open thread – April 2-3, 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.

{ 899 comments… read them below }

  1. Indisch Blau*

    Is there a “code” for references in English-speaking countries? A friend asked me this and I couldn’t answer so I told her I’d ask the AAM hive mind.
    The background: I’m an American ex-pat in Germany. I’ve been here so long and came so early in my career that I don’t know this kind of thing. Here in Germany there’s a fairly well-developed code for references. For example, a very good reference will say that the person “always performed to our most complete satisfaction”. Good would be the same without “always”. “Satisfactory” is actually pretty bad and “by and large satisfactory” is the equivalent of “deficient”.
    My friend works for an NGO in a country in the Middle East. Her organization is headquartered in a third country and her boss is from a fourth country. He wrote a reference saying among other things, “Lucinda struggled to meet deadlines” when he meant “In the face of great difficulties Lucinda worked tirelessly to successfully meet deadlines.” Lucinda was able to work with her boss to re-word these passages. (He really did want to write a glowing reference!) But the incident made her wonder if there’s a “code” similar to the one in Germany in the US, Canada, Great Britain, Australia or New Zealand.
    Thanks for any help you can give!

    1. Mental Lentil*

      Not that I’m aware of in the US. When I write reference letters, I generally try to give something general backed up by specific instances of what the person did that provides evidence of that.

      “Terrence has excellent organizational skills. In only two months, he managed to reorganize our internal documentation systems to that documents could be easily stored and retrieved, and eliminated a lot of documentation requirements that internal customers were no longer using, thus making our department more efficient.”

    2. Catherine*

      As someone who reads a lot of references in the US, I don’t think there’s a code. I do know that a lot of references will refuse to submit or participate as a reference instead of giving a bad one.

    3. Reba*

      I think it’s more a style thing than a highly specific code like your example. I know that by and large (ha) US style in this context is to be much more effusive, where the European ones read to me as downright cold. This can present a problem for someone who, for example, attended a university in Europe or the UK, but is seeking an academic post or opportunity in the US. An American will be like, “Fergus is one of the top 3 students I have ever taught out of 1 billion highly competitive students” and the German one says, “I confirm that Fergus was my student and finish.ed the course”

      But, I really doubt that there is consensus here in either style or meaning of the key phrases, in part because actual written letters of recommendation are rarely used here outside of academia.

      I’m glad your friend was able to work on the wording! I admit it took me a while to grasp how “struggle” could have been meant positively (as in she tried valiantly) :)

      1. kt*

        Yes, the Euro/American difference in academic references is a standard joke here, in that an American will say, “This student is exceptional, will win the next Fields medal, best student I’ve had in 100 years” to convey that they should get a postdoc at your regional institution while a European (esp Eastern European) will say, “This student produced an adequate thesis.” to recommend someone they think will actually win the next Fields medal.

        Exaggerating, mostly.

    4. Weekend Please*

      I am in the US and my experience with references is specific to academia I wouldn’t say that there is a code, but damning with faint praise is definitely a thing. To be honest, your example of a very good reference would probably read as mediocre to me. Great references typically use the word “excellent” and the phrase “one of the best students/employees I have supervised.” They also have specific examples of why this student or employee was excellent. Simply saying “difficulties” would be weird. I would expect something like “Despite COVID shutdowns causing significant delays, Lucinda was able to successfully meet all of her deadlines.”

      1. Artemesia*

        One phrase that has been totally reliable in my experience of hiring a lot of people and also accepting students into advanced program is that if in an otherwise fairly bland reference they refer to their ‘high moral standards’ invariably the person is an uptight judgmental prig with whom it will not be a pleasure to work.

    5. Generic Name*

      I don’t think there’s a code so much as what the reference leaves out. I think there’s a lot of “reading between the lines” done in reference-giving. I think the absolute worst thing a reference could say is, “they are not eligible for rehire” or just flat out refuse to provide a reference.

      In your example given, I think the issue was more of a lack of nuance in the translation to English, that was thankfully caught.

      1. Jess*

        I agree with this – we do reference calls (rather than written) because there’s a LOT that you can get from reading between the lines, telling pauses etc., but the one death knell is a simple negative answer to the “would you rehire this person if you had the opportunity?” question.

        (Equally, if we were asked for a reference and said only that we were able to confirm the person’s dates of employment, that says something too…)

    6. LCH*

      No code I know of. But a common question is, would you hire this person again? And I think that answer is the most telling.

      1. Joan Rivers*

        Yes. I had a letter of reference from the Exec. Ed. of a very famous international magazine, who I was asst. to, and treasured it because he said he’d hire me again. He obviously could have his pick of plenty of job candidates. So I wanted to think his prominence reflected on me.

    7. LadyByTheLake*

      Due to defamation laws in the US, it is highly unusual for anyone to say much of anything bad in a reference, so anything less than glowing is read as being pretty bad. The example above with “Lucinda struggled to meet deadlines” would be shocking to see and would be read VERY negatively. As others have said, in the US the code is to say something neutral if the reference is bad. So “always performed to our most complete satisfaction” would be read to mean that the employee was mediocre, doing the bare minimum to get by. If I saw (or heard) that reference, I probably wouldn’t hire that person. In the US it is more about what is left unsaid, or is said in a neutral way that are the red flags.

      1. Anecdatally*

        Yeah, and the dreaded “we only confirm dates of employment” is a thing in the US (to indicate a negative reference — which is tricky, because lots of companies really do have a policy of refusing to give references! But a manager is expected to bend the rules to give a really good employee a reference)

        1. AnonJ*

          I have come across this doing reference checks for entry level employees whose previous experience is in retail/service industries. One woman I spoke to followed up the ‘our policy is to only confirm dates of employment, I wish I could say more’ with something along the lines of ‘the weather is just beautiful today, I hope you’re able to enjoy it’ which after a second I realized was code for ‘she was a great employee’. I replied with something similarly innocuous that implied I thought I understood her code and she confirmed. I thought it was very clever!

    8. TechWorker*

      I’m not aware of one, but if a reference said someone’s work was ‘by and large satisfactory’ I would absolutely get the hint they meant ‘really not that great’.

    9. Oxford Comma*

      Nothing official but these spring to mind…

      Works well under direction = I can’t trust them to do anything without supervision
      Is neat and clean and very punctual = I have nothing else positive to say about this person

      1. nym*

        Yes, I would agree with these. I also saw one a few years ago, I don’t remember the exact wording, but it was along the lines of “works well in a team setting as long as their ideas are the ones being worked on”, with at least two repetitions of that idea with different words. We translated that as “always needs to do things her way, won’t take no bossin’ from nobody”. We were hiring for an intern role on a research team, not a role that gets to set the direction of the work, so we noped out of that one.

    10. Concerned Without a Solution*

      A reliable code isn’t something I have seen although some comments remind me of how much I worry about people’s ability to move into new roles with new employers when fair and accurate references are a challenge. Sometimes a mediocre reference is about the person giving it and not the person it refers to and we often can’t know when that is the case. And sometimes really positive references are not really an accurate representation of the performance of the person the reference is about. I have yet to see a good solution to reliable references and that worries me. Both the referrer and the person interpreting what is said is a challenge to fairness and accuracy.

    11. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Nothing that would be universal at least. You’ll probably find groups of people or fields that have some sort of “code”, but it would be specific to them and even then I wouldn’t count on it being universal within that field. I do fully believe that other cultures or languages may have conventions that don’t translate well though!

    12. Idril Celebrindal*

      I agree that there isn’t really a code, but one commonality I see and something that I do myself is that if it’s a really positive reference, to mention that you would eagerly hire/work with the person again if ever given the chance.

  2. Escaped a Work Cult*

    How do people set their own deadlines for job searching? I’ve been telling myself for months that I needed to update my resume and get started but I’ve been really terrible at it. I kinda freeze up because while I want to change jobs, it’s not the worst job I’ve had.

    1. JustA___*

      I needed someone else to push me. I had a former coworker who had left my employer and was VERY supportive of everyone else leaving (toxic dysfunctional environment). Having someone to poke you to update the resume/look for postings/apply was invaluable for me.

      1. You can do it!*

        This! I had former colleagues/friends pushing me and keeping my spirits up during this process, and now after getting a great new job am paying it forward to others. The other thing that helped was me envisioning what I wanted to accomplish outside work and using that as an incentive – e.g., I wanted to be able to play with my kids in the yard when it’s still light out this spring/summer, so used that to push myself to get this done.

        1. Joan Rivers*

          We can get worn down in a toxic job and not even realize how much it does to us. It can wear us out and erode our judgment.
          I think if you don’t have a friend to cheer you on, it can help to talk to a job counselor, just for an outside perspective.
          Browsing job openings and having an interview just to check it out can also be refreshing. It’s low-pressure way to adjust perspective, to like your job more or like it less.

    2. Allura Vysoren*

      There’s no harm in looking. I started job hunting last August, after a series of breaking points, such as: the random firing of my only other coworker, being forced to come back into the office even though the pandemic was still severe in my area, the announcement of a reorganization that no one wanted. I think it helps to break it down into steps. Update your resume one day. Contact your references the next. Take a look at recent listings on your favorite job site the next.

      Remind yourself, just because you apply for a job doesn’t mean you’re required to take it, but if you don’t apply then you’ll never be able to find something better.

      1. Joan Rivers*

        I stayed in a toxic job and did my fired coworker’s job too for a while. Hung in there, got good reviews.
        Then the owner’s son dropped out of school and all of a sudden I got a lousy review and then let go. Cause sonny needed the job. He lied, then dropped me and didn’t admit why.
        I was glad to go but the way he did it was so negative.
        So check out the market to see what’s out there.

      2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        I think it helps to break it down into steps. Update your resume one day. Contact your references the next. Take a look at recent listings on your favorite job site the next.

        Yup, this is a great suggestion. Some other steps and ideas to consider:

        *Take home copies of your performance reviews to mine for examples of accomplishments
        *Setup a tracking system (i.e. spreadsheet, folders, etc.) to track your applications, so you don’t waste time reapplying to the same job
        *Set a weekly or biweekly goal (i.e. find two jobs worth applying to; apply to one job)
        *Decide on an interview outfit that you will wear for every interview

    3. DEJ*

      A friend of my who got laid off really struggled to get going on job searching and what worked for her was hiring someone to help revamp her resume, because she was now accountable to someone.

    4. Should I apply*

      For me I broke it down into little steps and wrote down goals for each.. in January I will update my resume, in February brush up my LinkedIn profile, in March I will try to apply to at least one job a week. That way it wasn’t so intimidating. I also told friend and family members that I was going to do that to give me some accountability.

    5. AnonymouseKoala*

      I tend to freeze up too. I was job searching through 4th quarter (successfully, yay! In large part thanks to the interview tips on AAM, tbh). What worked for me was giving myself one task at a time to complete and a hard deadline/timeframe for it, like: I am going to update my resume on Friday from 3-5pm. I treated it like a work appointment that I could not start late. I tend to procrastinate and I work best on slightly pressured timelines, so I gave myself a little less time than I thought I would need (like, two hours instead of two and a half hours for the resume updating) and booked a fun appointment (like a Skype call with a friend, etc.) for the end of the slot so I couldn’t run over. I didn’t always complete what I set out to do in the exact time slot I set aside for it, but I always made progress and that encouraged me to keep going and finish the task the next time I sat down with it. For me, the actual applying part was easy once I had a resume I felt confident about and a couple of cover letters to modify as needed. I would block off a few hours at a time to look for/apply for jobs on a specific site (LinkedIn, USAJobs, etc.). And in my field, the “easy apply” feature on LinkedIn is actually used a lot especially with startups/contracts/smaller companies, so sometimes I would just apply on my phone whenever I had a few minutes to spare.

    6. Qwerty*

      Updating a resume feels intimidating. Here’s what helps for me:

      – Do a brain dump list of your current job. Don’t bother making it resume-worthy. It’s ok to include annoyances in there.
      – Refine brain dump into less jumbled mess. Still not resume worthy, but snarky remarks have been refined or removed. May need multiple passes at this step
      – Rework list into resume listing for current job. Yay! Draft is available if something comes up!
      – Do an overall check of the resume to get it down to the appropriate pages, see if you need rephrase old job listings.
      – Casually browse jobs in a non-pressure way. You seem ok where you are for now, but open to new opportunities. Look at the postings that interest you, check out things slightly adjacent to what you want to see if that influences anything.

      ALSO – Just because you are updating your resume doesn’t mean you have to leave your job. It’s good to have an up-to-date resume! Ideally I try to update mine once a year so that it is mostly current if I ever want to leave. Usually is easiest around performance review time since I’m already going over a list of my accomplishments. Or keep a mega-resume draft that has a bunch of information in it, so you just have to pair it down when you find jobs that you want to apply to.

    7. Daisy-dog*

      I frequently look at job postings and there is usually one that will be interesting enough to make me want to apply. At that point, I update my resume and make a new cover letter template. I don’t have a “dream job”, but I have a wish list. Once I’ve applied to one job, it becomes so much easier to apply for more.

      The other motivator for me was when I worked in oil/gas. Things kept changing so quickly that I wanted to be ready in case I needed a new role. Turns out, I did.

    8. Just did this*

      Sign up for job alerts from Indeed and LinkedIn. It’ll reduce how much you have to proactively go look at jobs, and passively give you an idea of whats out there.

      1. A Person*

        This is a great idea. I also generally start by looking at jobs even when my resume needs reworking. When I see an exciting or interesting job (or two) it’s way easier to work up the energy to do the resume update.

  3. Maggie*

    Need advice as a 1st time people manager! We had a merger and with my new role I am moving from an individual contributor role to managing someone. 

    I’ve read a few help articles here for 1st time managers, but does anyone have any tips or additional resources?

    1. I edit everything*

      I would just read everything you have time to read on AAM. Practically every column will give indicators of what a good manager will do and how a good manager communicates, even if they’re not specifically aimed at first-time managers. So many time Alison says something like, “If you have a good manager, she will respond with [X].”

    2. Mental Lentil*

      I tend to ask questions. If I see a task that I assigned to Bob and I see it isn’t done, I don’t say “Bob, you need to go file the TPS reports. I told you to have this done by 3 and you’re late!”

      Instead, I will use the pattern “what I observe” + “what needs to be done” + why?

      “Bob, I see the TPS reports aren’t filed yet. I wanted them done by 3. What happened here?”

      Sometimes there is a very good reason something didn’t get done. It helps to be non-accusatory and open to more information, and builds strong working relationships. (Too many people think being an effective manager involves a lot of commanding and yelling, but that’s not true.)

      1. Daisy-dog*

        Very good advice! My first ever leadership role was in retail. I actually got promoted from one area of the store into another area which I was still learning myself. I did not do a very good job at my leadership abilities because I trusted that anyone working in that area of the store already knew what they were doing. What I should have done is ask questions!

        *see employee doing something without instructions from me* “What are you working on? What other priorities do you have today? What about X items?”

    3. StressedButOkay*

      I’m a year+ into my first management role! One of the first things I did, besides read as much as I could on AAM, was sit down with each member of my team and just had an open dialogue. I had already been part of the team and had been promoted, so I had known then as colleagues but not as their manager so that was really helpful.

      I kept communication open, especially during COVID, without trying to overdo it. Every other week 1:1s, once a week department meets, and frequent emails – but, again, trying to straddle that line of not overdoing it. Communication for me was the key this past year.

    4. New Mom*

      Have a standing weekly check-in that you can both add things to (google doc) that has these categories:
      Employee priorities for the week
      Employee Qs for Maggie
      Maggie Qs for Employee
      Follow up/Action items

      I found that extremely helpful, and then you can also reference old check-ins because they are all in the same document. It’s helpful if you want to remember when you discussed a certain topic with your employee months after the fact.

    5. Jay*

      Take a look at the book “Crucial Conversations.” It’s short, well-written, very readable, and an excellent resource on communication in the workplace. I use the lessons from that book every day.

    6. TechWorker*

      I agree with the rest, but also:
      Make sure you know what people managers are expected to do in your company as it will work slightly different everywhere. You might need to do some sort of performance review, and you likely need to be thinking about the career development of your reports and talking to them about it (unless that’s explicitly the responsibility of your boss). Both are the sorts of things it’s good to be thinking about early, rather than the first time you need to have the conversation.

      Also make sure you know where HR policies for your company are and have a bit of a read. Obviously you don’t need to know everything off by heart but it can be useful to be able to answer questions without having to look it up every single time. (Especially for things like sick leave or bereavement leave – if your employee tells you something it’s nice to be able to give answers in that conversation rather than have to go look it up :))

    7. Llama Llama*

      I struggled a lot with my first management role. I manage one position, which has had three different people in it since I started managing it and my honest answer from my experience is that different people need a manager for different things and it’s important to identify what that is early on and work there. I expected people to just work under my work style and interact the way me and my manger interact. And that just wasn’t reality. Some people need a weekly meeting, lots of check in’s and hand holding, and very clear deadlines. Other people need less management but might need their big ideas reined in. Some people have a lot of professional goals, others need help setting them, some need help making their goals realistic.

      So my advice is to get to know your people well and learn what they need/want from you. Weekly meetings are key and I wish I had known that earlier. They aren’t the waste of time you think they are for your work – they help you to prioritize and delegate and follow up that work actually gets done. Making sure your needs and goals are clearly stated is also incredibly important.

    8. LogicalOne*

      Are you able to take management type courses online? There’s some free ones through Coursera, EdX, and such and then there’s some inexpensive ones through Udemy, etc. Might not be a bad idea to look through online learning enrichment courses.

    9. Airkewl Pwaroe*

      Congratulations! In addition to everything on this site, I highly recommend “The Making of a Manager: What to do when everyone looks to you”. The refreshing thing about that book is that the author and her advice come from a place of humility and practical actions, rather than the more common go-get-’em-just-be-confident sort of management book. Also recommend “The First 90 Days”, which applies as much to a change in role as a change in org. Good luck!

  4. Student Affairs Sally*

    I posted last week about how frustrated I was with my new job, because the job I had been hired to do was being blocked and/or reassigned (to men with less experience in those areas) by the provost. In a total surprise twist, he is resigning at the end of the semester! This is *probably* good news, because he truly is a terrible leader (most of the committee work I do involves a decent amount of griping about his leadership and a LOT of figuring out how to work around him/negotiate with him to get things done), but it seems like the institution is RACING to replace him rather than appoint an interim, and that makes me very nervous. There’s a faculty member that I highly respect, and who seems to understand and value the work my office is trying to do, so I’m praying that he throws his hat in the ring and gets chosen. I feel cautiously optimistic but also really worried about all of the uncertainty.

    1. I edit everything*

      My parents were both university faculty. Sorry to burst your hopes, but any faculty member who’s any good is too smart to move into administration. They are college faculty because they love being faculty.

      1. AnonymousKoala*

        Idk, I spent 10 years in academia and one of my parents was faculty-turned admin…IMHO there’s a fair chance competent faculty member will throw his hat in the ring. But if they’re not appointing an interim I think they either don’t want an internal candidate or they already have a specific in/ex candidate in mind and are trying to get them in before the fall.

    2. Indy Dem*

      Do you have a relationship with this faculty member where you could plant a seed about it? “I heard Provost Jim is resigning. Have you thought about applying for his role?” If you wanted to be more stronger in the push “I think you’d be excellent in the role, have you applied for it?”

  5. Threeve*

    If you’ve ever started job hunting a few months into a new job that you knew for certain was an irredeemably bad fit, what was your approach?

    Do you just leave it off your resume? Mention (diplomatically) in your cover letter why you’re looking for something new? Wait until you’re asked in an interview?

    Most of the success stories I can find about leaving soon after being hired somewhere are “I was able to go back to my old position” or “I found this through my network,” not “I sent my resume and cover letter in response to a job posting and got an interview.”

    1. Name (Required)*

      I left a job a few weeks in in the past, I do not include it.

      But I think personally, a few months in, at least the current year, I would include it.

      But next year if you can show one job ending in 2021 and another starting in 2021, you won’t have to account for those missing months of the non-fitting job.

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      You should leave it off your resume, you probably haven’t accomplished anything resume-worthy in the short time you’ve been there (this changes if your job search stretches out, but for now leave it off). Alison definitely has advice on this in the archives, so be sure to check what she says there, but I recall you don’t need to say anything forwardly about it in the cover letter, but do mention it when they ask about why you left your last job (since it’s going to look like you were laid off or quit with nothing lined up). It’s probably worth emphasizing that you’re looking for something to stay at long term and that this was just an unfortunate occurrence. As long as you don’t have a history of short stints it shouldn’t raise any red flags.

      Sorry your new job isn’t working out, good luck with your search!

    3. The Original K.*

      At a previous employer, someone we hired at a senior level said in her cover letter that she was looking to leave her job after six months because it was a bad fit. The job was on her resume. I was part of the interview process and we didn’t ask her about it, though others may have (it was a long interview process; the candidates spoke to a lot of people). She got the job. It helped that she really wanted the specific job for which she was applying – the employer meant a lot to her, and she cited that in her cover letter as well.

    4. Just Another Manic Millie*

      There were three jobs that I left off my resume. One lasted four days, another lasted eight weeks, and the other lasted five weeks. However, I left those jobs before I started looking for another one.

      I was at another company for one month when I started looking for a new job. I included that job in my resume because I was still working there. I wasn’t about to pretend that I wasn’t currently working. I wouldn’t be able to explain why I couldn’t be available for interviews between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM. (I always scheduled interviews for either before or after work. I never took a day off and pretended that I had to go to the doctor, because that didn’t sit right with me.) And I wanted to be able to give my current company two weeks notice, so I didn’t want a new company wondering why I couldn’t start there immediately.

      When I was there for four months, I found a new job and gave two weeks notice. To my surprise, my current company wanted me to finish out those two weeks. I figured that they would be happy to see me leave (since the reason that I looked for a new job was that my current company treated me very badly and constantly criticized me for things beyond my control, such as my inability to be in two places at the same time – when those two places were on different floors of the building), but, since they wanted me to stay those two weeks, I did.

    5. Natalie*

      I started a job once and realized it was a bad enough fit that I never stopped looking. How to approach really, really depends on the conventions of your field.

      I left it off for the first month or two – I had been laid off of my previous job, so I had an easy, cover letter friendly explanation for having left that position with nothing lined up. But after a few months it was better for me to include it – demand for accountants is high enough that being unemployed for months starts to “look bad”, and accomplishments on resumes aren’t as important as they might be in other industries.

      I had my best luck getting interviews through third party recruiters, because I could more explicitly describe the issue to them, and let them present me to potential employers with an explanation. But I got my next job through a direct application, so go figure.

    6. New Mom*

      It’s okay to leave it and explain, as long as your other jobs don’t indicate that you regularly leave within a few months. We recently hired someone for a high-level position and she has been at her current job about six months, but was at her previous company for eight years, and at another for five years. I think her current job just did not turn out to be what she was looking for, and she actually addressed it in one of the interviews and it did not negatively impact her chances of working with us. I’m excited for her to start!

    7. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I left a job after 6 months, so started job searching about 4-5 months in. For me, it was pretty easy – I truly hated the industry! The job was fine, but I had and have serious problems with how that industry works, and really the fact that it even exists in its current form. Since I wasn’t interviewing within that industry, that was just my reason. That, and since I had the luxury of being able to do something about it, I was.

    8. LadyByTheLake*

      I once started a job with a company that I immediately hated — updated my resume by the end of the first week and by six months later I was interviewing. It helped that those six months were in different years so I could say I had the job “2020-Present” and no one batted an eyelash. I was also able to say that the company was not as financially stable as I had hoped (that was the subject of news reporting) so I didn’t have to explain that the real reason I was leaving is that it was horrible.

  6. PeachCube*

    I completed an interview exercise after my 1st interview. How long does it typically take to hear back on next steps? It’s my first time completing a written exercise during the hiring process.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      There’s really no “typical”– like any interview process, that depends on the company, the position, the hiring manager, etc.

      What you can do in the future is ask about timelines when you get the assignment, and you can say something like, “I look forward to the next steps” when you submit your exercise, but if you’ve already done that, you really just have to wait. If you don’t hear anything in two weeks or so, follow up and ask about updates.

    2. ThatGirl*

      It really depends. If they’ve been overall quick to respond I would expect more of the same, but it’s also a holiday weekend in the US so that’s a factor too. I’ve had companies be super-quick and pretty slow and ended up with offers in both scenarios.

    3. Catherine*

      There’s no hard and fast rule, but I think two weeks max makes sense. There’s a lot of spring breaks going on right now (if you’re in the US) so my office has a lot of parents taking the week off and others taking off for the holidays (Easter/Passover/etc) so you might see a delay due to that. But a written task is one of those things that a busy hiring manager might keep adding to tomorrow’s to do list day after day, in my experience.

  7. Please Do Tell*

    How do government jobs pay compared to private sector? I deal with high stress and demands at my job because I thought I was making more in private sector(our benefits also aren’t great) at a big consulting firm. I recently found out several people I know who are working for the government and getting great benefits are making the same amount of $$ as me without specialized skills or degrees. Of course the jobs are different but I’ve heard so much that people work for the government because of job security and benefits and deal with lower pay and now I’m wondering if I’m just underpaid or if gov’t pays more than I thought?

    1. Book Pony*

      Depends on where you live. Assuming the US, then it depends on state or federal, and even what state you’re in.

      I work for the state, and the pay is fairly decent for my state, but I had to change agencies to go up in pay. It also depends on the kinda work you’re doing.

      The job security in government is no joke, though. A lot of agencies are essentially recession-proof, since we’re essential.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        My very first job was with my local government. I only made minimum wage, but unlike many of my classmates, I never dealt with child labor law violations, I got paid holidays, & I had a consistent schedule.

      2. Esmeralda*

        Depends on the state of course. I’m a state employee, working at a university in the state system. I serve at the pleasure of the provost, as it’s said — I could be fired this afternoon for no reason. Not likely, of course, but always possible.

        Some state employees are non-exempt and they are harder to fire, but it’s not impossible. They can be furloughed and they can be rif’d (reduction in force, when the position is eliminated or suspended), but then they have rights for first consideration for other state non-exempt jobs. (They don’t have to be hired, but they do have to be considered)

        My sibling is a federal employee. That’s the way to go if you want job security. However, they’ve been furloughed during very long govt shut downs (the agency actually budgets for shut downs so a shut down that lasts up to a month or so is not a problem). Also, even in essential agencies, some employees may not be “essential”.

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      It really depends on what you’re doing & what level of government you’re at. In general, government benefits in the US are often better than in private industry. I work for a government agency, & have better pay & benefits than I did in the private sector. But I worked for a company with notoriously low pay unless you were in the C suite.

    3. BRR*

      You can look up government employee salaries so you can always compare your salary to people doing similar functions. And benefits are usually public.

    4. Fed Too*

      It depends a lot on the agency, region, and the specific job. For my area I find that entry level is about the same as private sector when factoring in benefits, mid career can be slightly under pay but the benefits and security helps level, and for senior positions although the pay is good it’s typically lower than the private sector. However, the biggest thing I’ve noticed at mid level and senior levels is that the hours are much better. It’s still stressful and there can be longer days, but in general when not in a crisis most aren’t working weekends and are home at 7 pm.
      Retirement in federal government, although not as good as it once was, are still way better than the private sector.

      1. Quinalla*

        Yes, the hours for government jobs tend to be right at 40, maybe 45, a week unlike private sector where who knows. Pay is usually a bit less, but I’ve seen a trend in my industry anyway that state and local posts salaries have been going up as a bunch of people are retiring and they are trying to attract good replacements.

      2. Joielle*

        Yep, this has been my experience too. I’m about 8 years into my career and I could probably make a bit more in the private sector, but to me, the excellent work-life balance is well worth the slightly lower pay. And health insurance and retirement benefits are great.

    5. Bunski*

      I work in local government, and our salaries are all publicly available. It would take a little digging, but if you can find the job title you should be able to find the pay grade as well.

      1. Ursula*

        Yep, all government pay (and descriptions of the benefits in most cases) should be publicly available information. It really does vary, my city pays at or above market, while the state is waaaaaay below market.

    6. Brownie*

      Entirely depends on the rules regarding pay at the specific level of government. For example, state gov jobs here have a rule that says pay must be no lower than 75% of market rate of the same job in the private sector. Other states don’t have this rule so the pay difference could be all over the place depending on where you’re looking. I’m in a fed-adjacent job now that has to follow certain federal guidelines and I’ve actually gotten a surprise “Whoops, we reviewed your skills and pay and need to bring you up to private market rate” raise in the past. At the lower levels of government it’s probably likely that the pay difference between private and public sector will increase from what I’ve seen, usually because lower gov levels tend to be more budget restricted. Also, see the whole salaried vs hourly debate from earlier this year on AAM because IME salaried gov jobs tend to very much tip towards the point where, using the actual numbers of hours worked, the pay is less per hour than the same hourly private sector job.

    7. mcfizzle*

      I am in a niche industry and have been employed in both the private and public (gov’t) sectors of the same industry. I was massively underpaid and overworked in the private side. Horrible, horrible benefits. Note: that private sector company could be a poster child for massive and varied dysfunctions; I’m guessing the low pay is fairly unusual as compared to most private sector jobs.
      At least for me, I am paid better, have way, WAY more benefits (vacation, sick, and discretionary days accur, health insurance, etc) and work significantly less hours.
      I’ve been employed in the gov’t sector for nearly 13 years, and love it.

    8. Momma Bear*

      It depends on the job and it depends on the agency. They don’t all have the same pay scale. It’s not uncommon for people to start at a pay cut to get into the system, knowing that they can expect regular step increases. You might, however, get stuck at GS 15 step 10 for years, unless you want to get into Senior Executive Service. Upside is you can change agencies and not lose seniority, but downside is once you get up to that level, you may find it harder to move. People sometimes decide to take early retirement from their fed role and then become a Beltway Bandit with a contractor. Benefits are usually pretty good re: healthcare, time off, and transit subsidy.

    9. Spearmint*

      This varies a lot, but I think it’s fairly typical to have a salary that is about 10%-15% lower than in the private sector for equivalent work, but the benefits are good often make up for it.

      “I recently found out several people I know who are working for the government and getting great benefits are making the same amount of $$ as me without specialized skills or degrees.”

      This surprises me, as I thought consulting was very high paying. How long did it take these people you know to reach their current positions? One reality about government is that advancement can be slower as they have pretty rigid rules about the amount of experience required for each position. Once you have 10+ years of experience, the pay can be good, but it takes awhile to get there.

    10. AnonymousKoala*

      I was job hunting recently, and the offers I got from industry were between 0-30% higher than my fed gov salary not including benefits and stock options. But fed gov benefits are amazing – easily worth the reduced salary IMHO. Check out for an idea of what’s available. One thing to note is that in my experience, fed gov hires a lot of people below what you’d expect given their education/experience which might account for salary differential. For example, the entry level position in my org is held by people fresh out of bachelors, PhDs, former VPs with 20+ years experience, etc. The more experienced/qualified people move up quickly but they all start at the same level regardless of experience.

    11. Hillary*

      It depends a lot on the role. For my title the state pays about the same as small/midsize companies, but I make 50% more at a large one. For software roles private sector can be 2x+ more.

      The benefits are ok. My friend at about the same job level in state government has less expensive health insurance but covering her husband is more expensive than it would be for me. My vision, dental, and disability insurance are better, and in general I have more retirement matching/options. The pension theoretically has more security, but it’s the same % of salary my employer matches in my 401k.

    12. I'm just here for the cats*

      I think it depends on what your job is and the state. I work at a state university and although I get paid less here (by about $1) than what I did at my last job I do have better benefits and the insurance is way less than what I paid before so it actually equals to being paid more than my previous job.

      It’s also nice that we get holidays off with pay and I get a lot of PTO and sick leave.

      One thing I was worried about was within the first year I started my State shut down because congress couldn’t agree on a budget. Luckily it didn’t affect anyone on campus because much of the budget is from the previous years income or from student fees. But I know of other state workers who were furloughed or laid off during the shutdown.
      I can’t speak about job security much, I have only been here for a little less than 2 years, Much of which was in the pandemic. But there are people who have been here 10+ years.
      If there’s someplace specific that your looking at I would suggest talking with those that you know about what its like. Good luck

    13. Tess*

      In general, I have found that typically, government jobs require more specialized skill (at least a Bachelor’s degree) than those in the private sector.

      Also, while government jobs typically pay less than their private-sector counterparts, it’s often a trade-off for the job security government jobs tend to confer.

      I am a state employee at a university, and, while I earn less than I could in the private sector, I know I have more job security and much better benefits than a lot of people around me. I guess it’s personal choice, but I’d rather have a steady income, even if lower, and budget around that, than work in the private sector, which is just too risky – to me.

      Hope that’s helpful insight for you.

    14. Tabby Baltimore*

      Not sure how much this will help you since it’s focusing on the federal level, but this link ( will take you to the 2021 federal government’s general pay scale. The pay table you’ll see when you click on the link lists all the regional pay areas recognized by the federal government. If you want to see (for example) what the actual pay is for a just-starting-out GS-10 in the Washington-Baltimore region is, you’ll scroll down to the listing for WASHINGTON-BALTIMORE-ARLINGTON, DC-MD-VA-WV-PA and then click on the .pdf icon in the 1st column (under Annual Rate). This will open up a salary table. The pay grades are listed down the LH side, and the steps within each grade (each grade has 10 steps) are listed across the top.

  8. anon manager*

    Is anyone else really hitting a wall right now? I’m a manager and I feel like I did a good job of supporting my team and showing up and pushing through everything during the worst of the pandemic, but these days I feel like I’m barely functioning. I’m exhausted all the time, I keep forgetting things and accidentally letting things slip through the cracks, I feel like I’m not doing a good job at all. I also find myself feeling a lot of resentment and distrust towards my workplace these days that I have trouble pinning down. I think it’s because my company did very little to support people managers during the crisis, and is now acting like things are just fine and back to normal. I’m not fine or back to normal, not anywhere close.

    1. Catherine*

      Same here. My company gave us an extra day or two off last June and since then, our “support” has been inspirational videos from the CEO and bearing with an increased workload. Give yourself some grace. My direct report is miserable. I’m miserable. I try to do what’s in my power to give her extra time off and reduce her workload, but no one is doing it for me and that’s not my fault. Once I’m able to, I’m planning on changing jobs to a company that is able to show they took real action to support their people during this time. Not just warm and fuzzy emails, but REAL support.

      1. Tess*

        “…since then, our ‘support’ has been inspirational videos from the CEO…”

        I’m so sorry. Just – ick. Talk about phoning it in…

    2. Renee Remains the Same*

      Oh, I am here for you. I can’t blame my company, I think it’s just because I’m middle management. Not only do I have to worry about the well-being of my direct reports, but I also have to worry about the well-being of my boss, and my well-being…. well, it’s not well. I suffered some losses last year that were difficult. I took some time to recover from them, but to be honest, not enough. I could have used a month (more, actually), I took 2 weeks. I was doing ok until the start of 2021. Now I’m just constantly irritable and annoyed with every human walking the earth. I think it’s because I feel a burden of responsibility for everyone but myself. And myself is feeling neglected.

      1. TortalHareBrain*

        I so feel you with your last three sentences. No solution but at least reassurance you aren’t alone in feeling this.

      2. LogicalOne*

        Like you, not only do I have to worry about the well-being of my boss but the well-being of my team, including the well-being of myself. It’s no wonder I have been exhausted for some time. Weekends are essential to me nowadays. But it sounds like you put people first before yourself, which also is like me. Are you empathic? It’s essential you take care of yourself. Self-care is essential especially since you’re supporting other staff.

    3. Allura Vysoren*

      Yes. Last fall, I was so on top of things that I ran my entire team when my coworker was fired and my boss took personal leave. Now, I’m a mess. I lose track of what I’m doing while I’m doing it, I’m being asked to learn a whole new set of processes and I can’t retain the information, and I resent my company very deeply because they love to say “We value our people” but their actions say otherwise. I’m so burnt out that it would probably take me a solid six months to recover.

    4. Malarkey01*

      YES. For me personally the last month has been the hardest month since this started. I’m just out of energy to keep things up, I’ve lost the adrenaline that was keeping me going, and it’s this weird place where half the people act like we’re back to normal, and the other half are still under a pandemic.

      I think most of us are going to need some collective recovery time. It’s almost like last March/April when we were all adjusting and sort of a mess, we got into a rhythm and now are disrupting that again too.

      1. ampersand*

        Exactly. I’ve held it together for over a year, and I feel like I just can’t anymore. I’m exhausted.

    5. Crowley*

      Did you read Alison’s post yesterday about why people aren’t feeling optimistic? If not, go back and read it. It might help. It’s not just you <3

      1. Quiet Liberal*

        Yes! Her reply was spot on! My company has been great through all of this, but we are swamped with so much work that it’s really wearing me out. My “give a shit” is gone by Friday (which is why I am on AAM instead of my work computer). It has been such a hard, scary year. Stuff I used to be able to count on all my life, has been pretty shaky this last year or so.

    6. Slow Gin Lizz*

      YES, 100%. It doesn’t help that I’m moving to a new job and have a week left to impart my vast institutional knowledge to my coworkers before I leave and I have ZERO motivation or interest in doing so apart from not wanting to leave my coworkers in the lurch or burn this bridge (I do like them, except for the one I wrote about below). I’m sorry your company didn’t really support you this past year, that makes it even harder to get motivated. Actually, if they really didn’t support you that probably is the main reason you’re not motivated. I’d be in the same boat if I were you.

    7. StressedButOkay*

      Oh yes! Luckily, my company has been stellar but right now, I am just suffering massive burnout. We’re actually in our quiet season and that makes it worse for me – I don’t have much motivation to do the small things that need to get done, and it just adds to my exhaustion as the days just drag.

      But it’s also a combination of EVERYTHING. We’ve been at this for a full year and we only have so much to give. Be kind to yourself.

    8. another anon manager*

      YES!! My company has actually contracted for part of the covid response in my city, which meant we all worked A LOT through the surges with the attitude of “the pandemic is affecting everyone but our employees who should be immune to the mental effects of it”. They recently announced they’re thinking of making our work weeks permanently longer because “we have been getting so much done!” I recently had to work on one of my days off because my boss needed something done for one of his pet projects (unrelated to covid).

      I am definitely hitting a wall.

    9. TaterTot*

      Same. I was hired back last year as part of a skeleton crew since I was a manager and then they just….never hired anyone else back in my department and the work is overwhelming. It’s too much for one person to do and I’m just over it. I can’t focus, I’m exhaused, I’m burnt out, and our busy season (summer) is looming on the horizon and I don’t know how they think I’m going to handle three times as much work as I have now. I’ve told my bosses I need help but they just aren’t doing anything about it ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    10. Kathenus*

      You’re not alone! I was talking with a colleague the other day who mentioned they had ‘dropped a ball’ on a project. I realized when she used that phrase that I feel sometimes like I’m just in a room with bouncing balls all around me, all dropped, and I’m not even sure which ones are mine.

    11. EgyptMarge*

      You’re definitely not alone. And I also feel like I don’t deserve to feel this burned out now, because things are starting to look hopeful with vaccines and new case rates falling in many places, so it seems like I should be more upbeat. But this is probably as bad as I’ve felt during this entire thing. The only advice that I keep trying to give myself is to make sure the big things are covered and let it be okay if you don’t hold yourself to the same standards that you usually do. Take care of your own mental health as best you can and allow yourself to let the less important things slide or take a backseat for awhile.

      1. kt*

        But this is such a human thing, right? As humans, we are just built to hold it together through the crisis (if we can) and then collapse when it feels “safer” to do so. We finally have the chance to take in the impact of change and loss, rather than just keeping it together and reacting. Your last few sentences are right on.

    12. Middle Manager for the City*

      Thank you! I am feeling just the same this past week or so (I’m in middle management), and was trying to pinpoint the reason for my apathy/lack of focus.

    13. A Brew Yet*

      I read this article that totally resonated with me about this topic.
      Unfortunately I can’t insert the link here for some reason but if you google “Can you talk about why everyone is quitting?” it comes right up.
      Worth a read.

      1. anon manager*

        Thank you, that was really helpful to read.

        I just feel so tired and angry all of the time at work–I’ve cried at least once a week since January. I don’t think upper management understands that just acknowledging the pandemic and telling people to take care of themselves was not enough. They should have taken proactive efforts to support middle managers when it became clear we were in for a long haul. Instead, they put all the burden of supporting employees on us, consistently told employees to go to their managers for help, but gave us no real tools to actually support anyone. I lost several family members last year, while also supporting employees who lost multiple people, and my manager seems to think that the sun is shining and everything should just be positive now.

        Perhaps unsurprisingly, I daydream about quitting all the time and am actively searching for a new job.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          Oh, best of luck in your job search! I hope you find a place that understands and supports you better. <3

    14. Josephine Beth NotAmy*

      Yes! I spent a lot of energy supporting my team, and I feel I did a good job with that over the past year. But now we are talking about returning to in person (home visiting), I keep getting brought into big important projects with no time to actually work on them, and Im just wiped out. I haven’t had consecutive days off since August and I desperately need some kind of break. My boss gives lip service to pandemic safety but she’s clearly over it and just wants to get back to normal, and I feel like I’m just barely hanging on. No advice, but Internet hugs if they help.

    15. Tess*

      I wonder if the way companies handle COVID is the newest measure of evaluating whether a company is a good one to work for.

      I know I’d consider it very strongly. Just says so much about whether employees are regarded with respect and basic decency.

    16. Coenobita*

      Yes, totally! My workplace has actually been really great over the past year but here I am, asking my therapist if there is such thing as “pandemic-onset ADHD.” I am gradually feeling a bit better/more on top of things compared to a couple weeks ago (probably more because of the increasing daylight than anything else) but I am not close to 100%. You are absolutely not alone!!

    17. Quinalla*

      I was struggling quite a bit, my workload was just too high and I was helping too many people. I backed off on helping and asked for more help and I managed to take 2 days off this week and it is better, but I’m with you still feeling just mentally exhausted and really tired of dealing with all of this. And I am so close to being able to visit with family, we’re waiting until all adults are vaccinated, even though that is likely overly cautious, but I’m still worried just in general and about my kids specifically and trying to figure out how to keep weighing risks there where so many parents are and have been sending their kids to all sorts of sports and other activities during almost the entire pandemic. I’m definitely feeling like I need a real break from it all, even when I take PTO, I still have to deal with all the anxiety, stress, etc. of everything else and I really do love my house, but I need a break from it!

    18. Hmm*

      Yep. I started this job March 2020 and was so gung-ho about being a great team mate and learning so much and being a diligent work from home person. Absolutely burned out. I’ve never felt this mentally bad before. I just can’t bring myself to care about my job. I fantasize about quitting, but working any job makes me feel exhausted, let alone my own job. I was diagnosed with depression last month. I don’t know how people on my team are so on top of it, I just know I’m struggling, so I appreciate you posting.

    19. Zeldalaw*

      I feel this so much – I’ve been having this problem for the last couple of months. My company has been really pretty good about how they’re handling things, but like others have said, much of the “support” was focused on staff and managers were expected to be above any need for help and to provide that support. I just…can’t anymore. I also have several things sitting in my email that I really need to deal with and it all seems overwhelming. Even acknowledging it’s an issue and trying to figure out what to do to deal with it seems like it’s too much. It is helpful to know it’s not just me.

    20. LogicalOne*

      You’re not alone. I myself currently for the most part feel the same way you do. Pandemic brain is real and I too have let things slip through the cracks. I like to mentally take myself to how I was performing and behaving pre-pandemic and such and that has helped me as well. I know you mentioned that your company did little to support the people managers but is there anyone you can talk to like friends or family? It helps to get outside perspectives. What else aside from this lack of support could be contributing to your distrust in the company?

    21. allathian*

      You can only be in emergency mode for so long before you get burned out. It sounds like you’re on the brink of burnout at the very least, if you feel like you’re barely functioning, are exhausted all the time and keep forgetting things. I’m not in management but it sounds familiar. After one big project that had me working 50+ hour weeks for a couple months when my standard workweek is 36 hours 15 minutes (7 hours 15 minutes per day), I just broke down crying at my desk with relief when the project was finally done. My employer tracks hours worked to ensure that we don’t get exhausted or slack off completely, but we don’t get paid OT except in very exceptional circumstances. I racked up enough hours in our working hours bank to take 2 weeks off just on comp hours. We have long vacations anyway, but I really, really needed the rest. Thankfully I had an understanding boss who halfway through the project said that “when it’s done, you’re taking time off no matter what”. Frankly, just knowing that I’d be able to rest afterwards was what made it possible for me to work those hours in the first place.

      The thing about the pandemic is that there’s really no end in sight.

  9. Awkwardly Resigning*

    Exciting news! My old job finally was able to reach back out and re-hire me after having to lay me off last March (yay!) Since then, I have taken another job in a slight adjacent field. I’m not happy at this job, but I’m trying to leave here as gracefully as possible. Anyone have any advice for quitting your job when you have a boss who kind of views the team as family in a way? Also, I have never met her in person since we’ve all been working remotely, which is making things all feel a little more awkward for some reason.

    1. 1234*

      It’s not awkward. You can simply thank this person for the opportunity to work there, you’ve learned a lot, and will miss working at (company). You’ve decided to take a different role and your last day at current company will be (date).

    2. I edit everything*

      I think just do it normally, via phone or video call (whatever’s the norm for your workplace): “Hey, [Boss]. My former company just contacted me and offered me my old job back. I loved working there, so I’ve accepted. My last day here will be [date.]”

      Be very matter-of-fact, make it clear that it’s because of old job that you’re leaving, not because you’re not happy at new job. “Thanks for welcoming me onto the team. It’s been a valuable experience.” And if Boss reacts dramatically, “OK, I’m just going to get back to work now. Let me know if there’s anything specific you need me to do before I go.”

    3. Momma Bear*

      I had to do this. Just meet with the boss (at least by phone if not video) and be upfront. You got an offer to return to a position with your old company and are accepting it. Your last day will be x. How does she want to handle the trade off? I had the opportunity to work for an old boss once. People understand this even if they are not always happy about it.

  10. Book Pony*

    Mini Update: Nothing’s changed wrt the misgendering, but now we’ve formed an Antiracism Book Club and I’m leading a discussion after we attend an antiracism webinar. Also learned upper mgt was gonna explain to me why they hired another white person lol (I’m Black)

    Actual Question:

    My boss Blue Diamond says I can’t use the bathroom longer than 15min or I gotta make up the time. Not to get into detail, but it takes me way longer than that. I’m nonexempt, or whatever the one is where our hours are flexible.

    This is the first government agency where they cared, so what are my options? Thanks to the pandemic and other reasons I can’t get a doctor’s note. Thanks if you read this far.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      If you’re non-exempt and you’re taking longer than allotted breaks, that will raise flags whether you’re in the bathroom or just walking around the building. If you’re away from your desk for 30 minutes or more outside of breaks, then I would think you would have to make up that time (assuming you are required to put in a specific number of hours a day).

      I don’t know too much about the ADA, but if you’re asking for a medical accommodation, I believe it has to be documented. You can ask HR about that (you don’t have to specify your condition, just that you want to understand the documentation process).

      1. Weekend Please*

        Unfortunately, I’m not sure that you do have any options. They aren’t telling you that you can’t use the bathroom for the amount of time you need. They are simply saying that you need to use the flexible hours they offer to make it up. I think even with a doctors note they would probably be ok asking that (although it doesn’t hurt to check with someone more familiar with ADA requirements).

        If you are exempt and they aren’t tracking anyone else’s hours you may have a better chance of fighting it. So if they treat your bathroom break differently than your coworkers coffee break you can point that out and focus on your work output to back up the idea that you shouldn’t be held to a different standard. If your work output is actually being impacted though you may still have to make up the time.

        1. Book Pony*

          Honestly, the only reason they know I’m gone that long is because my boss wants me to use their time tracking that’s only required for teleworking employees.

          Blue Diamond says it gives her a better idea of what I’m working on, which is how we had a very awkward conversation about bathroom habits.

          1. Momma Bear*

            Is Blue Diamond micromanaging you in general, then? Do you think she’s building a case to put you on a PIP or let you go?

      2. Reba*

        I think Book Pony means they are exempt (flexible hours)? But since it’s government, it’s weirdly both flexible and not; hours have to be accounted for.

        Anyway, BP I wonder if you spoke to your boss about it as a private medical issue — do you think they would be receptive? (I’m sorry I don’t recall what you may have already tried.) I’m linking the the EEOC guidance for reasonable accommodations. The employer does not have to have medical documentation, however they *can* ask and probably your workplace has a formalized process for it and will ask. But you should not have to have a doctor’s note just to begin the conversation.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Good point. My partner’s first agency was very “butts in seats” and he would have had to make up hours or take leave. His current agency is more flexible.

          1. Reba*

            Yeah, similarly, I work in a government-adjacent organization and the flexibility really varies by department and by manager!

        2. Book Pony*

          I told Blue Diamond why I was gone so long since I have to use the time tracker that’s supposed to be only required for teleworking employees.

          Blue expressed sympathy, but later on told me HR said I had to make up the time. When I pressed Blue for specifics, Blue said anything over 15 minutes.

      3. Book Pony*

        We’re supposed to work the usual 40 hours a week, but again, for the government sector I’m in, no one usually cares if you’re in the bathroom for an hour as long as work is getting done.

        This agency is very different from the others I’ve worked at, so I was wondering whether they’re out of touch or not.

        1. Fed Too*

          I’ve worked for two different agencies, and it would be a thing at both if you were routinely away from your desk/work for an hour. No one would think twice of occasionally being under the weather and needing a little more time, but if it’s a regular thing you would need to make the time up (and really that’s 12% of your day).

          1. Book Pony*

            Fair enough.

            Thinking on it, this is probably the strictest agency I’ve been at, so it’s probably just them.

          2. Lucette Kensack*

            Yep. An hour is way too long. Obviously, if that’s what your body needs you do what you need to do, but it’s very reasonable for an employer to expect you to actually work your full workday.

  11. Crushed*

    My boss told me few weeks ago I had been given a promotion – a raise and a new title better than I would have ever believed would happen. It’s been a rough ride for me in this organization and I generally feel quite unappreciated and undervalued, so this was huge for me. I was ecstatic.

    He said the paperwork was still being processed, but insisted it was a done deal, all approvals were complete, and my new pay and title would be effective when I returned from vacation. I asked him to confirm this in writing and he did.

    Fast forward to Monday. I return, pumped about starting in my new role. Midway through our morning check-in, he casually drops that oh, BTW HR had an issue with your promotion so it’s not happening like it’s NBD. I’m still getting a small increase in pay – although less than he had told me, and it’s only temporary. But no new title, which was much more important to me.

    I feel humiliated! I celebrated with friends and family. I told colleagues at my workplace. I introduced myself with my new title at a professional event where I was speaking. I bought new clothes for when we return to the office.

    My boss is not remotely apologetic. I have been fuming all week. This seems like such a needlessly cruel thing to do. Why would you tell someone they had been promoted when they hadn’t?

    I am devastated and want to quit. Am I overreacting?

    1. AndersonDarling*

      Is the promotion never happening, or is it delayed until later? I know a lot of orgs are pausing all promotions with the expectation that they will be processed once things return to normal.
      I’d point blank ask what happened and if there will never be an opportunity for promotion.

      1. Crushed*

        HR has a problem with the title he requested. They are going to hire a consultant to study what titles people use for similar jobs in comparable organizations and make a recommendation. So in theory something may still happen someday, but at the pace our HR department moves I wouldn’t expect their “investigation” to be complete in 2021. :(

        1. irene adler*

          So there’s money enough to hire a consultant but your raise was shorted?

          That story sounds fishy. It’s HR’s job to know about titles, job descriptions, etc. They may have to research these things at times, but a consultant? Just for your situation? C’mon!

          Please, get the straight story from HR. Bring any/all documentation regarding the promotion + raise with you to show them.

        2. pancakes*

          Did either or both of you know this about HR when you asked him to put the promotion in writing? It seems like HR approval should’ve been a question then, not just now.

          1. Crushed*

            That’s part of what’s so upsetting! I suspected that the title would be a problem. The sticking point is that it includes the word “manager” even though I don’t have direct reports. That sort of thing is a big deal in my organization, and I asked him about it probably a dozen times.

            “Are you sure this is OK? Are you *really* sure? This really seems like it would be an issue. Are you sure?”

            “Yes. Yes. Absolutely. There’s no problem. Everyone has OKed it, all the approvals are complete. It’s not an issue. Yes. Yes. Yes. It’s fine.”

            In retrospect, I should have know better than to believe him. But he was absolutely emphatic and I gave him many opportunities to walk it back.

            1. pancakes*

              Ugh. The man is a craven liar. I don’t quite understand the approach of giving him many opportunities to walk it back rather than checking in with HR yourself sooner, though. If something seems too good to be true it generally is.

        3. kt*

          That is f(*&ed up. Sorry. I’d be mad too. I wouldn’t blame you at all if you left. Totally fair.

    2. Construction Safety*

      That’s a real WTFer??

      Well, for starters, I’d go to HR & ask what happened.

      1. Katrinka*

        Show them the note or email from your boss. If he made a promise without their authorization (and it sounds like he did), they’re going to want to know. At the very least, he should be called on the carpet by his boss or HR.

        And for next time, getting something in writing should mean from HR or (if there’s no HR) whoever makes the final decisions on these things. Getting something from your boss means next to nothing if he doesn’t have the power to enforce it.

        1. pancakes*

          He should be replaced by someone who doesn’t pretend to have authority they don’t in fact have.

    3. Two Dog Night*

      Your raise is temporary?????? WTF. Your boss is horrible, and if I were you I’d be looking for something else.

    4. Should I apply*

      I totally get your devastation, and I would be too if that happened to me. If your boss had been very apologetic it might have gone a little better, but to act like its no big deal to not getting a raise and promotion that you were promised shows he really doesn’t get it. I wouldn’t rage quit right that minute, unless there is more going on, but I would start looking for a new job ASAP.

    5. I'm that guy*

      You are not overreacting. I would start looking for a new job. I would also go to HR to find out what really happened.

    6. 1234*

      I would go directly to HR and ask what the issue is with the promotion.

      Also, your boss is a jackass. I understand if maybe they announced a salary freeze or something changed where they can no longer promote you but the way he relayed “taking back” the promotion was rude.

    7. BRR*

      Did he give any more details than that? If he didn’t you should definitely ask. And no, you’re not overreacting.

    8. Diahann Carroll*

      I don’t think you’re overreacting – your boss shouldn’t have said anything to you until everything was finalized and he received written confirmation from HR that your promotion had been approved. A week ago, I asked my manager if we’re doing salary reviews this year since we didn’t last year due to the pandemic (all raises and promotions were put on hold until the fourth quarter), and he said he submitted reviews and salary increase recommendations to HR and executive management, but nothing has been approved yet and he’ll let me know when it has.

      That’s what your manager should have done (kept it vague in case HR or executive leadership said no for whatever reason). It may not have been an intentional slight on his part, but when he found out that he didn’t get approval for your promotion, he should have then pulled you aside and profusely apologized to you for speaking out of turn. I don’t know if this is grounds for you to leave altogether (you may like the company for other reasons overall), but I wouldn’t blame you for questioning your manager’s judgment from here on out and being upset awhile longer. This sucks.

    9. LCH*

      Yeah, show HR the promotion promise that you received and get more details on the issue they had with it. I’d want to know.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      Not really what you asked, but don’t wear other people’s humiliations FOR them. This is something that should be hugely embarrassing to your boss. He’s probably numb for the neck up?
      Tell people the truth. Your boss backpedaled after putting it all in email. He lied. He’s not trustworthy. This is such a huge violation of trust. Not much different than if an employee promises to show up and then doesn’t. It’s baseline trust.

      A good boss would have either said nothing OR said they were trying to get permission to promote you and they were waiting for an answer.

      I am so very sorry. Yeah, I’d be job hunting this one is a deal breaker in my opinion.

      1. LadyByTheLake*

        This — your boss ROYALLY f’ed up. The fact that he’s trying to pass it off as no biggie is him doing some CYA. I would go on but Not So NewReader said it so well.

      2. Your Local Password Resetter*

        Yeah, pass that emberassment right on to your boss. He created it, he can deal with the fallout.

    11. WellRed*

      Your boss should be able to over rule HR unless he wildly overstepped (did he?). If HR has a problem, HR could provide a quick solution. Lots of comments are saying to go to HR, but I feel like your boss needs to be included in whatever next steps you take. HR isn’t going to simply say, “our bad.” Not sure what a temporary raise is? Frankly, this sounds unsalvagble and if you have the means to quit, I would do so and be clear why.

    12. Middle Manager for the City*

      I went through something kind of similar (I work in city government), and I ended up going to the corporate (downtown) HR, who did do the position review & I eventually got the promotion and pay increase…but that took a year from when my sucky boss saddled me with a ton of extra responsibilities and I was expected to do the job of a manager but with my old title and pay grade. I’m sorry – it is a huge imposition! That boss what replaced (not for that reason specifically) I did end up interviewing and receiving another job offer, and presented that to the new boss. The only reason I stayed is that I was assured by new boss that the new title would receive a 30% increase in pay – which I did get…it was just a long painful process.

    13. vlookup*

      You’re not overreacting. This is an awful thing to do to someone, regardless of the internal politics with HR.

      I would start job searching. If you can mentally check out of this job a bit, that might help. Redirect some of the energy you’ve probably been pouring into this job to your job search and to taking care of yourself.

    14. I'm A Little Teapot*

      You generally feel unappreciated and unvalued, and now they do this. To me, that tells me they don’t appreciate you and they don’t value you. Don’t quit. But do start a job search.

    15. Your Local Password Resetter*

      Yanking a big promotion like that is a BFD.
      Your boss messed up badly, and the fact that he doesn’t recognize or acknowledge that makes it even worse.

    16. Engineer Woman*

      No, absolutely not overreacting! What you boss did was horrible and he should be apologising profusely, not “casually oh BTW” And he should be pushing hard to make this promotion happen, get in HR’s case to do whatever it is they need to do. And for your small pay increase to be temporary? WTH is that? I’m outraged on your behalf.

      1. linger*

        Within the story told to this worker, the raise is supposedly temporary until a new position title (and associated remuneration) is signed off by HR.
        Whether that story is believable is another matter.

  12. Aliens Androids and Wizards*

    I need advice from the readers. How do you adjust to switching industries and roles when it wasn’t by choice?

    COVID wrecked the industry I was in. To come back to work, I’ve switched to a new role, industry-adjacent (which is the closest I can hope for right now).

    As a person used to loving what I do, if not always loving where I do it, I seem to be thrown off now that I am in a place I love, but not loving the work.

    It’s very new from what I’ve done before and I think is highlighting why I haven’t been in this type of role before.

    I need advice from those that have made similar unplanned changes on how to get out of my own head and embrace work when it isn’t in my primary field that I am passionate about.

    1. I could have written something similar*

      What do you like about your current job? What skills can you use from your previous job in this new job?

      I understand where you are coming from. What helped me is using the transferable skills from Old Job and applying those learnings to Current Job. Also, remember that careers are not linear. When your old industry rebounds, what accomplishments can you list from Current Job on your resume that will help you land your next role?

      1. Aliens Androids and Wizards*

        Yes, good point about taking the skills back to my next role. That is where this came from, opportunity to do something new and get the new skills. I just haven’t adapted as quickly as I wanted.

    2. Cedrus Libani*

      I’ve been forcibly plan-shifted a couple of times. Once by graduating into the teeth of the 2008 recession, in which my Plan A basically ceased to exist, and then I had to accept that I didn’t quite have the talent and single-minded dedication for my Plan B. It sucked, and I grieved each loss. But I’m now happily working on Plan C.

      Most things are interesting if you’re interested. If you’re not interested…it’s worth taking a hard look as to why. Maybe this is a survival job, and you expect to go back when all this blows over. In that case, your “motivation” is to get a good reference and maybe learn something. Maybe you’ve prioritized industry-adjacent over doing what you’re actually good at, and you might be happier doing the reverse.

      1. Aliens Androids and Wizards*

        The industry adjacent role came from my prior experience, which was definitely a benefit, but I have looked at all opportunities, and definitely looked at similar roles.

        My background is highly specialized, and the industries where those skills would apply are as well. The problem is both industries can be hard to switch between because they tend to look inward for their senior talent.

        Think a teapot designer that could also be a coffee pot designer, but both industries want their own experience to believe that. I would definitely enjoy using my primary skills again.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I am not a big fan on passion. Just like in marriage, once the passion fades, then what do you do to stay with your person?

      I suggest commitment. It benefits you to show up, you can eat and pay your bills. And for that you can frame it as, “This company allows me to pay for food and pay my bills. I owe them that much at least.”

      Alternatively, you could tell yourself that you are going to do your best here so it will look good on your resume for your next job. Meanwhile you can check for other openings inside your own company, too.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Agree completely with this whole statement, especially the part about passion. Passion is extremely overrated IMO.

      2. allathian*

        I’m not a big fan of passion either. To me, passion wrt work is a red flag and I’d certainly never want to work for an organization that expected passion from its employees.

        Commitment, though, is quite another matter.

    4. Quinalla*

      I haven’t switched not by choice, but I sort of fell into my current industry knowing nothing about it prior, so wasn’t sure how I would like it, etc., but needing a job where I could use my technical skills. I found the parts of it that were most fulfilling for me and tried to grab every opportunity to do those parts more. Some parts of the job are boring/tedious, but I try to focus on why those things are important even if not enjoyable and that all jobs have things like that.

      So yeah, try to focus on the parts you do enjoy or are fulfilling and reframe as much as you can the parts that you don’t like as to why they are important. There are some things you just have to do because the boss said so, but most things there is a purpose behind them. I find it much easier to do tedious things when I know the purpose!

  13. KittenLittle*

    Happy Friday everyone! Reading the previous post, professional boundaries were mentioned. I work in academia, and this place is pretty nutty. Could y’all give some examples of appropriate professional boundaries, comrades? Thank you!

    1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      Hm I don’t answer calls after 5 or on the weekend, holidays or vacation days, but the clients have a number to call if they have an emergency

      1. Katrinka*

        Calls and emails. I often don’t answer on sick days either. It’s a non-working day, so I’m not going to work (unless it’s an emergency or I know it’s a quick one sentence reply).

        My previous boss (the bad one) wrote me up once for not returning her calls or emails when I was out sick with COVID. My union rep told her that wasn’t going to fly, but she sent it to HR any way. I’m assuming they talked to her, because it was never mentioned again.

    2. Catherine*

      I struggle with this too! Especially because at my organization, you are implicitly and explicitly rewarded for not having boundaries or breaking them when it serves others. Most of the boundary breaking that happens for me is having to work during PTO or after hours. I find it’s helpful for me to just share “I won’t be able to access my laptop then so I can set this aspect up and then prep you to execute day-of. Either that or we can change it to the following times when I’m online.” They usually are able to make it work on their own or wait until I’ll be online when I present them with the options. Not sure if that’s applicable, but I’d pick your boundary, communicate it (I do it pretty vaguely because if I don’t have to be online, why should I need to explain it?), and then present the person with options: you do this without me, it doesn’t get done, or you wait. Etc.

    3. Rayray*

      If it’s a weekend, holiday, or after hours and you’re not being paid for being on call, then you don’t work.

      I personally don’t install or log in to my work email from my personal devices.

      If there is the occasional emergency or super busy period, I’m fine to work a little extra to make up for it so long as I am compensated extra whether with OT pay or being able to leave early another day.

      This could all be different depending on how invested you are in your job. I’m just here to trade my labor for a paycheck and that’s it.

    4. GoldenFrenchFry*

      Grad student here. What worked for me was assigning a dollar amount to boundary breaking shenanigans.

      For example, (pre-pandemic) were were expected to attend teambuilding weekends in other cities, often with outdoor activities that require lots of expensive equipment, extensive meal planning, etc. And if you declined, there would be a lot of sad faces and rescheduling.

      I started creating draft invoices using the school’s reimbursement system for car rental/mile and gas reimbursement, food, cost of equipment I didn’t have and no space to store, etc. and present it like “I’ll go to this event, but I will need to be reimbursed $X according to [School’s] reimbursement rates”. I think it really put into perspective what we were being asked to do because it was usually several hundred dollars.

      Also, I refused to put workplace-related apps on my personal devices because the school didn’t pay for it and required a bunch of spyware to access it, so they issued me a tablet to use.

    5. AGD*

      Academia rewards overwork. A lot of people have no work-life balance to speak of, either because they are obsessed with the job or because they feel they can’t walk away and still manage it.

      Interpersonally, hierarchy is very much a thing in most places, and you have to be really careful about anything proceeding downwards, especially with students. Undergraduates and grad students alike sometimes try to befriend professors and staff – friendships and collaborations do come out of mentor-student pairs, but it’s fundamentally different from a friendship, so gently (or firmly) drawing boundaries is a good idea. And sometimes it goes the other way around: a young faculty member who hangs out with the grad students or gossips with them might be on thin ice. In general, my policy is ‘no touching students’ (unless you’re diving into the river to save them from drowning, or you have their explicit consent to give them a hug when they share amazing news). I also leave my office door open by default during any meeting with a student, and explicitly ask whether they’d like me to close it if they seem nervous or upset (and/or have mentioned something confidential/tricky/sensitive). Any potential for romance across a power imbalance is probably a really really bad idea, plus possibly prohibited at the institution, plus possibly illegal in the place depending on the specifics. The one case I know of a grad student and a faculty member who ran off together waited until the student had graduated, then found a new affililation where their relationship wasn’t going to be constantly striking everyone as scandalous.

    6. OtterB*

      I’m academia-adjacent (a nonprofit that works with higher ed). My boundaries are not as firm as many of the commenters who say they do nothing after 5 or on the weekends. I do, either because I’ve taken advantage of flexibility to take care of a family need during the normal workday, or because at some key project points I want to be responsive to people who are providing input to me who are either in different time zones or working weekends themselves. I try not to make it a habit. Also, my office is good about respecting boundaries when established, so I don’t have to put my foot down all the time to avoid starting down a slippery slope. It’s common for us to distinguish between “Traveling, checking email occasionally” and “I’m completely offline these days, checking email when I get back.”

    7. Cedrus Libani*

      I have a PhD and am currently in industry. The biggest difference is respect for personal bandwidth. Academia will tell you that you need to do all the things, otherwise you’re a lazy failure. Industry expects that you are a finite resource, something that can and must be prioritized, and also something that is not to be disturbed while on PTO unless it’s a genuine emergency. It’s lovely. Also, there’s much less identification between the project and the person. In academia, even legitimate criticism tends to be taken badly – it’s an attack on your life’s work, your identity, and even your value as a human being. In industry? Thank you for catching my mistake, you just saved me a lot of work. That’s it. Did I mention how glad I am to be out of academia?

    8. Tess*

      Watch out for the people pleasers! They know no boundaries whatsoever, and will be massively hurt if you don’t let them do for you, fix for you, rescue you. Besides, their pleasing isn’t about doing a kindness for you. It’s about getting the pat on the head they need to re-fuel their self-esteem, which they cannot do for themselves and so must do from external sources, i.e. you.

      It’s worth being forgiving of those people pleasers who are trying to get out from all that. But there are others who refuse to see otherwise, and it’s they who you want to watch out for; they want to hold you entirely responsible for how they feel about themselves.

      I’ve worked with two of them for the last eight years, and it’s maddening.

    9. No Tribble At All*

      In academia, because you’re always competing with everyone else (for grants, prestige, attention) it’s very difficult to feel like you can say no or push back on projects. You’re also beholden to the personality of your advisor. In industry, if your boss is a jerk, a lot of times you can switch jobs within the company, or go to their boss. Industry also tends to have more structured standards for success, eg performance review time.

  14. Procrastination thread*

    SO much I have to do.
    This is the place to put the stuff that needs to get done but hasn’t.
    Monthly Report for March.
    Performance self-evaluation.due monday
    Statistical report from the quarter- due yesterday.
    Will come back when completed.

    1. Ali G*

      Review strategic plan
      update conference agenda for the 69325th time
      all the emails
      finalize ppt for next week meeting
      i am sure i am forgetting something i am also putting off

    2. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      Everything that wasn’t “get done by end of Q1”, which is… so much.

  15. LD*

    If I want to write a technical blog and earn some cash from advertisements how would I go about doing this? I have used WordPress for work but have no idea how to buy a domain, somewhere to host the site or how to set it up (or how to get advertising put on it). Also I would want to start as low cost as possible in case I get no traffic and decide the project is not worth continuing.

    I’m not extremely computer savvy but savvy enough to follow simple instructions.

    1. notacompetition*

      you really need to have at least 20-50K pageviews/month in order to make revenue from this. I just did an analysis for a client about this exact thing. You need to set up the blog and work on it earnestly and build a following before you can make money from ads. I would start with a free WordPress site and upgrade to the business plan once you have the numbers you need for advertising.

      1. LD*

        20-50K/month to make any revenue or to make a specific projected revenue?
        How does one start a free WordPress site?
        Can the free sites be connected to a custom domain? If not how much difficulty is involved in transitioning it?
        Is the business plan from WordPress or someone else and the software installed on it?

        How does one get advertising put on a site?

        1. I edit everything*

          All these questions should be answered if you do your due diligence. Go to and look at their service levels and what’s included with each one, what you need to do to use a custom domain, etc. It sounds like you have a lot of research ahead of you.

          It really does take a ton of work and promotion to get much in the way of page views. You have to be out there all the time providing the type of content people value and driving traffic to your site. It’s a full-time job in and of itself, so if you’re thinking of it as something that you can do as a side gig, you might need to rethink.

          1. LD*

            At this point its more of an idea than a plan.
            Also I’m not expecting to make a living off it, more of getting it written for reference when I do write.

    2. Pond*

      I recently set up a website including buying the domain and hosting through the same site, and that worked well. It was mostly straightforward. Easier and less complicated than I thought it was going to be, but did take some time to go through the steps and make sure I didn’t accidentally mess something up, since I hadn’t done anything like it before.
      I’ll reply to this comment with a link to the guide I followed, and using the promotional link from there have a major discount on the web hosting. (I have no affiliation with the website, have just found they have some useful info.)

      1. Pond*

        The set up guide I used is:
        The domain and hosting I used is HostGator. I got a big discount from using the affiliation link listed in the article.
        I know there are a bunch other domain and hosting companies out there but I haven’t tried them.
        It seems that finding an unclaimed domain name is the hardest part.
        Good luck!

        1. LD*

          Thanks so much for this. I will give it a read.
          I would start with free and move to paid but I don’t want to break any links as i would expect it to be reference material.
          A domain name is not hard but I am cost conscious long term.

    3. I'm just here for the cats*

      There are a lot of resources out there that can help you with that. As someone else mentioned there is an option for the free WordPress. From what I remember from my research for school is that you would get a domain that has WordPress in it. so or something like that.

      I would just do a google search for how to start a blog. I do remember from my own research that if you do a free WordPress and decide to go the paid route it will transfer everything over.

      1. LD*

        As I mentioned above I am not wanting a link becasue its expected to be reference material so if bookmarked the link would get busted.
        Though IIRC Alison had started simply then migrated later?

    4. lemon*

      Agree with others that it sounds like you still have a lot of research to do.

      Before jumping into the technical logistics, it might be a good idea to think about the best monetization strategy for you. As notacompetition points out, it can be really hard to make money through ads alone. It probably makes more sense to do a mix of monetization strategies– e.g. subscription model, affiliate marketing, sponsored posts, etc. Either way, building a large audience is going to be what helps you the most, so focus on doing that first.

      It’s going to be hard to build an audience from a WordPress blog alone, so make sure you have some kind of social media engagement plan. It might also help to look at platforms that have some kind of community attached to them, like Medium or Substack.

      Also might be good to consider whether or not WordPress is the best option for you. There’s two versions of WordPress– WordPress dot com and WordPress dot org. WordPress dot com is the version where they host your website for you. It’s supposed to be their easier to use, turnkey solution. WordPress dot org is for more advanced users who know how to host their own website. It sounds like if you do choose to go with WordPress, WordPress dot com is probably going to be the easier option for you.

      But, I’ll also just say that I don’t *love* either version of WordPress. As soon as you start needing customization beyond their pre-built themes, you need to be willing to improve your tech skills, or hire a developer. I always recommend Squarespace or Wix to people who have limited tech backgrounds– they’re more user-friendly, imo, and have a lot of support docs/instructions. (WordPress does have a lot of plugins, though, which is one advantage they have.)

      As for how to put advertising on a site, you’d sign up for Google AdSense. But, also look into other ways to monetize– look up affiliate networks (I can’t recommend any specific ones off the top of my head because it’s been ages since I’ve done this), check out Medium and Substack, do some research on subscription/membership sites, etc. And you might also want to look into some online courses about how to launch a blog.

      1. LD*

        Monetization wise I am hoping it pays for itself. Anything else is gravy. But your points are very well taken.
        That said sponsored posts and whatnot, I would think one probably needs a track record before anyone would invest?
        In my case it is a rather limited tech background (and some cognitive issues), and paying for professional help is not in my budget, though I understand would cost more. The other options look interesting but at this point I am thinking of simplicity. That said I don’t want to go the simple route now and if it works to face a headache later if one of the other options would be the better choice.

    5. Pop*

      Pinch of Yum, a very popular food blog, used to do a monthly “Income Report” on how much money they had made monetizing the site that month and walked you through how to do the same. They stopped after six years because they had so many revenue streams and had started different websites, etc that it no longer made sense for them, but the posts were super interesting and you may find them helpful. Agreed with the other commenters that it may be a lot more work than you think!

      1. LD*

        Nice, I will look into whether they are still online.
        My interest is in writing the content, the rest is a necessary evil.

  16. Marian the Librarian*

    I received my library degree (MSLIS) over 10 years ago. Since I went straight through to grad school from undergrad, I didn’t have a lot of library experience. This was also during the recession, so job opportunities were low, not to mention there are a few schools that offer library degrees in my state, so competition is fierce. 

    I’ve worked in records management and went the corporate route for a few years. I work for a school district now, but ultimately want to be back in a public library. I’ve tried applying to librarian positions in public libraries, but keep getting rejected. I’ve looked at part-time public library jobs, but they want you to work daytime hours and I can’t because of my FT job. I’ve applied out of state, but no luck there. I’m tired of working in hourly positions and feel like I will never move beyond them. It would be nice to utilize my degree and make more money.

    Any tips for finding a librarian position in a public library? Or any suggestions on possible career choices/moves?

    1. Bubbeleh*

      See if you can sign up as a substitute — most larger systems have a pool of substitute librarians to fill in when people call off. You’ll get reference/public service experience, and you can always say you can only work evenings/weekends.

      1. Coenobita*

        Seconding this! My county’s library system makes heavy use of subs (including when they probably shouldn’t but… that’s neither here nor there). My day job is in a completely different field, but I work as a sub in circulation as a side gig, and have only ever worked weekend shifts. My normal shift supervisor is even a former sub who got hired on full-time.

        (I also originally got the sub gig because I was a volunteer at the same library branch – one day the shift supervisor was like, “do you want to start getting paid for this work? fill out this application!” – and I’m sure I’m not the only one.)

    2. LibraryLady*

      So much may vary by state and even by library/system. Network by joining state/regional association committees/groups. Can you volunteer at a local library? Difficult to find those opportunities now due to covid. Can you substitute? You might try cold emailing some libraries in areas you are interested in for leads/ideas. (Not just directors.) Join some of the library Facebook groups to get a feel for job market and more. You are wise to try and get something public related on your resume. Good luck.

    3. Anon-mama*

      Is there a nearby library system that needs part-time night/weekend reference librarians? My system would how from that pool first before posting a job. Are you serving children in your current role and could look at youth services? Or is there an appropriate job within the municipality (if there in charge of the library “department”? Our system draws first from any qualified municipal employees, often to the point we rarely have public listings. One person with their MSLIS was actually working in an administrative time at city hall before coming to work for us. Not sure if that’s a viable avenue. We will actually have a teen services job open soon, but preference will be given to candidates with recent experience with that population. I’m sorry. It’s hard. Once, I spent an entire week researching every small town/city library website within 30 minutes for any kind of job. Really small ones may not list on the particular websites or are not under a municipal umbrella, but a board, so openings are only publicized on their own site.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Can you find a PT job in the school district and then look for a PT library job?

      Some public libraries are tied to their schools- but they are not school libraries they are public libraries. Can you leverage your job at school to get over to the library?

    5. Dust Bunny*

      None of the public libraries in my area, and I’m in a big city, have evening hours, and they’re only open on Saturdays during the weekend, so I think the problem might simply be that you’re not available enough for a lot of public libraries to hire. I second the suggestion to sign up as a substitute.

      What about a university/college/community college library? They might be open later.

    6. Nicola*

      I could have written this post, except I ended up doing database work for a cardiology company, and I’ve been sidelined doing childcare at home during covid. Glad to know I’m not alone, and wishing you the best on your search! I would never have thought about substituting.

      Also I’ve going to be belting “Mariaaaan!” To my kids all afternoon.

  17. ThisFeelsGross*

    My employer is making verifying our vaccination status required. I fully intend to get the vaccine, but I am super squeaked out by the requirements to report when our appointments are, what vaccines we’re getting, etc. It is unclear what the penalties will be for not complying are.
    It feels invasive and gross. We’re not in a sector where it is typical to require vaccinations.
    Anyone else in this boat?

    1. Please Do Tell*

      Kind of. We were asked by my team director to indicate on our shared team calendar days we’re getting the vaccine. This isn’t a requirement from my company and as far as I’ve heard, we are not getting additional time off to get the. To me, it feels like an HR nightmare. I’m just ignoring the request and leaving my day off as simply OOO. If she asks again or pushes me, I fully intend to take it to HR.

      Has your company given any insight as to why they need this info? I would try to ignore it and hope no one asks or follows up.

    2. 1234*

      Is this even legal to ask? What if you aren’t eligible to get one due to a medical condition? Do you have to report that too? =\

      1. Katrinka*

        It is legal, just like mask requirements are legal. You can ask for a medical exemption but you need to get a doctor to sign off on it (reminder: you do NOT have to disclose your medical condition to get an exemption/accommodation, but you DO need a doctor’s note that specifies the accommodation needed). If you don’t want to get the vaccine, you don’t have to, but your employer could fire you for it (as with any other requirements they have).

        Note: this applies to the US, I don’t know rules and laws in other countries.

        1. Natalie*

          That seems like a huge stretch? At this point there’s tons of reasons people are eligible that don’t involve their personal health, plus lotteries and other random opportunities to get the vaccine.

        2. Girasol*

          I read about a company where there was a lot of bad feeling when someone got vaccinated not because their age but because they were obese, which qualified them for an earlier vaccination in that state. People can get gossipy about the silliest things, and if I were that person, I wouldn’t want anyone to know when it was my turn.

    3. Reba*

      We’ve been asked to share if we have gotten it (to like a portal, not to my boss or whoever), rationale is for planning when and how to go back to the office. But all the details you’re being asked for seem a bit much, to me.

    4. L in DC*

      I am a staff lead for a (US) federal agency. I had my team give me just yes/no on vax 1/ vax 2 or decline. Our reporting is by numbers only, no personally identifiable information.

    5. Natalie*

      Asking which vaccine you’re getting seems odd to me. Not necessarily invasive, as it says nothing about you personally, just unnecessary. I would be slightly concerned that they may think the information is useful for something it isn’t. (For example, using the preliminary efficacy rates to make decisions somehow would be a bad, inaccurate use of data.)

      As with any medical data, I think it’s totally fine to ask them why they need the level of detail they’re asking for, what they’re planning on using it for, how they safeguard it, etc.

      1. Esmeralda*

        Possibly to distinguish between the JandJ (one shot) or the two-shot vaccines, as that affects the date that you are safer to return to the office.

        1. Natalie*

          Of course, but that’s why I would just ask. If there’s a reasonable explanation for it, they can say so.

    6. BlueberryGirl*

      Yeah, I feel like this is invasive. I know my work is going to allow “no masks” in shared offices if everyone is vaccinated, but is not requiring people to report. It’s 100% optional and we are not verifying it. I also don’t think it’s anyone’s business which vaccine you get or when your appointment is.

  18. notacompetition*

    Full-time freelancers, how did you do your a maternity leave?
    I’m due in a month and I’ve done a lot of serious prep—money is saved, plans are made with clients, etc. but I’m wondering things about email away messages, how often you checked email, how you got back into the groove after leave, etc. I WFH so my schedule can do pretty much what it needs to do to adapt to the baby but also, I love my work and I don’t want to lose major contracts or opportunities!

    1. Malarkey01*

      It soooo depends on what you want and your baby. My first was a super easy delivery and boring newborn. So most of the day was me sitting around while he slept or nursing. I actually did a lot on email and worked on some things I loved during feedings or when I had to be home with him but no actually caregiving was needed. Then when he was 3 months and awake more I adjusted hours and workload to what worked. I didn’t take new clients or new big projects for the first year so that I could be flexible and fit it around when I wanted to work but was able to keep up on the normal work thrown my way.

      My second was a very different baby and I was burnt out before giving birth and looking for some down time so I just checked email twice a week or so and took a pass at a lot more projects.

      1. Watching the Detectives*

        Seconding Malarkey01’s comment that it may depend a lot on your baby and your postpartum recovery. You may have an angel baby but still be unable to think about work due to postpartum mood disorder, sleep deprivation, pain and illness from childbirth complications, etc. Or you may be eager to work but have a colicky infant who requires constant soothing and does not nap. Or your kid may have serious health issues. Most of this is completely unknowable ahead of time and completely out of your control.

        What you *can* control is how much support you line up. Start arranging that help now, whether friends/family or paid helpers (childcare workers, postpartum doula, etc.). You can always send them away if everything is going swimmingly!

      2. Quinalla*

        Yup, plan to have a tough baby and no time/energy to work, but if you have some and are wanting to ease back in, that’s ok to do if you want to. But yeah, don’t plan on anything, who knows if you’ll have an easy baby or a tough baby :)

  19. I am not the Lorax*

    Just a rant. Feel free to share your expertise, but I will not be swayed. Recently my staffer worked on a report. The report was not written well. Together, we had several conversations and intense editing sessions just to get it to a place where it wasn’t awful. Sometimes I provided phrasing to ease the process along (which he would edit to suit his style, which is 9th grade HS English), sometimes I would just give guidance to tell him what the section should focus on (which he would ignore or follow up with questions about writing it a different way, which was in direct contrast to what I said). It didn’t matter how I instructed him, the result would miss the mark and veer off into unknown territory.

    This would all be annoying, but manageable if it didn’t feel like every step was an argument. If he felt any kind of acknowledgment that the process wasn’t going well. Instead, it feels like he just doubled down on his ignorance and every comment I gave was his opportunity to tell me how he was just following my directions. At one point, when I asked him to include a particular outome, he said he hadn’t heard about it. Despite it being mentioned in previous edits. I literally had to go back through my emails and reshare it with him. After which, he carried on as though he hadn’t outright lied.

    Now, I can be sympathetic if he was feeling overwhelmed or ashamed with the whole process… because it was quite a process. But the gaslighting and the passive aggressive arguing… I’m done with it.

    1. Alice in Blunderland*

      Oh no, that is 100% not acceptable. Gaslighting is the most infuriating tactic people use to escape having to own up to their own bullshit. You’re right to be furious. I’m sorry you have to deal with this.

    2. Undine*

      Do you have the option to put this person on a PIP and does the PIP have teeth? Basically, he doesn’t have to believe you, exactly, but he has to perform to a level where you aren’t investing significant time in getting his work done for him. If he doesn’t, then he needs to go if he believes you or not.

      1. Katrinka*

        If he’s shown this same attitude in other work (and/or with other people), then the PIP needs to happen immediately. And he needs a short timeline to get his act together. This is not about having to learn a new skill or getting used to business norms, this is about outright disrespect to your supervisor, ignoring direct instructions, and ARGUING in the face of written evidence? So many nopes.

        IF he’s been given written warning(s) already, then it may be time to let him go. I would definitely have a conversation with your supervisor and HR about what you can do and having them back you up on any decisions.

      2. I am not the Lorax*

        It’s complicated. I probably could put him on a PIP, but my boss would need to be on board and she’s a fixer. So, if he can’t be fixed, then it becomes a matter of me not being skilled enough to fix him. Though, I do have a monthly check in, during which this will be discussed, so we’ll see what happens.

        1. linger*

          I think your description of obliviousness to all feedback amply demonstrates he can’t be fixed. (Except, maybe by a vet? Sounds drastic but seems to offer the only hope of getting his attention!)

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Oh noooo. I mean, ok, I sympathize with wanting to write a report in one’s personal style, but writing on behalf of a business means that sometimes you suck it up. My last boss hated everything I wrote because he “would have done it differently”. Did I fight back? I did not. I mimicked his style and incorporated his changes and got on with my work.

      Sounds like you need to sit down with this guy and explain that the arguments, the ignoring direct instructions, etc. are a big problem. It’s not about his writing, even if that’s terrible. It’s about his failure to accept feedback and his insubordination. If he wants to be given such opportunities in the future, you’re willing to help him improve but not to fight with him. And ultimately, it doesn’t even matter if your instructions were “right”. You are in charge of this process.

      That is super frustrating, I’m sorry!

      1. I am not the Lorax*

        I try not to be the boss that would make him write in my style and dismiss his suggestions out of hat. But the other part of me does ask at some points, why can’t he just do it the way I’m asking him to because I’m the boss and that’s how I want it done?

        1. Malarkey01*

          Ohhh this would drive me nuts and it’s totally okay after the first editing session to approach subsequent ones with a “I know you would do this differently but I need you to do x” and then if he says anything, “this isn’t up for discussion”.

          Not sure if this would help, but I had someone similar on the not incorporating comments and edits and arguing over what was said- using Word track changes and now shared Google docs made it so much easier to deal with. I could point and say you did not accept this change or you resolved this comment but didn’t do what it said, and here’s the whole history of revisions made/not made. After being caught out a few times it got better (along with me saying accept all my edits or add a comment on why you’re not)

        2. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Oh for sure! After a fashion, “This is how I want it done” is, truly, enough. Or it should be. If he had said, “I understand what you’re saying, but I feel really strongly about X”, you probably wouldn’t be so frustrated. Or your frustration would just be different.

          He not doing part of his job by being so stubborn and willfully obtuse.

        3. Mockingjay*

          Reframe it as a business style. “This report is circulated among upper management at Teapots, Ltd. It must contain X, Y, and Z information and be written at [specified] level.” Then hold him accountable to producing to that business standard.

          He doesn’t get to offer suggestions because he hasn’t proven himself. “At this point, I need to see you producing these reports as instructed, clearly and on time. The style is set and won’t be changed.”

          Agree with others that a PIP is likely warranted, but try one more time, emphasizing that he must follow directions. Let us know how it turns out.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      So basically, you spoon fed him his job and he fought you tooth and nail.

      Eh, write up/PIP, then out the door. You haven’t got time for this crap.

    5. WellRed*

      This isn’t what you asked, but I just want to say, hard as it may be to believe, some people simply. can’t. write. They just can’t. They can’t follow formats or mimic house style. They can’t string together sentences or drill down to the salient points. If a large part of his job involves writing he may not be a good fit.
      Or, maybe he’s just a jerk.

      1. I am not the Lorax*

        Valid. But I’m wondering, if he knows he can’t write? Because I can deal with him not being able to write, I cannot deal with him not knowing he doesn’t know how to write and fighting me every step of the way.

        1. WellRed*

          Oh, his responses are totally the issue here, no question. I do feel that people that can’t write often aren’t self-aware enough to realize that (trust me. I’ve seen some doozies of writing samples). But what you need is to decide how big of a problem his writing is (and whether it might be salvageble with a ton of coaching), how important report writing is to the role (maybe it’s easier to have someone else do that while he picks up other tasks) and whether you need to address his response to instructions/feedback/criticism. And I would guess he doesn’t respond well to it in any capacity. That’s a valid performance issue in its own right.

          1. I am not the Lorax*

            It’s important that he writes, but it doesn’t have to be great or even good as long as it includes everything it should in a coherent fashion. I would argue his “skill” is not salvageable, but I need to prove it to my boss, who is not apt to admit defeat.

            As for his response to feedback, etc. It varies. When I address what I think the overall issue is and how to tackle it, he generally agrees with me and pretty wholeheartedly actually. But when we address issues in the moment or specific examples he tends to get mildly defensive, i.e. validating why he did something a specific way or claiming he didn’t know. (He rarely admits to just doing something wrong or forgetting something)

            1. Undine*

              I think if your boss is the problem,v then what you need to do is tell your boss, “it’s taking x amount of time to work with him, what duties can I give up to get that time?”. If your boss says, oh there’s nothing to give up, you have to do it all, then you say, “okay, I don’t have the bandwidth to coach him to the level he needs.” Then let him fail. Let your boss see how bad it is. Your boss won’t change anything until there is a Pain point for your boss.

              If you can’t directly let him fail for reasons, then start looping your boss in on drafts and emails so your boss can see the extent of the problem and also so there is some pain for your boss. Come up with a reason why you are going to do this and then do it. “I believe our house style would require xyz, is that right boss?”

              If you’re not comfortable with that, bcc is your friend.
              If you’re not comfortable with that, bcc

              1. The New Wanderer*

                I agree – if the boss is a fixer, let this become more of a problem for her to fix. It sounds like it’s costing you more effort to have the guy manage all the drafts and you try to patch them up to be usable, and then fight against his reluctance to change and repeat, than for you just to write the report yourself so what is this guy’s value at his current level of performance?

            2. anon today*

              Honestly…. this reminds me of a certain kind of crappy student I had as a math professor. I’m female. I’m short. I do know math. And I’d have these dudes be like well, yeah, I guess you know math but you know you’re just understanding me wrong, you’re not reading this right, what I meant to say is blah and you’re not getting it, it’s just a special case, it’s just a generalization, you didn’t cover that in class, it wasn’t in the textbook, it wasn’t in the notes, are you sure you talked about that….

              No. Honey. It’s wrong. You’re wrong.

              My job was to teach, and so the first, oh, three times I’d for sure try to teach by explaining and cajoling if necessary. But if they kept up the excuses, it was time to get direct. Very direct. Uncomfortably and unpleasantly direct for a Midwesterner. (“I understand what you’re trying to do, but at some point you need to provide a numerical answer that is correct and justified.” “I am glad you feel you know what you’re doing, but this statement is false, as is this one. I cannot give credit for false statements.”) And sometimes that would help them, in fact, snap out of their mediocre wrongness… and sometimes I just gave them a C or an F.

              Wish you could do that.

            3. AnonymousKoala*

              Maybe a long shot here, but is it worth sitting him down and straight up telling him that you’ve noticed he has a problem with taking specific feedback? Things like “I’ve noticed when we discuss big-picture issues you’re on-board, but when it comes to detailed corrections like X, Y, and Z you have trouble accepting feedback. What’s going on here?” And then at the end “I understand, but I really need you to accept detailed corrections or have a solid, well-thought out alternative in mind. And once we discuss a change and a decision is made, I need you to go with it and not keep fighting me.”
              I only ask because I wonder if he accepts the big-picture stuff with grace because he thinks that’s what it means to accept feedback well, but he hasn’t translated that attitude into real time. And I wonder if it’s worth giving him one last shot to try and realize that he can’t just be cool in 1:1s, he actually needs to accept corrections gracefully all the time.
              I’m sympathetic because I was a bit like this in high school when I was learning to write (of course, I was also fourteen…) and sometimes stylistic improvements can feel really personal. But in the end, you need him to do a job a certain way with a good attitude, and I wonder if plainly telling him that will help.

  20. Curiouser and Curiouser*

    This might be me just needing to get it out…but I’m up for a new job in my department that is essentially a promotion designed for me. Everyone thinks I will get it (except me, of course, I’m less sure), but I did have to apply and interview, which was more than fine. So far, we’re over 3 months into the process. I had my third interview two weeks ago, and was told that was the end of it and that they were making final decisions Monday. I haven’t heard, but the hiring manager are my current Grandboss and Great Grandboss. So here’s the question part…is it inappropriate to ask them for an update? Do I need to tread lightly here because of who it is? I’ve never been QUITE in this situation before and my anxiety is real so I don’t know exactly how to proceed…

    1. A penguin!*

      Last Monday or this coming Monday? If the former you should be able to ask your boss for an update on the decision timeline. If the latter you have to wait until at least late next week before asking. Basically, give at least a few days grace past the decision date before bringing it up.

      1. Curiouser and Curiouser*

        Two Mondays ago, March 22…since it’s Friday, I may give it until next Monday and ask for an update. Thank you!

  21. Alice in Blunderland*

    I am the floor manager at a restaurant-adjacent place. I’ve had issues with the Operations Manager (who is at my level, I do not report to her) for months now– she is a bully to both me and to the staff I manage, she is mean-spirited and she is extremely disorganized. I’ve brought this up multiple times with my boss (the owner) and he has been sympathetic, but hasn’t done anything about it. Well, I couldn’t tolerate her abuse any longer (she targets me in particular) so I got myself a new job. I’m finishing up my notice period now, getting everything all set up for my replacement. We interviewed an extremely promising, highly qualified male candidate yesterday and after the interview she loudly remarked to me & our boss: “I am just SO excited to have new energy in this place!” To which I, rather stunned, just said “uhhhh…” and she quickly followed up with “I mean, male energy”.

    One of the employees I manage was in the room and overheard this exchange. She was furious on my behalf. This is the culmination of over 6 months of her harrassment and bullying and just being plain mean to me and I’m so angry and frustrated. I KNOW the right thing to do is just to keep my head down, finish my time and exit gratefully. But I also feel like a chump for not addressing this, which I know will cause a huge blow-up. Any advice is very much appreciated here!

    1. I am not the Lorax*

      She sounds like a miserable person. Miserable people don’t like being happy. And my guess is that the “new energy” she’s so excited about will also make her miserable. I’m not usually one who advocates that people enjoy another’s misery, but in this case… smile to yourself knowing that her enthusiasm at your departure only means she will need to focus on her own poor work and that she will soon complain about the new person to avoid having to focus on her own poor work.

    2. Just Another Manic Millie*

      I don’t even think she’s really excited about the new male energy. I think she said that just to get your goat. Try to ignore it. I wouldn’t be surprised if she winds up bullying your replacement, who might not even be this “extremely promising, highly qualified male candidate.” Nowhere do you say that he was offered the job, let alone accepted it.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      This is a boss problem. The boss refuses to control bullying in the workplace. In order to fix this you’d have to fix the boss. Not your job/paygrade/etc to fix the boss.
      The correct response it to move on. It’s called having self-respect not to “make” yourself stay when you clearly had other options.

      If you ever see this scenario again, you know to move on. If you ever have friends in this type of setting you know to tell them to move on.

  22. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    I’ve started tracking my time to see if I can fit my job into 8 hours. Yesterday I was out from 9:30 to 4:30 for meetings and drive time with a detour for vaccine and lunch.
    But after I got home, that’s where it gets dicey. I tracked 2 hours of focused work on todos( I noticed that the same task also takes wildly varying amounts of time) but got off at 9. Now I had a dinner break around 8, but I’m so confused. Does anyone else have this problem? How do you get your work to fit into 8 hours?

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      Sometimes you can’t fit everything into 8 hours, and you need to be able to say “this won’t get done today”. That’s not always possible depending on your industry or the reasonableness of your boss, and if that’s the case you need to either accept it as part of the job or decide to go elsewhere.

    2. RickT*

      A day in the field for meetings is a day worked. Your to-do list and task delivery schedule should reflect that.

      My calendar shows ALL travel time to remote meetings along with the meetings themselves to prevent double-booking me, and I set an Out of Office auto-reply I am in the field and any responses will be delayed.

      For your own sanity don’t expect to do a day’s worth of desk work after you have been in the field for the day, and manage your coworker’s expectations to match.

    3. WellRed*

      You don’t. Your day of meetings should have been your workday. Are you honestly expected to then go home and do all the rest of your tasks?

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        The notes for the meetings are due within 24 hours. I usually push them off until the next day, but yesterday I had no more days- I was off today. I actually cheat because if the day is Friday or ” Friday” they are supposed to be in by 5, but I got back at 4:30.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I think you have written about your job before. If this is the case then you don’t. It’s called be set-up to fail. You have too much work and not enough time.

    5. Massive Dynamic*

      The trick is to DO work for 8 hours, then stop. Not try to fit in more than 8 hours’ worth. The amount of work available to do usually never stops; it’s just a matter of making sure you’re prioritizing the important stuff and keeping your boss in the loop on what’s on your plate. And that meetings/driving for meetings/work lunch are all still work.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        That’s true. This week was also the last bit of time I could do end of the month paperwork so I wanted to get that done too. My to do list is so massive trello has a hard time fitting it and I keep end of the month to do on a seperate chart.
        There were several emergencies this week too, so my concentration was off.

        1. I'm A Little Teapot*

          This is your problem. Too much work. Stop trying to figure out what you’re doing wrong, because it’s not you. Start trying to tackle the too much work problem, up to and including finding a new job if you can’t make any headway. There are posts that will help you with how to tackle this. good luck!

    6. Picard*

      Like the others have said, You do your work and then you shut it off.

      In your case, your work day was traveling and meetings. I would have NOT gone home and worked more hours. (Obviously this is all industry and job specific) If you are the CEO of a company, the expectations are a little different than if you are just a sales rep for example.

    7. SomebodyElse*

      I guess I’m confused about what you mean by fitting work into 8 hours. I just have activities that ebb and flow and always have something going on, I work on it until I stop then I just pick it up the next day. I think of it like bailing out a boat, some days the water is higher and some days it’s a lower, most days it remains pretty steady with the same effort. I’ve never been in a situation where I’ve said “OK finished all my work now I can quit for the day” Usually it’s “Ok, that’s a good stopping point for the day”

      The other key to this is to play tetris with your activities. If you have a day that you are in the field, yeah you aren’t going to get much done outside of that. At most a quick skim for urgent/critical things at the end of the day. Other days you might have good blocks of time, those are the days you plan to spend working on concentration heavy things. Heavy meeting day with no travel, you tee up some quick things that you can do in the small blocks of time available between meetings.

      Since I don’t know the specifics of your job and industry I’m not sure how relevant the above is to your situation, but hopefully some of it helps.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Yea a big problem is being in the car or stuck some place with no wi fi. I get nothing done then. I also sometimes think I have time- like scheduled two hours travel and 30 minutes meeting- but the meeting had 20 people and took 90 minutes.

    8. kt*

      Something illuminating to you might be estimating time for every task and adding it up. Once I did that and found I’d confidently planned to get like 60 hours of work done in 40 hours. No wonder I felt like I “couldn’t keep up”. Prioritization and knowing what balls to drop and what balls to hand back will become necessary then.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Yea I started timing my tasks to get a ball park. A real time suck is I’ll confidently start work and then someone calls me- either my boss to give me another task or a client saying there’s an emergency. I usually don’t talk to my coworkers but this week I swapped with one and had to spend time telling her how to do.

    9. Rick T*

      Manage your workload to fit in 8 hours every day. If that means telling your manager you can’t add another task or client that is the breaks, if business is that good the business needs to add staff.

      Start by declining to schedule more than 4 hours of meeting plus travel in a day (morning or afternoon but not both). Block out time EVERY day to work on your to-do lists, don’t let them be ad-hoc fill in work.

      Decline any out of office events or new tasks the last day of the month or however long it takes you to prepare your month-end reports working 8 hour days (if it takes 16 hours block the last two days, etc.)

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Yea the last two months I’ve struggled because they scheduled extensive training near the end of the month- if training is 12 hours, that’s 12 hours I’m doing almost nothing. I simply don’t multi-task well.
        Another issue is a lot of people are new – my boss will think I can help train or do tasks others aren’t trained to do- but my own work is really busy so she often gets a lot of me not wanting to do it until she tells me I HAVE to.
        I’m starting to block out my schedule- a three hour block ( travel, meeting, travel ) rolled off and was instantly replaced! Lol.

  23. Doing work?*

    What recommendations do you have for getting work done while feeling no motivation or energy?
    Most of the time I think I’m an average to good worker and get everything that I’m assigned done on time or early.
    However, about once every 1-2 months I’ll have a few days or a week when I have almost no desire to do any of my work. Mostly I’d prefer to be sleeping, but really I’d rather be doing almost anything else. When I was in the office I would still get a small amount of work done because there were people around who might ask what I was working on at any moment. Since everything is remote it’s a lot more difficult to get myself to do anything, and I’m really just doing the absolute bare minimum to say I worked on anything.

    So, what recommendations do you have for getting work done with you don’t want to?

    Context – I’m currently a full time, hourly intern, and in a couple years I’ll be working similar jobs full time salaried (currently in school, alternating 6 months internships with 6 months classes). All of my work is on the computer – if it was in the office I might occasionally get up to print something, but now I’m stuck sitting at the computer all day.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Do you have sick time you can use for those days you don’t feel like doing anything? I am not sure how your internship works. You can just say you’re feeling under the weather and take a mental health day to sleep. (Full disclosure: I have done this on more than one occasion; some days I just need to sleep and not work. I know exactly where you’re coming from.)

      And do you have a lunch break when you can get up and walk around, since you’re no longer getting up to go to the printer? Or just spend an hour reading a book or doing something else away from your computer? (I originally typed “watching Netflix” but I think it’s important to get away from your computer at some point during the day.) Or if you can’t spend an hour, you should at least have a couple of 15-minute coffee breaks where you can get away from work for awhile.

      1. Doing work?**

        I have an hour for lunch that I can take at any point in the day (as long as I don’t have a meeting then). I usually spend it either cooking lunch or doing stuff on my personal computer.
        Now that I’m 90 days in I’ll start having sick time, but I’m not really sure how it works and the main person overseeing me isn’t really sure either, so I’ll have to find out. I have seen my colleagues (full time salaried) take planned days off (using up vacation days before they expire) but they’re usually checking email during that time (though I would be expected to) and I haven’t seen anyone specifically take a sick day, so I’m really not sure how it would work.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      I use that kind of day for cleaning out file cabinets, going through required training, pruning files on my computer, and other chores that pile up. Do you have any duties like that – not slacking off from work, but not really the same as the work work that you can’t bring yourself to do?

      1. Doing Work?**

        Unfortunately since I’m entirely remote I don’t have anything substantial like that. The only such thing I can think of is sorting my emails into folders, and even that only takes 10 minutes if I let it pile up for a few weeks because I get so few emails. But that is a good reminder so maybe I’ll do that today!

    3. Let me be dark and twisty*

      I make a list of all my tasks – everything from project-based work to filling out my timesheet to people whose emails I need to answer. Then I try to do at least two tasks on that list a day, and physically cross them out when they’re done. One before lunch and one after lunch. This is helping me get past the pandemic wall with no motivation, no energy, and no interest. So far it’s working – sometimes I can do more and I have a really productive day. Other times I can barely get through the two tasks I’ve picked. Sometimes they’re both 15 minute tasks, sometimes one is a couple hours of research and the other is replying to an email. I pick my tasks based on my mood and if I do at least two, I’ve had a pretty good day. If I can’t do two, then I’ll try again tomorrow.

      What’s key for me, and maybe this will work for you, is to accept that “the bare minimum” is completely okay in these remote pandemic times. Because eventually, you’ll get your momentum back and your work productivity will return to normal levels again.

      1. BlueberryGirl*

        I do something similar. I also write down everything I do. Because sometimes, I get things done that aren’t on my “to do” list, but had to get done- answered phone calls, went to a meeting, ended up reorganizing a messed up file because I couldn’t find something… whatever.

    4. Spearmint*

      I can be the same way at times. Maybe not a whole week, but I often have 2-3 days a month where I get little done aside from answering email and attending meetings.

      I think the key is to focus less on how much you’re working and instead in whether you’re meeting expectations. You need to be very honest with yourself about this, though. No wishful thinking! Focus more on your work product than your work process, and then make decisions about what needs for change.

    5. Bernadette*

      I feel this. During the pandemic I’ve gone through many stretches where I’ve hit the wall so hard I feel I simply cannot do a single work task.

      I’ve had a hard time accepting this in myself, but if you’re doing good work most of the time and getting stuff done on time, does it really matter if you have unproductive days? You might save some low-energy tasks (data entry, etc.) for bad days, or just take a nap or go for a walk if you truly cannot.

      If you need to demonstrate to your coworkers that you’re getting work done, you could consider working ahead a little on good days. Early this week, I had a really busy couple of days and had to work late. Since I was already in the zone, I knocked out some work on a few projects that I didn’t send to my boss/teammates until later in the week, and then allowed myself to take it easy the past couple of days.

    6. Working mom*

      I’ve got two tips for times like this. One is m&ms (or whatever small nibble you like). I take care of one task, I get an m&m. I don’t let myself have another unless I finish another task.
      The other is to make a to-done list. I wrote down everything I’ve accomplished. Making the list longer is motivating.

    7. SummerBreeze*

      Maybe bullet journaling would be helpful in this case? The idea is you have monthly to-dos as well as daily, and if you’ve completed your daily (Or none of them are time sensitive, whatever) you tackle the bigger monthly ones. For work, that could be things like taking LinkedIn training courses or networking online or something like that — or more strategic thinking stuff.

      I just want to flag that the idea of an intern taking a sick day every couple of weeks raised my eyebrows a bit, I wouldn’t recommend that approach.

  24. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    Found out a couple weeks ago that one of the three managers in our department is retiring early this summer – not mine, but in an adjacent team, let’s say they build sugar bowls with lids while we build cream pitchers. My manager is a thousand and twelve percent in favor of me (a team lead of five years) replacing the retiring manager, her boss (who manages the three managers) knows that I’m interested in advancement, and the two of them jointly nominated me for a highly regarded leadership program that our organization runs for people with management aspirations (I was accepted and have been successfully meeting the goals so far, program completion is in June). As far as my manager (who is good friends with the retiring manager outside of work) knows, the retiring manager’s team leads are not interested in applying for the manager role. My odds are good, though I’m certainly not planning to just skate the process, but the limbo of waiting for further developments to happen is making my head spin. (And if someone else gets the job, then I am well placed for a feedback sit-down with my boss and grandboss about my professional development and what future options might look like, plus my actual manager has been making noises about how maybe SHE might retire in the next year or two too, heh.)

  25. merp*

    Oh here goes, posting partly for solidifying this idea more in my mind. I am planning to leave my job. I am probably going to take a leap of faith and try something I have wanted to do for a couple of years (baker!) that will pay terribly but be (hopefully) much more fulfilling.

    This is a plan for the end of the year, so I’m going to save up every cent I can leading up to it so I am financially relatively ok. Anything else I should be considering before I leave the land of stable office job (that is making me miserable)?

    1. WineNot*

      This sounds exciting! What are you planning to bake?

      I would consider that your hours are probably going to be different without the set schedule of working an office job. This might mean nights, weekends, etc, and that can sometimes take an unexpected toll on people when they have to start missing social outings/events/holidays. If you are working for yourself, it’s probably much easier to get around that. I found myself working nights, weekends, and holidays for 2 years and felt so disconnected from my family and friends who would gather when I was unable to. It became not-worth-it.

      Good luck!!

      1. merp*

        Hoping for bread! Would also love to bake pastries but much less experienced with that. A local bakery has apprenticeships/internships so I’m hoping to get in that way. Mostly because I still have a lot to learn but also it would hopefully give me an idea of the hours without being a forever commitment.

    2. WellRed*

      The only thing that comes to mind is the hours, which can be brutally early. Also, I don’t know how old you are, but I’d also consider your stamina for such a physical job if you are used to, say, a desk job. Good luck!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I worked in a kitchen that also involved baking.
        You will need good shoes for your feet.
        Start practicing good hydration- baking is a hot job and you will want to be familiar with what it takes to keep you hydrated.
        The hours can be very early 4 or 5 is what I recall. If you are going to need to reset your internal clock you can start inching it a long now.
        It’s a very physical job and it can be very fast paced.
        Mentally prepare for outside inspectors on a semi regular basis. These are people who come in and watch what you are doing and how you do things. Labeling things and recording actions is super important.

    3. Mockingjay*

      Health care, if you have employer-supplied policy. Many small businesses, like a bakery, don’t offer a health plan, or their plans have high deductibles and copays. ACA plans may or may not be available in your state. Go get yearly physical and dental checkups, eye care, etc., while you are still on the plan.

      Gap insurance if you have a car loan. Not always available – check around. If (heaven forbid) your car is totaled, it covers the difference between what insurance will pay (current depreciated value) and the balance on the loan.

      Good luck!

    4. Tabby Baltimore*

      Alison’s 2016 post on this topic (go to the Search This Site on the RH side of the screen and type in “what you need to do before you quit your job”) is more geared toward getting the most out of your job’s benefits before leaving (and I would definitely read the comments section). That said, it might give you some ideas of what kind of work-related documents you should make copies of (i.e., performance reviews, leave/earning statements, W2 forms, kudos emails with the emailer’s contact information, etc.) before your last day at work.

    5. Wandering*

      I wonder if your employer would let you take a leave of absence while you do the apprenticeship. You’d plan on switching, at the end, but have a path back to your current company if the apprenticeship changes your personal plans, & perhaps the option of some help with your benefits during the apprenticeship.

  26. Throw away*

    I’m five months into a full time job search and currently unemployed. Because I’m no longer working, I don’t have full time childcare. I’m very worried that if I do get an offer I’m not going to be able to secure full time childcare without a lot of difficulty and additional time. If I do get an offer, how do I negotiate the issue? Would it be nuts to ask for a few weeks of part time until I can secure extra care? My kid is pre-school and I cannot work while watching her. (I’m a single mom, so no partner to help solve the issue.) Obviously my first priority is getting a job, but I don’t want to screw up first impressions because I’m a mom.

    1. Black Horse Dancing*

      Can you arrange care now? Not put her in care but get a slot? And/or when offered the job, state you can state in two weeks and get care then. Since it can take a while to find care, you may want to search now.

      1. Disco Janet*

        Probably not. Daycare slots are first come, first serve. They’re not going to hold a slot while OP finds a job unless she’s paying them to do so, which I assume would be a serious financial difficulty.

    2. BRR*

      Would it help to negotiate a little bit of time before a starting date? Like if they want you to start in two weeks can you ask for four? I don’t think asking to start part time would be a great approach. In a perfect world an employer would be understanding how difficult it can be to get childcare ASAP in a pandemic

    3. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      That’s what I did when I started my current job. I was a part-time work from home consultant with two elementary-age kids. I secured a full time on-site job, and negotiated a start date that was pretty soon (2 weeks?) but part-time for three weeks. Then a pre-planned 2 week vacation, and then full time regular. It went great for my kids and me, a really nice way to ease into the transition. While you don’t want to make it seem like your only priority is your kid, it is also true that a boss that won’t work with you on childcare issues is not a boss you can live with long-term. Especially as a single mom, what’s the point of getting a boss who doesn’t respect working moms’ needs?

  27. Anon teacher*

    I’m feeling really lost this week, everybody. I’m running on empty and still have three months to go. I’ve been teaching middle school for eight years and the behaviour, the lack of accountability and the uselessness of everyone about the classroom teacher (+ covid) is just getting to me. Well, it’s getting to everyone. We have folks getting shingles and or out on stress leave. I was thinking of trying to switch schools to find something better or just for a change, but it’s just been announced that high school teachers in my district are going 7 out of 8, meaning going half a year without any prep time and the middle school programming (Language arts, science, social studies) is getting completely changed, so there’s no escape. I want to love my job, and I still do love parts of it, but I’m so incredibly burned out. I’ve thought about a career change, but I have a house and a mortgage and anything I’m kind of interested in doing takes 2-3 years of full time graduate school. I don’t know what to do.

    1. Anon teacher*

      For some context, this has been the year my district decided to ‘solve’ systemic racism by sending each school a rubric to discuss, oh, and a music video from a local performer (which was well done and thought provoking but…).

    2. Catherine*

      I’m a former burnt out teacher who transitioned to HR! I needed to apply to A LOT of jobs. Just…. a ton. But I finally found something after a few months. I am so much happier. I loved teaching theoretically, but the day to day is awful in many schools.

      Start applying for whatever seems interesting to you. Expect that many places won’t see teaching as relevant experience despite it being one of the hardest jobs around.

    3. Alexis Rose*

      Sorry to hear this! Burnout is real.

      If you’re not totally burned out on working with kids, think about jobs where you would still be working with kids in a different, less-stressful capacity–your teaching background will be seen as a huge plus in these roles. One of my aha moments about leaving teaching was when I hung out with the school secretaries one day and I realized the secretaries were much happier than the teachers. They still interact with kids and make a positive impact, but no parents were yelling at them for ‘losing’ an assignment the kid actually just didn’t turn in. There are plenty of kid-adjacent jobs like this. Another example might be working at an after-school program–these can be a chance to interact with kids in a less stressful, more organic way because often they’re choosing to be there and you don’t have to get them to specific benchmarks.

    4. RecoveringSWO*

      There are some private tutoring companies that pay well if you’re looking for a minor change.

      1. Anon teacher*

        That’s the problem. We just got a new contract with what we thought was a big win of going from 10%-12.5% prep time (it’s the first time it’s been increased in over a decade). But to get it, we allowed a language change so that the prep time can to average over a year, not two weeks the way it used to be. The high school teachers, who are semestered, will get 25% prep for half the year, so it averages out to 12.5% which is totally legal under the contract. The union is having a fit.

        1. Flower necklace*

          That’s awful! If I’m understanding correctly, that means high school teachers have one semester where they’re working all day, every day. In my district, we have one prep period and one duty period. If you have an extra class, then you have a prep period every other day and no duty period. That comes with a substantial increase in pay. I have never heard of a teacher getting their prep period taken away entirely.

          1. Anon teacher*

            That seems to be it, although rumour has it more high school classes are also going to go full year, so it might also be an every second day prep situation (which isn’t quite as bad, but still a huge loss of time). The duty part is going to be a huge issue because up until this point the ‘extra’ prep (what’s over the amount allowed in the contract) has been used for duty. With prep rolled back to minimum, there isn’t anyone to keep an eye on the halls, cafeteria etc.

    5. Disco Janet*

      Have you thought about looking in nearby districts? Maybe reach out and see if you can speak with other teachers in your area to see if it’s the norm or not.

      I realize some of this stuff is a pretty big issue throughout most of the country. But not all of it!

      1. Anon teacher*

        I’m not in the US so districts are less important and schools within a not-state are mostly all controlled at the not-state level. Sadly, the more rural schools where I live have been doing this for years, it was just us city folk that managed to hold out. That being said. I’ve pondered leaving to see if things are any better elsewhere. So far reports vary and it’s a big move, but maybe time to think about it more seriously.

  28. Let me be dark and twisty*

    Need advice on how to deal with someone who doesn’t accept anything other than “great!” when he asks how you are.

    I’m (early-30s female) that kind of person who, when I’m asked how I’m doing, says “fine.” This coworker (late-50s male) is the kind of person who’s high on life so his reaction to me saying “fine” or “it’s going” or “okay” or “all right” is usually “just fine? It’s not that bad!” And I hate it. It makes my hackles go up and puts me in a sour mood for the rest of our Zoom meeting. I’m not a very confrontational person so I’m never going to call him out on it, but I need a better response than to offload all the things I’m dealing with. He’s not in my chain of command but is senior to me and we work together on a few initiatives. I’ve never actually met him in person so all of our interactions have been by Zoom. If it weren’t a pandemic, “it’s not that bad!” wouldn’t aggravate me as much as it does but…it’s a pandemic and things have been really crappy.

    1. I am not the Lorax*

      That’s annoying, but it might be in your best interest to change how you respond to him. You know that he’s going to engage with you if you say something less then good, so don’t give him that opportunity. If he asks, How are you? Just say, Good. And maybe you’re not feeling good, but he doesn’t really want to know that and to be honest, you probably wouldn’t want to share with him why you’re not feeling good.

    2. Should I apply*

      This is what I would be tempted to do
      – when he says “just fine, its not that bad” – “Why do you ask if you never believe me?”
      – when he asks just say “great” sarcastically or in a monotone

      But neither of these are very helpful if you need a good working relationship, so I would more likely mark him down as annoying and just try to ignore it.

    3. SnappinTerrapin*

      I don’t understand folks who ask rhetorical questions that are considered courtesy greetings, and want to quibble about the other person’s rote responses.

      “Tolerable,” “fair to middlin'” and “tolerably well ” are my preferred responses, for what that’s worth.

    4. Rusty Shackelford*

      Would it make you feel better if you gave him an answer that seems to meet his requirements, even if you mean it sarcastically? Living the dream! Couldn’t possibly be better! Fantastic!

    5. Weekend Please*

      You could try responding “I didn’t say it was bad. I said I was fine.” See what he does. You could also try gently asking him about it rather than confronting him. “Why does it bother you when I say I am fine? There is a lot going on in the world right now and I think it is healthy to acknowledge that instead of pretending everything is great.”

      You could also try ignoring the question and or deliberately misinterpreting it by diving into business.

      “How are you?”
      “I’ve been working on filling the teapot report and ran into an issue I could use some help with. Every time I hit submit in the portal I get an error message. Has that been happening for you?”
      “I was thinking about whether we really should be using black tea for the blend. White tea seems to be gaining in popularity. What do you think?”

      Interpret his question as asking about how you are doing with work. End your statement with a question so that he feels more pressure to respond instead of circling back to social pleasantries.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        These kinds of deflections are my go-to when I really just don’t want to talk about my life or feelings.

      2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        I really like this strategy. Or just a “Morning!” in response, if you don’t need to get into a work conversation and/or you’re just walking past him.

      3. Shirley Keeldar*

        This is so wise and much more diplomatic than the suggestion in my head, which was, “Why do you think you know my feelings better than I do?” I mean.

    6. StripesAndPolkaDots*

      I just wouldn’t answer the follow-up.
      “How are you?”
      “Fine, it’s not that bad!”
      :: blank stare::

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep. I would consider this.

        Or I’d consider saying something like, “I know! You like to hear people say ‘great’! So I am GREAT.”

        1. irene adler*

          yeah, me too.
          Or I’d vary things with:
          “Really swell”
          “Exceptionally well!”

          So annoying.

    7. Mockingjay*

      My favorite response is “Living the dream! Just livin’ the dream,” spoken in a hearty voice. Covers all circumstances. I’ve got a coworker who’s big on Kumbaya *eyeroll* and this is my go-to with him.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        ( triggers for suicide?)

        I saw a tweet that says ” if a white person says they’re living the dream” it means they wish they were dead” and I laughed because I used to have a coworker who always said that even though he often joined in with our weird humor about how we wished we were dead.

      2. Joielle*

        Yessss, I use this too. I find that you can say LIVIN’ THE DREAM in a lot of different tones for a variety of different emotions. Personally, I’d probably go with so-enthusiastic-it-must-be-sarcastic for this guy and then if he questions you, just go “What? I said I’m living the dream!”

      3. Campfire Raccoon*

        My husband says this to every person he talks to, all day long. Day in, day out. Right there, right next to me.

        He’s lucky to still be livin.

      4. linger*

        tbh I’d reply with an enthusiastic “Living the nightmare!” and just let them try processing that.

    8. Anonosaurus*

      In all honesty, if he’s going to hassle you like this, I’d just say “Great!!! You?” with a huge cheesy smile, probably while flipping him the bird off camera. He doesn’t need to know your true state of mind and it’s not a good use of energy to get into it with him every time so I would just treat this as a ritual/formulaic part of the meeting, rather than a genuine exchange of information, and then he has no traction on his desire to police your mood.

    9. Cat Tree*

      When people prolong what are supposed to be polite, quick pleasantries, I generally just give them a confused look, then move the conversation along as though they had never said that extra stuff.

      So when he says “just fine?” or “it’s not that bad” I would just not respond further. I would ask someone else a different question, or if it’s just the two of you, you can jump right into the purpose of the meeting. He’s not really asking you a direct question so it doesn’t warrant any response.

      I don’t advise you to just always pretend you’re great and perky, because that seems even more annoying. It’s really grating when men demand that women perform happiness in front of them, so that would drive me nuts. And personally, I doubt I could convincingly pretend great under those circumstances anyway.

    10. Skeeder Jones*

      If I meet with him frequently, honestly I’d rather have a short one-time uncomfortable conversation than endure it every day. I would just say something about having a right to my own feelings and that he can stop asking me or accept my answers because what he is doing is actually rude.

    11. kt*

      I like other commenters’ ideas of getting progressively more effusive with the words… but just imbue it with as much Eeyore energy as you can. “Stupendous…” in the most depressive way possible. “Livin’ the dream. COULDN’T. BE. BETTER.”

      This is only if you’d get a little charge out of messing with him.

    12. Don’t put metal in the science oven*

      Instead of answering his questions, what if you just answered back with a hearty “How are YOU?” Follow with a quick switch of topics about teapots or whatnot.

    13. allathian*

      Ouch. I hate it when older men expect women to perform happiness for them. I get it that you don’t want to confront him, but if you could bring yourself to say “great” in the same deadpan voice you use for saying “fine”, maybe that’d help?

      Or maybe something like “I’m doing as well as can be expected in the middle of a pandemic, now what’s the next step on the Chocolate Teapot project?”

    14. Quinalla*

      Can you try responding with something like “Looking forward to reading this great book after work!” or whatever your plans are? Something honest, but positive. That’s how I would approach it if I didn’t want to confront.

  29. Slow Gin Lizz*

    CW: EXTREME WHINY-NESS but I also need an outsider’s view on this. I have a coworker who is a level above me but not my supervisor; our jobs overlap only in that she is backup person for one small aspect of my job. I have one week left on the job, so while this has been an issue for months now I’ve put off dealing with it because I was looking for a new job. What she does to annoy me is this: I am in the process of handing off tasks to my current coworkers to take over when I leave, but with every task I complete that she is involved in (she is taking over that one small task), she will email “Please let me know if you need any help with this.” So for instance when I emailed our IT consultants to let them know they should remove my access after I leave, they emailed us both confirmation that they would do so and she responded to them and me “Please let me know if you need any help with this.”

    I did not respond but I am getting really annoyed that she keeps doing this. The help the IT ppl need is to A) know when I am leaving and B) literally nothing else. I have A) told them that I am leaving and B) nothing else is needed. I’m sure this is just her default polite response, but A) the confirmation email the IT ppl sent didn’t need a response and B) THEY DON’T NEED ANY HELP FROM HER IN THIS TASK, SHE DOESN’T REMOVE ACCESS, THAT’S NOT A THING SHE DOES, AND THE IT PPL, you know, KNOW HOW TO DO THIS.

    What I need to know is this: am I right to be so annoyed by this person? I feel like it’s condescending that she does this constantly, but maybe I’m overreacting? She is a big part of why I’m leaving, TBH, because she has a tendency to try to do my job when it is MY job and I am extremely competent at it and don’t need her help; it is very grating. If I were planning to stay I would definitely attempt to solve this problem for me (either by telling her nicely to stay in her lane or by trying to improve my attitude about it), but should I try to say something to her about it before I leave anyway? Or maybe to the person doing my exit interview? I don’t want to burn this bridge, I love all my other coworkers, so maybe I should just leave well enough alone? I don’t know.

    1. A penguin!*

      I would leave this one alone. Yes it’s mildly annoying, but it looks like you’ve put way more annoyance into this than it warrants and have nothing to gain by taking it on at this time. It’s going to look like you’re blowing up a minor issue out of all reasonable proportion if you bring it up in your exit interview or otherwise start trying to solve it. In less than a week it will not be a problem anymore (for you) – if other people are sufficiently bothered by it they can try to change it, but it just isn’t your fight.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Thanks, Penguin!! I needed that advice; I’m definitely blowing up this minor issue way too much.

    2. RickT*

      I will bet she has an autoreply rule set up with that response, just ignore it for your last week. If the messages are that annoying you can set up your own rule deleting them as soon as they hit your in-box.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Hahaha, I don’t think she does and I can’t delete her messages because they might have important info in them but I love the idea of doing it! I shall mentally delete them from now on.

    3. Malarkey01*

      This is your BEC moment. I think is her way of saying “I saw this email but don’t believe I have any action on it, correct me if wrong”.

      I wouldn’t say anything since you’re leaving and if you see it again this week just shake your head and think BECs.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep, read it as she has no idea how to do her job. She has to chronically ask people, “Am I doing my job here?”.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          OMG, that’s brilliant!!! And yes, she’s been my BEC for like two years. I’m so glad I’m leaving!!

  30. anna y. mous*

    I had a death in the family last week, and will be going back to work (remotely) on Monday (ugh). Is there anything people would keep in mind as I face my desk and co-workers again?

    1. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

      Sorry to hear of your loss. Be patient and kind to yourself as you transition back to work.

    2. Give yourself space*

      I’m sorry for your loss. After a death in my family, I found that working from home was both a blessing and unfortunate because I had more time to think about it in a home setting. If at all possible, work with your boss to slowly ramp up so that you’re not at full workload right away – that really helped me.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      So very sorry.

      Grief can really zap a person’s body. Have a strong, doable plan for self-care including rest, hydration and nutritious meals/snacks. Even if you don’t feel like eating much pick fresh fruits and veggies at least some of the time, to build up the nutrition that grief can syphon off.

      Forgive yourself if you forget things. It’s pretty normal for grief brain to be forgetful. Decide to work with lists so you can feel confident about your work.

      Decide now how you want to handle this at work if people ask. It’s too frustrating/flustering to figure it out in the moment. Build a couple go-to sentences that you can use.
      “I am doing as best I can. I think it’s good for me to get back to work.”
      “It was a difficult week, but I’d prefer not to chat about it too much.”
      “Thank you for your condolences. That is very kind of you.”

      1. Shirley Keeldar*

        It’s okay to deputize someone to ask for what you need. If you’d like nobody to mention it so you can just focus on work, ask your boss or a work friend to spread that around. If you’d appreciate condolences, you can let somebody know that too.

    4. Working mom*

      It may be too late to put the genie back in the bottle, but I asked my boss to tell as few people as possible. I couldn’t take the card on my desk and I couldn’t handle everybody looking at me with pity knowing what I’d gone through. I wanted a safe place where people treated me like any other day and had no clue. I also bit the bullet and went back to the office quickly because I knew no matter what it would be the worst day of my working life. Better to just get over the hurdle with low expectations and waterproof mascara.
      So sorry for your loss.

      1. Renee Remains the Same*

        I did the opposite. I just wanted to rip the band aid off and let as many people know and was happy as long as I didn’t have to tell them. I felt it was important in case I needed more time off to handle things and also I was MIA for two weeks, so people noticed and I didn’t want it to be a weird mystery. Fortunately, as we were all working remotely, I just received a bunch of emails and could use a standard response for most, which meant I didn’t have to think much about it. Though the first couple of 1:1 meetings I had with those I work with closely, were tricky. Except for one person, everyone moved on pretty quickly. I had one staffer who constantly asked how I was doing (he had been through a similar loss). For about 6 weeks after, every week he would refer back to the loss in some way, whether it was to ask how I was doing or other family members or how we were navigating some issue. I responded pretty vaguely that everything was all good and he eventually stopped asking.

        1. WellRed*

          Yes to this for me too. I couldn’t pretend to be capable of working and frankly me being out suddenly was not something we could hide, even wfh. Take the time you need.

      2. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        My Dad died the Saturday before Christmas several years ago. Monday was when a lot of people started vacations. I was scheduled to work that week, and my co-worker was off and would return the following week when I was scheduled off. So, I wouldn’t see that one coworker until after New Year’s. The staff who were at work were all very nice (most of us were close friends), and my supervisor was decent. After Christmas, I took my week, and when I returned, my coworker came bursting into my office with “How was your holiday? Did you have a great time?” I looked like a fish gasping for water, then started crying as I explained that my Dad had died. Our idiot supervisor never told the coworker (there were only three of us in the department)! I went to his office and yelled at him, and his response was “Well, it was personal, so I didn’t say anything.” But he was the biggest gossip in the entire organization! It was almost 20 years ago and I’ve never really forgiven him.

  31. Annoyed Analyst*

    I was hired as a level 1 analyst in a technical field 2.5 years ago. In February 2020, it was announced that my project was ending and my team was dissolving. A handful of us found roles in a similar project under the same manager. However, these are level 2 & 3 analysts now doing the exact same job as me and getting paid more. I felt when I was on my old team I was months away from leveling up because that on that project everyone was relatively new and a more equal playing field (that I was at the top of production.) The new team is very well established and while I’m doing okay, it’s not the same noticeable success. I expressed concerns last year that I’d be starting over essentially, but my boss assured me I was just “learning new skills”. However, it feels like my fears have come true. I have not leveled up or received a raise (doesn’t help that we are on a salary freeze). My annoyance is mostly financial because I can clearly see people being paid as level 3 analysts for level 1 work and not going above and beyond in our pretty straightforward jobs. I need advice on how to be compensated equally and feel valued on this team!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Ask your boss what you need to do to get bumped up a level. You will be able to figure out what you want to do next by the transparency or lack of transparency in what he thinks of to say.

    2. Mockingjay*

      Alison has written extensively about how to ask for a salary adjustment. In the Categories on the right, click “Salary” – there’s many threads. In the search bar, try keywords “salary adjustment,” “ask for raise,” etc.

      To roughly recap, the best strategy is to make your case about your work performed, not your coworkers’. Do your homework. Look at the company job descriptions for Level 1, 2, and 3 jobs, look at similar industry job postings, Glassdoor salaries, etc. You might be market rate already, or you might be underpaid. Get some stats to support your case.

      Consider that your Level 3 coworkers might have duties of which you are unaware. If that’s so, ask your supervisor about learning/taking on some of those tasks to gain similar experience. Or your coworkers may be assigned to this work because there’s no place at present to put them, but the company wants to hold onto their expertise for when New Project kicks off.

      Keep the focus on you, the work you’re performing, and what you need to do – training, more experience, salary adjustment – to get where you want to be. Good luck.

  32. AndersonDarling*

    I wrote last Friday about a 3.5 month long interview process that was going great until I had my 6th and final interview with a guy who gaslighted me through the whole interview. I received my rejection and it alluded to how poorly I did in my technical interview. That last interview was apparently supposed to be a technical interview. There wasn’t a single technical question asked.
    Here’s the thing…I knew I didn’t want to work with the jerk, but getting the rejection still hurts. It’s just another case of a misogynistic a$$ being a misogynistic a$$ and there isn’t anything I can do about it.
    I’m trying to leave a job where my manager is visibly perturbed every time I dare speak. (And this is an “inclusive” company.) I’m really at a point where after 20 years of being treated like garbage for being a woman, I don’t think anything will change for me. I have run out of hope.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Thank you. I think I’m just looking to share.
        But to add to the pity party-> I’ve just been informed that today was a holiday. No one told me that this was a day off and I already put in 7 hours today.

        1. kt*

          Are you f(*^&(*&)(*&)(*&ing serious?!!!!!!!

          Oh goodness. I like your comments. Wish I could hire you. What field are you looking in again?

    1. Undine*

      I would be tempted to write back, “I’m disappointed to hear that of course. But could you please clarify which was intended to be my technical interview? No one asked me any technical questions.”

        1. Chauncy Gardener*

          And I’m super sorry you’re going through this. I know you know it’s a dodged bullet, but why it should have to be that way really sticks in my craw and yours I’m sure

      1. Purple Cat*

        THIS! Brilliant. I think you can safely send this to HR as I’m sure they’d like to know their hiring committee is lacking.

    2. Airkewl Pwaroe*

      I am so sorry, what an @$$ indeed. Please continue the job search- there are actually places out there that treat technical women like actual valued employees, please believe this! (Also, though I love the idea of gently asking which interview was intended to be the technical one, that’s likely more time and emotional energy than you owe them right now, use that energy to move on to the next.). Good luck!

  33. About mentor selection*

    I signed up for a mentorship program in my department and they signed me up with someone at the same level as me. About the same number of years in industry as well. We are both women. I am quite senior so was hoping to have someone at a director level and that’s what had happened previously in similar initiatives. I gently asked if there was an error and they said leadership thought this could be helpful because the mentor had different expertise. Well I have different expertise from the other person so could mentor them too. I am offended that our leadership has a lower opinion of me than the other person. Should I be offended? I think I have to go through with it (if they hand selected somebody for me I think it would look arrogant to say no). I am a high performer with several reports, but my expertise is somewhat more technical.

    1. About mentor selection*

      One thing that comes to mind, they have rather few women in leadership, though they are trying to change this, so it’s possible they just didn’t have many options. Does this make things better or worse? I didn’t specifically ask for a female mentor.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      To me, this sounds like they wanted women to mentor women, and when they didn’t have a more senior woman available to mentor you, they decided this was good enough. Maybe you and your mentor can commiserate over this. :-/

    3. Anonosaurus*

      I would feel the same. I do think there is a role for peer mentoring, but it doesn’t sound like that’s the way this program usually works – it’s hugely unimaginative and patronising to match two women for no reason other than gender, and this at least has the appearance of that.

      I wonder why you feel it is arrogant to object to this – maybe that’s part of what you wanted to work on! But I don’t think it is arrogant to question this and in your place I would raise this more formally. I’d want to make clear what my goals in entering the program were, why this pairing doesn’t match with them, and say specifically that you are more interested in the seniority/experience/whatever of your mentor rather than their gender. If you are looking for career development mentoring you need to get that from a senior person not a peer. If you have some other goals, this person may still be useful to you, but I think the optics are very poor.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Agreed. My company doesn’t have a ton of women in executive/leadership positions either (we’re in tech), so they allowed men to serve as mentors in our mentorship program for women. This means that women in my company now get face time with male executives who usually have the power to promote that they wouldn’t have normally had access to just by virtue of how large our company is (we have thousands of employees all over the world). My own mentor is a VP, but is a woman, and I think I would have felt some kind of way too if my company had given me a mentor that was at my same level – that person just doesn’t have the pull in the company that an executive would have, sorry.

    4. TechWorker*

      Also there’s a reasonable chance your mentor isn’t massively impressed by the situation either – if I signed up to mentor people and was given someone who was a peer I would be feeling pretty awkward about the whole thing. I don’t know how to solve that but there’s a *chance* you could turn it into something that feels like a useful two way conversation. And if not maybe she’ll be on board with the mentoring meetings fizzling out..

    5. Natalie*

      Whether to object depends on how this program usually functions IMO. If it’s normal for people to be assigned a peer mentor, and you simply weren’t totally aware of that, I’d let it fizzle out. But if it’s normal to be assigned to a director and you’re the only one not getting that, it’s totally reasonable to speak up about this! If they did pick this mentor solely because you’re both female, presumably that means male participants are getting something you aren’t – face time with and mentorship from a higher level person. Expecting the same thing your male peers are getting isn’t arrogance.

  34. Dr.KMnO4*

    I’m in academia, and in early March I applied for promotion in rank. My institution doesn’t give great guidance on what the promotion application should look like, it just lists what the requirements for promotion are. I asked other faculty members for examples of success applications, but got nothing in return. So I did my best to address how I met the requirements and hoped for the best.

    I received word on Wednesday that my application was approved! The letter included positive feedback on my achievements, which was great to read.

    1. AnonymousKoala*

      Congratulations! That’s so awesome, and doubly impressive that you did it without examples!

    2. The promotional committee member*

      Congratulations. I know the hard work that went into your successful bid for promotion.

  35. JustaTech*

    Question about mentorship programs – how useful are they?

    Apparently my company has had many mentorship programs (news to me and I’ve been here 10 years), but none of them have really worked out. I know we’re trying to get that working again (I’m on the committee that is in charge of that, among other things), but we also have a new mentorship program through the Women’s Resource Group.

    I’ve never had anyone I would call a mentor before, and people (outside of my office) often talk about how important mentors are to careers and career growth and life in general. So on that hand it sounds like a great idea.

    On the other hand I’m in the technical group, which has been shrinking the whole time I’ve worked here (natural business progression and some other stuff). So there aren’t really many women who are senior to me who are also scientists. Is there still value in having a mentor who is in a very different type of work? Like, I’m a lab scientist, will the experience of someone from operations be helpful/useful/relevant?


    1. Should I apply*

      I am a women in engineering and have been in a formal mentor program twice in my career, and I can’t say that I found either particularly helpful from an advancement stand point. Not that it wasn’t nice to talk to someone, or get general advice, but since they weren’t in my direct area, that was all they could do.
      I think in your case, it depends on what you want to get out of it, obviously they won’t be able to help with being a better lab scientist, but if you are looking to transition or just get a better understanding of the company politics at a higher level they might be able to help with that.

    2. Let me be dark and twisty*

      Mentorships are kind of a hit or miss. I think it all comes down to personality and fit. I did a formal mentorship program and the mentor assigned to me was not a good fit. I appreciated what he had to share from a leadership perspective, but personality-wise, we clashed more than we clicked and I came away with more “what not to do” than what to do. We haven’t spoken since the mentorship program ended, despite others in the program becoming close and having lasting engagement to this day. (I had better luck finding mentors on my own, mainly through people I’ve worked with who know my work style and personality, so they’ve always recommended someone who was a natural fit personality-wise and where I wanted to go in my career.)

      There is some value in a mentor who does different work than you, especially since they may have a different perspective about your work or about your skills. Someone in operations could help a technician with their soft skills and that’s really where mentorship is more effective (rather than the hard technical skills). If you do the program, that’s definitely something you can ask as you’re evaluating prospective candidates or meeting with your mentor/mentor-to-be.

    3. JustaTech*

      Thanks for the advice!
      I signed up and almost immediately the person in charge suggested that I should be a mentor! Hopefully that’s not instead of being a mentee, which is why I signed up in the first place.

    4. Cj*

      I’ve had the best luck having mentor and being a mentor when it just happened to occur naturally at the job.

    5. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I haven’t found any formal programs to be all that helpful. Mentors that have organically developed into mentors have taught me a great deal and I value those relationships.

  36. louise*

    A recruiter reached out to me a couple of weeks ago about a position. I had surgery in mid-March, so I told her it was a bad time and I would be open to opportunities in the coming months. By the end of the week she had another recruiter, a colleague, on the phone telling me about a position and setting up an interview. I went through the motions, did the interview, and wouldn’t you know it, the position sounds like a great fit and the person who interviewed me said he wanted to make an offer with a start date at the end of the month.

    I’m so confused about what to do! On one hand, I’m American, so my health insurance is tied to my job and I just met my max for the year with surgery, so I would have the ability to get some things done that I’ve been putting off due to cost. I also work on a team that just had someone leave and we’re struggling to catch in the wake of her absence, and I would feel horrible sticking them with even more work, and I feel like it would result in a bad review for me in the future. I don’t hate my job currently, and they’re all good people who I feel care about me as a human more than as a worker bee, but it isn’t what I want to do forever. It’s also a bad move because I’m trying to move where my partner lives, and this is in my current city (partner’s industry doesn’t really exist where I live, sadly). But, I hesitate to say it, this could be my dream job?

    I don’t want to turn it down, but I think I have to. Is turning it down going to burn a bridge? Is there any chance I could be eligible again in the future? Is this the worst decision?

    1. A penguin!*

      First, you certainly don’t have to turn it down due to your coworkers. People leave organizations, even good ones. Sometimes that’s not at the best time for the organization, but it will survive/adapt/continue.

      Turning it down due to the hopeful move is more complicated. I wouldn’t take a new job if I intended to stay for less than two years. Things change, and you’re not committing to that kind of time frame, but leaving early can burn bridges – depending on many factors, including how early, whether it was planned when you took it, how the leaving is communicated, and more.

      If you do turn it down, turning it down gracefully is only going to burn the bridge if it was a bridge you wouldn’t want to cross. People turn jobs down all the time, the hiring manager will be used to it. They may be momentarily disappointed they couldn’t get you for the job, but unless they’re disfunctional or you’re rude or hostile in your declination there’s no reason they’d hold a grudge.

    2. Natalie*

      I think you’re asking some of the wrong questions, and borrowing some trouble.

      First off, leave everything about your current workplace aside, that isn’t really your concern. Have you actually received an offer and is it a good offer on its own merits?

      Do you have a real, concrete timeline to move? If so, when is that happening and will you be staying at this job for a reasonable amount of time? If you don’t have actual firm plans, I would not turn down a new job solely because you might move someday. Lots of things might happen someday.

      Now, assuming it is a good offer, and you’re not moving soon enough to matter, is the money you’d save on these health things worth giving it up? How urgent are they, and how much would you save? Could you fit any of them into April, or give notice in May and thus probably stay on your same plan until 5/31? If you’d be saving a lot of money, is it enough that paying for a month or two of COBRA (keeps you on the same plan) would be worthwhile? (You’re allowed to have two insurance plans overlapping, although it can be slightly complex.)

    3. Another JD*

      Do you know what insurance plans the new job offers and how much the deductible for those is? Does the new job’s salary cover the difference? Can you negotiate a sign-on bonus to cover the deductible? Can you delay the start date due to surgery recovery?

    4. Crowley*

      “It’s also a bad move because I’m trying to move where my partner lives, and this is in my current city (partner’s industry doesn’t really exist where I live, sadly). ”

      Talk more about this! What does the future look like for you, then? Because I probably wouldn’t move to a city for someone if my career didn’t exist there :-|

      I would take the job.

      1. Cj*

        I think OP is saying their career does exist in their partners city, but the partners career doesn’t exist in OP’s city. And what you said is exactly why OP is moving and not their partner.

    5. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      “I feel like it would result in a bad review for me in the future”
      If you’re no longer there, there won’t be future reviews to worry about. You can cross that consideration off your list.

  37. WineNot*

    I just had my two-year review yesterday, and while the remarks on my performance and future with the company were all extremely positive, the compensation was not. I work for a small 50-100 person company, so work very closely with the President whose family business it has been for decades, the CEO, etc. I am accepting a brand new responsibility this year (marketing) that involves working side-by-side with the President, as we don’t currently market ourselves at all. When we had the initial conversation about it, she told me directly that she wanted to compensate me and give me a new title for my new role. I will still be doing the rest of my normal job as I have been, while adding marketing to my plate.

    I have been hourly for two years, with the ability to be compensated for overtime. In my review, my direct boss told me that that I would now become a salaried employee, and would be making $X per year. The number sounded good (almost 20% more per hour than I make hourly now) until I did the math, and realized that my weekly paychecks would actually be coming in at LESS than I am currently making as an hourly employee who works 3-7 hours of overtime a week depending on the season. The bonus potential is a little higher, but not high enough or guaranteed enough to be a game-changer. He also did not have a title change for me, and made it seem like they just hadn’t had enough time to figure out the right one.

    I called him about an hour after our review (I am still working from home) and let him know my concerns with the new salary. He told me he thought it might be an issue because he noticed the same thing, but that this is really why they need to go back to the no-overtime policy. I also brought up the title change, and he said he didn’t want to promote me to “senior” just because the only other “senior” in my department is someone who’s been there for 13 years. We do all of the same tasks side-by-side. My boss told me he would look into it all and see what they can do, but I am not feeling very hopeful for his response.

    I am looking for advice. I love my job and this is going to be a huge year for me professionally with the new responsibilities and just continuing to grow in my current role with my customers. Is there anything else I can say or do to try to prove that I am worth it? I know I am valuable to them, but no one is irreplaceable. I haven’t been through this before so am hoping you smart people out there may have some words of wisdom. Thank you!

    1. Reba*

      Yeah, your boss’s responses to your concerns sound pretty weaselly to me. How demoralizing. See what he says, but I think in your next talk, try to really stress “what you are offering me is to do more work, work that the leadership says is important, for functionally less money. Can you understand how this doesn’t feel like a promotion to me?” (Needed reform in the overtime policy doesn’t have to do with this!)

      Good for you for raising your concerns, though! I think it’s less about “proving your worth” at this point (although I bet something like that will be said when he comes back and says you need to try out the role with this pay for a while…). And more about, you are taking on a whole new set of tasks, which your boss and director agreed merits a new title and higher pay, but now you’re not seeing that borne out. I don’t know if you should raise that to your boss, exactly, but try to look for more signs about your potential for growth in this company, I guess.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      He noticed the same thing, yet forged ahead with the conversation anyway. wth. Does he think you came down with yesterday’s rain?
      No. He should have clarified that point BEFORE discussing this with you.

      Tell him that you cannot work these same hours for less pay and no title change.

      Suggest to him that “senior” refers to level of responsibility NOT longevity. Therefore someone with x, y and z responsibility would be considered senior because of their level of responsibility.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Exactly. This is not a promotion, OP, if you’re making less money to work more hours (because marketing is time consuming) and do more work. Don’t let these people hoodwink you into believing otherwise.

  38. Larina*

    I’m in the process of job searching and hopefully moving on soon, and had a question about company branded clothes. My current company has done a pretty great job of providing branded clothing items that I actually love to wear!

    I have two cardigans (one light and one with pockets!), a cozy sweater, and a really nice professional button up. All with the company name/logo. Obviously I wouldn’t wear any of these items for the first few weeks or so, but can I still wear these items at a new job? The cardigans especially are almost staples of my wardrobe and I don’t know if it would be out of place to wear one at a different company.

    1. 1234*

      I believe I saw a letter to Alison with this exact same topic awhile ago.

      Is the old company a direct competitor of the new company? At the logos large and noticeable? If you really like those cardigans, consider getting the exact same cardigan without logos. You can Google the brand and see where to order a plain one. :)

    2. A penguin!*

      It’s going to come down to specifics about the new company (and your role therein) that we don’t have – and that you may not have until you start. Some companies will be fine with it, others won’t.

      In general (but exceptions abound) I’ve found that so long as the two companies aren’t aggressively direct competitors, and you aren’t in a public/client-facing role it is usually fine. Maybe not the first couple of weeks, but overall not a big deal.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Yup. I wore company branded clothing from a previous employer at the last company I worked for, and no one batted an eye because they weren’t remotely in the same industry. Had they been, though, I think someone would have said something, lol.

    3. Sarah*

      Ditto the question about whether former employer is a competitor or otherwise could be interpreted strangely in your new company. For example, my spouse and I work for competing Large Tech Companies, and I have some nice swag from his company that I’ve joked about wearing when/if I go back to the office. No one would care *that much* (like I wouldn’t be reprimanded) but it would be weird.

    4. Rusty Shackelford*

      Honestly, I’d think it was weird that you wore branded clothing from your previous employer, unless it was something people might wear anyway because they’re a fan (a university, a sports team, a maker of expensive bicycles, etc.) Since you’re excited about pockets, I’m assuming you identify as female. ;-) Could the logos on your cardigans be covered up with a brooch or applique?

    5. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo*

      I have a really nice fleece jacket from a major newspaper where I worked years ago. I’ve worn it to work at other jobs and it hasn’t been a problem. A couple qualifications to this: none of those other jobs was at another newspaper, and the newspaper is well-known enough that it sells branded apparel to the public.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Can you or a friend sew a decorative patch or other creative think over the logo?

    7. Distractinator*

      I agree that you’ll spend your first couple of weeks at the new job figuring out dress cone and norms, and not to consider wearing one until you’ve had that time to adjust. Even then, I’ll say as someone who changed industries – in a business-casual environment, things with the current logo on them make the leap to appropriate business wear faster – a blouse-and-cardigan job might exclude a fleece zippy for general style, but if it has the company logo it suddenly becomes a great look. But not any more, you don’t get points for patriotism. I do wear my old fleece to my new job when we’re doing messy tasks and everybody’s wearing jeans and hoodies, and I enjoy having that old logo, it’s like a university sweatshirt, it’s become a talking point “oh hey nice shirt yeah I forgot you were at Llamas Inc back in the day”.
      But in my mind that underscores not to wear something to your new company until you’ve been there a while – like talking about your ex-girlfriend, you need to have already established that you don’t care about the old company any more you just like their clothes. Make sure people know you for who you are, and you don’t get known around the office as “new employee Larina from LlamasInc” just because of your shirt.

    8. KuklaRed*

      At this very moment I am wearing a really nice sweatshirt branded with the logo of a company I worked for a few years ago. I wear it on Team meetings with my company while I am on camera and no one cares or has even really noticed. It’s a really good sweatshirt.

    9. Purple Cat*

      I had a coworker once continually bring into the office a competitor’s product (who we were in a legal battle with). Talk about tone deaf. The button-down seems off, just because are they ever really great shirts? But “layering” shirts are free game in my book. As long as there’s no competition, and you’re not customer-facing.

  39. Sad*

    Anyone here left a full-time position for a contract role or a temp gig?

    I’ve been really unhappy in my current position, so much so that I think if the right position comes along, even a temp one, I might take it. The really *&$#ed part is I like my job fine, but I have a coworker who seems to have a lot of capital and they pick me apart on a daily basis.

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      First, I’m sorry you’re dealing with a crap coworker. If your manager isn’t handling that, then I’m sorry you’re dealing with a crap coworker and an ineffective manager.

      Second, I acknowledge I am *really* privileged. At the end of last year, I left my job without anything lined up, due to a parallel situation as what you’re describing (i.e. terrible coworker who dragged the team down and management not doing anything). Now, I am living on savings; I have some tiny income streams, but not enough. I realized a couple of months into unemployment that I no longer dread waking up int he morning, so my mental health is doing much better.

      So, ask yourself:
      *How long could I be unemployed or underemployed?
      *Where can I cut spending and increase savings to extend that time?
      *What would my back-up plans be if I hit the end of my savings and don’t have another job lined up?

    2. Hmm*

      Hi! I am about to do that as well. Leave full time for a contract role. It’s a bit terrifying, because I’m so used to stability of the full time role and mine won’t have benefits or retirement. But I too want to get out of a job situation and I’m telling myself the contract is for a year, if I can swing a year, then cool. I’m hoping I can figure something out after the contract and maybe get back to my old self. I don’t have any solid advice other than I hope you find something better for you too!

    3. Campfire Raccoon*

      At times in my career I have switched to temp work. The money isn’t great, but the ability to jet when you encounter a shady CFO or a toxic swarm of bees is amazing. It also lets you try out different positions and workplaces: even if they offer you a FT position – you don’t have to take it! It’s great.

      1. Campfire Raccoon*

        It’s also a great way to network, learn new processes and software, meet colleges, work on projects you might otherwise never be able to, and expand your knowledge base.

    4. Cat Tree*

      I did this once, about 8 years ago. I ended up in a super toxic workplace because it was the middle of a recession. At one point I seriously considered leaving with *nothing* lined up. So I bailed when the first opportunity came along, which happened to be a contract job with no benefits. I have never regretted that decision. But only you can know how bad your current situation is.

  40. Sales reps making me crazy*

    Recently I’ve noticed that sales reps (across multiple companies) are being a little more everything than normal.
    I’ve got one that we are interested in her product but as a healthcare organization management has decided that we are not accepting site visits from any vendors unless it’s for something like repairing equipment and definitely not from sales reps. I’ve told this rep that at least 5 times and she keeps just stopping by. This is not only super irritating but when asked to call to set up time to speak to people she won’t. We’ve had a few others get a little snippy when we ask questions (and I won’t he into the one who out right lied to us). I get that sales is extra difficult right now but why is it so hard for an adult to respect it when I say management says no on site sales reps, here’s my phone #, please call to set up a webinar or conference call? Or to answer a question politely, seriously I don’t know everything about your product that’s why I’m asking, and I will factor in how nice you are because that reflects your company and I don’t want to deal with snarky or unresponsive service people.

    1. L in DC*

      Can you suspend their vendor credentials? Threaten to leave them for their competitor? Get their/your boss involved?

    2. Malarkey01*

      Honestly I’d get really direct. For the one continuing to stop be “We’ve told you repeatedly we are not accepting on-site visits. You continue to disregard this and you company has been placed on our banned vendor list.”

      Anyone that gets snippy would get a confused “I’m sorry are you trying to sell me on a product by treating me poorly? If you’d like to make a presentation here’s the number”. If you push back on people acting badly I’ve sadly learned they start acting better (or write you off which win win).

    3. Hillary*

      It’s quarter end plus we’re coming up on year end for a lot of them – that always makes it worse. I remind myself that most of them calm down again when they’re not trying as hard to make their numbers.

      I’m blunt with them. You will not get my business if x, y, and z. If you aren’t happy with the rep assigned to your account, find their manager and ask for a different rep. The rep is failing at their job if they’re frustrating you.

  41. Lost Lost Lost*

    For years and years and years, I’ve “dealt” with anxiety/depression. Mostly untreated, aside from therapy. I’ve reached a point where I saw a doctor about medication recently, therapy just isn’t enough anymore (my therapist agreed). I’m working with my doctor on that at the moment. I just had blood work done, so I’m waiting to hear back from him to discuss the path forward.

    My question is, did getting treated for anxiety/depression… make it less difficult (I hesitate to say “easier”) for you to job search?

    I’ve been having a difficult time over the last few months to just… APPLY for jobs. I’m in a pretty competitive field, which doesn’t help, but I’ve always felt much more easily discouraged when it comes to job searching than the average person. I had an interview just before the New Year, didn’t get it, and was crushed for so long about it. I’m working part-time now, which is ok, but I cannot do this forever. I need to get it together and actually apply for jobs, but I’m just so self-defeating. It’s been hard because LOGICALLY I know that, duh, I need to apply to jobs to get a job! It’s a no brainer. But my anxiety/depression is such a hinderance. I feel like “why bother?” most of the time. (Why bother, I’m not going to get it anyway?). It’s just so difficult for me to job search, so I’m just wondering if anyone else experienced this with untreated depression/anxiety and if getting treated helped the situation at all.

    1. It helped me!*

      After years of dragging my feet on treatment for anxiety and depression, I finally asked my doctor what more I could do. It took a little while to find the right treatment, but once we did… Life changing. I wish I had done it sooner. It didn’t make job hunting easy, but it took the process from impossible to just difficult. Treatment makes both job searching and everything else you have to get done a little less hard – it’s not a magic bullet, but it really does help.

    2. PollyQ*

      Yes, hugely, and medication was key for me. Job-hunting is hard enough as it is, and the boost in over mood and overall ability to get things done was game-changing. Good luck!

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      If you break your leg, then you can’t walk. If you get the leg set and in a cast, then its easier to walk.

      Mental illness is still an illness. Of course getting effective treatment is going to help. Good luck, I hope whatever meds you end up on works well with minimal need for adjustment.

    4. Emilitron*

      Yes, absolutely! I was pretty fresh out of school, stuck a loop of not knowing what to do to start looking for a job, not knowing what my “career path” really was, feeling like maybe I could have a career path if only I wasn’t so terrible at everything, looking at job postings and thinking they looked so boring/bad I didn’t want them (hint: I was so depressed I didn’t even want to eat my favorite grilled cheese sandwiches), and looking at job postings and saying they were great but I’d never get them (hint: perhaps the same job postings I just said were terrible?).

      Therapy, medication, shifting the meds until they actually worked, staying in therapy, working with a mentor on breaking down the how-to-apply tasks, having my therapist convince me the mentor didn’t think I was hopeless… all these things were essential.

      I really recommend getting treated, it takes so much of the load off the job search.

    5. Airkewl Pwaroe*

      Absolutely, and every time I’ve had to apply for a job. Therapy and medication have helped but I’ve also gotten through by constantly changing tactics on myself, because depression is a wily beast.

      A few things that worked for me:
      1) Set an alarm every day and commit to working on the job search for at least 5 minutes. Be satisfied if that’s all I have in me, but sometimes the momentum of just starting really helps.
      2) Allow myself to look at ridiculous job postings I won’t apply for (wrong location, wrong field but a fun one, etc). Somehow this can fool my brain into thinking all job applications are equally low-stakes, and if I apply and hear nothing, no big deal.
      3) Outside accountability of some kind. When my sister was job hunting (depression runs in the family) I called her up 4 nights a week to chat. The first 10 minutes of the talk were about what she’d done that day in her job hunt, and what she intended to do tomorrow. Zero judgement, but saying things aloud to another human helped her do stuff. (Fun fact: she’s a doctor.)
      4) Explain the job search to the dog. That’s a no-judgement zone to beat all no-judgement zones! He also heard my dissertation talk about 15 times.

      Good luck! Hope you find something that works for you.

  42. The Money Wanter*

    For a variety of reasons, I know my boss is very wealthy. I am not. I have a lot of student loan debt and support both myself, my family, and partially, my elderly parents. Our company pays well below industry standard and I desperately need a raise so I can afford life. My boss tells me that money doesn’t make people happy in their roles and it’s just a way to get them in the door.

    I’m not sure how to approach asking for a raise to someone who doesn’t think your salary matters to your job satisfaction. Do I explicitly have to say that salary is the only thing that matters to me right now as the lack of it is causing undue stress in my personal life? And I’ll need to search otherwise? Or do I take the typical professional approach and share my worth? I’m not sure which will sway someone who doesn’t rely on their salary for their livelihood.

    1. Mental Lentil*

      I would be searching regardless. Your boss seems to be a zero-sum game person who thinks that if somebody else makes more, he makes less.

      But I would ask for more money. Do some research on pay for your role/industry/level and use that. Leave out anything personal. If he’s smart, he can put two and two together and figure out that if he doesn’t pay you more, you will eventually leave.

      This is difficult, I know. Good luck, and let us know how things turn out.

    2. A penguin!*

      Take the professional approach and do your research on what the role is worth in your role & location and ask for the raise based on that. Leave the personal side out of it – it’s tough on you, but it really shouldn’t have influence on your compensation.

      The above assumes you’ve been there for a while since your last raise. If it’s been less than a year since your last raise (regardless of how big that was) you can’t really ask for another unless your job has drastically changed in the interim.

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      Don’t ask for what you need. Ask for what you’re worth. “I need a raise because I can’t afford life” makes a rich person think you just don’t know how to budget, or you expect them to pay for your lifestyle choices. “I need a raise because llama groomers in this area get $25/hour, and you’re paying me minimum wage” suggests you’ll go elsewhere. (Which you should, either way, because your boss sounds like a jerk.)

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Get away from people like this. Really. Just move on.
      This is what a user looks like. “I am comfy, what’s your problem?” This employer is just bilking you for whatever he can get out of you. You can do better, you deserve better and if you look you will find better.
      This guy has a sense of entitlement/privilege bigger than the Grand Canyon.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Agree, get out ASAP. Your boss has already expressed a weird attitude toward money that probably stems from privilege, and if they are responsible for approving your raise, I don’t like your chances.

        If you already know market rates are higher, you might take that approach just for the experience of asking for a raise, but I think you’ll be better off looking outside the company to progress your career/salary growth.

    5. PollyQ*

      Just start searching now. It sounds like your boss is working within company policy, which means that even if you somehow managed to convince him that you deserved a market-level salary, he might not be able to give it to you.

    6. No Tribble At All*

      Don’t bring up personal circumstances when asking for a raise, but do bring up your value to the company– increased responsibility, etc.

    7. Alexis Rose*

      This is a problem with your boss. My boss is also super wealthy and he is extremely sympathetic to people wanting and needing raises.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Same. In fact, my manager keeps telling us that if he didn’t get paid the six figure salary he gets from our company, he would not be working here, lol (and I believe he actually has the money to retire right now when he’s not even retirement age).

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Hit submit too soon. He says that’s why he goes to bat for our team to get every red cent the company promised us because he understands we don’t work for the hell of it.

  43. Spearmint*

    I currently work in a “wears many hats” type role where I have become ok at a wide range of responsibilities, but I don’t have the time or mentorship to become truly great at. The types of tasks I do day-to-day vary widely, and include project/program management, data entry, data analysis, writing, tech support, training, and even a little administrative assisting. Over time, I’ve realized that I don’t particularly like and am not particularly good at the project management side of my job. I’m disorganized and forgetful and sometimes struggle with focus, and though I’ve gotten to the point where I’m ok at it, I still feel like I have to put in a lot of effort to just barely meet expectations (and yes, I am receiving therapy and medication for ADHD). It’s fine for now, but I don’t want these kinds of responsibilities in my next job.

    On the other hand, I really enjoy and excel at the data analysis and writing sides of my job, but they each are a smaller fraction of my responsibilities than project management. Since data analysis skills are in high demand right now (unlike writing, sadly), I’m thinking of trying to pivot in that direction for my next job. The problem is because I’m become, by necessity, a “jack of all trades, master of none”, I haven’t been able to develop my data analysis skills to the extent I would like. I spend maybe 20% of my time doing data analysis.

    What would I have to do to find a more specialized data analysis/data science job? Would my current experience qualify me for an entry-level role, or would I need more education? And if so, would a bootcamp be enough or do I need to go back to college? I’ve been researching this a bit myself but to be honest I’ve been seeing a lot of contradictory information, with some people saying you can enter the field with only minimal experience if you have certain foundational skills, while others go so far as to say you need a graduate degree in STEM to really advance.

    (For context, I would have to find a job at another employer to specialize. My current employer is awesome about professional development, but they’re also small, and so there really isn’t room for promotion or specialization.)

    1. Cedrus Libani*

      Do you have any subject matter expertise that you can leverage? If not, you likely have enough to look at generic entry level jobs in business analytics – but if you understand someone’s specific needs, that can set you apart.

      Keep in mind that data is a big field with many different levels. Some people need to push the boundaries of the possible, but most people just need someone who won’t run screaming at the sight of a SQL query.

    2. anon here today*

      Given what you describe, I think data analyst would be an easier reach than data scientist. I’ll tell you what I’m looking for when hiring a data scientist: git or other version control, basic sql and database understanding, some experience ideally with linux command line, ideally experience with Docker or other containerization, would be lovely to have skills with DataBricks or cloud services or Kubernetes or (drop other buzzwords here — they’re not interchangeable at all but each is a plus), absolutely non-negotiable to have facility in working in Python in Jupyter notebooks or working with R in RStudio (and if R only, then you need RShiny as well), absolutely non-negotiable to have a decent grounding in statistics and mathematics (this could come from your background in ecology or psychology but you have to demonstrate you have done non-terrible statistical analysis or mathematical modeling), absolutely non-negotiable that you can demonstrate you can teach yourself random stuff (subject matter expertise, more computer stuff, more math/stats stuff).

      Data analysts in my field often have a different set of skills. Need to be an Excel wizard, probably should know about Excel macros, definitely need some pivot tables, need to be comfortable starting on PowerBI, need to know/learn SQL, need to understand database basics. I am a data scientist. I would not be qualified to be a data analyst in my company, as I do not have the skills with Excel and PowerBI (and by now they’re all better at SQL as well).

      We do rely more on demonstrated ability than “school training” for these jobs, because school generally doesn’t teach these skills, so in that sense your first piece of contradictory info is right. On the other hand, we hire a lot of PhDs for data science positions because they have a lot of experience modeling or doing statistical analysis and teaching themselves random stuff at a pretty deep level.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        That’s a very nice description of the different types of jobs.

        As an aside, while I’m quite happy in my academic job (STEM PhD position), it’s heartening to know that I’ve got everything on your data scientist list except the buzzwords. I have some former colleagues/classmates who went into data science, and with a fairly short brush up on more corporate stuff, they were hired straight into high level positions at major tech companies. People with machine learning skills are hard to keep in academia because they’re so sought after in tech jobs.

    3. Emilitron*

      In conjunction with the specific skill callouts that others made here, I’d say this is excellent cover-letter fodder, and a great example of tailoring your resume to prioritize the relevant tasks.
      I think the contradictory info is because it really varies across employers what they’re looking for; I suspect what’s ideal would be a mediumsized shop where there’s some amount of jack-of-all-trades going on, they’re not so large they have a role hiring a for a specific graduate degree, but they’re large enough that (unlike at your current job) there are separate roles for project managers and administrative scheduling/purchasing, but maybe there’s a broad category of “data worker” that includes some analysis, writing, support, etc.

      Then you’re highlighting in your resume specific work you’ve done at your current job that prepares you, and sure also a bullet point with how you spent the rest of your time and what you accomplished in project managment. And you’re writing a cover letter that talks about how you’ve had multi-task broad experience and identified that your best skills are in data tasks, you love [massaging a database and seeing the trendline pop up] and your ability to [interpret X, intuitively do Y, explain Z to customers] has you really interested in the opportunity to do [job posting stuff].

  44. Gail Davidson Durst*

    WHY don’t schools prepare candidates for interviews better? I know I’ve seen Behavior Based Interviewing and Situation/Task -Action-Result advice for years and years, but in three interviews this week, only one of our intern applicants seemed remotely prepared for a question in the “Tell me about a time . . .” format.

    Also, I feel like interviewing on the hiring side has opened my eyes so much to how to succeed as a candidate. What I want is a candidate who does the heavy lifting of plugging their demonstrated abilities into my job description. Yet, people are consistently failing to do that – even when I ask leading questions based on the short bullet list of job requirements as written in the ad!

    1. Catherine*

      I’m assuming these are young, inexperienced interns. Colleges have optional interview workshops but the most disadvantaged students are usually going to have jobs and academic struggles that prevent them from taking advantage OR don’t have the parental and family support to push them in that direction. Speaking from experience here! My family didn’t know what a resume was, really. But my college friends were getting internships from their dad’s golfing friends while their dad was prepping them on how to approach the process and sending them resume templates. It’s deeply inequitable.

      Plus, if they’re interns and you’re asking experienced based questions, what experiences do they have to draw on? The internship itself is supposed to be what gives them the experience they can later draw on in interviews for full time roles.

    2. Spearmint*

      I think “tell me about a time…” questions are pretty tricky, actually. There’s no way to prepare for them, as there are dozens or hundreds of variations on that type of question, and it can be hard to wrack your brain for a relevant memory when you’re put on the spot.

      “What I want is a candidate who does the heavy lifting of plugging their demonstrated abilities into my job description.”

      Is this really realistic to expect from intern applicants? Most will have never worked a job in your field before, after all, so their relevant experiences and demonstrated abilities won’t be directly relevant to the job in the same way they are for more experienced candidates.

      1. Cj*

        Most “tell me about about a time…” questions want to to respond with how you handled a situation at work. Since these are interns you are interviewing for, they probably have not had those work situations come up.

    3. Gail Davidson Durst*

      Yup, I get it. I honestly am trying to tailor things for younger people who won’t have a ton of work experience. I was still surprised that “tell me about a time you had to stay organized” seemed to throw them for a loop, especially when “must be organized” is in the job requirements. The point about less advantaged students being unable to use the resources at the school is really good though. Will definitely keep that in mind going forward.

      1. Qwerty*

        Can you try walking through their resume with them? Part of the reason I love interviewing interns is that I can’t really use a standard set of questions so it is more of a conversation.

        So to your organization example, after talking about what classes they are taking / have taken, I’d point a busy point in their schedule – maybe the semester they were taking a high credit load, or multiple hard classes, or multiple project-based classes – and ask how they stayed organized in that situation.

        Group projects are great for mining these sorts of answers. Start by asking generally about the project, what their role was in the project, and then tailor some questions from there. How did you decide which direction to take? How did the team solve disagreement? What did you do when you got stuck? Was there anyone on the team that didn’t pull their weight – how did you handle that?

        Part of the problem with “tell me about a time…” questions is I’ve realized most people get stuck on them. The awkwardness of the phrasing makes the mind go blank and I haven’t seen a strong trend in people who answer them well and people who performed well in the job. The one job were I had to follow a strict set of these questions had so many senior professionals stumped on at least a couple, so I can’t fault interns for struggling.

      1. Lord Peter Wimsey*

        +1000 to giving them questions in advance – also, might be a good idea with interns to spell out that their response (especially to a question like being organized) can reflect an example from school, volunteer, or other areas of life, since their professional experiences may be very limited.

      2. Gail Davidson Durst*

        I love this idea, and the idea of telling folks in advance if we’re looking for STAR answers and what that’s all about! I truly just want candidates to talk about themselves and illuminate how their abilities might match with what we need – not looking to ask “Gotcha” questions that flummox people.

        And don’t get me wrong – we have some strong candidates that I’m sure will do well, it’s not like I’m discounting people if they don’t have six prepared BBI spiels.

    4. Reba*

      I honestly don’t feel this is something schools should do, outside of like specific workshops or prep sessions, and those will likely always be optional. And as Catherine says, interview prep can be a proxy for privilege rather than skill or suitability.

      This is something you learn about in the workplace or by doing interviews! It’s in a way what internships are for!

      If you hire a lot of interns, you have a good opportunity to experiment with how to get better results. Test different email instructions when you set up interviews! Could you prepare them with some prompts, or instruct them to be ready to discuss the bullet points from the job description in relation to their experience? Or say, we like to use STAR type questions in interviews. Or even share the questions (if you have a list of standardized questions).

      I will also note that “tell me about a time” when you are speaking to people who may have literally no previous job experience, well, yeah they will find it hard to answer well!

      1. llamaswithouthats*

        I mean, why shouldn’t colleges prepare students for interviews? If they need to interview well to get jobs, saying they need to get it through work experience is backward.

        I believe the types of majors that require internships to be able to work in the field should teach interviewing.

        1. Reba*

          What you say about internships as course requirement makes some sense to me. WRT to the experience conundrum, I mean that interview expectations for interns and first time job-seekers should be different.

          I guess I see this call for colleges to train as part of the way that workplaces shift burdens and risks onto workers and off their own books. Instead of training employees, they want people to come in already trained, etc. (I’m talking in a big-picture view here.) College is a hoop you have to jump through for many jobs, and I think that’s too bad, as it isn’t job training, outside of programs that lead to licensed professions.

          My undergrad program did offer some professionalization stuff, not that useful but at least they tried! Most professors are not even equipped to teach this kind of thing–they work in academia–so the opportunities for students to learn it will be confined to optional extras, which not everyone can access.

          1. AcademiaNut*

            Exactly. University employees generally do not have experience hiring people outside of academia. I know a lot of professors, and they can give good advice for getting hired for an academic job, but they generally have never had an interview for a non academic job past summer jobs in undergrad.

            Even if you hired someone from outside with experience as a hiring manager to run workshops, who was willing to change fields at a likely pay cut, their actual hiring experience would stop the moment they started the job. Also, when universities do try to give advice, it’s often really bad.

            A well run professional preparation class could be an excellent idea, though, for course credit. Have people from industry/tech/business etc. come in and give field specific training on resumes, cover letters and interviews, with a chance to practice. Throw in an introduction to labour law, including disability accommodations, unionization, the correct definition of hostile workplace, and some discussion of workplace norms. Do this midway through the degree, rather than right at the end.

            However, it would need to be very well done, with full support from employers, otherwise it would end up being yet another well intentioned idea that wastes students time without any useful benefit.

    5. Qwerty*

      New grads and interns are a special kind of interview. You have to be prepared to help them out a bit because they are new to this. If you want them to answer in the STAR format, send them an overview of that format in the interview invite. Go over it again at the start of the interview.

      If you aren’t getting the answers you are looking for, rephrase the question or probe a bit for more details. For example, a standard question in my field is “what are the 3 principles of object oriented programming”, which half the candidates stutter out on. So then I ask about each principles individually, because not all schools teach the material in a way that can answer that questions. “Have you worked with X before? Great, can you tell me about it?” Failing that, I define X, then ask if they can come up with an example. With interns, exposing their thought process and teachability will find you better candidates than judging raw knowledge.

      Finally, at the risk of being harsh, this post sounds like the definition of wanting someone with experience for a job that requires no experience. You want an INTERN to do the “heavy lifting” in an interview!! Intern positions are the definition of still learning professional norms, of course they don’t know how to interview perfecting. By making that a requirement, you are excluding people who don’t have parents in white-collar fields to help them with their interview prep.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      If you are asking interns (young people specifically) to tell you about a time when, they probably have not had that experience or they are not quick enough to correlate a similar experience to your question.

      I’d suggest asking, “What would you do if….”
      “What would you do if you caught your cohort stealing money/ things?”
      “What would you do if you have been given a task and you are not sure how to complete it?”

      I remember being that new-to-the workforce person. “Tell me about a time when….” questions were a nightmare. I had nothing to draw on. Nothing. I strongly recommend reframing your questions.

    7. FisherCat*

      as someone who was recently(ish) an intern- even if you’re familiar with the concept of the “tell me about a time…” questions, its surprisingly difficult to have a decent answer at the ready when your well of professional experiences just isn’t that deep.

      It seems like a basic question but “tell me about a time you had conflict with your supervisor and how you resolved it” gave me question mark face when I was asked it for my first professional job. I had nothing reasonable to go on, and quickly calculated that talking about my lecherous retail boss wasn’t the answer, so I flopped around with an inadequate answer about intellectual disagreements with a professor.

    8. llamaswithouthats*

      I interview intern candidates and I think asking tell me a time when questions are a bit much. And if you Google interview advice, STAR interviewing isn’t presented as standard or mainstream. Online advice is kind of all over the place. Also, interns don’t have much experience to draw from. I highly recommend STAR but I didn’t learn about it until I was well into my job hunting years.

      Also would like to second all the other comments re privilege. I would recommend hiring interns based on their potential more than their past accomplishments.

  45. Newbie*

    I had a very strange phone screen the other night and don’t know what to make of it! For context I am a recent grad and this was for an entry-level position. It was with the head of HR and lasted 25 minutes but she did like 95% of the talking. She talked about the company, how its offices are set up, their clients and the pay of the position. The only questions she asked me were “how did you hear of this position?” and “What is X Company?”, the company i currently intern for. She said that I’d be doing exactly what I’m doing at my internship in this position and that my resume “was a perfect match”. Then she went on to describe in detail what the next steps look like and said I’d be “interviewing with senior execs and taking an assessment”. Then I got the chance to ask a couple of questions (didn’t have much as she had been very thorough) and then she said “we’ll be taking the top resumes and you should be hearing back soon on whether you’ll move forward bc we want to start interviewing on Friday”. I’m so confused as to the purpose of this call! I didn’t get to speak about my experience at all and don’t know what she could have learned about me. Are they really just gonna rely on resumes and cover letters alone to decide this next round and was this just like a courtesy call? My friend interviewed with the same person a few months back for a different position and said that her experience was entirely different, and she was asked a bunch of questions. Really not sure what to make of the call and now its Friday and I (unsuprisingly) haven’t heard back. What did I do wrong?

    1. Gail Davidson Durst*

      My bet is they’re treating the phone screen as the bare-minimum, “can speak clearly and doesn’t raise any alarm bells” since your resume is such a great match. My current experience is that our Talent Acquisition liaison is trying to feed us decent candidates but isn’t putting herself in the position of a rigorous investigation of who the best is. If she found someone who was perfect on paper and seemed like a normal OK human in the phone screen, I’d be happy to do the further digging in the proper interview!

    2. Sarah*

      Your resume/experience may be strong enough that you come out on top easily, so this step was a formality. And/or someone who knows your work referred you into the position? Or if you applied directly, the hiring manager or HR knows someone who’d know your work and did an initial unofficial screen. There are other explanations, of course, like maybe they aren’t getting as many applicants as they’d like but still want to give the impression that competition is fierce.
      In any case, this is not something to be concerned about, IMO. Just keep your antenna up for any odd things further in the process as you interview with your potential management and colleagues.

    3. Pond*

      It doesn’t sound like you did anything wrong. It sounds like this was a ‘screening’ interview, and the main purpose was to inform you about the role/company, so that upcoming interviews can focus on asking you questions, and you would have backed out of the process it if wasn’t what you were looking for.
      The contrast to your friend’s call with this person could be that the hiring manager wanted the initial call to find out more about the candidate and do more of the applicant screening, whereas for the role you applied to the hiring manager wants to do most of the applicant screening herself.
      Of course this is just my guess based on what you said, but I think it’s plausible.

    4. Rusty Shackelford*

      Like others said, I think their intent was to find out (a) yes, Newbie seems like a reasonable human being, and (b) Newbie seemed satisfied with the working conditions and pay. And any serious questions will come up when you move forward.

  46. Underleveled*

    Anyone have tips on not worrying about job level in a large, matrixed organization? I recently began a job at my “dream” company (I know no company is perfect, but this is a very stable, innovative company with amazing benefits and incredibly strong leadership, and there is lots of competition for every job opening). This job came with a 30% base salary increase over my previous job, generous sign-on bonus and new-hire stock, etc.; overall, significant gain over my previous total compensation. It also came with a title bump, from “senior analyst” to “manager” (not a people manager). I was happy with this and am still trying to be, but I’m realizing after moving over that the company hires some college grads (undergrad programs) directly into my same level. I’ve been doing this type of work for over a decade. Making it worse is realizing that I have more expertise and am a stronger leader than a team member hired just before me into the level above mine. I am not holding any of this against my team members, but am kicking myself for not holding out for a higher-level role. On the bright side, I’m still earning more and the work is comfortable but different enough to be interesting, even if it’s not challenging.

    Tips to stop wondering “what if”?

    1. Hillary*

      For now, try to focus on the benefits that came with the move. More money and that. I (ciswoman) like to spend part of my bonus on daily wear fine jewelry, that gives me a physical reminder of how I appreciate the rewards of my current job.

      Beyond that, try to have an awesome first year and set up your first review to be a promotion discussion.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep. Let yourself up for air here. This is parallel to having a younger sib/cousin buy a house before you got your house. Some people just leap frog ahead in life. Key part: AT THIS MOMENT. That does not mean they will stay ahead and that does not even mean they will stay in the position they are right now (job/house/whatever).

        Keep your wits about ya, don’t get lost in comparing yourself to others. The most effective comparison to use is who you are today, vs who you were yesterday. Grow yourself each day. If you focus on daily growth you will surpass many other people in a relatively short time.

        1. Underleveled*

          Thanks to you both; this is what I rationally know but needed someone else to say it. Comparison is the thief of joy. And yes, I need to keep reminding myself that this means I should be able to rock at this job and move up fairly easily. I do know that they topped out my pay and other compensation to meet my requirements because they really wanted me, so I think they know I should be up a rung or two.

  47. ONFM*

    I work for an organization where we are considered “essential workers,” and all employees have been given multiple opportunities to receive the COVID vaccine. We are not in an area that has suffered shortages; please believe me when I say that if you worked for my agency and you wanted the vaccine, you got the vaccine.

    We are now attempting to reopen, in line with our governor’s guidelines, and are receiving a LOT of pushback from employees who elected not to get the vaccine. Our HR has kind of thrown up their hands and is not helpful. We cannot only call back employees who were vaccinated, nor can this go on forever. Has anyone out there dealt with this or been dealing with this? Any advice?

    1. Crowley*

      Have you read Alison’s article from yesterday? Because I think her advice to give it time also applies here.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I don’t know that it does! These are people who are refusing to get vaccinated (presumably not because they medically cannot). I’m not terribly sympathetic to someone refusing the vaccine and refusing to return to work.

        1. Vaccinated healthcare worker*

          So people are allowed to be scared, but only if it aligns with your own fears? I am a healthcare provider. I am vaccinated. I was very nervous about it, and I have the skills and knowledge to read and evaluate the complex scientific literature around the vaccines. A lot of my patients are really scared to get vaccinated – they’ve had previous bad experiences with the healthcare system and don’t trust professionals as a result, they’re freaked out by all the reports of clots with AZ, they just don’t feel comfortable with something new. I work hard to help them get over their hesitancy, because I think getting everyone vaccinated is important. But I am very sympathetic to their fear! As we all should be.

    2. Flower necklace*

      What are the consequences for those who refuse to go back?

      I’m a teacher. When we went to hybrid, we had been given opportunities to get the vaccine, but not everyone was fully vaccinated. Still, we were told that we had had the opportunity to get the vaccine and school was opening, so we could go back or we could resign. I believe some teachers were allowed to come back later, after they were fully vaccinated, but everyone I know ended up back at work eventually.

      (I’m using “we” to mean teachers in general. No one I know refused the vaccine or refused to come back)

    3. WellRed*

      Sorry no. You can’t refuse the vax and refuse to come back. What’s next? Refusing to work but expecting a paycheck?

  48. Pushing back on new boss rushing back to office?*

    Anyone have thoughts on how best to stand ground against a new boss who wants everyone back in the office ASAP? I’d rather not make them mad and have to do the interactive ADA process before I even get there…

    When I was in the hiring process, my new boss said that the company was very understanding about people working from home for health reasons (their own or family members’). My new boss and several others in the group have all been going into the office, even with the state saying everyone who could work from home needed to and these jobs can easily be completely remote.

    Now that I’m about to start, it seems like they think we should all be able to come back to the office now – I’ve already had to push back on the assumption I’d be doing my first day in person and meeting the entire team. Our state is having a surge of cases (up almost 50%) and has dangerous new variants circulating, ones that the vaccines don’t completely work on, so the fact that lots of people have or are about to get their first shot is not enough to make this safe.

    How can I explain that even once people are vaccinated, I’m not willing to come back until official public health guidance says something other than everyone should work from home if at all possible? For what it’s worth, the company as a whole is health-related and supports WFH, it’s just that I don’t want to anger my new boss/team if there’s a way to navigate this better.

    1. WellRed*

      I’m not sure you can, unfortunately. It’s too late now, but the fact that they were going into the office would have been a bit of an orange flag for me. They may totally support the IDEA of work from home, but the culture of this team is office.

  49. StressedButOkay*

    How do you deal with burnout when it’s not 100% related to your job? *waves hands at everything* Between work and the world being on fire, I am exhausted and distracted. The days are long and boring and by night, my energy is sapped. We’re in our quiet period, so I have long stretches of work where it’s just…fiddly things and that’s not helping my concentration. Any ideas?

    1. StudentA*

      I am in a similar situation. I would like to get away. Since we’re working from home, I can just go work from somewhere else. I just need to bite the bullet and do it.

    2. Sylvan*

      It didn’t solve the problem, but it made me feel a bit better: I began working in the office instead of working from home. This added some variation to my day-to-day life, let me interact with people (safely, from a distance), and separated my work time from my home time.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I’m 500mi from the office, so WFH is a must.

        I spent our slow periods pursuing Quality of Life upgrades that are messy or hard when we’re busy. In my line of work, that’s new automation and refactoring code. I also give myself the built-in break and don’t try to push myself harder than 75-80% so I can function at 95-110% when the crazy returns.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I sincerely believe that people who are not learning to ramp up their self-care during this time will have a very, very difficult time with everything.

      I am not sure what fits for you but here’s some general ideas:
      Figure out what it takes to keep properly hydrated.
      Figure out what it takes to eat real and nutritious meals daily.
      Figure out how to make yourself go to sleep and sleep for 8 hours per night.
      Figure out who is important in your life and get a plan to be in regular contact with them.
      Make sure your finances are as stable as they can be given your givens.
      If possible donate to charity or volunteer.
      If possible find out what needs are in your community and offer help.
      Get to know your neighbors if you don’t know them. Learn their names and learn one thing about them. People who know their neighbors tend to feel safer.

      It’s all work, I know. I’m sorry. But I have had a few times in life where I felt like I had to dig out of a black hole and yeah, it was work. On the good news side, if you make a half-baked attempt at something you will get some level of benefit. That’s the surprising thing- you don’t have to break your back to start to feel a tiny bit better. Incremental changes bring incremental improvements.

    4. Gail Davidson Durst*

      If it helps at all, I’m feeling the same! For a while I truly did just make peace with phoning it in at work and not being my usual go-getting self (I’m extraordinarily lucky in my work situation – my management team is quite flexible and understanding of Life Stuff). And I also had to remind myself constantly that getting up, doing SOME work, taking care of NEEDED household/family things, and then being out of spoons was OK for now.

  50. Zorak*

    Found out last week that I was not getting a promotion, and I’ve finally hit my last straw with this job. We went through a “restructuring” last summer, which resulted in my boss being laid off. As the next most senior person on our small team, I stepped up to absorb her role and make sure things still got done. So overnight, I went from being an individual contributor, to managing the work of a team while still getting my own work done. Not to mention that my team’s workload has only increased during the pandemic, so it’s been a very tough year.

    It honestly never even occurred to me that I wouldn’t get a promotion! I mean, I literally took on the job of a person who was 2 levels of seniority above me, and have continued to get things done with less staff. My supervisor, who doesn’t actually sit in my office, said that I wasn’t promoted since I wasn’t completely nailing the role yet. So! I have decided that I will be putting in my notice in the next few months, and I am very much looking forward to the inevitable freakout that will happen. I’ve actually already attempted to put my notice in several times in the past, and they’ve always scrambled to try to “fix” things, but at this point I’m just done. There’s nothing they could do to make me stay. So my goal now is to try to extract as much value from this job as I can while doing just enough work to not be seen as slacking.

    I’m coming to terms with the fact that this place is toxic, and that I’m basically in an abusive relationship with my job. I think it will take me a while to see the full mental and physical toll this job has had on me. So….if anyone else out there is dealing with a similar issue, I’m sending you all the positive energy to survive and break out!! I would also welcome any wisdom and advice from folks on recovering from a toxic workplace.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      It looks like you have got an excellent handle on what your workplace is all about.

      My best suggestion is to keep reading AAM. DAILY! Until it sinks in that this is what healthy looks like. It takes daily reading to undo the damage because the injuries you receive were on a daily basis. Fight fire with fire. Fight back with daily positive inputs.

    2. Can Can Cannot*

      The best advice I ever received about a similar situation was to “stop caring.” Do what is necessary, but nothing more. Don’t let the job take up more time in your life than it deserves. Leave on time, don’t check emails from home, and disconnect over the weekend. In the meantime, be spending some of your extra time on networking and job searching. Invest in your future, not your past.

  51. Cdell*

    Does anyone have any great resources for starting as a freelance writer? Like literally, baby bird, not out of the nest yet, want to start freelancing? I’m going back to school in the fall for writing and would love if I could at least partially support myself with some freelancing instead of balancing school with a full time job…

    1. pancakes*

      Have a look at Studyhall dot xyz. They have some good resources. If there are particular publications or sites you want to write for, take a moment to see if they have a pitch guide of their own.

  52. the cat's ass*

    Weird real estate question-can i request proof of vaccination from potential housemates when school is back in session in September and I’m renting space again?

    1. Pond*

      You can certainly ask, and how people respond might (or might not) tell you a lot about how they would be as housemates and how seriously they take pandemic precautions. You should ask specifically about the level and types of precautions they take and expect you to take even if you are all vaccinated. I’m not sure about asking to actually see proof (in case someone lost their card etc.) but you can try.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        If someone said “yeah I’ve been vaxxed but lost my card” I’d say “ok thx bye.” I don’t know anyone who *cares* about vaccination who isn’t taking steps like copying/taking photos of their card.

    2. Natalie*

      I mean, why not? Most housing-related civil rights laws apply to someone renting a separate housing unit from you, not prospective roommates.

  53. friend not reference*

    I have a friend who I met through work 3 years ago. We worked together on the same team and I enjoyed working with her and thought she produced good work. She used me as a reference when she got her latest job about a month ago, which I just found out (though an acquaintance) that she was fired from after 3 weeks for just not showing up one day. When I asked her about it, she said she had made other plans for that day, and tried to request the day off, but was told no… so she called in sick. She said her boss had already been unhappy with her and “was looking for a reason to fire her”… but then confessed that she’d leave for large periods of time during the work day to run errands, go to the gym, etc and would always come back to a bunch of angry emails and slack messages asking where she was. This was not something I experienced working with her (though this was pre-pandemic and we worked in an office, the position she was fired from was remote), but it makes me uncomfortable if she lists me as a reference again. I still like her as a friend and human, but our industry in this town is relatively small, and I don’t want to harm my own reputation. I honestly think that this line of work is just not a good fit for her (it requires a skillset that does not come naturally to her) and have tried to encourage her to look for something that better utilizes her skills. Should I tell her I can’t be her reference? Or if I get called should I just not return the message? Help please

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      If you’re not comfortable bowing out as her reference, you could always tell callers that you haven’t worked with her for several years (or am I misunderstanding the timeline?) and can’t speak to her current abilities.

    2. Mid Manager*

      She knows that you know she blew off the last job. I would have no qualms about declining to provide any further references.

    3. Grim*

      Tell her that she needs to use others for that job reference and not to use you anymore, as word of her poor performance will get around and reflect badly on you.

      Simple, straight and direct.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      You really have no choice. You don’t want the rep of being that person who refers bad workers.

      Because I have seen this often enough, I announced that I no longer acted as a reference for people. This got me off the hook for everyone. That was kind of nice actually. And if there was that one rare person who I fully supported I might consider breaking my rule. But meanwhile everyone “knew” that I no longer did references.

    5. PollyQ*

      Yes, you should tell her, so she can find someone else. Not responding to a request for reference or telling the prospective employer you don’t feel comfortable being a reference is going to be a distinct negative for her.

    6. Tess*

      “I still like [you] as a friend and human, but our industry in this town is relatively small, and I don’t want to harm my own reputation.”

      Don’t ghost. Be honest with her.

  54. Almost Academic*

    I start my new job on Monday! I’m really excited for this transition (better pay, more stability, more in line with my career aspirations). It’s a switch from Academia to (Tech) Industry at a startup. I feel moderately more prepared from my years of reading AAM, but I’m wondering if any commenters have words of wisdom for me as I get started? I’ve never worked outside of a major R1-University setting.

    Fellow Academia-to-Industry transfers, what surprised you? What advice do you have for getting started? What were the biggest norm shifts for you to relearn?

    If anyone has general tips on what has helped them settle into a new routine at a new position, I would love that as well! This is a brand-new role for the company, so I unfortunately don’t have much of a predecessor I can ask questions of.

    1. anon here today*

      Check out the book “The First 90 Days”.

      Honestly the thing that most surprised me as a woman switching from a STEM academic position to STEM industry is when I first opened my mouth & said something technical in a meeting, everyone stopped and listened and then, like, waited for me to say more.

      They listened? They wanted me to say more?! They respect my technical abilities and contributions?!?!?!?!?

      I was used to an R1 department where everyone was at best cordial one-person-entrepreneurial-shops-in-the-same-building, and at worst totally out to get each other with years of acrimony built up.

      So yeah. Not sure if that’s relevant to you, but hey. Also, just ask tons of questions and write all kinds of stuff down. Get used to thinking about the business objective and how you can actually turn the levers to accomplish a business outcome. Think about the pacing of projects. Get used to being “directionally correct” rather than correct.

  55. MsOctopus*

    Anyone have suggestions/resources/guidelines for writing a teaching resume (elementary school level)? I know that education can have different guidelines than other businesses and as a career changer I want to be sure I’m putting my best foot forward and I’m not doing anything too outside the norm. Thanks!

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      I think my teaching resume is pretty typical of the kind of format you see on this site. Sections for degrees/certifications, relevant experience, and depending on space and the job I’m applying for I’ll include a summary of notable professional development (not every workshop ever, but things that took a lot of work or show a pattern of interest/expertise). If you’re switching from a very different industry maybe include volunteer work or focus the accomplishments part of your work section on skills that would transfer well to teaching.

  56. VT*

    This isn’t for me but for a friend. He’s currently a finalist for a couple different jobs for different non-profits. He is expecting to get at least one offer. Assuming he gets an offer, what sort of questions should he make sure to ask prior to accepting the job? I work public sector so I have some ideas but I know non-profits are a different animal.

    He is trying to leave his current position at a non-profit because they are hemorrhaging money and the atmosphere is pretty toxic. He’s interviewing at larger organizations with names you would all recognize to help mitigate the risk of “we’re all family here” which is more likely to be code for employee abuse.

    1. Alexis Rose*

      I would find out what the key funding sources are (these should also be available in their annual report) and what the outlook for these funding sources is over the next few years, especially those that fund any position that he would be taking. For example some positions are funded by specific grants; are those multi-year grants and if so how many years?

      1. jp in the heartland*

        Also look at the organizations’ 990s. They have a wealth of information in them as well.

  57. Masquerade*

    Has anyone had to wear a mouth guard at work to prevent teeth grinding? I love my job, but picked up a bad teeth grinding habit from stress at my previous job and my dentist would like me to wear a guard during the day when most of the grinding happens.

    We’re going back to the office soon (vaccination in our state is going well) and I’m wondering how to manage it. Can you talk with them in? If not, I would think taking it in and out in the bathroom where you could wash hands would be the most sanitary, but what if a coworker stops at my desk to chat?

    1. Mid Manager*

      They usually are like a thick retainer, should not be a problem to talk with it in once you get used to it.

    2. Hillary*

      It’s not quite the same, but everyone at work was very understanding when I did invisalign. It only came up when we all commiserated about not wearing our retainers enough in high school. My partner’s grinding guard is basically the same as an invisalign appliance. I can tell he’s wearing it, but it doesn’t make his speech unintelligible.

      You have my total sympathies – my work stress teeth clenching turned into TMJ. Switching jobs ultimately solved most of it.

    3. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      I wear one at night and can definitely talk, though I’d probably take it out for an extended conversation or phone call. I personally don’t think it’s unsanitary but maybe I’m extra gross, I’d just turn away to take it out before talking to a colleague.

    4. Another JD*

      You can talk with the guard in, but you will sound funny until you get used to it.

  58. Middle*

    One of my coworkers, Carly, has been aggressively rude to my other coworker, Martha, for the past several months. Carly is nice to me, but from the stories she tells me, from what other people have told me about her, and from the behaviors I witness, I can say she’s definitely a crappy person all around. Her rudeness toward Martha recently escalated to the point where it got physical, and she’s finally been told there will be consequences if that happens again.

    The normal rudeness has continued, and I’m not sure what to do. It makes me uncomfortable (and feel a little guilty) that Carly treats me better than she treats Martha and other people. I hate when she tries to make small talk with me as if everything is fine.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Put in a complaint that you do not feel safe/comfortable/whatever because of continuing problems from a bully.
      Complain to more than one person- such as boss, then HR.

    2. LadyByTheLake*

      I was the Martha in that situation and it would have helped me immensely if other people had been really open about what they witnessed instead of saying “well, Carly’s nice to ME.” Help Martha out — report Carly’s rudeness.

    3. allathian*

      Bullies bully people because bystanders keep silent because they aren’t directly affected or because they’re afraid of also being bullied if they intervene. If she’s rude and obnoxious to not only Martha but pretty much everyone except you, maybe you could have the leverage to do something about it. If you can confront her yourself and say something, especially in Martha’s hearing, that would probably help her quite a lot, even if it might redirect some of Carly’s rudeness at you. Something like “Why are you so nice to me when you’re rude to everyone else, especially Martha?” might make her reconsider, maybe. You don’t want her to think that you think the way she’s treating others is okay.

      If you don’t feel able to do that, contact your manager.

      Do you all have the same manager, because that would make things easier?

  59. Ian D Osmond*

    What should I consider when thinking about taking on a new role in a volunteer organization? And are

    The situation: I volunteer at an organization that provides first aid services at science fiction, comic, anime, etc. cons. Two years ago, our beloved founder tragically and unexpectedly died (and “beloved” and “tragic” aren’t even slight exaggerations), and a new President stepped in. The first year was rough and confusing, but we as an organization, fulfilled all our responsibilities to the community despite the very real grief everyone felt, and this past year, with all in-person conventions cancelled for COVID, the new President has been having an opportunity to try to get everything running on a more sustainable basis.

    He is turning an ad-hoc just-growed volunteer organization made up of science fiction geeks into an organization with an actual structure and board and defined responsibilities. This would be a monumental task under the best of circumstances; when it’s done by and for 1. volunteers, and 2. geeks, it’s even MORE daunting.

    And he’s asked me to help step in with a human resources position. Basically data-entry and database management, making sure that no volunteers fall through the cracks, and that everybody actually has the skills to do the things they claim they can do. I have ABSOLUTELY NO EXPERIENCE with this sort of thing — but neither does anybody else. At this point, the President is looking for people who are willing to teach themselves stuff, and actually do things.

    Now, I am 100% certain that whatever I agree to do in the role, the role will expand, whether I want it to or not. Because it’s a volunteer organization, and there are never enough people to do the things which have to be done. So for instance, if I am HR, but just the back-end data crunching parts of HR, I’m nonetheless going to end up in the other mediating-interpersonal-stuff parts of HR.

    I like this organization, and want it to continue to succeed, and believe that the President’s idea that we have to make it into a grown-up-people organization is correct, and know that he needs as much backup from a limited pool of reliable people as he can get. I just am not convinced that I am a reliable people.

    Should I take this role? What pitfalls should I look out for? Are there ways to gracefully back out if I find myself in over my head, without screwing other people over? I actually would be good at the mediating-interpersonal-stuff part of the role that I am certain I will be accidentally stuck with; I am not certain I am going to be able to reliably put in the just straight-up-hours that will be required.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Ask for the authority to bring in volunteers under you to help you as the position expands.
      Make it clear that this is not a long term thing for you, you will take it for now and see how it goes.
      Ask them to put policies in writing, you should not be doing much mediating at all. And if you do you should have written guidelines to follow. If you go through all the steps to no avail then the member(s) should be asked to leave the group.

      Get affiliated with a larger group, such as a statewide organization that can provide advice and some resources.

    2. Geek Volunteer*

      Hi! I’ve worked on volunteer-run geek events at a number of levels, although not in a role similar to the one you’re describing.

      The most important skill in volunteering is being able to say no. Figure out your limits, state them up front, and stick to them. If you think you can offer the organization, say, 10 hours per month on this, say that. Then, if it turns out 10 hours isn’t enough to do the job, don’t stretch yourself to find those extra hours, go to your president and say that you need help. Or, if you say you’re willing to do the data-crunching thing, and then you get asked to do something that isn’t the data-crunching thing, you are entitled to say that that is not part of the commitment you made.

      If you say you can do X, and then you do X, you are a reliable person. Not doing Y, which you did not say you could do, does not make you unreliable. If it turns out X is more than you can handle, and you say so when you realize it, you are still being a reliable person by being upfront and honest about it. An unreliable person just flakes out quietly. (This is a more common failure mode in volunteer organizations than you may realize.)

      If you do decide to take the role, you should start looking almost immediately for someone you can train as your backup. This will mean there’s someone who can step into your role if you find you can’t keep it up, or unexpected life changes force you to bow out, etc. And there’ll be someone who can help out if the job turns out to be too big for you alone.

    3. PollyQ*

      1) Data management & volunteer management should be two separate roles from the get-go. I’d pick whichever one is more appealing for you and tell the president that you’ll take responsibility for that one only. If he tries to pull the other kind of work into your role, push back.
      2) If you don’t think you can put in as many hours as the role will need, then politely decline. You can’t do what you can’t do.
      3) As with any role, volunteer or paid, if it turns out not to work for you, you’re always allowed to quit. As long as you’re polite and “profession” (even in a volunteer role), then it should be fine.

    4. Hi there*

      I’d also ask about insurance, to protect you from personal liability if anything happens at an event. Sounds fun!

    5. retired*

      Very involved in volunteer organizations. Most important is an internal listening..,to your heart, spirt, whatever you call it. The energy to do the work will come from that, not from things in your head. There will be really tough times and you will need a strong internal compass to get through them and to do what you feel you should be doing.

  60. VioletGirl*

    Curious what CRM systems small nonprofits have used with success. My 10-person organization (about $2M budget) is thinking through different options. Specifically we need to track program participation, manage outreach efforts (registrations for events, sending newsletters, etc.), and deal with fairly straightforward fundraising functions. Any advice would be most welcome. We’re currently using Salesforce and concerned that we may have bitten off more than we can chew

    1. Brave Little Roaster*

      Yeah Salesforce can be…challenging. I’m interested in what suggestions you get…DonorPerfect has it’s supporters but I haven’t used it myself.

    2. Alexis Rose*

      Yeah, Salesforce is…a lot. It needs someone to dedicate a significant amount of time to it to be successful. There really aren’t a lot of good options for mid-size organizations.

      We have used Little Green Light for donors and one-off events, integrated with Mailchimp for newsletters, and Canvas (free version) for long-term program participation like classes. We are less than half your size though so not sure how these things would scale.

    3. Nonprofit Anon*

      I have heard really great things about Little Green Light from contacts who work at smaller orgs. I’ve only been at larger orgs where we’ve used Salesforce but totally validate your concern about biting off more than you can chew – I can’t imagine using it unless you have somebody on staff that is dedicated (and has the technical skills) to managing it full time.

    4. RickT*

      Our local Performing Arts Center organization uses Tessitura for donor relations but also supports other local organizations like our Symphony.

      You may be able to piggyback on a larger org’s tool.

  61. Anon-er than usual*

    I love my job, and I love my team, but wow, boundaries are non existent. I get on really well with our team lead and team manager, so I know I benefit from this… not that those that aren’t as close are disadvantaged *as such*, but I’ve heard stuff about my colleagues I shouldn’t have heard. I know I should shut it down, but I’m human and I really struggle to in the moment because I *want* the gossip!

    But. I want to progress, and I want to set appropriate boundaries if/when I get a team lead role.

    Can I do anything in the meantime to change the team’s culture? Should I? Is it/not my place?

    And fwiw, I’m in the UK, and everywhere I’ve ever worked has been like this. In my last team the manager went on holiday with one of the direct reports. Every year. UK people, is it like this everywhere?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Eh, for me, I reached a point where the gossip pulled me down. I could see that I was doing less work with less quality. That was enough. I learned to say, “Oh well…” and wander off when the gossiping started up.

      I had one lemon of a boss at one time. I was standing with cohorts and they began talking about all the different ways the boss might accidently die on her way to work. I felt that of all of them I was The Most targeted by her- but that’s just my opinion. When I saw what the conversation was, I said, “Oh well…” and I wandered away.
      AT that very point, my boss flies at me from out of no where and says, “They were talking with you! And you walked away from them! This is why they all hate you!” I just stared at her. “oh well…” and I wandered off.

      1. Anon-er than usual*

        Wow. That’s a strange story about your former boss! What a bizarre reaction.

      2. allathian*

        Ouch. I wonder what she would have said if you’d told her “they were all just talking trash about you and I didn’t want to join in the malicious gossip.” Maybe she would’ve said “snitch” but I doubt it…

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Everyone would have been arguing with everyone before the day was over. She was highly skilled at setting people against each other.

    2. PX*

      I’m in the UK, no, its not like this everywhere. Usually a sign of either small companies or certain industries.

      I am all about those work boundaries, so I make it a point to never get overly close to managers/team leads and am very careful about getting close to coworkers. I have absolutely seen coworkers get treated differently (and worse!) because of overly friendly relationships with their managers.

      Re: the gossip, this is more of a personal thing, but you need to learn how to stop wanting it. Maybe its because I’m not close to my coworkers, but why should I care about whats going on their personal lives? Or what their relationship is with their boss? The extent of my interest in them is “can I work with them effectively, and in a reasonably pleasant manner?” Thats it. I dont really care about their personal lives, hobbies, wives or children (although I can fake it enough to make small talk), and thus gossip is meaningless to me. My tip here is if the conversation starts going that way – redirect. Leave, change the topic to something else, change it to work, but just remove yourself from it.

      I doubt you have the standing to change the culture yourself, and would probably suggest looking for a new job because workplace culture is insidious like that. But if you do want to become a manager, absolutely learn how to set boundaries. Like I said, I’ve seen how managers personal opinions of people impact how they are treated, and 9/10 times it will make you a worse boss. Think of all the stories here about how bad employees get away with things because they are friends with the boss – dont let yourself be that person. Basically its another form of bias, and makes it much harder to treat people fairly (in my experience).

  62. Sabine*

    Can someone help me refine this part of my resume? I came up with some entirely new resources at work that required extensive research and writing. I want to emphasize that this was a big solo project where I took initiative, expanded into a market my company hasn’t been able to before, and not just say, “created resources for new xyz procedure.”

    1. Kathenus*

      You’ve pretty much already got it written. Looking at your post, something like “Took initiative to create new resources for XX, which included (define extensive – amount of time needed or some other metric if available) research that allowed the organization to enter YY market for the first time” Then if there are any statistics or additional information on what the organization gained by being in the new market (increased clients, higher sales, etc.) you could add that as well.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        If you got serious kudos mention, “this resulted in a raise/promotion/ recognition….”

    2. PollyQ*

      Can you find something less generic? What kinds of “resources” and what actual actions? Videos? Websites? Design? Write? Also, “expanded into new market” is a great phrase to use!

  63. Anonforthisone*

    Well… I just was forced to out my vaccine information to a coworker. I work for a large organization and there is currently no set plan for returning to the office, but I fear that when a transition is being made I will be expected to be as okay about things as they are.

    My colleagues have taken the pandemic seriously compared to some, but I have taken it the most seriously of the whole team. I do not go anywhere, except out for walks. The few times I have been someplace, it has been something needed, like a doctors appointment or a trip to the store that couldn’t be done any other way. In each case, I planned carefully to minimize exposure, took all the precautions I could, etc., and those instances have really been something I could count on one hand. I created a tight bubble and have not seen anyone outside that small bubble in person in over a year. My colleagues meanwhile… they have all traveled, with a couple of exceptions. Many of them have eaten in restaurants. Most of them have mentioned socializing. They aren’t COVID deniers or not wearing a mask or anything, but they calculated their personal risk as very low, whereas for various reasons, my risk is higher, and they don’t seem to have any additional anxiety about this situation.

    My state recently opened up to all residents over 16, so I knew it was only a matter of time before people would start asking, but I figured I just wouldn’t volunteer information and then later on if need be, I would say I got it but didn’t make a big deal about the appointment at the time. But a coworker (who often tries to shift things to their advantage) directly asked me if I was getting the vaccine and when my appointment would be.

    I thought about saying yes I planned to when I was able to get an appointment. Before I responded, I did a quick check of my local website to see if appointments were available… and there were. I was probably overthinking it, but I had this feeling that if I said I wasn’t yet able to get an appointment, this person would have started throwing the links at me. So I just said that yes, I was able to get an appointment.

    There’s really no world in which people wouldn’t have started asking for this information or expecting you to talk about it, based on the culture of my office, but I usually try to keep these things separate because you just never know what information someone will file away for later. Even when you do something like make a doctors appointment (even pre-COVID), and you say you will be out for the day, people start asking why and saying a medical appointment doesn’t prompt people to drop it. They have to ask “Is everything okay?” If you like to keep some information private, you are forced to say everything is a routine appointment or risk causing offense to someone by saying you don’t want to discuss it.

    This is just me having a whine-fest. I like my job and my colleagues aren’t at all bad, but the push to share additional information is hard when you are a private person and feel differently than they do. They will probably feel okay doing things now that they have been vaccinated and if you don’t, well, you have to explain your anxiety. They will probably understand it, but you just can’t keep anything to yourself and its annoying.

    1. Tess*

      “…risk causing offense to someone by saying you don’t want to discuss it.”

      I can’t stand these type of people. Can’t stand them.

  64. AnonymousKoala*

    I’m new to my org and working on a project with a coworker who LOVES complaining about the workload. He’ll sometimes call me just to vent about the (really quite reasonable, IMO) assignments and every suggestion from management is met with push back. I’m still really new and he’s senior to me so I don’t want to rock the boat with him or management, but I also don’t want anyone to think I agree with him or lump me in with him as a “complainer”. I’ve tried gently pushing back when he complains, with comments like “I think XYZ is doable” or “let me know if I can help take something off your plate” but it seems like he just wants to vent, and he gets offended when I don’t agree with him. Does anyone have advice on how to maintain a cordial working relationship without getting sucked in? I’m new to this kind of team work – at my previous jobs I was always in a very single-lane individual contributed role where I was the only person responsible for getting my project done.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      One thing I have said that actually worked, “Gee, Bob. I feel bad but I really can’t get too involved in this. Since I am new here everyone is watching me and paying attention to what I say. Rightfully so, I might add. So I have to kinda toe the line here. I really don’t wanna lose this job, I am really happy with my job.”

      Here, you want to chose wording that he can’t go anywhere with. What’s he going to do run to the boss and say, “OP was mean to me. OP said she liked her new job.” LOL.

      You can tiptoe around this guy for ages and he will still manage to find something about you that will annoy him.

      If you prefer something shorter, you can go with, “That’s unfortunate. I am sorry to hear that. So far I really like my job.”

      Over the years I have noticed these people. It doesn’t happen all the time but it comes up often enough.
      Here’s the pattern:
      Employee: I have too much work. The boss is nasty, blah, blah, blah.
      Underlying message: “I am a whiner. Are you a whiner, too? Let me test the waters here and see how you react!”

      Me: I am sorry to hear that. So far so good for me. I hope things turn around for you.
      My underlying message: “I am not a whiner. I won’t be playing along here.”

      Employee: [grumble, grumble and finds someone else.]

      1. AnonymousKoala*

        Thank you, those scripts are really helpful. I’m going to try the second one the next time Bob starts whining. You’re right, he can’t exactly complain to our boss that I said I like my job lol :)

    2. Juneybug*

      It has been suggested here before (so credit due to me) that you mention you are trying to cut negativity out of your life.
      Bob – grumble, grumble, whine, whine…
      You – I am actually try to avoid saying anything depressing in my life right now so let’s avoid discussing anything negative. Thank you for understanding.
      Bob – Why?
      You – Just trying to stay upbeat at my job because I know management is watching. Thank you for your support.

      Later on –
      Bob – grumble, whine…
      You – Hey Bob, remember no negative stuff in my life.

      Repeat as necessary.

  65. Brave Little Roaster*

    I’ve been searching the AAM archives to see if there’s already a question similar to the one I have but I think I haven’t been using the right search terms…if the question below reminds anyone of a previous letter, could you let me know?

    I’m trying to come up with a way to talk about my achievements at work without sounding like I’m throwing my coworkers under the bus. I’m in a role that involves a lot of QA and checking others’ work for mistakes/missing parts. I think I’m good at it and I want to be able to bring up my successes when I talk with my boss, but I don’t want to just sound like I’m complaining about how my coworkers keep making mistakes. At the same time, if I fix the mistakes without mentioning it, I don’t get any credit and I need to demonstrate how QA work takes up X% of my work day. I’m at a small business that is very informal and my boss is usually offsite.

    Does this sound like something that’s come up before on AAM? Thanks!

    1. Reba*

      I know there have been discussions before about like, who gets credit for team projects/how to describe your contributions…

      To your particular point, you may be overthinking it a bit. The fact that QA exists and is part of your role means that people know that mistakes happen. It’s not an indictment of your co-workers that having their work checked results in corrections! It’s an example of teamwork to create the best possible work!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I call this trouble shooting. Maybe you can go with something like, “I did a lot of QA as part of my job. This meant that my job was to look for problems and I took steps to fix the problem.” Then talk about the steps. You reported the problem to the boss. Or you spoke to the person directly, whatevs. If you were able to calmly and effectively get the mistakes fixed and prevent more then say something about that.

      I was doing light production. Sometimes I could look at an end item and realize there was a machine malfunctioning. I was able to stop the machine and keep people from being injured and from further poor product from being produced.

      Anyone who has experience with checking other people’s work knows for a fact that mistakes happen ALL. THE. TIME. It’s not about the mistake happening, it’s about how quick you catch it and how professional you are in handling the matter and your effectiveness at staying on top of things. You aren’t throwing anyone under the bus here. QA exists because people are not perfect. That’s a fact of life. The person you are talking with does not care that the mistake happened. They want to know what happened once you became aware of it.

    3. Emilitron*

      I don’t recall it in the past, but… who knows.
      You’re not talking new job, you’re talking performance reviews, right? I’d go with a storyline like:
      [I know/we agree] it’s super-important to us at CompanyInc to be accurate
      [Did you know / therefore / by the way] I spend a fair amount of time on that
      I believe this is a really valuable contribution, it makes the whole team/company look good
      For example, I caught a mistake that would have sent out our order for X instead of Y
      For example, I made sure our customer report had the correct data, one of the early drafts had a graph from 2017 as a placeholder and I caught that in the final proofread.
      For example, Jane, Fergus, and Wakeen all send their documents to me to proofread and fact-check before they distribute to the department, and Wakeen said [nice thing].
      I’m not doing this to nitpick others work, I do it because it makes the end result at the quality that makes CompanyInc look good.

      And in all of this, you’re not naming names, you’re talking about kind of problems you’ve prevented. And even when you have to be specific and the names come out, it’s about the product not the people – you’re not saying “this one time Wakeen had a sentence about llama hoof care, and that didn’t sound right so I looked it up and they don’t even have hooves they have nails, it would have looked terrible if that report went to the customer” you’re saying “when I was fact-checking for Wakeen’s report, I learned that llamas are an even-toed ungulate with nails not true hooves, neither one of us had known that before,” with the storyline that you’re adding new knowledge to the team and everybody benefits.

  66. Retail Not Retail*

    This week has been absolutely bonkers but today something happened that does require some advice. My coworker was supposed to get tulips for our easter event. Yesterday our boss said “they’ll be ready for easter?” and she said yes. Today he said “and you said they’ll be ready to go sunday?” and she said “no you said that, I said they’ll be ready for easter.”

    Because easter is a season, not a day. And this is very common and we’re all ridiculous for considering easter to be one day. She is laughing at everyone and shouting about it so we can’t be like… only a few american denominations have easter season…

    We had to buy new already blooming tulips! Augh! She’s dug in on other facts like australia being all desert – and she’s not deliberately being silly, she means it.

    How do you handle this?

    1. Jellyfish*

      I’m confused here…
      If I’m understanding correctly, the boss asked for flowers by Easter, meaning the calendar date. Everyone else at the workplace understood it that way too, except for the person actually in charge of getting the flowers. And now you’re scrambling to be ready by Sunday, while your coworker doesn’t see the problem?

      There’s a Christmas season in retail too, but I would think most people understand the buying and selling largely happens before Dec. 25th.
      Can you shut down the argument and say no, it’s about the calendar date, sorry she misunderstood, but it needs to be corrected now and remembered in the future?

      1. Retail Not Retail*

        It’s been corrected but she’s still crowing about how ignorant the rest of us are. “Now that boss has revealed he thinks Easter is one day…”

        1. Malarkey01*

          If it had been one simple dumb misunderstanding I’d let it go since we’ve all done something dumb at some point. BUT, her continuing to throw it out as you all are dumb? That would get me rolling my eyes in her face saying yeah that’s what everyone would think. I might even ask why are you doubling down on making yourself look bad?

        2. Jellyfish*

          Ah, gotcha. She’s over-invested in what counts as Easter for some reason. Maybe she feels stupid about missing the date and is trying to outsource that, but figuring out the root of her emotion isn’t really your problem.
          I’ve found great freedom in Captain Awkward’s suggestion to openly embrace the accusation. “Yep, you’re the only one who truly understands Easter. The rest of us are so ignorant. Now that we’re all enlightened, let’s move on.” If she continues to be a pain, then it becomes the boss’s problem.

          1. Retail Not Retail*

            She still doesn’t think she got anything wrong and wonders why we’re doing so much work for just one day. She was here last Easter but then again we were closed.

            She got tulips, just not ones that will be blooming Sunday. So we had to buy even more.

        3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          “…. Right. So anyway, we were planning to polish the ceramic lions next week, yeah?”

        4. fhqwhgads*

          Even if it were a “season”, once the holiday day happens, that’s the end of that “season”. So by her own logic, “by Easter” means before Sunday. Honestly I’d have a hard time not telling her she’s being intentionally obtuse.

          1. AcademiaNut*

            She’s talking about the liturgical (church) calendar, where it’s Easter until Ascension Sunday (about 40 days later). It’s like the twelve days of Christmas (it’s Christmas until January 6, Epiphany).

            However, taking “Easter” to mean the season in a workplace context is her being deliberately obtuse, and an excuse to crow over how much better she is at religion than the rest of you. Unless she’s literally never interacted with people outside a very isolated sect, she knows what you meant by Easter.

            If she’s genuinely confused, this is probably an employee that needs to be carefully watched and given extremely detailed instructions for even minor tasks.

            1. fhqwhgads*

              I was thinking in the context of a sales season. If they’re selling the flowers at the event, then the time of “buying stuff for easter” ends on easter. But she’s also clearly not arguing in good faith because even if she’s technically correct, she knew they flowers were for a work event and that event has a specific date.

          2. Julie*

            Easter Sunday is the start of the season. Before that is Lent then the Triduum.

            I mean, she’s still wrong in terms of a deadline for a business event, unless she’s planning the appropriate flowers for the liturgical calendar. But I think she’d know better if that were the case.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      When I supervised people, I soon learned that people don’t do what you WANT rather they do what you SAY.

      So now the boss has learned to SAY the words Easter and Sunday together in one sentence.

      Since the flowers were meant for the event as a boss I would question her judgement and watch for further instances of bad reads and failures to ask questions. As a boss I would simply tell her that she needs to ask more questions rather than assuming things. Failure to change her MO would result in more conversations later.

      While kind of annoying, it’s really not yours to solve.

      1. Retail Not Retail*

        Very true. Now, she had someone with her picking out the flowers that aren’t close to blooming yet, but he deferred to her because she can kind of steamroll people if she knows or thinks she knows the most. If it were me, I’d have been like “why aren’t we getting ones that are ready now? I’m pretty sure easter means sunday not the next six weeks! I’m calling the boss.”

        Of course, I’ve been told I’m not responsible for the outcomes of her behavior in my reviews – I should remind her just once of the time or resource limits but I can’t make her leave her llama brush at her desk when it’s pot painting time because a llama could need brushing, I can only suggest it as her peer. But this is a bit too far for me.

        She was also just super annoying all day and it made me wish it was Saturday but no! Still one more day! (She’s mad we’re not leaving our office unlocked because she just doesn’t want to bother with her keys. )

        1. Not So NewReader*

          People like this are mind-bending. In my private thoughts, I picture myself asking them, “How did you get to live as long as you have???”.
          Your best bet is to limit your thoughts to those things that actually impact you. Leave her to unravel herself on her own. It really sounds like she does not need anyone’s help doing that.

    3. HBJ*

      She’s ridiculous. Even if Easter is a season, stuff typically happens before. If I say, “we’re going to color eggs for Easter,” we may not actually color them on Easter Sunday, but if not, we would color them before, not after. And even if she thinks most people (which I can all but guarantee is not true) consider Easter to extend a few days or weeks after Easter Sunday, she knows when the event is and thus when they should be blooming.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        s/Oh don’t people always want blooming flowers in empty rooms where nothing is going on? /s

    4. allathian*

      She honestly sounds like she’s wilfully obtuse and I’m sorry you have to deal with her in any capacity.

  67. Sylvan*

    Has anyone here worked in quality assurance? What did you think of it, and what do you wish you had known before you took on the role? I’m a copywriter considering moving to my company’s QA department for a change of pace after burning out. My company’s QA department often transfers people to other departments after a year, so it likely wouldn’t be a permanent change.

    1. Henry Wilt*

      I think it depends massively on your particular industry. In particular do you have external standards you have to follow, and are you externally audited on them? In my industry we have to follow as a minimum ISO17025, AS9100 & NADCAP. I expect Medical, Pharma & Automotive all have similar standards.

      Frankly the external audits are stressful, because many departments do not take them seriously until the auditor turns up and asks awkward questions like “Your procedure says you do [thing]. Can you show me the evidence for that?”. Then the prospect of losing the approval to supply a customer suddenly focuses minds, but somehow it is still your fault.

      Is anyone else wrestling with the new requirements in AMS2750 revision F?

    2. irene adler*

      Quality person here.
      With any company, Quality starts at the top. Is upper management ‘on board’ with, and supportive of, everything needed to do to comply with standards, regulations, etc.? Or is it just lip service? That would be good to know before going into any QA dept.

      Why does QA transfer folks out of there after a year? That seems counter productive. It is considered a career discipline so folks would want to stay in the dept. And turnover like that in any dept is not good. Sometimes, getting things done in QA takes greater than a year, so do projects get handed off – or forgotten? Might ask them how this works. Or is this a training kind of thing, where a core crew is QA and the 1 year people are trained in Quality and then sent to other departments with the background/understanding of Quality in their heads. In which case, that is a very good thing!

      1. Sylvan*

        It’s the latter. People are trained on quality for about a year, exposed to what every department does, and then sent to the department of their choice. There’s a core crew that stays in QA long-term, too.

  68. Retail Not Retail*

    Also I had an interview full of red flags where he interrogated my high school and undergrad career (no extracurriculars? and why did you fail this?) but he ended by telling me he couldn’t find me online for sure and I’m not on linkedin, so would I send him a picture so he knows who he’s talking to? In fairness, we could have had a video interview or last year an in person one…. I found my grad commencement pic because I really want this job! But good lord!

    1. RickT*

      I assume this is a first job out of college, but even there your high school record is ancient history, all they need to know is if you have a diploma or equivalent and having a Linkedin profile would be a stretch.

      If this is a 2nd or 3rd professional job even your college transcript is old news.

      I’m curious how the interviewer got your HS and college transcripts, I would have seriously reconsidered applying for a job that required them to be uploaded.

      1. Retail Not Retail*

        I gave the college ones, and this would be a first professional job, but I wasn’t expecting to be grilled on undergrad grades. He asked very little about grad or the classes related to this job. All very very weird.

        But it’s double the pay and half the physical activity so

        1. RickT*

          That makes more sense, your course load and GPA are how you show your abilities and level of performance when you don’t have experience.

          Do your detailed grades show a pattern of any kind, like a Senior Slump, or an overall bad quarter or semester? Or, did you not do well in required electives or shined in one or two areas?

          Seeing those patterns could trigger questions. Good grades in related courses won’t.

          1. Retail Not Retail*

            That’s interesting that the questions could have been germane – I was still expecting something about actual work, he asked neither the cliche interview job questions (tell me about a time you handled stress) nor the industry specific ones i’ve seen in other interviews (what variety of paint falls under this legislation). He didn’t actually ask many questions of me, he spent most of the 2 hour interview going over a typical week in the position.

    2. Hare under the moon with a silver spoon*

      Replying to this quite late but wondering why a picture is needed at all? This is not standard recruiting practice – please proceed with caution any interactions with this person, my spidey senses are tingling.

  69. NewBoss2016*

    Developing/Training “ESL” Employee Question
    I have an employee who is newer, but is absolutely everything you could want- fantastic with teamwork, accurate, very responsive, etc. However, the standard language for our business is their second language. While they understand the fundamentals and routine tasks of the position, and rock it, I need to expand their knowledge to really encompass the role as it is intended. They are 100% on board and want to develop, and are capable of taking things next level. My issue is: they understand the words that I (and others) say, but a lot of the context. connotation/deeper meaning is lost in translation. I speak their native language on a passing level, but definitely not on a level to explain complex situations. It is a role that requires a lot of “gut feel”, changing priorities, quick paced, so not everything can be set in stone and translated word for word in a meaningful way. On things that are routine, I have made sure to explain in person as well as type out/translate. On the more complex things, I have tried using others as a translator for conversation…but like I said it is complex, so an outside party that doesn’t really get it either loses connotation also. I have also had an employee in a similar role double team with coaching as well, but they do not speak the native language. We have confusion often on priorities. They are eager to develop and with time constraints due to the business being insanely busy somewhat faster than expected, and the amount of time it takes to get on the same page (a lot), I feel like I could be holding them back.

    Has anyone been in this situation and if so, were there any steps you took or resources you used to help train and develop?

    1. Alexis Rose*

      I manage several employees for whom English is not their first language. I would just caution to set reasonable expectations, this issue will generally not just ‘disappear’ at some point but will be ongoing. I think there can be an assumption that people will naturally improve their language through exposure, but I actually find that people tend to plateau at a certain level that enables them to function and improvement beyond that is very slow. My employees who thrive the most working in their second language are the ones who’ve had the most formal education in that language. If you’re willing to invest in this employee, could you pay for some ‘Business English’ (or other language) classes or tutoring?

      With my employees, I know their strengths and weaknesses well and try to play to those. With ‘Jane’, her reading abilities are much better than her speaking abilities. I give her complex directions via email instead of orally. By contrast, ‘Bob’ speaks English well but his reading/writing is weaker. I meet with him to go over complex directions orally. If you can find a rhythm that works for you and your employee and plays to their strengths, that’s the best way to go.

      1. NewBoss2016*

        Thanks for your advice! We do have Business English on the development plan…I commented below but I am in a similar program for another language and it has helped me quite a bit. This employee was in a program like that previous to their employment here, and their language skills are actually quite good as far as written and oral but I think a refresher course would definitely help, and I’m absolutely willing to provide that!
        One thing I have picked up on, and we have discussed…It seems (and they confirmed) that they are missing part of what you are saying because they are already trying to formulate a response in English. I’ve made sure they know it is totally okay to have a lull in conversation, that we don’t have to rapid fire responses at each other, and it is okay to pause to collect thoughts. I’ve coached on how to do this with clients as well–they are generally very understanding and would not be off-put in the least if you ask for additional clarification. Sometimes I hear a conversation that seemed to be really difficult on their end as far as understanding and they hang up and tell me ” I have no idea what they are taking about.” I just let them know it is okay to ask clarifying questions or even transfer to me if necessary if things get too confusing. I work with them on translating client emails if they are lacking in easily translatable context.

        Like you said, it definitely boils down to each person’s strengths. I know this employee prefers written on my end so they can refer back, so I put as much communication in writing as possible. Other employees on my team prefer oral communication and miss steps in complex written instructions, so I try to play to everyone’s strengths as much as possible. :)

    2. Chilipepper*

      I don’t know if this is helpful or not but my husband speaks English as a 3rd language. He had one employer who asked him to write a one page summary of his work each week. That was the only thing that really improved is English for work. They used it as part of one on one/check ins but there was no real correcting it or anything. It was just by writing about what he did, that my husband developed the English skills he needed for writing and speaking at work.

      1. NewBoss2016*

        Good advice! We do something similar, but it is orally. I like the idea of having it in writing!

    3. PX*

      You have 2 issues here:
      1. ESL
      2. A complex, ever shifting, “gut-feel” type of role.

      1. I feel like the ESL is a bit of a red herring here, but you can certainly sign them up for Business English courses, cultural communication courses, Toastmasters for public speaking etc.

      On 2: If someone new to your industry but spoke perfect English joined, how would you train them to learn these things? Roles which require nuance and “gut-feel” type of judgements often require experience, *a lot of time*, industry knowledge etc. Does this person have those things, but just cant figure out when they are needed due to language barriers? Or is it just that they need more time in this role?

      If its this, Alison has definitely answered questions like this in the past, and the answer usually boils down to, give them time, let them shadow you, walk them through problems and describe your thought process (ie we do X here because of Y, but if it was Q then we would have done Z because…), let them fail (and dont punish them for it), let them do the work but add more approval points etc.

      1. NewBoss2016*

        Thank you very much for the reply! I got pulled away Friday, so I am not sure if you will see this but I do appreciate the advice.
        1. We have actually put this on the goals for development this period. I have actually been in a similar program but in their native language for about 6 months, as I work with quite a few people who are more comfortable in that language. It has helped me quite a bit and I am much further behind on my second language than this employee.

        2. I may have over-exaggerated the amount of “gut feel” required in the position, but it is there. You can succeed and do well in the position by following strict guidelines, but it is definitely a plus to have be creative and develop an intuition. I agree experience is definitely key to developing that. This employee does have quite a bit of industry knowledge and has worked in similar industries for their career. They also tend to want hard and fast rules, which I acknowledge, but some of actions we need to take are based on client preference, nuances with how their project is progressing, etc. With all that being said, I am 100% happy with their performance, the push is on their end– they are ready for more training and “ownership” and want to make judgment calls independently. I know a lot of that is just their working preference (rules, guidelines), but for example if I explain “ABC Client” prefers method “X” due to “Z” factor, next thing all clients get method “X” regardless of if that really works for each. I know they are totally capable of making good calls, they just aren’t getting the nuance.

  70. Junior Dev*

    I’m real stressed out, to the point of causing me physical health problems like stomach cramps, over work lately. My coworker is communicating poorly and my manager is angry at me for asking for his help in fixing the situation, and was pretty rude (and borderline sexist) to me. We’re now working with his manager (who is great) to try and fix things.

    I explicitly do NOT want advice on how to communicate better with my coworker and boss—what I am wondering is if anyone has any advice for maintaining one’s mental health while trying to fix a situation like this. I’m in therapy, I try my best to exercise regularly and see friends as the pandemic allows (online or outdoors). My dad has said he’ll financially support me while I job search if I’m either fired or it causes me so much stress I have to quit for my health, but I want to give it at least a couple weeks to see what grand boss is going to try.

    How do I unplug from work and stop thinking about this after hours when I work from home? How do I do the side projects I’m doing now while I put the project we collaborate on on hold, without being overcome by anxiety? In meetings (I’m going to insist on having a third party like grand boss or an HR person present) how do I keep from breaking down and hold my composure when I’m very upset and scared?

    I at least have options if this doesn’t work out but I would like to try and fix things at least to a tolerable level while I look for other jobs and look into other options like going back to school.

    1. Here's a Thought*

      I’m sorry you are going through such a difficult and stressful time at work. You write that you are in therapy and try to exercise and see friends, so you are doing the right things to address how you are feeling.

      Your letter suggests that the issue causing you the most trouble has to do with your own feelings around anxiety and fear about this job. Perspective is extremely important. Please recognize that you–as a person–are NOT your job. You have more significance and importance as a human being that this particular job that you are doing right now. Do not confuse the intrinsic worth you hold as a person with the job you are doing now.

      Also – try not to spend endless amounts of time contemplating scenarios which may or may not come to pass. This just rachets up the anxiety. Try to take things one day at a time. You will get through this.

    2. Juneybug*

      I am all about affirmations, which helped with my anxiety. Maybe one of these would help –
      No one is perfect but I am doing my best.
      I am allowed to feel scared about work but this feeling will pass.
      I am allowed to be respected at work.
      I am strong, even I feel scared.

      As I would get ready in the morning, I would start saying these to myself. As I would drive to work, I would repeat these out loud in my car.
      Hope this helps!

  71. Helvetica*

    A bit unsure if this is more appropriate for today or tomorrow’s thread but seems more work-adjacent so I’ll post now.
    Tl;dr – readers from outside the US, what has been something you’ve learned about US workplaces that you truly have not encountered in your country?

    I’m not talking differences in laws but more like things you weren’t even aware were a thing. For me, one thing and an example is the concept of a scent-free workplace. I have never in my country – which is in Eastern Europe – encountered anyone even raising such an issue and yet, it comes up often. I just fully did not realize it was a Thing until reading it on AAM. So, not necessarily something which is in every US workplace but which many people might have an idea about and you’d never even heard of. I’m just very curious about some workplace differences which aren’t so apparent.

    What other concepts or workplace norms have made you go “Oh, is that a Thing?”

    1. Weekend Please*

      Keep in mind that just because it is on AAM does not mean that it is common in the US. I am in the US and also have never encountered a scent free workplace or even heard of one before AAM.

      1. Helvetica*

        Ah, thanks! AAM is it’s own microcosm, I guess. It just seemed like an accepted thing from what I’ve read.
        So perhaps the real question is – which workplace practices have you discovered via AAM, regardless of your own geographical location?

        1. Alexis Rose*

          I have personally known of a scent-free workplace in Canada! That was the only time.

    2. Alexis Rose*

      I’m from the US but a lot of my coworkers are not. One thing they’ve mentioned not hearing of in their home countries are DEI trainings.

        1. WellRed*

          I think it’s diversity equity and inclusion. Now this makes me wonder if other countries also use too many acronyms. ; )

    3. Chilipepper*

      This is the opposite, I once lived in the UK (I am from the US) and I noticed a few things.
      1. back when I was there, a lot of low level jobs in retail required uniforms (with business coat jackets – like the old century 21 jackets) and you had to pay for them yourself. I never saw that in the US except in medical or industrial jobs where safety equipment was required.
      2. when I applied for jobs in the UK, rejection letters always started with something like, “further to your request …” I initially thought, glad I did not get that job, they don’t know how to write in English! I kept thinking, how far is my request, lol.
      3. there were all kinds of school leaving certs in the UK and since I just had a master’s degree but no cert in “receptionist” or “retail” I could only be paid minimum wage and would be stuck there without the cert. And I could not enroll in a cert course.

      I never managed to get a job there but I did volunteer.

    4. anon for this*

      Hm, where to begin? I’m from a European country but I’ve lived in the US for about two decades. Things that routinely blow people’s minds back home when I mention them are
      1) not having an employment contract
      2) not having guaranteed time off every summer (i.e. businesses that shut down for a few weeks in July/August back home stay open here, so there has to be coverage)
      3) any reminder that health insurance is tied to my job – like, I’ll mention that I got a good raise last year but we switched insurance providers so my take-home won’t change by much because the premiums went up
      4) workplaces being or trying to be neutral to what I’d consider the cultural aspects of religion – i.e. you can’t call it a Christmas party, it has to be a Holiday Party, that sort of thing
      5) there’s much more pressure to work overtime and be available outside of work in the US. Of course that will vary from industry to industry and company to company, but I think the baseline is different.
      6) anything to do with discussing politics being kind of taboo in a business setting until you get to know people better (again, of course this varies!)
      7) thank you notes after interviewing

      1. allathian*

        Pretty much the same for me, although discussing politics is pretty much a no-no. I work for the goverment, so after a general election, the general strategy of my org can change a bit every 4 years depending on who’s running the goverment, although the strategy also changes regularly due to internal needs.

        I was aware of some of the differences, such as health insurance being tied to one’s job and short or non-existent vacations and no statutory paid maternity leave. Also employers being able to fire you for pretty trivial reasons.

        Something that I’ve learned here is the difference between exempt and non-exempt jobs. We have jobs that are hourly, but they are mostly those that need coverage. Most other jobs have at least some flexibility on when your workday starts and stops, certainly office jobs that require any sort of expertise.

        EDI as a part of sustainability is becoming more common, but I’ve never encountered a non-Caucasian professional in my career. Plenty of immigrants are working in retail and in other service jobs, but it’s going to take a while before we get more of them employed professionally. Some municipalities have started anonymous recruiting drives to ensure they don’t reject people with foreign names simply for having a foreign name.

        In general, I think that women face less discrimination in the workplace in Scandinavia than in the US, but that varies a lot by country and also somewhat by field.

        I’m in Finland, and while we enjoy a lot of things that Europeans take for granted, such as single-payer health insurance, statutory minimum vacations, opportunities for long maternity/parental leave, many studies have shown that the private sector here is the most like the US when it comes to things like keeping an eye on and responding to your email when you’re out of the office. I work for the goverment, and I’m definitely not expected to do either.

    5. Julie*

      Interviews with multiple stages e.g. phone screens, several different managers and peers in different steps (outside of recruitment for very senior roles).

      Lunch breaks before noon in non-shift work office jobs.

      “No reference outside confirmation of employment dates” policies.

      Getting fired for looking for another job.

      Use it or lose it annual leave.

      Fear that asking an employee about their health could lead to a lawsuit (dunno if that’s really common or just the impression given by regular AAM commenters).

      Adults referring to higher education as ‘school’.

  72. SaladSandwich*

    Any advice for someone who didn’t get accepted into graduate school… at the school at which you’re employed? I’m on a research team in the school and I have to continue to work with the people on the search committee (not on a close team, but I still see them regularly) and when the new crop of PhD students come in, I’ll have to work with some of them too. I figure I should talk to a therapist about this so I don’t let my emotions get in the way of good work relationships, but any other advice is appreciated!

    1. Malarkey01*

      Do you have anyone there that can give you feedback on why you were rejected or things to strengthen future applications?
      If it makes you feel any better it wasn’t unusual for my grad school to reject undergrad or masters alums or employees because they were trying to mix schools of thought and academic backgrounds and avoid having someone’s entire experience come from the same pool. That may not be what’s happening to you but I believe that’s fairly common depending on the field.

    2. AnonymousKoala*

      I’m sorry, that sounds really disappointing. A therapist should definitely be able to help you work through some of this. I’m not sure if you’re asking for advice about why you didn’t get in, but if you are: I suspect this is field specific, but in my field you either need to be the next Newton or you need a faculty member to go to bat for you/ guarantee your funding in order to get accepted.
      Is there a professor/long time staffer you’re close to who knows the program chair and might be willing to help you get some honest feedback about your application? That should give you an idea of where to start if you want to apply again. At some schools, (if you have the time/free credits) it can also help to take 1 or 2 core classes for the program you want and do really well in them to show that you can handle the material.

      1. Reba*

        I second this, and especially as lots of programs are tightening their belts and admitting fewer students, it’s tough.

        I don’t know if this is the case in the department where you work, but there is a culture in some universities where it’s really hard to change roles/change how people see you.

    3. Chilipepper*

      I was in a similar situation but at work, and I was feeling awful about myself and the situation. What helped me was to look around and notice that there are other people here who also applied for positions and did not get them. No one treats them any differently and they just go on with their work. So I did too.

      I know there are not likely others in your exact situation at your lab, but there are in other labs. As Malarky01 points out, this is sometimes by design. I don’t know if it helps you to know that this is pretty normal but it is! I felt I was not going to survive but I did and this internet stranger thinks you can too!
      Best to you!

  73. Working mom*

    I’m developing a theory. What was your first job(s) in high school or college and how do you think they affected your work life balance?

    1. AnonymousKoala*

      Oooh I love this question. My first job was as a freshman in college, and it was in a research lab. The hours were “what I made of them” which basically meant that if you spent all your free time in lab, hung out and made friends with the postdocs, you got the cool projects and recognition for your resume. I knew it was like that going in, and I thought I “didn’t care” about work life balance, but that attitude had a huge spiraling affect on the rest of my life, my health, and my professional perceptions. I’m out of academia now and I’m constantly amazed when my bosses don’t expect me to make my career my life or to be on call 24×7.

    2. OyHiOh*

      I volunteered (historical museum docent, and hospital candy stripper) for about five years before starting a paid job. First paid jobs were fast food, hotel housekeeping, server, and then a brilliant stint doing in bound phone catalog sales for the American Girl doll company. I loved that job.

      All hourly, punch in/out jobs. Show up, do your work, leave. I think they were good for my sense of balance. I never developed a habit or mindset of working late to finish a task list, or “taking the job home.” When I had those fast food and restaurant jobs, it was common for people signing off to communicate unfinished tasks to people signing in. That grew into comfort leaving a task list for the next day and not worrying about it when I leave work.

      1. D3*

        I was a candy striper, too! I feel like no one even knows what that is any more. But I loved it, and have worked in health care my whole career.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I figure a cultural reference point couldn’t hurt: the phrase ‘candy striper’ comes from the volunteer’s uniforms. At the hospital my mother volunteered at, nurses wore white, teenaged volunteers wore pink&white stripes, and adult volunteers wore salmon pink.
          And I found this for curious readers, those uniforms are indeed retired at last:

      2. OyHiOh*

        It was useful to me, for learning that I do not handle medical stuff well, at all. If I’d examined my enjoyment of adding pages to files a bit more closely, I might have found my way into administration earlier, though!

        Ah, the good old days, when patient charts were on paper, and teenagers with the most minimal orientation regarding patient privacy could be trusted to insert new pages into charts!

    3. Web Crawler*

      My first official job (I’m not counting babysitting or working for my dad) was as an software development intern in a department that was very unprepared for an intern. So I went on reddit all day because they didn’t have anything to do, no matter how much I asked. I did have to clock in and out on time though. I’m only in my first job out of college, and I’m really good at getting my butt in my seat before 9am and leaving exactly at 5pm, but I have a problem taking too many unscheduled “short” breaks. Those things are definitely related.

    4. TiffIf*

      My first job was at Walmart 1 hour photo–my senior year in high school I would work after school and weekends. I was also in a school drama production that year and somehow did all of this and my homework and final projects and AP Exams and I don’t actually know how. I also went to an early morning religious education class before school.

      The only issue I remember having with my job is I kept getting scheduled for Sunday shifts when I had told my manager I was only willing to work 1 Sunday a month. I never had issues when being scheduled in conflict with school.

      I honestly don’t know how I did everything that year. I don’t remember it being hectic or stressful…but looking at it now I don’t know how I did it all. I must have been able to survive on much less sleep.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My first actual job in high school was as a bagger and cart pusher for a local superstore. Before that, I informally (without pay) helped both my parents with their jobs, which probably had more of an impact on me – my dad owned a B2B office furniture store and worked 7-7 every weekday and 9-3 every Saturday pretty much all my life, and I knew I wasn’t willing to do THAT, and my mom was a medical biller who worked normal hours and I started a career in medical administration when I was 24 :P

    6. Chilipepper*

      I’m burying the lead here, make sure to read #2.
      My first job was volunteering Saturdays at the veteran’s hospital when I was 15 and did not have a license. It was bad for work life balance because my dad had to drive and pick me up and so I could not really make my own schedule, I had to go with his.

      Also, every single day before I left, the nurses asked me to help with one specific patient. This made me feel awkward for two reasons.
      1. I was so worried about leaving them hanging as I had to leave in like 15 minutes but helping with the patient would take more than 15 minutes. But if I stayed longer, that would mean leaving my dad double parked for some time. I never knew what to do. I tried to explain every time in a way that did not sound like I was unwilling to work but they never listened. That leads to number 2.
      2. It was awkward because instead of asking me to actually help with the patient, they would stand next to his bed, hold the sheet, say to me, “you are about to see something you have never seen before,” and whip back the sheet to reveal a completely naked man.

      I had 3 brothers and a father in a very open household. I had seen penises before. I was also sexually active so I had seen penises before.

      Was I supposed to react in horror at, gasp, a penis? Was I supposed to do a virginal blush? Was this the man’s only real interaction/thrill in life and I should play along? If I did not recoil in some way, was I marking myself as “easy” (this was something like 40 years ago).

      I did not last long at that job.
      You’d think I learned some valuable lesson from the experience but all I really learned was a little Yiddish and that lots of old men are left at veteran’s hospitals by their families.

      1. Chilipepper*

        My first paying job was at Caldor. For work life balance – not great. I had to rush from High School to work and often skipped dinner or ate mall junk food. Work demands pushed family aside, there was no flexibility at work and I had to make it the first priority. The law prevented work from pushing school aside; school had to come first. But everything sort of revolved around work.

        I still have a job like that though it is considered a “professional” position with my city. Really nothing has changed except when I went to school in the field of my job, and paid for by work, work came first and my school schedule had to work around work. I’m exempt and hourly and was not allowed any flex time.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Those nurses… omg.
        And the guy was a vet.
        It maybe way too little and way too late but I am embarrassed that this was how he was taken care of.

    7. Business Lady*

      This is so interesting. My first job was doing returns at Target and while it had no impact on my perceptions of work/life balance, it made me hate people. I got called stupid and evil multiple times a day for enforcing a return policy I had no power over! I was just trying to make some cash for college :(!

      1. allathian*

        My first job was at a smallish convenience store when I was a senior in high school (I started at 17) and during my first two years of college (3 checkout lanes, usually only 1 was in use and 2 would be during our rush hours, 3 only for pre-Christmas shopping). It was obviously coverage-based and the vast majority of our customers were pleasant or at the very least neutral. Most of them were also regulars. There was the occasional drunk who took exception to a teenager refusing to sell them beer, but I always had the shift manager’s back on these and I very quickly learned not to take it personally. This was in the late 80s when I was allowed to sell beer even though I was too young to buy it (drinking age 18). Now you have to be 18 to handle money in a store, although they do employ younger people in places like ice cream kiosks.

        I don’t think this job, or the subsequent jobs I had in retail and in a few call centers really prepared me for working full-time in an office. I’ve always been a person who works to live rather than lives to work. I’m not really passionate about anything, I guess I’m a pretty even-keeled person in general. I’ve only made conscious choices to further my career a few times in my life, I’ve mostly been open to opportunities that have presented themselves and gone with the flow.

        I’ve been lucky in that I’ve never had to work in a truly toxic environment, even if there’s a very fraught relationship with a coworker in my past, that really poisoned my job for me for a few years. Luckily she found a better job elsewhere. Because we still work in the same field field, we’re in touch professionally to the level of at least exchanging Christmas e-cards at the end of the year) and can chat amicably enough when we run into each other at conferences. She’s a pleasant enough person as a casual acquaintance, but our working styles really didn’t mesh at all. I’m fairly introverted but she’s an extreme introvert, as well as being as far from a morning person as you can get. If you made the mistake of greeting her before noon, she’d only grunt in reply. When it was really bad, we sat in offices next to each other, and later in the same office, and only communicated by email most of the day. She had seniority and our then-boss was a very not-people person. She got frustrated because I made a lot of mistakes in the beginning and wouldn’t learn from feedback because I kept making the same mistakes, which I totally understand would frustrate anyone. I only wish that I’d had a bit more support in the beginning, that would’ve avoided a lot of unpleasantness, because the lack of support made me nervous and anxious, which only led to more mistakes and made it harder to do my job and to learn from feedback. I figure I was a big disappointment to her, because I learned later that I was hired on her strong recommendation. I guess I was also lucky in that my skills on paper were a bit uncommon in the field because I was a career switcher, but matched my org’s requirements, and they had tried to fill the role for six months before hiring me. Otherwise I’m sure I wouldn’t have made it past my probation period. When she quit, I was thrown into the deep end because it took another six months to find her replacement. That’s when I really settled into the role and realized that I had a lot of potential and skills that I hadn’t been able to use properly because she made me so nervous and anxious. I’ve grown as a professional and have received recognition outside my org for my efforts since then.

        I’m still at the same org, more than 10 years and 2 managers later. My then-manager was transferred to an IC role in an organizational reform a few years ago when they eliminated nearly 100 management positions in an org with 2,000 employees. She was frankly incompetent as a manager and I think she was glad to get out of management. At least she’s far more pleasant to work with as a peer in a different department.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I worked in my high school cafeteria one semester. I do not like people whining at me to get preferential treatment (portion control was a Very Big Deal to cafeteria management AND the kids who wanted extra fries). And it was my last regular food-service job. (Volunteer events, one-day gigs at a friend’s restaurant yes…smelling French fries on my skin until I’ve showered, no.)

    9. Cj*

      My first job was in fast food when I was 16. I ended up asking to only work 8 – 5 on Sat and Sun (which were actually hard days for them to schedule people), so that I could still be a cheerleader, etc., and also not get scheduled for short shifts when it was a 15 mile commute. It actually helped my work/life balance because it meant I had money for the “life” part.

    10. zaracat*

      My first paid jobs were in the last few years of high school, briefly worked as a kitchen hand in the city zoo’s cafeteria and then switched to sales assistant in a gourmet deli, and at the same time I had a pretty heavy volunteer commitment as a first aider at public events. I don’t know that this had much of an effect on my work-life balance at first. Once I qualified as a doctor the workload was so heavy my life consisted solely of work-eat-sleep-repeat for a few years with nothing much else outside that. That was pretty miserable. I do have the luxury of working part time now (at age 56) and pursuing various hobbies, which is much better.

  74. Anon anon anon*

    I’m having trouble standing out at work/getting considered for more opportunities. I had a good performance review at my annual review in January (with a bonus) but I seem to get fewer high-profile opportunities than many of my peers and often get stuck in supporting roles. (I work at a F500 in a major metro area) Has anyone else been there and have any advice?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      In some ways it’s kinda sad, but I have made my way in the work world by taking on the tasks that no one wanted and knocking them out of the park.
      Once I got done, modifying/streamlining/consolidating/labeling/ and anything else you can think of that undesirable task was no longer a problem. People were fine with doing it.

      You are in uncharted territory. No one else wants to help, or is willing to help.
      Once you knock one out of the park, they give you more headaches to fix.
      It’s tiring, it can feel like reinventing the wheel sometimes. It’s hard to remember that there is a genuine need to fix the particular situation.

    2. PX*

      Do you ask or make it clear that you want these higher profile opportunities? Bias on many fronts (race, gender, personality type etc) often mean that the default for people when thinking of “who should get opportunities” is usually going to be the outgoing straight white man. If you are not that person, you need to work harder to get people to think of you, and hope that your company is open to that.

  75. D3*

    PSA: LinkedIn is NOT A DATING SITE. This week I’ve attended a conference for women in my field, and as part of that many of us were sharing and connecting on LinkedIn through the roundtable discussions.
    Men who were lurking in the online conference send me connection requests with notes saying that’s where they found me and complimenting my picture, asking if I was single, and other crap like that.
    I don’t mind them attending the conference, and hanging back to let the women speak feels like a good plan, since the conference is for the women.

    1. The Original K.*

      I think LinkedIn has gotten more social in recent years. It used to be purely professional and people only talked about work. There’s much less of that now. I just saw a post by someone who just got married – “Today I married my best friend,” etc., with a wedding photo. Which is lovely but feels like it would be more appropriate on FB than on LinkedIn.

      I’ve gotten hit on by people on LinkedIn and it’s so creepy. I hate it.

  76. thebakeisafry*

    I’ve been really enjoying the Axios @Work newsletter and was sad to hear they’re discontinuing it. I liked that it focused more on work culture and trends, instead of just updates about companies. (See for an example.)

    Does anyone have any recommendations for a replacement newsletter that’s about the world of work?

  77. The Prettiest Curse*

    I’m working on my first major virtual event (for an international audience of 300+ people) and I’m interested to hear from anyone who’s attended a virtual networking session, especially speed networking. What was the sign-up process like? What worked and what didn’t work? We’ll be using our own custom hosting platform and not Zoom if that makes a difference. Thank you all in advance!

    1. No Tribble At All*

      Test the platform in advance! Make sure you have things in place for people who join late or forgot what group they’re assigned to.

      I’ve found it helpful to have a “broadcast” panel or speaker interspersed with the unstructured networking discussions. That way people don’t get stuck in one group. It was also helpful to have the breakout rooms have a theme– I went to one that had rooms divided up into career tips, work/life balance, diversity/inclusion, grad school.

    2. Malarkey01*

      Schedule breaks the same way you would in person and allow a little extra time for people to grab food/drinks or just to take a break from screens.

  78. Can I just live in the moment?*

    Does anyone have problems with family get-togethers and too many photos being taken?  I feel like I constantly have to stop and smile for a camera … for a photo I don’t want to see anyway.   Can I just live in the moment?   

    OK, I admit I’m not a model and not exactly someone I want to look at all the time.   I last took a selfie so I could buy bitcoin (does that even count as a selfie?)  People keep saying I will regret not missing not taking the photos.  I’m old enough that I’ve lost a lot of family and friends and lost a chunk of photos because of a computer crash and the lack of photos still hasn’t hit me.  For me, I’d rather remember someone with a treasured story rather than a disliked photo.

    It’s only a minority of the family making us do this and the photo shoot gets particularly painful with teenagers and little kids.  Why should a minority of the family choose this activity?  Most of the other adults are annoyed and just don’t feel it’s worth the fight.

    I’ve found ways to avoid some photos by being the photographer or just pretending not to hear from the other side of the room.  I’m not 100% against photos.   I’m fine with candid photos.   We’re missing something by constantly trying to capture something in photo.

    1. D3*

      Remember that photos of you are not for you, and give some grace to the family members who value them.
      My grandmother was very much like you, and as a result I only have three photos of her total. And she’s gone now. And I wish she had been more willing to be in the photos.

  79. Tired Unicorn*

    TLDR: Are there good resources for explaining to male leaders in tech the giant issues with sexism and women getting shuffled into non-technical supportive roles? I’m tired of being the Educator on Gender Dynamics and would like the guys to do a little research.

    I am the only woman on my team and the first female engineer at my company. This is not a new experience for me but I’m realizing that I’ve lost my tolerance for ignorance on gender dynamics. I kinda feel like guys should know about this stuff by now, especially if they are in leadership positions. Recently, the head of my department, Fergus, has been trying to push me in to non-technical support roles, like documentation and testing. In my experience, this tends to be a career killer as it results in me not gaining technical skills while also losing the tech skills I have (which means it is harder to get a new job after that). Fergus seems genuinely confused when I pointed out that I’m drawing a boundary on things like this because of a long history in the industry of women being shuffled into these roles and that I want to be seen as an engineer. I’ve touched on this gender issue a couple time before when Fergus wanted to know more about my background (I have left jobs before when they pushed me off the engineering track), and he was surprised to hear that sort of thing happened. I really don’t get how someone can run a department without being aware of major trends in the tech industry, especially when one of the goals he was given was to increase the diversity in the department.

    On the other hand, I have my team lead, Colin, who is a new manager and also unaware of these things. In Colin’s case I’m more forgiving since the team has a great dynamic where I feel like just another engineer rather than a female engineer. The non-engineering tasks get evenly distributed across the team, everyone is super supportive of each other, and they respond great to feedback. It’s almost like they’ve been sheltered in this futuristic bubble where gender doesn’t matter – until I had to start interacting with people further outside our team (the ones we directly work with are pretty great too) So far I’ve haven’t really wanted to bring up gender/diversity stuff with them because I was almost afraid it would corrupt this dynamic. Colin has helped block the proposed role changes from Fergus in the past, but he’s viewing it through a gender-neutral lense of “that’s not the job Tired Unicorn accepted”. But we’re trying to hire more women (and people in general) and I think he needs to understand what kind of environment the industry has. And what the optics are of the only female engineering consistently being asked (and being the only engineer asked) to move to a non-engineering role by the head of the department.

    Are there any resources I can point these guys towards? I feel like right now I’m asking them to take my word for it and its always after the fact. It feels like this is starting to affect how Fergus views me and I don’t want to get labeled as “not a team player”. I see Fergus becoming defense (since it’s hard to point out he’s following a gender-trend without implying sexism) whereas Colin just seems confused that there could be people who think this way. Since they are at different levels, is there info that presented more towards an executive vs lead/manager? The only thing I can think of right now is to tell them to go read the infamous Google Memo since that sparked lots of support from men in the community and some great articles from women explaining how they get sidelined at tech companies.

    1. Mockingjay*

      Oh, I feel ya. I’m in documentation (lol) and I just had a long conversation this morning with my supervisor about being perceived as an assistant by the project lead instead of technical support. [30 effing years of technical writing – for aircraft, comm systems, software requirements derivation and test – reduced to “can you upload this file to SharePoint for me? I can’t figure out how to do it.” Explains why your engineering project is a complete failure you *!@#…sorry, rant over]

      Do you really believe Fergus will be enlightened if you send him links for reading? You might have to go over his head to effect any change in company attitudes, especially unconscious bias. That’s capital you’d have to decide is worth expending.

      In the meantime, put Fergus on the defensive (politely). “Fergus, why do you want me to take on this role? I don’t have any experience in that area.” When he says you’re the best person, press him for why. (He’ll squirm trying to come up with reasons.) Then, “Actually, I prefer to stay in my technical role. We should hire someone who has those skills already.”

      I’m glad Colin has your back.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        I agree. I don’t think there’s anything Fergus can read that will actually have an impact on him. I like the idea of very explicitly asking him “Why are you trying to push ME into this role and not Wakeen or Joaquin or… any of the men at all?”

        1. Tired Unicorn*

          His reason is that I’m the one bringing up that we need those tasks done and that hiring someone new will take too long. I am the newest person on the team so there’s also a stronger argument that the guys are needed where they are, since I haven’t had a chance to carve out a space as mine yet. Colin is expecting them to hire someone, but it doesn’t seem like it’s happening.

          My past experience is that men like Fergus will always come up with a reason that seems perfectly innocent and plausible to them so I only have success if I can get them to see the overall trend. But since I’m the only woman, there’s no trend of other women getting the same treatment.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            Would Colin step up and say “I want TU to concentrate on engineering?”

          2. The New Wanderer*

            You pointing out a legitimate business need (non-technical support) should not result in you being pushed off technical work to do this. Documentation and testing are their own skill sets and should have dedicated people in those roles. At any rate you need those tasks done by someone who isn’t you because you already have a role, which Colin seems to be backing.

            Is there any chance you can get one or more of the longer-term men to start speaking up on needing these things too? It would become clear very quickly if Fergus’ solution is still “Have TU do it” since right now he has plausible deniability about you speaking up and therefore you should own it. Then even if he defaults to the even weaker excuse that you’re the newest should be met by Colin saying “Yes and I hired her specifically to do the engineering work, not non-technical work. We need non-technical support, therefore we should hire the right non-technical support.”

            1. The New Wanderer*

              Sorry, I missed the root question about resources to share with your team and maybe Fergus. There have been a lot of studies (and news articles that reference them) that show how big the dropoff is from women who get degrees in STEM and start early careers in STEM and then leave the field(s) after a few years. The challenge is that there are a number of factors that contribute, so someone who doesn’t want to think about their potential role in this will just dismiss the various causes and say “Our company isn’t like that, we support female employees. See, we offer paid mat leave.” Or “But we have a female VP” without recognizing that if there is one, she’s almost always in HR or another non-technical role.

    2. OtterB*

      I like Better Allies, which has a book and accounts on multiple social media. They are good at laying out the issues and at prepping people who are not in the discriminated-against demographic (i.e. are male and/or majority race) to notice and respond to issues.

    3. Emilitron*

      I’ve got very little advice, just sympathy. As a woman in tech, one of the things I struggle with is the fact that while I am good at the technical aspects of my job, one of my strengths is in team dynamics, clear communication, project tasking, etc. One of the growth paths for engineers is into leadership roles, (project leads, team leads, group leads) that have delegated so much technical tasks that they require little of that expertise on a day-to-day level. The weird thing is that moving along that promotion path feels almost like a demotion in terms of personal technical respect from fellow engineers, and I have no idea how rational that gut response is on my part. So it’s nothing I can imagine trying to explain to any of my male managers.
      Your problem is definitely more immediate and concrete than that – they’re assigning tasks that aren’t what you want, or what you’re specifically good at, or arguably advancing your career. That’s worth pushing back against, especially the question of whether Fergus’s subconscious assessment of your career is different from some male engineer’s career in ways that make these admin tasks somehow more palatable to his vision of you than they ought to be.

  80. cbh*

    I was discussing this with friends the other day. I’m curious to AAM reader’s opinions.

    When life returns to normal, do you thing work from home jobs will be more the norm? My friend has been working the entire time and is currently assigned to a side project at work that will give her amazing experience in a niche that is hard to get experience in. However my friend is burnt out. Covid (obviously) has made things challenging balancing home, work, family etc. She does keeps up with her work but feels more in control working from home. Her logic is her water cooler talk is replaced with catching up at home – washing the dishes, throwing the laundry in the dryer. These little 5 minute breaks help her get more of a mental break and family time. She doesn’t want to switch jobs till after this project. She plans to search for WFH positions. Her search won’t start until January 2022.

    My friend seems to think this will be a new norm and doable. While I agree with her, I ALSO (not completely) think some companies and industries will try to get people back into the office.

    Neither way is right or wrong; each way has it’s pros and cons. What’s everyone else’s opinion.

    1. Jellyfish*

      We’re planning to return to the office mid-way through the summer, and I will definitely miss those elements of working from home. Doing the dishes only takes 10 – 15 minutes no matter what time of day I do them. Mentally though, it feels so much nicer get that done over lunch or during a break than facing a sink of dishes in the evenings after I’ve commuted and worked a whole day.

      I’m sad about having to wear shoes all day long again too. It’s been a year, and I’ve gotten used to working a different way. It will be an adjustment to go back, and not entirely a nice one.

    2. anon librarian*

      I’m pretty cynical. I think we are already headed back to business as usual.
      I live in South Florida and you would not know there was a pandemic the streets, shops, and restaurants are all full. In my job I have to tell people coming in the building to wear a mask and I have to tell them a lot and they keep taking them off to talk. Yesterday a woman took hers off the blow her nose while her face was about 1 inch from the plexiglass barrier we have up (thank goodness for that barrier!).

    3. Nicki Name*

      You’re right, it’s going to vary. In tech we’ve known for a long time that distributed workplaces were theoretically doable, and now we’ve found that they’re actually doable, but some large tech companies are insisting that people come back to the office when the pandemic recedes anyway.

    4. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      I don’t think we’ll know until companies make those decisions. Some (like Facebook) have already announced a permanent allowance for remote work; some (like Amazon) have confirmed to remain an “office-centric culture”. I know my workplace which was pretty dang resistant to wfh before the pandemic will be phasing staff back on a partially remote basis, maybe 2 days in office/3 days remote, for the foreseeable future.

    5. FisherCat*

      I think its going to be some of both- fields and orgs that have a reputation for good culture, good benefits will v likely be willing to implement a WFH or hybrid schedule. I work in a “traditional” field and for a pretty old school employer… I expect we will be back to the office full time, in suits in a matter of weeks.

      I’ve loved WFH and its going on my list of things I’d like next time I’m job hunting.

    6. Working mom*

      I actually work in office furnishings, so we’re up on the trends resulting from the pandemic. Lots of businesses have recognized a cost savings from having their staff work from home, either in reduced real estate needed in the office or none altogether. Workers are more product e at home. However, there’s also a call for touch down spaces in a communal office. Bits less toward individual cu icle farms and more hot-desking and small rooms and touch-base spaces.
      I knew a year ago that many people would not want to come back to an office full time. Candidates will start to demand at least pt wfh. The good companies will not want to lose a candidate over such a trendy thing. The general market shift may be slow, but employers will need to get on board and adapt to more wfh. So yes, I absolutely think wfh will become the norm, at least part time.

      1. Mockingjay*

        I think it depends on leases and infrastructure investments for companies, as well as type of industry. My company had a desperate need for new spaces; we had completely outgrown the old and were renting temp spaces for overflow. So they leased and refurbished spaces in a modern office park. COVID hit two months later and nearly everyone was sent home. Most of the furniture still has tags and has never been used.

        While we can do a lot from home, our core work is IT and engineering, so most of us will have to return at some point to work with the widgets. There’s been pushback from most people who want to remain at home and come in as needed, but that many staff wanting to telework raises questions about responsiveness and the ability to work in teams.

        The company has not given us a return date, but I expect one this summer.

    7. Girasol*

      Just read in Glassdoor that my ex-employer with the butt-in-seat culture has declared that as soon as it is possible to get employees back to the office, they will. The old rule “No Such Thing As Work From Home” will be firmly reinstated. Software development cannot be done at home! Once a neanderthal…

    8. Maggie*

      Companies are going to want to often (not always) being people back to the office. I think a lot of people want to continue working from home and feel like they’ve proved to themself and their company that they can, but are losing sight of what all this WFH time was suppose to be. It was “WFH during the pandemic” not “WFH indefinitely”. I dont think she’s wrong for looking for WFH job if that’s what she wants. But I also think a lot of people are treating it as unreasonable that offices are going to eventually resume in person work. Yes, even if your job could be done from home. If you only want WFH jobs, your job search will be limited as compared to if you were willing to do either.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        I’ve definitely seen this. I do have a feeling that *managing* people working from was a very different experience than simply working from home. There are some people who were more productive or as productive as when they were in the office. There were people who really liked it, but weren’t as productive as they needed to be, and people who disliked it and underperformed, and people who used the lack of in person supervision to slack off, plus the whole pandemic kids/isolation/space issue. So an individual worker saw mostly their own experience (ie, this is so good for me), while a manager had to deal with the whole range.

        I also wonder about the balance of remote/in person in a given workplace. In some ways, it can be easier to have everyone work from home, with meetings on-line, and messaging systems, and no in person contact, than to run a hybrid model, where 2/3 of the people are interacting in person and having face to face meetings, and the other 1/3 are Zooming in and using Slack.

        There are two things I think will be a bit tricky to address. One is that post-pandemic work from home will have stricter rules regarding things like a private space for phone calls, or a lockable office for important documents, or rules regarding things like HIPPA and the need for childcare while working. These rules were relaxed due to the pandemic and the need to unexpectedly work from home, but will be applied again, which may come as a surprise to people who hadn’t worked from home before. The other is the assumption that you can pull in a Silicon Valley tech salary while living in a low COL area. I predict that companies will index salaries to the location the employee lives (or just reduce salaries for remote work across the board, assuming people won’t choose high COL areas if they don’t need to work there).

    9. Malarkey01*

      I think there will be more WFH jobs than there were in Before Times. I also think jobs that require onsite without a business need are going to find motivation issues and are going to have attrition/recruitment issues. Everyone in my social circle that has a job stating they’ll return to offices in the future is either actively job seeking or has feelers out for remote work.

    10. PollyQ*

      I think there will definitely be more companies who are comfortable with WFH, or who even encourage it. A number of large high tech companies in the Bay Area have cut way back on the office space they’re using, e.g. Pinterest, which recently paid $90 million to break a lease for office space. Obviously, this won’t be every company, both for practical & philosophical reasons, but I do believe there’ll be a permanent shift even after COVID is behind us.

    11. Catherine*

      I’ve really enjoyed WFH and think most places will have permanent flexibility if not the option to be totally remote.

    12. Cj*

      We’ve been back in the office since the middle of last July. Most people like it. Those with child care needs can work from home, but for the most part schools have been open. I’m also in a state that mandates masks, so perhaps people feel safer because of that.

      Most of us have private offices, clients were kept out until January, and those not in offices are well spaced. We have only been working at home if we are sick at all – like even the sniffles – and have to test negative before we come back.

      We received a link just today to set up vaccine appts for next week. Everybody is really excited about it and freely sharing their vaccine appt info.

      There is definately more collaboratoin when we are in the office, even though we do use teams alot even when we are all in the building. I think a lot of businesses will want to have employees back in the office because of that.

    13. allathian*

      I think it will depend a lot on the employer and the field. Some employees vastly prefer working from home and I admit to being one of those. I do miss seeing people and the ad hoc conversations around the water cooler or during our coffee breaks, but not enough to want to spend time in the office for as long as masks are necessary. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll use a mask to protect myself and others for as long as it’s necessary, but because I wear glasses and have sensitive skin, I haven’t yet found a mask that’s comfortable to use for more than an hour or so. For me, the disadvantages of the necessity of using a mask far outweigh any advantages that seeing people in person might provide, YMMV.

      I do think that there’ll be a lot of variation. Some people will prefer working in person in the office, others will prefer remote work. Once the pandemic ends, I think that people will start looking for jobs that provide what they want, whatever it is. I do think that employers that claim to be fine with WFH while giving the vibe that committed employees prefer to work in the office will see an exodus of employees who have options.

      I’m not a manager, but I do think that WFH is easier for most individual contributors than it is for managers. In my org, WFH has worked really well for most people, certainly my team, but we haven’t hired anyone new during this period. Onboarding someone who’s permanently WFH is going to be harder than in person. Remote management requires some different skills than in-person management does. I also think that experienced employees generally work better remotely than people who are new to the workforce, although obviously there are exceptions. But I do think that it’s probably easier to train young people in professional norms in person.

      We had a pretty liberal WFH policy even before the pandemic. Most people whose job descriptions permitted it worked remotely at least a few days a month, some considerably more than that. I predict that by this fall we’re going to start having some mandatory in-person events, but that many will probably be working more from home than they did before the pandemic. Of course, it’s possible that for some people, getting back to the office will be so wonderful that they’ll happily work from there unless there’s a particular need to WFH that day (waiting for the plumber, home with a sick kid, mildly sick but not too sick to work…).

  81. New manager anon*

    Here is a slight tweak on the first time manager question. I am a white first time manager and my employee is Black. I have heard a number of horror stories about terrible white bosses, my organization has a ton of work to do in terms of diversity & inclusion internally even though those are themes and goals of much of our work itself, and I am certainly not done with the process of learning how to see racism in myself and in front of me. I really, really don’t want to screw up and cause harm to this person, but wanting is not enough. I’d appreciate any advice on how to be a good first-level manager in this position. I am open to reading recommendations as well as concrete advice.

    I also am not sure how to talk about the Chauvin trial at work – my general impulse is to leave emotionally difficult topics out of work conversations so as not to force people to talk about them in a setting where they’re not fully comfortable, but my employee brought up that it was a distraction this week before moving into professional topics, so I don’t think ignoring it is right either. (It is horrible to relive all the accounts of George Floyd’s murder, *of course* it’s distracting.

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Natalie*

      I’ve never been anybody’s manager but I live in Minneapolis and work in an NFP in St Paul, so as you can imagine there’s a lot about the trial here. One thing my organization has been doing is being very specific about what is available for employees. I think that can be more useful than a vague “how can I help you?” kind of comment. So if you can and haven’t already, offer them time off or schedule flexibility or shift some deadlines. We’ve also been getting org wide emails that highlight resources like the EAP and free support groups NAMI MN is hosting (including BIPOC-only groups). If your org isn’t doing something similar, maybe suggest that?

      1. Cj*

        I also live in MN. You absolutely cannot avoid the Chauvin trial – it is everywhere. It gets brought up at work, but being in a rural area, we are a totally white team, so I imagine the conversations aren’t as triggering/fraught.

      2. Overeducated*

        Thanks a lot. I think those are all good ideas that are more concrete forms of support – I think the employee is junior enough to not know what they can even ask for, so laying out what we can offer is smart.

        We are nowhere near Minneapolis but this has impacts everywhere; I imagine the tension and pain where you are is incredible.

    2. Catherine*

      The fact that you want to be thoughtful about this is a good sign! I think generally, be aware of micro aggressions, research unconscious biases, and try to figure out what elements of white supremacy culture are seen in your workplace and either fight against them or help your direct report navigate them.

      In terms of racism in the news distracting them, I think it’s great to ask what they need. Do they need time to talk? Do they need fewer meetings so they can focus on just their independent work? Do they need your help shifting things to take a day off to reflect? Do they find the distraction of work helpful? Help them recognize that they don’t have to be 100% productive when they’re constantly exposed to traumatic events.

    3. very anon*

      Don’t text them about the trial, demonstrations, the Jan. 6 coup, or about any protests. Don’t center your own thoughts and feelings. Especially don’t text them about these things to start a conversation, when they have not indicated they want to do this, and when they do not text you as a general rule. Do NOT use them as free therapy or to get over your own “white guilt.” This is a terrible thing to do if you are their co-worker and it’s made 10x worse if you are their boss. Ask me how I know these things, ha ha ha haaaa…. *pulls hair*

  82. Babyfaced Crone*

    First-time commenter: I have been offered a promotion, stepping into my boss’s director-level role overseeing a team of 10+ so that she can move into a newly created C-suite position. I would still report to her. My grandboss fully supports this move. We have strong working relationships all around. But our initial “what will this new structure look like” conversations leave me concerned about my autonomy to do the job and their perception of my ability to do so. I keep hearing comments about how this plan will work well because boss will still be here to “help,” with no acknowledgment of how “helping” will sow confusion among our colleagues in terms of roles and responsibilities. These comments also seem to me to indicate a lack of confidence in my ability to do the work independently. This is the same pair who last year praised me for my “maturity” (I’m in my 40s, with 15+ years in this field—more experience than my boss, if one wants to get technical—and about half of it at this company). Am I reading too much into this? What advice do you have for me as I negotiate this promotion process?

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Hm…this is an internet stranger’s perspective, so take this with a grain of salt (or maybe a whole salt lick):

      First, do a gut check
      I was just listening to a conversation between Drs. Adam Grant and Daniel Kahneman. In the discussion, Dr. Kahneman said that his work showed that combining facts with intuition has better predictive power than either alone. So, take a moment to write down events/incidences that your Boss and GrandBoss have shown HIGH confidence in your abilities and events/incidences when they have shown dismissive attitudes to your abilities.

      Review the lists, then set the lists and the question aside for a few days (or at least a few hours, if you need to move faster). Then, sit down and do a gut check on the question, “How much do Boss and GrandBoss trust me? How well do I think working in this higher role will go?”

      Second, maybe in parallel with the above, discuss the details with Boss and GrandBoss
      Have an in-depth discussion of what “help” looks like and how these roles would work together. Bring in specific (imaginary or past) scenarios to work through, so you all can share what your respective expectations are. When they say “help”, is the expectation that Boss will step in as she sees fit or does it mean Boss will act as a sounding board for you? Or maybe something else? That will help you all know whether you’re on the same page or not.

      With all of that information, you can decide how well this will work out…or maybe it will make you consider moving on. Or staying right where you are. I don’t know, I’m an internet stranger!

  83. workerbee2*

    I have a general question for the peanut gallery when it comes to getting over making mistakes at work.

    This week, I discovered that I made a rather large mistake in some work that I did about a year ago. The error is in a document that was widely circulated externally. This document was reviewed (with the purpose of criticism) by many, many people before it was released more widely and no one caught the error. The nature of the mistake is such that anyone who was paying attention while reading it should have immediately picked up on it. I’ve taken any steps that I can to address the mistake, including figuring out the scope and impact as well as trying to correct it now. When I told my immediate manager, she didn’t seem too concerned about it (her exact reaction was “awww, bummer!”) and assured me that I was doing everything in my power to address it. Her boss is on vacation this week, and I’m unsure of how she will react.

    My problem is that this has taken up essentially all of my headspace since I discovered it, I think because of the cognitive dissonance between taking pride in being someone who has a reputation for attention to detail and general competence and making this serious of a mistake. This is not part of a larger pattern of carelessness and mistakes. For reference, I just received a “superior performer, exceeds expectations” on my annual review (which my org takes very seriously – it’s hard to get above “solid performer, meets expectations”), with praise of what I managed to accomplish while working remotely during a pandemic and all of the stressors associated with that (I’m also a parent of a preschool-age child). I intellectually recognize that, as a human, never making mistakes is not a rational goal, but this one was a doozy and I’m having a lot of mental back-and-forth about trying to show myself grace for the sake of my sanity but also wanting to demonstrate that I’m holding myself accountable. I think part of it is the uncertainty of how my grandboss will react.

    So for anyone who may have found themselves in a similar situation, how did you get past it? What do you tell yourself? What has helped? (I suppose that I should also mention that while I have never been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, I have periods of a few weeks at a time a few times a year where I would likely meet diagnostic criteria. I have good coping strategies that typically help me manage my symptoms on my own and ride the episode out. I was in the midst of one of these episodes before this happened, which isn’t helping.)

    1. Fluffernutter*

      For me personally, and likely my boss too, I ask if this is part of a pattern. I’ve made a mistake in the past that lost the company a few thousand dollars and I was pretty stressed when I found it. When I brought it to my boss, she could see that it was a mistake and otherwise, I am usually meticulous. We talked about how I can prevent it in the future and it has yet to happen again. It is like tripping. If I tripped once, it’s stressful and I’ll be more careful but if I trip every day, multiple times a day, it needs to be addressed.

    2. Reba*

      I relate to this!!

      I made a mistake recently that won’t necessarily have specific fallout but somewhat damages a working relationship, so the consequences are sort of ambiguous. I responded as best and as quickly as I could and let my boss know that I did that. I talked about it with my partner. And then something that has helped me in the past, I do various things to help me put it to rest: I filed the emails so they’re no longer in my main inbox. I made some notes about what happened and filed them for future planning. I sometimes have even visualized putting the thing on a shelf or in a box, away, I’m not thinking about that any more for now.

    3. RickT*

      There are a number of ways for a mistake at work to escalate into a Disaster but you aren’t doing any of them, so relax! Your boss’s response doesn’t sound like this is the end of the world.

      You did all the right things: You found a deeply buried mistake, exposed it, and took action to correct it AND you are working to see how to prevent another error like this from happening again.

      And I think you are mistaken, a year-old error that passed multiple reviews is not one that “anyone paying attention should have immediately picked up on”. Some errors only come out after time and experience.

    4. LadyByTheLake*

      Think about what your reaction would be if a good friend and trusted colleague who does excellent work made a similar mistake. Likely you would shrug it off as a fluke — plus remember that every other person who reviewed the work and didn’t catch the error also made a mistake. Are you also sitting around blaming them? No? Cut yourself a break.

    5. Distractinator*

      Last year you wrote a good document that the company proofread and distributed, and gave you kudos for.
      This year you found an error in company documentation and fixed it, that’s also a great accomplishment.

      If someone else had written the doc that you found the error, in, would you be blaming them nearly as harshly as you’re blaming yourself? Or if you’d been a proofreader on their document, would you now be berating yourself that you didn’t catch it last year? You don’t have to take every possible opportunity for beating yourself up.

      Also, if it were that critical and that obvious, someone would have contacted you by now to correct it, it’s been a year – therefore your grandboss is likely to judge it as somewhat subtle and/or not a big deal.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I will say something a bit different.
      Embrace your upset. Let it scare the f out of you, so you never make that same mistake again for the rest of your life. I wish I was joking. We are supposed to feel some level of upset when we make a mistake. It’s our reminder note to stay awake, stay with the program.

      Some of the upset you feel can be used to serve you. I made a 60k error at work. I died a thousand deaths.

      1)I reported myself.
      2) I said I wanted to learn how to fix it and fix it myself. (I did.)
      3)I said I wanted to learn where I went off course in the first place. (I did.)
      4) I apologized.
      And because this was a story that would not end,
      5) weeks later when the boss’ monthly numbers were off, I reminded him of my error. He re-crunched the numbers and realized that was why he was off for the month. In turn he was able to explain the discrepancy to his boss and save his own job plus mine.

      Some times the biggest injury in these situations is the image we have of our own selves. Our self-image plummets. Nothing seems certain any more. How could I have failed So Big? How can I ever hold my head up again, when I know I can make mistakes this large?

      An odd thing happens. In letting go of all that certainty we find parts of ourselves that we never knew we had. Instead of feeling smaller, we can feel bigger because we know we did the right thing. The mistake was genuine, it was not intentional. However we intentionally took ownership in as many ways as we can think of. It takes a strong person to admit they are wrong or they made a mistake. Some people won’t because they “know” they will implode. It’s a strength different from any other strength. You can’t lift weights and gain strength that would be used here.

      The first thing is to notice the world is still revolving.
      The second thing to notice is your company is continuing on.
      The third thing to notice is you reported yourself and you are still standing.

      Now is when you will adopt some real tools that you will use for the rest of your life. For the most part, I was surprised that people thought more of me, rather than less of me. To them, I was human, too. I owned it. I was one of the group.
      I heard a lot of, “You shoulda seen the bone-head stunt I did….”. I heard horror story after horror story.

    7. Generic Name*

      What kind of mistake? I assume an inconsequential typo, based on your boss’ reaction. Some of the stuff I write becomes part of the public record for projects and is available online. One time I was searching the internet for something else, and I came across something I wrote. I noticed a spelling error. Like your document, it went through a review process. I cringed and then laughed about it later. Not a big deal.

  84. Anxious Admin*

    I was recently hired for an admin/reception role in a large hospital system. Part of my onboarding process is a required health assessment at one of their hospitals to make sure I am “medically able to perform my job”. I’ve never done a pre-employment physical before, so I don’t really know what to expect (beyond that I’ll be drug tested and possibly have my vaccinations updated per the HR coordinator) and it’s making me nervous. If anyone here has experienced a pre-employment physical, especially for a healthcare related job, and can let me know what it was like I would really appreciate it.

    I am especially interested in hearing from people with invisible chronic illnesses and if you were expected to disclose them and if disclosing brought up any concerns about your ability to do your job. I have multiple invisible chronic illnesses (including two that are stigmatized) and I make a point to not disclose them unless absolutely necessary to my employers after a previous negative experience, so the idea of possibly having the disclose them during the physical and having someone scrutinize if they prevent me from doing my job makes me anxious.

    1. Lee*

      I would want to know why this is needed for an admin/receptionist job.

      What do you need to be able to do that means “medically able?”

      The only thing I can think of is that a lot of jobs have bending/lifting/carrying requirements they’ll put in ads – like must be able to lift 25 lbs. Which for an admin might be reasonable.

      Sorry -probably not helpful for you, but I do wonder if this is really legal for them to do. Not like you are flying planes. At best, inappropriate, I think. Unless I’m missing something special about physical requirements for admins in hospitals that is different from admins elsewhere.

    2. workerbee2*

      I work at a large healthcare organization. I would imagine that the “assessment” is more of a checklist (that should be tailored to the job duties) of “does your health prevent you from: 1) walking x distance, 2) lifting y pounds, 3) etc. rather than a full physical exam. The results should be stored in a medical record rather than as part of your employee record. No one should be accessing your medical record unless they need that specific information in order to do their job; if the assessment is done by a medical provider they will be bound by HIPAA. HR should only get back a “is cleared / not cleared to perform the duties of the position.” Also expect a TB test and possibly a vaccination history and an offer to administer any vaccines you may need.

      No one should understand medical privacy better than a hospital system. When you get there, ask what they are going to do and and what information will be shared and how. They should be able to tell you. Ask more questions if they say anything that makes you uneasy. Don’t consent to anything that feels like a violation of your right to medical privacy.

    3. Can't Sit Still*

      I’ve worked for two different hospital systems in an admin role. The physicals included weight and height (I’m obese, they didn’t care), a TB test, a drug test, a Breathalyzer test for the job where I had access to the department’s cars, the choice to have my titers drawn or booster shots where I didn’t have proof of vaccination, and I received a vaccination I was missing. They weren’t screening for chronic illnesses or anything. The only thing you would need to disclose is if you are on any prescription medications that might show up as a positive on the drug test e.g. ADHD meds, opioids, etc. As long as you have a current prescription, they don’t care why you have it. The exception is marijuana. If they are receiving federal funds, i.e. Medicare, you cannot test positive for weed, even if it’s legal in your state and you have a prescription.

    4. Chilipepper*

      My son had an exam just for volunteering in the hospital. Every single person in the building, no matter the job, had to do it.
      It included an x-ray to look for TB which seems to be a work in a clinic thing? Otherwise it was listening to the heart, lungs, looking in ears and eyes, BP, basic health stuff. I don’t remember if they took blood.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        At one point here in NY, TB was a big problem in the prison system and in the human service systems. So the state went all out testing everyone.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’m in medical administration for the largest hospital system in my state and our “pre employment physical” was drug testing, verification of my vaccine records/titers where necessary (I had chicken pox instead of a chicken pox vaccine, so they had to draw blood to confirm immunity) and administration of any required vaccines that I didn’t already have (they updated my tetanus vax as I recall), and a TB test. They would also do a normal blood panel and basic (clothed) physical exam *only if I requested it*, which I did not (but might have been nice for someone who had been unemployed for a while and didn’t have insurance?). And yes, the records go into our normal medical record system, not the employee record.

    6. Skeeder Jones*

      I work for a healthcare company in a position that is largely administrative type work (I am an Instructional Designer so heavy on computer use and light on everything else). We provide all aspects from medical centers, diagnostic, hospital systems and the insurance side. I am also a member of that company. I was required to have a physical performed by their employee health department. I know that my medical records are protected and were not disclosed to the HR staff, they basically have privacy locks on health data and if you don’t need that information to provide direct healthcare or administration of my plan, you don’t have access to the records so that was not a concern. I do have invisible chronic illnesses that were fairly well maintained at the time of my appointment. I have no idea what they would have done/said if there was an active flare. I know they took my blood pressure (which was high but I had run out of my meds a few days prior accidentally so they let it go) and did the height/weight check. I don’t recall them doing anything further but the did offer me an option to have a move complete exam, which I declined. My drug test was done by a professional drug test company so that was separate. The biggest issue I had was just… why? What would have shown up that would have made them say “no, you cannot sit at a computer and do work for us” that also wouldn’t violate any ADA requirements. I still have no idea, but felt it was largely a formality so I didn’t stress over it.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Some companies will include color blindness testing, especially for anyone dealing with electricit & color-coded wires.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Argh my phone ate the rest of my comment. Here’s hoping I don’t mangle this by retyping.
        Another potentially valid concern is the hospital may needs a of staff to be able to help evacuate patients in an emergency.
        Its also possible the exam is done for everyone being hired for all positions, even though only half might have XYZ requirements, simply because that makes it less likely to be a path of discrimination. Especially where positions that do have a strong physical requirement tend to be held by one protected class.

  85. Odd Moment*

    I have recently accepted a job offer for a large company with many subsidiaries. My new job will be in one of the subsidiaries. The parent company wants all new hires to do an examination in a public clinic.

    When I wait for my turn in the clinic, I was approached by a stranger asking if I am going to be working at the subsidiary. I am not very good with situations when a stranger just ask me a question about where I will be working. I am not very good with social skills, and I find that it is not very comfortable for me to being so straight up to immediately answering the stranger’s question. I am also not used to strangers just asking another person where they are working. Since it is a public clinic, I am not sure if the stranger is from the company or someone outside of the company. I have not met anyone in person from my new job yet. So I can’t comprehend at that time how to handle and situation, so I just ignored the stranger’s question.

    Now looking back, I wonder if that stranger is going to be someone I will be working with in my new job or is that person from the HR department. I might be going a little farfetched, but I am just wondering how can I approach this experience if I ever found out that that stranger is someone I would be working with in my new company. It is going to be a bit awkward.

    1. Chilipepper*

      I think you can just pretend it never happened. But if you think you will need to say something, be prepared to say, Oh, you work here! I was surprised when a stranger at the clinic asked me where I worked. Now I know why!” Practice saying it and modify it to something you are comfortable saying.

      But also, for many situations like the one in the clinic, you can say, “why do you ask?”
      Have a few responses like that planned and practice them so it is easy to say them when you are in these situations.

      Best of luck!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      If you run into this person again, and they mention it, perhaps you can just say, “Oh, I am so sorry. I must not have heard you.”
      If they do not mention it, leave it alone and forget about it. It’s okay, not a big deal.

  86. Wellesley*

    I had a great interview with a company in ~January for an entry level position to start in June. They said they’d reach back out in April for the next step of the process if I was still interested — and I am! How soon is too soon to send an email along the lines of “Hey, just wanted to let you know I’m still interested in this position”? I am…. impatient, to say the least.

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      This one is tough. Normally, I would say wait until *after* their self-described deadline, but this is a pretty long timeline.

      I’d like to hear others’ opinions. Mine is one short (literally, 1-2 short sentences) email copying both the HR coordinator and the hiring manager saying you’re still available and interested might be okay now.

      But you only get to send the one email until they initiate another contact, so pick:
      *This week
      *Early May

      1. Distractinator*

        I completely agree, you only get one reply, so choose when to send it.
        I’d say the content is a polite “when we last spoke in January, you said the next stage of the hiring process would be in April. I know it’s only the first week of April now [or whenever you decide to send it], but I’m enthusiastic about [opportunity] and wanted to check in if there was any news, either on the position or refining that timeline.”

  87. Bruiser Woods*

    Boss is planning to retire soon from small business he started and has been talking about handing offering me and one other staff ‘to take over’. He means taking over the running the business and a stake in the profits but so far nothing concrete has been laid out. He first offered this to me a year ago but not much has eventuated apart from I’m putting all his project knowledge into a project database and coworker is starting to take over some of the top level project management (with help of my database) and invoicing. This is a carrot for us to stay but I’m worried about its lack of substance. I just signed my contract for another year and got positive feedback and a small pay rise. However there are other good jobs I could apply for and I’m a bit annoyed this plan is so wishy washy. I mentioned to him in a meeting we had before I renewed my contract (same conditions as last year just slightly higher pay) I wanted to see something more concrete developed soon over the next year and he promised this. I also got a bit annoyed he mentioned our other third most junior staff member to be part of this when she only has less then two years job experience. We only have one other casual staff so it just seems like too many cooks in the kitchen. I’m in my late 30s and more then 10 years job experience as I’ve also taken time off mid career to do a PhD. Seems like it might be just a carrot he’s offering everyone. I really like working with my boss otherwise and thought it sounded like a good opportunity. Anyone have any advice?

    1. WellRed*

      Start looking to see what’s out there. Seriously. It doesn’t preclude you from sticking at current company but you might be pleasantly surprised by what’s out there or feel reassured that staying out is the right choice.

    2. RickT*

      If his retirement plans aren’t on paper by now they probably don’t exist, start looking outside the company.

    3. JessicaTate*

      I think you might want to consider taking a “lead the client” approach here, thinking of Boss as prospective client. IF you really want this opportunity: start taking the lead to get the contract negotiation process rolling, rather than waiting for him to initiate. 1) You’ll get a clearer picture sooner of whether he’s serious and serious on terms you’d want; and 2) You’ll demonstrate you have what it takes to be the boss of his small business. If you’re thinking about this as a co-leader thing with your colleague, get her involved and negotiate as a team. (I cannot stress enough how important it is for you two to be united.)

      First, assess what he’s already told you, particularly what he wants/values out of this arrangement. Do a little research (maybe talk to a lawyer?) about ways that a business hand-off of this type could be structured. Get solid in your own head of what type of structure you would be happy with, what terms are “deal-breakers.” Then, schedule another meeting with him about this. Don’t lay out a proposal right away; but approach it as, “You said this, let’s have a much more concrete conversation about what you’re envisioning. I’d like to be part of helping us get to that solution.” If things still seem viable in that conversation, start talking about concrete solutions (from your research), and be really sure to frame them in terms of meeting his values/desires for this. (You are helping him see the vision of his dream retirement. His business/legacy is maintained, he loses all of the stress, still keeps some profit, has X authority…. which happens through specific structure that is to your liking.) At some point, offer to take the lead on whatever the next step is: “I can talk with our/a lawyer about how we might structure this kind of contract, and get a template / proposal / [insert word] that would lay out what we’ve talked about today.”

      How he responds in those interactions will give you more clarity about where he is on this, and you can make other decisions accordingly. But this doesn’t seem like something you should passively wait to be gifted. You noted it in your contract renewal process, now you’re following up and helping your boss problem-solve his dream retirement plan.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I have seen someone get strung along by an offer like this for years. The owner’s child grew up to understand the industry, be interested in the industry, and got hired to take over the company.
      Your boss might he just trying out the idea, so don’t give up on your own career plans unless there is a concrete offer on the table. As concrete as a sidewalk.

  88. Analytical Tree Hugger*

    Low-stakes, but I could use some perspective:

    I am taking on volunteer/pro-bono consulting work. Earlier this week, I had been invited to a kickoff meeting for a volunteer/pro-bono project, so I set aside time to join the meeting (it was a 1-on-1 with the project lead on the organization’s side). Five minutes before the meeting, I was told the project was cancelled with no real explanation.

    In general, I prefer rejections in email versus over the phone. For this situation, though, it seemed rude to cancel the meeting right before, instead of giving me the courtesy of keeping a shortened meeting and discussing it briefly.

    How hypocritical/inconsistent am I being?

    1. Sherm*

      I’d say that it was inconsiderate of them to wait until right before the meeting to cancel. You could have planned to use that time for something else. If they, too, didn’t know that the project was cancelled until right before, it would have been nice to say something like “Sorry about the last-minute cancellation, but we just found out about the news as well!” As for their medium of communication, I’d give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they thought it would be a minimal drain on your time if they just shot you an email.

  89. Aspirational Vet Receptionist*

    Hey y’all!

    What tips would you have for someone interviewing to be a receptionist in a vet’s office? My experience is in call center tech support and running cable/occasional receptionist work for an ISP, so while I do have some phone/front office experience, it’s not a lot and I know receptionists do a lot more than answer the phone and smile, anyway – I just don’t really know what! And there are probably unique skills and duties required for a receptionist in a vet office.

    It’ll be a working interview (if I’m selected to move on – I’m an over-preparer so I’m posting now) so I’m really hoping I’ll be able to impress them. Any advice would be lovely!

    1. [insert witty username here]*

      No specific experience, but just brainstorming with you and I can think of 2 things that would be very important:
      1. obviously, having a good demeanor with animals is going to be a big part of the job. You won’t really be handling them like the vet techs will, but they’ll still be around. So you’ll need to be able to confidently and calmly interact with animals while also not going overboard with enthusiasm. As someone with a very scared and reactive pup who’s worked very closely with several trainers, calm and even-keeled is never a bad way to be around animals. And not all dogs react well to “stick your hand in their face so they can sniff it.”
      2. Being able to assess needs, prioritize, and act as a gatekeeper. You’re going to get a lot of pushy people that don’t understand why you can’t just pull their vet out of an appointment for a “quick” question, so being able to kindly but firmly get the correct relevant information (and then be able to parse it down when discussing with the vet/techs) so you can be a gatekeeper for the staff would probably be invaluable.

      Good luck!

    2. Naomi*

      I used to be an office manager for a vet office. When I interviewed receptionists/front desk staff, what I looked for was:
      – Multi-tasking ability, there’s often a lot going on in a small vet office, I need my front desk person to keep track of what’s happening and not get overwhelmed.
      – People skills – the front desk person is usually the first impression people have of the office, and also many of the people calling and coming in are stressed out and not their best selves. I need the the front desk person to handle difficult people with grace.
      – Comfortable around animals. All types, sizes and temperaments. You can’t be afraid of the patients!
      – Basic computer literacy. Our scheduling, invoicing, payments, record keeping is all done on veterinary specific software that I expect to have to train new hires on, but knowing your way around a computer helps a lot.
      – Flexible and willing to learn new things – in a small office, we cross train everyone as much as possible, so I want to hire someone who, even though they primarily will handle the front desk, can learn to run lab tests, restrain animals, other tasks as needed.
      – Not easily grossed out – sick animals make messes that you will have to help clean up, smell bad, and have parts of the their body that look gross. You need to be able to deal.

    3. EngineerGal*

      One vet-specific thing-you will often interact with folks who had to say goodbye to their pet. You develop relationships- I remember the receptionist who told me that she started a new folder for our new puppy that didn’t have our passed-away dogs in it so we wouldn’t keep seeing their names-very thoughtful and sweet

  90. Quine*

    Are you someone who used to be a “last minute” person, who struggled with time management, and over time successfully trained yourself to complete important tasks well in advance? I would love to know how you did that! I’ve been working on this almost my whole adult life and have improved a TON, but I’m still not completely rid of this bad habit. And now that I’m in graduate school, this is manifesting as the occasional all-nighter before a test or presentation. I also struggle with punctuality on a daily basis. I really do not want to do this anymore….

    P.S. Please refrain from ADHD diagnoses or evaluation recommendations — please assume that I have that covered. I’d love to hear from both neurotypical and neuroatypical folks about what did and did not work for you. Thank you!

    1. D3*

      LOL I took a second job that was on-call, and since I knew I might not be available at the last minute that motivated me to not put things off.
      Not that I would recommend that approach. It was stressful and led to burnout.

    2. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      I freelanced for a long time and had to put all my flat-rate or per-word payments in hourly terms so I knew which gigs paid enough per hour to be worth taking and how many gigs I could fit into my schedule. That meant I had to know how long a project would take in the real world, not the ideal world. Sometimes this involved actually tracking my time; if your time management issues are because of time blindness, you need to do this because your estimates of how long things take will be WAY off.

      Then I added 25% or even 50% to my time estimate to allow for disruption. Padding estimates is essential because there’s always something you can’t predict—and I’ll be honest, my mental health was often one of those things, and my physical health was another. I knew I’d have an average of one good working days out of every two, and I wouldn’t know which days were good days until I got there. So if I thought something would take a week, I’d quote two weeks, and somewhere in those two weeks I’d generally be able to do a week’s worth of work, and then the client would be happy and I wouldn’t be mega-stressed.

      The same principle applies for smaller tasks like getting out of the house on time. Spend a couple of weeks tracking how long it takes you from when the alarm rings to when you get out of bed, how long to shower, how long for breakfast (making it, eating it, cleaning up from it), how long to get where you’re going (which means not just arriving at the building but going up in the elevator and finding a seat in the room), etc. Add it all up, average it, add 25–50%, and subtract that from the time when you need to have your butt in the seat in your first class. You might end up setting your alarm a full hour earlier because you need SO much more time than you think you do. But you’ll get to class on time.

      In grad school, you don’t get to say “Sorry, I can’t fit that assignment into my schedule”, but you can request accommodations for your documented disabilities. Since I was running my own business, I viewed it as my responsibility as an employer to accommodate my needs as an employee. Phrasing that way gave me permission to have needs and not just be a machine. (And even machines need to recharge their batteries and get regular maintenance.)

    3. Unfettered scientist*

      I’ve also struggled with this (right now I’m procrastinating reading this blog…). I think for me, getting up earlier helps a lot. For whatever reason, my brain is able to view getting up extra early as “wow look at all this extra time! So exciting! Anything you do now is ~extra~” and I’m more productive than I would be later in the day. This is harder than it seems and WFH has definitely resulted in a slip toward getting up later, but it’s something I would like to move back to.

      I also echo what Director of Alpaca Exams said about padding. Everything does take me longer than I think it will when it comes to work tasks. For longer tasks, pomodoro works well. Or I listen to music and say I’ll do this for one song but once I”m into something I can usually slip into work mode for a while. One last thing is blocking calendar time to work on specific tasks.

    4. Filosofickle*

      Yes, I changed somewhat. Project management style, I learned to plan backwards to more realistically figure out smaller interim deadlines. Not just “do Econ paper” but read chapter 1, read chapter 2, figure out the topic, prepare outline, write rough draft, write second draft etc. No being optimistic with the times, either. My partner is in grad school and he tells himself he’s “done the research” and only needs a day to write, but all he’s done is download a bunch of articles and hasn’t even read them yet! He’s not ready to write. And he has no time built in for revisions. He drives himself crazy this way.

      I try to keep top of mind how bad the panic feels, to create the sense of urgency earlier. It has to be super visible to me everything that is coming up, every task and deadline for every class / project, or else I lose sight of why I have to do this thing now and not next week when it’s due. Because I have 10 more things to do in that same week, that’s why. I also remind myself how much better my work is when I get it done the day before it’s due and have a clear brain to make edits the day it’s due.

      However, honestly, I’ve also learned to lean into procrastination. I don’t really get things done til I have to, and working with my nature is easier than working against it. And I always get it done! I have a lifetime of proving I’ll get it done (and done well) when I have to, so I know it will be ok. When possible, I work ahead and pace it out because I care about quality and I deeply understand good ideas take time to develop, but sometimes it’s better just to accept reality and stop beating myself up. Another part of leaning into it is choosing roles / projects that have shorter deadlines. Your strength is knocking it out and acting with urgency — there’s a place for that in the world. It’s not purely a weakness the way you’re thinking of it.

    5. AnonymousKoala*

      This might totally backfire for some people, but it really works for me: I set myself slightly tight deadlines (like if an assignment takes me 5 hours with procrastination, I’ll schedule it for 4 hours) and I schedule a low stakes appointment with someone after my internal deadline for the high stakes project. So for example, I might plan a virtual coffee date with a new coworker at 3 and then schedule myself to work on a high stakes assignment from 11-3. I thrive on the accountability of having to meet someone at a specific time and I don’t like loosing my train of thought, so I know I’ll work a little harder so I can meet my deadline and not have to pick up the project later / push back my meeting. Most of the time I complete my projects on time with this set up, and even when I don’t I always make meaningful progress. But I think this works for me because I work well under (a little) pressure. Too much pressure makes me shut down and no pressure means that I’ll never get anything done, but “lower stakes” pressure really works for me. I think you have to find your niche and see if you can set yourself up for success every time by catering to it.

    6. Nela*

      Sadly I’ve created so many situations of last minute stress and burnout over the years that I trained myself to stave them off. When I’m tempted to procrastinate on time-sensitive stuff, I remind myself: “If I leave this for last minute, another project or emergency may come in and I’ll be overloaded with work and hate my life. It’s better if I get this off my plate now.”

      The only reason this works for me is because many of the times I have left things for the last minute have ended really badly for my mental health and I was not able to enjoy events I was preparing for because I had stuff to do even on day-of.

      FWIW, I’ve been a procrastinator since elementary school (suspecting possible undiagnosed ADHD). I didn’t think that I could ever change that about myself. In my 20s I’d regularly pull all-nighters on freelance projects and send in work at 6 AM on the day after the deadline.
      It’s not that I can do it every single time, but it’s gotten way better that it used to be.

  91. The Original K.*

    Pet peeve: if it’s just two people, it doesn’t need to be a Zoom. A phone call would work just fine.

    1. Chilipepper*

      We use TEAMs, we do that with 2 people so we can do screen sharing. I used to think a phone call was enough but I find it is sooo much easier to show people instead of trying to walk them through something they cannot see.

      1. Nicki Name*

        Same here. Also, it’s increasingly common in my industry (software) for only the people in customer-facing roles have real work phones. The rest of us only have teleconferencing apps to work with anyway.

    2. Filosofickle*

      If someone I’m meeting with really prefers a call (like you) I defer to that as long as screen sharing isn’t needed. But I prefer to see faces! I’m one of the ones who prefers video for almost everything, and have for many years.

  92. Lee*

    How do you go about finding a recruiter? It was suggested to me before here that I find one, but I don’t really know how. I’m fairly low level, and not exactly in demand. But I must find another job this year. Things have gone from bad to worse where I work, and the only saving grace is that I’m working from home. Though who knows how long that will last.

    I tried a staffing agency yesterday that posts a lot of jobs that have things in common to mine. I’m not at all tied to what I’m doing, but I figured it would at least be a starting point. But I had to leave a message, and nobody has called me back. Job hunting is depressing/overwhelming enough without that, though I guess I should expect it.

    1. irene adler*

      Recruiters find you. And they won’t spend time on folks who do not fit the positions they are trying to fill.

      Apply to one (or more) of the jobs listed at the staffing agency you mentioned. Then you’ll be in their database. Then when they do their searches for the specific skill set you possess, you’ll come up on their radar. And if you are a good match, then they will get in touch with you.
      In fact, find all of the staffing agencies that fill positions that you are interested in. Then apply. That gets you into their databases as well.

    2. The New Wanderer*

      It might be field dependent too. I’ve been cold-contacted by a few recruiters, but those never panned out past the initial interview with the recruiter. The later I had a connection on LinkedIn post that he was looking to fill X types of roles, so I contacted him directly. I’m mid-senior but I believe that the recruiting company filled all levels of roles, with a focus on tech fields rather than specializing in entry roles across fields. So you might have more luck looking for contractor or staffing companies that focus on different fields?

  93. Massive Dynamic*

    Check out linkedin… start friend-requesting (or whatever the heck it’s called at linkedin) the recruiters that your connections follow. Sometimes you’ll see recruiters you’re friends with posting job opportunities to their LI feed; you can use that to start having private conversations with the ones searching for candidates for jobs you’re interested in. Good luck!

  94. Fluffernutter*

    Any ideas on what are health insurance adjacent fields? I’m currently in sales operations and would prefer to move out of private health insurance but my only work experience is in this field. To make it harder on myself, I also don’t want to move up to be a salesperson.

    1. pancakes*

      Pharma? Biotech? I’m not in healthcare at all but in my mind these are all semi-related.

    2. Frankie Bergstein*

      What about working for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services? They’re basically a large insurance company :).

  95. Anonymous At-risk*

    Another update: my condition is now listed by the CDC as one that does cause increased risk of hospitalization/death from covid (before it was just “might” cause). I feel vindicated in getting my vaccine (a few weeks ago I posted about having lied to say I was eligible when I technically was not according to my state’s standards because I have a disease that scientific literature said increases my risk dramatically). My state has not yet caught up with the CDC but it does make me feel it was a good idea to get vaccinated.

    1. PollyQ*

      I know someone in a similar position who fibbed to get their vaccine. They have a chronic condition that in itself doesn’t lower immunity, but the treatment for it does. However, it wasn’t included on the official list of “underlying conditions.” I didn’t & don’t generally condone people lying to get ahead in the queue, but both in their case & yours, I think it’s excusable.

      1. pancakes*

        I’m a bit confused as to how it’s an option – I was eligible due to an underlying condition, and I had to show documentation supporting that at my appointment for my first shot. My oncologist’s office made it very easy to find and print out, but it was looked at. Checking in was a two-step process with two different people: One to confirm I did indeed have an appointment and don’t have allergies, and another to review eligibility info. I don’t think the process should be onerous and the one I went through wasn’t, but I’d have been nervous about taking the appointment and turning up amongst thousands of other not-yet-vaccinated people not knowing whether I’d be able to get one or not.

        1. PollyQ*

          The person I know didn’t claim to have some other medical condition, they claimed they were working as a teacher. (Which was, at least, their former profession.) But I legitimately became eligible due to underlying conditions and got my shot a few weeks ago and wasn’t asked for any documentation about it at all, either when I signed up online or when I went in person to get the shot. I gather this is pretty typical in my state of California. (Which opened eligibility to everyone over 50 yesterday and will be open to everyone over 16 on Apr 15.)

          My guess (although just a guess) is that The Powers That Be decided that forcing people to get documentation about whatever group they were in mightve been too big a barrier to people getting the shots they needed as quickly as possible.

        2. Natalie*

          Most states were not requiring people to provide proof of their condition, you basically self certify.

  96. Gwendolyn*

    Is promotion based on seniority a bad idea? I work in a currently flat structure, think teapot manufacturing. Everyone is very capable and good at their jobs but currently there is nowhere for them to go with that within the organisation – no senior or management roles. One idea the CEO has is to create a tier of ‘senior teapot producers’ based on seniority from the existing team to allow for advancement and salary increases. There is a meritocratic element as the longer one is a teapot producer with us the more adept they are at spotting faults, offering ideas to improve processes etc. All employees get glowing reviews – new hires and long-serving staff. So, is promoting based on how long you’ve worked somewhere still a terrible idea?

    1. Qwerty*

      Yes, it’s a terrible idea. Time spent at the company does not automatically mean that one is getting better at their job. They should create an actual job description for the roles and responsibilities of senior teapot producers. It is great that right now everyone is doing their jobs really well, but you can’t expect that to always be the case. If you hire someone with 10yrs experience in teapot producing who had a senior title at their last job, are you going to put them at the end of the line behind the junior hires? Or if a junior person comes in who just picks up the skills really quickly and starts producing work at a senior level after only a year or two, will they forced to wait and “pay their dues” before reaching the senior position?

      I’ve worked at places with this seniority policy and eventually it falls apart and breeds resentment.

      1. OtterB*

        On the flip side, if selecting people for the Senior Teapot Producer role requires them to split hairs among equally highly qualified Teapot Producers, that’s going to create resentment as well.

      2. Rusty Shackelford*

        Yep. If you can base it on skills alone, it’s aspirational. If it’s based on seniority only, it says there’s no reason to get better at your job.

      3. irene adler*

        Thing is, when you interview for a position outside of this company, how will you show progression if there isn’t some sort of hierarchy in the titles? I’m running into that when I interview (the org where I am is flat-I call it the wagon wheel of management).

        That said, seniority alone shouldn’t cut it. Acquisition of new