needed these perspectives more than I realized.

  41. Rara Avis*

    I have an unexpected opportunity to apply for an internal promotion. I have a week to decide whether to put my name forth, and I’m really torn. It was not something that was ever on my radar. It would mean less time with my beloved llamas in exchange for more meetings and being the point person for some types of client concerns. But there are aspects of the job that are intriguing and a chance for growth, and the salary boost doesn’t hurt either. I think part of my concern is that if I do try for it and don’t get it, it will take some emotional labor to get over feeling like they don’t think I’m good enough. I’ve read lots of advice on AAM about not taking it personally if you don’t get an interview or a job offer, but it seems like it would be harder to put it aside when it’s internal. I love what I currently do and the promotion is not something I feel passionate about or have always dreamed of doing. But if I don’t go for it now, it might be a long time before an opportunity comes up again, as turnover is very low. I’ve tried making a pro and con list, talking to the current job holder, talking it through with my husband. Advice on what else to weigh in this decision?

    1. Blue Eagle*

      Everyone who puts in a job application for a new job takes the risk of hearing a “no”. And for every “yes” there are probably over a hundred “no’s”. Same thing when one person takes the risk of asking another person out on a date — the no’s always outnumber the yes’s.
      There are many reasons why a person does not get the job, the date, etc that they want and usually the reason is something different than they are “not good enough”.
      Only you can make the decision of whether or not you have the bandwidth to hear that you did not get the job and still be fine with your self-worth.
      If it were me I’d go for it, and if the decision was “no”, I’d make peace with it (but I would ask what skills I would need to improve to be a top candidate in the event the job came up again and would make an effort to acquire/improve those skills); but I am not you – – and only you can evaluate how you will take a “no” in the event the job is offerred to someone else.

    2. The New Wanderer*

      I’m in a similar situation – an opportunity just came up that would be a promotion to me and I am fully qualified for it as an internal candidate.

      I’m not applying for it because:
      a) I would risk not continuing my current work that I value highly after the transfer even though the teams are highly related, because the other team has higher internal priorities and I’d probably be assigned to those,
      b) I may have a better chance of pushing for an in-place promotion due to my current work and value to my team, though this is sometimes a lot tougher than getting an internal transfer + promotion, and
      c) the hiring manager is the guy who laid me off 4 years ago (before my skill set became so prized they opened a bunch of new positions) and has a perceived track record of gender bias and has prevented my personal career growth several times now.

      By far my key reason is C, and it is entirely because I can’t stand the thought of being rejected by that hiring manager. I just would never believe it’s a fair assessment coming from him and the residual bitterness over the layoff would probably boil over.

      However, any other team offering that kind of promotion? I’d do it. My thoughts would be that I don’t have to accept if the work is ultimately something I wouldn’t be happy doing, and since I like where I am a rejection would sting but be tolerable because I’d believe that it was fair.

    3. Sandra Dee*

      I was in a similar position 18 months ago for 2 different roles, which were both a step up but still tangentially related to my current role and would still interact with my current team. I didn’t get either role, and have still worked closely with the 2 groups that had the open positions.

      In hindsight, I did not have the technical skills for the one position. For the other position, I would have brought a different level of skill and internal knowledge and relationships , but they hired someone from outside. Yes it stung, and I have had to be professional and make sure this project we worked on jointly was a success. They still rely on me heavily for my internal knowledge and resources.

      Six months ago, I had a major upheaval in my personal life and knew that with my current position and leadership team, I could take the time I needed to be out of town with family, and still function and do my job remotely. I am not sure I would have had the same flexibility if I had gotten the second position. Ultimately, it worked out like it was supposed to. Some times not getting the job is the right thing.

    4. All Het Up About It*

      Is this a job you want? Then apply. Period. Yes, if they choose someone else, you are going to have FEELINGS. But if you don’t apply, then you could have feelings of regret. You could have feelings of resentment if the person who is brought in seems less qualified then you, or just is unpleasant or inept in some way.

      From the way I am reading your question, the only reason you aren’t applying for this job immediately is fear. You should not let fear of rejection guide your decisions. Also if you don’t get the job, reframe it! Meet with the hiring manager, ask why. Not in an unpleasant and defensive way, but “What skills do you think I still need to develop to move into this role in the future? What should I focus on learning from New Person when they are here that you think are their strengths?” Questions like that cannot only demonstrate to management that you aren’t bitter about not getting the role, but also that you truly were interested and that you are looking to grow. And asking these questions could also make it easier to understand that you didn’t get the role just because you weren’t good enough, but because someone else’s skills or experiences better fit that role at this time.

      Also, depending on your company culture, if you do want this role or some other senior role and you DON’T apply for it when offered the opportunity would that be seen as a negative if you applied for another role in the future? Not all places work like that, but it is something to consider as well.

    5. Rara Avis*

      Thanks! I am by nature more inclined to think and worry exhaustively, so it’s helpful to hear your perspectives.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      So if you lose you get to keep a job you love? That does not seem like a big loss to me.

      Here’s the dark deep pit right here: ” it will take some emotional labor to get over feeling like they don’t think I’m good enough.”
      Accurately framed it could read, “It will take some emotional labor to get over the feeling that *I* don’t think *I* am good enough.”
      Often times we can use other people’s faces as a mirror to see how we look. “Do I look competent today? Let me see your facial expression!” This is not a good plan as maybe the person just ate a lemon or a jalapeno or something.

      It does not matter what they think of you. Twenty years from now they will be gone from your life because you will probably have moved on anyway. What truly matters is what YOU think of you.

      You know yourself best. Which is worse:
      1) Try and fail because someone else said no OR
      2)Don’t try and then deal with how you let your own self down.

      I had to have this talk with myself. I decided that it was a greater hardship to deal with the fact that I did not even TRY.
      You know what i learned?

      –Some failures hurt more than others. But very few failures sting for the rest of my life. (Yeah there are a couple that stung for a while.)

      —Consider each opportunity on its own. Ask yourself questions such as “If I get this would I actually be happy with it?” Or more importantly, “If I get this, do I think I have a good chance at succeeding?” Don’t put yourself in places where you know you will not succeed.

      –Understand the “special” things that happen when the sentence, “But if I don’t go for it now, it might be a long time before an opportunity comes up again…” comes up. This restriction really distorts things, suddenly that big shiny piece of glass becomes a diamond and it’s oh-so-valuable. No, it’s just a big shiny piece of glass and you can go find many more just like it. Don’t let the rareness of the opportunity create synthetic stress.

      –If you decide to apply or not apply- recognize something in yourself. There is a part of you that is willing to consider other positions. So whether you apply or not, whether you get the job or not, you now see that you might like to look around once in a while to see what else is going on in your arena that WOULD actually appeal to you.

      Bottom line: You have the luxury of sitting in a job you love, to look around and be a bit picky. If you decide to move on, you can move on to something that really wows you.

  42. matcha123*

    Is is possible to succeed long-term in the workplace if you don’t know what you want to do and if you’re not competitive with others?
    I graduated college in 2006 and hoped to eventually go to grad school. Over all these years I’ve read countless articles about changing careers or advancing in ones career. They all ask the reader to write down what they are good at, or to reach out to people in the field they want to branch into.
    I have no idea what I’m good at and no idea what other fields there are that I could be comfortable in. I feel completely overwhelmed and pretty stupid when I look at my friends who are making mega bucks. Although money isn’t everything, it would be nice to have a job that pays above entry-level wages.

    I think I do a pretty good job at what I do, but I don’t get good or any feedback from work. Yes, that sounds contradictory, but the feedback I have gotten is literally, “Why can’t you write like Jane?” and “Why do you think Jane is better than you?” I’ve been able to successfully complete work outside my job for others and have gotten good feedback. Unfortunately, freelancing is not something I would like to do.

    I know there are many people who have always known what they wanted to do and focused on achieving that goal. Are there any of you who didn’t, and still don’t, know what you want to do? Can I stand out as a good worker if I’m not competitive? To clarify, “not competitive” doesn’t mean that I want to do the bare minimum. I love studying outside of work. However, I strongly hate, to the point of getting stomach cramps, the kind of office competition that some coworkers have. The secrecy around sharing vital information, gossiping, and such and so on.

    1. Rainy*

      I’m not particularly competitive and my degrees are all in a humanities discipline that, despite very low numbers of TT jobs, doesn’t encourage you to think about what else you could do with your degrees.

      I started from the other side of things when I left grad school: what do I want my life to look like and how do I want my work to fit into that? I have a career now, in something that almost always requires a lot of very specific education and training, that I love and am, I flatter myself, very good at. How I got here was a drunkard’s walk and I love that all that seeming randomness led me to a place where my skills and abilities are useful and valued.

      My strongest competition has always been with myself. I don’t like office reindeer games and I literally don’t care about other people’s performance as long as I feel I am living up to my own performance expectations.

    2. Zephy*

      Hello, I could have written this comment. I have never had a good answer to “what I want to be when I grow up.” I’m turning 30 this year, so I think I’m just about out of time to think about it. You’re right, money’s not everything, but I have a hard time thinking of any problem I have that wouldn’t be either completely solved or considerably easier to solve if I had more money than I currently do.

      I have two bachelor’s degrees (awarded in 2013 and 2015), and the only thing either of them are good for is (1) getting master’s degrees (they’re both in disciplines that require master’s+ education to qualify for the license to practice) or (2) checking that box on job applications that use college education as a barrier rather than an actual qualification to do the work.

      I’m sorry your job sucks at feedback, that’s a problem that could most easily be solved by working elsewhere I think, but I know that’s easier said than done. If you’ve actually been asked “why do you think Jane is better than you” and the person asking didn’t operationalize what they meant by “better,” I’m very sorry you work for such a glassbowl. The information hoarders and gossips are also awful – I literally cannot understand the logic of “instead of being in any way pleasant to be around, I’ll just manipulate everyone into quietly tolerating all of my bullshit because I’m the only one that can do X.”

    3. A Girl Named Fred*

      So, first off – only receiving feedback like, “Why can’t you write like Jane?” means that your workplace sucks, not you. If they can’t articulate what they prefer about her writing, how are you supposed to emulate it? (Not to mention that they shouldn’t be directly comparing you like that, because wow that’s inappropriate and also sets you all up for an unhealthy, competitive environment.)

      Secondly, count me in as one of the folks who have no idea what they want to do. (I think there’s more of us than there are of those who’ve always known what they wanted!) This very minute, I can’t stand the organization I work for because of all the office politics you mentioned, and I’m trying to use this time to evaluate what I like and don’t like about what I do as well as what I could and would be interested in pivoting to if/when I leave. I think Rainy has an excellent way to approach it, and I unfortunately don’t have a ton of advice outside of that. I just wanted to say that you are very much not alone in not knowing what you want to do, and IMO you can absolutely be a good worker without playing the office games. You just have to find the right fit. (And I wish us both the best of luck in finding it!!)

    4. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo*

      Hi, are you me? Most of my relevant work experience is in two fields that have spectacularly imploded and in my most recent field, marketing, the positions pretty much require you to be a graphic designer as well. (Which I am not.) I do have plenty of skills that I would think are transferable and I pick up new software very quickly, but so do plenty of other people. Oh yes, and I’m over 40.
      I’ve been temping for the past several years, but I’d really like a full-time permanent position. That’s beginning to seem like the impossible dream, especially since I’m feeling lost as to what I should even be looking for. I know you’re always supposed to have a plan B to fall back on, but since I’ve gone through a series of Plan Bs…I don’t even know where to restart.

    5. PollyQ*

      There are various aptitude and attitude tests out there. (“Attitude” meaning “what do you like?” not “what kind of moods do you have?) I took the Strong Attitude test 30+ years ago, which basically asks you how much you enjoy various activities, then tells you what kinds of careers people who share those tastes enjoy. It was helpful in pointing me towards something I already knew I liked, but also suggesting a number of other careers that I wouldn’t have guessed at. So I’d recommend you take a couple of those tests, and also try informational interviews for people in careers that sound interesting.

      As others have noted, “Why can’t you write like Jane?” is such terrible, useless feedback that it barely deserves to be called feedback at all. If your current colleagues are the ones with all the secrecy, info hoarding, etc., then it’s another mark against your workplace culture. This kind of behavior is unfortunately not rare, but there are plenty of functioning workplaces where it doesn’t happen. Many jobs have a whole bunch of people happily doing more or less the same work, and it’s only competitive if you’re moving into management.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I so very much agree with those who are saying your work place sucks.
      Telling you to write like Jane is not instructive, nor informative and it is a very lazy way of managing people.
      “Boss, why can’t you actually, you know, manage people?” grrr. I am angry on your behalf.

      Additional info confirms you have a toxic workplace- secrecy in sharing necessary info, gossiping, etc. This is all stuff toxic workplaces are made of.

      I think what is necessary here is a discussion of what competitive means to you. It looks like your office pits people against each other. This is not competition. This is abuse.
      If you cannot thrive in this environment it is because you are a normal, thinking person.

      You actually have answered your own question about being a good worker without being competitive. And your answer is found in what your freelance customers are saying.
      I think it’s time to find a new employer. Someone who appreciates solid work day after day after day….

      FWIW, you have a very, very disrespectful boss.

  43. HR Lady*

    Did not get either of the two internal roles I went for and got the kind and constructive feedback on a day that my mental health was completely in the toilet and I have some other stuff going on at home. I kept it together while I got the feedback, then cried a lot. (Not even sad I didn’t get the roles! The people who did are great! I quite like my current job! Just hit a wall of being able to process emotions!)

    My manager then phoned me about an hour later to commiserate and gently suggested that even though this hadn’t worked it did open up a move to a role that’s adjacent and has the opportunity to be really great for me and maybe I should interview for THAT and my initial response was a polite “Um, I can’t think about that right now, very busy, sorry,” whereas the actual soundtrack in my head ABSOLUTELY NOT THERE IS A PANDEMIC ON I CANNOT PUT MYSELF THROUGH MORE CHANGE THIS IS A STITCH UP.

    Anyway. After a night of feeling very sorry for myself, had a chat with the manager for the adjacent role. Said it sounded interesting but I wouldn’t do it if I was made to interview for it and wanted assurances about my specific duties so I could get the experience I was told I was missing as I didn’t feel it was beneficial to make major changes at this time otherwise. Astonishingly they… agreed to everything? Basically it was, yep, it’s yours, we’ll tell the other candidates it’s closed, here is a list of what you’re doing oh and by the way we’ve secured you a post on the very very small fast-track promotion programme.

    In conclusion, it’s been a weird week and I’m a bit astonished that it’s all worked out… possibly as well as it could have?

    1. Yellow Warbler*

      It sounds like maybe you hit a wall that made you Take No Sh*t and that’s exactly the attitude you needed at that time! Congratulations. Now, once you feel a bit more settled, think about how to channel the positive parts of that for the future.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I chuckled at that “Take No Sh*t”. Yep that is exactly what happened here, OP. You laid it out in irrefutable logic and they said, “Yep. That’s right.” Good for you and congrats.

  44. Gavriel*

    Something I’ve been wondering lately… the group I work for has been bought and sold a number of times over the years, and it seems that every time this happens, benefits get cut and/or policies change in a way that makes things worse for ~75% of people. Folks get mad, they grumble, they bring grievances to management, and some inevitably quit with disastrous fallout for everyone else. And yet, the only response I’ve ever seen from management types is a shrug and a “that’s just the way it is.” There never seems to be a shred of concern. Am I naive to think that this is really short sighted? I’m not exactly young, and I wouldn’t call myself idealistic. Addressing the concerns of your workforce and trying to work with them just seems… normal and a good idea? Does anyone else have perspective on this situation?

    1. WellRed*

      I think a lot of this depends on, why is your group continually being sold and who is doing the buying? If you are being bought by private equity firms, yeah, they’re only gonna care about the bottom line. On the other hand, we were acquired by a bigger (much different kind) of company and they’ve invested in us in a way that hadn’t happened for years under the previous, anxious to retire, owner.

    2. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      Like WellRed said, it depends who is buying and why. I also think a lot of times there’s a desire to cut the staffing and reducing pay/benefits is a way to get people to leave without having to do layoffs, which incur additional responsibilities on the company.

    3. RC Rascal*

      Also— what is the profit margin like at your company & in your industry? If they are under pressure then stuff just gets cut. Benefits go first.

    4. tangerineRose*

      Are the management types in a position to do much about this? They might be under a lot of pressure from the new owners.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      It’s happening all over. And it’s been going on for a long time.
      Everything is shrinking. I do mean everything. My grandfather’s insurance paid for my grandmother’s nursing home IN FULL. And he had been gone for many years by the time she needed nursing home care.
      We never hear of stuff like this now.
      There’s lots of other stuff gone by the way side.

      If you read along with what Alison posts here, she will help you and anyone protect themselves from this crap.
      Sometimes it entails moving on.

      You can find business articles regarding larger companies that are basically piranha. They buy a company, strip away assets, cut costs to the bone and then sell it. It’s very irresponsible behavior, it’s unethical, but there doesn’t seem to be an halt.

      Back in the 90s my husband’s company felt his department was a Loser. So they cut the department free, spun it off. The department became a company under another name. Picture a little canoe adrift at sea, picture that level of vulnerability. Sure enough, a larger European firm picked up my husband’s company. Let’s say my husband’s company made bathtub toys for kids. The bigger company made real life battleships but wanted to diversify. Yeah, right. They did everything they could think of to break my husband’s company. That really did not totally kill the company so they sold it, to yet another company. The next company was worse. They wanted 24-7 availability and so on. And some how they did not manage to break up my husband’s little company either. So they too sold it. Now I think it’s more like a mom and pop chain than the big international firm it used to be.

      Stay alert and be willing to move about. That is the best thing I can say.

      1. pancakes*

        The story about your husband’s company reminds me of a strange situation I read about earlier this week – the Chicago improv theater group Second City has just been bought by a private equity firm. Who knows what they’re planning to do with it!

  45. Marin*

    I’m solidly mid-career at 40 with 15 years of experience (and a bachelors and masters degree). I’m feeling kind of lost. Don’t love being an A/E consultant. Tired of the culture. I manage a couple of big projects and small team. I signed up for my company’s mentorship program and was paired with someone who is two levels above me in another office and another department. We just had our first meeting. She’s great but I’m having trouble defining my goals for the mentorship program. I’m not sure I’m equipped to move farther up at this company. Many people close out their career exactly where I’m at. Maybe that’s fine. Maybe I want to change direction and get out of consulting.

    But in the short term, I feel like I’m wasting my mentor’s time. I’m not sure what I want to get out of this. Has anyone had a good experience with a mentor at mid career? Either having a mentor or being one?

    I’m probably not going to be able to come back and answer comments very frequently this afternoon. Sorry for that!

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      This is not specific to your field, but could the question of whether to move up in the company *be* what you want to find out from your mentor? Questions like:

      *Who succeeds in those higher roles? Who struggles?
      *What changes to work/life balance occurs going from your level to a higher level?
      *What’s different about the work and culture in your mentor’s department?

      I wouldn’t talk to your mentor about wanting to leave consulting, just because that might not be great for your future at this current company.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      “How do I figure out if I am equipped to move up in this company? What do they look for? What do I need to do? What will it be like once I am there?”

      “Many people close out their careers at this point. How do I figure out if that is the best route for me?”

  46. Humble schoolmarm*

    Question for fellow k-12 teachers: lately my principal has gotten really reactive. She’s sending e-mails at 7:30 about new rules or policies that she wants enacted and announced the next morning at 9:00. Although these policies are directed at students, they also have an impact on the teachers in terms of additional things to track or alternate assignments to come up with. There’s also a problem that consequences are being threatened without follow through ie. they tell the students that there will be detentions for tardiness, but then tell the staff that they don’t actually want to have detentions.
    Have other folks had experience with this and how/if you approach it?

    1. Rara Avis*

      I’m lucky to have a great department chair who would go to bat for us on issues like that, probably with the help of other department chairs. I feel like Allison often recommends pushing back as a group.

    2. Teach*

      What is your building leadership structure? In mine, we have formal Building Leadership Teams of selected and stipended teachers who help with big-picture policies, procedures, etc. That would be one group that would help approach this kind of issue. We also have more informal grade level and content teams, who would also be able to point out issues as a group, or at least ask clarifying questions. (i.e. “We are currently monitoring the halls and providing verbal cues to students to help prevent tardiness, in addition to the last two minutes music played on the intercom. If we assign detention to students who are still tardy, we are unsure how to go about meeting the goal of reducing tardies. Can we make some time to talk about this in our faculty meeting this week so that we are all on the same page – thanks!”)