open thread – March 12-13, 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.

{ 1,111 comments… read them below }

  1. Sydney Ellen Wade*

    Is it OK to resign via email during COVID? My boss is super busy and isn’t always available for a phone call or video chat; I’m working remotely and want to give my notice today so I can start another job in two weeks.

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      I’d say at least try to get a call or video chat with your boss today, and stress that it’s urgent/timely. (“…Are you free for a chat right now?” “Do you have a few minutes to talk today? It’s important.” etc) If they absolutely can’t meet with you today then yes I’d go ahead and do your resignation over email (I’m sure they’ll find time to meet with you after hearing that!).

      Congrats on the new job!

      1. Massive Dynamic*

        Second this – tell boss first thing in the morning that you two need to speak briefly on the phone TODAY, follow up in a few hours stating that it’s urgent (it is – you need to resign today and that starts to clock on your notice period), ring boss yourself this afternoon, and if after all of that you don’t get her on the phone, then at EOD it’s give notice via email time.

        1. OhNo*

          Hmm, I don’t know that I’d wait until EOD to send that email, especially on a Friday. Maybe try to reach your boss this morning and then send the email early in the afternoon if you can’t – that way, your boss still has a few hours in the workday to reach out to you (if they want to), and potentially start planning for how the transfer of responsibilities will work.

          If you wait until EOD, you risk that your boss may not see it until Monday, or may panic a bit because they feel like they have no time to deal with it today. While your boss’ feelings on your resignation are 100% not your problem, it might still be worth considering those factors if you have concerns about how your boss will react, and are trying to ensure a good relationship with them during your notice period or preserve a reference going forward.

    2. Two Dog Night*

      Maybe first ask if they can talk today? If they say no, then I think resigning by email would be fine.

    3. Neosmom*

      Can you find 10 – 15 minutes on your boss’s calendar (today) to schedule a quick “staffing adjustment” meeting? If not, then I recommend sending the email and scheduling that meeting for early next week.

    4. Ali G*

      I would call your boss and when they don’t answer, follow up with an email. But you probably should at least try to talk to them.

    5. MissDisplaced*

      Try as much as possible to arrange a call first.
      If that is impossible, then send an email that you’re planning to resign and you like to discuss.

    6. JitzGirl11*

      I had an employee resign over email earlier this year. A phone call would have been preferred but with busy schedules, I understand why she chose to let me know sooner over email than later over the phone or video call.

    7. HR Exec Popping In*

      Make an attempt to talk to you boss. Send a message that you need to talk to her today. If she doesn’t have time, then send the resignation letter with a note that says you would have liked to have shared this information directly with her, but schedules didn’t allow for that. Good luck on the new job!

    8. Autumnheart*

      If you can’t get time to chat with your boss, maybe add a line in your resignation that you’re available at their convenience to chat further.

    9. Penelope Toodlesworth*

      I had to resign by email once when my boss was out of the country. It sucked, but she understood.

  2. Anon for now*

    Any attorneys out there that have left the practice of law to do something else? What did you switch to? Are you glad you did it?

    1. higheredrefugee*

      I worked for law schools doing student and career services for about 15 years and enjoyed that until I burned out. So that means I helped lots of students and alumni think about this too. Right now, there’s lots of compliance work, I’ve seen successful transitions to personal and commercial real estate, personal banking and wealth management if there’s a finance background (or willingness to learn), policy research and lobbying work, chief of staff work in state agencies, labor relations work, bar association staff and executives, court administration, and non-profit leadership. I’d start by talking to the alumni advisor at your law school, looking at what alumni of your law school are doing per LinkedIn, and thinking about your risk tolerance, what you’ve enjoyed and dislike in ALL jobs, who is in your network, and where you want to be geographically. Good luck!

    2. Decidedly Me*

      Not me personally, but a friend of mine went from being an attorney into a sales job. She loves it and has really been excelling.

    3. Lemon Zinger*

      My partner is an attorney who switched to project management in finance/tech. A lot of his work involves legal compliance and many of his contracts pay higher because of his JD.

    4. beachykeen*

      I actually came out of law school and did some part time work in a law office and for a local lawmaker but my first genuine full-time work was as a crime reporter for my local newspaper. I went on to work for a statewide legal publication for almost 5 years. For the last year, I’ve been in my first legal job, for a subdivision of the state judiciary (not “practicing” per se, but policy work). I absolutely loved legal journalism and was not the only barred attorney doing it! Even when I job searched, I made sure to look at “JD alternative” positions because I wasn’t certain I wanted to be in practice. And it opened the door to my current job, which I absolutely love one year in. I never would have gotten here without my adventure in a legal-adjacent job.

    5. Pegasus Rider*

      I left the law 6 years ago and have zero regrets. When I was deciding to leave I determined what skills I liked best about my job. I really enjoyed maintaining/organizing my case files and explaining the law to clients. I was also great at high volume management (multiple cases that turn over monthly), which turned out to be a valuable skill set of its own. I looked to other occupations to see where those skills would work best and determined that Project Management had all the same skills. I took a Project Management evening class at a local college to see if it was a fit for me. I now work as a Project Manager for IT projects that are less then a month in deration, so that I can manage a high volume of different efforts with multiple clients. The best thing about my job is work-life balance and I am using all the skills in which I excel. (Working in the IT industry was unplanned, I have little tech knowledge, but I was looking for a PM job and my friend recommended me for a job at an IT firm) You can say I choose the occupation, but fell into the industry.

      1. Anon for now*

        This sounds in line with my interest and skills as well. Definitely going to look into it more.

    6. Rain In Spain*

      I think it’s important to identify what you do/not enjoy about your current job and as others have suggested, try to find something that aligns with what you enjoy. I never practiced at a big firm, but I learned in my first post-grad job that I enjoy contract negotiations and that’s what I’ve pursued (and greatly enjoy!).

      Industry matters- I greatly prefer healthcare to finance, for example, but you may feel differently. I don’t think anyone has mentioned HR yet, but understanding labor & employment laws can be very valuable for employee relations, and the job often involves things like counseling managers, investigating complaints, and perhaps drafting policies or annual trainings.

    7. IANAL*

      IANAL, but I’ve worked in politics, tech, and communications and have seen several JDs make the jump to all three fields. A few moves I’ve seen folks in Big Law make:

      – Big law –> in-house employment counsel –> tech HR
      – Big law –> in-house legal counsel –> tech business development / deals
      – Big law –> technical writing & proposals for tech companies
      – Big law –> opposition research for a comms firm
      – Big law –> crisis PR
      – Big law –> policy research in government

      1. HR Exec Popping In*

        I have several colleagues who went from working at a firm as an employment lawyer to in house counsel and now as an HR professional.

    8. Seal*

      Many of my law librarian colleagues were practicing lawyers out of law school before switching to librarianship. Since law librarians are expected to have JDs, it’s often a natural progression.

    9. Sunshine's Eschatology*

      A good friend of mine was a bankruptcy lawyer with a lot of informal tech experience who left the law to work in bankruptcy administration (I believe the company also does class action administrations, settlement administrations, etc). His specific legal background background plus tech skills made him the perfect candidate for this position. He still has some busy times, and it’s a drop in pay, but the busy times are nothing compared to what he experienced in BigLaw. Plus he’s been working remotely for years! I don’t think he’d willingly go back to the law at this point.

    10. Autumnheart*

      Not me, but one of the copywriters on my team used to be a lawyer. He went from practicing, to providing legal oversight on web stuff, to copywriting web stuff on my team. (Different companies.)

    11. DonorRelationsDiva*

      At a non-profit I used to work for our entire Planned Giving team was made up of former lawyers. Planned Giving involves complex giving vehicles, bequests, annuities, and other fiddly things that require contracts. Having a someone with a legal background handling stuff like that is a godsend. If you’re ever considering a switch to the non-profit world, keep it in mind!

    12. AppleStan*

      I have not, but just as a “Hmmmm….that’s interesting”….I have learned that a surprising number of lawyers have become quite successful romance (including paranormal romance) novelists. Courtney Milan (who clerked for a US Sup. Ct. Justice), J.R. Ward, and Kresley Cole are the ones that pop into my head just off the bat.

      1. Indigo a la mode*

        Authors in general! There’s a lot of overlap in terms of in-depth research, detail-oriented work, and weaving a compelling narrative from diverse and complicated sources. John Grisham and Jeffery Deaver are two non-romance examples that leap to mind.

    13. Michaela*

      Procurement and contract management – tons of ex lawyers in that space. Fairly easy transition too, since a lot of the job is drafting and negotiating contracts.

    14. JustaTech*

      The head biostatistician at my company was a practicing lawyer for many years before switching to biostatistics. he’s been here for 15 years so he seems to like it. I don’t know what kind of law he did before.

    15. WoodswomanWrites*

      A colleague at my former job left being an attorney to work in nonprofit fundraising. He became a specialist in planned giving for donors. His law degree came in handy as people were putting together their wills, and also helped him process gifts after they had died.

    16. Anon for this*

      I got my JD but realized halfway through law school that I didn’t want to practice (but might as well finish the degree). I started working for the past 10+ years in LSAT test prep, which has expanded to other tests and also training and managing new teachers. I love the student engagement and rapport, that it’s all helpful and positive, the challenge of thinking of creative ways to explain things, the camaraderie of the classroom (even online now), and of course, the excited emails with good news about their acceptances!

    17. Intermittent Introvert*

      Two more from the academic world: instructor in the paralegal degree program and risk management office.

    18. Grumpy, Sleepy, and Sneezy, LLP*

      Just bookmarking this thread since I am more or less desperate to do something else lol. Law is the worst. Seems harder to get out of it when your experience is in litigation, though…

  3. Yellow Warbler*

    Can anyone who has gone through the interview process for a fully-remote job give me some insight into when and how the “proof of childcare” concept enters the discussion?

    Background: I live in a very conservative/red state, and have had negative consequences in the past for revealing my childfree status. To the point that it’s cost me promotion (because a mom “needs the money more”).

    I’m determined to completely avoid the issue with employers going forward. So, hearing something like “it only came up when I asked about health insurance for my kids” would greatly ease my mind.

      1. Elementary Fan*

        Similar for me, but my job requires a lot of communication so they asked if I had space to have confidential calls. (I don’t have kids but that rule applies to everyone in my role)

    1. higheredrefugee*

      I am childless and when I was asked if I had childcare managed, I replied yes. That was the end of the discussion though I work for the federal government and my management definitely sticks to scripts when asking any questions such as this.

    2. Handwashing Hero*

      I recently onboarded to a fully-remote job and “proof of childcare” was never called out in any part of the process.

    3. RC Rascal*

      The only time I’ve heard of someone having to produce a “proof of childcare” was a co-worker’s wife (this was pre-pandemic). She had a work at home medical job–possibly billing and coding, or something similar (I can’t quite remember the details of her work. She had to provide that information.

      1. D*

        Omg, I have never heard of proof of childcare, but my immediate question is do men ever have to provide this or is it just assumed childcare is a women’s issue? Because that would be disturbingly discriminatory.

        1. TM*

          I would think it is work-from-home issue, so theoretically both men and women should get the question for that type of position, but I do wonder if that happens…

          1. fhqwhgads*

            In my experience, it does. It’s not been a “proof” thing so much as an attestation thing in the new hire paperwork. You understand that you must have childcare during work hours for any child under 14 (for example). Same form for everyone. Multiple all-remote companies.

    4. Mimi Me*

      I am a mom and the whole a mom needs more money thing makes me crazy! My kids have NOTHING to do with the job I do. I’m sorry that happened to you. That is awful.

    5. Charly Bee*

      Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but my understanding is it is illegal for interviewers to ask you whether you have children or to make hiring decisions based on your family status, so your childcare arrangements shouldn’t come up in the interview. If they ask if you can provide proof of childcare, if offered the position, you can answer yes rather than volunteering information regarding your family status.

      1. Reba*

        In the US, protection from discrimination based on marital or family status is a state-by-state thing.

        In places where it is prohibited, it is generally like other protected-class things — it is illegal to base the decision on the applicant’s status, so it is wise not to ask to avoid being influenced.

        1. Reba*

          Pregnancy discrimination is a bit different (though obviously, it’s related!) and it is federally prohibited under the Civil Rights Act.

      2. Kimmy Schmidt*

        It’s not technically illegal for them to ask, but it is illegal to factor into hiring decisions, so smart companies don’t ask. However, family status is not a protected class at the federal level (it is in some states), so I’m not even sure if that would apply.

    6. Stormy Weather*

      Is that legal? I thought employers were not allowed to ask about whether someone has offspring.

      1. londonedit*

        They can ask, but they can’t base their hiring decision on whether or not someone has children so in practice it’s better for them not to ask, as if they do ask then they’re potentially opening themselves up to a candidate accusing them of discriminatory hiring practices.

      2. Cat Tree*

        Family status is protected in some states (I don’t remember if it at the federal level). It’s never illegal to *ask*, only to use that as a factor in hiring. It’s a subtle distinction and smart employers won’t waste time asking a question that can’t have any bearing on their decision. And asking the question might be used as evidence if someone brings a discrimination case. But no, it’s not illegal to ask the question.

        I could see them asking “do you have childcare covered?” and you could answer yes if you have no children. But it’s probably better to just state that childcare is required as part of the job and let people figure that out if they need to, just like an in-person job.

        1. Natalie*

          It is only federally protected as regards housing, nothing for employment. However, there is obviously a lot of potential overlap with sex discrimination and pregnancy discrimination, so I think it’s prudent for an employer to not take it into account. (Also more ethical, of course.)

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      As an interviewer for a fully remote (even pre-COVID) team, we go through our WFH policy in one big chunk. “Anyone working from home is required to have the following: access to a secured space, a fire extinguisher in the room, homeowners or renters insurance that covers the equipment, child care during working hours for any dependents under the age of 12, a wired internet connection. Will any of that be a problem?” (Our thin client machines apparently don’t have built-in wifi and don’t play nice with the USB wifi modules, I guess. I dunno.)

      If they say yes, then we drill down to find out what the problem is and see whether it’s address-able, but if they say no, none of that’s a problem, then we thumbs-up and move on.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Also, we don’t actually require proof of childcare. If we can’t tell from your productivity and quality scores that you’re actually taking care of eight children while on the clock, and you somehow manage to keep them all from making any noise when you’re on meetings, more power to you.

      2. Littorally*

        The fire extinguisher in the room is an interesting requirement! Not just in the home but right there? What’s the rationale for that, if you don’t mind me asking?

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          To be honest, I have not the slightest clue, haha. My office is adjacent to both my kitchen and the back deck where our grill is, so it’s a reasonable place to keep one anyway, but they also don’t require proof of having a fire extinguisher at all, so. (I do probably need to check the expiration dates of my household’s fire extinguishers; I haven’t thought about them at all in at least a year, so thanks for bringing them more actively to mind :) )

          More funny: While I am expected to have a fire extinguisher in the room, however, I am NOT required to have a DOOR. Just a space that other people don’t come into during my work hours. My house does that mid-80s thing of having two living rooms, and I appropriated one of them for my office, so it has no interior door – just a door out to the deck.

          1. Littorally*

            Aw, bummer! I’m a rules nerd so I like knowing the thought process behind weird or really overly-picky rules. It’s just so interesting what people run into and the kind of wild shenanigans that can lead to those rules.

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              My last hospital had a fifteen page dress code that specified, among other things, that underwear must be worn INSIDE the pants, not outside, and that unnatural hair colors such as blue, purple, or plaid were forbidden.

        2. Peter*

          I’m speculating that in one company somewhere the computer caught on fire and the employee claimed damages from the company – so now it’s an insurance requirement so they don’t have to pay out for burnt homes.

    8. Perfectly Particular*

      I am appalled that anyone told you that you didn’t get the job b/c a mom needed the money more! What a kind, charitable business to agree to pay people based on the candidate’s need rather than on skill set, results, etc. (/sarcasm) Guess this just goes to show that navigating work/family is tough for all women. Many of us are worried about getting mommy-tracked, and it looks like depending where you are & what you do, the opposite can also be true!

    9. Caterpie*

      The workplace has obviously become more accepting of tattoos and colorful hair, at least in some industries. Has colorful, ‘alternative’, or ‘influencer’ makeup come the same way in your workplaces?

      I’m not necessarily talking about mermaid scales or anime eyes painted on eyelids for work haha, but curious to see if anything more ‘dramatic’ than neutral colors is more accepted similarly to tattoos and bright hair colors.

    10. Person from the Resume*

      Interesting. Our WFH system (pre-COVID) requires that the employee not be providing childcare or elder care while working. I’m childfree, but I’ve never heard anyone having to provide proof of it. That might only come into play if for some reason someone started to suspect an employee was caring for someone while working.

      What is proof? “My stay at home spouse is here” doesn’t generate paperwork.

    11. Lizy*

      I’m so sorry that happened to you! As a mom – scratch that – as a person, that is just…. ugh.

      I’m also in a very conservative/red state. I’ve never seen/heard “proof of childcare”, necessarily. Interviewers have discussed kids when talking about health insurance and benefits, but never asked me if I have kids myself – it’s been more “we have great health insurance – I think so-and-so pays $x for his whole family… hey, so-and-so, are your kids still at home?”

    12. Daffy Duck*

      I am a fully remote employee. I was never asked about childcare when interviewed, but I had said I was looking for a more fulfilling job now that my kids were in college. I was asked if I had a private office area to work in without distractions.
      In the before times I believe coworkers needed to have childcare for a substantial part of the workday (at least one started later due to dropping her baby off at grandma’s house). We are allowed to flex our hours as long as the work gets done tho, many of us put in a few hours in the early morning or late at night.
      Any business that gives promotions based on perceived monetary needs (how do they know you don’t need expensive medication, are supporting a disabled sister or parents) deserves to have folks jump ship.

    13. CAAmazonQueenVelociraptor*

      Don’t have any helpful advice, but here to commiserate with you. Once upon a time, I was in the military and this, along with not being married, was such a problem and used as an excuse to give others who were married/had kids to give better reviews, amongst other things, that an informal club became popular across the Navy as a whole (we even had a patch! ;) ). Too many I call recall hearing, “well, I’m doing x,y, and z for him, because he has a family to support.” The club was called SOPA…Single Officer Protection Agency. ***this is not meant to disregard/devalue the issues pregnant women in the military had and continue to have***

    14. MissDisplaced*

      Usually, we hear about the discrimination towards working mothers about things like maternity leave and childcare, and it’s less common to hear of being discriminated against for not having children. But it happens more than you think! At one job, I used to be forced to stay on the all-night shift indefinitely and be made to work overtime because “You don’t have kids.” At another job, I was actually sort of harassed (people sticking up photocopies of kids in my office) and accused of “hating kids” because I was 40 and childfree. It’s unbelievable people do shit like this, but it happens and you’re not crazy OP because it’s unwanted.

      When interviewing, I would avoid any discussion of kids entirely. If specific things come up about WFH, you can say you have a WFH dedicated time and space or something.

  4. Should I apply*

    International Women’s day celebration at my company seemed to miss the mark.

    I am US based, but work for an international company. The last couple of years the company has recognized International Women’s Day, which to be honest I hadn’t heard of before then. Previously there has been in person panels & socializing of which the socializing (drinks and snacks) was the actual highlight. This year as we are working remote it was an online panel via zoom. I will say I really wasn’t impressed by the panel and the whole thing felt very perfunctory. It wasn’t completely horrible, all the panelists were senior women in the company, and they spent some time talking about the challenges that they had faced.

    The thing that felt really off to me was, there was just this acceptance that this was the way things are, and it wasn’t going to change. That women have to work harder for the same recognition, the wage gap is going to take 70 years to close etc. There was no talk of what the company does to support women’s careers. When asked that question, the example they gave was a mentorship program for women in senior management (maybe 5% of the company). We had a breakout sessions, but they were 10 mins with a vague question and no guidance.

    Is it wrong that I expected my company to do more? Or at least have a decent answer to “this is how we support women’s careers”.

    While I generally like working for my company, I often get the impression that they are a lot better talking about their support for diversity than actually actively doing anything to achieve a diverse workforce.

      1. Liquorice*

        Ours had a call that talked about motherhood and how weird it was to be celebrated for your gender, plus a senior leader buying bunches of flowers to give out to strange women.

        And a day off, except the lower-paid women don’t get one.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          My workplace didn’t do anything but it’s full of women, anyway, and it’s a nice place to work. I don’t think anyone feels like they need anything proven.

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      I think with a lot of “diversity” things it’s become trendy/expected to go through the motions of doing something, but companies either genuinely don’t understand why they’re doing it or they aren’t invested in making it meaningful.

    2. LKW*

      My company has gotten better – they set specific diversity targets including moving women into leadership positions (measurable metrics). My CEO is a woman, so that helps set direction and expectations.

      But for years it was “here are the challenges that I faced being a wife and mother ” neither which apply to me.

    3. Qwerty*

      I have started to fall in the other camp of not wanting my company to do anything for International Women’s Day or for Women’s History month.

      It just…makes me feel like a token or that this is just a performance. A conversation about about equality in the workplace during March feels like checking a box without any real change coming from it. That same discussion during September or some other random month? Those seem to actually be done with a purpose and intent to change. Rather than a “yay, women!” speech/social media post or an excited picture of all the women who choose to wear red/purple/color of the year, I’d rather my coworkers just made less d!ck jokes.

      1. SnapCrackleStop*

        I feel similarly. Isn’t IWD traditionally a labor holiday? With striking and remembrance of women who have fought for better conditions and died for lack of them?

        I think of those that died in the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire and much more modern factory fires and collapses. All the women that struggle under unequal pay.

        It doesn’t feel appropriate to greet with “Happy International Women’s Day” and send pink social media posts. I want solidarity with my fellow women workers and protection by the law and collective bargaining.

    4. Hillary*

      My current company is also the first place I’ve encountered IWG – I think it’s much more important to some of our Asian and European sites than in the US.

      Do you have employee resource groups? Ours are all employee-led with executive sponsorship. We’re starting to see more support through those programs, although they’re still a small % of our workforce. One way they’ve unexpectedly helped is it gives our leaders a place to socialize what the company is measuring and doing.

      1. should i apply?*

        IWG definitely seems to be more of a European thing, rather than the US. I am leaning along the lines that they would have been better off doing nothing than this token recognition. I think that part of the problem is we get announcements about it from the Europe offices, so if the US offices had completely ignored it, it would would have looked bad.

        As for ERGs, they seem to be a very recent development here and targeted towards minorities. If there is one for women I haven’t seen it. I am in engineering, and at previous employers there was at least a women in engineering group.

    5. lost academic*

      Hey, the first time we did something at my (multinational, female CEO) company, in my regional office, the older woman running the event literally started out by saying we needed to thank “the men here for making this possible”.

    6. TechWorker*

      Definitely sounds like they could have done better.

      If it’s any consolation the IWD event I went to for my company a few years back barely even acknowledged there was a problem. There were a bunch of external speakers, 4/5 whom were basically motivational speakers so the message that came across was kind of ‘the only problem is that women don’t put themselves forwards and apply for promotions!’ rather than any acknowledgement of what the company could/should/is doing.

    7. Grace Less*

      Mine has made a big fuss about womens history month, sent multiple messages encouraging us to wear purple and stream a special (external) presentation, and on the big day…we got an all-company email about another man being promoted to an executive position. *side eye*

    8. More Pizza*

      In my experience, most people are better at talking about things than actually doing anything. Panels and pilot projects are euphemisms for punting. I don’t understand why more decisions aren’t made with clear intentions with everyone’s best interest at heart. The world would be a much better place if more people would do that. I have been seeing IWD everywhere in the last couple years. My company did not recognize it. I don’t know what’s worse – ignorance of the zeitgeist or half-hearted effort.

    9. anonforthis*

      My org is very large and has many women working in what have been historically non-traditional roles, jobs that years ago women had to fight for the right to work in. My thoughts on IWD are that there is remembrance of such things, a time to showcase women currently in the org, and to maybe give kids some of these roles to look up to or something. Instead of selecting a woman in one of the aforementioned roles to showcase, on SM a man was shown talking about how great it is to work with women etc (it was also a little old-timey). It was…..weird. Allies are important and positive statements are wonderful, and I know it didn’t necessarily come from a bad place, but it didn’t work. I don’t interact with my org publicly so it was just thoughts on my part, which firstly were “you couldn’t find one woman in this role to post about?”. And of course someone did end up making a comment about the post and the comments conversation completely took off and away from the intention of IWD. It was all about people being so easily offended, and how us women should be able to take a compliment, etc etc.

  5. Handwashing Hero*

    Please share you best interview questions to ask a potential coworker hire!

    We are working to add a new member to our team and as a remote based group of consultants finding the right team fit feels trickier when we aren’t going to interact beyond the screen. This would be a peer based interview that will be myself and my other peer interviewing the candidates together. Thanks!!

    1. WantonSeedStitch*

      When interviewing potential peers, I like asking about their experiences working collaboratively: what were they, what did they like about them, what did they learn about how to collaborate better, etc.

      1. Stormy Weather*

        I like this. Also what tools did they use and what they liked about them. And do they collaborate outside of meetings?

        The last is a pet peeve, because it slows my projects down.

        1. Alice*

          Does it slow projects down when people collaborate outside meetings, or when they refuse to collaborate outside meetings? :)

    2. ADB_BWG*

      Tell me about a mistake you made, the steps you took to correct it, and lessons you learned.

    3. RC Rascal*

      What I have found most helpful is to find out why people made moves from job to job, throughout their career. Dig around and look for the thought process behind it. Look at the patterns. If you find someone who is consistently making choices to move *away* from something, that is a red flag. Another red flag is a consistent pattern of job dissatisfaction.

      Also, look at community involvement if they have any. People can’t always choose their work trajectories, but they can choose how they spend their time outside work. Even if someone seems to be a job hopper, if they have a long tenure of community service work in the same organization or the same types of causes, that can be a plus.

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

        I’m curious about this — have you found that you generally get answers that seem honest/authentic about why they moved, or are they more often of the generic “needed new challenges” type? Do you have any ‘one weird trick’ you use to elicit an honest/authentic answer?

    4. Shark Whisperer*

      Are there any specific to the job or team things that are important to you in a coworker? I asked a potential coworker hire about how he would give corrective feedback because we would be managing the same group of people, generally. In my current job, my potential coworkers asked me about how I felt about analyzing and debating research. Research isn’t directly part of my job, but it is important to my team that our work is in line with current research.

    5. Cat Tree*

      It really depends on the job level and responsibilities. I have higher expectations for a senior level individual contributor. I like to ask about a time they had to prioritize conflicting projects and/or say no to a request and how they handled it. I also like to ask for an example of approaching a new type of project that they don’t really have prior experience with. I wouldn’t ask these questions of an entry-level or junior position though.

    6. RabbitRabbit*

      When interviewing potential coworkers for a particular role I found the same answers were coming up for “what’s your favorite part of your current/previous job”, so I started asking what their least favorite part was. Finding out their pet peeves – and especially how they cope with those unfavored parts – was frequently useful information.

    7. Bex*

      A few of my favorites:

      1. Tell me about a time you had to manage a conflict at work? How did you resolve it? What did you learn?
      2. Tell me about a time you had to lead a project or collaboration where no one on the team reported to you? How did you ensure it wen smoothly? What challenges did you deal with?
      3. How do you build relationships in a remote environment? What do you find is important?

    8. My code walks instead of running*

      I like to ask about a project/work experience/training that they want to talk about and haven’t gotten to yet. I know I often prepare examples that go unused in the interview. Sometimes this question gives you great insight into a skill you didn’t know they have or a niche they’d fill on the team or a level of enthusiasm that helps you assess them. It’s also a good way to wrap up the conversation.

    9. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      I recommend really getting into what collaboration looks like for them, obviously tailored to how much collaborative work is involved in the position. You want to know how they will work with you as a colleague and this gets at what type of team work they enjoy and how they approach it. It also will give you hints about how they think through problems; are they a talk-it-out person or do they look to one trusted colleague or chew things over privately before circling back.

      Another thing really important for hiring someone within a work group is to remember that variety is good. You want to have ideas people, detail oriented people, task masters and so on. So be thinking about what general types would be a good match to keep the whole group as diverse as possible.

    10. AdAgencyChick*

      I manage a team of writers and we work closely with graphic designers and account managers, so I always ask the open-ended question, “tell me something about what your ideal copy-art/copy-account partnership looks like.”

      People are generally not stupid enough to reveal any red flags — like, I’ve had account managers who rely on the writers to know everything about the product we sell and the competitive marketplace, but they’ll never come out and say “my ideal partnership is when account can use copy like a crutch.” But it does separate out people who mumble generic things about “I like it to be collaborative” from people who say something specific like “I like when my copy partner isn’t afraid to tell me when the work isn’t good, but does it politely.” Anybody who gives an answer of the second type tends to get my vote in hiring decisions!

      I think you can adapt the question to whatever coworking relationship you have in your industry.

    11. Thursdaysgeek*

      Two questions our company has used that I really like:

      Everyone has weaknesses, what have you done to improve some of your weaknesses?
      Describe the kind(s) of people you find most difficult to work with and why.

    12. Turtle Sorting Manager II*

      I love to ask situational questions that also give the interviewee some insight as to what it’s really like to work in a place. Imagine this situation, how would you handle it, or how have you handled a similar situation in the past.

  6. Left of Center*

    My coworker “Lisa” gets overwhelmed and blows up. She has an attitude in general, but it’s worse when she’s stressed out. This week I was the one to endure her wrath. I’ve heard from other people that she is like this and they’ve experienced it, but I’m the one stuck sitting next to her for 10 plus hours a day, so it is especially difficult.

    I sent a list of updated Teapot prices because the Teapot manufacturer that we order from sent it to me, so I forwarded it to my department. I guess Lisa has to work on it- I didn’t know that. She asked me for some other documents and I sent them to her. She then asked me a couple of questions, which I answered. She said that she wanted to check something with our boss.

    She then goes and storms into the boss’s office and had a meltdown/went on a tirade. Since we all sit *very* close to one another, I overheard every word of it.

    “Left of center gave me the wrong information! The pricing doesn’t match up! I don’t know what I’m supposed to do! I just need an accurate list!” and so on…

    Boss snapped at her and told her to stop working on it and that he’ll work with me on it.

    Well, Lisa must have still been upset or something because she then said to me, “You’re wrong! In your email you said that the spreadsheet stated the price of teacups, but it doesn’t.”

    I took a look at the spreadsheet, found the teacup prices, and calmly told her, “It’s actually on lines A-Z.”

    Lisa was shocked. “What? Where? What spreadsheet are you on?”

    So I repeated the lines A-Z and she said, “Oh! Well, I didn’t see that.”

    After this interaction, I passed by a couple of coworkers who overheard everything and they looked at me in pity.
    The part that bothers me the most is that Lisa *ONLY* does this to me. She’ll make comments about other coworkers to the boss, but not when they’re sitting right there like I was. She also doesn’t have emotional outbursts about them like she does with me.

    The fact that she went directly to the boss instead of having a conversation with me is puzzling as well. I didn’t know what other information she needed and instead of communicating that with me, just went running to the boss.

    Now she is ignoring me/giving me the cold shoulder. (Apparently it’s my fault that the boss yelled at her? I don’t know. I don’t get it.) It’s a nice break from dealing with drama, but it’s exhausting. It’s also embarrassing because everyone heard it/knows about it.

    Any words of wisdom or advice? Has anyone been in this situation and what did you do?

    1. Dust Bunny*

      This is a pain in the rear.

      My first inclination would be to call her on it (nicely, but firmly) but if you think it’s too big for that your boss needs to be handling her general inability to deal with pressure and the fact that she’s blowing up at people over her own mistakes. Somebody who yelled at me because they didn’t see information that was right there would definitely get some push-back.

    2. RecoveringSWO*

      It sounds like boss and coworkers knows she’s unreasonable and now is a great time to ask for your desk to be moved to lower your stress. You’ve got the best case now while it’s obvious you’re in the right and paying for her attitude problem and you don’t need to suffer quietly in hopes that it shortens the period of her ignoring you.

      1. Left of Center*

        I just don’t understand why they walk on eggshells around her. If I did the same thing (I never would), I wouldn’t get away with it. My boss and coworkers wouldn’t let me. She for some reason does and I don’t get it.

        1. Ashley*

          The office double standard is amazing but sucks. On the upside it does appear to your boss that Lisa maybe more of a problem then any failings you had in your work. Keep an eye on how the boss manages the situation. Sometimes there a politics where you know you want to get rid of someone have been told no, and you just do the best you can based on that.

    3. Octopus*

      There’s really nothing you can do but hold your head high and not engage with her when she lashes out. Keep the high road, avoid the drama. It doesn’t matter why she’s targeting you. Clearly every one else in your office sees what’s going and on that she’s out of line. It’s much easier said than done, but just keep a thick skin. As Alison often advises, look at her antics with amusement/curiosity instead of taking things personally/letting her set you off center.

    4. WellRed*

      “The fact that she went directly to the boss instead of having a conversation with me is puzzling as well. I didn’t know what other information she needed and instead of communicating that with me, just went running to the boss.”
      I would say almost exactly this to Lisa.

    5. A Poster Has No Name*

      This may be cold comfort, but your boss & coworkers obviously know this is a Lisa problem and not a you problem.

      I mean, you can try the calm “please come to me with questions like this in the future, I can assist you more quickly than Boss” but I wouldn’t expect her to listen if she wants to be a drama llama about it.

      But if it helps you shake things like this off, know it is her, not you and everyone knows it.

      1. Esmeralda*

        Well, it’s Lisa AND it’s the boss.

        Your boss needs to redirect her to you if she has questions, and he needs to shut down her obnoxious behavior as well.

        Lisa gets aways with this crap because the boss lets her get away with this crap.

        Otherwise, it’s not going to stop…

        1. young profesh*

          I think boss was right to NOT send Lisa over to LoC when she was out for blood. That would’ve been a jerk move. Yes, he could’ve and should’ve told her outright that her behavior was unacceptable, but the part where he took the work himself to remove her from the situation was fine.
          If my coworker went to my boss and started yelling and ranting about me, I certainly wouldn’t want my boss to send them over to yell at me!

    6. Snark no more!*

      My advise to you is to be perfectly professional, calm and pleasant to her. I would not even wait until she deigned to speak to you again. Start today “Good night Lisa, have a good weekend!” “Good morning Lisa.”

      Everyone heard it or knows about it. The only thing you can do for YOUR reputation is to remain calm and professional. There is no reason to talk about how you felt with other coworkers. They have imaginations.

      Perfectly professional. Keep repeating that to yourself.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      What is she going to do if something that is actually difficult happens?

      Statements of the obvious:
      “Lisa, you can just ask me. There’s no need to expend all the energy in upset. You can ask and I will answer.”
      “Oh my, Lisa, with all that loud talking I thought the building was on fire or something.”

      I have a good friend who gets upset over the darnedest things. He noticed a fleck of something on his fork and melted down. I said, with a small smile, “There’s more forks in the drawer, no need to go into meltdown. Throw that in the sink and take another one.”

      Definitely start advocating for yourself now. This type of thing drives people to quit, it’s not sustainable. And I would say that to the boss directly, “The random blow ups are not sustainable. It’s disruptive to the work flow and people are starting to [avoid her/look at her in a negative light/whatever the truth is].” Maybe you can get your desk moved. Ideally she’d be written up for lack of willingness to work with others.

      1. Octopus8*

        Personally, I just wouldn’t engage. I feel like people like Lisa don’t want to have their over-reactions pointed out to them — they like the drama and get worked up deliberately. Some of these statements could backfire (E.g., like how telling someone who is upset to calm down never works).

        In Left of Center’s shoes, I’d be doing as little as possible to engage around Lisa issues. The boss should clearly already knows Lisa is causing problems, and it’s not on the boss’s employees to point out the obvious. From the few details we have here, I personally wouldn’t confront the boss directly for fear that Boss would go back to Lisa and say, “Left of Center thinks your blow ups are making everyone not want to work with you.” Given the pretty poor management/head in the sand approach seen so far, I wouldn’t trust the boss to handle this delicately. By all means, ask to have your desk moved! But I’d keep Lisa’s name out of my mouth for fear of it escalating the drama. The boss has all the information they need to act, and as far as we know, they are not doing anything about the issues.

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

        On a more serious, non-Monty-Python note though: it didn’t really occur to me that OP-of-the-thread could bring this up to the boss as a way of potentially resolving it (not sure why not!) but I think you are right that it needs to be addressed with the boss. Not necessarily as “this will drive people to quit”, though, IMO — at least not initially — but with the aim of getting this behaviour to stop through some mechanism.

        The trouble is — the boss is obviously already aware of the pattern, because he’s on the receiving end of these comments/tirades about various people. And yet he hasn’t tried to shut it down, or at least hasn’t succeeded in shutting it down. I wonder why that is. It seems like kind of a lack of leadership from the boss perhaps.

        I characterised her as a ‘drama-llama’ in a previous comment above, which on reflection seems to be superficially the case, but I’ve started thinking I wonder if there is something ‘deeper’ driving it. I know we don’t “diagnose” people here and I won’t attempt to, but just throwing out there that behaviour like this could indicate some kind of condition (is that the right word?) that might need to be explored, rather than ‘just’ causing trouble for the sake of it.

        For example, and I’m not saying it applies to Lisa per se, I have struggled in the past with untreated anxiety and it’s driven me to act in workplace situations in ways that were out-of-place and perhaps unnerved other people. I’ve never shrieked about someone to the boss in earshot of the person but it wouldn’t have been out of place perhaps. To be clear I’m not saying “Lisa has untreated anxiety” for sure, but just giving an example of ways mental health (or ‘poor health’) can manifest itself.

      3. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        I had a coworker who would over-dramatize every little thing, and have frequent tantrums. She did it in my office once, and I started clapping, then I chuckled and said “They’ve already given out the Oscars this year!”, chuckled some more, and turned back to my work. When she finally picked her jaw up off the ground, she started laughing, and never pulled that crap around me again. Other people who didn’t call her out on her behavior weren’t so lucky.

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

      I feel like there’s ‘something you’ve done’ — I put it in large scare quotes, because I’m confident you haven’t actually done anything wrong, but for some reason she perceives that you have, and is internally holding it against you.

      I don’t think it was an accident that you ‘overheard’ her conversation with Boss about “Left of Center gave me the wrong info! Waaah!” etc. Nor that she went to the Boss before talking to you. I mean obviously you don’t just ‘accidentally’ go directly to the boss :) but it seems that she has done this ‘at’ you, for some reason.

      The possibilities I can think of for going directly to someone’s boss (maybe if you can classify which one it is, it might give some insight?) are: 1) Feels unable/intimidated/doesn’t have the “capital” to approach the person directly (seems unlikely here), 2) Seeks to undermine the person, 3) Has approached them directly in the past but without success or otherwise lacks confidence in getting a suitable resolution, or 4) Comes from a (workplace, not ‘racial’ or anything) culture where that was the Done Thing.

      I don’t think you need to feel embarrassed here that others heard about it (of course, you feel how you feel – but you know what I mean!) If she’s such a drama-llama I expect your other colleagues are well aware of this already.

      1. Left of Center*

        Yes- I agree that she thinks that I’ve done “something wrong” and/or is “punishing me” for something. I remember when I first started in the position, I overheard her and another coworker talking about how, “Left of Center is sitting in the back. We all had to start up front at the information desk.” (My boss never offered this to me and if they were so concerned, why didn’t they talk to the boss about it?)

        Another thing is that Lisa hated my predecessor, “Sansa”. At one point, Lisa was talking to someone and pointed to me and said, “Sansa.” So there’s that. (Sansa left 3 years ago. There was another person after her, but they were only in the position for a short time.)

        Otherwise, other than that I don’t know. It’s just very uncomfortable right now.

    9. Deanna Troi*

      Something that concerns me about this episode is that Lisa is managing to push her work off onto the OP. The boss’s solution to her throwing a fit is to tell her not to do the work and that the OP will dl it. That is horrible management and incredibly unfair to the OP. I would explain to the boss that this is not an acceptable outcome.

    10. Unkempt Flatware*

      Very slight eyebrow raise, “Lisa….” pause and let it hang a sec, “it’s right there….” pause, and go back to it. No anger or shaming. No engaging with the emotions or digs or explanations on her part. It will feel great. Practice with your cat/dog/hamster.

    11. Keep your head up*

      Oh man, I work with a Lisa right now and it’s maddening. She blows up at the littlest thing (she blew up when we were told not to use tape on products because tape damages the products). Since then, everyone BUT THE BOSS knows she can be set off by the smallest thing. The boss might know, but the two of them are very tight so there’s no addressing of the meltdowns. My “Lisa” started screaming at me in the fall because (when she refused to follow proper covid safety) I was insisting she tell me so I could ensure proper covid safety for myself. She screamed at me…yet I was seen as the problem (and was the one willing to interrupt my workflow to adhere to safety protocols). If your boss is not like mine, this situation might be solved. But if Lisa has worked there for a long time and everyone allowed this behavior, I don’t think it’s gonna change. It probably won’t make your situation easier, but you’re not alone! There are Lisas all over.

  7. Maria the Medical Librarian*

    Has anyone done a Google Career Certificate? Pros and cons? Did it actually lead to a job?

    1. OyHiOh*

      The certificates just opened for use yesterday so it’ll take six to nine months to road test their “lead to a job” capacity.

      I decided to do a couple (data analysis, project management, UX) to certify specific skills that I’ve done bits and pieces of here and there throughout my working life, but don’t really have a credential to point to. I’m also at a point where I’m gradually accepting that I need to go back and finish my bachelors degree in order to do the things that I really want to do and I’m looking at these certificates as a cheap way to ease myself back into classes and homework mindset.

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

      As a longtime Coursera user I’ve come across a few of these Google programs already (such as IT Support); the new ones seem to be along the same lines but the “Career Certificate” branding is new (unless I’ve been out of the loop). Coursera already offered ‘professional certificate’ tracks from various providers (such as IBM) and it seems functionally the same, really.

      In general the usefulness of those courses/tracks is likely to be mostly “how can you apply it” rather than having the certificate itself in its own right. So, some of these courses/tracks guide you in creating ‘portfolio pieces’ that you can talk about, or just give you the knowledge you need in order to initiate your own portfolio pieces in an area you are interested in. Being able to talk about using the knowledge you gained from a program like this, and ideally being able to showcase something (if it’s the kind of thing that can be shown, such as UX Design or an open source repo on GitHub) is the key to this. I don’t think one could get a job (at any reputable company) ‘merely’ on the strength of the certificate, but it would definitely give an opening for a discussion.

      I am hovering over the Enroll button for the UX specialization as we speak, actually (it’s literally in another open tab in the browser where I’m writing this). I already subscribe monthly to Coursera though so there wouldn’t be any extra cost, but rather the additional mental burden of “now I have to do this as well”! :-) I have a long and demonstrated history of taking on too much and saying yes to everything (not just courses, but in my work life as well) — not because I’m a Yes-Woman but rather because I’m an eternal optimist and under-estimator of how much I can actually take on vs what’s feasible… I say yes to everything because in the moment everything seems possible! (For things I want to work on!)

  8. Goose*

    I have been told I need to be more aggressive/assertive at work in things like following up with colleges, starting projects, etc. This is not natural to me, as I am a midwesterner (sarcasm., but my boss did say “you’re in Miami now!). How have others been successful with this kind of feedback?

    1. Dust Bunny*

      From somebody who was famously timid and avoidant her whole life: You just do it. It’s the job.

      You’re probably overthinking it and intimidating yourself and you just have to get to the point where this becomes part of your job and not a personal obstacle. I work in a research library and more often than you’d think I have to call (and I hate talking on the phone) or email another institution to track down something, and at some point it just became A Thing I Had To Do. And, yes, sometimes I start out bumbling and going, “I don’t even know if this is the right place to ask” but at worst they’ll tell me they’re not and I can check them off the list for this particular project. Most of the time they’ll at least try to help. Only one person has ever been negative and it was someone who is a notorious local jerk; he does it to everyone.

      Try keeping a list that includes tasks like this alongside things that bother you less, and be glad when you can cross them off.

    2. Cat Tree*

      I’m gonna go out on a limb here – are you a woman? And are you somewhat junior in your role, at least compared to the people you request things from?

      For me, it was a combination of just getting more experience in the department and getting to know the people I request things from, and psyching myself up by reminding myself that I have a right to request, even demand, things as part of my job. It gets easier with practice, I swear.

      1. More Pizza*

        I agree that it gets easier with practice and age. My advice would be to just do your best and give yourself permission to let your best be enough. The environment/culture/people around you can also affect your confidence and assertiveness so consider how much of it is you and how much of it is beyond your control. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

    3. Anon (and on and on)*

      Another way to think about this is to be very clear and specific about what you need, rather than “aggressive.” So, if ordinarily you would soften your language, “aorry to bug you, but could you get me XYZ when you get the chance?” try something closer to, “I’m going to need XYZ from you by Tuesday morning because Reason. Please let me know if you have any questions.”

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I started by my ” sorry” statements with things like “Dr Boss told me to XYZ, which depends on your ABC.”
        Being the messenger for someone else’s requirement was a good first step into asking for myself.

        1. Lucy P*

          I’ve done this, maybe too much. In the end it makes it look like you have no strength/pull and it’s all based on Dr. Boss’s wishes. Use it as needed, but don’t overuse it.
          On the other hand, I get Goose’s question. If you go with the polite approach, it feels too soft. When you attempt to be assertive, even if it comes out just fine, you feel like you’re being mean.

          1. Filosofickle*

            Yes, don’t overuse it. “Borrowing authority” can be helpful and as a first step it might be a way forward. Yet, at the same time, it undermines your own authority. Learning to ask for things factually because you need them and it’s your job is truly a better muscle to build. I only invoke Dr Boss when I need to escalate things.

    4. Octopus8*

      Try to separate what feels “natural” to focus on what you have to do. Some thing that has worked for me is setting a specific time in my calendar to do the task I’m dreading and then just do it.

      Also, if even a small part of your identify is being soft natured/a pushover, (midwesterner, as you say), you’re making it harder on yourself. It’s exhausting, but to the extent that you can, try putting on a Bad Badass/Bitch persona when you have to be assertive. For example, I worked in a male dominated workplace for a while, and I had to consciously change my mannerisms, small talk topics, etc. If I had thought of myself as naturally ill-suited for that environment (and I am!) but then acted the way I naturally wanted to without modifying my behavior/pushing myself to change, I would have set myself up to fail. You’re more flexible than you think you are, and you can accomplish more than you think you can. If you’re thinking in your head “I can’t do this, I’m not assertive enough,” you’re undermining yourself.

    5. Alice*

      I wonder if your current framing is, “Colleague X has blown past the deadline; I would be mortified if I did that; X will be mortified if I point it out; I can’t believe X is so lazy/disorganized as to flake.” While X is probably either not thinking about your project at all — or if she’s thinking of it, she’s thinking in vague terms like “I hope Goose’s project is humming along; I guess if I need to do something, Goose will tell me.” Generally when people follow up with me, I am glad to have a reminder and can reprioritize things.

    6. LadyByTheLake*

      I think part of the issue is in the framing. You are phrasing perfectly ordinary workplace accountability and responsibility as being “aggressive.” Reframe it as “accountable,” “responsible,” and “proactive” and see if that helps.

    7. vlookup*

      For emails: let them sit for a few minutes after you draft, then go back and remove softening language. “I’m sorry to bother you while you’re so busy, but can you prioritize XYZ today?” should become “Can you prioritize XYZ today?”

      For meetings: prep talking points in advance and practice them. Say them out loud! This helps me avoid getting into the meeting and saying something less assertive than I’d planned in my head.

      In general: ask a friend to review your emails or talking points for difficult conversations. Try to avoid apologizing, and never, ever apologize for something that’s not your fault. I try to use language like “thank you for your patience” or “thank you for bringing that to my attention, I’ll fix it now.”

      It’s hard, but I’ve gotten much better at this over time. Good luck!

    8. Just a PM*

      This is going to sound crazy but…create an alter-ego. I (32F) was too deferential, very “please” and “thank you” or “when you have a chance.” I overthought everything and worried about how people would take what I say or wrote. A mentor told me that being so overly cautious wasn’t a show of strength and advised me to create a male alter-ego and write/act in that persona.

      My alter-ego was named Boris, modeled after one of the former military guys I worked with at the time. He was salty, spit nails, and hated wasting his time. He was straight, to the point, firm, and respectful. Where I might have written “Hi Jan, We are still waiting for the update you mentioned on Monday. When you have a chance, can you please send it to me? Thanks!”, Boris would say “Jan, We haven’t gotten an update from you on X. It’s keeping us from Y. Can you send us the update by lunchtime?” The more I acted/said/wrote like this Boris alter-ego, the more I became more Boris-like myself and I was able to overcome those initial challenges of overthinking, being too deferential, overly polite.

      Boris comes out now only when I hit the wall of resistance.

      1. Shirley Keeldar*

        This is such a smart strategy! I am going to start creating my own Boris today. I have a mental image of him even. Thanks for sharing this, I love it!

    9. HR Exec Popping In*

      There is a big difference between assertive and aggressive. I’m guessing you have been told to be more assertive and you are interpreting that is the same as aggressive. When you are assertive, you are standing up for yourself – you are demonstrating that you value yourself as much as you value others. When you are aggressive you do not value others and in fact tend to ignore their needs.

      Being assertive is a good trait. You can be assertive for yourself and others. Being aggressive is generally never a good trait unless your job is to fight/argue/win at all costs.

    10. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      A couple thoughts. The phone is your friend. This may be a bit different depending on your workplace and how remote you are but so many issues can be resolved with a brief conversation. If emails or messaging are getting into more than a couple back and forths and it is still confusing then just have a conversation. It is so much faster and most people appreciate having whatever issue dealt with quickly. Junior employees (including me when I was one) often default to email and that is no way to get stuff done in a lot of cases such as following up on a deadline. Being direct is very hard, but it is a skill you can learn and as mentioned above part of normal workplace interaction so try to think of it that way. If you need something from a colleague then be the squeaky wheel.

      On your boss and project work, I wonder if you are like a few of my employees who like to have their ducks in a row before coming to me, but in fact my not knowing the status of their work is far worse than if I knew they were 20% or 40% of the way through or whatever the progress is. If I know the progress I can help them prioritize better and as Alison always says, part of a manager’s job is to help you know what your priorities are. Not sure how firmly this applies in your case but I find this tendency often matches up with the “I didn’t want to bother you” people so wanted to mention. It’s workplace. Bother me with stuff I need to know about. It isn’t a bother it’s you doing your job.

      1. TechWorker*

        And if like me you’re in a workplace that doesn’t really use phone calls (meetings yes, phone calls no, idk why) then IM can serve a similar functionality. I’ve saved more than one mail thread from going off the rails with a quick ping to actually discuss, and for some busier people a reminder on IM can be more effective than an email reminder which is in their huge inbox…

        1. allathian*

          Phone calls are not a thing at my job, either. We do Skype calls, though, almost always prefaced with an IM. I hate calls out of the blue, the IM gives me some clue about the call and allows me to order my thoughts so that when we talk, I don’t spend the first 30 seconds waffling in confusion.

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

      Instead of “soft” language think of it as friendly or respectful reminders that help everyone — restate who/what/where/when, but you don’t usually need to go into too much detail for why (that’s part of respecting everyone’s time). Don’t wait more than 24 hours to follow up on something that is late, and it might even be better to follow up right before it’s due.

      For starting a project: “Hi Fergus, I’m started Project X for the budget office and I am consolidating all of the department reports for the Board. I will need all department reports by 3:00 pm on March 12. Please let me know if you have any questions or roadblocks that I can assist you with. If there is someone else in your department who should be looped into this project, please let me know.”

      For following up: “Hi Fergus, I’m following up on the budget reports that are/were due by 3:00 pm on Friday, March 12. I need to make sure that there aren’t any obstacles that will delay submitting the consolidated report for the deans meeting on Monday. Please let me know if you have any questions or issues that I can help you submit your report. If you’ve already submitted your project and I missed your email, I apologize; can you please reply/resend it now?”

    12. Allonge*

      I would also question if this is only about style or about when you follow up etc. Definitely change your style! But also consider this: if instead of asking for a thing to be done, you let it go as ‘they are busy’ of ‘sure they have better things to do’, ‘this time they will not be late’ you are part of the delay – not causing it, but also not doing the prevention work.

      It’s ok to ask for things, this is not a favor they are doing you, and you do need to be explicit. Read up on ask / guess culture and see if that seems like it’s part of the issue.

      Also there are simple methods of feedback, like DESC that can provide a good template for what to say when somebody is doing something you would like to change.

      Good luck! You can do this!

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

      You need to “un-conflate” (is there a word for that? ‘Disaggregate’ is the one I have in my head) aggressive and assertive, as they are two totally different things and I think you need to recognise the difference. Were you told to be more assertive, did aggressive enter the discussion?

      Assertive is about stating your own needs as a fact (work-wise or elsewhere as it may be) not as “I neeeeed this!” but rather as a factual thing that needs to be taken into consideration.
      Aggressive often is about your (or one’s, I should say) own needs, but without regard to the situation at hand or other people’s perspectives, it’s more of a “steamroller” approach.

      I appreciate it can be difficult sometimes to tell the difference when other people use them.

      I know it sounds corny, but do you have anyone you can ‘recruit’ to practise with? Or if not, try it out in front of a mirror? To try out the type of scenarios you’ll be facing.

      “Oh hi John! glad I could catch up with you. What’s the status of the X project, as I’m gonna need an update for the project meeting this week” etc. If John demurs or is evasive at that point, “alright, I’ll schedule a check-in for Thursday afternoon” etc.

      Your Miami colleagues will be accustomed to a direct approach, I suspect.

    14. Quinalla*

      Did they give specific examples of what they didn’t want and what they do want? If so, you just need to practice. And I agree framing it as being clear will help. And make sure your written communication is 100%, you can revise that, verbal will take longer to master, but you will be able to do it.

      Something I’ve found that helps is not to soften the message, but to use a warm tone or things that indicate a warm tone in email. Just adding “Thanks!” at the end of an email makes the tone warm and friendly, but does NOT soften that “I need X by Y date.” one bit. So don’t soften your message, but use other indicators that you are being polite and friendly. I have to do this honestly as a woman – if I am as blunt as some of my male collogues, people see me as a jerk.

      And I agree with developing a bit of an alter-ego. I call it What would and overconfident, mediocre white dude do? Doesn’t mean I always do exactly what I image this person would do, but it helps to put my own hesitancy in perspective!

    15. Emilitron*

      Taking a bit of a parallel track – is it that you need to be more assertive about HOW you follow up (i.e. you’re being too nice, as most comments below discuss) or that you need to be more aggressive about following up (i.e. the timing and frequency). Early in my career, my default was “no news is good news” why should I follow up on an order that has a 6 week lead time until it’s week 6 – but then it turns out there was a problem with the PO and now it’s out of stock and I need to find an alternate vendor, and I could have prevented that if I’d followed up in Week 1. And if you don’t check in on people you’ve delegated a task to until there’s a deadline they’re about to blow past you won’t know if they’ve forgotten about the deadline. And if you’ve been tasked with getting more info about product X, and you come back to the next weekly meeting with the update “I emailed them right after last week’s meeting, and didn’t hear back, so I (forgot about it for a week them) called right before this meeting and left a message” that’s just not enough. I still struggle against being avoidant on this type of stuff. And it’s not about how aggressive you are when you talk to people – you can still be super “nice” – it’s about how insistent you are about keeping those regular communications going.

  9. Disgruntled Pelican*

    I’ve been at my current job for almost eight years and am thinking about moving on, but I’m worried about references. The boss I had at my job right before this has now retired, and honestly I don’t think she would give me a good reference anyway. The boss from my job before that was my reference for this job, and I think he would be willing to do it again but our last contact was me thanking him for being a reference…eight years ago. And it’s now been ten years since I worked for him. What do people do for manager references when they’ve worked somewhere for a substantial amount of time under the same manager?

    1. Seawren*

      I have a similar problem – 15 years at the same company under 2 bosses, both of whom are still here and would absolutely flip out if they heard I was searching. Would references from senior managers who I’ve worked with but not under be acceptable?

      1. Disgruntled Pelican*

        Same—two managers at this agency and they’re both still here! I keep hoping the guy who managed me when I first started here will move on and then I can ask him to be a reference. I think you can use other senior managers—a former coworker of mine used our former HR director that she had a good relationship with. I don’t think it would work for me right now, because the senior managers I’ve worked closely with here are all still here.

    2. Blaise*

      References don’t have to just be your manager! I used one prior manager from a number of years ago, and then several coworkers who knew me in slightly different ways. I’m a Spanish teacher, so I’m addition to my prior principal, I got a letter from the music teacher at my will, who I collaborated with on a regular basis; the secretary, since her office was right across from my room and she basically listened in on my classes all day; and a parent of two of my students who also substitute taught at the school. I think it gave a very well-rounded view of who I am professionally.

      1. Blaise*

        Oof, should’ve proofread to check for autocorrect lol… sorry about the random words in there!

      2. Disgruntled Pelican*

        This is true, and I certainly have current and former coworkers I can ask. But doesn’t the company hiring you usually want at least one manager reference, as well? That’s the impression I’ve always gotten.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Have you worked with a project manager in addition to your direct supervisor and manager?

        2. The Other Dawn*

          The usually do, but if you’ve been somewhere a long time (I’ve been there myself–18+ years at one place) they’re likely to understand that you might not have contact information for long-ago managers. They also tend to understand that your current employer likely doesn’t know you’re job searching and that you don’t want them to, so wouldn’t be giving a current manager as a reference. See if you can get another manager within the company you’ve worked with on a project, or even current/past colleagues who know you’re looking.

      3. Quinalla*

        Yes, my first post-college job I worked there for 13 years. I used references from internships and peers I could trust that could speak to my current work. It isn’t perfect, but you don’t always have recent references when you’ve been somewhere a long time.

    3. Alexis Rose*

      My husband lost his job a few years ago at a place where he had a bad relationship with his manager. He ended up listing as references some people he’d worked with in the company who were more senior but not his supervisor. Employers may have seen this as a red flag though–he got cut from several hiring processes at the final interview stage, right when employers start to check references (he also isn’t great at interviewing, so could have played a role).

      For your retired manager, could you reach out and ask if she be willing to give you a neutral reference? That could be better than nothing. If you can come up with at least one more recent person, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with an older reference, but that shouldn’t be your only one.

      1. Disgruntled Pelican*

        That’s a good point—if my colleague references are recent surely companies would understand that my manager reference is older because I’ve been at the same place so long.

    4. long-timer*

      I have been at my job for 15 years. So I have the same problem. I listed senior coworkers that left the company and know my work. They are all now in management positions at other companies. I also have the CEO of an organization I worked for 20 years ago, but have continued with as a volunteer.

    5. pretzelgirl*

      I have sort of a different situation, but I will weigh in. I sort of fell victim to graduating college in 2008, lay offs. I have had several jobs since graduating. 1 job, where the company prohibits any manager acting as a reference. The only thing the company will do is verify dates of employment. The next job I held, I lost touch with my manager, she doesn’t have social media and left the company too, the next job i was laid off and would not want the manager to serve as reference. I worked there for almost a year to the date. After that job, I had a job at very small non-profit and my boss was fired…so what’s a gal to do?

      I usually just use, co-workers are references. It has never really been a problem.

    6. Firecat*

      I just went through something similar as you and landed a job.

      I had a manager from 5 years ago, a manager from 7 years ago, and then I found a skip level manager at my current company I trusted since I didn’t want to use my current boss of 5 years as my reference.

      If you can find a manager related to your chain of command who could speak to your work and is trustworthy that is ideal.

    7. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I can commiserate; I’ve been in my current position for a decade, my supervisor at my last job might brake for me if I’m in a crosswalk, and I find the older I get, the more ethical objections I have with the reference system as a whole. I might just be unemployable now…

    8. Ama*

      I’m in the same boat. I can use my last boss from eight years ago but I had a very different job and I was also a very different person at work (less assertive, for one thing), so even though I think she’d give me a good reference I don’t think she’d be able to accurately describe what I’m like to work with now.

      I have looked up a few former coworkers from this job on Linked In that I am planning on approaching (they all had senior roles to mine when we worked together, even though they weren’t my direct boss). I also have a peer that’s still here (we’re both associate directors) that I think would be willing to be a reference (I’m also currently keeping her secret that she is leaving for grad school later this year, so I trust she’d do the same for me).

  10. NeverComments*

    I have had several remote positions and the only time it came up was if it was included in an overall telework/remote work agreement where I agreed to have a workplace free of distractions, etc etc. The not providing primary childcare during work hours was just included in the list of items I needed to agree to.

  11. Ali G*

    Does anyone have a strong recommendation for laptop stand?
    With the weather getting nice, I’d like to work on my back covered patio one in a while, but find it hard to really work on the laptop with it actually in my lap (kind of a misleading name, huh). I think I want one that is adjustable height and where I can use a mouse.
    Thanks for any suggestions!

    1. SomebodyElse*

      I got one from Amazon because my desk is more of a writing desk than a laptop/multiple monitor desk. So my laptop and monitors are all on the desk and my mouse and keyboard is on the stand. It would work fine for just a laptop though. It’s on rollers and adjusts both up and down as well as tray swivel. It’s designed like a sofa/bed tray that swings over the arm if that makes sense. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how sturdy it is.

      Try “laptop Cart” so you don’t get all of the desk riser type stands

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      A workaround for you to consider. My husband sometimes will use a loose shelf across two arms of an easy chair.

    3. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      kind of a misleading name

      I call them notebooks, because with the WiFi & Bluetooth radios, your lap is the last place one should be…

  12. Less Bread More Taxes*

    Inspired by yesterday’s post, how long should you give it when moving for your partner’s job before you switch fields, try to move together, or move separately? My partner and I will be moving to his hometown next year. He already has a very stable job. I’ll be job searching, and I’m already worried about the much smaller job market. How long is fair to ask him to support me while I look for work? If I don’t want to cut my career short so early (I’m only 27 now), is it fair to not want to look outside my field at all when I know there are opportunity elsewhere?

    1. WellRed*

      “How long is fair to ask him to support me while I look for work?”
      I’m not sure this is the question you should be asking, as evidenced by yesterday’s post. If you can’t find something suitable, jobwise and commutewise, etc. what happens then? Is this a place you are excited to move to? Does it have reasonable options for work and social? Is it forever? And this is not my biz, but is this a good life move for you? You’re fairly young, both in age and I assume in terms of your career. What if this does derail your career? And, are you and partner definitely in it (as much as anyone can be sure) for the long haul?

      1. New Mom*

        All really good questions. And what happens if you are not happy there and can’t find a job? Is your partner moving there with the intention of staying indefinitely? Is your partner open to leaving again if it doesn’t work for you?

        I’m also curious about this because my spouse wants us to eventually move back to his home country (and a more rural part of it) and we’re trying to figure out when that will be, and I’m worried about the exact situation the OP posted about yesterday too. I’m trying to figure out ways I can gain more marketable skills so I could potentially do remote consulting work in my niche field if we move there and I’m unable to find a job.

        It might be worth it looking into the type of industries and companies that are in your partner’s hometown and look into job vacancies and the likelihood of being hired there.

        1. Less Bread More Taxes*

          Actually this is what we are doing too! Moving countries and going to a smaller city. I am also trying to build up my skills to work remotely as well. That would be the best-case scenario, and I’m trying to plan for that. But I know landing remote work is never a certainty.

          1. New Mom*

            Do you know anyone from the U.S. (if you are American) with a similar education background as you who has moved there who you could connect with? One of my spouses friend’s married an American and they live there now and I’ll definitely pick their brain when it we know if we’ll move there. I know the American spouse ended up needing to do additional courses when they moved there to get a certain job even though they originally did not think they would need to.

      2. Less Bread More Taxes*

        I have actually lived there for a couple years before, and I really liked it. Life-wise, it’s a good fit for me. I do think we’re both in it for the long haul (we’ve both discussed long-term plans and all that). We’ve been together nearly 3.5 years now.

    2. Millennial PR Pro*

      I moved across the country for my husband’s job right out of college, and it took me a year and a half to find a good, stable job that wasn’t toxic (a lot of this was based on my own choices in jobs, like wanting to take risks on startups!!).

      Knowing that I was giving up a job offer in my college town for him to get his dream job across the country was a decision we didn’t make lightly. I think that as long as you’re actively looking for a job, and willing to work part time or as a freelancer until you find a job you want, that you’re not asking too much of him.

      Personally as a woman, it was hard for me to rely on partner for over a year, but we developed a healthy relationship around money because of it, and now are really open/honest with each other in a constructive way that has actually really helped my career! I’m now in my dream job, and without my partner’s emotional support I wouldn’t have got here.

      I think the biggest question you need to discuss with your partner is what his expectation is of you finding a job, and what yours is – and just make sure that it’s aligned. It may require some really honest discussion but it will help down the line for sure!

      1. Less Bread More Taxes*

        This is a good question – we actually haven’t discussed timelines in terms of when he *expects* me to find a job. I’ve said that I hope/expect to land something in my field within three months, but that could be very unrealistic. I’m also worried about salaries. The salaries there are so much lower than what I’m used to and what I would need to have in order to feel financially secure, and so I’d be hoping for something beyond the average job.

        1. allathian*

          The salaries may be lower, but have you considered other benefits? As in single-payer health insurance? Also, what’s the COL there?

          Do you speak the language of the country you’re going to fluently? If not, it’s going to make it a lot more difficult to get a job with a decent salary unless it’s an international company with English as the working language. And even with international companies, you’ll always be an outsider unless you can show you’re making an effort to learn at least the basics of the language.

    3. TWW*

      I don’t think you should move until you have a new job lined up. Have a long-distance relationship while job searching. If you find job within a few months, it won’t be so bad.

      OTOH, if you discover that there are no jobs for you in that town, at least then you’ll have all the info you need in deciding where the two of you can/should live as a couple.

    4. Firecat*

      It’s so different for each couple!

      We moved for my job and my husband looked for 3 years before deciding to become a stay at home spouse. He likes it and so do I! If working were very important for him the equation would be different.

    5. veronica*

      This varies a lot by couple and how you view your relationship and finances. I moved to a terrible location for several years because of my partner’s job. Then I got an opportunity for a much better job and we moved again. I supported my partner for several years while he found a full-time job. He has since switched to a part-time position more in line with his career and personal goals. We occasionally discuss moving to allow him to have a full-time position in his career. Basically we’re taking turns and discussing the trade-offs for both our individual careers and our overall family finances and goals.

      1. Less Bread More Taxes*

        I’m glad you guys were able to handle that so well! This is very similar to what we’ve been doing actually. Two years ago, we moved for my job, and now we’re looking at moving for his job next year. I didn’t realize how anxiety-inducing it is from the other end!

        1. veronica*

          Don’t be afraid to take a part-time job that fits your career path if you don’t need the money. Most hiring mangers didn’t care that I only worked part-time for two years. I care though because I spent those two years birdwatching in my copious amounts of spare time.

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

      In your partner’s position I’d expect and hope you’d take a job that was bringing in at least some income even if it was outside your field for the meantime, after a ‘grace’ period of maybe 6 months or so of searching in your field.

      It isn’t fair imo to expect a partner to support you in your ongoing search for the ‘ideal’ role, if the choices are “bringing in no income” vs “earning minimum wage at a shop/fast food place/data entry farm/whatever”.

      1. Jobbyjob*

        Hard disagree. If this move is primarily for him and his career, he better be ready to pony up the funds to support his partner indefinitely if the job market is really that scarce. She shouldn’t have to settle for any crap job just because he wants to live in his hometown.

  13. Headphone recs?*

    Got a noise question. I’m looking to block out noise from a barking dog / work neighbor who clears their throat / coughs a lot thruout the day. Moving / working from a coffee shop / library is not an option.

    Any recommendations for noise cancelling headphones? I’m already wearing over-the-hear headphones that play music, and they don’t cut out the sound sufficiently.

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      They’re pricey, but the Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones are amazing. They have a ton of features and are really great at blocking out sound.

      1. Cactus Club*

        I’d really recommend in ear noise isolating ear phones, instead of over ear noise cancelling headphones. The noise isolating earphones act like ear plugs and physically block out the sound, instead of playing a tone to cancel whatever noise you’re hearing. I personally use Etymotic mk5 isolator ear phones- about 50 bucks, and you can change out the ear tips to get basically foam ear plugs that music plays through. I used them while working on noisy sewing machines all day, and now in an office setting, I have to warn my colleagues that I genuinely can’t hear them if they’re trying to get my attention from behind.

        1. More Pizza*

          I wouldn’t describe how noise cancelling headphones work as playing a tone to cancel the noise. I have an older version of the Sony model Narwhal recommended and they are the best noise cancelling headphones on the market still as far as I know. Bose is almost as good but not quite, although their sound quality does better in the mid range than Sony which leans bass heavy, and they may weigh less than Sony’s. I am no audiophile so use this info at your own risk. I also have noise cancelling earbuds and they are not as comfortable as over ear headphones. Recommend Jimmy’s Review Room (I think that’s what his channel is called) on YouTube for in depth side by side reviews.

          1. Wheee!*

            Actually, Cactus Club described it correctly. Noise cancelling headphones have a built in microphone that listens to the external sound and generates an opposing waveform to cancel it out. This is easier to do with lower frequency or monotonous noise, which is why they’re great for airplane noise but not great for shrill sounds.

            Depending on what noise you’re cancelling, isolating earphones can be better. For noise cancelling, Audio Technica makes some great options and I like Etymotic for in ear noise isolation.

    2. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I have Cowin E7 Active Noise Cancelling Bluetooth headphones and a older pair of Bose Quiet Comfort 25. Both work well, the Bose a bit better but the Cowin pair works well enough to block out the leaf blowers, construction equipment in my neighborhood.

      1. Joielle*

        I have a pair of the Cowin E7s too and they’re pretty good, especially for the price. I also have an older (now discontinued) pair of Audio-technicas which are a little more comfortable but noise cancellation is similar on both.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I like my E7 heaphones, but be careful so you get the noise cancelling ones. Cowin makes two versions with the same exterior and name and it’s easy to get the wrong one.

    3. Cendol*

      How do you feel about in-ear? I use Zolo Liberty bluetooth earphones when I need to concentrate. Playing music in those at a low volume knocks out all background noise for me.

      I also once paired the earphones with my partner’s 3M over-ear hearing protectors. It ended up being overkill, but that might be another option. I also see that 3M actually makes a bluetooth/hearing protector combo that might be of interest to you!

      1. Headphone recs?*

        Thanks! Unfortunately, in ear usually isn’t sufficient for me. I’m noise sensitive to the point where I’ve sometimes wondered if there’s something diagnosable there (I just don’t currently feel the need / have the money to get it diagnosed).

        1. Cendol*

          Haha, I am kind of the same way. Lately I’ve been thinking I need to work with a box on my head, because things entering my peripheral vision are enough to distract me. SQUIRREL! etc. But if I work in a windowless room I get depressed. It’s a delicate balance…

      2. Natalie*

        I like the hearing protectors idea. I’m not sure active noise canceling will do much for sudden, brief noises like a dog, unfortunately.

    4. Bored IT Guy*

      When I’m in the office, I have a pair of Plantronics 8200 headphones. They’re pretty good at cutting (not totally eliminating) office noise. Can’t speak to dog barking. They also work well for my phone calls/meetings, and I haven’t had any issues with people saying they can’t hear me.

    5. Anony*

      Kinda depends upon how much you want to spend, if you need a microphone for video meetings, etc. Personally, I find the “Soundguys” site really helpful for finding headphones…

    6. Reba*

      Not to be too much of a wet blanket, but noise cancelling may not help much with intermittent, sharp noises like the dog bark, a child crying, or similar. The tech is for blocking out consistent, droning sound, not dynamic sounds–in my experience they may take the edge of those sounds but to an extent you actually hear them more distinctly!

      There may be hearing protection ear muffs that offer better sound dampening than your current over-the-ears. I don’t have experience with them but I know there are models with bluetooth!

    7. No Tribble At All*

      I’ve used two different noise-blocking headphones: Beats Studio 3 and Bose Quiet Comfort 35. Yes, both are pricy. I got the Bose as a gift and the Beats came with my desktop. Both have adjustable active noise canceling which is excellent for background chatter, road noise, airplane noise even without music. Sharper, more variable sounds require music to block out, and neither can block out an ambulance siren (that’s typical of most over noise-canceling headphones). Both would easily block out coughing/clearing throat and should damp down a barking dog. Here’s my comparison of the two.

      Beats (normally ~$350). Lighter, thinner profile, ear cup is smaller but still fully covers ear. Default headband size fits me (lady w/average size lady head) perfectly, and the band is adjustable. Excellent sound quality and noise cancellation/isolation; pairs natively with Apple devices. On-headphone controls: can adjust volume and pause and change music from headphones. Ear pads are soft and sturdy– have lasted through almost 2 years of use with no damage. Carrying case is somewhat rounder/thicker than the Bose, and there’s no internal pockets for the charging cord or aux cable. Battery life is 18-20 hours of listening. I will say my pair developed a very quiet tapping sound after ~ 6 mo of use. (I tried resetting the headphones and it persists across devices, but I didn’t take it into Apple). It’s not noticeable when listening to music. My husband’s pair (3ish years old) hasn’t had this problem.

      Bose (I think about $250). Little bit thicker and larger than the Beats. Default head band size is a little bit too big for my head, so after 4-5 hours of wear, they can push down on the tops of my ears a bit if I’ve been sitting straight up the whole time. Sound cancellation/isolation is a little better than the Beats IMO, but both are really good. I’ve used with both Apple devices and a Windows PC. No issues pairing and using, but you have to use the Bose app to adjust the noise cancellation (lightweight/simple app). On-ear controls: volume only, and it’s actually the headphones volume separate from the audio volume on your device. After 4 years of almost daily use, the pleather covering on the ear pads has started to separate. Ear pads are replaceable for about $20/each. Case is flatter than Beats, easier to fit in backpack, and has side and interior pockets for charging cord and aux cable. Battery life 14-16 hours.

      1. Hillary*

        I also have Beats Studio 3 and love them. I used them primarily for travel in the before times – they’re comfortable enough to wear for a full day of international travel (lady with a large for a gal head) and they do a decent job muting screaming babies. I can still hear them, but it’s controlled enough to not be a distraction. Mine are a couple years old at this point and still work well. Costco regularly has them at a slightly better price.

    8. RabbitRabbit*

      I love my Anker Soundcore Life Q20 headphones – they are full wireless headphones (not in-ear) with Bluetooth, can hold a charge for a couple days’ worth of use without recharging (via USB). I got them early last year or late 2019 to deal with noise in the office and now use them at home as a headset for meetings or to block out background info if my husband is home. They’re very good for up to moderate levels of sound, and you can use them solely for sound cancellation or to do calls on your cell phone/listen to music or podcasts. Currently going for $50 and it looks like Anker has released an updated model for $20 more. In the office it reduced the level of conversation significantly, I could still hear nearby conversations were happening but they sounded very far away/in another room, and the ambient noise dropped dramatically.

      1. esemess*

        I just ordered these based on your recommendation! They are on sale on Amazon for $47. I actually tried to order them via Anker, as I don’t prefer Amazon. However, the company sends you directly to Amazon… :)

        Thanks for the recommendation! My (home) work space is changing next week and I think that these headphones will help the transition to a noisier space.

    9. The Prettiest Curse*

      I have AKG on-ear headphones (model is K450, but I think it’s been discontinued.) They were about $80 in a sale and they’re great. My husband has gone through several pairs of less expensive headphones on the time I’ve had these. Also, I’ve replaced the cable (they came with a spare) and earpads a couple of times with spare parts purchased on Amazon, which is the reason they’ve lasted so long.

    10. Free Meerkats*

      Look into the Etymotic headsets. They are a hearing protection company that also makes in the ear headsets. I use them for power tool work as well as when I’m officiating at sports car and motorcycle races. If they can handle a 1000 HP race car 20 feet away at full throttle, the barking dog is no problem at all.

      Spendy, but their focus is noise control.

    11. Caterpie*

      Are you working from home? Turning on our the bathroom fan did a lot to drown out our neighbor’s barking dog from the unit below.

      The dog was locked in their bathroom directly below us all day though, so we were able to put the ‘white noise’ close to the source. White noise close to you might help.

      I also have Bose Quiet Comfort 35 II headphones and am really happy with them.

      1. Headphone recs?*

        Thanks! I’ve had those Bose Quiet Comfort 35’s recommended to me and am interested — do you experience them as actually blocking out noise (compared w/ a non-noise-cancelling headphone)?

        1. Caterpie*

          I think like most noise cancelling headphones they’re better at blocking out low, droning noises like lawn equipment and appliances. It’s very eerie to have the dishwasher running and take the headphones on and off repeatedly, haha.

          Unfortunately the technology just isn’t there to totally block out sharp, high pitched noises as well, but it definately helps. I think if you have music and noise cancellation going (the Bose headphones do both) it could go a long way toward solving your problem.

          Also I have seen them go on sale a few times over the past several months!

        1. Caterpie*

          Yeah :/ the owner is extremely unkind to both the dog and her partner. I haven’t heard or seen any of them for a while though, so I hope both the dog and partner got somewhere safe.

    12. Donkey Hotey*

      Audio-technica makes a noise cancelling OTE headphone that also jacks into my phone, so I get double duty.

    13. The Real Persephone Mongoose*

      Depends on whether or not you need the mic for calls. For just plain noise canceling headphones, I’ve had great experience with both Bose (I’ve got the original version and they are still great) and Beats (charging cord isn’t as long as with Bose but they fold up better for travel). Both are spendy but worth the cost. For my calls, the headset I use is the Microsoft Lifechat 3000. Those puppies are great. Cheap too. Like $25. Over the ear like noise canceling and I can’t hear a damned thing outside the call with them. Not the doorbell ringing, outside noises gone, only hear my dogs if they are barking in the room I’m in. If they are downstairs? I hear nothing. I have like 4 sets of these. But they are wired to your PC with a USB cord. For wireless headset, the MPOW Bluetooth headset 5.0 is what I got for myself and my grandsons for use during online school and listening to music on their tablets. I really like those and they are reasonably priced at $60.

    14. Bye Academia*

      Before you shell out for noise canceling headphones, I recommend trying out some white noise (or brown noise or pink noise or whatever sounds best to you) in the ones you already have. It’s a lot more constant than music, so I find it drowns out the background noise better. It’s a lifesaver for me.

      1. Windchime*

        I did a combination and that worked great. I have an older pair of Bose Quiet Comfort noise-cancelling headphones and that, combined with a brown-noise app on my phone, made it so that I could not hear a *thing* that was going on outside my own head. I did this when I had a particularly loud work neighbor and it blocked her out 100%.

  14. Shark Whisperer*

    Other freelancers and contract workers, how do I know if/when to start paying quarterly taxes. I have done a bit of freelancing before, but never enough to pay quarterly taxes. I just got a big new client and I think it will put me over limit in 2021. Should I start paying quarterly taxes this quarter? Should I wait? What if I am not sure if I will owe more than $1000 this year?

    1. Lifelong student*

      Remember- in addition to income taxes you will have self employment taxes to pay- those come to 15.3% of your net income which is revenue minus deductible expenses. Add to that your marginal tax rate which you can figure based on your anticipated taxable income for the year. So yes, you should pay quarterly taxes to avoid underpayment penalties. If the penalties would be insignificant to you, you should still sock away a calculated percentage of your net income to have available when the taxes are due. Don’t forget state and local income taxes as well when calculating the total tax bite.

    2. Dog Coordinator*

      You should be able to check the IRS website for the dates by which quarterly taxes are due, as well as find info on how to make that payment. If you do overpay, you’ll get a return. You don’t HAVE to pay quarterly (as in there isn’t a number where suddenly you must do that), but if your work is really seasonal and you don’t think you’ll have the ability to pay your taxes during tax season, then it’s a good idea. I freelanced for a few years, and didn’t resort to paying quarterly, but I know folks who do/did, and once they got in the habit, it did make it easier to not have to pay a huge lump sump come tax season.

      1. Decidedly Me*

        While you don’t have to do it, there is a penalty if you don’t do it and end up owing too much.

        1. Natalie*

          There’s a very easy safe harbor provision withhold and/or prepay an amount equal to 100% of your tax liability last year.

          1. Firecat*

            That didn’t happen for me in 2011. I owed a massive penalty even though I paid taxes > then what I did 2010. In my case it was due to a goverment loan forgiveness being taxable and I didn’t think it was but it was treated like contractor work.

            1. Natalie*

              I mean, it’s hard to comment on anyone’s specific situation without seeing their return, but mainly my point is that it doesn’t have to require a complicated calculation. The OP can look at the IRS guidance themselves and the rules are very clearly laid out.

    3. T. Boone Pickens*

      Honestly, I’d find a CPA in your area and ask. When I was interviewing CPAs to hire one I found that most were willing to give an initial free 30 minute consultation for basic questions. If you have any friends that are also freelancers, I’d ask them who they use for their CPA. Your local Reddit board might actually have some good suggestions as well. Congrats on your success!

        1. Natalie*

          The easiest thing to do might just be increasing your withholding from your day job. As long as the total amount you’ve paid in throughout the year is enough, they won’t care if it came biweekly through your employer, or quarterly through you.

          I’ll put a link to their W4 calculator in a reply. It’s an incredibly handy tool, especially with the new W4 form.

          1. JessicaTate*

            Ditto to this. In your situation, this is by far the easiest way, as it will factor in your salary and your side gig income, and they’ll handle the payments for you.

          2. veronica*

            My husband is a freelancer. We adjusted my W4 so that the money to pay his taxes is actually taken out of my salary. We usually adjust the W4 once about now to make sure we’re on track to cover the taxes and then double check it at the end of the summer to make sure we’re not over or under shooting the withholding by too much.

    4. DataGirl*

      my husband has some kind of software that figures out for him how much to pay each quarter. In 2019 he didn’t make any quarterly payments and it ended up costing us thousands in fees, so definitely make them if you have any ability to do so.

    5. Dancing Otter*

      Having worked 1099 consulting jobs in the past, I’d say you’re better to make the quarterly payments than not.
      Do you know your marginal rate on your current income, before the new client? (The withholding tables on the IRS website will show that, if you don’t.) Will the new client push you into a higher bracket?
      Add that marginal rate to the SE rate of 15.3%. Say you were in the 15% bracket, that would come to 30.3%.
      Whenever you receive freelance earnings, set aside that percent of the income after related expenses, for federal taxes. Quarterly, send it to the IRS. Do the same with whatever your state income tax rate is. (A lot of my income is from interest, dividends and capital gains. Those aren’t subject to SE tax, but I use the same approach to adjust my quarterly payments.) In early December, take a look at the YTD amounts and what you expect to receive before year-end, and “true up” your fourth quarter payment.
      As a double-check, look at the total tax amount from last year. Make sure the combination of withholding and estimated tax payments equals or exceeds that amount, in order to avoid penalties. But if you don’t want a big tax bill in April, I recommend doing the math.

  15. Anon for this here post*

    When I started in my position, “Zelda” the admin assistant would bully and mean girl me and say all sorts of crazy things to me. Zelda didn’t like my predecessors and seemed threatened by me. She would try to get me in trouble, compete with me, etc.

    “John” retired and the atmosphere seems to have changed. There is a new woman, “Jane” who is around my age and Zelda is surprisingly cordial to her. Jane is in a management position, so maybe that is why, but Zelda doesn’t treat Jane the way she treated me. She still has mini mean flashes occasionally, but she isn’t as bad compared to when I started.

    My boss also acts differently- when I started, I was given 6 months worth of backlog work to do and my boss and assistant manager just laughed. Literally made comments like “Hahaha…. Anon has so much work to do!” and “Anon is going to be busy now!” Even before I started the position, my boss was texting me and kept in contact BEFORE I even started!

    I’m not sure what work Jane is doing, but I also know that Zelda is covering some of that work.

    I feel bad writing this, but I feel some resentment. I feel like I am being targeted. I feel bad that I feel this way, so any advice on how to re-frame things so that it doesn’t sting as much? (Just to note: I don’t have any issues with Jane. She’s still new, but it is nice to talk with her/ I don’t have any issues with her.)

    1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      All the wording in your comment is past tense. Does Zelda still mistreat you? Then address that. It’s not your prerogative to resent that she’s not the same level of rude to a new person or as she was in the past. You can only deal with her behavior as it affects you now.

    2. I can never decide on a lasting name*

      Reading your post, Anon, I was confused about what the problem was, apart from Zeldas initial behavior (which has stopped?). Being contacted by my boss before I started would for me be a nice gesture.
      Just to say: unless your post is in continuation of some I have not seen from previous weeks, we might be missing some information on which to comment.

    3. Qwerty*

      Targeted is a pretty strong word – what puzzle pieces are we missing? The most I can gather is that you and Jane have very different jobs?

      Do you think the 6 months of backlog work was hazing or something? Odds are it was just work that had built up, which is why they brought you on. The laughing sounds more like an attempt to laugh with you – I’ve heard similar phrases used when something big gets dumped on a person who was well liked, because they know its a lot but it needs to get done. Its like a type of gallows humor, especially if they think the amount of work would scare off the new hire. Texting a new hire before they start isn’t that unusual – some people view new hires as part of the company the moment they accept the offer. I’ve even known people who go to some meetings or read over documents before their first day.

      If the issue is Zelda, it is being overshadowed by the other information provided and we need more details to help. But it sounds like you said things are mostly better with her?

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

      There are so many variables as to why Zelda was/is rude to you that it would be impossible to speculate on why the different treatment for Jane — maybe she wears cute shoes… it could be that dumb. One thing though, and I’m not sure if this does apply to your situation or not, if someone points out mistakes or takes a concern about your work to your boss, or even competes for projects or assignments, it’s necessary to stop thinking of it as “trying to get you into trouble” — like an Elementary School play yard. Everyone IS trying to compete to get ahead in their career, get the good projects, get a promotion or raise…and addressing mistakes is part of managing people and work. Instead of focusing on whether Jane gets into trouble for mistakes, or not, or gets the easy/fun projects, focus on YOUR performance. If you successfully processed 6 months of backlog work, hit-the-ground-running or required minimal assistance getting up-to-speed, and reduced errors by 10% over a 12-month period, bring them up as positive things at your performance review with your boss (or list them on your resume as you look to leave) and don’t worry about Jane’s review. If they are coddling her, she won’t have as many successes to boast about.

  16. DoomCarrot*

    Good evening!

    I’m job hunting at the moment. I applied to something for which I’m very well qualified four weeks ago. I got a response that my e-mail was received and they’ll get back to me, but nothing else since.

    Today, the job was re-listed.

    Do I
    a) contact them to ask whether my application got lost
    b) decide it’s their way of saying “no” and leave it at that
    c) reapply through the new ad?

    It’s one of those annoying ones where they make you suggest your own pay, so I’m wondering whether they just didn’t like my answer to that…


    1. WantonSeedStitch*

      If you haven’t yet followed up with them, it can’t hurt to check in and ask about the status of your application.

      1. Threeve*

        I think so too. “Just wanted to reiterate my interest in learning more and ask if there’s any other information I can provide.” If they’ve added you to the no pile, it’s not going to change anything, but they’re also not going to think “oh, wow, DoomCarrot is way too pushy and/or optimistic, add them to the blacklist.”

        1. DoomCarrot*

          Yeah, I’m definitely not going for my mother’s boomer “gumption” suggestion of “phone them and ask and if they turn you down, reapply anyway and send them a cover letter that says they were wrong because you’re the perfect person for the job”. :D

          I really should stop talking to her about my job hunt. She also thinks just sending my CV to universities (!) on spec is a viable way to get hired…

          1. Cassidy*

            I now plenty of “boomers” who would be appalled at these same suggestions.

            Please stop generalizing.

            1. DoomCarrot*

              So do I – but that type of suggestion tends to come from their generation, not others.

              But sure, let’s #notallboomers it if it makes you feel better.

    2. ThatGirl*

      Definitely not C. You could follow up and ask if there was any update on the status of your application, but you know they got it, there’s no need to reapply. They might just be looking for more applicants before they start interviewing, or they might have decided no.

      1. DoomCarrot*

        Hmm, that could be. It’s a relatively obscure technical sub-field where I happen to tick all the boxes only because I’ve worked a couple of very different jobs, so I don’t think there *would* be many applicants. That’s why I’m so puzzled that they never replied.

        1. WellRed*

          They don’t need a lot of applicants if they get the right applicants (not saying you aren’t, but it’s pretty competitive out there). I’d follow up, once.

        2. Midwest Manager*

          Some organizations require a minimum number of applicants be interviewed for any opening. If the job is very niche, it’s possible they’re looking to expand the applicant pool.

          However, per Alison’s usual advice on this topic: If you want to request an update, you can do that – once. Otherwise, move on and be pleasantly surprised if/when they do contact you.

    3. D3*

      Sadly, b is your best option.
      That said, it doesn’t necessarily mean no. It could just mean that the company has a policy of not conducting interviews until they have at least X number of applicants. Or that it was closed accidentally and reposted. Or really any number of things.
      So while I wouldn’t sit around crossing my fingers waiting on it, I also would not assume it’ a no. Instead, just move forward with other applications. Maybe you’ll hear back, maybe you won’t.

    4. Just Another Manic Millie*

      A lot of companies place help wanted ads requesting that applicants “suggest their own pay,” not because such a job is available, but because they want to know what the going salary is for that job. It’s possible that they re-listed the job because they didn’t get enough responses, and they want more.

    5. I can never decide on a lasting name*

      Alison has responded to a number of questions like this; she said that one is not to put too much meaning into a reposting. Try search the archives for her exact responses and good luck!

    6. Hillary*

      I’m pretty sure our system re-publishes every open req fairly often – it’s a way to move them back to the top of searches on different websites. I’d probably just wait for a while.

  17. Cat Tree*

    I had my 2020 performance review and it went better than expected. I didn’t make the top performance bracket because there are a limited number of spots, and my boss was almost apologetic about it. The thing is, I’ve been in survival mode all year and getting into the top bracket wasn’t even on my radar. I certainly never felt like I was doing a *bad* job, but I wasn’t making an effort to go above and beyond. So I have mixed feelings. I didn’t get the highest bonus, but my boss managed to get me a bigger raise, which is unusual. Part of me just wants to accept the praise and believe that my normal performance is just exceptional. But I didn’t meet my own personal standard and I’ve spent quite a lot of time on AAM, Animal Crossing, and being distracted by my cat when I should have been working. I’m certainly not going to object to more money, but I feel a little bit of Imposter Syndrome.

    I also wish I had thought to ask which parts of my job are extra or beyond. I feel like I’m just meeting my job expectations but if I’m doing things I don’t need to I will gladly foist them onto someone else.

    1. Susie*

      I think you can still go back and ask for more feedback. I do find asking about what I do well so helpful when I’m managing negative feelings around my performance.

      1. Cat Tree*

        Yeah, I got a lot of good specific feedback and I agree with all of it. I believe I did those things well, but nothing stood out to me as not being required for my job. I guess maybe I assume everyone is doing more than they actually are?

        I’m going out on maternity leave in a few months so everything will get foisted elsewhere eventually. (One good thing about having an overbearing mother is that I’m really good at setting boundaries.) And in normal times I actually like doing the extra stuff because it’s an opportunity to learn and network. So I might ask my boss again at our next 1-on-1, but it’s not super important to get rid of things right now.

    2. D3*

      I always am confused by the idea that “there are a limited number of spots” in the top performance bracket.
      Like….the company only allows 5% of the work force to be good at their jobs. The rest of you suckers need to be mediocre!

      1. Cat Tree*

        No, our system is designed to be competitive and there are tons of high performers. There’s no quota for forcing people into the bottom bracket, but the top spots are intended to rare and meaningful. I absolutely don’t have a problem with how this works. Everyone can’t be the best.

        Middle bracket is expected, and we get 100% of our bonus by just meeting expectations. For example, my base bonus is 12% of my annual salary and I got that. I’m not complaining. Top bracket is really intended to be something extra, which is why I was surprised to even get close without putting in the effort I usually do.

        I’m also new to this level, with 2020 being my first full year in it. The top spots are based distributed per level, so junior employees aren’t competing against senior employees. Typically when I have landed in the top before, I take that as an indication that I’m ready for a promotion and I usually get that within in a year. The problem note is that the next step for me would be managing others but I’m not sure I want to make that move. There are a lot of things I would like about it, but I still have some reservations about making that jump. But I’ll consider it more seriously in 2023, maybe even 2022.

    3. Labrat*

      Try to remember that survival mode is the norm for the last year. So managing to meet baseline in your tasks regardless of how much animal crossing it took to get you there is actually pretty exceptional right now. A decent company has lowered a lot of performance bars during the pandemic and you may be comparing yourself to the pre-pandemic metrics but are in actuality clearing the pandemic bars with room to spare.

      1. Calrayo*

        I was going to say the same thing! You might not feel like your work is top-bracket material for normal times, but no one is in normal times. It sounds like you’re doing really well given everything you and your peers have been up against.

        1. LimeRoos*

          Super late to the party, but yep! This. My manager managed to get me into the Exceeds Expectations category this year because of keeping up with what felt like regular work. I’d also consider my performance just normal, I fully expected a meets expectations rating. I’m in insurance, and we had a huge amount of extra claims because of Covid, but just doing the normal metrics meant kicking ass. I’ve also played Animal Crossing, MineCraft, been distracted by friends and life. It’s a strange year, and I’m just rolling with it because basically everyone at our company gets meets expectations normally – a 3 out of 5 on the scale and a bunch of us got 5/5 this year. It’s been a super difficult year for everyone, and the companies that acknowledge it with better than usual ratings because we’re living through history seem to be few and far between. Since you’re going on maternity leave in a few months, you can probably just maintain until then and when you come back (hopefully) the world will have reset itself and you can take the time to figure out if you want to manage or not. It sounds like your boss doesn’t have those expectations but has just acknowledged how hard it has been to maintain good work the year.

    4. Ranon*

      That last 5% in quality can often be more like 30-50% of the effort, depending on what your personal standard for yourself actually is. It’s possible this year you’ve found a balance for effort & quality that’s a lot less work for you and still a good level for your company. Sounds like a pretty good outcome!

  18. PMHelp*

    How do I respond to a coworker who seems to be trying to undermine/disagree with all of my work without coming across as defensive?

    For more details – I work in a Project Management support role. Due to the amount of ongoing projects I work with the PM and our stakeholders to define requirements and work with the development teams to have those projects implemented. While the development teams don’t report to me (we all have different management) they do have to follow what the PM and I request for a project. Because I’m a subject matter expert (I’ve worked in the subject area for 10+ years and this role for 5) in the area the PM allows me to run with a lot of this work, looping him in as needed. The problem is one of the development team leads seems to think everything I tell him is wrong. For example, if the PM and I decide that based on a client requirement the teapot should have one handle, the team lead will come back with why he thinks its wrong and it should have two handles. He’ll spend hours of time on this, even having his team working in the wrong direction until I go back and say no, it is one and here is why. Even after this is explained to him he’ll keep bringing it up, sometimes even bringing it up around stakeholders as to why he thinks his idea is better. My normal response is to repeatedly calmly explain why the requirement is what it is, however lately he keeps pushing the same issues, going so far as to send emails telling me “You’re wrong about this and here is why I’m right”. It is starting to frustrate me more and I know that’s coming across in meetings. It has not yet caused a project to fail, however it has resulted in some rework. The PM is aware of it as well and has reiterated to him that my project requirements are correct. I do think that some of this may stem from the fact that I “skipped” the normal career path for this role and instead of coming from a development team I was hired based on my expertise in the subject matter area, however I don’t think that the team lead wanted this role as far as I’m aware.

    1. Ashley*

      I think you or the PM need to have a big picture conversation with the guy. When it is the same issue being overly debated I would just copy and paste a standard we already discussed this and are proceeding per my email.

    2. SoloKid*

      As someone in a dev support role that also got into my area via unconventional career routes, I’ve actually been encouraged by managment to push back on requirements to reduce complexity in our systems. (“Ask the PM why they need one handle when all the other projects we’ve done require two. Is it really important for us to diverge resources to support this new feature?”)

      So this kind of push/pull might be prescribed by someone higher than the dev lead that keeps pushing back since they work for management, not your clients directly.

      In my experience the majority of devs I’ve worked with (across businesses/industries) are divas of their extremely siloed expertise and are enabled by management that is not tech savvy enough to resolve these issues. Sadly “some rework” would not be enough to override a dev’s idea of how a project should be built in the few places I’ve worked, and management goes along with it especially if the dev leads say things like “well we could hire another developer, or push off project X.”

      1. PMHelp*

        Oh I never even considered this. Thank you! In most cases when he pushes back his solution would require more work or is way off base from standards. So it may not be the case but I will keep this in mind if its just coming from his management to question.

        1. violet04*

          I work in software development in a role where I take the requirements from the end users and translate them into system requirements for the developers. There have definitely been times where I have questioned a requirement and worked with the users to determine exactly what it is they need. But usually it is to provide a solution that is more streamlined or costs less. If this guy is doing it all the time and coming up solutions that are more work, then that’s really annoying. Do you have anyone at a higher level – like a system architect – who could provide guidance on the direction?

          Also, I imagine the stakeholders would be getting annoyed too. At my company we are on pretty tight deadlines for projects so I can’t imagine this guy getting away with this attitude that ultimately requires rework. Sorry you’re dealing with this. It sounds incredibly frustrating.

      1. I can never decide on a lasting name*

        Seconding this, it’s a management problem. And it should not become your problem.

    3. Mockingjay*

      This isn’t your problem to fix. It’s the PM’s problem.

      Your job is to provide requirements, which you do. You work with the dev teams to develop them, so Jerk coworker has an opportunity to provide input and clarification.

      But once those requirements are approved, the team needs to move forward on the project. If they don’t, loop in Boss. Don’t try to fix it yourself. “Boss, I am forwarding Fred’s email about changing the teapot handle requirements. The handle was discussed in detail last month and we all agreed on the requirements. If we implement Fred’s proposed change, the schedule will slip by a month and cost $X more. Please let us know how to proceed.”

      Repeat as needed.

      You may also want to have a sit-down with your Boss about Fred. “Boss, I get along with all the other dev team leads and their projects are running smoothly. Fred, however, raises frequent objections to the approved design requirements, even though he is involved in their development. I spend a lot of time answering questions that were already addressed, he’s not following the required specs, and these disruptions and changes are impeding the schedule. Can we get him on the same page as everyone else, following the process?” Avoid discussing why you think Fred has it in for you (the answer is that he’s a jerk and he’s not going to change). The outcome you want is for Boss to get Fred in line with everyone else.

    4. Just a PM*

      I’d ask your PM to remind everyone what the team roles and responsibilities are. I’ve had to do this on a few of my projects when turf wars came up. Reminding publicly what the roles, responsibilities, and authorities to everyone on the project was sufficient, or putting them in writing to include in your project files, helped quell the turf wars.

      And always document what happens in writing. Even if it’s a memo you email to yourself. That way if it does blow up or you get called out in meetings, you have a trace of what happened when, including who you escalated to and what actions were taken. Especially if this guy is ignoring stakeholder requirements and doing his own thing. If you’re having to explain and re-explain in person, follow up with an email “As per our discussion” to get it in writing.

    5. Qwerty*

      Oh boy, I’ve worked with guys like this.

      1) The PM needs to have a big picture conversation with this guy and loop in the tech lead’s manager. It’s great that the PM lets you run when things, but she needs to get involved when there’s an issue like this.

      2) The emphasis needs to be on *how* the lead is pushing back, not that he is bringing up issues. Being excessively combative is the problem, as well as finding fault with everything you do. He needs to start picking his battles smarter and presenting the difference of opinion in a collaborative tone. Anything useful he has to contribute is being lost in a sea of his arguments.

      3) The insubordination and sending the team in the wrong direction has to stop. He’s wasting everyone’s time.

      Warning: this is probably going to get worse before it gets better. There’s a good chance that the lead is going to view this as “suppressing dissent” and try to paint you as the bad guy. The PM and the lead’s manager need to really have your back here.

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

      I agree with some of the others, go gray wall on this guy and pick a stock phrase set on repeat — “the decision has been made and we are doing X” don’t get into any discussion because then he believes it IS up for discussion, and it isn’t.

  19. Casey*

    I have an introductory interview in 15 minutes! It’s a really cool position in a field that I’m passionate about, so I’m looking forward to getting to know this organization and what they do.

    Anyone else have interviews/big opportunities coming up?

    1. Dog Coordinator*

      I’ve been on the short list for a position since October, but the industry that the job is in (live events/concerts) was decimated so hiring decisions are understandably hard. I was in contact with them every few weeks after the interview (which I know I did well in, thankfully!), but there was just no knowing when it would be the right time for them to hire me. Around the holidays, we decided to touch base again in March. Next week, I’ll be re-interviewing for another spot in their company that might be an even better fit than what I originally applied for! I’m pretty excited for it, and the need to fill this other position will be more immediate than what I originally went in for. It’s with a company I really like, who’s product I know well and enjoy, and would get me out of my current position in a small business with a “Family” mentality (hello toxic work environment masked by “we’re a family”). It’s been kind of hard to put things on hold indefinitely, but I really want to work for this other company!

      Fingers crossed for your interview today Casey!

    2. AE*

      Congrats! I’m interviewing with a cool org that I’m also excited about. Hope it goes well for you!

    3. voluptuousfire*

      Yep! Had a really pleasant and hopefully promising second interview for a role that’s a really good fit.

      I’m staying emotionally detached from it, reminding myself the only way I know things went well was when I either had a rejection email or a job offer in my inbox.

  20. LimeTwist*

    What do you talk about in a regularly scheduled 1-on-1 with your manager, when they aren’t involved in your day-to-day work and you drive the topics? I’ve recently recently started having them them with my manager – 45 min every 4 weeks – and so far, we’ve started a tentative personal development plan where I talk about the skills I want to learn and ask for advice on things but… he’s not a technical manager, so I can’t talk about my current projects in the way I would like, but there’s only so far that soft skills are going to get me. What else is there?

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      Whom DO you have to consult on technical advice? If the answer is “no one,” seems like a good topic with this boss is “how can I get resources to grow in my technical skills here?”

    2. Cat Tree*

      First, don’t feel like you need to always fill 45 minutes. I have a good working relationship with my boss and we rarely need the whole time even when problems come up.

      I generally give brief status updates on my main projects, ask if I should prioritize differently, let him know my capacity to take on new things, and ask for resources I need to get my work done (such as transferring one specific project to someone else).

      1. violet04*

        Yep, that’s what I do too. I have 1:1 meetings scheduled biweekly and we usually cover everything in 10-15 minutes.

    3. Bunny Watson*

      I have the same situation as you, only we meet bi-weekly. I use the time to keep them informed of projects even if there’s not much for them to do. So, I might say here’s what problem I’m working on, and here’s what I’m doing to address it. It’s more of just keeping them informed so that they don’t hear from someone else first about an issue, but also allows them to speak to their manager in an informed way about projects. When they get asked about something, you want them to be able to say that LimeTwist is on it! I also definitely raise issues where I will need their support eventually. For example some equipment is acting more buggy and may need replaced soon. Or since Jones changed the specs yet again, we’ll need to stop doing work for Smith to make this deadline kind of thing. We actually rarely talk about my development. It’s more about managing priorities on the never ending list of projects. Good luck!

    4. Midwest Manager*

      With meetings every 4 weeks, it might be good to start talking about your long-term career plans. Do you like what you do? Do you have aspirations beyond your current role? Also, what are the things you struggle with that you can get training on? The answers to those questions could point you into more specific professional development areas.

    5. Emilitron*

      It might be interesting to talk about your projects with him anyway – not about the technical challenges, but about the managerial aspects of it. My monthly checkins with my grandboss include my high-level summary of the technical progress (but more about timeline and direction and technical reason X that milestone Y is impacted) but getting his perspective on how this projects fits with the rest of our work. He knows things about this customer that I don’t, he knows what else other teams at our company are doing for this customer and other customers, and so we’ve had really interesting conversations about in what ways this project is (and isn’t) a big deal for us and what would happen if the customer did X vs Y, where could this lead 5 years from now.

      I’m also new to leading teams, and it’s really useful to talk to managers about what’s going well and what isn’t. Not in a “tattling” way (though admittedly a fair amount of management’s impressions of lower level employees comes from things people at my level say to them) but mostly in regards how I can be leading better – Steve did a great job with X, but then I couldn’t figure out how to involve him in Y and I think he’s not engaged in this and I don’t know what to do next, should I be asking him y or is that not really his wheelhouse, and would he be offended if I asked him anyway.

    6. Malarkey01*

      It’s a great chance to talk about ideas you have for the position- things you’d like to offload, different areas you’d like to take on, improvements to the current processes or policies. It demonstrates you’re taking more ownership of the position and also gets feedback on what’s possible or not.

  21. Keeping it anon today*

    Hivemind, have any of you been recruited for a job where it’s clear the person in the job doesn’t know they’re about to be fired?

    I’m currently being wooed by a hiring manager who has made it clear she wants to keep the initial conversations “very confidential” (she’s speaking to me herself and wants me to meet two other people who have been told what’s going on, but no one else). I’m a bit nervous about this because it’s much more normal for someone at my level of seniority to meet five or six people when interviewing (both for my comfort and theirs), and also does this indicate that the hiring manager will do the same thing to me if things don’t work out? Is there anything I can ask to try and suss out whether the hiring manager has had conversations with the soon-to-be-fired employee and given him a chance to improve or is just blindsiding him? I could deal with this boss if she’s the first type but would be very leery of the second.

    1. RC Rascal*

      I’ve been in this situation a couple of times. First of all, this does happen especially with more senior roles (Director and up). When it does happen, best practice is if there is an external recruiter involved who is doing the recruitment. That way there is a firewall between candidates and the person on the rocks.

      I’ve also been in this situation where I was approached by the internal team (HR & division President). That was a massively sticky wicket because I met these people through networking, and they talked to me about replacing Fergus, who was maybe about to be fired. Then someone else quit and they asked me to interview for that role and Fergus was on the interview panel!!! The whole thing was massively messy and left me with a bad taste in my mouth. By the end I had decided I didn’t want to work for that company, in any role, regardless.

    2. Cat Tree*

      Yeah, that seems like a bit of a red flag. It’s not enough on its own to run away, but enough to warrant caution. You could ask general questions about how feedback and performance reviews are handled. Make sure you ask the peers as well as the hiring manager. If they mention regular meetings and/or informal real-time feedback, that’s a good sign. You can also ask how your goals are determined and how you know what to prioritize. If they give you a blank stare because there’s no system in place and you just do whatever is the most urgent or high-profile thing at the moment, that’s a bad sign.

    3. irene adler*

      First, my story:
      I interviewed with the manager for an associate position working for him. Got along well.
      Then I interviewed with the CEO. She asked me how long it would take for me to take over as manager. HUH?
      She pressed me for a time-frame. Six months? A year? How long? What resources would I require to do this-a consultant maybe?
      When I interviewed with the manager, he did not say a word about leaving his job. And it sure did not sound like he was planning to exit. I pointed this out to the CEO.
      She responded, “OH, he doesn’t know it yet. He’s 60 years old, so he will retire soon. I’ll be speaking to him about that right after we finish our interview.”
      I withdrew from the position immediately. What the CEO will do WITH you, she’ll do TO you. NO thanks.
      (subsequent Glassdoor posts-multiple postings- have confirmed the worst about this CEO)

      I would start with a basic “Why is this position opening up?” question. Maybe that would get them to talk about someone leaving (which would be legit) or someone not working out (ask follow-up questions to find out how this is playing out. And to see if they are straight with you about the situation.). If someone was leaving, maybe they’d let you talk with them prior to their exit? If this isn’t possible for them to arrange, I would wonder what they were hiding.

      1. Keeping it anon today*

        I already know that the position is opening up because the hiring manager is unhappy with the current person’s work in a way she thinks I would be better at — she’s been very open about that.

        I am certain she won’t allow me to speak to the current person. She wants a new hire identified BEFORE she lets him go so that the position is not empty at any point.

    4. HR Exec Popping In*

      You don’t actually know what the incumbent knows and does not know. It is possible they are very aware that they will be leaving but that it is not public knowledge yet. I would not worry too much about this at this point. Continue with the interview process and see what happens. As it gets closer to a decision, you may have the opportunity to meet with more people.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I agree with this. OP has no way of knowing what the conversations have been with the current employee and what the situation is. I don’t see it as a red flag. Also, in my experience, it’s pretty common for a company to be hiring for a position in which the current employee doesn’t know they’re being let go. Maybe that’s not universal, but it’s been the case way more often than not.

    5. Michaela*

      Massive red flag, and personally, I wouldn’t.

      This happened to me after I started – don’t tell so and so I’m going to be the person who is taking over his direct reports, because he doesn’t know it yet.

      Turned out the guy who hired me never had his boss’s agreement on the direction of the department, and I ended up in an individual contributor role I didn’t want.

    6. Dramamethis*

      Yes, I’ve been there. In my situation, I was recruited by a headhunter and had my interview at the headhunter’s office in order to keep it very confidential.

      The plan was to bring me on and then lay off the current manager who was not performing up to par in preparation for the massive changes they were about to implement which was outsourcing the whole function. He & his whole team were going to be laid off.
      My role was to be managing the outsourced function.

      Turned out the implementation took several months longer than anticipated so the layoff didn’t happen when it was supposed to and although I reported to the dept head, the manager thought I reported to him and treated me as such.

      I could not say anything. It was messy & weird, (mostly for me because they had no clue). I decided to keep my mouth shut, be respectful and go along until finally they were all laid off, which was uncomfortable because I was the newest but only staff member not let go.

      Shortly after that, the dept head quit and a month after that, the company was sold and almost everyone else was laid off anyway. So..there ya go.

      So…to anyone in this situation, do as much homework & ask a lot of questions begore taking the job because it can get messy pretty fast.

  22. Age of the Geek, Baby*

    My best friend is having a meltdown and I have no clue how to respond.

    She’s in a MFA program for theater academia, and I’m in the local media sector. She applied to several PhD programs and is freaking out she got rejected from all of them. Years ago, she was fired from a BigWig company because they didn’t like her personality and that basically gave her work PTSD. She’s telling me stuff like “i don’t speak academia perfectly enough to be a shoo in anywhere” and “I should have heard back by now”

    I literally don’t know what to do, since I obviously don’t do academia and I’m not sure what to tell her as she’s waiting for PhD program responses.

    Please help!

    1. Libervermis*

      Unfortunately I don’t know if there’s a whole lot you can tell her – the only way I ever found to deal with grad school applications is to forget about them as soon as you’ve sent them, just like job applications. A lot of grad programs are tighter than ever as a result of the pandemic, and a lot of timelines are completely wonky. I think the wikis are more for jobs than for grad school acceptances, but she should stay the hell away from them, that way lies madness.

      Some people are soothed by making contingency plans (this is me, my coping mechanism is “what would I do if I didn’t get x, let’s get planning”), so if she’s that kind of person you could suggest it. It sounds like perhaps you’re collecting some stress from her stress? In that case, putting some boundaries around “application anxiety” is completely acceptable – Captain Awkward has some good scripts for that.

        1. Libervermis*

          I realize I should specify – Captain Awkward has good “how to put down boundaries in conversations with friends/family” scripts generally, not specific application anxiety ones, I don’t think.

          1. Age of the Geek, Baby*

            Re-reading your comment, and understanding a little more clearly. I’m collecting stress from her for lots of reasons and my job is stressful (and planning a COVID wedding)…. Thank you, I do think it’ll probably help me as much as her.

    2. friendly neighborhood latinist*

      I am in academia, and honestly during the waiting period there’s not much anyone can do except try not to think about it. Personally, I was waitlisted for the program I’m currently in and then got my acceptance in April. These things happen much more than you’d think! Maybe remind your friend it’s still the waiting period, then ask her if you can help distract her and suggest something fun to do together.

      1. Age of the Geek, Baby*

        I’m assuming it’s not over until it’s over, and COVID is messing everything up, so why wouldn’t it mess up academia and notifications of acceptance and denial. Thank you!

    3. Not A Manager*

      I recently supported a family member through grad school applications, and he was pretty much the same way.

      I encouraged him to have a script in his own head about the actual timeline to hear back, the statistical likelihood of getting into at least one school, etc. so that he could talk back to his brain squirrels.

      I also encouraged him to have a concrete plan for what he would do if he didn’t get in to any school – would he revamp his application and try again next year? Would he take a year or two to get more relevant experience before reapplying? Would he choose a different career path? He tended to toggle between all of these, but at least knowing that he had options and thinking about first steps toward each of them was helpful to him. Or at least it kept him busy.

      1. Web Crawler*

        I like “brain squirrels”. My term for them is “brain goblins”. Either way, having scripts to talk back to them with is massively helpful.

    4. AE*

      This sounds really stressful for you as well as your friend. If it helps, PhD programs are always ridiculously competitive and even more so this year, so lots of super qualified people who would 100% be successful in these programs are getting turned away. Just like with job application rejections, it’s important not to personalize it (though easier said than done, obviously).

    5. Alexis Rose*

      That really sucks. I think your friend needs to have a reality check about Ph.D. programs though. If they come with funding, they usually accept like 1-5% of applicants. Plus a lot of them are accepting even fewer this year because their universities are in funding crises.

      Maybe you can help her reframe it as being about a good fit for the university and faculty, not a verdict on her character. I would give that one conversation. Then, set some boundaries about how much venting you can take. Like, “Okay, let’s take the next 15 minutes to vent and then let’s talk about something else.”

    6. Oxford Comma*

      Does your friend want constructive advice? Or a sympathetic ear? If you don’t know, I would start by saying something like, “I want to be supportive. What do you need from me right now? A sympathetic ear or advice?”

      I myself have no constructive advice as I don’t deal with admissions, but everything is very backed up and messed up in academia in general right now.

    7. MMMMMmmmm*

      While not in theater, I’m hearing a lot of chatter from my colleagues that this years grad programs have been rejecting more students than normally. My guess is that people held off during the pandemic, and now that its on its way out, more applications are in than before. I think its doubtful that she “doesn’t speak academia well enough,” but rather just more applications than normal.

    8. MMMMMmmmmMMM*

      While not in theater, I’m hearing a lot of chatter from my colleagues that this years grad programs have been rejecting more students than normally. My guess is that people held off during the pandemic, and now that its on its way out, more applications are in than before. I think its doubtful that she “doesn’t speak academia well enough,” but rather just more applications than normal.

    9. Strict Extension*

      I’m not in academia, but I went to a top-rated theatre program for undergrad (with theatre as one of the school’s top four degree programs), and I only had one professor with a PhD the entire time. In contrast, I’d say that outside the theatre department, the clear majority of my professors were PhDs, including 100% of the philosophy department, where I got my minor. The theatre professor with a PhD (which was not in theatre) spent decades there, and the entire time, it was so distinctive that he had a doctorate that he was just called “Doc.”

      Things may have changed, but my takeaway was that PhDs are not a major goal in theatre and most schools and individuals consider an MFA in theatre to be a terminal degree. That doesn’t mean that your friend shouldn’t have one as a goal, just that it’s not an environment where to my observation there will be any expectation of one or have a terribly negative effect on her career.

  23. buzzbuzzbeepbeep*

    Two questions:
    Should I feel disrespected by my company/management if they do not inform me of decisions that impact my work in a very tangible way? When I find out second-hand in the hallway about a change that will affect my ability to do my job, it hits me in the pride. Is this a normal feeling or am I expecting too much?

    Should I ask to be rewarded with a bonus or raise if I take on the work of three people because my two coworkers quit? Is this a normal expectation? Should I ask before I take on this extra work and refuse to do the extra work if not rewarded, or do I do the extra work and hope that I get some sort of recognition? I have a hard time not feeling like a chump if I do all the work for free and my company decides that since the work is done, they don’t need to reward me. Am I out of touch with hoping for a proactive reward?

    1. Lemon Zinger*

      When this happened to me and I pushed back, I was told that I could do the job, or I could leave. I think it really depends on your workplace and supervisor.

    2. WellRed*

      THese are two different things. The first, yes, I’d feel disrespected by learning about changes this way. The second really does depend on ore information than we have here but in general, it’s better to ask to discuss the impact of this, how they expect it to work, what can you let drop and for how long they anticipate this situation. But looking for “reward” is going to leave you frustrated and it won’t ultimately help you feel respected or valued. It also won’t help if your workload gets unmanageable.

    3. Kiko*

      I say yes, it’s pretty disrespectful and it would make me question whether my employer thinks I’m a meaningful contributor.

      As for taking on the extra work, I think you pretty much have to accept unless you have some major clout you can pull from. That being said (and the mistake I made when I was in your shoes) is that you need to ask them for a clear timeline of how long you’ll be expected to take on the extra work. And if the company shows signs of not communicating or not sticking with that timeline, you need to be ready to leave. I stuck around for 18 months until I realized my company was taking advantage of me and had zero intention of replacing the people that left.

    4. Cat Tree*

      If you can actually do the extra work, you probably shouldn’t refuse. You know your workplace though – do you expect them to reward in some way? If not, take what you can get from the experience and use that to get a better job somewhere else if you can. I know this isn’t the right economy for that, but it depends on your field. While you’re still working there, try to be as clear as possible with your manager and put the burden of prioritization on them. Instead of outright refusing to do work, ideally you would say, “Now that Jane and Bob have left, I have A, B, C, and D projects. How should I prioritize these? What should I do about B since I won’t be able to get that one done?”

      In an ideal workplace, your boss would make a decision that you both can live with and accept the consequences. But based on your first paragraph, it doesn’t seem like you work at that kind of place. If your boss tells you to just get it all done instead, or gives some vague non-answer, or you already know that it’s not even worth asking, then I think you’re stuck looking for a job somewhere else. Go into survival mode and prioritize the squeaky wheels and the things that will look good on your resume, then hope you only have to deal with it for 6 months.

    5. Bitter? *Moi?**

      For your first question, yep. Maybe it is a bit raw at the moment, but I found out through very back channels (friend of a friend who works at my large institution) that they were conducting training on something that is 30% of my position for updates and upcoming changes. There are three people involved that should have thought to inform me, but nope! For your second, how I got this 30% of my position is that it was allocated to me from another position. No raise, no recognition. I have the wooden handcuffs (certainly not gold) of being able to retire early from this place or I would be looking.

    6. Hillary*

      For the first one, I’m in a similar situation a lot. I try to always assume positive intent – people don’t necessarily know that I need to know what they’re talking about. The only thing I can control is my response.

      It’s a normal feeling, but it’s also worth examining why you’re feeling that way. Do you feel undervalued in other ways?

      1. tangerineRose*

        Yeah to all of what Hillary said. Also, it might be useful to just talk to the person, something like “When a change is made in this area, will you let me know about it? I need to know about changes because…”

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

      1) yes. They ought to have had those conversations with you. 2) Not necessarily. Are you absorbing the work permanently or just on an interim basis? It falls to all of us sometimes to have to pick up things outside of our “usual” duties in a pinch. If you have to take on that work and there’s no replacement recruited after ~3 months I’d consider discussing whether this is your new role and needs more money.

    8. More Pizza*

      To first question, I wouldn’t take it personally. They may just be disorganized or bad at communicating.

  24. Melody Pond*

    Does anyone know whether Alison’s old podcast episodes are still accessible somewhere? I remember she had one where she practiced salary negotiations with a caller, and I’d really love to track that down.

      1. Melody Pond*

        Ha, durr. That’s what I get for doing this in a state of sleep deprivation. Thanks! >.<

  25. Libervermis*

    How much time do you all get with your manager on a weekly basis, and how to y0u absolutely maximize that time? My manager is super busy and we have a 30-minute weekly check-in that frankly isn’t enough, but they don’t have more time and things like email don’t work. I save up any questions for the weekly check-in, I prioritize ruthlessly (since they often say “oh let’s do that right now because I don’t have other time” for things like getting me access to needed information, etc., which then takes up the whole time), I try to distinguish between things that need an answer now and things that can wait, etc. I’m pretty independent but I need some direction and sometimes information that I can’t get any other way, and I never leave the meetings feeling like I have it.

    1. Reba*

      Have you talked about this issue? I know they don’t have more time, but maybe if you could quantify what the cost is for you of not having needed info, they could find a second 30 min for you?

      It sounds like you’re doing what you can in the meetings. I relate, I used to have a standing meeting that had to get rescheduled a couple times and then has just … never been reestablished as a recurring.

      1. Libervermis*

        Figuring out the impact of not getting questions answered/things figured out is a good idea, both for getting things straight in my head (do I have the wrong sense of the urgency/timeline for some things, for example) and for laying out the issues to my manager. Thank you!

    2. Former Usher*

      No time for me. I only started my job a little over three months ago and haven’t spoken 1:1 with my manager in two months! What’s particularly disappointing is that the main reason I left my old job (which I otherwise generally loved) was that my manager had become strangely unresponsive, only speaking with me once in the 6 months before I resigned.

      1. Girasol*

        I had this experience too and it’s nerve wracking. But how much time should you get would depend on the situation. A new employee who is trying to learn the ropes in a new company needs more manager time than an employee who’s been doing the same job well for years. A new employee whose tasks are clearly specified might need less manager time than a “Tasks as directed. Must be able to handle ambiguity” employee. But any freshly hired employee needs to know if they’re doing okay once they’ve demonstrated their work, so I’m thinking two months after hiring is dragging it on a bit long before at least offering a five minute touch-base to say “Well done” or “Not like that; like this,” unless a designated mentor can offer that feedback on the manager’s behalf.

        1. Libervermis*

          I know you were responding to Former Usher with that comment about the situation and how long is too long to not hear from a manager, but I found it helpful. I’ve been in this position for a (pandemic) year, my job is definitely of the “must be able to handle ambiguity” variety, and the position is ending and I’m switching into a different role in about six months – it all adds up to “probably needs more manager time, but also, and for a mix of “good” and “bad” reasons, low on the manager priority list”. Frustrating and kind of nerve-wracking for me, but also, if they’re not prioritizing directing my work, I can probably work on taking my anxiety down a few notches over “not performing well enough”.

    3. I'm that guy*

      If you are using Outlook or a similar application to schedule your meetings you can create an agenda for the 2 of you to go through. I have a couple of 1-on-1s per week with a my manager and another person and having an agenda really moves things along.

      1. Libervermis*

        Yes, I love an agenda, and having it already typed out means that copy/pasting the same questions week-to-week-to-week is fairly easy.

    4. RussianInTexas*

      Since beginning WFH last March me, or anyone in the department, heard from the manager for 9 months. He would send work related e-mails, but no actual talking to anyone, or check-in. None.
      Back in November he decided he will do bi-weekly one on one calls, done it once to everyone, and that was that. Have not heard his voice since. Only strictly work related e-mails about work things.
      He is not particularly well liked among my peers, and this really isn’t helping.

      1. Former Usher*

        It’s maddening, isn’t it? In the WFH environment it’s more important, not less, that we have regular check-ins because there is no opportunity for unscheduled chats in hallways or side conversations in meetings.

        1. RussianInTexas*

          Absolutely. We get projects and demands and orders via e-mail, but he can’t take time to call anyone, or even chat on slack or something.

    5. TechWorker*

      I get a similar amount of time but my mgr is pretty available on email/IM (not like instantly, but I definitely get questions answered outside of our weekly meeting).

      As well as what’s already been said it might be worth thinking about which of your questions *have* to be answered by your mgr – are some of them things you would like input on but actually have authority to make a call on? If so is there anyone else on your team you could get a second opinion on? It might be that truly everything needs to go through your manager, but in some cases what you actually need to do is just talk through a problem and there could be other suitable people around for that. (Also generally a good way to build strong working relationships because lots of people like being asked for advice).

    6. allathian*

      We have quarterly 1:1s with an hour scheduled. If something urgent comes up, it’s usually possible to arrange for a 15-minute call (or chat at the office), but that hasn’t happened during the pandemic.

      I’m pretty independent as well, so I don’t feel like I need a lot of direction, but just knowing we’re on the same page about my work performance and our expectations is important to me.

    7. Mimmy*

      My supervisor is incredibly busy too, especially when she took over as Acting Manager. We don’t have regular 1:1s but I do often ask for one just to talk through issues and ask other questions. I also try to have my list of questions ready to go but I like the idea of sending them to her ahead of time. Sometimes she says I can also email her if she doesn’t have time to talk.

      I’m in the process of a career pivot and am hoping that my next job will offer some supervisory support or even mentoring. I know that’s probably a lot to ask but I feel these kinds of support are beneficial for employees at any level. I don’t mean micromanaging or daily check-ins; I just like knowing I’m on the right track with my decisions.

  26. littlebird*

    How do I stop feeling defensive when people ask questions about my work? Questions like “Why did you make this choice?” or “Did you take this into consideration?” get my hackles up; it makes me feel like they’re questioning my competency, or trying to tell me how to do my job, though I think I do an okay job of not letting these feelings dictate the tone of my responses.

    As I gain more responsibility I’m fielding more of these types of questions and because I frame them in my head as personal critiques, it’s making me super stressed and unhappy. Logically I know I should just take a deep breath and try to approach them objectively, but I’m having a really hard time putting that into practice. Has anyone gone through something similar and has advice?

    1. RC Rascal*

      When people ask you these kind of questions, mentally frame them with “Help me understand”. Help me understand why you made this decision. Help me understand how you took this in consideration. Typically, that’s what people want to know.

      Also, when you are in a situation where you are asking others these types of questions, always verbally frame them with “Help me understand”. You will get a lot more out of people that way because it is a collaborative frame. Another approach is “That’s interesting. Tell me more about it.”

    2. Not A Manager*

      I also get internally defensive sometimes. I know people will give you good advice about how to reframe your internal response so that the questions don’t feel like criticisms.

      Here’s what I do when they still feel like criticisms anyway, no matter how hard you try. I think about how much worse it would be if people thought my decision was terrible and not well-thought out, but they DIDN’T ask me to explain and just secretly thought I was an idiot. In that light, someone asking me to explain (even if it does feel like “explain why you made such a bad decision”) is a gift. It gives me a chance to clarify, in a quiet tone of confidence, what underlies my decision.

      If you take a look above at the post about the colleague and the spreadsheet, it’s a good example of what I mean. If the poster hadn’t overheard or been confronted by her colleague, she’d never have known that the colleague (and maybe the boss) thought she’d left data off the sheet, and she’d never have had the chance to correct that impression (to the colleague, AND to all the co-workers in earshot). Bonus points because she was able to do so calmly and non-defensively.

      Sometimes when I really feel attacked by a question, I make a point to blandly treat it as an honest attempt at collaboration, and keep that same calm tone. Inside, sometimes I’m thinking “haha, you can’t fluster me, Annoying Critical Person.” But you know what? It’s great to fake it until you make it, because a lot of times that person really wasn’t being super critical and they were being collaborative, but either because of how they approached me or because of how I heard it, my immediate response was a misinterpretation. So I try to default to ACTING like the person is asking in good will, even if it doesn’t feel like that.

    3. Decidedly Me*

      I ask things like this to my team members because when I see a choice made that I wasn’t expecting, my assumption is that I’m missing context, rather than they did something wrong, so I want to understand more about it.

      1. PX*

        This. I totally empathise with feeling initially defensive because I also have that. But I’m currently in an industry where my background is quite different to a lot of people, so when questions come up about why I’m doing things a certain way – it really is from the perspective of – they wouldnt have thought to do it like that/they have a completely different context (or even no context at all!)

    4. I'm just here for the cats*

      Think of it like “show me your thought process” instead of “why did you do it THIS way.” Think of it like math questions where the teacher asked you to show your work.

    5. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      I had a manager once who was purposely quite Socratic in his questioning. Like Decidedly Me says sometimes they are looking for context that may be missing, and sometimes it is a tactic to see how you think through situations. Walking through how something happened is a good way to prepare for what to do if a similar situation arises – it can be a way to coach through when to call in your boss, or to say “the customer shouldn’t have done that, no wonder you were thrown.”

      I say this for reasonable people, not toxic jerks who do it because you accidentally loaded the printer with legal instead of letter paper. Hopefully you are able to tell the difference between a reasonable workplace debrief and a bully, which is a whole other situation.

    6. Qwerty*

      Can you reframe the questions as judgement free? Odds are they are genuinely asking to learn more about the thought process or to make sure whatever is important to them was considered.

      For example, the “Did you take X into consideration?” has so many possibilities besides assuming you didn’t do it. Maybe they only care about X and aren’t fully paying attention the whole picture. Maybe the person before you consistently forgot about X. Or the person asking usually forgets about X. Maybe there was one time when X was skipped but it caused mega issues so now they are overly diligent on that detail. Maybe X wasn’t obvious to them or they skipped over that slide and will trust a yes/no answer.

      I spend a lot of time formulating questions so they won’t be taken defensively and its always a relief when I’m comfortable enough to be able to use one of your example questions without having to worry about insulting someone. I try to give everyone the baseline assumption of good intentions and wanting to understand better. If there is a gender component at play, or these questions are frequent, etc, I totally get why its annoying, but it’ll be easier for your peace of mind to treat them as genuine rather than attacks.

    7. hedgehog*

      Would it help to treat these questions as a chance to show off? You went through a decision making process or solved a problem, you were thorough and methodical in your choices and you made them for a good reason. So when someone asked how you arrived at that choice, it’s “I’m SO glad you asked, look at all the things I considered, I even thought of this rare contingency, and my decision should be really good”. Ending with “do you see any context that I missed” if you are open to hear additional input.
      This is a learning opportunity for the other person about the question at hand, about your (amazing) thought process, and a chance to catch anything that you might have legitimately missed or didn’t have full context for.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Yes, I’d second this. Take it as if you were being interviewed on a talk show explaining a book you wrote, or a movie you made.

        It’s an opportunity to promote your work.

    8. RickT*

      I struggle with this too, but like RC Rascal I try to reframe it as “help me understand” before I answer. I’ve also learned to not be as sure I’ve covered *every* possible issue or contingency so I look at these kinds of questions as a sanity check on my recommendations.

      Nobody is perfect, nobody never makes mistakes, and having to verbalize where my answers came from helps me review my process and assumptions again. I have several peers at work and we all have our preferred solutions/methods and may answer the same customer question in different ways.

    9. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

      A phrase I’ve found useful in that general sort of situation is “did you have a particular concern about it?” – or just “what’s your concern?” – asked with genuine curiosity, as in “I’m sure I’ll be able to answer, but please give me more background so I know what sort of answer you’re looking for”.

      In making it unconfrontational & encouraging them to explain, it helps if you can guess a little bit as well, like “were you thinking the x might y and cause z, or…?”

      I like this opening because it invites them to share more about why they’re asking / what’s really worrying them.

    10. Malarkey01*

      You mentioned you’re gaining responsibility so assuming you’re working on more complex and sensitive issues. In my industry the higher you go and the more experience you have, the more you actually get this question because there are so many angles and competing priorities. When you brief someone they’re also thinking through the issue and want to make sure they have a good answer when someone asks them why you’re going one direction or another.

      I’m the top technical contributor in a particular area of my organization and when I brief top leadership it’s basically outline the path and then them asking question after question to understand and strengthen the end result. It takes time but reframing them as collaborative and more means testing solutions and gaining information instead of personal criticism on your approach might help. Also know that this is the norm for everyone and not that they are targeting you because they think you aren’t competent (half the time the questions are actually me educating them on the technical details when things don’t make sense to a layman- the questions actually mean they really respect and trust my knowledge).

  27. AE*

    For more experienced workers and people in different industries, have you observed that the job application and interview process has grown more arduous over time? Would especially love to hear from hiring managers.

    For context, I’m in data analytics, so a fairly technical/hard skills field. For most of the positions I looked at, there’s typically an initial interview (30 min) followed by a test or sample task (anywhere from 2-10 hours, spaced out over a few days or a week if it’s a task), followed by 4-6 hours of additional interviews and possibly a mock presentation based on the task. On the higher end that’s 16-17 hours for each position, not counting the time it takes to actually prepare your application. This is for individual contributor roles, not management.

    This is pretty arduous and becomes even more so if you’re interviewing at multiple orgs at the same time, and even moreso when you’re already in work or school full time or have any kind of family responsibilities. I understand that it’s important for employers to be confident in the skills of their applicants and that there’s value in getting multiple perspectives, but sometimes I think it also speaks to inefficiencies or indecision in the hiring process. Your thoughts?

    1. A Known Mouse*

      OMG yes, you’re singing my song. Particularly arduous are the Oracle and WorkDay online applications, which chide you while you simply try to fill out the same exact form that you did for a job with another employer ten minutes ago.

    2. frantic mouse energy*

      I’m a data scientist and recently went through one interview process like this… 30 min recruiter screen, 45 min hiring manager “get to know you,” then a take home assignment that I did over 1.5 weeks, and finally a 1.5h interview with the hiring manager and some of the team to go over my assignment/further questions. I imagine that if we were still doing “regular” in-person interviews, this would’ve been even longer. I got a rejection today, and honestly, it was a bit of a relief just to be done and close it off!

      So no real answers to your questions, but lots of commiseration.

    3. anon here*

      Wow. I’m hiring in data science, and we just have a phone screen and then the 3-4 hour interview with multiple teams. We have floated the idea of of a sample task but I’ve pushed back on it in part because I think it turns off more experienced candidates.

      I think all that work is inefficient & communicates to me a hiring team that doesn’t trust themselves to make good decisions. Interesting that you seem to indicate it’s happening with many companies.

      1. PX*

        FWIW, I know Alison and a lot of people advocate for a sample task because you can get burned really easily without it! I’ve had companies set aside time during an interview to do the sample task – and I quite liked that approach. They prep you in advance (there will be X type of task for X amount of minutes, you dont need to bring any materials) so candidates can do whatever additional studying they want, but it cuts out the element of needing them to invest their own time into it.

        1. kt*

          Part of what we’ve struggled with is that in 30 minutes you can’t do much useful in data science, and our roles are very different so it would be hard to standardize a task that would be fair for different roles. We’ll keep considering it, but have done well enough on hiring that it’s not pressing at this time.

    4. AndersonDarling*

      Eeek, I’m an analyst/report builder and haven’t had to devote that much time to the interview process. I’ve been having the recruiter screening call, then a call with the hiring manager, then half the times I get a take home task. But all my assignments have only taken a few hours. I did one on a one hour lunch break. I’m in a specific niche where a lot of techs overestimate their skillz, so I’ve been viewing my assignments as simple proof that I know what I’m talking about, but I could see others spending days of time to create something “perfect.” My bare min of effort has always been received well and I’ve gotten interviews scheduled the day after I submit.
      After that, I get 2 or three more interviews. All together it adds up to about 5-7 hours per company, but that is spread out over months.
      But juggling multiple applications adds up. There was one week where I had an assignment plus 3 interviews with 2 diff companies. It was exhausting! But, I would never be able to juggle all that if I was doing in-person interviews, so I’m grateful that everything is currently zoom.

    5. TWW*

      Presuming you have a real shot at getting the job, 17 hour doesn’t seem so bad?

      For my 2nd job, at age 23, so a fairly junior position, I had a 1 hour phone interview and was then invited to fly out to be interviewed in person and give a presentation. I probably spent about 12 hours preparing my presentation. I remember I had to go into the office two days in a row because I needed a 2nd shirt and tie to wear with my interview suit. In addition to giving the presentation, and answering questions about my presentation, I had lunch with prospective coworkers, toured the building, and had separate interviews with the team supervisor, department manager, owner of the company, and HR.

      That would have been at least 20 hours, not including the time I spent sitting in airplanes and hotel rooms. And that was in the 90s, so not a new phenomenon for me at least.

    6. Forkeater*

      Yeah maybe because it’s so competitive out there, or maybe because it’s all remote they need more data points to make a decision? I’m in analytics-y work and was proactively interviewing because my employer is planning layoffs, and it was just exhausting. This last one, a role that would have been a step down in title, had a recruiter phone screen, a technical interview (wasn’t actually very technical), a take home project, four hours total with 8 different people, then they asked for references, then they rejected me. I’ve been taking a break since that one, it really wore me out. The other thing I’m noticing is past searches I wasn’t asked for references till they were to make an offer, but this was the second job that contacted my references when I was only a finalist. I feel like my references have been really surprised I didn’t get an offer either time

    7. More Pizza*

      From an employee perspective, it’s an absolute mess. I have passed on applying for jobs that I would have been great at because (a) the job description was too vague around what the actual job was and/or (b) the application process was too complicated, requiring creating accounts, entering your resume information line by line, providing references up front to even be considered, etc. I have been passed over being interviewed because I wasn’t willing to take time away from my current position in the middle of the day in the middle of the week to interview. To me all of these things say that you as an employer are out of touch with what it is like to be on the other side of this relationship. I don’t want my references to have to take calls from every job announcement I apply for, what a ridiculous waste of their time. Just the other day I saw a lengthy job post that was a long sales pitch for why you should want to work there with zero information on what you would be expected to do – also ridiculous. The best jobs I’ve had have required the least effort to get. To me, a nightmare application process is a sign of what’s to come if I continue down that path.

  28. Elle Woods*

    Has anyone else ever been contacted by a hiring manager for a position you know you’d excel at but couldn’t work there because they require you to sign a community lifestyle agreement?

    I’ve recently had this happen and the hiring manager won’t seem to take no for an answer. (I didn’t apply for the position; the hiring manager was given my name by a family friend.) After three rounds of, “Thanks for reaching out. I’m flattered but I’m not looking for a new position at this time” type emails, she persists. In my latest email, I even explicitly told her, “I am not a good fit for the position as I see that accepting the position requires me to sign a community lifestyle agreement. I am unable to do as some of the things in it directly conflict with my personal values and beliefs.” She won’t give up.

    Suggestions on how to proceed? I’m ready to ghost her at this point.

    1. Jennifer Strange*

      You’ve already politely rejected the offer three times. I think you’re free to ignore any other contacts (and it wouldn’t be ghosting as you’ve explained your position multiple times).

    2. Just Another Manic Millie*

      Is there a reason that you haven’t ghosted her already? Are you afraid that it will cause a problem between you and your family friend?

      1. Elle Woods*

        No real reason I haven’t ghosted her other than trying to be polite. I’m not concerned about this causing a problem between me and the family friend. Knowing the person as I do, my hunch is that they mentioned I’m in this line of work and the hiring manager ran with it.

    3. Lemon Zinger*

      I would just block her email address, or have the emails automatically go to the trash.

    4. Anonn*

      What is a community lifestyle agreement? And is it correct to assume it’s typically only used by religious organizations/employers?

      1. Elle Woods*

        The ones I’ve seen are typically used by religious organizations/employers. They typically include things like a statement of faith and prohibited activities (cohabitation, sex outside of marriage, drug/alcohol/tobacco use, etc.).

    5. SomebodyElse*

      If you don’t want to ghost completely then one more response;

      “Again, I am flattered by your persistence and this does sound like a great opportunity. Please do let me know when the community lifestyle agreement requirement has been lifted for the position and I’ll be happy to apply”

      Then you have automatic response if contacted again.

      “Great, so that CLA requirement is no longer in effect?” “No? I’m confused, I let you know the last time we spoke that I was not interested while this is effect”

      1. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

        And then if she still pesters you, you could resort to a Gretchen Wieners-like “You can’t sit with us!!” sort of response. :) But seriously, it has come to the point where it would be completely fine if you ghosted her. By not taking your no for an answer, she is not respecting your decision.

    6. anon here*

      Send a polite email saying, “My devotion to Friday whiskey and sex out of marriage makes this company an inappropriate fit. Thanks for thinking of me, though!”

      1. Mr. Shark*

        “I would’ve gotten back to you sooner, but I was fornicating outside of marriage and doing coke. But yes, this opportunity sounds lovely!”

    7. TWW*

      Does this recruiter think you’re an observant member of their religion?

      I work for a company that’s owned by, and largely employees, members of a religious community. Whenever the question of hiring someone comes up, managers inevitably start mentioning people they know through church with the attitude, “He’ll do it for sure because I know him and he’s a good guy.” Questions of whether they’re available, willing, or qualified come second.

      It seems since they consider the business as an extension of their religion, they think faithful members of the religion will feel a sense of duty to the business.

      1. Elle Woods*

        It’s possible she (hiring manager) does. The family friend who recommended me attends the same church as her. (I do not attend church and am not religious.)

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

      I haven’t been in this situation, but I suggest being direct and assertive: “I know I’d be able to excel at this position but unfortunately I’m unable to pursue this discussion any further because of the requirement to sign the community lifestyle agreement. If this requirement gets dropped in the future I’d be happy to revisit the discussion at that stage.”

      [Why didn’t you address that requirement before?]

      1. Uhhhhhh*

        The OP wrote:
        In my latest email, I even explicitly told her, “I am not a good fit for the position as I see that accepting the position requires me to sign a community lifestyle agreement. I am unable to do as some of the things in it directly conflict with my personal values and beliefs.”

    9. RagingADHD*

      “Please stop calling me. I’m not interested in working for your organization.”

      You should definitely tell the friend who referred you that this person is a pest, and to please never give out your contact info again.

  29. AbbyLooksForAJob*

    I’m interviewing for a new position, which is great! I’m on to the next round…and they’d like me to come into the office to meet my potential boss and team. My state is opening up steadily, safely, and gradually, but is this a reasonable ask?

    On one hand, I totally understand wanting to meet a potential new senior member of your staff, and I’d like to meet my direct reports…on the other hand, I don’t know that I’m comfortable going back to an office full time? This organization works on the front lines, including COVID response, so I can’t imagine they’re totally ignoring this pandemic.

    I’m struggling with how much I can “question” this. I’ve asked what they need me to to do in terms of Covid protocol but…I don’t know, I’m just feeling hesitant. What would you do in this situation?

    1. Not A Manager*

      I’m seeing two issues here. One is meeting your team for a day of interviewing, and the other is whether you’re ready to work in-person full time. I think if you separate those, you’ll find your own answer.

      If you think that pretty soon we will all have enough access to vaccines that it’s realistic that you could be safely in an office full-time, then maybe you can find a way to meet the team in-person while maintaining safety protocols that work for you. If you are pretty sure that the job is going to require your in-person presence sooner than is safe, then maybe you should take a pass on the rest of the interviewing.

      1. AbbyLooksForAJob*

        That’s a good point!

        The interview is only an hour in-person, so I think I can move past that.

        But you’re right, I don’t think I want to go back to working in-person full time. Just the idea of the commute and um…getting dressed every day is a bit more than my brain can handle right now. I don’t know what they’re plans are in terms of being/going back to the office, but I will find out. I don’t think my “not wanting” to go back is a reason to pass on the opportunity, but thinking that they’re creating an unsafe environment is.

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

      Go in for the interview, ask questions, take it from there.

      If you conflate going into the office to meet the potential boss and team with “going back full time” I admire your confidence in being offered the job :-) but I think you need to separate them. Are the rest of the team already back in the office full time? one might wonder.

  30. Lovecraft Beauty*

    A potentially fun discussion:

    I’ve been coveting the BCBG Upas Cape Jacket (link in thread) for at least three years, but have held off because I’m not sure how to style it — my office uniform is blazers over slim sweaters and wide-legged trousers or bootcut darkwash jeans with low-heeled booties or oxfords, and I feel like the proportions here would be off. Suggestions?

    1. Female-type Person*

      Oh, that is stunning. And that would be so flattering, it would make your middle look so trim.

      Now I want it.

    2. Daisy Avalin*

      That is a gorgeous jacket! I can see it working with slim sweaters and bootcut jeans, just as long as the sweaters are brighter colours so they stand out!

    3. Can't Sit Still*

      I wore a cape jacket as a replacement for a blazer, but it’s more of a vest than anything. It was a lot of fun, but the cape fabric got annoying after a while. It was noisy, got caught on and in things, and you definitely couldn’t visit the soup or salad bar wearing it. I’m not sure salad bars are thing post-Covid, though.

      Still, it’s a fun piece. You should at least try it on and see how you like it. It looks like there’s a reasonable return policy if it doesn’t work with your wardrobe.

    4. Whoa Nelly*

      That’s such a good piece! I love BCBG…

      I feel like bootcut jeans wouldn’t work with it, but skinny jeans and booties would be perfect!

    5. potatocakes*

      Gorgeous jacket! I’d pair it with a skinny jean and a heeled shoe. A pump for spring/summer, and a bootie for fall/winter. Block heel or stiletto would both look cool. I’d keep the shirt underneath simple and go with a silk camisole for summer, or thin cashmere turtleneck on colder days.

  31. Frustrated*

    Is. . . is Microsoft setting out to distract us as much as possible with the constant notifications and flashing things on the screen while we’re trying to concentrate? Like, did someone at Microsoft think that the world of Harrison Bergeron would be nifty to live in? Or does it just look malicious?

    1. Forrest Rhodes*

      No idea of Microsoft’s mindset, but I really appreciate the Vonnegut reference. Harrison Bergeron is one of my favorites among his stories—but the possibility that it might be coming true is … truly scary.

    2. A Poster Has No Name*

      They do have focus assist to help with that.

      I find I have the opposite problem with it, when I get no notifications when using both monitors, including email notifications and my company won’t let me change those settings, but if your company lets you, check out the focus assist settings and see if they can help.

      1. Frustrated*

        Alas, Focus Assist does not stop the apps themselves from being distracting.

        “Hey, let me interrupt your train of thought to tell you how to use this button over here, whether you have a use for it right now or not!”

        “Hey, you should check your grammar in this sentence, even though you have it right. I mean, you could have maybe meant something else here. Oh, and there is no way to remove these distracting little lines because how dare you know what you mean and how to say it?”

        1. Frustrated*

          Oh, and my favorite,

          “Surprise! We updated …. [tiny window disappears] Whoosh, too slow! We won’t ever tell you again what we changed! You’ll just have to find out when a tool you need no longer operates as you expect!”

    3. should i apply?*

      I feel your pain with Microsoft, I am still trying to figure out the balance between all the notifications and I can’t concentrate, to the no notifications and I am missing information. If you use Teams, I did figure out you can turn off the meeting chat notifications as that was a big distractor for me.

    4. Generic Name*

      You can turn off all notifications for everything. I don’t know if I get an email until I look at outlook itself.

  32. A. Ham*

    TLDR: I have a part time employee that has called out for half his shifts (for legitimate reasons), but also consistently asks for more hours.

    I manage a group of part time customer service/sales reps. I have one employee who performance wise is one of my top two team members. He is excellent with customers, quite savvy on the computer program we use, quick with any clerical projects we give out when things are slow, is a top performer when it comes to upsell/cross sell asks, and is just generally a pleasant person to be around.

    He has some chronic health issues, which I am of course understanding of, but does mean that we basically have to expect him to be out at least once a week. Since January 1st he has missed 16 shifts (out of 30 scheduled). He always has a legitimate excuse and a doctor’s note. And even when he is in, it is pretty clear he is dealing with something. I feel bad for him. He says that his Dr. has been trying him on different medications and new stuff is giving him lousy side effects. I should also mention that I am fairly new in this position but I am told that his frequent health related absences are not new, and it has also been brought up to HR in the past. In addition to his physical health concerns, he will also occasionally call in with a request for a mental health day, which I am also empathetic to (anytime, really, but especially this year with everything going on).

    When I speak to him about his absences and what it means for our team and our company, he is apologetic. He has also offered up some suggestions about how we might accommodate him better (no long shifts, no two days in a row, etc.) which we have done but he is still missing the same amount of shifts.

    Here is what is more frustrating though- when I have one on one meetings with him (as I do with everyone), he consistently asks for more hours. He has also shown interest in full time roles in other parts of the company. Given that his performance is so stellar, under different circumstances I wouldn’t think twice about giving him more hours, or even recommending him for open opportunities in other departments. But when he is having trouble even making three shifts a week, it doesn’t seem at all possible. Also, he specifically asked for the schedule we have him on now (see above) so I don’t understand why he’s asking for more when he KNOWS that, right now, he can’t handle it.

    I really hope, for his sake, that he and his doctor make some progress and that he starts to feel better at some point. I want him to, first and foremost, be healthy. I also want him to succeed because he really is so good at what he does. But in the meantime I just don’t know what else to do to help him- and also keep shifts fully staffed and running smoothly.

    1. Littorally*

      That sounds like something worth bringing up with him explicitly. “I hear you on wanting more hours, and your work product is good enough that I’d be delighted to have you working more often, but from what we’ve seen with your attendance, it seems like you’re having trouble keeping up with the hours you’re currently scheduled for. I don’t have any concerns about the validity of your call outs, of course, but I don’t know how we could give you more hours that you’d actually be able to work.”

    2. Lizy*

      Not sure how FLMA might apply here, but either way, I’d say tread lightly.

      I’d guess his thinking is that right now, he’s essentially able to work half his shifts, so if he’s scheduled for double the amount of shifts, he’ll be at work more. For example, if I knew I was scheduled for 6 days in a 2-week period, but I ended up having to miss 3 of them, well, I still want to be able to work a total of 6 days, so the logical conclusion is to be scheduled for 12 days. Then, if I miss half of them, I’m still working a total of 6 days. Problem solved!

      Obviously that doesn’t really work all the time, but I wonder if that’s part of his thinking.

      And all that being said – you say his performance is stellar. How does it impact others when he’s out? Is this something where you really can’t schedule him any more, with the foreknowledge that he’ll likely have to call out for 40-50% of the shifts, or can you try to give him more shifts and see what happens? If him being out isn’t directly causing others issues – like if Sue has to work twice as hard because she’s the only rep there when he calls out – then I’d argue to go ahead and give him extra shifts and see what happens.

    3. Banana Pancakes*

      Your employee is probably asking for more hours because he still needs to pay his bills. That’s the problem with having a chronic illness. Most of the time, you’re just guessing when you’ll feel well enough to work. Some illnesses are more predictable or more treatable than others, so it’s easier to have a set schedule. It sounds like your employee doesn’t have that kind of chronic illness, or that it was identified too recently for him to have built a routine around it yet.

      It sounds like he would benefit from a different kind of flexible scheduling, if that is possible for the type of work you do. You could schedule him for (up to?) a certain number of hours each week, rather than on fixed days. Not sure how feasible that might be, but if he’s as excellent as you say, it might be worth it.

    4. Malarkey01*

      Definitely loop in your manager and HR, but I think in your position you need to be able to tell him that you cannot schedule him for more shifts when he’s missing 50% of his current schedule which was worked out an an accommodation already. I’m assuming these are coverage positions and not ones that he could work when able on flexible last minute notice.
      There are times when an employee has a shorter term medical issue where you can work around absenteeism, but for a longer term issue, 50% call outs could not be reasonably accommodated in most jobs so I’d also ask HR how long this has been occurring and if it’s too the same degree.
      I have real sympathy for him, but at 50% he doesn’t sound able to work-again unless it really is a shorter term few months issue.

  33. Anonymous At-risk*

    I’m in a vaccine-related conundrum. I have an autoimmune disease that my state doesn’t consider criteria for getting the virus, though several states do (including the state next door). I would really like to get the vaccine as I have to go into work and be around people and it’s very clear from the science that my disease absolutely does cause increased mortality and hospitalization rates with COVID. I’m considering saying I meet medical criteria to get the vaccine in my state even though I don’t. It’s just killing me that if I lived a few hours away I would have the vaccine ALREADY and with new studies coming out all the time, I know my risk of hospitalization is 3x normal people… and I’m scared of the consequences of getting the virus. Any advice?

    1. friendly neighborhood latinist*

      Is it possible for you to get an appointment in the state next door? I know someone who lives in NJ and is trying to get an appointment in PA. I don’t know how it’s working for him, but it might be worth the drive to have the safety and peace of mind.

      1. friendly neighborhood latinist*

        To be clear, I don’t know whether this would be legitimate, allowed, or possible. I’m asking whether it would be.

        1. Anonymous At-risk*

          No, unfortunately I have no car or way of getting into the other state. And criteria requires living/working in that state anyway so I doubt it would work (though that state has way more vaccine availability…which also kills me) but I have no way of getting there.

      2. Blaise*

        This is what I was going to say. I live in Michigan somewhat near the Ohio border, and I know for sure that most (but not all!) vaccine locations in Ohio are accepting Michigan residents.

    2. Anonymous At-risk*

      Also realized this may not fit here in the work-related thread. Please remove if necessary and I’ll repost on the weekend thread. I guess I was thinking about work because my other co-workers have been lying and saying they’re healthcare when we’re not really and I was wondering about the ethics of lying about a health condition.

      1. Qwerty*

        Your coworkers are part of the reason things are taking so long. By lying, they are delaying the vaccine for people further down the line. In my state, vaccine eligibility became more restrictive because of people lying, so general providers like pharmacies are really only allowed to do age-groups since that can be verified easily.

        Have you talked to your healthcare provider about getting on a waitlist? Your doctor might be able to help get you in that way or be able to get you onto other waitlists.

        I’m also high risk and very annoyed that my state doesn’t include me in the list when the CDC and other states are. I allow myself 10min of being angry, then try to find good news on when doses will increase or to cheer on another state/country that has better vaccination rates.

        1. Qwerty*

          Not sure what state you are in, but this site is trying to help make a centralized vaccine standby list for the US that might help expand eligibility. It gives preference first to state guidelines, then to anyone to make sure no dose gets wasted:

        2. Anonymous At-risk*

          There is no option to get on a wait list as I do not meet state criteria. My health care provider bulk sends out emails every week to all patients saying they are only following state guidelines. So I’m not getting a letter or a place on a waitlist. My state is incredibly behind others as far as vaccine availability and whenever I look at vaccines in our state, it’s just depressing. The dates for different groups keeps getting pushed back and all sources just say ‘extremely limited vaccines’ so it doesn’t really help to look for good news when none exists. I’m happy for other states, but it honestly just makes me angrier at my own state for botching this.

          1. PostalMixup*

            I’ve heard of people getting on “waste” lists at pharmacies, including the ones affiliated with the federal pharmacy program (ex: Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, Hy-Vee, Kroger, etc. You’ll have to check the CDC website to see which are participating in your state). You don’t have to meet the state eligibility criteria, because they’re throwing those doses in the trash if they can’t find an arm to put them in, and a low-priority arm is better than the trash.

            Also, take a good hard look at the most recent publication of your state’s guidelines. My state recently updated them to include, for example, unpaid caregivers as healthcare providers, and to include people as “high risk” as long as their doctor designates them as such.

            And also, if you happen to make it to Next State Over (I know you said you don’t have transportation, but maybe a generous vaccinated coworker could give you a ride or something), the pharmacies in the federal program don’t care about your residency.

    3. HB*

      I know quite a few people in similar situations who simply drove to the neighboring state and got the vaccine! Many states don’t require you to be a resident of the state to get the vaccine, as long as you meet their eligibility criteria.

      1. Anonymous At-risk*

        Alas, I cannot get to the other state. I have no car (I rely in public transit to get to work).

    4. Kimmy Schmidt*

      In my state, the official list of high-risk conditions is very specific and leaves out many autoimmune conditions. In practice, they aren’t really asking or requiring proof of specifics. Comb over your state guidelines for their language and use it. Tell them you’re in phase 2, have a high-risk comorbidity, are immunocompromised, whatever is true but vague.

      1. Reba*

        Same. While I’m not in the list of named conditions, I fall under immuno-compromised so I went for it! And in my area, it’s basically honor system for these factors.

        1. Anonymous At-risk*

          Good to know. My understanding is there is no checking as well (based on my co-workers who have gone ahead with appointments they don’t meet criteria for). This kind of makes me think I should just go for it, assuming there are ever open slots for appointments again.

    5. DAMitsDevon*

      Is there any way you could get one of your doctors to write a letter recommending you for the vaccine? I ended up not needing one because the clinic I volunteer at vaccinated public facing volunteers a few weeks ago, but I have a congenital heart defect and it was very unclear about whether or not having a heart defect made someone eligible for the vaccine. I know a few other people with heart defects who got letters from their cardiologists to confirm their eligibility when vaccine eligibility expanded to people under 65 with certain health conditions in New York, just in case they were asked for proof.

      1. Anonymous At-risk*

        See above, but no. Doctors are not writing notes for patients that don’t meet state criteria, at least for my health care provider.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          The way I’ve seen that go for others is that the doctor has to make a convincing argument that X condition(s) are equal to or greater than the risk of similar condition(s) of the state criteria. If your state doesn’t have, say, non-organ-transplant autoimmune conditions on the criteria for this phase, even though it’s scientifically (and objectively) a risk factor for you the state is a lot less likely to budge.

          Which sucks! This is a crummy situation and I’m sorry you have to deal with it.

          1. Anonymous At-risk*

            Yeah my state is pretty restrictive (still requires two conditions) and no non-transplant autoimmune diseases are on the list. :( I haven’t talked to my doctor (she actually just retired so I need to find a new one) but I don’t think they’d go for this or that it would be convincing to the state.

    6. A Simple Narwhal*

      Honestly I’d just say you meet medical criteria. I wouldn’t normally recommend this, but if you’re an at-risk group that’s just getting failed by the system, I’d say go ahead and say what you need to say to get the vaccine and protect yourself.

      I want to clarify that this is not a blanket suggestion, and I am NOT encouraging everyone to lie just so they can get it. For example, I wouldn’t/won’t lie to get myself signed up because I am relatively low risk and can stay home 100%, but I encouraged a few teacher friends of mine to fudge things a little so they could get vaccinated. I think it’s absolute garbage that a year ago we calling teachers heroes, and now we’re sending them to the back of the vaccine line while at the same time demanding they return to teach class in-person.

      1. Anonymous At-risk*

        Thanks. Yeah I’m thinking this is what I may end up doing. If I didn’t have to go into work or take the bus I would just wait, but unfortunately that’s not the case.

  34. Wren*

    Has anyone else been in this situation or have advice? I had surgery, which work was fairly weird and unhappy about, despite previously assuring me it was fine. They made me jump through a lot of hoops. Now I’m sitting here and I don’t know if the amount of time off I requested is sufficient. It wasn’t major like an organ transplant, but is still a fairly big procedure from an unusual case of my condition, with a long and painful recovery time. I got intimidated by my manager’s comments and only requested two weeks off. When I come back, I will still be healing and wearing certain things to assist that recovery, and not able to even perform basic functions of daily living yet.

    I guess my question is, what on earth do I do if this time off ends and I’m not in a great spot yet? Working in a lot of pain, with sensitive work that requires great attention to detail (as my manager somehow expects literally 100% accuracy, which, okay then), doesn’t seem like a great way to go. I haven’t been at the company that long though and am terrified of pushing my luck.

    How would I go about asking for more time off, in a way that won’t get me fired? Or do I just suck it up, and try to work through the pain? The job is not one where I can go on light duty or anything.

    1. Reba*

      I hope your recovery goes well. Don’t suck it up! If they offer you unpaid leave, could you do that? Is FLMA in play? I would hate for you to have to go back to work too soon, and impact your recovery.

      Do you think you could have a conversation where you appeal to your doctor’s authority, like “because of how the surgery went*, my doctor is telling me I must take another week off [or whatever], I need that time to recover.” You could even mention that at two weeks, you won’t even be able to do some daily life functions, so working will be a real challenge.

      *saying this to acknowledge that yes, you asked for only two weeks originally, but now you have more information

      If not light duty, do you think part time for a few weeks could be discussed?

      1. Wren*

        Thank you for the response! I don’t qualify for FMLA yet, but wouldn’t mind doing unpaid. That’s what part of my time is, the other days I got a certain percentage covered under disability (didn’t expect or ask for it, but they sort of made me do). I do have a follow up eventually with my surgeon, so I can possibly feel this out a bit more then. I guess I’m more worried that it’s one thing for the surgeon to approve it, but another to anger the boss. Part time is actually a great possibility that I hadn’t thought of, though! I feel better just thinking about maybe being able to ask for that, it sounds so much better than just needing more days off. Our department is short right now, so that makes it trickier too. Ah, timing.

    2. Construction Safety*

      Talk to the doc. They will almost certainly have a follow-up visit scheduled and can issue a ‘Return-to-Work” with/without restrictions.

    3. Anon runner*

      No advice just well wishes. I took a week and a half off after surgery, just went back this Thursday. On the Tuesday even I was panicking about needing to take more time because I was still SO TIRED but actually I got through the end of the week fine (I just took a sneaky nap at lunch today :p). Definitely ask about part time.

    4. Generic Name*

      Yikes. I think if you cannot perform functions of daily living, you are not ready to return to work. I’d ask you doctor when you’d be cleared to work and then use that when you request more time off.

      1. Wren*

        Thank you. Looks like I’ll have to, as I’ve encountered some (rather painful) complications in my recovery. Ouch.

  35. Sandwiches*

    So, my boss is again doing nothing to hide her favoritism. I had posted before Christmas that she had nominated two of my colleagues (at the time, my only two colleagues who weren’t on some kind of leave) for an award that came with a small cash bonus. Lots of replies implying that maybe she could only choose two employees, etc… I did a little digging and found out she could’ve nominated as many employees as she wanted, she just chose to only nominate 2/3 of her active employees at the time.
    Since then, there’s been some behavior in meetings that isn’t really major but didn’t sit well with me.
    Last week our company introduced this employee recognition social network thing, where we can all leave comments and stuff for people at work when we want to recognize their efforts. Again, my boss leaves very general comments for some team members and not others. I thought maybe she forgot, or ran out of time? But she found the time and made the effort to leave comments for other people who aren’t even in our dept. This feels very pointed imo. I’m just not sure what to do about it? Like, I don’t need to be her favorite person, I just need her to be a respectful boss who treats her employees equally.

    1. Atlantic Beach Pie*

      I want to say this gently… is it possible that your colleagues are performing at a higher level, taking on extra work, have more seniority, etc? Being a good manager doesn’t mean treating all employees “equally;” it means treating them as individuals who have different levels of performance, accomplishments, needs etc.

      1. Sandwiches*

        They have more seniority, yes, but I have skills and responsibilities that they don’t have. It’s stuff that my boss doesn’t pay enough attention to because of her own personal biases, but I took on a huge project recently that honestly I have no idea who would have done it if I weren’t there. It was entrusted to me by someone in another dept who outranks my boss.
        I’m not saying I’m 100% perfect 100% of the time, but I work hard and she just chooses not to recognize it.

    2. Qwerty*

      This sounds like the same logic behind participation trophies. If the intent was for everyone to get the reward, they would have just handed out a company-wide bonus. The recognition channel would be utterly pointless if managers were supposed to list something each and every team member accomplished – especially given that it has only been around for a week! We have a saying in my industry that “if everything is top priority, then nothing is a priority”, which seems to apply here as well. If the goal is to give recognition to top performers, then immediately naming every person translates to the team not really having any exceptional members.

      As for your boss calling out people in other departments – that is usually recognition for inter-department cooperation and would be really unusual to be used as dig at a current team member.

      Some skills are also more felt and appreciated than others based on their impact. I tend to gravitate towards projects where no one notices the result if I do it right but all heck breaks loose if I do it wrong. Therefore, not much praise in those. On the flip side, some small tasks can really solve a need and get more appreciation than you’d expect (best and most public praise I ever received was over a fairly simple spreadsheet that someone just really needed)

    3. should i apply?*

      I have been were you are and I completely agree that the feeling sucks. I would look at, is this part of an larger trend? If so you can probably conclude for that whatever reasons your boss doesn’t appreciate the work you do, and decided what you want to do based on that information. If it isn’t part of a larger trend, it might just be that your boss is a bit thoughtless.

  36. Nicki Name*

    It’s been about a year now since a lot of us suddenly found ourselves working remotely. What’s something work-related you never expected to do, suddenly had to do, but turned out well? What’s something you can’t wait to get back to doing once your office opens back up?

    1. No Tribble At All*

      I didn’t expect to quit my job and start a new one remotely! When I went into my office for the last time to take all my stuff home, it was like a ghost town… I put stickers on my coworker’s desk so they’ll have something to remember me by.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Similarly – I didn’t expect to get laid off via Teams and start a new job entirely remotely. Very strange.

        1. Lyudie*

          They laid you off by a Teams chat?! Ye gods that’s horrible, I’m sorry :( Glad you have landed on your feet though!

          1. ThatGirl*

            It was a video meeting – not just a “hey btw we’re laying you off lol”. That morning I started hearing that some people had been laid off, then got a meeting request from the SVP of my division and…. yeah. It was him and HR and very, very strange. But at least then I could close my laptop and cry alone in my own living room.

            And thank you – I got really lucky and had a new offer 4 weeks later.

            1. Lyudie*

              OK that’s a bit better than I was imagining, heh. Honestly those kinds of meetings are always weird, even if it’s face to face and you know it’s coming. An offer in 4 weeks is awesome! :)

            2. DEJ*

              Oh I feel your pain. Laid off by zoom, although I didn’t see it coming, which made it that much worse. I also found a new job quickly and I think in the long run my life will be better for it all, although I’m still struggling with how everything happened.

    2. Blaise*

      Teaching from home! I LOVED IT though!

      I’ve been back teaching in person since September though. I’m massively looking forward to being able to arrange furniture in my room the way I want to again though, being able to have students work together again, being able to use classroom supplies, and not having to constantly, constantly police mask-wearing.

      1. PhysicsTeacher*

        I also really enjoyed teaching from home! Maybe it was the fact that I could use the bathroom whenever I wanted…

        I do miss my old classroom setup so much. I have 20 desks now, separated as much as possible. Last year I used to have 30 in pods. Even with 50% more desks, it felt more spacious and easier to navigate.

      2. Bubble teacher*

        Same here! Sipping a coffee, answering emails, making dorky videos, all in my pj pants was a revelation (and no classroom management!!!!!!) It was also kind of awesome to be a pandemic hero for those few weeks.

        I’ve also been back since September and celebrated the continuing low case numbers in my area by moving the desks back together just this week. You can actually move in my room again! Still very, very sick of the extra pressure and mask polling, though.

    3. Helvetica*

      Water cooler talks. I miss so much informal chatting with my coworkers and this also means missing out on some important informal developments.

      1. Coffee every morning*

        I feel so out of the loop without water cooler talks or the ability to just pop into someone’s office! But I do like the ability to have candles lit at my desk!

      1. Nicki Name*

        This is the top thing I miss. I’ve adapted to long-term WFH far better than I ever would have expected, but I really miss the occasional team lunches.

        My company is currently planning that most of us will be working remotely permanently, but has promised a big in-person gathering once it’s safe to have those again.

      2. Maggie*

        Yesss I miss the food hall we always get food at. I even miss Starbucks which I HATE but I miss it…..

    4. Cookies for Breakfast*

      I never expected to be able to have a home office space (in a very small 1-bedroom flat, where I’d always been working from my sofa, and where fitting most desks would most likely mean getting rid of a human).

      My company has been unexpectedly generous, and arranged an allowance for office equipment (though not lavishly generous – the chair they sent me is of the cheap kind, which my back doesn’t love). The IKEA desk I got was exactly the size of the only space I had left in the living room. More recently, we were allowed large monitors too, which were the one special piece of equipment I missed from the office, and the one they initially said they wouldn’t allow!

      I’m not looking forward to commuting to the office again, but not having barriers between home and office space has taken a toll, and even being able to take a coffee break outside with a colleague will feel like novelty when it’s possible again :)

    5. Joielle*

      Not exactly sudden, but this spring my spouse and I decided to buy a new house a couple of years ahead of our previous plan so we can both have better office space. I’ve been working from the couch/dining room table for a year and it sucks. It seems that we’re both going to be working from home at least a few days a week even after the pandemic, so we figured it was time to look for a little more space so we can both be comfortable doing that! It’s a huge, expensive, and annoying task but I know it’ll be worth it in the end.

    6. Dr. Doll*

      I did not expect to become extraordinarily hyper-visible to faculty on my college campus. Due to my position, I’m usually well known but not a celebrity, and it was pretty disconcerting to become the most recognized name to at least the faculty (to no one else).

      I’ll be so glad to go back to pounding pavement and getting some activity and movement traveling between meetings instead of begging for 30 seconds to use the bathroom between unizooms…like unibrow…no space between two meetings.

    7. Not always right*

      I had never worked from home before Covid. I was excited about it at first but realized I absolutely hated it. Every day ended with me in tears. So I moved my retirement up by 6 months. It was a very difficult decision made much easier after receiving the first stimulus check. It was enough to pay off my car which allowed me to retire and live off my social security checks. Thankfully, my house is paid for and I have no other debt.

    8. Mimmy*

      I found myself having to learn more about using the computer and about assistive technology (I work with blind and visually impaired adults). I also never expected to have to learn Zoom.

      I can’t wait to get back to seeing my students in person. The ones we’ve been working with remotely will be invited back for more intensive training once we re-open and I am itching to finally meeting them.

  37. Large Hippo*

    Is anyone here a parent of a young child who often has to work late and miss dinner and bedtime? I’m interviewing in a field that is likely to have hours on the later side and I have a young child who I have been home with for a year due to Covid. I understand that it comes with the territory (though my last job in the same field was very flexible and this was never an issue) but I’m really nervous about it. If anyone has been through this, how did you cope? Any wise words?

    1. Natalie*

      Just my personal experience, but I prefer to be able to work in distinct chunks, so I can be present for dinner and bedtime, and then work for a bit after my daughter goes to bed. I know that isn’t for everyone, but if it sounds like something that might work for you maybe really dig into how flexible they are with hours.

    2. Blaise*

      I totally read this as you having a young child who has to work late, and I was really confused until I reread it and figured out what you actually meant haha!

    3. kt*

      When my kid was very small, I taught evenings, so we just split evenings up into “daddy’s night/mommy’s night/family night” (our family structure). As long as there was a routine, it was not that hard (and at that point, it was also true that if I was going to miss dinner, I might as well work until 10, because coming home & disrupting bedtime routines would be *worse*). If there is no routine, that’s a different question and to me harder. If you can guarantee some nights with kid and deliver on that, that helps; if you can trade off with some mornings, that’s also nice.

      Kids are pretty adaptable and if you can help them feel like they’re helping you, that is always useful. So if you could frame it as, You’re growing up now and Parent has a new job and let’s work together as we’re both growing and starting new things! that could help. “Now that you’re a little older, you’re going to have some evenings with Other Caretaker so I can start my new work!” You can read some books with kids starting new schools, caretakers starting new jobs, and treat it as a totally reasonable evolution in life. This will help when kid inevitably starts or changes daycare/preschool/schools, as well.

    4. Policy Wonk*

      When mine were little I would leave work at a reasonable hour, feed kids, put them in bed, then go back to the office and finish up. (This was in the dark ages before work from home became a thing.) My boss didn’t have a problem with it because the work was always done and waiting for him the next morning. It didn’t matter that I did it at 11:00 PM.

    5. Another JD*

      If I have an unexpectedly late night, then we tell my daughter as soon as I know, and do facetime with her. She’s still nursing so bedtime without me is harder. I’ll often go home just in time to nurse, read a book, and put her to bed. That gives me more time at work, while also getting our normal time to reconnect.

    6. Purple Cat*

      What is the co-parenting situation like? For us, we trade-off. One spouse can work late while the other is handling the kids and the next day we swap. (or flex depending on schedules). The children don’t prefer one of us over the other and we both feel like we’re supporting the family equally. The trick (challenge) is in making sure you’re fully present when you are with the kids and vice versa.

  38. cactus lady*

    I just bought my first house, and I move in next weekend! I’m in my mid-30s, I’ve never been married and I don’t have kids so this is the first GOOD major life change I’ve experienced as a working adult. I’m super excited…. which has made me very distracted from work (and I kind of have been for this whole homebuying process). Does anyone have any tips for how to stay focused when I’d rather be planning my kitchen remodel??

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      If you can, I’d recommend taking some time off of work to just focus on the house! I moved about six months ago and there is so much that goes into house-buying and moving that it’s better to not try and do everything at once, and instead focus fully on your new house for at least a few days if you can.

      In the meantime, try and remind yourself that you’re going to be in the house for a while, there is zero rush to get everything done right now. Easier said than done, I know! But as much as you’d like to have everything done all at once and right now, reminding yourself that you have lots of time and you don’t need to focus all of your energy and attention into it right now can help you focus on work a little more.

      Congrats on the house!

    2. Not a Real Giraffe*

      Congratulations!! I am in the exact same boat. It is so hard to focus on updating a website when there are couches to shop for and carpets to install and walls to paint. I have no tips, as I am just muddling through faking my working motivating myself, but sending the best wishes your way — it’s an exciting time!

    3. Cookies for Breakfast*

      Congratulations! I’m a new homeowner too, but in the opposite situation: I’m so burnt out from my job, I both want and need the distractions. Luckily, my partner is handling most of the daily lawyer-and-bank-and-estate-agent-back-and-forth, because I barely have time to take my eyes off the screen during the working day.

      The suggestion of time off when you can is spot on. A Simple Narwhal also makes a great point that you’ll have lots of time to sort everything out. My personal examples would be furniture that takes weeks to deliver, and setting a monthly budget for what we’ll buy or what works we’ll do, because paying for everything at once isn’t realistic. I’m sure you’ll have your own examples of things that will take time or can be postponed for a while.

      Of the things you need to do soon, is there anything exciting about the move that you can save for after work or a time-limited break, so you’re deliberate on when the distractions happen? For example, “if I put myself through the next 3 calls in a row / two hours of admin work, I’ll be all clear to shop for a sofa online afterwards.” Again, you can probably find your own version of this :)

      Hope your move is as smooth as can be, and that you’ll love your new home!

    4. Joielle*

      Congrats! Take a few Pinterest breaks during the day :) Personally, I find that I focus better if I give myself permission to take a break here and there to just do the thing that’s distracting me, and then get back to work.

      1. Dwight Schrute*

        Same! If I give myself 10 minutes to do the thing I can get back to work instead of thinking about the thing until the end of the day

  39. RosenGilMom*

    Looking for a tool that will provide salary ranges for nonprofit positions. Unfortunately many online job applications request salary range as a prerequisite to submission, and I’m always at a loss. Thanks.

    1. T. Boone Pickens*

      Have you checked out Glassdoor yet? Depending on the area, they usually have pretty decent salary info.

      1. OyHiOh*

        Glassdoor isn’t very helpful with non profits, unfortunately.

        To answer the question, I’ve used idealist dot com as a tool. It’s a jobs site, like Indeed, but specific to non profits. I’ve put in the job title I’m interested in, and search for listings with salary info included. It’s not perfect, but gives me an idea of where salary should fall.

        1. T. Boone Pickens*

          Ah, good to know! I’ll add idealist to my salary tool website list that I use for comp evaluations. Much obliged!

    2. Ali G*

      Depending on the level, you can check the 990s of the one you are looking at and similar sized orgs. They are required to list their “top earners” which varies, but typically includes executives and/or anyone that makes more than $100k.
      that should give you an idea of what the top earns and you might be able to judge based on that at lower levels.

    3. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      I believe Idealist requires salaries to be listed, so you can look to get a sense of what certain job titles seem to be paying. I’m also a fan of just putting the salary I want (whether to match current salary or because it’s the least I’ll accept) and if it takes me out of the running, it wasn’t meant to be.

    4. JessicaTate*

      This isn’t a tool, but the best thing I’ve found to get really precise is to find job postings that list salary ranges. I tend to do this on a rolling basis and keep them in a spreadsheet as they come up (title, location, salary) — I’m more doing it to make sure our organization stays on top of market rate. Even if they’re not in our locality, I can use them as a gauge and adjust for COL.

      I never found a really good online tool for non-profit / particular sectors of non-profit work.

    5. Environmental Compliance*

      Try PayScale. I’ve used that to generate salary estimates for someone with my background, and there’s an option there for employers to generate ranges I believe.

    6. Bex*

      I think my comment is stuck in moderation because it has a link…. AAM has done a couple round-ups that are great! Do a search for ask a manager “how much money do you make” and you should get to the spreadsheet!

  40. Caterpie*

    The workplace has obviously become more accepting of tattoos and colorful hair, at least in some industries. Has colorful, ‘alternative’, or ‘influencer’ makeup come the same way in your workplaces?

    I’m not necessarily talking about mermaid scales or anime eyes painted on eyelids for work haha, but curious to see if anything more ‘dramatic’ than neutral colors is more accepted similarly to tattoos and bright hair colors.

    1. SaffyTaffy*

      During lockdown, several of our Faculty and staff dyed their hair an unnatural color (including me) and it’s been embraced at our conservative school.

    2. Kimmy Schmidt*

      An interesting question!

      I haven’t really noticed any dramatic, colorful, or over-the-top makeup at my workplace, but we tend to be pretty casual and relaxed.
      However, I’m a university librarian and I’ve recorded some lecture videos in wild and crazy makeup! I actually did one video after I played DnD and wore a ton of character makeup, and I gave students a bonus point for the most creative guess about why my face looked like it did.

    3. Grace*

      My workplace has always been pretty chill about these things. (One of my team leads interviewed me in yoga pants – we have no dress code unless you’re in client-facing roles, and even then it’s merely “be reasonably smart”, no suits required.)

      I haven’t got around to going as wild as I sometimes enjoy for eyeshadow in terms of neons or colours, just because of time limitations, but I have worn very glittery eyeshadow with no comment passed, and very bright or dark lipsticks just get a compliment from other make-up obsessives. Worth noting, though, that I don’t do a full insta/influencer aesthetic (heavy contouring, fake lashes etc) – that might get a few more looks, although certainly not criticism from management.

    4. OyHiOh*

      I’m the only woman in my organization. My work “uniform” is oxford shirts, funky blazers, and neutral work trousers, with somewhere between 0 and neutral makeup. I save the dramatic eyes for non work, because a lot of the people I have video/phone contact are rural, more conservative, and not digital/tech savy AT ALL. Me with bright purple eyes (much as I love that color palette) would read somewhere between startling and wildly out of touch to my contacts.

    5. Helvetica*

      I’ve started doing a more bold cat eye myself, mostly because if it’s only my eyes you’ll see, they better look great. I wouldn’t call it dramatic but it feels a bit more dramatic to me than usual.

    6. Policy Wonk*

      It depends on your workplace. Mine is very conservative, so it would never fly. (We wouldn’t fire you, but you would find yourself without plum assignments, not being sent to important meetings, etc.) But I have seen people out and about sporting such looks who are clearly in the middle of the workday, so obviously it’s OK somewhere.

    7. Generic Name*

      Our receptionist is very young and is very adept at makeup, and sometimes she wears bright eyeshadow or generally heavy makeup. She always looks fine and no one has ever said anything, to my knowledge. (Sometimes she goes without makeup, and I personally think her face is just as lovely on its own)

    8. Emilitron*

      I’m in a workplace that is on one hand not particularly conservative and not too judgemental about hairstyles or tattoos or clothing styles; but on the other has a strong vein of “we are nerds who live for X” dedication to our technical excellence, and being socially aware enough to know how to do elegant bright-palette eyeshadow with a dramatic cateye liner would potentially be taken as an indication that you have too much time on your hands. Add to that, that you’d be highlighting a feminine gender expression in a male-dominated field, and it comes out as a poor choice. Which is weird, because boy do we think we’re flexible and accepting (eyeroll)

  41. Alice*

    This week my manager told me that I seem “overwhelmed.” He’s not wrong – I do feel like I am being told to carry out a ton of projects with ambiguous (and ambitious) goals. But I did not like hearing it at all. If people are perceiving me as being overwhelmed, I want to adjust my behavior and persona so that they stop perceiving me that way.
    I didn’t feel like I could ask questions about why my manager thought I was overwhelmed; I didn’t want to come off like I was pushing back against his evaluation. I did ask a colleague if I’ve been coming across that way to her. She said “I think we are all overwhelmed, but you always have clear boundaries so it never seems frantic.”
    My questions to the hive mind:
    How can I stop seeming overwhelmed?
    Does it come across as unprofessional to be/seem overwhelmed?
    How could I explain that I need to delegate/drop/delay some tasks, or that I need clarification on goals, without inviting the perception that I am overwhelmed?
    Thanks all!

    1. WellRed*

      I think this is an opportunity to figure out what you need in terms of support, if applicable and also what could reasonably be put on the back burner or transitioned to someone else. And then have a sitdown meeting with the manager. (Also take a day off if you haven’t in a while).
      This all presumes a reasonable working environment of course.

    2. Mockingjay*

      Monitoring workload is part of managing. Having a boss who is perceptive enough to read the signs that you have too much on your plate is a very good thing! Let her step in and help you!

      Schedule time with manager: “hey, can we go over my workload?” Before the meeting, list everything you are working on, their statuses, and problems or questions for each. Figure out what you can reasonably finish, what you need help with, and what things a teammate might be able to handle instead.

      I have a very open relationship with my manager and team leads, so when I get a deluge of tasks, I can literally email or call: “hey, remember when I said I’d let you know I’m overwhelmed? I’m overwhelmed!” Then I give them a list of what I want to prioritize and the things I think can be offloaded to others.

      Workloads can be insidious – you start with a small set of tasks, and time goes on, more gets added, scope increases, you pick up something while Harry’s on vacation…Resetting your tasks is a very normal and routine business practice. I’m actually happy when this happens, because I know that management is actively invested in ensuring employees thrive and have a balanced workload in a busy environment.

    3. Policy Wonk*

      I said this to an employee once because I saw her name on about every report that crossed my desk. It looked like she was doing far more work than her peers, and I wanted to know if she thought the same. Perhaps not artfully worded, but it was about the volume of work, not the employee’s attitude. If you trust the person you checked with to be honest, it could be that your manager noticed the high number of projects and wanted to be sure he wasn’t overwhelming you.

    4. Shirley Keeldar*

      I think it would be fine and helpful to go back to your manager and say you’ve reflected on the feedback and would like to hear what specific actions you’re doing that are coming across as “overwhelmed.” Ask them to focus less on how you “seem” than on what they want you to DO. Respond to e-mails more quickly? Appear calmer in meetings? Don’t snap at your co-workers? (Sorry, I’m sure you don’t snap at anybody, you sound lovely.) Because this is really unhelpful feedback, guaranteed to make you self-conscious and anxious and less productive but not actually solve any problems. Ask him to give you better feedback.

  42. SaffyTaffy*

    I agreed to do overtime work in a different location & department, and I hate it. I’m not sure I can make it through the 8 weeks I agreed to. The manager there keeps making jokes about keeping me “forever, we’ll bring you over to the dark side” and when she does I want to shout NO I HATE IT HERE.
    But the location is understaffed and the help is tremendously appreciated. It’s also making it a little easier for medical staff to, you know, save people’s lives.
    How do I quit the extra work without burning bridges or dying of guilt?

    1. WellRed*

      You only agreed to 8 weeks. Make it clear that you can’t go beyond that so they can plan accordingly.

    2. Kiitemso*

      Tell your manager you won’t be able to do beyond the 8 weeks, if they bring it up or tell you it was requested by the local manager. Just say you were happy to help but extending it would be untenable.

    3. PollyQ*

      You can definitely push back at the jokes with something like, “sorry, but they need me back at HR!” or just a little shrug and “what can you do?” expression. I think you ought to suck it up and complete the 8 weeks though, unless it’s really doing a number on your mental health. Refusing to do it could look very bad to your current boss and might well burn a bridge.

  43. Training Prep*

    I’m working on a training session for my org and, during the module on bullying and racism, will be mentioning that certain words and phrases have history that makes them … problematic. (Obviously everyone knows about “the N word” and “the R word;” this is about phrases that have been discussed here at AAM previously: welshing on a promise, being gypped in a business deal, etc.)

    I am 100% certain many of my colleagues are NOT aware that those phrases are insulting to certain groups, so I think it’s important to let them know. But I want to do so sensitively, without causing offense in the training itself.

    I’m not going to have my speakers use the terms, but I was considering have a few of those phrases appear briefly onscreen during this segment. (This is a recorded presentation, not a discussion.) Your thoughts?

    1. No Tribble At All*

      I think “Hey, you might not have realized these phrases actually imply some very nasty stereotypes” is a good thing to say.

      1. Littorally*

        Yeah. Offer generous benefit of the doubt and you’re likely to do well.

        “You probably had no way of knowing this, these are vernacular sort of phrases that get passed along, often without people even seeing them in writing! Which does a lot to obscure their origins.”

        I think showing them in writing is an okay tactic because you can specifically point out how they’re spelled, which people often don’t know and therefore don’t connect. Like, if they think it’s ‘welching’ on a debt, they connect it to onomatopoeia like “squelch” instead of to the national term.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Good point. All those people who write “jipped” would have no idea where the term came from.

        2. Training Prep*

          This is exactly why I want to include them on screen. Because until I saw discussions here, I had no idea of the nature of many of those comments! I also grew up hearing and seeing “Pollock jokes” and didn’t know until recent years that those became a thing to dehumanize Poles. (I thought of people from Poland as Poles/Polish, not the other term, so I never made the connection that those jokes were slamming an entire population of people. I thought it was a made-up word, like blonde jokes but about a fictional entity.) /blushes furiously

          Thank you all for reassuring me that I’m on the right track here.

          1. Littorally*

            You definitely are, and I think asking before you do it is a great instinct. With stuff like slurs, it’s always important to ask, do I really need to use the word? Is there a concrete benefit that outweighs the harm? And sometimes — like here — the answer may be yes!

    2. Alice*

      I do not think you can effectively community “do not use these phrases” without saying (or, well, writing) the phrases. This is a serious topic, not a guessing game.
      I’d also suggest (but it’s not like I have any special insight) that you frame it as “do not use racial slurs (these ones I don’t think you need to give examples) or problematic phrases (ex ‘welsh on a bet’) or phrases that are likely to be perceived as slurs (ex ‘niggardly’).”
      If the training said, “do not use racial slurs, including ‘welsh on a bet’ and ‘niggardly'” I would think that you are combining some different things.
      And of course, the third category I mentioned may not be on your radar at all! Just mentioning it.

    3. D3*

      I don’t know that it’s a bad thing to say them specifically within the course of educating people about why they are a problem. You can’t fix a problem without specifically calling it out.

    4. Joielle*

      I think you have to say or show the phrases so people know what you’re talking about. Otherwise, someone who doesn’t already know that “gypped” is problematic isn’t going to realize that’s what you mean. And maybe give links to resources with more detail, so people can read about the history of the words.

      1. Zephy*

        Oh, yes, also this! Definitely offer links to additional resources with more information – no need to derail your DEI presentation for an etymology lesson, but even just a Wikipedia link is a starting point for someone who wants to know more.

    5. Zephy*

      Are you able to offer a quick content note at the beginning of this section? Something like, “The language we use matters when it comes to creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive atmosphere. We’re going to take a moment here to discuss other common words and phrases with problematic histories, and alternative ways of expressing the same ideas, so obviously we will need to reference those words and phrases to a certain degree.” Presumably the training will have already covered the idea that just because you didn’t know or don’t think something is or could be offensive doesn’t mean it’s not. And then I think you’ll be in the clear if you can find ways to discuss these slurs without targeting them at a specific individual.

    6. TWW*

      Instead of addressing specific words, maybe a better approach is to talk about how to react when someone points out that you’ve unwittingly used an offensive word.

      If you start running down a list of verboten words, you’re almost sure to start an argument about how offensive they actually are.

      Do you really want to your trainees pushing back that this word can’t be offensive because it’s a scientific term used by psychologists, or that word can’t be offensive because, while it sounds like a slur, its etymological origins are unrelated?

      1. Littorally*

        I don’t think that’s an “instead of” — that’s an “also.” Discuss why you don’t want to use offensive words, and also what words that people might not realize are offensive are actually based around very negative stereotypes.

  44. Filosofickle*

    This morning I received a rejection email for a job I applied to last July! Lol (literally).

    1. Workerbee*

      Send back a response: “I appreciate getting the closure!”

      ^The above is not a serious suggestion.

    2. nep*

      I received an email saying, ‘We have your CV. We are seeking someone for xyz and wonder whether you’d be interested.’ I’d sent my resume in August. Never know…

    3. Chaordic One*

      I’ve heard of people who got rejection emails (by mistake) for jobs they applied for and were hired into several months after they had been working there.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        I got one of those!! I accepted the offer and got that email two days before I started. My soon-to-be-boss was…. less than thrilled with the HR staff that managed to send that out.

        I have also gotten the “hey you applied to us are you still looking for work?” calls/emails after some ridiculous time period. I think my best was 2 years and some change. I didn’t even remember applying to them, to be honest, and was really, really confused on who the heck they were.

        1. No Sleep Till Hippo*

          Ha! Just a few months ago I got a rejection letter from a job I had applied to while I was on unemployment… in 2018.

          All I could think was, “Yes, I think that’s best for all involved.” :D

          Though, being involved in recruitment now, I will say I highly mistrust software automations – I don’t doubt that the post-hire rejection letters were from someone cleaning up applicants in the software and not realizing that would trigger an email. I mean, I’d still be MORTIFIED, but I can see how it would happen.

    4. All Monkeys are French*

      I recently got one of those for a job I applied to in January 2020. I knew they had gone into a hiring freeze, so I let it go. Then a couple of weeks ago I saw the job was re-posted. I was just asking myself if I should reapply when my rejection email came. At least I got an answer!

    5. PseudoMona*

      During my last job search I received 2 rejections for a job that I turned down.

      But I am still waiting to hear back from the job I went through a multiple step interview process with…in February 2019.

    6. Small houseplant*

      I call those the “Thanks, I did notice that you didn’t hire me.” Lol. Guess that answers the question I had….5 months ago. You have to laugh.

  45. Octopus8*

    About 2+ years ago, I snapped a coworker who was technically senior to me, but I needed a workproduct from him that I was in charge of, and he was not getting done (and had no good reason not to). I didn’t have the professional skills at the time to de-escalate what became a very tense meeting where I visibly emotional, and I think it really tarnished our working relationship. He’s no longer at the company, but I still feel badly about it. I don’t anticipate ever needing a reference from him/running into him professionally (but possibly will socially). I was thinking about sending a note via LinkedIn apologizing? But also it might have completely left his mind, and my note may just dredge up the incident/be more awkward than the initial incident was. I don’t necessarily want his forgiveness, but to let him know that 1) I know better than to do that now and 2) I feel badly about how the incident played out.

    Tl;dr: If a former coworker snapped at you once and then apologized two years later, would you appreciate that or would it come across as over the top/excessive?

    1. CTT*

      I would recommend against doing it. If I received that message, I would think that you’re doing it to make yourself feel better, not to actually apologize to me.

    2. RickT*

      If I got a message like that I’d wonder why the sender was bringing up ancient history. If he isn’t in your professional circle don’t bother.

    3. Disenchanted w Capitalism*

      It would seem over the top to get an email like that – 2 years is plenty of time for the person to have forgotten/moved on.

      If you’re fixated on apologizing and can’t get it out of your mind, writing an apology you never send might be a useful exercise in processing your feelings around it.

      1. Octopus8*

        Writing (and not sending!) the apology is a good idea. Thank you! Yeah, I’d really like to put this incident from my mind, since the commenter feedback has affirmed it’s too late to apologize.

        1. Disenchanted w Capitalism*

          I am a big fan of writing emails I have no intention of sending. You can really dive into what made you reactive in the first place, and reflect on how much you’ve grown, which will hopefully help the guilt dissipate!

    4. Alexis Rose*

      Yeah, too much time has passed. I’ve snapped at people, regretted it, and then felt I couldn’t bring it up later. It sucked, but I used it as a learning experience so I could behave better in the future. Now on the rare occasion I snap at someone, I give myself 24 hours to apologize.

      1. Octopus8*

        I like this 24 hour window to apologize! Since the feedback has uniformly no, at least I know I won’t be sending an apology and can let that question go. Thanks!

    5. Cat Tree*

      He probably doesn’t blame you as much as you think, and I agree with the others that the time has passed.

      I once had a little spat with a coworker who I otherwise worked well with (and still do). After taking a break to calm down, I apologized over IM and was surprised that she apologized back. We both realized that we had contributed to it. So your old coworker probably felt as bad as you do, because he specifically didn’t do something he should have. It would be different if your response was unwarranted. It might have made sense to clear it up soon after, but by now I think you should just let it go.

    6. nep*

      Agree with the others–don’t do it. Self-serving and I don’t see it helping you professionally in any way.

  46. Sigh.*

    I’m so frustrated and trying so hard not to take it out on any coworkers, so here I am.

    I’ve been working in the office this whole time, along with about 40% of the staff. The people at home are almost exclusively parents, with a few high-risk health situations sprinkled in. Now that teachers are being vaxxed in my state and schools are planning openings, the parents are freeeeeeeeaking out.

    It’s not fair they have to come back to work before being vaxxed — even though all of us working in-office haven’t been and are still here.

    It’s not fair they can’t choose to keep their kids at home and stay home with them — the rest of us were never given the choice to stay home.

    They want to retroactively be able to claim vacation days for the summer that are already taken (first come, first serve) because they have kids who will be on break and (for some reason?) didn’t think they needed to already put in for time off over the summer. Maybe they thought they’d still be at home? — This would mean other people have to cancel and move their vacation time. Parents think this is reasonable.

    I’m not sure how the bosses are going to handle this. I guess on Monday they’re asking for a collectively meeting with the big bosses to make their demands. I’m just so tired and frustrated with parents acting like the world revolves around them and their kids and like no one else can possibly have any more (or equally) important things happening in their families.

    IMHO, I don’t think parents should have been given special treatment at all during any of this, but that’s just me. Sorry schools are closed, hire someone? You aren’t special and shouldn’t get be less productive and receive the same pay as the rest of us. I would also love to have been safe at home in my sweats for the last year, but I wasn’t allowed because I didn’t produce a child. That should never, ever be a condition for anything under any circumstances. Businesses should operate as if every employee has the same home life and should be flexible equally for everyone.

    Again, parents are not special. Hire someone to watch your kids and come to work.

    1. Aerie*

      I get that this is a vent, but I’d like to suggest you offer a little more grace to the parents, and aim some of this ire at management. For example, hiring someone to do childcare for the past year just hasn’t been possible/safe, and possibly not financially possible. The sudden shift to work from home really did mean that special consideration had to be made for people with family care obligations, though in a better environment your company would have extended this same grace and flexibility to everyone. I don’t think it’s unreasonable that if schools are open there should be discussions about returning from work, but I also don’t think the company should mandate that the kids must go to school if they’re open at this point.

      Now, anyone demanding special treatment for vacation requests is definitely out of touch. If they wanted time off in the summer, they could have requested it like anyone else, and shouldn’t be expecting that just because they were at home they could spend all day with the kids. But that seems like just a small part of your frustration here – a lot of this past year has just been out of the control of the parents, and has more to do with your company managing expectations.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        +1 the problem/fault here is how your employer handled their pandemic accomodations, not the people who benefited from them. This definitely sounds frustrating but “I didn’t get X so they shouldn’t either” is kind of the opposite of how it should be framed.

        1. Sigh.*

          Nope! Extend privileges to everyone or no one. Parents being given special treatment means that they have no reason to care about anyone else and no one cares if we advocate for ourselves because we aren’t parents.

      2. Mockingjay*

        “Fair” treatment of employees is not tit for tat. It’s about providing assistance to employees so they can continue to work. That assistance can take many, many forms: parents WFH while schools are closed, hours are changed for a sick employee to receive regular treatment, another employee requires equipment to accommodate a disability. And so on. At some point you will want or need something from an employer to balance work and home. That doesn’t mean your coworker automatically gets the same thing. The goal is to keep you productive.

        Parental employees are approaching management with another request. Doesn’t mean that it will be granted, and even if it is, it’s not about denying you something, it’s about what those coworkers feel they need to continue to stay productive. Have you advocated for what you want or need? Ask. If you don’t need anything, then let the company assist other employees right now.

        COVID has stressed people, businesses, and economies world-wide. Businesses have had to make very hard, risk-based decisions to stay viable, including deciding who’s in the office and who can work from home. But it isn’t personal. It’s about keeping the business afloat, employees paid, and benefits distributed.

        1. Sigh.*

          No one cares what I want or need because I’m not a parent. I need a break from managing my job and the parts of their jobs they can’t do at home but are too special to come in and do at work like the rest of us.

          If the goal is productivity, then parents should DEFINITELY be in the office. They are not productive at home. At the VERY least, they should be getting partial pay.

          1. Mockingjay*

            So I see two problems here: you’ve picked up additional responsibilities that can only be done in the office, and you’re VERY tired and need a break after an extraordinarily difficult year.

            Focus on fixing those two things, not on the parents. You can’t change anything there, so concentrate on you and what you need for your situation.

            Start with the workload. “Boss, since COVID I’ve had to pick up X and Y in addition to my usual work. I really can’t sustain this pace anymore and need to return to normal tasks. Can you help me do that?” Have in mind a few solutions – X and Y get returned to their previous owners, or someone new can take those, or you drop A, B, and C. I’ve had great success over the years with offering Solution 1 and Solution 2, so boss only has to pick one and I get what I want either way.

            Next, take some time off. I know, I know, half of stuff is still shut down and open venues are still risky. But…you’re tired and even a few days of Netflix and chill can really help. I did this myself last month. I was about ready to snap. I called my supervisor and said: I’m taking two days off, starting tomorrow. I have got to have a break. She said absolutely. Those two days were heaven-sent. Didn’t do much – cleaned out a closet that had been bugging me and then pulled out a stack of waiting-to-be-read books and dove in.

            Advocate for yourself. Take care of yourself. Don’t worry about the parents. You have no control over their actions or situation, so let that go, and figure out your needs and get those met.

            1. Sigh.*

              I’ve tried that. All I was told is that those people need to be at home with their kids so I need to make it work. Sorry!

              I can also only take a day at a time off, and even that is frowned on, because so many people are home that the rest of us “have” to be here.

              What I need is to be allowed to work at home, with no commute or dress code, while parents are forced to come in and see how they’ve been making us operate for a year. I blame parents as much as my bosses, because if parents were fighting with us for ALL workers, instead of just for themselves and other parents, we’d be a lot better off.

              1. Mockingjay*

                It’s not your parental coworkers’ job to advocate for you. You are fixated on punishing them. They are not the problem. Management is. And you are too, to some extent, by dwelling on how unfair circumstances are, instead of figuring out how to change things for yourself.

                If you have leave, use it. “Boss, I’ve been working an unsustainable load, doing my tasks and covering for others, in very difficult circumstances for a year. I truly need a break and am taking X days off. I’m caught up on everything and Sally can pitch in if needed.” Be firm but matter of fact – I’m taking vacation, things are covered, see ya when I get back. Vacation is an earned benefit and it’s quite reasonable to use it.

                If they really only allow one day off, make it a Monday or Friday and use the long weekend to work on your resume, because obviously you’ve had it with this place.

      3. Sigh.*

        “I also don’t think the company should mandate that the kids must go to school if they’re open at this point.”

        sooooo, when does that end? Do parents stay home all summer? Do they stay home EVERY summer? Do they get to decide they want to home school now and stay home forever? I think if ANYONE can come in the office, everyone should come in the office UNLESS they have health issues of their own. If there were no special treatment for parents, parents would probably advocate for equal treatment for all. As it is, parents get special treatment and don’t give a shit about anyone else. And it doesn’t work to advocate for ourselves because…we aren’t parents and thus “don’t understand.”

        1. TiffIf*

          I think if ANYONE can come in the office, everyone should come in the office UNLESS they have health issues of their own.
          No. Not during a pandemic. Even absent health complications, greater numbers of congregating people=greater number of infections=greater number of deaths.

          Your company has handled this terribly, but you are taking it out on parents.

          1. Sigh.*

            Great! Parents can come to work and the rest of us can go home for a year.

            That will never happen because no one cares about people without kids. Parents could easily advocate for that and help us the same way they got helped, but they would laugh in my face if I said that.

      4. Disenchanted w Capitalism*

        I agree that the anger feels misplaced – it’s really crappy that the company let parents work from home and not others (if the work allows it).

        I’m sorry you’re having a tough time – from your tone you sound like you could use some PTO if it’s feasible to take some.

        1. Sigh.*

          Nope. Can’t have more than a day at a time because…wait for it…everyone not already working at home is “needed” on site. Maybe if parents were treated like the rest of us, they would advocate with us for everyone instead of only for themselves.

          1. Disenchanted w Capitalism*

            Even taking a long weekend could help. Taking a mental health day might help you take back the feeling of control in a situation/world that feels very out of control. Based on your responses on this thread, it’d surprise me if your resentment isn’t oozing out into your work, unless you are really good at bottling up your emotions (which can work really well until it doesn’t).

            Either way I hope things get better for you.

    2. Colette*

      Wow. If schools are closed, someone has to stay home with the kids. There isn’t a giant market of unemployed people waiting to babysit during a pandemic when schools are closed. If the company’s message had been “you have to come back”, people (largely women) would have had to quit.

      I understand it’s frustrating to have to go in to the office when others don’t. It sounds like your job requires it since the people at home aren’t able to do their whole job, but it’s still awful to have to increase your own risk when others don’t.

      But now that schools are opening, it’s reasonable that they’re expected to come back to work – but realize that them staying home decreased your own risk, and them coming in to work will increase it fairly significantly.

      1. Sigh.*

        Actually, I could totally do my job from home. Most of the parents cannot and are behind even on the parts they can do. However, they are still being paid full salary. Because they have kids.

        As a woman who is not a parent, I don’t believe that keeping mothers in the workplace should result in the exploitation of other employees. Mothers choose to have children. If you can’t do that and continue working under difficult circumstances, maybe you made a bad choice. I’d rather not be the one paying the price for that choice while parents stay home and safe.

        1. Colette*

          I don’t have kids, but I understand that people who have young kids are legally and morally responsible for ensuring they’re cared for. If you can make a case for staying home, you can do so – but that has nothing to do with people who are caring for their children during a global pandemic they had no way to foresee.

          And pushing mothers out of the workforce hurts all women. Want to be passed over for a job because you might (or should) have children? That’s how you get there.

          1. Sigh.*

            If they can stay home, I can stay home. There should be no special treatment for parents. I shouldn’t have to make a case to stay home when they’re being allowed to only because they have kids.

            Unfortunately, the only way to make things equitable to all employees is to deny parents special treatment. Then we could all work together to advocate for workers’ rights. Without that, parents take all their special perks and no one cares about the rest of us.

    3. WellRed*

      I think, all other things aside, it’s inherently problematic if this Monday meeting only includes parents. I also think your work could have handled this better from the get go to prevent this sort of thing.

    4. TiffIf*

      I’ve been working in the office this whole time, along with about 40% of the staff. The people at home are almost exclusively parents, with a few high-risk health situations sprinkled in. Now that teachers are being vaxxed in my state and schools are planning openings, the parents are freeeeeeeeaking out.

      It’s not fair they have to come back to work before being vaxxed — even though all of us working in-office haven’t been and are still here.

      This is rubbing me really wrong–you’re acting like they’re being irrational, when…well they aren’t. It is STILL unsafe for large numbers of people to be in close contact for long periods of time like you experience in an office. Until more people are vaccinated you can still get viral spread and spikes. I am making some assumptions here that the 40% of you who are still in the office are able to distance safely, which may change once more people are back in the office. So, no it is not fair to ANYONE either in the office or out of the office to expect more people to be in the office before vaccinations are more widespread.

      Children in schools are SO FAR not evidenced as being strong spread vectors, though I hope the teachers are vaccinated before your state opens schools fully.

      I can’t tell from your post if your job could be done from home but you were denied because you didn’t have a medical condition or children, but if that is the case, then the problem is the company management, not your co-workers who were allowed to work from home.

      At my job nearly everyone is able to work from home with a very small handful of exceptions (facilities/shipping/some IT); however the majority of us working from home also protects those who don’t have any choice but to be in the office–it lessens their exposure.

      1. Sigh.*

        My job can actually be done from home far more easily than most of theirs. But I’m not a parent so I don’t matter. Parents need to be denied special treatment so that companies are forced to be equitable. If the only way for parents to work from home is if everyone works from home, they would be advocating with us. As it is, they get special treatment and don’t care about anyone else.

        In an ideal world, schools would open, all the parents would go back, and the rest of us would get to work from home for a year. I bet parents would change their minds real quick and want to be treated like the rest of us.

    5. Natalie*

      It actually does seem kind of dumb to me to bring 100% of people back to the office before they’re vaccinated? Unless your office is huge, that is going to make it obviously difficult to socially distance.

      It really sounds like your company is doing a poor job of communicating and dealing with the actual workload needs in some way beyond just pushing more onto some staff. That sucks and is unfair. I’ve noted most of the companies in my area (including mine) have committed to not bringing people back prior to Labor Day precisely because they know parents would have to plan ahead for summer care. And I can’t tell you how many temps we’ve had this year, to help cover people who can’t really work full time for various reasons. But it’s not really your coworkers’ fault.

    6. kt*

      I think you’ve got to reframe this. Agree that folks should stop the whining and look at how *you* have been working all this time, and shouldn’t be able to retroactively claim vacation… but “hire someone to watch your kids” hahahahahahah. Sorry, you just sound like one of those people who tells me, “How hard can your job be? You just, like, make a phone call!” when my job is building algorithms to connect 76,000 of one type of widget with 100s of other widgets across the continent on a time-sensitive basis with safety concerns.

      275,000 women left the workforce in January alone, compared to about 70,000 men.

      People have all been put in tough situations by this pandemic. Single people have been isolated, essential workers and those without economic means to isolate have been put at risk, caregivers have been challenged.

      Concentrate on what *you* want and feel is just, not on the feelings of people around you. You can’t control their feelings. They can freak out as much as they want — why do you care? What you care about is safety, fairness, and vacation days.

      1. Sigh.*

        I do care about safety, but only the safety of parents is being considered and they don’t seem to care about the rest of us, so why should I be okay with them staying safe while I’m at risk daily?

        Fairness? LOL. The only way for that to happen is if parents are only given perks that everyone is given. As it is, parents are happy to take their special treatment and flip the rest of us off on the way out the door.

        Vacation days….I’m just hoping mine don’t get cancelled so some parent gets to take their kids to the waterpark the exact week they want to, but I’m not counting on it.

        Maybe if parents were forced to come in and the rest of us worked from home for a year, they’d start to understand.

    7. ?*

      I was with you until the 2nd to last paragraph. Parents can’t just hire people. It’s unfair to the people that would be hired because it would expose them to people outside their household. There aren’t enough people to go around to watch all the kids. Also these same children will be bagging your groceries and be your doctors when you are old. So you don’t have kids, but we are all part of a community.

      The summer vacation thing is an real issue though and everyone else shouldn’t be forced to adjust just because. Hopefully cooler heads will prevail and the parents will get over their freakouts and realize how crazy they sound about the vaccine issue.

      1. Sigh.*

        Soooo, it’s fine that I’m exposed? But would be a problem for other people to be exposed? That makes no sense.

        If parents were treated the same as non-parents, we would all have more rights and more equity. As it is, parents get special treatment and don’t care about anyone else.

    8. Joielle*

      I agree with people saying that getting childcare isn’t necessarily an easy or tenable solution, but I do think it’s crap that only parents were given the option to work from home, and (presumably since you didn’t mention it) not people with other caretaking obligations. Like, if you’re caring for an elderly parent or disabled spouse or something, you should be able to work from home and not increase their risk of infection.

      The whole thing about summer vacation days is definitely ridiculous though. Why would they think they wouldn’t have to request vacation in advance like everyone else??

      1. Sigh.*

        Because they have kids and that makes them special? And I know it’s not EASY to get childcare, but it’s not easy for me to come to work every day during a pandemic and manage my work and part of theirs, even though my job is better suited for WFH than theirs. So I guess I need to suck it up and deal while their problems are negated?

    9. Policy Wonk*

      You didn’t say much (or I missed it) about how much of your work could be done at home. The pandemic does not strike me as being at the point where the office should be fully staffed, so perhaps the real issue is that it is your turn, and that of the other 40%, to WFH?

      Yes, the parents’ current demands sound like they are acting entitled, but you sound like your company’s decisions are the parents’ fault. If you want a turn at WFH, advocate for it. Right now you sound like you think you are a victim of those awful parents, rather than a victim of corporate decision-making. Aim your complaints at those responsible.

      1. Sigh.*

        I’m a victim of parents taking their perks and letting the rest of us rot because we aren’t as “special” as them.

        I would love to advocate for myself and the other 40%. Unfortunately, only parents matter and parents are more than happy to keep it that way. Maybe if they were not allowed special treatment, they would work with us for equal treatment.

        I absolutely agree that the WFH should flip next year. It would be good for the non-parents and would force parents to understand how they’re treating non-parents.

    10. udon the day away*

      OP it sounds like you’re in a bad place and definitely need a break – from being overworked and maybe from posting replies to this message board. I doubt you’re going to get people here to agree with you in exactly the way you’re looking for. Best of luck, things sound really rough.

    11. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m sorry you’re so frustrated. I agree with others that you have some truly legitimate complaints toward your company, as well as some misdirected ones. If you find yourself feeling this angry every day, please job search — this is not a good place to keep yourself in. I think this has become more vent than a discussion where you’re interested in advice so I’m closing this subthread at this point.

  47. Disenchanted w Capitalism*

    Just gave notice at job that’s been crushing my soul for the last 9 months!!!!!!!

    I’ve been doing some work on the side that I’m really passionate about and will be making the leap into full time-self employment (after taking some much needed rest). I’m equal parts excited and terrified, and super grateful that I have the resources to do this. I’ve been at my current org for close to decade – this is going to be weird!!!

    1. Octopus8*

      Congratulations! It’s very encouraging to me to see other people “disenchanted with capitalism” (great user name) be able to pursue their passion and self-employ.

      1. Disenchanted w Capitalism*

        Thank you!! I have really been feeling like an under-compensated cog in the make-the-rich-richer machine, so it will be a great change to be working totally for my own fulfillment.

    2. nep*

      Equal parts terrified and excited is usually really good.
      Good for you leaving a job that’s been crushing your soul.
      Go forth and be brilliant.

  48. yams*

    I have a dillema. I was just placed in a PIP, which is fine. I get it, I have had performance issues.

    But it definitely feels like I’m being set up to fail. I pushed back on a lot of the goals they placed since they were very unreasonable (think no errors in something that is extremely easy to make a mistake in because it requires input from many people, and I would be responsible for their mistakes) and an impossible level of compliance on a metric (we have been trying to meet it for a year but as a team we cannot do it since it’s unreasonably high). I have little to no faith in management since they have eliminated roughly 30% of my department over the last year, so it just feels like I’m the next in line to get pushed out.

    I can meet the goals set in the PIP, no issues. But should I stay afterwards? Money is no consideration for me, fortunately and I have consulting work I can fall back on so I would not be without an income. I would rather leave on my own accord than get fired, but I’m hesitant.

    1. Colette*

      You’re on a PIP; you should be job hunting – staying may not be your decision. But also, you mention no good side to the job. Why do you want to stay?

      1. yams*

        I’m already job hunting and have some interviews lined up, I hope one of them pans out. At this point I would take whatever offered since I understand I need to leave ASAP.

        I like the flexibility I have a lot and in my region it’s not very common for jobs to offer even a modicum of flexibility. Other than that I don’t really have reason to stay.

    2. Natalie*

      It definitely wouldn’t be the first time someone’s structured a PIP to be actually impossible. I even know people who achieved those kind of unreasonable PIPs and were still fired. So yes, if you’d like to leave on your own terms and that’s possible for you, I would certainly think strongly about it.

      1. yams*

        I like the routine of having a steady job, the consulting stuff pays really well but I’d be responsible for my own schedule in a way I’m not comfortable with since I’ve been working in an office my whole professional life.

        1. Not A Manager*

          I have no idea if this makes sense for your situation. Generally, I try to address issues like this structurally if possible. If the big barrier here REALLY is being responsible for your own schedule, can you figure out what “scheduling” benefits your job provides to you, and get them in some other way when you’re consulting?

          Depending on what “scheduling” means, that could mean anything from hiring a part-time secretary or office manager, to collaborating with a part-time project manager, to finding a life coach, to getting executive function support, etc.

          But trying to stay at a job that you honestly might be forced out of, and that you like no part of, *just* because of not wanting to be responsible for your own schedule, sounds like a bad bargain. I absolutely respect your concerns about scheduling, I just think you should find that same scheduling support but not at this job.

          1. yams*

            The issue is that I would get TOO MUCH freedom. But you are right, it’s better to work with this company on how to support my scheduling needs than to stay at a bad job I will most likely be forced out of.

            1. Not A Manager*

              I understood about the freedom. I was trying to think of ways that you can get support to “unfree” your time when you’re not reporting to your boss.

              1. yams*

                You’re right, thank you so much for your input. It took me a while to understand but I finally got there. I will review with the consulting company what options they can offer for me.

    3. MissDisplaced*

      You should be job hunting.
      Even if you’ve successfully negotiated the PIP, it sounds like this role and/or company aren’t a good fit for you.

      Sometimes you can’t fix things no matter how hard you try.

  49. That's not good*

    Sooooo, I screwed up.

    I’ve been managing a project which Leslie is working on. Earlier this week, we were disagreeing with how things should be done when I misinterpreted something she said – and basically had a reaction which was on the boundary of what would have been acceptable had she actually meant what I thought she did (which, of course, was an ABSOLUTELY MASSIVE overreaction for what she actually did mean to say!). Think something along the lines of “I won’t let you have your own way so you’re going to personally attack me? I’m going to speak to [our mutual manager] Ron because I want you off of this project right now. I’m really angry!” when it actually warranted “That’s not my intention but I can understand why you might be concerned. If you want, we can discuss that in more detail later, but, right now, we need to make a decision on what we’re going to do on the project.” 

    I’ve since apologised to Leslie, admitting that it was a massive overreaction. But Ron’s now treating me like I’ve lost control of the project, while some other people on the team are treating me very coldly. 

    For what it’s worth, this is not the first time Leslie has said something in a way that could be misinterpreted and ended up explaining to Ron what she actually meant. And at least two people have said they interpreted what Leslie said the way I initially did (although there is universal agreement that I get no points for the way I handled it) – so I don’t think it’s the case my interpretation was completely off the mark and there’s no reasonable way I could have made it. 

    Not sure what I do next? I think I might just need to keep my head down for a while and accept I’ve burned some major bridges. 

    1. Just a PM*

      Just keep your head down for a few months, focus on turning out results. I’m not sure you burned major bridges. You may have turned them into the DMZ, but they’re still there and it’d take you a long time to thaw them out.

      If I were in your shoes, I’d also use this as an opportunity to take some leave. Just a few days, and frame it to Ron or your colleagues as realizing your overreaction was a sign you needed a mental health break so you took some time off to get your head screwed back on and to decompress. Then come back after your time away level-headed, clear-minded, and focused on your projects.

  50. Penelope*

    What do you all suggest I say when my soon-to-be new manager keeps asking if my family and I have received the COVID vaccine? This person said she thinks I quarantine too much- even though I work remotely and clients are all working from home – and seems to be anxious for my family and me to get the vaccine. (For the record, I do shelter in place and only go out when I need to, just like most other people I know.) The fact that I am quarantining does not affect my work.

    My family and I are are excited to get the vaccine and are happy that will be soon, but will get it when it is available to us without having to drive for hours or wait in line for hours. My family and I have got this handled, so I do not need advice on where or how to get the vaccine. We are set up to be notified when the vaccine is available to us and are also checking on this ourselves from time to time. (But NOT because this person is pressuring me.) I work remotely regardless of the pandemic. And our company is not pressuring anyone to travel in the near future, especially since clients are all working from home and aren’t having in-person meetings anytime soon.

    Business for our company has been going very well without travel and the company has saved a lot of money on that. The new manager has not mentioned any travel, but why else would she be so anxious for my family and me to get the vaccine? I wonder if she is planning to try to make herself look good by trying to get me to travel as soon as possible. Even after my family and I have the vaccine, I won’t be comfortable traveling until the CDC and Dr. Fauci say it is truly safe to travel. So I imagine this won’t be until later this year.

    The manager lives in a different part of the country than I do. When she asks me if my family has received the vaccine and I answer ‘not yet,’ she argues with me that they can just make an appointment (there have been no available appointments in my area and, again, my family and I have got this handled and are set up be notified when it is available to us and in the meantime are checking on this ourselves from time to time). It’s really none of this manager’s business as this does not affect my work otherwise. What do you suggest I say the next time she asks about this again?

    1. Ashley*

      So I could argue to qualify in a sooner category then my spouse, but I have said I am not comfortable changing my situation until my spouse is also fully vaccinated so I don’t just bring it home to them. If you have younger kids this is even easier because only 16+ are eligible currently. Otherwise I would just say we are on the wait list but we are waiting for the people that have to be out and and about to get their shot first.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      Still not vaccinated?
      “Not yet. I’ll let you know when it happens.”

      But you quarantine too much!
      “Thank you for your concern. We’re fine.”

      But you can just make an appointment!
      “Not in my part of the country. I’ll let you know when it happens.”

      But it’s so easy! All you need to do is X!
      “Not in my part of the country. I’ll let you know when it happens.”

      But when will you be vaccinated?
      “Not yet. I’ll let you know when it happens.”


      1. Natalie*

        Think of some things you can quickly and easily change the subject to, as well. Especially anything you know your boss loves to talk about.

      2. Asenath*

        I wouldn’t add “I’ll let you know when it happens” because really there’s no reason to share your vaccination status since your employer doesn’t appear to want everyone travelling ASAP. I’d go with something conveying the minimal amount of information (maybe “No”) and then change the topic. If she persists, maybe, if you want to be open with your information, “We’ve got all arrangements made following the recommendations of our local health care system/our doctor.”

    3. Ginger Baker*

      “Why do you ask?” [leave full silence until she fills it] If the response is that she wants you to travel sooner, you can address that directly after she responds; if it’s some misplaced “concern” for you, I would go with “I appreciate your concern but prefer not to discuss my approach to the quarantine and vaccination at work as it is stressful and personal.” [Note, I am SUPER into sharing vaccination status at work and particularly when there is a business reason to (e.g. your ability to travel or discussions about returning to the office etc.) but there is a big difference between “please let me know once your household has been vaccinated for Business Reason” and “I want to micromanage your personal life in regards to how you are handling getting the vaccine” – that second one should never come into play unless what is actually said is “Company just set up a special vaccination site for employees and their family members, are you interested in getting a shot there?”]

    4. WellRed*

      Have you explicitly said something to the effect of, “it’s not available yet in my area, but we are on top of it”?

      1. Penelope*

        I did. And she tried to argue with me about it because her family member in a different state (nowhere near mine) had gotten theirs with no wait at all.

        1. WellRed*

          She’s not even your manager yet? Can you reach out to your current manager, or the soon-to-be manager’s manager or HR and express concerns over this vaccine harassment (not sure if I want to say harassment here, but she’s getting pretty close if it’s not already there.)
          So, I guess try to otherwise not get drawn into an argument and change the subject? (“No really, I don’t qualify yet. Did you get my email about the TPS report?”

          Also, I be this is the tip of the overreach iceberg.

  51. Chas*

    Anyone got any suggestions for how to keep warm in an office when you can’t control the heating or bring in your own heater? My boss has allowed me to use his office since he’s not in due to Covid, which is great because I can eat and drink in there (unlike my old desk which was in our GM-lab), but his office has a giant window in it and on some days it’s been cold enough that I can wear a winter coat and still feel uncomfortable.

    There’s a kettle I can use to make hot drinks, but not much else to keep warm besides a thin blanket I brought with me from home. I’d rather not have to bundle up too much either, since I walk to work and when I’m not in the office I’m usually on my feet in the lab a lot, so I’d get too warm if I overdressed. Any ideas?

    1. Atheist Nun*

      I bought heating pads for my team one particularly cold winter. We have mostly sedentary jobs, and our chairs are located near electrical outlets, so it was easy to use the heating pads.

      1. Chas*

        Unfortunately I can’t bring in any electrical devices because the team that does the safety checks on them is currently on limited hours due to Covid lockdowns, but there’s microwaveable versions available so I will try one of them instead.

    2. Grace*

      I expensed typing gloves for WFH (my flat gets cold in winter) and it’s surprising how much warmer it is with my hands covered all the way from wrists to almost-fingertips. Also, fluffy socks/slipper socks, if you can be in the office and look mildly unprofessional?

      1. Chas*

        I already wear fluffy socks, but the gloves are a good idea and I have some compression ones at home that would probably have a similar effect, thanks.

    3. Alexis Rose*

      I’m not sure if you identify as male or female, but I’m female and I would keep a wrap at my desk for when the office would get cold. It looked like a fancy shawl and it basically went well with/over anything I wore to the office. Kind of like a blanket but more professional looking :)

      1. TiffIf*

        I have one of those fleece lap throws in a desk drawer at work that I pull out when I am cold. Thought right at this very moment working from home–I’m using an electric blanket.

    4. Rusty Shackelford*

      If you’re allowed to use a heated blanket, put it on your chair and wrap it up around you. If not, try a microwaveable heating pad that you can rest your feet on.

      1. Chas*

        Electrical devices aren’t an option as we’re supposed to have them PAT tested before using them in the office and the team that does that has limited availability due to the lockdown. But the microwaveable one is a good idea, thanks!

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          You know, I’ve found that even if it’s not heated, sitting on a blanket helps keep you warmer.

      1. Chas*

        I’m surprised I didn’t think of this myself! I’ve even got one here at home I could bring in! Thanks.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          16 oz soda bottles make a decent hot water bottle …and they usually fit in inside coat pockets.

    5. lemon*

      Can you do anything to insulate the window? Like, that shrink-wrap plastic stuff? I’ve also seen some people say that covering the window with bubble wrap helps (but haven’t personally tried it).

      But also… can you contact facilities about the temperature? If you’re cold enough to be wearing a winter coat in the office, that’s pretty darn cold, and something that should be remedied.

      1. Chas*

        The window is high up and in an awkward position so covering it isn’t really an option.

        As for contacting facilities, I’m not sure it would help, as the problem stems from the fact that the building is old and has badly designed air-con (We’re in the UK) , so some rooms end up being wildly different in temperature. Plus the building is technically in out-of-hours mode at the moment, as we’re only supposed to be there if we can’t work at home and not supposed to be sitting in offices doing computer work dur to Covid (The reason I have been is because my experiments have several hour long incubations and it’s not practical for me to walk home and back inbetween them). So I suspect they’re not heating the building as much they usually would.

        I think it’s likely that the temperature here will warm up soon, so I’ll probably stick to some short-term measures like the heating pads or a hot water bottle for now, and if I’m still using the office next winter and it’s just as bad, then I’ll try to contact facilities about it then.

        1. Bagpuss*

          Can you ask whether there are any small plug in heaters anywhere else in the building which you can borrow? IF it’s as unevenly heated as you say there are probably people who have managed to get small heaters for their rooms which will already have been PAT tested.

          Also – layers. A thin base layer vest or t shirt makes a huge difference and you can take your top layer off when you need to be less snug.

    6. identifying remarks removed*

      Not sure if this is practical for the office but I just bought my mum an electric blanket throw – she loves it and wears it like a shawl when she’s sitting in her arm chair.

      1. Chas*

        It sounds lovely! I recently got a heated reclining chair at home, and it’s great for chilly nights! But unfortunately my University has rules against using electronics that haven’t been safety tested, and the team that would usually do those tests isn’t available, so I can’t really try anything like that at the moment.

    7. MissCoco*

      I worked in a frigid office next to an overheated lab for several years, and kept a down puffy jacket, a fleece vest, and a wool cardigan there just for work use. I’d take them off before heading into the lab, or if I had to look professional for a meeting or video conference.
      I found warm wool slippers really useful during periods I didn’t need to be in and out of the lab frequently as well.

      If you can’t store those items in the desk, maybe you could keep a tote bag in the office with your winter clothes in it?

      Combined with a scarf and fingerless gloves, I could tolerate really uncomfortable levels of cold pretty easily in that getup. Though of course I got some funny looks from people walking around our building in a down jacket and gloves in the middle of summer.

    8. Chaordic One*

      I make a point of having thermal insoles in my shoes which reflect my bodyheat back up into my body and provide more of a barrier between my feet and the cold floor. There were kind of spendy but worth it.

      In my office (well back when I last worked there almost a year ago) even the men wrapped themselves in blankets while sitting at their desks.

    9. Hillary*

      USB heated gloves – they plug into the computer so they might not be not subject to inspection. And maybe chemical foot warmer packets if you’re sitting for a long time. I second wearable blankets or huge scarves.

    10. Valkyrie*

      I keep one of those mermaid tail blankets under my desk, it’s completely silly, but surprisingly convenient for keeping my feet and legs warm when I’m cold in the office!

      1. MacGillicuddy*

        Fleece-lined leggings under trousers.
        Don’t wear polyester fabrics, they don’t hold warmth (polartec is the exception).
        Silk long underwear shirt under your usual top.
        Wool sweater
        Down vest, or sweater type vest.
        Fingerless gloves

    11. Quinalla*

      Hat for sure too if you can swing it with your hair. When our office heat was broken in the before times, I just wore my winter coat, hat and scarf and then everything but my hands were pretty warm – oh and a blanket on my lap too!

      1. More Pizza*

        Yes! I see nothing wrong with wearing a giant coat. I once worked somewhere where everyone would constantly make fun of it to the point where it started to cross a line for me, but that didn’t stop me from wearing it until I could find a better place to work. My comfort is more important than their vanity.

  52. IEanon*

    I have my first in-person interview since Covid started next week (final stage, though, and the first-round interview was over Zoom). Some of the duties listed include designing processes/informational sessions for the department. Would it make sense to bring a small (3-4 items) portfolio with previous examples of my work in those areas?

    The portfolio is not required, and I wouldn’t bother with it if this were another Zoom interview, so I’m second-guessing myself a bit. I really want this job!

    1. Not A Manager*

      Bring it! If it’s not appropriate to share in the context of the interview, then don’t. (I guess I’m assuming that the portfolio materials are basically the size of normal files. It might be different if you’re bringing in a big art file.)

    2. Purple Cat*

      Absolutely bring it! Worst case you don’t share it, but you come across as prepared with examples to back up your work.

  53. Atheist Nun*

    Is it OK not to laugh at work?

    Background: I am a librarian, and recently one of my professional organizations distributed a survey to solicit input to “help generate excitement and attract recruits to the world of libraries. Our main goals for this project are to debunk some of the preconceptions and myths about working in libraries, and show some of the fun, interactive tasks that library professionals do.” I believe that the organization’s final goal is to create a marketing toolkit to encourage people to pursue librarianship as a career. 
    One survey question gave me some food for thought. It asked, “Describe a funny event/experience at your job.” I could not think of anything, in fact, I cannot remember the last time I laughed on the job, about work. Is that bad? I actually love my job–I have autonomy, I can be creative, and my accomplishments are recognized–but there is not a lot of humor to it. Perhaps because I work in a health care setting, and because I work mainly on my own (the other librarian works from home now, and I participate in very few interdepartmental projects), I do not have the opportunity or the camaraderie for laughter. I also work in management as the lead for my department, so I guess I have internalized a mindset of being serious albeit friendly and approachable (I hope!).

    Can you remember the last time you laughed at work? Should it be a goal to have laughter and fun in one’s work day?

    1. Littorally*

      I can remember the last time I laughed at work but it certainly wasn’t the kind of thing I’d share in an interview. I was laughing with some colleagues about a client who had tried to pull ridiculous nonsense with us, and got shut down on it.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yep. I laugh at some of the excuses people come up with not to pay their bills (“I know I told you it was a stray dog, but it was really my friend’s dog that bit me and I just didn’t want him to get in trouble, so I didn’t really need the rabies shots you gave me, so you shouldn’t charge me for them”), and some of the weird phrasing and spelling the registration folks use in chief complaints (they use HA for headache which makes it look like they’re laughing at people, “pregnant vomiting HA”), but …

      2. Environmental Compliance*

        Probably not appropriate to share the chuckle I got out of accidentally overhearing just the following sentence:

        “They knew it was the wrong hole! You have to bend down and look at it!!”

        (It was an issue of how equipment was tagged. Apparently the wrong drilled hole was used.)

    2. Kimmy Schmidt*

      Also a librarian. I don’t think this would necessarily be bad, but it may be a little outside the norm for most people. Life is a spectrum. There are probably people who laugh fairly continuously at work, and there are others like you, who rarely, if ever, laugh while at work. I’d guess most people are somewhere in the middle, where they may laugh occasionally, but perhaps not in the same way they might in their personal life.

      I also think it’s hard to recall a specific instance of an experience when asked about it, even if it has happened before. For me at work, I laugh at silly emails (and frustrating emails), coworkers’ funny stories, ridiculous vendor requests, odd book titles, and myself when I have one of those “oh DUH of course that’s how it works” moments, but it’d be difficult for me to describe a specific example.

      Life is a rich tapestry, and work laughter may not be in your repertoire. As long as you’re being courteous and approachable, I think this is fine!

    3. Jellyfish*

      This doesn’t quite answer your question, but at least the US, library jobs are wildly competitive. If they want to recruit people, I’d suggest advocating for better pay, community & government support, and effective initiatives to diversify the field.
      I love my library job too, but funny is definitely not how I’d describe it.

      1. Atheist Nun*

        I totally agree with you! All the laughs in the world will not make up for lack of diversity and poor pay.

    4. Okumura Haru*

      I try and have fun at my job. I enjoy getting to work with patrons – helping them find stuff to read, or showing them how to use our databases is really satisfying for me. Not every day is good, and there’s a lot of frustrations inherent in the field, but that’s with every job.

      I wouldn’t make it a goal to have fun/laugh every day. If you’re enjoying your job, and it allows you to laugh/have fun when you’re not working, I’d consider that a win.

      As for the last time I laughed at work? It happened last year – a teacher overheard me trying to describe the Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure graphic novel series to a patron, and he looked at me like I had lost my mind. The reaction was priceless.

    5. SomebodyElse*

      To answer your last question, yes, I laughed today already several times :)

      It’s a personal goal to find one thing a day to laugh at during work. For me that is a litmus test. If I can’t laugh that means I’m so miserable that I need to get out.

      I know it’s not all rainbows and sunshine, and work is hard, I should still be able to find an opportunity to laugh.

    6. WellRed*

      I cracked myself up yesterday with a typo that would have really changed the meaning of what I was writing. My coworkers and I laugh a lot, even over slack. I couldn’t deal otherwise, and I consider myself a serious-ish person.

      1. TiffIf*

        Oh I have cracked up over may typos and almost-typos (ones I made but caught and corrected before sending) Though my favorite ones involve “now” and “not” typos (which one of my coworkers does often) because if you typo “not” instead of “now” or vice versa it completely reverses the meaning of the sentence.

        “I am now starting task x”
        “I am not starting task x”

        In the past few months I have typoed “whitespace” as “shitespace”, “hello” as “hell” and “add” as “ass” and in two of those cases sent them out to other people that way by accident. My announcement about a change in how we were doing something to some of my team members addressing them with “hell” was received with quite a laugh.

      2. Al*

        A typo that made me double over laughing: Rather than “the funding agency,” the document read “the fucking agency.”

    7. Retail Not Retail*

      I don’t think you need to have specifics – you work with the public, with kids. I know a kid has said something bonkers that made you smile.

      My coworkers and I amuse each other with silly conversations related to the work at hand, wild puns/who’s on first nonsense, and silly errors. No one needs to know the content of these convos.

    8. Frankie Derwent*

      I realized quickly how much I prefer my new job was when I found myself laughing at least once a day in the office. It’s not a goal, but in some workplaces, it may be a symptom of bad culture fit to not laugh at work ever. In my case, old job was for the same institution, same position, but a different branch (central vs regional)

    9. More Pizza*

      I previously worked at a place where we laughed all the time. I now work in a place that is like a deadpan comedy desert and it kind of sucks. I find ways to amuse myself and laugh to myself, lol. They say laughter is the best medicine.

    10. allathian*

      I can’t remember when I last laughed at work. I’ve been WFH for more than a year now, and while I enjoy my job, it rarely makes me laugh. I do smile quite often, though. It’s just that I don’t remember these things when they happen, so there’s no way I could tell anyone what made me smile, say, last week.

  54. Happy Yet Worried*

    I met my partner at the same company I work at now, but in the subdivision I started in. At first it was a thrilling job, but after 3-4 months of it, I realized the subdivision was a mess and me and my colleague had no support from our manager. My partner quit his job around this time, for a good outside opportunity. I asked him out, we’ve been together ever since.

    When somebody from within the company offered me a position at a different office I jumped at the chance and left the subdivision. I now work at the main office and am much, much happier. It’s been 2.5 years since I worked at subdivision.

    My partner heard there was an opening at subdivision. Since his current job has a manager who doesn’t like him and has openly expressed dislike toward people from my partner’s country of origin (yes this is illegal but unfortunately we are not financially set up to challenge it in court), he decided to get in touch with his former manager and interview for the position. He got the job. I told him about the current problems subdivision has based on my own knowledge but he is so unhappy at his current job he wanted out.

    My question is really about myself. How do I put aside my feelings about the subdivision, its manager’s shortcomings and just support my partner? Maybe people can be good managers to one group of people and bad to another. The person in my old job quit last month so the people in my former team are totally new to me. My partner works an adjacent team but with very different tasks.

    1. Taura*

      I may not have followed you completely, so correct me if I’m wrong, but it SOUNDS like your partner isn’t even working in your old subdivision, just your old company? Either way, it might help to just focus on how much better this job will be for your partner, and if it’s hearing the company/subdivision name that’s bringing this all up to you maybe try thinking of them as “2021 subdivision”, “new subdivision”, “partner’s new coworkers’ etc instead.

  55. A Known Mouse*

    At the risk of bringing an onslaught of ‘splaining, I have to say that I totally don’t understand the latest management fad of the past few years in having weekly 1×1 meetings.

    And at the risk of being labelled an “old”, I will say that I’m senior in my industry and remember a time when these didn’t happen. Work still got done, people still communicated, but there wasn’t this axe over my head every week to meet with a manager, even if there is nothing to say, in the effort of building a personal relationship and having this man “coach me” in whatever he feels that he wants to change about my life.

    I’ve noticed that in many companies, the philosophy has changed from “let’s do awesome work and kick butt” to “let’s talk about our feelings and your manager can coach you”. I have a life coach, I just want my manager to manage, old-school style, and let us do our work.

    Maybe it’s that independent, GenX, latchkey kid part of me, but I feel somewhat resentful that my manager is always prying into our personal lives or trying to get me to open up about my feelings about…whatever, and that we have workshops about our feelings, and that my manager wants to see our homes and know all about us. Everything is about him trying to “coach our team”, which in this case seems to be more like having a therapist than an effective manager to talk about work issues and workload. I want a manager to be there to support us, to give us feedback on the quality of our work, but from a work standpoint. I really quite preferred having my life to be my life, and my work to be that place where I can be creative and productive.

    And, finally, sorry for the rant (I know, TL:DR) but I was a consultant for a decade between the late 00’s and my FTE job now, and I saw this evolution happen from an observational standpoint in companies, but now that I am a FTE I find all of the emphasis on managers involvement in our personal lives and “coaching” to be kind of bewildering and utterly ridiculous. And I feel that I am responsible for the direction of my career, and that it isn’t up for someone else to decide. Maybe I just need to return to consulting.

    My work has excelled company expectations, I’m professional and yes I do make work friends, and I just miss there being healthy boundaries and my manager respecting that. But maybe that is just me? : ) Old.

    Bring it…

    1. kt*

      I do weekly 1/1s because it’s the style at my place of work, but I don’t want to do personal coaching except for things like, “You do really great work but it’s not getting recognized in meetings because you don’t speak up. I’d like you to work on speaking up in this meeting and I’ll help you by…” or, “I think this will be more effective if you set up some meetings with the X team” to someone who is not networking, in a situation where the networking would be useful for a work product.

      These 1/1s are a time for me to get updated timelines on work, check in on side projects that don’t have standups, make sure team dynamics are working well enough, connect employees with additional resources, and check in on HR-related things (yearly goals, upcoming leave for medical/other, visa renewal, etc etc).

      There is pressure for us to be “coaches” although the example the big boss uses is working through code together rather than therapy. I’m trying to focus on the idea behind it (someone who gives you feedback on your performance so you can improve, someone who suggests auxiliary exercises to strengthen relevant skills) rather than the stupid examples I hear.

      And if we’re done early, we’re done early :)

      1. A Known Mouse*

        Yeah, that totally makes sense to me. Right? Coaching in the context of work-related feedback sounds absolutely relevant and helpful.

        I have observed, and am currently in, a work culture where our coaches really feel that they want to be our therapists. I question that, and in my experience having my manager require me to open up emotionally to them about the entirety of my life feels really controlling and makes me question why that is necessary if I am getting along with my colleagues and meeting my goals. It just seems to be one of those situations that could ultimately be used for control and manipulation.

        1. kt*

          That really sounds terrible. I much prefer privacy and an ability to let some things remain unspoken, although certainly that’s not the only approach that is right and it’s not right at all time. :(

    2. OyHiOh*

      I hear you on lack of boundaries!

      Offered as a counter point: Lack of contact, coaching, and mentorship allows people who have traditionally been excluded from an industry/profession to drop out due to benign neglect. As a broad example, nobody specifically tried to exclude that handful of women in tech from rising through the ranks, but lack of contact, coaching, and mentoring kept them under the radar until they gave up and went elsewhere.

      I think there needs to be a balance between “go do your work, kick butt and be awesome” and “lets talk about feelings, etc” and companies either fall too heavily to one side of that balance or the other, or completely fail in all the ways we’ve seen on AAM over the years.

      1. A Known Mouse*

        And I will add that I am a woman in tech so perhaps my resistance to this is also layered with the fact that my manager / ergo wannabe life coach is a white man from a wealthy family of origin, and I probably have some feelings of misalignment having this dynamic after working years to establish myself in the field.

    3. Bostonian*

      Sounds like your manager just isn’t making good use of your 1:1s. And, really, they don’t need to be weekly depending on the role, level, and types of projects going on.

      As for the coaching and career development part: Yes, each of us is in control of our own career, but our manager should be a resource to help us get there. They should have the context, company insight, and often connections to find growth opportunities.

    4. lemon*

      This came up in a roundabout way while I was taking an Agile project management course. Basically, the goal of Agile is to create these autonomous, self-organizing teams that can operate without a heavy layer of middle management in the organization. So then what happens to middle management? Well, some orgs try to shift their roles away from managing timelines and budgets and work assignments to being coaches that help remove blockers. It’s a way of keeping people in these positions (and making them feel less threatened by the shift towards more autonomous teams).

      I think even in orgs that aren’t practicing Agile per se, there’s more of a shift towards more independent teams, especially in industries that require more specialized/technical knowledge. It’s just not always possible now for managers to know all of the highly detailed ins and outs of that kind of work, so they can’t do the more traditional work of giving out work assignments and giving quality feedback on the work. So, they rely on coaching instead.

      I think this also relates to the rise of management as a profession. Daniel Markovits makes this argument in “How McKinsey Destroyed the Middle Class” in the Atlantic. It used to be that people became middle managers after working as a lower level employee for years and years, so middle management had a really good sense of the detailed ins-and-outs of the job. But then, starting in the 1960s, McKinsey and other consulting firms sold this idea that management was its own set of skills and expertise that could be divorced from industry– for example, you could now get a management degree and become a grocery store manager without ever having actually worked in a grocery store before. So, once again, coaching becomes the skill managers rely on, because it’s the tool they have.

      Anyway…. I’m rambling… sorry! All that being said, maybe your manager is misunderstanding the role of coaching a bit and making it a little too personal. That would rub me the wrong way, too. I’m glad to talk about work at work, but I’m not big on discussing my personal life there either.

      1. A Known Mouse*

        This is absolutely fascinating to me!!! It totally makes sense, as I remember early in my career having managers who had previously been in my role, and so it was helpful for me because they had specific advice on the work I was doing….and now my managers sometimes have never had any exposure to my function, so I have a hard time having the focused conversations I would like to have about project concerns. And they want to be my therapist, but…omg I do not want that hahah

        Thanks for that response. It’s something I need to research a bit more (your comment about McKinsey).

    5. No Tribble At All*

      Millennial here with my pitchfork (kidding). I’m curious who you say your life coach is– a friend/family member? Someone in the community, or someone you hired to be a life coach? I will say it sounds like your managers have been a little more intrusive than typical, and also as a more senior person you don’t need as much coaching. As someone who’s still fairly young, a lot of times I do want that coaching, and managers can act as mentors to early career workers.

      I’ve had jobs where it’s a written weekly status report; I’ve had jobs where the manager flounces in once a month to mess things up and then leaves; and I’ve had a job where I’ve asked for more than once a week meetings!

      Typically a weekly 1×1 is a tagup to check in: what you did last week, what you’ll work on this week, any additional resources/support you’ll need, and anything you’re completely stumped on. This was in the context of a small team of subject matter experts headed by a senior expert, so you’d go to your direct manager for help if it was something you didn’t know, and it was also helpful for the manager to balance workload among the team. I was being trained, so I did need coaching on a lot of the decision-making process as well as technical content. I had more autonomy, but I also needed more advice.

      Again, as someone fairly young, I do actually appreciate the “direction of career” type advice. A lot of times it’s hard to see what the progression is up the ladder, especially if the company has a big manager vs technical split. And if a company only does one part of the life cycle of a product, managers with experience in other sections (manufacturing vs procurement vs operations vs customer support) can help you learn more about the industry. I also think companies do it to their own advantage– here’s the direction your career can take at Llama Groomers Inc. Careers aren’t linear anymore; people typically switch jobs 5-10 years in, and there’s no expectation that the company will be loyal to you. In 10 years, I’m won’t be still doing the same thing I’m doing now.

      Most of the 1x1s are with managers I valued as supervisors, mentors, and coworkers, so I always found the meetings useful. I mentioned the idiot manager who sashayed in, said “do it differently!” and ran away– I would’ve pushed back against weeklies with him, because they would’ve been useless. So that might be another factor– if you don’t really value your manager’s opinions beyond “work on X first, then Y” you don’t care about their mentoring advice.

      1. A Known Mouse*

        My life coach is a professional that I hired to help me work on blocks that are professional or personal. Not a friend or family member. Like a therapist, I suppose, but someone who works with me to identify personal things and blocks in my life.

        Which I do not want my manager to presume to be.

      2. A Known Mouse*

        And…thanks for that! Yes, I get that totally. I think that there were many times along my path that I would have welcomed some constructive and supportive mentoring from managers (rather than: just go figure it out). But now Im at a point where I’ve worked through a lot of career discovery, for better for worse, and I suddenly have a manager who wants to step in and magically coach his team on facets of personal life, and it feels….icky. hahah

        For the record, my awesome millennial colleague expressed a bit of the same frustrations of the touchy feelieness of the tone of our company managers coaching us, so it may have been presumptive to assume this is a generational annoyance. : )

    6. Esmeralda*

      I may be older than you (I say OK Boomer to myself at least once a day). I have a 1 on 1 with my supervisor once a month (weekly would be bonkers, neither of us has that kind of time). I like it. I’m extremely independent and self-directed, which my supervisor appreciates (or says he does anyway, which is good enough for me).

      At these meetings I go over projects/work completed and in progress, go over time line etc for work not completed, check in on goals (including professional development goals), discuss what support and/or resources I need, do I need to offload any responsibilities, that sort of thing. Supervisor brings up any areas of concern, tells me what I’m doing well / thanks me for picking up extra / challenging tasks. I also may bring up ideas about ways to improve things in the office/streamline work/ observations about my current and recent mentees. Haha last year I observed that while my salary was higher than most others in the office, I hadn’t had a merit raise in a long time; I did end up with a merit raise, yay!

      I’ve had other supervisors do monthly meetings, but not so skillfully. Very helpful — especially at catching problems before they become PROBLEMS. Probably the best manager I’ve had at this job.

    7. Dramamethis*

      Personal prying and discussing feelings isn’t what 1 on 1s are for. It’s not just you.

      In a very busy office often this is the only time to touch base and update, ask questions, etc. If an employee wants to discuss something personal and seek advice, fine but managers shouldn’t use it to pry or waste time.

      A good manager/ organization is flexible with the timing and creates an atmosphere where employees are comfortable talking to the boss at any time they both have availability.

      I don’t understand either why some places ate so rigid with this “rule” .

    8. should i apply?*

      I am an “old” millennial, and can’t say that I have observed the phenomena that you are talking about. Sounds like you just have a crappy manager. I personally meet with my manager every 3 weeks, but that is because most of my work is team based, and I meet with the project teams much more regularly.

      I think how often you should meet with your manager is highly dependent on the type of work you do, and how involved your manager is in assigning that work. Also where you are in your career, if you are earlier in your career there is probably a lot more opportunities for development and feedback than if you are more advanced. I will say that I have had the opposite problem previously were I couldn’t get a hold of my manager when I needed input and it was very frustrating.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        I’m also an old millenial. Me and my manager have a weekly 1 to 1 because a) the rules at the workplace are complicated and often change b)you actually can’t do this sort of work without supervision. Another set of eyes is essential.

    9. No Sleep Till Hippo*

      Elderly Millennial here – hi! :) Adding my voice to say, it’s definitely not just you. I have a great, warm, friendly relationship with my manager, and if she tried to “life coach” me in our 1x1s I’d still be like WTF. That’s just… not her job.

      If it helps, I use a loose agenda template for mine – usually so I can remember what I want to talk to her about, but it might help you set boundaries as well? It’s something like:

      – What I’m working on this week/project updates
      – Things for her input or FYI
      – Things on the backburner or ideas for future projects
      – Anything else

      That at least would help set a tone of I Would Like To Talk About Work, Please. I mean, it’s one thing to take an interest in your employees as real human people and not just output machines… but what you’re describing feels intrusive and I would find it ridiculous too. I’m at work to do work; if I want help with not-work I will ask not-manager.

    10. fhqwhgads*

      In my experience this is not a recent fad. It’s been standard for at least a decade. It also sounds like you’re not so much complaining about the concept of a 1-1 but the way your managers handle them.
      Even when I was in consulting, I had a weekly 1-1 with my manager. It was not at all for coaching (nor has it ever been in any job I had). The format is: anything I want to talk about workwise, I do. Anything they want to talk about workwise, they do. But I go first. So it could be anything from “I need help with X” or “what do you want me to do about X, a or b?” or “made good progess on Q and continuing there, nothing really to add”. The boss end ranges from “you’re going to hear/justheard an announcement about BLAH, and I’m glad to discuss in more details or answer any questions you might have” or “I mentioned your suggestion to so-and-so and we’re moving forward so thanks for raising that” or “we’re switching priority temporarily cuz reasons”. That’s it. No prying into my personal life at all beyond the occasional “doing anything fun over the weekend?”

    11. Quinalla*

      Another GexXer here. I think you are going to need to shift some attitudes as more and more of the younger folks join the workforce on some of this, but your manager also is weird IMO. Coaching is great IMO, but should be geared toward what the coachee needs/wants. The way they are trying to coach you sounds like potentially appropriate for a newbie, not someone with lots of experience. For me weekly 1 on 1 would be way too much, but they may make sense in some fields. I actually wish we had more formal schedule for 1 on 1s as while I always technically have access to anyone, what it does do as others have said is perpetuate the same people (ie white dudes) getting more time with mangers as they are more likely to schedule time when it is informal, etc. where women and minorities won’t. We do actually have a formalized coaching program at my work, it is far from perfect, but I’m glad we have it. Some people do talk about more personal things in coaching, but most stick to work/career things. And it is all coachee led, so people talk about whatever level they are comfortable with and coaches have been trained that if certain topics come up to not try and address themselves and who/what they should refer people to.

    12. MissDisplaced*

      Hm. It might be that your company handles these weekly meetings differently because at my job, the weekly meetings with your manager are really to discuss project status and issues with getting things done. Sometimes they are also about planning/budgeting and the like. They’re seldom about coaching, unless you have something specific that needs addressing, or maybe newer employees need more in that aspect.

      So, could you suggest to your manager that you’d prefer to focus more on factual, project-based work updates in your one to ones. Perhaps you could even devise a mini agenda that covers what you need/want to discuss every week and you can steer these conversations a bit more.

    13. RagingADHD*

      To this Gen Xer, the “coaching” you’re describing has my shoulders right up around my ears.

      And it makes me wonder if maybe you are already working at a level beyond your manager’s knowledge or ability? Maybe they don’t have any useful way to coach you on your work, so they’re trying to coach personal stuff instead?

  56. Former manager*

    I think this question is appropriate for the Friday open thread.

    I have a question for librarians. Broadly, what is the future for libraries, and librarians, given the move towards digital books? I’m a voracious reader and have been all my life, but for the last few years, I’ve borrowed and read all my books electronically. I believe that this is the trend and that it will probably increase. If this is true, what do we need library buildings for? And how will the role of librarians change?

    I’m prompted to ask this question because the main library in my city is being replaced with a much larger building that is going to be filled with more meeting rooms and public spaces and I’m honestly struggling to understand why. Philosophically, I want to support libraries, reading and literacy, but is this the best way to do it?

    1. Littorally*

      Libraries do a lot more than just lend out books! Meeting spaces can be used for things like tutoring, club meetings, presentations or gatherings by local community associations, nonprofits providing services like resume building or adult literacy education, on and on. Libraries also assist people with digital literacy – not just literal reading but also how to use a computer, how to navigate the internet, etc. Before the pandemic shuttered things, a lot of libraries were seeing growing use, particularly among Millennials. If you’re thinking of libraries as books-only institutions, you’re really only seeing a small portion of what they do and are.

    2. Kiitemso*

      I am a voracious reader who loathes ebooks (and among my reader friends I haven’t been alone in that sentiment), but my library has plenty of ebook readers for those who prefer that format. At my local library there’s always a bunch of school kids hanging out after school, reading or talking or playing board games. During non-COVID times, there were always people studying or working on the computer quietly, or simply reading.

      I think libraries serve so many functions that they’re not really dying out. The death of physical books has been greatly exaggerated, IMO.

      1. TiffIf*

        I am a voracious reader who will read in any format I have access to. I will admit that I LOVE my Kindle. And I have been known to try to tap on a physical book to turn the page. Before ebooks were a thing I remember taking an entire carry-on’s worth of books on vacation where as my Kindle holds thousands.

        At the same time I love opening up a brand new cover. Ebooks (so far in my experience) can’t match physical books if there are illustrations/maps or if you’re reading a graphic novel/manga/comic book.

        I LOVE that libraries can cater to both those who want physical books and ebooks. Many many thousands or millions of physical books have never, and possibly will never or at least not any time soon, be available as ebooks. Most libraries participate in some sort of interlibrary loan program allowing them to get books for patrons that they don’t actually have in their collection. Ebooks don’t work that way.

        Because of Covid I haven’t been to the physical library in a year, but I have checked out numerous ebooks and audiobooks digitally.

        Once the library is fully open? My roommate and I have a tradition that we love where we go to the library, pick out some picture books (either old favorites or just something that looks interesting on the shelf) and read them to each other. We’re women in our 30s who don’t have children. It is such a blast.

    3. Kimmy Schmidt*

      As a librarian, I love public spaces, programming, and community space in libraries! I’m not in the book business, I’m in the information business. Libraries are not getting rid of their collections. The materials just exist in a different format now. And with all those community spaces, they can use those collections in new and interesting ways and ‘do’ things, instead of just ‘have’ things. Book clubs, internet access, Wi-Fi hotspots, resume workshops, genealogy exploration, story times, youth coding classes, speakers, book kits, activity kits, DnD clubs, “libraries of things” (cookware, Lego, interview attire), and literacy work (digital, science, financial, information, media).

      Libraries are one of the few places where people can just exist without an expectation to spend money, and I think that’s valuable for promoting literacy, education, and learning.

    4. Jellyfish*

      We need public and community meeting spaces that don’t require money. People use libraries to study, find entertainment, see friends, attend programs, host meetings, learn new skills, and even just kill time in a reasonably safe environment. Plus, many libraries rent out resources beyond paper books. I’ve seen tools, specialized tech or automotive manuals that can’t be found online for free, unique cake pans (!), textbooks, anatomy & physiology models, local history documents, tablets, and more.

      Not everyone has reliable internet access or computer savvy either, and not everyone reads ebooks. Many people don’t actually have the first clue how to perform an effective internet search. Librarians help with that, both in terms of tech skills and learning how to evaluate information. Libraries also offer databases of information that go well beyond what Google kicks back, and genealogy especially is huge in public libraries.

      Even for those of us who do favor ebooks, a librarian is still making those selections and dealing with vendors. It may be on the back end and less visible to patrons, but that takes a lot of time and know-how.

      Libraries are about meeting people’s information wants and needs – freely connecting them with the knowledge or entertainment they’re looking for, in whatever form they prefer. That looks different now than it did 30 years ago, but that just means libraries are evolving, not dying.

    5. OyHiOh*

      Why do you think libraries can’t support reading and literacy in an increasingly digital world?

      If anything, literacy skills become more important!

      My community has a 5-star library system (the star rating is a libraries association rating; my little 100,000 resident community has a library that’s considered one of the best in the US). The system has good physical resources, spectacular digital resources, many meeting rooms and public spaces. It’s spearheading a shift in philosophy, from “read a book” to “public access to knowledge.”

      Public access to knowledge means our system has a “credit repair” high school program that allows people ages 16 to 25 to complete a real high school diploma. The graduation ceremonies are glorious. It means literacy tutoring for adults, and homework tutoring for K-12. It means that for the past year, the library system (not the school district, though they’ve done some too) has been handing out internet hotspots and other technology to make remote school more accessible. Students can checkout backpacks with passes and activities to our zoo, children’s museum, and local state park. Librarians actively teach classes on research methods, how to evaluate sources, and critical thinking. One library system in my state became a national model for economic development (!!!) because the ED people in the community rightly recognized the skills librarians have in research and data, and that the themselves had meeting spaces that were big enough, had the tech equipment for presentations, and were ADA accessible so anyone wanting to attend classes about business start up/development could easily attend.

      Libraries are no longer just places to borrow a book. They are community centers of knowledge.

    6. Just a PM*

      This is actually an interesting question. The library field itself is undergoing a huge paradigm shift right now as a result of the very things you mention – electronic and digital access. If you’re really interested, do some research on “library paradigm shift” (fair warning, most of the recent research on this has to do with COVID impact). This was a huge topic when I was in library school for my MSLIS in 2013.

      The others have hit on it already — libraries are transforming from physical book repositories to centers based around knowledge and information. They’re still focused on literacy, but have added digital literacy to their skillset. Digital literacy is how to find information online in the internet. While the younger generations grew up getting this literacy education in schools, older generations didn’t so there’s a lot of library programming focusing on teaching seniors how to use the internet, work with computers, etc.

      Modern libraries are also becoming gathering centers, with meeting facilities for the community, workshops and events for the community like tax preparation help or organized book groups, or after-school care programs. The focus isn’t so much on quiet “shh!” and books, but bringing the community together to foster and facilitate their quest for knowledge and knowledge-sharing. My grandparents’ local community aren’t even building standalone brick-and-mortar libraries anymore. Their newest library is the ground floor of their city hall. Their next-newest library is a wing at the new community center, which also has an indoor water park, fitness center/gymnasium, and banquet hall.

      1. OyHiOh*

        My community’s library system has six branches. Main branch looks like a classic “library” in design and function. Three neighborhood branches are designed and intended to be “community centers that happen to have books you can take home.” One branch is in the Y. Two satellites function as duel purpose school and public libraries.

      2. Filosofickle*

        A current client is a major metro library system, and our project is all about defining their purpose as a library today. Libraries mean so much, and to so many! I’m honored to be on this project and to be putting words to that experience.

    7. D3*

      What I’ve used my local library for in the last 5 years:
      – Meeting spaces for small group
      – Borrowing eBooks
      – Access to LinkedInLearning
      – Checked out a telescope to help a kid with an astronomy assignment in school
      – Attended a professional conference held there
      – Movie screening in the auditorium there

      What I have NOT used my local library for in the last 5 years:
      – Checking out books

      Sounds like your new library building will accommodate the way people use libraries in this century. That’s a good thing.

      Shed the stereotype of what a library is!

    8. Alice*

      One way to support your library is to ask your representatives to require publishers to license ebooks and audiobooks to libraries on reasonable terms.
      Great recent article:
      If you are an author, you can also ask your agent whether your books are available to libraries, and on what terms.
      I have no doubt that your library produces an annual report that explains the amount of print circulation, online circulation, and library service provision. That would probably be interesting reading.
      Or, just go to your library building (after that is COVID safe of course) and observe. Are people using the space? The way that you use the library is not the only way to use the library.

    9. RickT*

      New books may be electronic but older reference books never will be, and sometimes the older collections are important. Librarians will become less book movers and more research sources.

      For a personal example I was at a US Patent repository library looking up patents granted to an ancestor and they didn’t have much information, partially because they had an incomplete set of books. The patents are all pre-1900 so the online images were next to useless.

      I talked to one of the reference librarians and she sent my request to their internal mailing list, and the team came back with dozens of patents the family had no idea existed.

    10. Former manager*

      Thanks for these responses. I guess I’m only viewing librairies through my own lens, based on what I use them for.

      My own experience with meeting spaces for community based activities was more in schools and community centres. The comment about locating libraries in other public buildings makes sense to me, as then space can be shared and used efficiently and different services can be located together. The new main library here will be a standalone building downtown. However, most of the branch libraries that have been built in the last 30-40 years have been located in community centres, so they would fit this model, which does make sense to me.

      1. The Librarian*

        You could also talk to the librarians or the staff at the library. Tell them exactly what you’ve said here – you’re curious about why the changes to the new libraries are taking place and how these new changes will transform the library experience. And also ask them how you can help support reading and literacy. Most people would love to talk about that. We get more complaints or questions about what’s happening at the library that the change to talk about what’s happening *to* the library would a refreshing change.

        I would also recommend joining your local Friends of the Library chapter, if supporting libraries and literacy/reading is something you’re passionate about. Most people think of the Friends as the group that does the semiannual used book sales, but the Friends are so much more. They’re community advocates to and for the library, they work with library staff to lobby local leaders/politicians for funding, they can even influence what books or media to buy.

    11. Generic Name*

      I miss the library so much! I like going there to browse and just sit and read. It’s a free way to get out of the house and relax. Some people like going to a coffee shop, others like going to a bar, I like going to the library. I much prefer physical books as well.

  57. HR peep*

    I work in HR in the recruiting and hiring department. I’ve been in this job for about 18 months now. Before this, I worked as a receptionist/occasional administrative assistant at a different company while I attended college at night. When I worked at my last job there was a huge scandal created by one of the managers. Some employees had come forward to claim discrimination based on religious grounds. Originally nine different people sued the company and there were emails and chat transcripts found in the course of the investigation. The manager had passed over, not hired, pushed out or outright fired employees she knew who were Protestant/Anglican/Christian. The emails were damaging and the company paid settlements to them and past employees and while the exact amounts were released it would have totalled in the seven figures. In order to the pay the settlements they had to layoff and outsource an entire division and stop paying bonuses for the foreseeable future. I left after I graduated to get a job in my field but it wasn’t on bad terms. That manager applied for a job here. I didn’t realize at first because she was getting divorced when the scandal hit and she also hyphenated her middle name to her first name and is using a nickname. So when I worked with her she was ‘Ann Smith’ not ‘Anne-Marie Jones whose nickname is Annie’. On her resume she listed a someone from our old company as a reference but he retired and is now deceased. She also lists a different company with 2 different references as a job she had between our old company and now but by the dates she listed she was still at our old company and it was during the scandal. I followed the procedure and told our legal department and my manager and her manager. I only said facts and backed up what I said with proof. But I found out that she was hired anyway. I’m so new to HR but I feel disillusioned. I would have thought the scandal disqualified her from being hired and she was a risk because of the past lawsuits. My manager just thanked me and said it was handled. Is this normal or am I off base in any way? I just can’t believe she was hired.

    1. The tin man*

      In what fantasy world do christianity face discrimination? Sorry but I have never heard of it and have a difficult time taking it on it’s face

      1. Colette*

        In this actual world where this manager wasn’t hiring people if she knew they were Christian?

      2. PX*

        In parts of this real world where Christianity isnt the dominant religion? There are quite a lot of those….

        @HR peep: its not an ideal situation, and ideally you would have gotten additional context/reassurance about why they chose to hire her anyway, but I dont know if they were totally off base. Maybe they’ve said she wont have any hire/promotion responsibilities? Maybe she said she has changed? I dont know. But at the end of the day, people who have done terrible things (even publicly) do still manage to find jobs and get hired again, so I guess this is just one of those situations…

      3. AE*

        Systemic discrimination in the US, no, but it sounds like this particular manager had a provable prejudice against particular groups.

        I *am* curious as to how she would know people’s religions? If it comes up as topic of conversation in the workplace, that’s understandable, but the only way I could imagine being able to surmise a job applicant’s religion is if they mentioned explicitly religious universities/orgs/volunteerism on their materials (at least for groups that aren’t strongly identified with a particularly ethnicity/nationality), and even then that’s not a sure indicator.

      4. anon here*

        You don’t know the details here. Perhaps it’s in India and the person is a virulent Hindu nationalist; perhaps it’s in Ireland and there’s a Catholic/Protestant thing going on; perhaps it’s somewhere else and it’s any number of other intersections of religion, class, ethnicity, or whatever.. Let’s give the LW some benefit of the doubt here, as I’ve known people who were quite anti-(some Christian sect) while being from another Christian sect, and certainly not the entire world has the same dynamics as the US.

      5. Pond*

        All the things other commenters have pointed out. In addition, even in the US it is possible to be discriminated against for being Anglican/Christian/Protestant, just as one person can be discriminated against by another for any characteristic. As a very broad generalization, it is not likely to be discriminated against for being Christian within the US, but it depends widely on where you are, in what context, and most importantly on the specific person you’re dealing with. There are definitely people who discriminate against Christians, just as there are people who discriminate against Muslims, Jews, and any other group/religion/belief/ethnicity/gender/etc. Common? No. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist at all.

      6. D3*

        Sometimes they actually do. Other commenters have addressed that.
        Sometimes they are like a basketball player flinging themselves to the floor trying to play victim when called out on their attempts to push their values on everyone else. (Puts back of hand to the forehead) “Oh, I’m SO PERSECUTED because I have to accept that others have legitimate values too!”
        There’s a difference, but both are real phenomena.

    2. Ashley*

      I would try to consider this in a more broad benefit of the doubt situtation where Annie may have been the one to take the fall and try and give her the benefit out the doubt in working with her. You did what you could in your position and now it is one of those annoying suck it up pieces.

    3. Chaordic One*

      Perhaps, as others have mentioned, there are things you don’t know and Annie was scapegoated. Or perhaps Annie has learned a painful lesson the hard way and will be less bigoted going forward. OTOH, you might very well be correct in your assessment of Annie and the decision to hire her. Sometimes bosses screw up and the decision to hire her will come back to haunt your current employer.

      It sounds like you’ve done everything you can. Now you have to accept the decision of your supervisors and keep your mouth shut. It has turned into one of those “Not your circus, not your monkeys,” situations.

  58. achoos*

    Interview questions to help identify drama-llama tendencies?

    I have a great team who are tight knit and empathetic. The problem then is when one gets upset, the others tend to then get riled up. Which is fine when there’s a problem! But at one point we had someone who quickly spiraled on small things, and they sucked everyone else in trying to solve their problem. (Example from pre-Covid times: They would get in after 9 and have difficulty finding a nearby parking space. Why is parking so terrible? We need to fix thsi now!!!) Since that person left, things have been so much calmer! I would like to suss out which candidates have more even-keeled natures as I conduct my search.

    1. Not A Manager*

      Having an even-keeled employee sounds great in general, but have you also considered addressing this team dynamic of people choosing to empathically rile themselves up when their colleague can’t find parking?

      1. achoos*

        Ha! I’m on a college campus so parking is a low-grade annoyance to everyone, all the time, but we bump along okay until someone flares up about it. (Every freaking all-campus meeting ends up in a ‘parking is a problem’ quagmire.) But I am 100% open to ideas on how to break the empathetically-upset dynamic. I have lots of 1:1 and an open door policy, but people seem to prefer to vent to each other and get worked up before coming to me.

    2. Ashley*

      I would definitely discuss this with references. It also might be helpful if you tried to throw some minor curve balls and see if the blink.

    3. irene adler*

      Behavioral questions.
      How unflappable are they when things don’t go their way? “Tell me about a time when multiple work issues surfaced and you had to work with them.”
      What is their approach for problem-solving? Do they do this by themselves or are they inclined to involve others? “Tell me about a time when you had to solve a problem.”

    4. Cat Tree*

      I was actually once asked at an interview about a time I dealt with a disagreement or something like that. I don’t remember the exact question, but I actually had a chance to share the story of a coworker who outright yelled a rant at me (I didn’t yell back). It’s good to ask for specific experiences because with hypotheticals people want to think they’ll stay calmer than they actually would.

      1. MissCoco*

        Yes, I think that question or similar ones are good, and when I’ve gotten them I’ve used it as an opportunity to demonstrate my ability to stay calm in the face of big feelings.

        A conflict you’ve had with co-workers/management/administration and how you dealt with it
        A time someone disagreed with a decision you made and how you handled it
        Has there been a time you or your team faced an insurmountable obstacle or failed to accomplish something? How did you handle that?
        Who do you go to when you run into issues at work? – I got asked that once, and I think the manager was curious about if I solved problems on my own, went to colleagues, or went to management.

  59. Mimi*

    The discussion about exempt/non-exempt earlier made me think: how does one define the scope of “the job” one is hired for in an exempt position? If my job is “maintain teapots and handle teapot requisitions,” that might be one person worth of work when I’m hired, but if the company grows or one of the other Teapot Handlers leaves, it can become more than what is feasible for me to handle myself, and it might or might not happen in a way that makes it obvious that it’s no longer a reasonable amount of work. My manager might notice/believe me when I tell them, but it’s always challenging for me to define “the job I’m being hired to do” to myself in a position where the work doesn’t necessarily fit neatly into 40 hours (or even anything close) and I’m not _expected_ to do it all, but also it would be very easy to just keep working on it because there’s still more work.

  60. Just a PM*

    A minor grievance I have is the email styling choices a recent new higher in my office made. He uses bright blue font and the size of his text is 16pt or 18pt. The rest of us are using pretty standard email styling – black and 11/12pt text. Any time I get an email from him, it reads like he’s yelling at me and it’s annoying. I’m almost to BEC with this guy for his email etiquette (there’s more than his font choice). My recent trick of saying “At least he’s not using Comic Sans” isn’t working anymore. Any advice on how to stay unbothered when I see his emails? This is definitely not a molehill worth dying over so I’m not going to say anything to him about the emails so this is a question more about “how do I retrain my brain to be okay with this?”

    Pre-COVID, I would’ve taken this as a sign to go on vacation and get away from work for longer than a weekend but vacations aren’t happening and usual coping mechanisms aren’t working either.

    1. PX*

      Can you save opening his emails for specific moments in time? Maybe first thing in the morning when you are fresh and have more patience, or last thing in the day when you can then leave work behind and forget about them/him?

    2. Ashley*

      Can you say you are having trouble with the font color? I hate people that refuse to accept standard email practices. I can’t tell you how many times I have explained to people whether you mean it or not it appears like you are yelling at me when you type in caps and I will always take it that way so please don’t.

    3. tab*

      Could be that he has vision issues that make smaller fonts too hard to read. One of the many perks of ageing…

      1. Mockingjay*

        Ah, aging. Zoom in, set larger fonts and icons, special Kodak lenses in my glasses to cut glare, zoom in some freakin’ more. And black font on white space truly is harder to read than blue letters (black font gives my astigmatism trouble these days).

        Teams meetings are a special hell, because we old fogies have to ask younger presenters every single time to blow up the view so we can read the document shared on the screen.

    4. Haha Lala*

      It’s also possible that’s how the new guy’s email was set up and he doesn’t want to change the settings without permission. Or he thought he was changing his display but didn’t realize it was changing how the emails sent to everyone. Might be worth a conversation!

      If that doesn’t get you anywhere, can you bring it up with the IT team/person if you have one? Most of the companies I’ve worked for have a “standard” for email formats and signatures. If the new hire sends any emails to people outside the company as a representative for your company, then it would look pretty inconsistent.
      (or if you don’t have a company standard for emails, maybe now would be a good time to start!)

    5. PollyQ*

      Your email program may have a way to turn off formatting. Searching in their help or on google might be fruitful.

  61. Talia*

    What is the polite, interview-speak way to as “What is UP with your turnover?” There’s a job posted that looks very good on paper, and nothing about them has seemed weird the other times I interviewed with them, except that this going to be the third time in less than five years I’ve applied for the same position, and they’ve also been posting a lot of other jobs recently. (For context: our industry has many more people than jobs and people don’t tend to leave jobs– especially jobs as comparatively well-paying and well-benefited as these– except for things like moving or going up a level. For me, this would be up a level, and more to the point, an end to living paycheck-to-paycheck.)

    1. AE*

      You could try, “How many years do people typically stay in this role?”, and “I’ve seen a lot of job postings from this company recently. Are you expanding or restructuring?” Maybe also, “Is there a typical career trajectory for someone in this role?”

    2. RagingADHD*

      “I’ve seen this job listing come up frequently. What do you attribute that to?”

      It could be for a positive reason, like promoting internally. Maybe the role is a “feeder” position for moving up in the org.

  62. Storie*

    This is embarrasssing to admit, after reading/commenting on AAM all these years. But I do not understand how to find my comments once I’ve made them! So if you’ve ever responded to me and I didn’t reply, this is why. I don’t understand how to use the subscribe. ?????

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes, and if you put an asterisk after your name (Storie*) you will get search results for only user names (rather than every instance of “stories,” etc.).

      2. ThePear8*

        Might be command + F if you’re on a Mac! But yeah I just do this to search the page for my own comments

    1. Reba*

      I believe subscribe no longer works, it became unwieldy (and wouldn’t have done what you wanted anyhow :) )

      Like others say, search for your name. On an android phone browser it’s “find in page” in the three-dots menu, on an iPhone you tap the “action box” at bottom center to see the option.

  63. Hello from Academia*

    Does the commentariat think the pandemic gives some leeway in job change timelines? Left a job of 3 years in 2019 and the last year has been eye opening about their priorities as an employer. But I worry I’ll look like an aspiring job hopper trying to leave this job after only 2 years if I start applying again

    1. Hello from Academia*

      If it matters, I’m early career (first post-grad professional job in 2017) so I’m still feeling out where / who I want to be in my field in general on top of the Collective Existential Crisis of 2020

      1. Spearmint*

        3 years then 2 years doesn’t sound like job hopping to me for someone who is early career.

    2. Kiitemso*

      I think it definitely has to. I know somebody whose resume looks like this: hired in 2019, then let go/laid off in spring 2020, found something temporary in 2020 and eventually found something more permanent/in their field in 2021. I don’t think it should be judged as job-hopping. 2020 was a tough year for a lot of people.

    3. Zephy*

      I think the events of last year and this year are going to grant a lot of leeway in terms of what everyone’s resume looks like around this time. Also, if this is your second job and you’ve been at both of them multiple years, that’s not job hopping – that’s normal millennial/gen z career progression, tbh.

      1. Hello from Academia*

        Appreciate the feedback! Probably getting into my own head about it; some corners of academia seem
        to be all about extremes in this way – either you’re hunting new contracts every year or you work at one place and never ever leave.

    4. Karo*

      I agree that this doesn’t really seem like job hopping, but beyond that the pandemic has made everything so weird that I think everyone is getting extra leeway for everything. Things that were accepted-but-not-really-talked-about (like having a gap because of layoffs or moving to be closer to family or taking time off to help family) are much more top of mind for people.

    5. lapgiraffe*

      Let me first say that I’ve been feeling rather resentful the last couple weeks so perhaps I’m just in Debbie Downer mode, but I’ve been getting comments about my resume (three jobs in ten years, left one, second was layoff due to reorg/division eliminated, third was layoff due to Covid) that would suggest nothing has changed and people are just as judgy and close minded as ever re: job hopping, not a perfect job history, etc. The hiring managers and other professionals I’ve interacted with since the new year have not held back in letting their feelings be known, the most recent admitted the he and the manager above him (late 50s and early 30s) were discussing how they “just couldn’t understand what’s up with these resumes we’re getting where people only stay 2,3,4 years, what’s wrong with them that they can’t keep or don’t stay at jobs? It’s really just sad.” Didn’t get a call back.

      One interviewer just wouldn’t let up on the layoffs, asking a lot of pointed questions that suggested he thought I was lying and was actually fired, to the point that it became the majority of the interview. I was referred to that position by a key manager from a different region so I don’t even think this guy would have interviewed me otherwise he was so overtly unimpressed, never heard another word from him.

      Even got a offer last fall that was laughable – half of what I was making previously, and this was after multiple salary discussions throughout the process where they knew my range. When I told them that we were so far off thst weren’t even in negotiating range and I’d have to decline, he tried to sell me a little on the company a bit more. I politely said I’m sorry, we’re just very far off from what I need, he said “well I imagine we could go up another $10k but you have to understand, I can’t make the case for more considering your job hopping, my manager is already concerned about your fit for that reason but I went to bat for you.” Yeah, no.

      Now clearly I think we’ve seen a lot of red flags and bullets dodged, I don’t think these people I’m talking to represent the better places to work in this world. But it’s been incredibly disheartening to only be getting callbacks from the jerks and have them turn my job history into something to pity or a weapon to use against me.

      1. Quinalla*

        Yikes! I feel like you’ve definitely run into some jerks here. When we’ve interviewed folks with similar or even shorter stays, we always ask them about them, but if they have reasons that make sense (and especially now during COVID, wouldn’t likely even question any short stays in 2020/2021) and also taking to references about it as well if possible, I dunno to me then it is good. I can understand why you are feeling resentful!

  64. Bobina*

    Any recruiters or hiring managers who use LinkedIn a lot – how much attention do you pay to whether a job title on LI is identical to what is on the resume?

    I’m probably going to ramp up my job search in the next few months and am considering putting my status on LI to open. But the problem is one of my job titles (ie the official one I was hired with) will attract the wrong kind of recruiter. Think of it as currently saying “Llama Groomer” but what I mainly did was mainly develop systems/software to help Llama Groomers do their job more effectively, with maybe only 25% of actual Llama Grooming involved.

    I dont want to get lots of Llama Grooming positions (and am actively looking for more of the develop systems/software type role), so just trying to figure out how to navigate this. If I change it to better reflect what I did, will that raise any issues if I do actually submit an application with a different title?

    1. Mockingjay*

      I use generic titles on LinkedIn. The goal is to get key word matches when recruiters search. My resume contains the correct titles. LinkedIn isn’t “official.” I don’t think anyone has ever compared resume and LI bio.

      Think of it this way: when you meet someone and they ask what you do, you tell them a generic title. LinkedIn is just a means to introduce you to a new company.

      1. Mockingjay*

        For instance, my job titles are: Junior Technical Writer, Technical Editor, Technical Editor/Writer, Configuration Manager, Senior Technical Writer, Proposal Writer, Technical Writer III…

        My LinkedIn bio says: Technical Writer

  65. Potential Vax Employee*

    I am applying to a temp job doing non-clinical work at a mass vaccination site run by my city. I’ve made through multiple rounds of interviews and everyone seems to really like me so I’m hoping for a job offer. The vaccine site is staffed four days a week in 12 hour shifts, and the job description implies that not everyone will be scheduled for all four days, but no one I’ve talked to in the multiple layers of government bureaucracy involved in those job knows for certain when asked. With commute I’d be working 58 hour weeks if I do four shifts, and I really don’t want that because 1. I have a serious chronic illness that will almost certainly get much worse with that type of schedule 2. I have a second freelance job I would no longer have time for. I’d be totally open to two or three shifts a week, however.

    In the event I get a job offer, I want to ask if I can work less than four shifts per week (maybe someone will finally know!) and make accepting the offer contingent on that. My question is, is mentioning the reason I want to work less than four shifts a week (either the chronic illness* or other job) something that would make my potential employer more sympathetic to me and more likely to work with me on the scheduling, or should I just say something generic like four shifts a week “doesn’t work for my schedule”?

    *I normally would never disclose my health issues to a potential employer but they’ve made a big deal about diversity and inclusion, including of disabled people, during this process.

      1. Potential Vax Employee*

        That could totally work. 12 hour days plus 2 hour roundtrip commute is a lot to ask.

    1. WellRed*

      Multiple rounds of interviews for a temp position??? No wonder the vaccine rollout has been so slow in some areas.

      1. Potential Vax Employee*

        Yep! There are multiple local government agencies involved and I’ve had to talk to someone from every single one.

    2. Anon in public health*

      This sounds… familiar. Hi, fellow city-dweller! I’d suggest one of two things if it comes to it:
      One, highlight the commute and ask if there’s the possibility a role where you fill in when other staff inevitably have to take days off. I hope staff time off is being adequately planned for in general, but if not, plant the thought, with recognition that some sites may take even longer for you to get to.
      Two, drill for a realistic expectation of how long these sites will be open, and assess whether your health and other work can accommodate the role for the expected duration. It won’t be forever, and if you take the job and need to leave it after a bit, that’s how things happen sometimes. That said, please truly take your health into consideration- these are taxing roles.

      1. Potential Vax Employee*

        Hello, potential neighbor and maybe co-worker of the interviewer I recently talked to based on your username! Thank you for this comment, it gave me a lot of think about and questions to ask if I get offered a job. My plan if it comes to it is to highlight the length of the commute and ask if there’s any opportunity to be considered for less than four shifts, the fill-in role you suggested, if it’s possible to be transferred to a site closer to my apartment eventually, or to just have my info on file for consideration for any future openings at closer sites. I also want to ask more about how long they expect these mass vaccination sites to be open and what happens if you need to leave your position prematurely…the factsheet I was given about the job mentions expecting at least a “six month commitment”, but who knows when that factsheet was written and what’s changed since (will we even still need mass vax sites in September?). I’m actually not unfamiliar with working long hours because I worked all-day weekend events pre-COVID, but two or three days like those would wipe me out and when you have a chronic illness where “exhaustion” and “not enough sleep” are triggers…things can go wrong. I could probably tough it out for a month or three, but I am worried.

        I was also panicking when I wrote the initial post because like a lot of people I lost my job due to the pandemic and have been struggling with job because I’ve had zero interest in my applications for months, and felt torn because I really need a job and there’s a lot to like about this one but the schedule was everything I don’t want. But then a recruiter for a similar vaccine clinic job at a local hospital system got in contact with me to set up an interview, and it sounds like they have locations/schedules that would work better for me, so I’m trying to hold out hope that if I have to turn down this job that isn’t the end of my chances of becoming employed in the near future.

        1. Anon in public health*

          Glad to hear you have an interview for a position that may work better for you- good luck! If I’m correct about the city you’re in (maybe even if I’m not correct!) there is also a need to fill data entry positions at at least one state-run site.

  66. ConfusedGrad*

    I am a grad with two job offers and until Thursday next week to decide! I wasn’t really expecting to have to pick between jobs as I have no internship experience and have been quite open about only hopefully getting a 2:1 degree (but likely a 2:2)

    Job A is at a pretty young but already prestigious consultancy training company. 4 months of training, including on current projects, before consulting at a client company. I’d stay with the client for 2 years and almost certainly get hired directly afterwards. Salary is good to start, with a guaranteed 25% increase in second year and an average 40% increase (!!) to third year. The catch is that the location of your client is not guaranteed and you have to be geographically flexible.

    Job B is at a slightly older but still young firm. They work in one industry. Almost all their employees are max 5 years out of university. I would be employed as an analyst but rotate through departments ranging from customer care to finance to compliance for 6 months, then work on projects for 6 months before getting assigned a department. The salary is lower in the first year but the same as the first job in second year. There’s no info on third year salary. The location is just outside London. There are reviews on LinkedIn that are very positive but do mention that the family culture encourages long hours…

    My parents have both been self employed their whole lives and never experienced the “corporate world” and the recruiter for the second job is being reallllly pushy about why she thinks the first is a bad idea. (I never should have told her about it, but I didn’t know!) But funnily enough she’s only putting me off the job she’s recruiting for. I know some of what she’s saying about the first is twisted so what has she ‘elaborated’ on about the second?

    I’m really just looking for advice from experience. How do I make this decision?

      1. ConfusedGrad*

        I am to an extent. I’m from the south of England and would really prefer to stay in the South. Otherwise I’m fine!

    1. Ashley*

      Fresh out of school imo is the best time to be open to exploring new areas to live. Are you open to that?

      1. ConfusedGrad*

        It’s amazing how many details I forgot to include!

        I live in a rural area in the south west, there are so few relevant jobs that I always knew I’d be relocating. The issue for Job A is not knowing the second location yet. I will also have to move for Job B, but only once.

    2. PX*

      Job A sounds better to me to be honest. As long as you are flexible (and you are young, so hopefully now is the time to be flexible!) then that sounds ideal.

      But also because as someone who is doing a bit of financial planning for the future at the moment, maximising your earning potential right out of university is key. A bigger first salary sets you up better for later life.

    3. AllieMiles*

      Did you compare the possible career progression beyond Year 3? When I read the line ” Almost all their employees are max 5 years out of university” I have to admit that concerned me for future career options for that particular job. Do you think the training process would be as deep at one job versus another?

      You didn’t mention if Job A is for only one industry — would that affect your choice? Would you learn more about more industries in one job versus another?

      Is the recruiter for Job B internal? If so, that would concern me.

      1. ConfusedGrad*

        They do keep employees on after. The company is only 8 years old so I think they’ve only really been hiring grads for about 5 years. The recruiter is external but does all their recruitment. She told me that if they ask where I see myself in 5 years, I should make reference to staying with the same company.
        Job A is data analyst consultancy and I could end up consulting in any industry. It’s up to me whether I stay with the client company or move on somewhere else, but it’s well respected.
        The training is much more focussed at Job A.

        As I’m writing this, I’ve realised that I want Job A! The only downside is the location and I can definitely cope with that.
        Thank you for your questions, they really helped me consider what was important!

  67. TiTi*

    I just want to tell someone that I have made a decision and feel like a weight is lifted off my shoulders. I started a new job in a new state in January and it has been hell. They are terrible, won’t let me do my job, are toxic, and just all around a really really bad fit. I signed a lease for an apartment. Moved away from all my family and am just generally miserable. But yesterday I decided I don’t need to stay in a job that makes me cry when I barely started. So now I have a plan to get out and even if I can’t find a job in this area I decided I will be moving home when my lease is up even if I don’t have a job lined up. My mental health is too important. So now I am at the work your tail off period but I love knowing there is an end in sight in June.

    1. Girasol*

      Sounds like a great decision. Economists think the job market will pick up rapidly in summer as the vaccine reopens business. Hope it offers you the job you deserve.

      1. TiTi*

        At this point I would work at McDonald’s to be happier. Professional development is important but I am just so happy to know I can get out of this role

    2. nep*

      Go, you. This is great. Sorry your job has been so toxic and intolerable. Great of you to recognize what you need to do and act on it.

      1. TiTi*

        Thank you! I really do feel so much better to feel like I am making a positive change even if it is a little scary.