open thread – May 28-29, 2021

It’s the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about (that includes school). If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please do not repost it here, as it may be in my queue to answer.

{ 1,267 comments… read them below }

  1. Should i apply?*

    How much does commute time matter to you when applying for a job? I have been job searching, and some of the jobs have sounded interesting but would double my commute from 20 mins to ~40 mins. Does extra money make it worth it?

    I have been working from home for the last year, which has spoiled me with no commute. I will have to go back to the office soon, but an 40 min commute sounds pretty unappealing.

    1. IL JimP*

      I did 40 mins for a few years, it does grind you down especially if it’s heavy traffic

      Guess the tradeoff would be how much is the money difference and how easily does traffic grind you down?

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I’ve had several commutes that were 1 hr 45 minutes to 2 hours each way, so 40 minutes sounds like a dream, but if you’re used to 20, double what you’re used is probably terrible.

        I mean, it’s a big factor. If my workplace wasn’t going to a hybrid WFH after Covid-19 lockdown, I don’t know how long I’d stay…

        1. RabbitRabbit*

          Yeah, pre-COVID my morning commute on public transit was an hour, in the evening it was closer to 1.5 hours. If I was still doing that currently, the total commute would probably be closer to 3.5 hours. I was fine with the commute before but my QOL would go through the floor now.

      2. Nicotene*

        If you can take public transit the whole way, I found 40 minutes doable for a few years. But I was sitting on a metro train, not fighting traffic. It was “me time.” (And still kinda frustrating).

        1. Joan Rivers*

          It depends on the quality of the commute, traffic and public transport.

          I once had my cat in a carrier at my feet coming home from the vet, on a crowded NY subway, and a guy suddenly started yelling at me and threatening me — “Stop bumping me!” when I was not! — and it was so scary, I was afraid for my cat.

        2. Cendol*

          Yup. My pre-WFH commute was about an hour each way on public transit or an hour and fifteen minutes on foot. It was also “me” time, and I used it to read/work on personal projects or get some exercise, but it sucked. I didn’t realize how much it sucked until it stopped and I suddenly had two extra hours in my day for *real* me time.

          Unless it’s a massive amount of money, I’d seriously consider the 20-minute commute job!

          1. Nicotene*

            For me it was the frustration of late trains, missing trains and suddenly having 20 minutes of waiting around, trans unloading mid-transit … I had to have a pretty big buffer to commute that way if I had to make a morning meeting. And it was a lot of mental space thinking about it. But certainly the time sitting on the train was less stressful than grinding in traffic would have been.

            1. Cendol*

              Definitely…for me it was the gridlock both outside (the slowest crawl you could imagine as a constant stream of double-buses tried to inch their way down streets that had *not* been built for them) and in (dudes obstinately refusing to sit in the empty seats, but also blocking them by standing in front of them, while the rest of us sardined in–why!!). Loads of stress on the way in, and I used to work late sometimes just to avoid the crush on the way out.

          2. Sparrow*

            I’m the same. My commute was roughly 45 minutes on public transportation and it had been ok for a couple of years because it was shorter than my previous commute by 20 minutes. I really didn’t realize how life changing it would be to have that time back.

            If the jobs are roughly equal and the pay difference isn’t massive, I’d probably opt for the shorter commute – it really does impact quality of life. That said, if the job with the longer commute paid significantly more or if that job was much more interesting to me, I’d seriously consider it anyway (especially if it paid significantly more AND was more interesting to me).

    2. Procrastinating at work*

      To me I would need it to be a perfect job with great pay for that much more commute time. Even then I would be hesitant. That’s so much time I would lose out of every day and so much less time to do things I want. No amount of podcasts or music during a drive would make it better at the end of the day

      1. Hawkeye is in the details*

        I grew up in the SF Bay Area, 40 minutes was considered standard! I now live in a largish city that historically has not had many traffic issues until recently, and people thought I was insane for working 30 minutes from my house (which made it 45 minutes in traffic-heavy times), but it didn’t bother me so much, as long as I had my music to sing to.

        It all depends on your personality and probably what other commitments you have to fit into your day. I’ll admit the commute did get a little more frustrating when I got a dog to come home to/worry about.

        1. the cat's ass*

          I feel this! lived in the east bay, commuted or took BART to South San and it was the WORST, colored by the fact that the job was pretty terrible. Easily 90 minutes one way at the height of dot com 1.0.

          Still live in EB, but commute to the north bay and it’s a short beautiful commute to Marin going opposite rush hour traffic to a job i really like.

          Your mileage may vary, (ouch) OP, but it depends on what the commute actually looks like/is there alternative public or private transport/and a job that’s worth it. Good luck!

          1. LabRat*

            Oooooh, thanks for this! I’m East Bay, and was commuting into the city on transit pre-COVID; it could take 2 hours to get home on a bad day.
            Now I’m working for a different company, and once we go back to the office I can work in either SSF or North Bay; it’s good to know that that commute is against traffic and low key!

            1. the cat's ass*

              it’s even beautiful and pleasant (the bridge, Mt Tam, sometimes the moon). Enjoy!

          2. Lives In a Shoe*

            I hear this! I was in the north end of the EB, commuting to mid-EB, and it was horrific. Car, public transit, it was all long. I did it because I had no choice, but the minute I could afford it I moved bicycle-distance to work. I hope to never ever have a commute like that again – it really diminished my life in many different ways.

            1. MsChanandlerBong*

              I visited SF a couple of years ago, and I honestly don’t know how any does it. Beautiful place, but the traffic is worse there than in NYC!

          3. osmoglossum*

            Another Easy Bay-ite here! For years I worked in the financial district – as commutes go it was relatively easy. On those rare days when all went well, my morning commute was an hour, including driving to the BART station. The norm, however, was 1.25 – 1.5 hours. After years of that, I got a job 2.5 miles away from where I live — my commute was 10 minutes. What a flipping joy that was. Sadly, the company was terrible, but, oh, that commute was awesome.

    3. ThatGirl*

      It matters to me a fair amount – I spent 9 years at a company that was minimum 40 minutes and depending on weather or traffic could drag to an hour or more. It could be soul-sucking and the only thing that kept me sane was the ability to work from home some of the time. My next job was a 15-minute drive and it just made my life much easier.

      That said, what matters to me as much as distance is can I keep moving — I’d rather spend 30 minutes actually driving 30 miles than driving 10 in heavy traffic. But in Chicago the latter is much more likely.

      1. The Rural Juror*

        Same. I used to commute 40 miles in a rural area, which wasn’t horrible…even if it was kind of far. Now I commute 8 miles and sometimes it can take 40min to an hour. Whether you’re moving or not does make a big difference. Pandemic trafficlessness has cut my commute down to 15-20 min which has been awesome.

    4. Jake*

      I commuted 65 minutes each way for 2.5 years. We worked 10 or 12 hour shifts. During 10 hour shifts it was doable. During the 12s though it was just too much.

      My experience with commuting is almost exclusively that it depends on your work shifts. If it reliably an 8 hour shift, it is probably worth some extra money. If the shift is very long or not reliable then a long commute exacerbates that issue and makes it less tolerable.

    5. Old Reliable*

      I did 40 min for years and kinda enjoyed the time for audiobooks. But I think it would be a big adjustment after having had no commute and getting used to cooking dinner and having a leisurely morning routine. If the job was interesting enough it wouldn’t stop me, but I would look for key factors (stores and services) that make life easier so that I’m not doing extra driving outside of the job to home route – gym/running paths on the way, grocery store on the way, vet on the way, etc.

    6. Person from the Resume*

      It matters to me. I’ve mostly had 10-20 minute commutes, but I had a 1 hour commute through congested traffic for several years. I managed it okay. The type of commute makes a big difference in how unpleasant it is for me. an you just forget and drive or are you driving through congestion and getting stressed and frustrated with traffic and traffic lights?

      I would not go above an hour, but 40 minutes seems acceptable to me.

    7. The Crowening*

      To me, the stress level of the commute (number of stoplights, tolls, train tracks, heavy traffic, construction) is at least as important as the length of time. I used to work at a government installation that was just really large – of my 30-minute commute, 20 of those minutes were the time it took to get from the badge gate to my building. Not much to be done about that, and it was a very easy commute – I never minded it. My husband worked in a place that was 35-40 minutes from home, partly highway and partly through towns; he never really complained about the commute but hated the job with the heat of a thousand suns. Last year he found a new job that’s about 45 minutes away, but it’s all freeway/highway, moves along steadily, and he hasn’t complained at all. It’s a little longer than his old commute, but he doesn’t hate the job, and he doesn’t hate the commute either, so I consider it worth it. :)

      1. Spearmint*

        I second this!

        I used to think I wouldn’t mind a long commute. I enjoyed driving and liked listening to podcast and audiobooks, so I thought it would be a nice time to relax before and after work. But then I took a job with a 70 minute commute in a city that is growing faster than its transportation infrastructure. It was miserable. It took 10 minutes drive the four blocks to between the parking garage and the highway, and when I did reach the highway it was mostly stop and start traffic. When there was no congestion, this same drive took 20 minutes. I eventually discovered a slight faster non-highway route, but even that had heavy traffic and lots of stop lights and a few complicated intersections.

        What I realized was that I enjoy driving when I’m cruising along on an open highway and can mentally relax (it’s almost meditative), but not when I’m having to navigate through heavy traffic, especially when I’m already exhausted after a full day’s work.

    8. ThatOnePlease*

      I had a 1-hour commute each way for a while, and it was miserable. But, the job paid poorly, it wasn’t a direct commute (drive to train station, find parking, catch train, walk 10 minutes to office), and it cost me about $20 a day between parking and train fare. I also had to rush home to make daycare pickup, so it was stressful to be so far away and know that any delay could really screw me over. I WFH now and I’d only consider a commute again if the job was good, the pay was *very* good, and there were enough flexibility to make it manageable.

    9. bluecup*

      While you can listen to books and podcasts during your commute, like someone else said, it really does wear on your during inclement weather or bad traffic. I did a 45-60 mins commute for 4 years and it was GRIND. If the job is terrible, the commute just compounds that effect. However, I’d still consider it if all the pay and benefits and cultural aspects line up. Sometimes it’s best to go the distance for a good job. If there’s a possibility to negotiate a hybrid remote/in-person set up, I’d at least ask. Maybe after 3-4 years you can take that on.

    10. ecnaseener*

      For me personally, consistency makes more of a difference than average length. I wouldn’t mind that much if my commute was always an hour, but it was so frustrating to never know if it would be 40 minutes or 90.

      1. RagingADHD*

        This is a great point. At one job, I had about a 7-minute window in the morning where my commute would take about 35 minutes and get me into the office within 10-15 minutes of my normal start time. If I left earlier or later, it would take an hour. Plus there were often wrecks and inexplicable jams for no apparent reason that could take upwards of an hour and a half, two hours to get through. Like, a little more than once every two weeks.

        Commute roulette plays merry hell with your stress, especially if you have a butt-in-seat kind of job.

    11. Kimmy Schmidt*

      Is this commute via car or public transportation? Is there a dollar amount you can put on how much extra you’d need to make for it to be worth it? Just for yourself so you have an idea of “I will only accept twenty extra minutes for 20,000 extra dollars” or whatever.

      Can you make a decision matrix for yourself, weight factors like comfort, less time for your personal life, health, money, etc.?

      I’d apply to these jobs, but I’d be extra diligent and cautious during the interview process to make sure it really is worth it.

      1. Sans $$*

        Yeah, my tolerance depends on my commute. My current workplace is about a 10-15 min drive and a 30-45 minute bike ride. I like the ride, but I don’t think I’d tolerate it if the drive were that long.

        That being said, I currently live and work in an urban center. Wouldn’t have blinked an eye at a 30 minute drive back when I lived in the country.

      2. Bon Voyage*

        As others have said, I think that the kind of commute matters! My 40-minute commute on a slow-and-steady local train was much more enjoyable than a 25-minute commute that required multiple bus transfers. I imagine that I’d have similar feelings about a longer drive on a back route versus a shorter drive along a more taxing route.

      3. A Genuine Scientician*

        Strongly agree. The type of commute makes such a big difference.

        When I was a grad student in the Bay Area, pretty much all of the students lived either a) on campus, or b) at least a 45 minute commute away, sometimes longer. The ones who had a single train ride and then a 5-10 minute walk at either end of it were fine — they could print out some papers to read on the train and not have to give any thought to their commute. The ones who had to drive were frazzled by it, and often ended up shifting their schedules to try to be off-peak on traffic. I was one of the on-campus students, but it was large enough that I was still routinely a 20 minute walk. However, 20 minutes of walking is much less stressful to me than 20 minutes of driving — assuming it’s not in sub 0 temperatures, which it never was there, unlike either where I live now or where I grew up — so having some time to myself for the walk was actually somewhat pleasant.

        I personally would hate anything more than a 30 minute driving commute. I could do a bit longer on public transport if it was a train or a subway, but probably not a bus; I need to pay too much attention on a bus since stops are sometimes skipped if no one signals for them and traffic alters how long it takes to get from one stop to another, so it’s harder to just let my subconscious alert me to “This is when you need to start paying attention again”.

    12. Yellow Warbler*

      I’ve never had a commute shorter than 45 minutes. #rural life

      It’s mostly about what you’re used to, I think. Your tolerance expands or contracts with the average.

      1. Spearmint*

        A 45 minute commute in a rural area is not really comparable to a 45 minute commute in a city. The rural commute will be spent mostly cruising down highways at the speed limit. In a city, if you drive (as most people do in the US), it will involve lots of stop lights and heavy traffic, which is far more stressful.

        1. Yellow Warbler*

          LOL, no.

          It’s spent doing 3 mph for three miles as you wait for a tractor to get TF out of the way on a no-passing road, or yelling at the guinea hens to get out of the road, or finding an alternate route because the bridge washed out for the third time this spring. <– all things I do regularly

          1. Sleepless*

            Haha! This. I’ve had 45 minute commutes in a dense suburb and in the middle of nowhere. Honestly, I’d take the suburb. Driving and driving and DRIVING past hay fields and getting stuck behind a tractor make me crazy. I’m so used to traffic and lights they’re just part of the scenery.

          2. Spearmint*

            Fair enough! I do know some people in rural areas whose commutes really are easy cruising down highways, but I was wrong to state it like it was universal.

            1. Windchime*

              That’s how it was when I lived in a rural area. 5 minutes to get out of my tiny town, and then 15 minutes of cruising at 60mph on the highway. My friend who lived even further away lived on a windy road where he was always afraid he would hit a mountain goat. So his commute was a little more stressful.

          3. uncivil servant*

            School buses! So much fun, as they travel slowly down the only road for 40 minutes, stopping every few hundred metres while you can’t pass them.

          4. Yellow Warbler*

            ETA: Sharing because of the irony. Just got a notification that a quarry truck struck a freight train, sending the truck airborn and wrapping it around the locomotive. The photos in the local news are something else.

            The train track is between my work and my home. I’m not sure if they’ll have the track cleared by the time I leave the office today. This is peak rural commute material!

          5. meyer lemon*

            Also depends what you mean by “rural.” When I lived in a non-farmland rural area, tourists were the biggest menace on the road.

        2. LifeBeforeCorona*

          My rural commute was on curvy hills with a speed limit of 35 and no cruise control. Also, there is a good chance of hitting wildlife like deer or other animals.

    13. Ranon*

      I don’t mind the time by transit as much, but if I’m driving I want it short. Active commute (biking/ walking) going from 20 to 40 minutes would probably almost be a pro right now, I could use the extra movement!

      If driving you can also use the IRS mileage reimbursement rate to get a rough back of envelope commute cost so you can make sure that extra money isn’t just going into your car as well as taking extra time.

    14. rachel in nyc*

      I think it depends on where you live?

      I live (and work) in NYC where an hour commute is pretty normal.

      Heck, I have co-workers who commute around 2 hours each way. Someone actually moved to Pennsylvania because their commute from Brooklyn to our office in Manhattan took so long that the commute from Pennsylvania was just as bad.

      1. kicking_k*

        I had a two-hour commute for a while, but with two key factors: I was part-time, and it was all on public transport, bus and train. So I had at least an hour of that to sit and read, watch DVDs or whatever. At that time in my life it was the most peaceful part of my week!

        When my hours temporarily went up it became exhausting – mostly from the length of the day.

        Now I have a fifteen-minute bike ride and I will say being near my home is nice.

      2. Aquawoman*

        Yeah, I’m in DC with a 45-minute commute and I have one of the shorter commutes. Lots of people have 1 to 2 hour commutes. I know one person who commutes from Baltimore.

    15. Tuckerman*

      I think part of it depends on whether it’s reliably 40 minutes or whether there’s lots of variability. If it’s 40 miles away on an open freeway that’s one thing. If it’s stop and go traffic that may be 35 minutes one day but 70 minutes another, that can really interfere with quality of life/other obligations like daycare pick up.

    16. Decidedly Me*

      I will gladly take less money for less commute. I work from home now (even before COVID) and I’m not sure I will ever want to switch to something with a commute at this point. It’d have to be really short for an amazing opportunity.

      Commuting is stressful for me and it takes away from my free time.

    17. ATX*

      I’m guessing 40 minutes is on the long end and 20 on the short end, with no traffic? That’s really not bad. If it’s 40 min on the short end and more with heavy traffic… I wouldn’t do it.

    18. TimeTravlR*

      My current job is really a great job, with a great team. The commute in the morning (leaving at 5 am) is 50 minutes. Coming home is more like 75. A grind, I guess, but worth it! The pay and benefits are outstanding. Would I do it for less? Unfortunately, I have. In my area, the best jobs are in the city, and I am not going to live in the city.
      The move to more WFH has certainly lessened the pain.
      But this decision has to be about you. To me, 4o isn’t so bad!

    19. sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

      My commute is an hour and ten on a good day. But the pay is very high for my job title and I will have a pension if I stick it out. So, I’m sticking it out. The pension alone is worth it for me.

    20. Imprudence*

      I changed job to reduce my commute from 40mins car to 15 mins bike. I liked the space between work and home, but the travel time was at the wrong time if day for me. School age kids needed chasing out of the house, homework supervised, feeding before evening activities, and it just didn’t work to be travelling at that time.
      Of course they’ve got older now, but I still enjoy my short commute.

    21. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I used to work in the DC area, which has some of the worst traffic in the country. I was lucky enough to live 20 minutes from my office, but when I was at a client location it was often an hour each way. I could do it in my 20s, but I don’t think I’d want to now that I’m over 40.

      I think I’d be more likely to put up with a shift from 20 minutes to 40 minutes, especially if it was a > 10% pay bump.

    22. Dumpster Fire*

      Is it a predictable, stable 40 minutes? If so, I’d be much more likely to consider it; but if there’s a chance that it could (more than “rarely”) be double that, then it’s a hard pass for me. Also, is the 40 minutes due purely to distance or is it because of traffic? If the latter, could you shift your hours to hit lighter traffic? I had a 35-40 minute commute in a previous job that was relatively easy if I left the house by 6 AM, but after 6:15 it turned into an over-an-hour slog.

    23. Karen Zucconi*

      I was thrilled when my commute went from 20ish to no more than 10 minutes. If work parking wasn’t such a big problem, I could go home for lunch! The biggest thing is that there’s no more highway driving for me though because that’s where the traffic jams happen.

    24. Zoe’s mom*

      Commute time is a huge deal to me because that is MY time during the day. Started a new job 1 year ago and part of the reason I took it is it only added 5 extra minutes each way to my 25 minute commute.

    25. Sleepless*

      40 minutes is the top end of what I can tolerate, personally. Five more minutes than that would be close to a deal breaker. I like having a bit of a commute though (my current drive is 25-30 minutes; the worst part is that there are 20 traffic lights, and yes I have counted). It gives me a little time to clear my head and listen to music, and I don’t live near my clients so I don’t run into them when I’m not at work. (I’m a veterinarian, and regular readers learned a few weeks ago what people do with outside-of-work access to their vet.)

    26. Texan In Exile*

      There is pretty much no amount of money that could buy my time after 5:00. I am done. I want to live my life. And my job does not count as my life. It’s how I get health insurance. That’s all.

      1. urban teacher*

        All I care about is how close is a job to my stables. I drive 45 minutes to my stables so any job I take better be on the way. Health insurance and horse money, that’s my job reason.

    27. Cooper*

      I think it depends on the amount extra! I’ve currently got a commute that runs between 40 minutes to an hour. I’ve been at this job for two weeks, and I’m already sick of it. Extra money would help, both because it’s nice compensation for the miserable drive, and also because it’d mean I could more easily justify the cost of a pass for the express lanes when things are REALLY bad.

    28. Weekend Please*

      This is a very personal decision. My longest commute was two hours. My shortest was a ten minute walk. To me, a 40 minute commute would be worth it for a higher salary. I enjoy listening to audiobooks during my commute so spending the time driving or on a train listening to a book is not that different than reading a book at home which is what I would otherwise like to be doing. The two hour commute was way too much though.

    29. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      For me, I don’t mind up to an hour commute if it’s public transportation and I can read or knit or something, but I’m not super keen on an actual driving-in-my-car commute that’s consistently more than about 20-30 minutes, especially if there’s bad traffic or tolls or if parking is expensive or hard to find or or or.

    30. CatCat*

      Huge deal for me. I hate commuting. I won’t consider a job if I am looking at a commute over 30 mins. And even 30 mins will give me pause because I’d prefer it to be under.

    31. Generic Name*

      I used to have an hour plus commute through busy traffic. My next job had a 45 minute commute. When I was looking to move on from that job, I specifically looked for jobs with a 30 min or less commute. My commute now is roughly 20 mins, and it’s a dream. I would think long and hard about doubling my current commute. And if you have kids, yes, the extra time away from home really does matter, because you have to factor in the time it takes to pick them up from school/daycare, and it can really impact your quality of life if you feel like you are always in the car.

    32. Exhausted Trope*

      Commute time for me is a huge issue. Right now mine is 25 minutes and that’s about my limit. I did a 45 minute commute for a bit over a year and it ground my gears so bad. I’d arrive at work already irritable and tired. If there was trouble on the road, the trip could take 90 minutes. I finally moved closer to work to escape. It meant everything to my mental health.

    33. Engineer Woman*

      I’d not only consider the immediate extra money but what about career opportunities? Benefits? Any other upsides or downsides to the new job with longer commute? You need to put a price somehow on these elements and weigh against the longer commute. 40 minutes isn’t terrible. You may or may not like the alone time.

      1. Elenia*

        I have a 30 minute commut and it’s all highway and I love it. I actually really missed it during Covid – not every day, but I like to go at least three times a week. It was my decompress time, my reset time, and my “me” time. I am almost never alone – my work is very social and my husband works from home so he is ALWAYS home, which has been an adjustment.
        But it’s all in how you feel. More than 30 minutes would not be ok.

    34. KK*

      Long commute is my deal-breaker. But sometimes I have crippling anxiety & being boxed-in in traffic is a killer. Plus I live in a climate of wild weather (hurricanes, floods, occasional icy roads) so being far-ish from home and trying to get back in bad weather is another strike.

    35. Msnotmrs*

      I interviewed for a job recently that sounded really interesting, but the two reasons I’m planning on refusing if offered is because 1. It’s an hour commute, and my current commute is 10 min 2. It’s a non-union job at the state level. Which meant that I would have to rearrange my whole life for a job that I could be fired from at any moment. So yes, commute is a big deal for me.

    36. twocents*

      I think it depends what kind of weather you live in. My average commute is about 20-25 minutes but in winter, that can easily blow up to an hour or more. 40 minute commute to me says, in winter, I’m going to be spending literally all day in traffic or at work.

    37. Artemesia*

      This is such an individual thing; some people enjoy a car commute where they can listen to music or books etc — for me it is agony and so we bought a home that allowed short commutes for both of us. This is not possible everywhere, but for us it really was a quality of life issue. We could have got lots more house in the suburbs, but the tradeoff of less space for short commute was worth it.

    38. TWW*

      For me, 40 minutes of heavy traffic and/or stoplights would be unbearable, but 40 minutes of driving on a free-flowing road is enjoyable and relaxing.

    39. library-adjacent worker*

      I’ve had short and long commutes (my shortest job was 7 minutes door to door, longest was 2+hours of standing-room only trains with lots of transfers and unexpected delays). For me it really depends on the kind of commute– The 7 minute commute actually WASN’T my favorite because I was living in a city that wasn’t a great fit for me. If it’s 40 minutes sitting on a quiet train and reading a book I’m pretty cool with it (especially since my lifetime typical commute time has landed more around an hour). If it’s 40 minutes of packed subway stations or driving in really dense/hectic rush hour traffic it’s really not that great and I would probably opt to move closer to work. As I’ve gotten older I’ve gotten a lot more protective of the time and energy I have to spare outside of work, and while there are definitely tradeoffs between personal and professional life quality decisions I think only you can make that call– I also think a sub-ideal commute can be bearable if it is a good career opportunity OR you know it will eventually improve (ie, you are open to moving closer to work, or know that this job is something you’ll probably only do for a few years before advancing into something else).

    40. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      I remember reading a study at one point that said that historically, most people found 30-40 minute commutes acceptable, but there was very little tolerance for longer than that, regardless of their transit method. So, if you mapped out how far from their work people in the Roman Empire lived, and calculated by the predominate method of travel by the area (ie, foot travel in a city, cart travel outside of one), you would find most workers lived within 30-40 minutes of travel of their place of work. Similarly so in the early industrial age, and in modern times.

      Personally, I like at least 25 minutes of travel, to decompress and stop thinking about work before I get home. More than 45 starts to feel like I’m wasting part of my life in a car (audio books help with that, though).

    41. Jj*

      I am the rare person who would rather have a 30 minute commute than a ten. The best is zero, but rarely an option. My ADHD makes transitioning stressful so leaving and arriving somewhere in the same 10 minutes exhausts me. A 20-30 min commute is my sweet spot because I can sink into an audiobook and feel like I had a full experience before transitioning again.

    42. Sorcha*

      I think the manner of commute is as important as the length in many ways. My commute is 40 minutes but it’s 10 minutes walking to the bus stop, 25 minutes on the bus (reading book on Kindle app, checking Twitter, listening to music etc) then a 5 minute walk at the other end. It’s an easy journey, I get fresh air and a chance to stretch my legs, and traffic isn’t an issue.

      If I had to drive 40 minutes each way I don’t think I could handle that.

    43. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      If you like working from home and are productive in that setting, why not look for WFH jobs? I’ve done 90-minute commutes, and I’ve done WFH, and WFH is a thousand times better for me. Your mileage, of course, may vary. :)

    44. anonymath*

      I have a long commute now (26 min when all clear, 45 when it’s normal-icky) and have also been spoiled by WFH. Previously I did bike and bus commuting. It’s not great, it’s not like I love the car commute — but it’s also not as soul-sucking as I’d feared, and the job has allowed me to break into a new field, work with great people, and get promoted twice in the last 2 years. So I think it’s a great trade right now, because the dynamism of the job is important at this stage for me. I also don’t have late hours (so I’m not standing at city bus stops at 10 pm in a relaxed yet prepared position) and I found a great gym near work.

      Spouse was super worried about my commute because spouse would hate it. The deal I made is that I’d work there a year and if I loved it, we’d consider moving closer. Then COVID happened and we went to WFH (we’re essential, being in transportation, but I’m on the tech side so just moved my laptop). So suddenly the commute did not matter. Now it matters again, but is more flexible. If you are able to WFH when there are floods/snowstorms/sports games/whatever causes huge congestion in your area, that’s a very different proposition than “I understand it may take you three hours to get there due to the blizzard but your butt needs to be in that seat.” As a teacher, I really had to be in the classroom to teach in person at a certain time (obviously this was pre-COVID) — as a tech worker, I just have my laptop, no problem, there’s a blizzard I stay home. So, what kind of pressure does your job type put on you?

    45. JelloStapler*

      I commute 40 minutes (oh the joy of when traffic was light during the pandemic when I had to go in) and it’s aggravating but necessary due to where we live in our city. I listen to podcasts and sing along to playlists. But, the job has to either be great or the commute unavoidable. I have considering applying to jobs near me, but the options are few in my industry.

    46. Qwerty*

      – Figure out the range for traffic. Is it 40min during average rush hour or just right now when less people are on the road? How predictable is the traffic? I used to have a commute that would double if I left 5min later than normal, which was difficult to plan around.
      – What is your post-work schedule like? In non-pandemic times, how often do you have to go home before attending an after-work event / dinner reservation / dance recital / etc. How much more stressful will those days get based on traffic on your route?
      – Simplicity of route. If the pandemic hadn’t happened, I was looking to move to a place that would have doubled my commute by moving to the opposite side of my city. But instead of constantly merging and changing expressways, I could just take a single expressway around the city on cruise control and listen to an audio book. I sometimes miss my 30min public transit commute from when I lived in a big city because I would read, knit, use a language app, etc.
      – Evaluate bad weather. Can you work from home if there is snow / ice?

      Once you get past a certain salary where your needs are met, most questions of “is X worth the extra money” usually turn out to be no after the shininess of the new salary wears off. On the other hand, how interesting the job is and how the great the company is can make the trade off better.

    47. Momma Bear*

      At this point in my life – a lot. It also depends on what the commute is like. I had a 50 minute commute on country roads once and I’d take that over 25 minutes of bumper to bumper traffic. A few jobs back I knew that a “good” day to a particular office was going to be an hour so I negotiated a hybrid schedule. Is any continued WFH option available to make the commute less hideous?

      Also, it matters what kind of transit is available. I have off and one commuted by transit over the years, but in recent years our system has deteriorated significantly and I’d rather not be stuck relying on it for anything important. If your mass transit options aren’t bad, it might be a good way to deal with the commute.

    48. Immeuble*

      Does the extra money make it worth it? I guess if you really need the extra money yes it does, but if you don’t it probably wouldn’t be long until you say to yourself ‘Id take a pay cut for a shorter commute’. For me the quality of the commute matters more than the length, 60 mins standing room only is infinitely worse than 60 mins on the freeway. Right now if I were office based I’d have 60 mins each way by car but mostly freeway with the flexibility to set my hours to the best start/finish times to suit my commute. If your employer won’t let you come/leave early/late to minimise the burden of the commute it would get old real quick.

    49. MissDisplaced*

      It matters a lot! Even if the money is good, do you really want to spend 3 hours a day driving?

      Before the pandemic WFH I would spend 2 hours a day commuting (1hour to go approximately 30 miles) in brutal traffic. That amounts to 10 hours a week unpaid time, not to mention gas and bad weather issues. Run the numbers.

    50. RagingADHD*

      Commute time matters, but the scale really depends on what you’re used to. I’ve rarely had a commute under half an hour when I worked in-office. The difference between 20 minutes and 40 minutes wouldn’t seem that significant to me if there were other reasons to prefer the job that was 40 minutes away (like better benefits, more money, etc).

      When the commute time approached an hour, I’d weigh it more significantly. Over an hour, definitely not.

    51. Zephy*

      It’s a factor for sure, but my personal high-water mark was the job where I had a 2 1/2-hour commute on 2 buses to a place that was a 10-minute drive from my front door. I didn’t have a car or a license at that time but the job provided me with a free monthly bus pass, so my partner understandably did not want to get up and drive me to work at butts o’clock in the morning, or pick me up from work in the middle of rush hour, unless it was a true emergency. So, y’know, my current ~35 minutes mostly on the highway is pretty okay.

    52. Windchime*

      To me, 40 minutes in the Seattle area would have been OK if it was in traffic that was moving along reasonably well. It’s the sit-and-wait, stop-and-go nature of a long commute that wears me out. I did a long commute for around 3 years and I finally had just about had enough when we started working remotely. I doubt I would still be there if I had to continue with that sitting in traffic for a couple hours a day.

    53. LifeBeforeCorona*

      I used to have a 40-minute rural commute and for the most part, it was enjoyable. However, over time I hit a deer and few chipmunks. At least once a week a family of turkeys challenged my car and I had to wait them out. Extra care was needed during turtle season because they are very slow so sometimes the commute was a little longer but it was a great way to unwind before getting home.

    54. MacGillicuddy*

      I used to commute by car, it took 25-45 minutes depending on traffic (with the occasional over an hour if there was an accident clogging the roads. But my job had flex hours, so being not-a-morning-person, I timed it to arrive/leave a bit later (this worked except for one horrible boss who attached moral superiority to early mornings and thought “night people” were character-deficient.
      For a different job that required public transportation (because parking costs were prohibitive) the commute was awful. Multiple trains and a bus (or a long walk to the first train). And the worst part was not being able to run errands on the way to and from work. Trains and bus were too crowded for reading, recorded books, etc. I felt like I had to be always aware of my surrounding. The commute was a total waste of 2 hours a day.

      When my kids were younger, the car commute was a consideration, both for pickup/drop off and for things like school events I wanted to attend (luckily I had flexibility except for the previously mentioned boss-from-hell). So 20-30 minutes was ok, but not more than that.

      I would get calls from recruiters who were clearly getting their “commute time” from the internet, because they don’t know the area (greater Boston). Their numbers typically represented two-thirds to a half of the actual time.

    55. A Social Worker*

      This is such a personal thing and many others have pointed out the various factors to think about. For me, 40 minutes wouldn’t have been too much but now that I have a child I see every minute of my commute as time not spent with him (I work long hours to begin with). So at this point of my life, it wouldn’t be worth it.

    56. RussianInTexas*

      40 minutes is basically a norm where I live. If you can get it below – you win a lottery basically.

    57. Miss Betty*

      It matters more now than it did 20-30 years ago and more now after working from home for a year. I’m nearer 60 than 50 and as much as it pains me to admit it, I’m not as comfortable driving in bad weather as I was when I was younger. My 20-30 minute commute (which can extend to an hour or more if the weather’s extremely bad – I live in a farm town and work in the nearest largish city) is still doable but I didn’t miss the winter commute one little bit. My department is arguing for continued WFH (because our work is all done over the internet and email anyway so working remotely made literally no difference) and avoiding the winter commute, while not one of the arguments I’m using, since they want business reasons, is one of my biggest reasons for wanting to continue. In my 20s and 30s, winter driving didn’t stop me from getting where I wanted to go, it was nothing. Not so much anymore! It would be a big consideration if I were changing jobs. (Also – I’ve lived in the country and in very big cities. A one hour commute on the highway is a completely different thing than an hour commute on a jammed freeway, which would’ve been a deal breaker even when I was younger.)

    58. Quiet Liberal*

      My SO did a 45 minute one-way commute (>hour on bad weather days) for about six years. He liked the drive home most of the time because he could decompress from the day during that time and arrive home not as stressed. However, we went through many sets of tires and a couple of cars during that time. It wasn’t ideal cost wise.

    59. meyer lemon*

      For me, quality of commute is at least as much of a factor as the time. If it’s a walk, bike ride or quiet bus ride with no transfers, the extra time wouldn’t bother me too much. But if it’s gridlocked traffic or a bus crammed full of commuters or multiple transfers, that wears me down pretty fast.

    60. Nella9*

      I recently moved and switched jobs and so I went from a 30 minute commute to an hour commute. I honestly don’t mind because it had been 30 minutes sitting in very frustrating traffic, vs. now it’s a longer drive, but I’m driving the whole time and am almost never in any kind of traffic. I use the time to come down from the day and listen to audiobooks. For me, the traffic matters more than the length of time. I prefer what I’m doing now because ultimately it is less stressful. I couldn’t do an hour in terrible traffic, but a long drive without it feels fine.

    61. Girasol*

      I did 45 a.m., 75 p.m. for ten years (except when it was snowy, and then it would be upward of 2 hours each way.) Perhaps if the employer was okay with 8 hour days that might have been okay, but they hinted broadly that if you were a good employee you would work 10-12 hours. With that and the commute I felt like I was going all the way across town just to make supper, pack breakfasts and lunches, and dive into bed for not enough sleep before jumping up to shower and do it all again. I’m not sure more pay would really replace what you lose living like that.

    62. Dancing Otter*

      It makes such a difference what KIND of commute it is. I once worked upstairs from the downtown train station, on a very reliable transit line. I lived maybe 15 minutes from my home station. The 50 minute train ride was fine 98% of the time. (Someone jumped in front of the train, twice in ten years. Someone set fire to the railroad bridge once. A train broke down, blocking the tracks, about once a year. Weather happens, but trains get through better than cars.) Working really late could be problematic, since service was reduced after 7:30 and nonexistent after midnight.

      Then I changed jobs and the clients mostly weren’t convenient to the train. Chicago has two seasons for commuters: snow and construction. Sometimes they overlap.
      I ended up moving to be closer to the suburban clients. I’ve driven downtown for meetings often enough to know that there is no conceivable amount of money that would induce me to do it every day.

    63. CW*

      Pre-COVID, 1.5 hours for me, with traffic. I don’t even know how I managed to tolerated it. It was 32,000 miles on my car per year, plus oil change every 1.5 months (every 5ooo miles). I had to fill the gas every other day, and then there was even a bridge toll I had to pay. how Then COVID hit, and I now WFH permanently 4 days a week, going in on Fridays only. I might not even have to go in on Fridays sooner or later by how things are looking at my job. It has greatly improved my quality of life. More time to exercise, watch TV, catch sports that would be on at 4pm, get more evening chores done. Plus, I don’t have to get up at 5am every weekday anymore. Extra sleep has help my health greatly.

      Granted, I started my job in August 2019, so it wasn’t that long before everything changed. I actually planned on moving closer to work, but WFH changed my plans so I wouldn’t have to.

    64. Kaylin Neya*

      I have worked commutes from 5 minutes away to 1 hour away (more if traffic was awful – and it frequently was). My commute limit is 45 minutes each way (personally). I’ve found as I’ve gotten a little older (in my 30’s) that I care much less about commute time than I do about the actual job. And by actual job I mean: do I like what I do, how are my co-workers/managers, corporate atmosphere, do I feel appreciated (I.e. do I actually enjoy my job). If I love/enjoy my job, then I’d rather commute than work at a job that was just ok (or had other issues). Money matters some for me, but only to the extent that I feel that I am being properly and fairly compensated. I like listening to books via Audible, so the drive is usually a nice time for me and allows me to wake up/decompress. (Note: I have 3 kids at home if it makes a difference. Also, I usually work full time, but it’s a 4 day work week – or 3 day depending on my job.)

    65. Vermont Green*

      One factor that can guide you is doing the math. Consider that your commute time is part of your actual job, and calculate your hourly wage taking it into consideration. So if you make $200 a day for eight hours and no commute, you are making $25 for every hour of your time. If you have an hour commute each way, no matter how pleasant, then you are making $20 an hour—your true hourly wage.

    66. tamarack and fireweed*

      It depends on the whole package of circumstances for me. Back a long time ago when I lived in $BIG_FRENCH_CITY, I rarely worked for the same employer or at the same site for very long,, so I spent often more than an hour in public transport to get where I needed to. OTOH, I studied for exams I was taking on the side of full-time employment during that time, so I got some of it back. Then in $BIG_UK_CITY, I actually moved into a shared place 15 min on foot (or 5 min by bike, or 1 bus stop) from my work after I had found a pretty good job where I stayed for a few years. That was great, but I wanted my own apartment, and the neighborhood was too expensive for that, so I moved to a ~20 min by bike / 25 min by public transport place, which was fine. Then my work’s office moved to the outer suburbs! Luckily vaguely in the direction where I was living now, so it could have been worse, but I now was about 30 min by bike / 45 min by public transport. Not great.

      Then I moved to a sparsely populated area of North America, and now I work for a university and live 30 miles outside the college town. I love everything about where I live, except the commute. WFH did give me significant time back which I used for daily musical instrument practice for example. Fewer audiobooks than when I’m driving into the office, more reading text. We’ll see how it shakes out in the upcoming months.

    67. Cj*

      I went from 20 minutes to 40 minutes and I don’t really mind. In both cases it’s all 65 mile-an-hour Highway, not stop and go traffic. that would drive me nuts.

  2. Tech Writing, UI, Training*

    Very field-specific question: I’m a technical writer with some UI experience. Many job ads these days want a combo of these skills, as well as some corporate training experience. I spent several years as a public school teacher, and still maintain my state certification. I’m trying to decide if including that info would help or harm.

    I do have the experience of leading a classroom of 30+ students, but I hated every second of it, and don’t want to be trapped in a corporate training role. I’m specifically looking at tech writing and UI positions, but many job descriptions are murky about the separation among those three roles. I have the skills, but I’m scared of being pigeon-holed.

    Include or withhold my teaching experience?

    1. ferrina*

      Depends how it would look on your resume. If not including it would leave a weird gap, include it. If it wouldn’t (like the teaching was 10+ years ago and you are only including recent positions)…meh, either way.

      I think the key will be in the interviews. Really take the chance to question the company and understand how much training will be in the role. Be clear with them- you’ve been there, done that, and know that it’s not for you, so if that’s going to be a core part of this job, then this job won’t be a match for you.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Were you teaching elementary or secondary students? Secondary would be much more useful.

    3. Bad at Math MBA*

      Interesting– I’m not sure what kind of companies you’re looking at, but UX writing where I work (a large tech company) is its own function and doesn’t involve training. Unless there’s something very clear in the job description that includes training, I’d leave it off.

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

        Same at my company, a medium-large software company. There’s documentation, UX, and training — all separate groups who might occasionally have cross-team collaborations but do not take on one another’s roles. And as a person who hires technical writers (for the documentation group!) I can say that seeing teaching experience on a resume is definitely a plus.

    4. Lyudie*

      Do they mean delivering the training or creating it? Often those are different roles (I am on the creation side as an instructional designer). I came to it from tech writing and found a lot of transferable skills and knowledge…I am still organization and delivering technical content in a user-friendly way, but I have different tools at my disposal. If it is not delivering the training, they still might see it as a bonus because you were creating lesson plans and curricula and deciding how best to deliver the information.

    5. Former Trainer*

      Yes! Include your teaching experience. I hired Trainers for many years and MANY people said they would love training – until they had to do it all day. So I looked for people who had experience and enjoyed the “grind.” I do Instructional Design work now and many job descriptions ask for training experiences – it has mainly been for Train the Trainer or managing working with a lot SMEs.

    6. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      Totally include it! AND broaden your reach and see if you can’t pick up a gig as an instructional designer or technology trainer.

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

      I’d include the teaching experience but probably not the part about maintaining your certification, as the hiring manager that would make me wonder “are they likely to jump ship back into teaching” etc.

    8. TWW*

      The job title “technical writer” can be applied to a huge variety of duties and qualifications, and for any job posting, you may have to read between the lines to figure out what the role entails.

      In my recent job search, I immediately ruled out about 80% of “tech writer” postings, because it was apparent I was not the kind of tech writer they were looking for. It was a little painful because it left me with only a few jobs to apply for, but ultimately it was a successful strategy.

      My advice: if you do not not enjoy corporate training, do not apply for a job that includes that.

      If you do apply for such a job, I don’t think hiding your school teaching experience will help you avoid training assignments. If you designed the UI and/or wrote the help system, that alone will make you the obvious choice for training users.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        Pretty much this. You don’t need to hide your teaching experience in order to avoid jobs which includes a training component. Just treat it like anything else you would consider a sign of poor fit with a company (for example, a chaotic office environment, or a micromanaging boss, or a lack of work/life balance, or whatever else you don’t want in your next position), and interview to find out whether each company has the things you don’t want, or doesn’t have them. Shouldn’t be that hard to find out exactly what the components of your prospective job are — how much is tech writing, how much is UI, etc — and whether there’s any training involved at all.

    9. Qwerty*

      I would include it and explain how it makes you better at writing and UI. I’m betting understanding *how* people learn best helps you create documentation that explains things better and design UIs that are more intuitive. During the interview, ask what percentage of the job is corporate teaching. You could even spin it to you advantage! Something like you have experience teaching but did not enjoy it so you try to craft high quality materials that don’t require a formal training session.

      1. Fran Fine*

        This is good advice, especially the part about making it very clear upfront that you don’t have any desire to be a corporate trainer. Honestly, what you wrote was probably the rationale for why the company even mentioned teaching experience in the first place. If you’ve had formal teaching experience in the past, one assumes you know the various ways people learn and can take that knowledge and apply it to various types of instructional aides or online tools.

    10. Anhaga*

      I’m going to add another vote for “look for instructional design positions” if you haven’t already checked that out. That was the field I was trying to break into (leaving 17 years in higher ed) before I got turned in my current direction (digital accessibility), and my husband, also previous higher ed, is now in an instructional design position that he loves. It involves many of the skills required for technical writing, UI work, and the kind of curriculum design work you would have done as a teacher. If you find the right company, ID work as awesome. And many places looking for IDs are looking for people with teaching experience since there are a lot of things about curriculum and course design that you just don’t really get until you teach (even if you didn’t like teaching!).

    11. Likafire*

      I’m a technical writer with a background in higher ed, working for a Bay Area-based tech company. Like other commenters have said, at my company training and tech writing are two very different roles handled by different departments, so there isn’t any overlap. It may be that you just have to be pickier about the types of roles you’re applying for. Still, I think my experience in adult education was helpful in demonstrating to the hiring committee that I knew how to communicate concepts to adult learners effectively. If it were me, I’d include the teaching experience, but leave off the certification.

  3. Anonymous Educator*

    Anyone have co-workers who totally have easy access to vaccines but whose employer is not mandating employees get vaccinated before returning to the office in person? How are you dealing with that?

    1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      I’m a little stressed because it’s not mandated and the anti vaxxers in the office are kicking up a fuss since they are giving out incentives. I’m vaccinated, but too much spread could have a bad outcome.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        I don’t have to go in the office, but our workers often go into homes or residential treatment, and some people are sick- like one of my parents has cancer. That’s also why I continue to mask.

        1. Artemesia*

          I don’t understand a business that serves vulnerable people and doesn’t require vaccination. They can literally kill someone. I have an acquaintance who has a form of leukemia that is under control with treatment and he has a fair life expectancy — in years not months. BUT although vaccinated he shows no antibodies; he is immune compromised and has one of the conditions that makes vaccination ineffective. I am sure that is true of many of the cancer patients you serve. What kind of moral monster thinks they should be able to work with vulnerable people but not get vaccinated for flu and COVID?

          1. A Social Worker*

            From what I understand, my agency is not mandating it due to it only being authorized for emergency use. I think once it is fully approved it will be mandated, and I can’t wait.

    2. Kimmy Schmidt*

      I’m in a conservative southern state and this sounds like the norm in my area. In fact, I don’t know of any businesses around here that are mandating employees get vaccinated, although there are a handful that are mandating either a vaccine or continued mask wearing.

      I’m vaccinated but still wearing my mask. I’m not really sure what else I can do.

      1. pancakes*

        It’s not confined to southern states – there’s an article about Wisconsin in the Guardian today, which is apparently representative of many states in terms of huge disparities at the county level. Some counties, over 60% of people are vaccinated, and in others it’s closer to 20%.

        1. Kimmy Schmidt*

          Oh no, I didn’t mean to suggest otherwise. In my opinion, it’s more likely a rural-urban divide than a geographical one. I just meant to give some background info about my locale.

        2. SomebodyElse*

          That article is sort of cherry picking data out of the state numbers. So I’d advise anyone reading to look at the data links.

          1. pancakes*

            Any summary or analysis of data is going to require numerous choices about what to include and what to leave out. If there’s something in the article you think is misleading, surely it would make more sense to specify what it is rather than suggest people review all of the many links in it?

            1. SomebodyElse*

              No problem… the article made reference to voting patterns for some of the counties that either had a high or low vaccination rate, they however left out instances (significant ones) that pointed in the opposite direction of the ones they sited.

              So in other words the article cited:
              County A voted predominately Orange in the last election and had a low vaccination rate
              County B voted predominately Purple in the last election and had a high vaccination rate

              But failed to mention
              County C voted predominately Orange in the last election and had a high vaccination rate
              County D voted predominately Purple in the last election and had a low vaccination rate

              If you only read the article, you are going to draw one conclusion, but if you look into the data it pretty much draws no obvious conclusion between Orange/Purple voting patterns and high/low vaccination rates.

              1. pancakes*

                I see. I don’t think anyone reading the article with care would be drawn to that one conclusion, though, because the article itself gives reasons not to. It talks about the Amish and Mennonite populations in certain counties having an impact on the vaccination rate, for example, and links to local public radio coverage of that topic:

                “Not everybody who is vaccine-hesitant is driven by political beliefs. . . . Clark county is also home to an Amish and Mennonite population of several thousand, groups sometimes referred to as ‘Plain People’ for their choice not to embrace modern dress and technology. Generally, Amish decline vaccines and Mennonites accept only some. Neither has been open to Covid vaccines, Wisconsin Public Radio reported.”

      2. Cilantro & Lime*

        Not especially helpful, but a happy ending dealing with this dilemma:

        At my small office, we were all clambering for our vaccine– with one exception. We all sort of tiptoed around her at the risk of offending. And then on the day, miraculously, we all got an ‘in’ at a vaccination site from a coworker’s contact (the clinic had extra doses that would otherwise go to waste), so everyone except for the holdout went for it. When she realized she was the only one who hadn’t jumped at the chance, and her own doctors strongly urged her to get the vaccine, she finally went for it. Everyone in my office is now fully vaccinated, hooray! I’m so glad we don’t have any extreme anti-vaxxers among us.

      3. Applesauced*

        I’m in Texas and our office is about fully 70% vaccinated.
        We are part of a larger company that just said as we slowly open offices (at 25% capacity, then 50%, etc) only vaccinated staff can enter the office.

        Vaccination is not mandatory, and reporting is optional, but if you don’t prove that you got your shots you can’t work in person. I don’t know how that will change once everyone is expected back in the office.

    3. R*

      I have expressed my concern about exactly this to my boss. She told me whatever the CDC says goes. Personally, I will continue to wear a mask indoors until everyone in my home is vaccinated, which is going to take a while because we have a kid.

    4. Jake*

      Our office requires a mask AND social distancing for unvacinated folks.

      Vaccinated folks don’t have to do either.

      1. t-vex*

        That’s where we’re going at my (southern) company too. Over 90% of staff are fully vaccinated and can opt out of masking but if staff who choose not to get vaccinated are required to continue with all the precautions we’ve been taking all along.

        1. Artemesia*

          Given the resistance to well confirmed proof data bases e.g. vaccine passports, how will anything be enforced? Our local stores now only require masks for the unvaccinated — but we know the unvaccinated are liars and irrational — so I assume the people I am seeing without masks are unvaccinated and perhaps breeding vaccine resistant viruses. So in stores I still wear my mask.

          1. Old and Don’t Care*

            It probably won’t be well enforced. Many, many things in our society depend on a high level of voluntary compliance, and that’s where we’ll end up.

            I’ve been vaccinated and generally don’t wear a mask where it’s not required. I’m neither a liar nor irrational.

          2. Jules the 3rd*

            Schroedinger’s COVID Stranger: We don’t *know* if the unmasked are vaxd or anti-vax anymore, so it’s safest to assume they’re unvaxd.

            1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

              Yes. I’d be happy to wear a copy of my vaccine like a work badge. But the anti-vaxxers are also the anti-proofers. It’s nuts. How are they about mandatory vaccines for their children in order to attend school? Do they politicize that, too?

      2. Is it tea time yet?*

        As of June 1, vaccinated people at my temp job can go maskless. I had my second dose early April, but am unsure what I’ll do. My teen got his first shot a week and a half ago, so my inclination is to wait until after his second dose. Plus, only half of the people in my area are vaccinated, and the holdouts are very vaccine-resistant. The company has offered company swag to vaccinated workers, and will be doing drawings for apple watches and gift cards too.

    5. ThatGirl*

      On a personal level I’m not toooo worried about it, my workplace is strongly encouraging vaccines but haven’t mandated it. They are allowing people to (voluntarily, privately) submit their attestation of vaccination (dates, which brand) and then stop wearing a mask in the office. But coming back is still optional.

    6. Maggie*

      We are not mandating vaccines (I really haven’t heard of anywhere that is aside from colleges) but masks are still required because we work with the public and they want to keep masking for now. Though there’s only like 6 people here and we all have discussed being vaccinated though (I guess someone could lie, but I doubt it).

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        My (very large healthcare) employer will be announcing next week a vaccine mandate with only medical exemptions, similar to the way we mandate flu vaccines. Our county mask mandate is ending in a couple weeks in general, but will still apply to healthcare facilities and a couple other specific types of places. (Weirdly, my friend’s college has decided NOT to mandate vaccines.)

        1. RabbitRabbit*

          I’m hoping mine will do the same, but yes, my hospital doesn’t currently mandate COVID vaccination. However, mask-wearing is still enforced (healthcare setting), and among employees we passed the 80% vaccination mark quite a while ago, so that’s promising. I’m assuming similar will happen for us, maybe after FDA approval of one of them. We do mandate flu vaccination or (with medical excuse) masking when engaging in patient care/contact.

    7. Alice*

      Quick update regarding my notice period. I’ve negotiated with my company and in the end my notice is 4 weeks. Thank you to the commenters who offered advice — unfortunately it turns out that my manager wants to make it look like I was doing important job, for some internal politics game. In truth I’ve got nothing to do and I will twiddle my thumbs for the next 2 weeks, as I’ve finished wrapping up everything on Tuesday. But at least I can twiddle my thumbs with a clear conscience.

      The bright spot is I’ve also negotiated working from home for 2 days a week, and I’m looking forward to being fully remote in my next position. My current employer made us return to the office last summer and they’re not enforcing masks, so my mental health hasn’t been good in the past few months. Looking forward to a fresh start.

      1. vlookup*

        If your company wants to pay you to work out a long notice period but you have nothing to do, IMO you can in good conscience goof off as much as you can get away with for the rest of your time there.

    8. Mr. Cajun2core*

      My employer is the same way. In fact, it is requiring that people return. However, vaccinated people do not have to wear a mask where unvaccinated do have to wear a mask. All people have to social distance of 3 ft. If you are vaccinated you can wear a mask or not.

      1. FedUp*

        Are they requiring proof that you have been vaccinated in order to shed the mask? or is it “honor system”? (Which I think is a total joke)

    9. Josephine Beth NotAmy*

      My employer has done a great job of making vaccines available, and about 90% of our staff is vaccinated. Some of the hold-outs aren’t anti-vaxx so much as vaccine-hesitant, which I find slightly more understandable. Because we work directly with families and can’t ask their vaccine status, our policy is basically to act as if everyone we interact with is unvaccinated. I’m completely fine with that, since my college-age kiddo is likely not fully protected by her vaccine due to immunosuppression.

    10. Generic Name*

      I’m fully vaccinated, so I guess I’m not worrying about it? It does help that my company mandates that if you are not fully vaccinated, or don’t want to disclose that you are fully vaccinated, you must wear a mask in common areas and cannot share an office unmasked.

      1. TWW*

        Same. As a vaccinated person I know the risk isn’t zero, but for me, small risks aren’t worth worrying about.

        Reducing stress (for instance, by letting go of things I can’t control) has known benefits, which I think probably outweigh any benefits that would result from my trying to deal the the problem of unvaccinated coworkers.

    11. EarthBound*

      I work in the public sector and we are reopening fully to the public next week–albeit with maks for everyone (citizens and employees regardless of vaccination status). Many of us have been eligible for vaccines since late February. Some of our employees have been complaining about how they feel at risk now. My question is always, “Have you been vaccinated?” None of them has and only one had a medical issue that would prevent vaccination. These are, not surprisingly, the same people who did not take COVID restrictions seriously. A handful of these folks have had to quarantine multiple times because of risky behavior outside of work. And they still aren’t vaccinated!

      I am fully vaccinated and I don’t feel particularly at risk anymore. The only workers I feel bad for are the few who can’t be vaccinated due to a medical issue.

      1. SomebodyElse*

        “only one had a medical issue that would prevent vaccination.”

        That you know of, that is. Perhaps the ones that are worried do have a medical condition that they just don’t want to broadcast. That would be more in line with being worried about being at risk than not taking restrictions seriously but suddenly is concerned about risk… that bit doesn’t make too much sense.

    12. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      Here is another place where WFH makes all kinds of sense (provided it’s reasonable for your job, of course). I am vaccinated and I don’t care what my colleagues do.

    13. JG Obscura*

      My employer isn’t requiring vaccination, but they still have mandatory “check-in” procedures, even as states relax their laws. Everyone who comes in the building has their temperature scanned and asked if they have any symptoms.
      Mask-wearing is still “required”, but it’s much more lax now about wearing them properly. People have their noses out ALL THE TIME. Which is not great, but then there are people blatantly wearing theirs below their chin and I don’t work in close enough proximity or know them well enough to call them out. Like yeah, they *could* be fully vaccinated so itd be fine, but the type of people who refuse to get vaccinated are also the type who would lie and say they were.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        It’s one thing not to get vaxd, but if I found out someone wasn’t and lied saying they were, I would consider that a fireable offense. That is despicable. (And yeah, I hate the people who get bit in zombie movies and don’t tell, too)

      2. Generic Name*

        Yeah, the lying about being fully vaccinated is super sucky. My company isn’t mandating vaccines, but if you want to go about maskless, you must be fully vaccinated and be able to offer proof if asked. If you don’t want to have to show proof, you must wear a mask. Plus, just about everyone can work from home for as long as they want (including forever). I think my company’s policy is very reasonable.

    14. Jules the 3rd*

      It all depends. I am pro-vax, vaccinated, and have all my family vaccinated, so I do have some bias, but here’s how I break it down:

      – I have a lot of compassion for BIPOC who are vaccine hesitant because of the legit concerns about Black people’s treatment by health providers (Tuskeegee; Henrietta Lacks; Black mom mortality; vaccine-derived polio in Africa). I will engage once if it comes up, explaining my experience and my family’s (7 vaxd, 1 w/3 days of side effects, 2 a little tired, 4 nothing we noticed), and the safety of mRNA vaxs, and then I move on, no judgement.
      – I have a tiny bit of compassion for people who are generally anti-vax / have been for years. I *may* explain my fam’s experience if they seem to waffle, but will mostly avoid.
      – I have no compassion left for COVID deniers. If it comes up, I change the subject or leave.

      If I had to work with unvaxxed, if I had vulnerable family members I’d wear a mask at work until my fam was vaxd. I might wear it longer as a symbol, and because that India variant’s pretty scary. I’d certainly ask for plexi if we were in cubicles, and for WFH options. I’d also ask how facilities is working on ventilation, since we now know that COVID is mostly airborne and that good ventilation and filtration can help reduce spread. (There’s a couple of recent articles you can print out and take to mgmt). But I would not try to convince anyone at work, it’s all gone too far for that.

      1. pancakes*

        Pew Research found that the demographic least likely to get vaccinated is white evangelicals. Whether any of us individually feel compassion toward anti-vax people seems entirely beside the point of whether and to what extent they jeopardize public health initiatives.

      2. Database Developer Dude*

        I’m vaxxed, but to prevent spreading to immunocompromised people in my circle, I continue to mask. I dread the day “don’t have to” turns into “not allowed to” regarding mask policy.

        1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

          I read today about a restaurant, I think in California, that will be adding a surcharge to customers who wear masks. I feel bad for the employees, but that’s one restaurant I hope goes out of business very soon.

          1. Database Developer Dude*

            If you think people who didn’t want to wear masks behaved badly, just you wait until a place near where I live decides they want to do this. It will be epic.

    15. Momma Bear*

      Our employer is highly encouraging vaccines and the guideline right now is if you are not vaccinated (for whatever reason – I know a few folks who can’t be per their doctors), they should continue to mask up around people. It’s an honor system, though, so many of us are still wearing masks, vaccinated or not. I deal with it by wearing a mask because that is what makes me most comfortable.

    16. ampersand*

      Yep. I haven’t had to deal with it just yet—currently WFH—but I’m about to refuse to go back to work. I’m not sure how this is going to go. Our governor just made it illegal for state agencies/schools to ask about vaccine status, require masks, or enforce social distancing. I’m sorry, I can’t pretend there’s no pandemic.

      1. Fran Fine*

        I’m sorry, I can’t pretend there’s no pandemic.

        I feel this and sympathize with you. This whole situation is incredibly frustrating – hopefully, you and your employer can figure out a way for you to continue working from home for the foreseeable future.

    17. LifeBeforeCorona*

      We were strongly encouraged to get vaccinated because of our client base. I have friends with a child doing chemo and being vaccinated means that if needed I can help with groceries, child care, cleaning etc without causing the parents extra anxiety.

    18. Amtelope*

      I’m fully vaccinated and my entire household is fully vaccinated, so I’m OK with the slight chance of someone at work being unvaccinated AND having Covid AND being close enough to me for long enough to expose me. I’m pretty sure that everyone on the team I work with directly is vaccinated (we’ve been giving one another a heads-up on Slack when we’re away from our keyboards, so I’ve seen all the “going to get my first/second shot!” posts. That’s enough for me at this point. It helps that we don’t work either in close quarters or the public; I don’t feel particularly unsafe just being in the building with unvaxxed people now that everyone in my house is fully vaccinated.

    19. Carol*

      My employer, thankfully, is requiring them, and I would be hesitant to go back in person if not, because of a young kid.

      Unfortunately, we discovered our day care had multiple teachers refusing the vaccine (after multiple quarantines and COVID cases…sigh), and we actually finally switched day cares because of this. The new place doesn’t have a mandate but encourages it and offers an incentive, and has a pretty high rate of compliance.

      1. FedUp*

        I 100% would pull my child for this reason. I hope you told them exactly why you left.

    20. Not your decision*

      I think whether or not I get a vaccine is between me and my doctor only. My HR, coworkers, or who have you is not qualified to have any input on my medical situation. I find it highly alarming that people blithely think it’s just fine to do so.

      1. pancakes*

        I think there’s a big difference between an employer collecting information (e.g. “approximately 70% of our employees are vaccinated, which puts us in a good position to ask people to come back into the office”) and an employer having input in an individual’s decision to get vaccinated or not.

      2. FedUp*

        Are you OK with being told you cannot return to the office, or you must continue to wear a mask in the office if you do not care to share your vaccination status? It certainly is your right to decide whether or not you want to get vaccinated, but I think your co-workers also have the right to not be around people who are un-vaxxed/un-masked.

    21. mreasy*

      I don’t know anyone whose job is requiring vaccination before returning, and I’m in NYC. I am frustrated that my office is adopting an “honor policy” in letting employees go without a mask if they’re vaccinated – and not checking. But I am very fortunate in not being required to go back FT for some time still.

      1. FedUp*

        The honor system is such a joke – because we know that the same people who refuse to vaccinate are the same people who have scoffed at masks all along. If an employer does not want to require that employees get vaccinated, fine. But then they sure as heck should make sure they keep their damn mask on. I know pre-COVID some healthcare facilities would do that with the flu shot – got the jab, you could go mask-free; no jab = mask required at all times (and employee ID indicated who had to wear a mask).

  4. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    I’m doing a bit better lately, but I inadvertently worried my boss. I said I hadn’t gotten much sleep one day and didn’t get a lot of work done and she was really concerned. I’m now confused since insomnia is a common thing. I also recently had a doctor note that I have ADHD and I’m trying new medication. I haven’t told my boss the extent of my struggles since I don’t want to worry her, but maybe I should?

    1. IL JimP*

      she was likely concerned that you might turn into a performance management concern, you don’t have to go into too much details with her but a big picture convo about having a health issue that you are working with a doctor to resolve might help put it into perspective

      but that will depend on what you know about your boss and how she reacts to things like this

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        That’s true. I did mention I was going to the doctor but did not mention ” due to embarrassing mental health conditions “

    2. ecnaseener*

      You didn’t sleep much ONCE and she was really concerned?? That’s bizarre, nobody has great sleep all the time. Maybe she was just trying to sound sympathetic, not so much worried.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Yeah, if it were a regular thing that would be one thing, but everyone has nights they don’t sleep well.

      2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        She was like tell me when this happens so we can shift your schedule around, but the truth is that like maybe once in two weeks I’ll have no luck sleeping and I just go ” ugh”

        1. ecnaseener*

          Ok, maybe she was just trying to be helpful and tell you it’s ok to call out sick when you get no sleep at all.

          1. JelloStapler*

            I agree, it sounds like she is concerned and wants to see if she can help. My colleagues have expressed concern for each other when someone says they didn’t sleep well.

            1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

              That’s true. I tend to try to power through because I usually don’t know if I’ll get any work done or not until 10 o clock.

    3. Cooper*

      I wouldn’t tell her exactly what’s happening if you don’t need to! If she asks again, I’d just tell her that you’ve got a medication that causes occasional insomnia, but it’s nothing to worry about. It’s such a common side effect that I can’t imagine anyone would be that weird about it!

      (Honestly, getting concerned at all is weird! I feel like it’s pretty common for people to come into work and say “Ah, man, I’m beat, I was up super late last night watching the sportsball game!”)

      1. Joan Rivers*

        Is it NOT “weird” to tell your boss you didn’t get much done cause you didn’t sleep well one night? Boss is responding to what’s said. I’d be concerned if someone thought it was important to tell me that.

        1. Cooper*

          I guess I’d expect concern if it was a reoccurring thing that I was dealing with, but one night of “eh, didn’t sleep well” doesn’t seem too unusual or worthy of concern!

        2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

          Eh I just don’t know what to say a lot of the time or whether it’s weird or not. This is why I totally dread talking about myself. Lol.

          1. comityoferrors*

            I don’t think it’s weird at all to mention that! You don’t really need to report to your boss that you had a less productive day (unless there are deadlines and you need support meeting them, which is what you would focus on in that conversation), but my reports tell me stuff like that all the time and it’s fine. It’s also incredibly normal to mention sleeping poorly or running into traffic in the morning or whatever mundane Life Stuff throws you off your game. I would guess that your boss is just trying to be supportive and potentially missing the mark a smidge.

            1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

              Yea she was asking about the end of the month deadlines and I was like eh, I can get them in but I had a bad day yesterday

    4. VI Guy*

      I almost wonder if she has occasional insomnia and is reacting so strongly out of empathy to try and help you out.

      I wouldn’t give her any details about mental health stuff, but if she can help you then discuss it. I knew someone who took medication with insomnia as a side effect, and the workplace let her start work an hour later when she didn’t sleep well. There are sometimes options.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        The actual truth is that someone had a stroke- so she was just concerned about everyone’s health in general. Sometimes people do have stress insomnia so she might have thought the job was getting to me

    5. hamburke*

      I occasionally have trouble sleeping – 1-2 nights at a time and only a few times a year. I do tell my boss, have her double check anything that’s going to clients, and usually leave early. She’s always concerned when this happens but since it’s an occasional thing, she wanted me to take care of myself as the work would be there when I got back or she wanted to know if anything needed to be covered. Her husband had a health scare recently and I covered her work while she was tending to him – it goes both ways!

  5. Kini*

    What to do when you work for a super anti-mask boss? We all went back into the office at full capacity this week, it’s a small company of only 15 people and my boss is the owner. Masks are no longer required in my state. I am fully vaccinated but still like to wear them. Unfortunately, my boss has always been very anti-mask. The problem is that he not only allowed us all to go in maskless, but the other day he started saying he “does not appreciate masks in his presence” and wants to ban them from the office. I am one of 3 people who actually wore them at work this week, and we were each brought into his office where he went on a tangent on why he finds my mask offensive to him, and that masks will be no longer welcome in his business (his words).

    His reasons are ridiculous, but he said “they make me appear less trustworthy or like I’m sick, and only sick people wear masks”, and more claims I won’t get into. He believes there is no more covid and no risk to any of us anymore. Unfortunately, my only options here seem to be either accept that I am no longer allowed to wear a mask at work, or quit and find a new job (not always easy in my field and area). But is there anything else I can do? Does he have the right to ban them in his business? He does own the building.

    1. SomebodyElse*

      I guess he could make it disallowed by dress code, so yeah he could outright ban them.

    2. My Brain Is Exploding*

      This is a very interesting question and I’m hoping that Alison will chime in.

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      I’m pretty sure he can do that, and even if it turns out it’s illegal… what’s the upside for you? You tell him he’s breaking the law, you insist on wearing a mask, and he punishes you for it. He’s already shown he’s irrational and not particularly intelligent. IMHO, you’ve got to either get out, or accept the situation as it is without poking the crazy with a stick.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        +1

        But if you and all your family are vaxd, the mask is mostly for your comfort right now. Maybe keep one around for wearing, and check for other ways to increase your comfort (ie, distance, ventilation, wfh).

        Your boss is a jerk and isn’t going to change. How much jerk can you live with? Might be worth throwing the resume out to test the waters.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Not necessarily. What if someone is on immunosuppressant meds? Or sick with a different illness? Or caring for someone at high risk.

          I hope masks stay around so I stop catching the flu from the same person at work.

      2. Fran Fine*

        + 1 to your last sentence because those are the only options here, sadly. Your boss is a lunatic, OP.

    4. NJ Anon*

      Does your state have guidelines around this? I live in NJ and employers cannot make you remove a mask at work.

      1. Kini*

        I’m not sure, I think if I were immunocompromised maybe? I’m not, I just don’t trust my coworkers to get vaccinated and variants are out there. If I told my boss I have a medical reason to wear masks, maybe he would believe me and have to let me wear it. But he might retaliate against me unfortunately. He’s trying to force us all to act like everything is normal again and I would then be in the way of whatever he thinks he will achieve.

        1. pancakes*

          Check on your state’s rules on this in the meantime. It shouldn’t take more than a moment or two to look up. There’s no downside to knowing your rights, regardless whether you intend to act on them or not.

        2. RR*

          Yeah, that’s my boss too. He just wants to pretend everything is normal, he always has. Who do you think had an outbreak?

        3. Ugh*

          With all those people who got “doctor exemptions” to not wear masks, could you get a doctor to write a letter or prescription that you need to wear one (for anxiety or …). This might protect you under ADA. But, I’d ask a lawyer first & start looking for another job.

    5. hugh*

      Gosh – I’m sorry – this sounds stressful. I would look for a new job pronto – he obviously doesn’t respect your health and he’s an asshat. I wouldn’t trust his judgement elsewhere . . . In the mean time it might be worth finding out if this potentially crosses the line for ADA? I’m also curious if you were fired for wearing a mask what consequences might come down on him? What would happen if you couldn’t be vaccinated because you had a health issue that prohibited you? Also, “science” is finding that the vaccine is less effective for some folks who have compromised immune systems. In either of these situations wearing a mask could potentially save your life correct? If you can team up with the other maskers that would be good too. I guess just be clear to him that this is what makes you feel safe and he is free to do what he wants with his body but not dictate to you.

    6. anonymath*

      Ugh.

      I don’t know what your rights are, exactly.

      If I had to argue, I’d take an “As a LiBerTarIaN,…” personal liberty slant, and I’d also lay on a (vague) guilt trip about immunocompromised people you care about. I don’t know if that’s the right thing to do. But that’s what I’d do: personal liberty, “my rights”, “don’t you care about my (friend’s) life”, personal responsibility, etc. But I’m also in a position where I’m kind of happy to pick certain kinds of fights.

    7. bunniferous*

      If you didn’t need the money from this job to live….I would be mighty tempted to let him fire me over the mask and then see what the unemployment office said about it.

      I don’t want to wear a mask and in your shoes would not be wearing one BUT I am all about people getting to do what makes THEM comfortable. If you feel you need to wear a mask you should be able to wear one. I mean, technically your boss is being “very UnAmerican…”

    8. Kotow*

      Ugh, this is where even though he *can* ban them, it’s such a stupid thing to do. The whole mask issue this last year has been centered on “let people make their own choices” and by banning them, he isn’t letting people do that. And I say this as someone who has no problem taking off a mask when it’s clear it won’t be required or enforced and would have been completely comfortable the entire year had nobody worn a mask around me. I decided to make it optional in my office but even so, when one client preferred to wear a mask, it was no trouble to wear one as well. I certainly wouldn’t think of banning it!

    9. FedUp*

      Maybe this makes me a horrible person, but I really really hope your boss lands his ass on ventilator with a long, miserable case of COVID…

    10. Here we go again*

      One party store I frequent around me doesn’t enforce masks. They have the sign up it don’t enforce it. (They’ve been robbed a couple times, and they want to see everyone’s face, also checking ID for alcohol) I actually like that they don’t enforce it. I have a feeling once this is over a lot of party stores and banks will ban masks, like some ban hoodies and sunglasses.
      I worked at a gas station (I was 19 and didn’t know any better, worst job ever!) that was robbed about 4 days after I walked off, it would’ve been my shift and my replacement was assaulted too.
      I have a feeling for criminal surgical masks be the new panty hose for robbers.

    11. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      Oh, how tempting it would be to wear a mask with “My boss is an asshole” printed on it!

  6. Law school baby*

    Any advice on asking my manager for a law school recommendation?
    Not at a direct feeder job to law, but working law adjacent.

    1. IL JimP*

      this is heavily dependent on what you know of your manager and how they would react to the protentional of you leaving sometime in the future

      also is your manager even a good resource for that type of recommendation?

    2. Legal Beagle*

      It would be a good recommendation to have, but totally depends on how you think your manager will react to the idea of you leaving the job soon. Do they know you’re thinking about law school? Are you planning to quit and do school full-time? What’s your timeline? If they don’t know yet, I’d start a conversation about your goals and plans to get the manager up to speed before asking for a recommendation. If they say no or you don’t feel comfortable asking, you’ll still be fine! College professors are a good source, past bosses, etc. And for better or worse, it’s mostly about LSAT score anyway.

      1. Legal Beagle*

        ETA more context: Many candidates come straight from college with little to no work experience, so a reference from a manager can give a boost to your application. Also, working in a law-adjacent field shows your interest in the field, and they can speak to your aptitude, diligence, etc. However, it’s fine if you don’t have that reference. I worked as a paralegal before law school and did not ask my manager for a recommendation because I didn’t want her to know I’d be leaving, and I still got into a highly-ranked school. My resume was part of the application, and I wrote my essay about the work I was doing, so I was still able to highlight that experience.

        1. Law school baby*

          My worry is I’ve been out of school for 3 years and haven’t kept up with any professors, plus my last job went poorly on both sides. I asked one former boss who agreed, but I think I’d need two or more.

          Also, would my direct manager or grand boss make more sense?

        2. IL JimP*

          I totally read recommendation as in recommending a good school and not even thinking about on the application for the school lol

    3. Jane of all Trades*

      If you have a good relationship with them they can give you a strong recommendation, because they know you well, and can speak to your analytical skills etc.
      My former boss, who is amazing, wrote me a strong recommendation for law school and for my summer associate position. But only do it if you are close enough that you can have a discussion with them about pursuing opportunities that will take you away from your current job, and if you know they will be supportive and will write you a strong letter.

    4. RecoveringSWO*

      Is your only concern whether your manager may push you out too early since you’re planning on law school? If so, you could state that you’re looking to go part time (at night). Plenty of people change their mind about whether to go full time or part time during the application/acceptance process, so I wouldn’t feel bad about stating that to the boss even if you end up going full time. If I recall correctly, you’re getting a universal recommendation letter to all the schools your applying to and not one per specific school, so I don’t think you need to commit to only apply to local schools if you go with that strategy.

    5. Amandalikeshummus*

      I just straight up asked mine for a recommendation last year. I needed it, since I’ve been out of school for a long time. He was cool about it. I do recommend letting your manager know that recommendations are usually about a page or so, since they probably don’t write many.

      Now I’m figuring out when to give my notice, since I’ll be quitting to attend.

  7. tommy-toes*

    Are resumes:
    (A) a document that lists your comprehensive work history OR
    (B) should it list only the job experiences that are relevant to the position being applied to OR (C) should it only list most recent job experiences that will fit on one page OR (B) and (C)?

    I ask because I was being interviewed for a full-time job and I submitted a resume that listed only relevant job history and the interviewer asked me about my “gaps” in employment? For one, I was puzzled because I am graduating this Spring so all my work experience listed was strictly internships, volunteer, and maybe a few retails gigs and I didn’t think “gaps” in your work history would apply. Two, I was confused because if I listed my entire work history including the nannying gigs and non-relevant retail/food service gigs then my resume would have been easily 2-3 pages. Basically, I am 21 and I’ve been interning or working since I was 15 years old/summer before my Junior year of high school. Just in internships, I could list 9 internships each at least 3 months in length.

    If in the future, lets say I stay at this job 2-4, maybe 5 years, I would certainly list the full-time job… but how should I approach the rest of the resume?

    My approach was to list all the most recent AND relevant job experiences.

    What say you, hiring manangers?

    1. Essess*

      I make a point of having the header of that section of the resume say “Relevant Work History” to make it clear that it’s not a complete list.

    2. IL JimP*

      It should be a combination of B & C

      you want to have your full job history to an extent (short term jobs or short gaps don’t matter) but what you write under them in your bullet points should be customized to what is relevant for the job you are applying for also depending on the length of your job history you don’t have to go all the way back to HS or anything probably last 10 yeas is sufficient or whatever you have post college

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        +1 on a combo of B & C.

        I’d keep a comprehensive work history copy for yourself that you can make copies of and tweak for each position, but don’t send the comprehensive one to the jobs you apply to.

      2. Aquawoman*

        I also agree B + C but asking a graduating student about “gaps” in their resume is cuckoo.

        1. The New Wanderer*

          Seconded that asking about “gaps” is a weird, irrelevant question to ask of a graduating college student (who did not return to college as an adult with a previous job history). That’s like asking a high school student why they don’t already have multiple years of work experience. It shows a complete lack of understanding of what is reasonable to expect.

          You should keep a document like A (complete work history) so that you can pick and choose your relevant work history for a tailored resume (B).

    3. ecnaseener*

      It’s definitely not A, that’s a CV. I believe Alison usually calls it a “marketing document.” That said, apparent gaps can look weird so a pure B might not work.

      It definitely sounds like this interviewer was being weird, wondering about “gaps” while you were a student.

    4. EndlessWorry*

      B for sure – I’ve seen resumes described as more of a marketing document, and I think that’s accurate. I also put the header “Notable Professional Experiences” (or “Select” or “Relevant” in place of “Notable”) to signal that this isn’t everything, just what I believe is valuable for them to know about.

    5. ferrina*

      Depends on the resume flow and on your work history.

      I have a work history that is very linear- for the last 10 years, each position has clearly fed in to the next. There’s a bit of irrelevant experience, but that was 12 years ago, so I just leave everything that’s older than 10 years off. No one cares about a gap between getting your degree and that position ten years ago. For me, I have a combo of B and C. My situation is pretty common.

      Since you are a recent grad (or will be soon- congrats!), the rules are a little different. Most recent grads list their entire work history, since it’s usually pretty short. For you, definitely cut it down to include the most relevant things, *including the positions with longest tenure*. If you have a position you’ve been at for several years, even if it’s not relevant to what you’re applying to, it’s good evidence that you are committed, reliable and clearly capable of holding down a long-term job. You may want to cover any obvious gaps (like if there was a summer that you didn’t do anything relevant), but it’s not essential.

      When someone asks in an interview, just explain the situation to them. “I’ve done so many jobs, gigs and internships that my full CV is three pages long! I like to keep my resume at 1 page, but I’m happy to provide more info/my full-length work history if you’d like!” Most people wont’ ask- like you said, a new grad is expected to have “gaps”, but you can also just talk about what you did during that time, even if it’s something like “oh, I had completed two back to back internships, so I took a month to rest and recharge before leaping back in to my studies”.

      Whatever you do, definitely keep that resume to one page.

    6. t-vex*

      If I’ve taken only one thing from reading AAM for years, it’s that resumes are not inventories they’re marketing documents

    7. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      I will say that one of the few pieces of useful advice I ever got while on unemployment (mandatory job searching coaching after 4 months of collecting was an initiative my state was trying out at the time), was to keep a ‘master resume’ file, which included all your former positions and accomplishments (“so, functionally a CV, I asked?” and got a blank look). The idea behind it was that you had a ready document from which you could copy and past various past experiences to be tailor a custom resume quickly – and also were prepared for those employers who said something silly like “give us your work history for the last 10 years, no matter how short the employment was”.

      Got a lot of bad advice from that coaching situation as well, but that is one of the few that I think actually had some merit and value – and it has made things a little easier for me when I found myself applying to a lot of varied positions in various fields in quick succession.

    8. TWW*

      B+C for me. I’m in my 40s and recently had success with a short resume that barely filled 1 page, even with generous margins and line spacing.

      The only things in there were two jobs with 4 “accomplishments” each, my college name and degree, and a short list of software skills.

      I left out tons of jobs, skills, and education that are important to me personally, and that I’m proud of, but would not have been relevant to potential employers in my field.

    9. vlookup*

      It’s not a gap in employment to not work while you’re in high school or college. Especially if you’re a full-time student, being in school is your primary “job.” Your other professional experiences during college obviously matter a lot to getting that first post-grad job, but most interviewers wouldn’t notice or care that you took a semester off from internships and part-time jobs to focus on academics or whatever.

      For now I think you’re fine to include however much relevant job history that keeps your resume to one page, and as you gain post-college full-time work experience you can gradually reduce the amount of college-era content. I would take the high school stuff off once you graduate unless it’s something really notable (like you competed in the Olympics or something).

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I say you’ve had an interview that could have come out of sitcom. I can imagine Reese Witherspoon as a college senior being asked this question… “The gaps? You mean the school semesters when I was a full-time student?”

    11. tommy-toes*

      OP here: Thanks, all! When the hiring manager asked, I responded “Gaps…? Umm… I mean, when I wasn’t in school or working, interning or volunteering, I was being a teenager taking in sports or hobbies, like yoga, sleeping, or netflixing, …like a normal teen… but I guess you could say I was nannying or working as a hostess or retail salesperson all things I didn’t think to include because they weren’t particularly relevant to include…does that answer your question? Sorry, didn’t think gaps were a thing this early on [awkwardly laughed].”

      Frankly, I was peeved. I have been HUSTLING my entire life and to have someone question my “gaps” as a teen was annoying to say the least. I am probably projecting and reading into it more than I should be, but when you work harder and for longer compared to peers who have MAYBE three things listed who are likely going to be better received and perceived, there’s reason to be mad. I am person of color, but I’ll hold up this candle to anyone who doesn’t have my work ethic.

      1. MacGillicuddy*

        I like your reply to the interviewer.

        How did the interviewer respond to that? Just curious.

        I hope the person was embarrassed. But maybe they were too clueless to be embarrassed .

    12. Wordybird*

      I’m 41 so I only have the last 10 years of employment on my resume. I also left out a job I only had for 2 1/2 months when we temporarily lived in another state. I’ve had all admin and comm jobs but they haven’t been in one field so the jobs I had previous to 10 years ago are not any more relevant or necessary than the ones I’ve had since. I also avoid age discrimination this way which, as someone who is also female and fat, is one less thing for them to judge and reject me on.

  8. Three Seagrass*

    I am at BEC stage with a coworker, and need help determining:
    1. If this is a me problem or a coworker problem
    2. If it’s a coworker problem, what I can do about it

    Background: Several of my coworkers are heavy into diet talk, which I just do not contribute to. It’s gotten worse as they all moan about their pandemic bodies and pandemic habits. One coworker in particular, let’s call her Patty, particularly loves diets. She is always juicing, detoxing, paleoing, intermittent fasting, what have you. She tells us regularly about whatever fad diet she is doing.

    But it doesn’t stop with the diets. She also is into a lot of wellness/pseudoscience stuff. And when Patty brings it up, people tend to just nod their heads, or go “Huh, I should try that!” During the pandemic, we have spent 10-15 minutes of multiple meetings (sometimes work meetings, sometimes social meetings) listening to her talk about whatever new fad thing she is into (changing her breathing, sleep hacks, vitamins and supplements).

    I feel like this stuff just does not belong at work, both the diet stuff and wellness stuff. I don’t need to know why Patty thinks her lactose intolerance is disrupting her sleep. I just want to pretend we are amorphous blobs and do my work.

    So, is this a me problem and I just need to get over myself? Or is this actually a Patty problem and what do I do about it?

    1. ecnaseener*

      I mean, it’s definitely a Patty problem and you’re right that she shouldn’t be constantly talking about it at work. But I don’t know if you’ll accomplish anything trying to shut her down.

      1. Reba*

        Yeah, if it really is the office culture, and Patty is just the worst offender, maybe it wouldn’t make a difference and you would feel it’s not worth the expenditure of effort. Then again, sometimes when the main instigator quiets down the dynamic can really change because other people are not the ones raising it, even if they do participate. Ugh.

        I wonder if you went to her as asking her to help you, she might be more amenable? (as opposed to you saying essentially you’re not interested in hearing about her hobbies or bonding over this, which I could see her getting miffed about). To be clear she sounds out of line, and her manager should tell her to cool it, but unfortunately this kind of talk is so normalized!

        Anyway, depending on the relationship with the person, I’m thinking of something like “you couldn’t know this, but it’s really hard for me to hear about dieting and body talk all the time. It would really help me to have a break from that when I’m at work — do you think you could try to avoid talking about it in meetings where we are all together? thank you so much for understanding” ?

    2. Should i apply?*

      I personally think its a Patty problem, but probably not something you can do much about if its the culture are your office. Have you tried redirecting the topic of conversation? Or just saying that you aren’t interested in talking about this? If so what happens?

      1. Joan Rivers*

        It’s a Patty PERSONALITY Problem. You can’t ask her to stop it any more than you can ask someone to stop talking sports. This is her obsession.

        It would be tempting to ask her HOW MANY different diet tactics she’s tried so far. And why she thinks none of them have “worked.” Or act surprised. “Another cleanse? Didn’t the last one work?”

    3. SomebodyElse*

      It sounds a little bit of both from your description. The only thing you can do is the same thing you would do if someone was talking excessively about their pet rock collection, that tv show that you have no interest in, or that sports thing that means nothing to you.

      If it’s in a work meeting, you’re on pretty solid ground to make a comment along the lines of, “Hey all, can we start the meeting? I have a busy day ahead of me” In social meetings or ‘water cooler’ chats, you can either choose to not participate or again try a different subject.

      1. WellRed*

        Agree. Patty should not be hijacking meetings with this stuff. Course, we have a meeting hijacker and it’s hard to steer them back on track.

        1. Cassidy*

          So true. I have a co-worker who *constantly* blabs on and on and ON during meetings about herself and all things associated. A true narcissist in every way and such a PITA.

    4. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      Can you redirect or say something like ” well back to the Johnson reports ” in meetings? I can see if you even had mild body issues that would bother you. My boss constantly worrying about her weight bothers me. I wanna say it’s ok to be fat!

    5. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

      Definitely a Patty problem. I had a coworker that had a similar behavior. She was young and new to the team so I was able to take her aside and nip it in the bud. It doesn’t sound like that’s an option for you with Patty though, so you can 1) ask her to rein it in, 2) ask your manager to talk to her and rein it in, or 3) ignore it.
      If you talk to your manager about it, definitely frame it around how long she derails meetings for and how it impacts productivity.

      1. Three Seagrass*

        I have a good relationship with my manager and have thought about talking to her about it. But she also contributes to this sort of conversation, and I really struggle with feeling like I am complaining/tattling and that makes me not want to bring it up. Framing it as a productivity issue is a good idea.

    6. Maggie*

      I think this is really common in offices and have had many co workers who were always on a diet. She probably won’t stop so I’d vote for ignore it and just saying “I’m really not up for that topic at the moment” or something if she addresses you specifically.

    7. matcha123*

      Is she really trying to get you to engage with her or is she saying things about your lifestyle that are iffy?

      I think this is one of those things where you just let your eyes glaze over. When people talk about family or kids or their lunch, that’s what I do.

    8. Colette*

      I actually think it’s a problem of the person/people running the meetings.

      But I also think you could say something like “Can we cut back on the diet talk? I feel like it’s taking up a lot of time.”

      1. Zzzzzzz*

        What do your other coworkers think? If people aren’t engaging much, they might be on your side. (“Huh, maybe I should try that” sounds like deflection/ending conversation to me.) Whenever you’re at BEC, it’s almost a certainty others are, too! If you can get them to chime in, you might start off a meeting (before Patty gets going) by saying, “I’ve realized a lot of the dieting talk has been affecting me, so I’d like to ask that we cut it down to a minimum [for my mental health]. Trying to less critical of my body! Also it makes our meetings longer, and I know we’re all so busy, so I’d hope people could take it off line.” If even 2 other people say, “yes! I agree, I would appreciate that,” Patty is much less likely to persist. People who share gross medical issues are a different thing, but I bet dieting talk could be cut down a lot because there is so much media/celebrities talking about body positivity (even if they aren’t living it). Good luck!

        1. Three Seagrass*

          It’s a good point that if I’m at this stage, other might be too. Over a year of Zoom meetings that she hijacks to talk about this stuff is probably wearing on all of us.

          I like your script and might give it a try.

    9. Spearmint*

      Patty forcing this topic on you is a Patty problem, and so is her taking up significant time in meetings to go these tangents. You have every right to set boundaries here and Patty shouldn’t be so aggressive about a sensitive topic.

      That said, you also want Patty to never mention her dieting or wellness stuff in passing or to other coworkers (I was unclear if you did or not), then I think that’s more of a you problem. Dieting and wellness, even the pseudoscientific varieties, are essentially hobbies for many people, and they get to talk about their personal lives and interests to coworkers who are interested, just like others do with TV shows or sports.

      1. Three Seagrass*

        Yes, I just want our meetings to not be dominated by this sort of stuff. We’re still remote and we have scheduled “social chats” (I know a lot of people here would hate this but it works for our team).

        When Patty starts talking, it usually ends up here, and in a Zoom meeting, you can’t really have 3 people talk about their juice cleanse and everyone else talk about a TV show. One conversation is going to win, so I feel held hostage to what Patty wants to talk about–she tends to dominate a lot of our work conversations.

        In the office, it didn’t bother me as much. It was a lot easier to ignore when I wasn’t forced into the conversation and could easily walk away.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          It sounds like the zoom visits aren’t really working?
          Can they visit after the meeting not before it?

          It might be easier at the end to say, “oh look at the time! gotta go!”

          It might be of help to think about how you would react to any over-indulged topic. If they were talking about football or some obscure computer program, etc., it might be easier to envision how you would either exit the conversation or redirect the conversation. Certain topics can be more annoying than others, but the constant daily drone of any one topic can just get to be too much for most people.

        2. unpleased*

          Can you not use the Zoom chat to introduce a different topic of conversation after a few minutes?

    10. mediamaven*

      I have a direct report who is like this only on an elevated scale and I’ve come to believe she may have a larger problem. It’s affected the office and her work and her attitude so much over the last 3 years that I’m actually sitting down with her today to discuss it. I agree with the commenters who think the first step is making a casual but concerted effort to shut it down. No one appreciates someone with a superiority complex over diet and nutrition and no one should be regularly subjected to it. But outside of that I think any further action should be taken by leadership and approached with compassion if there is something larger at play.

      1. Zzzzzzz*

        For all your other employees, I say: thank you! I wish more managers would make this point! I can be compassionate for the person’s struggles (and it sounds like she certainly is suffering) but also I don’t want to hear it.

    11. EarthBound*

      The department that works on my hall (not my department) is completely like this. Except I live in a rural area so whatever fad it is is about 1-2 years behind. I love to bust in and say, “Actually, that’s BS,” which goes over about as well as you can expect.

    12. Aquawoman*

      No one should hijack a work meeting for 15 minutes to talk about any personal interest. For social meetings, it’s a little more difficult to call. I would also generally find it tedious and would wander off or start a side conversation at an in-person meeting, and maybe mute Patty and read the paper or do a subject change question
      during a Zoom social meeting.

    13. violet04*

      At my company, I couldn’t imagine taking 10-15 minutes of a work meeting to discuss random topics. We have a meeting heavy culture and people are often double booked or have back to back meetings, so we try to maximize meeting time. There’s usually a little small talk for a few minutes, but not much beyond that.

      Having said that, I think it’s a Patty problem. For work meetings, can the organizer try to keep things on track with an agenda?

    14. Koala dreams*

      It sounds more like a society problem. For some reason, dieting and health is a popular small talk topic, despite being sensitive for lots of people. Especially now during the pandemic.

      I agree with other commenters that you could try to change the topic.

    15. RagingADHD*

      This is annoying, but I don’t think it’s squarely in the “inappropriate to discuss at work” box. Since everyone else seems to be participating, it doesn’t sound like Patty is pushing the topic on a captive audience. She’s not shilling products. And apparently she’s not commenting on other people’s bodies or telling them that they need to change their habits/practices.

      Like it or not, these topics are within norms. And, however justified, it’s really hard to change norms all by yourself.

      If you were willing to be the odd one out, you could say “Hey, all this diet talk is getting old, could we make this a n0-diet zone?” You’ll have to be the judge of how that would be received.

  9. ecnaseener*

    The conversation about email sign-offs earlier this week got me thinking: Opinions on signing your name above your signature? By which I mean, do you do #1:

    [email content]

    Best,
    Jane

    Jane Warbleworth
    Llama Groomer
    jane@llamas.org
    555-555-5555

    Or #2:

    [email content]

    Best,

    Jane Warbleworth
    Llama Groomer
    jane@llamas.org
    555-555-5555

    In my mind, #1 makes more sense even though it may be redundant. The email signature is like stationery with my full name and contact info in case you need it — it’s not part of my actual message to you. If the email is formal enough to bother with “Best,” it feels weird to cut off the closing there.

    Hardly the most pressing matter in the world, but I’m curious whether others agree or if I’m the only one who sees #2 as impersonal!

    1. ThatOnePlease*

      I do #1, and that’s usually what I see in the email I receive, too. Just the signature feels a little cold and officious to me.

    2. Leah K.*

      I do #2. It’s my signature, and I use it as such. The redundancy in #1 always looked “off” to me, but I have quite a few coworkers who do that too. I think it’s just a matter of preference.

      1. twocents*

        This with the extra caveat that I don’t have the word “best,” to end my email and lead into a signature. An email isn’t a formal letter. It doesn’t need salutations.

      2. The Rural Juror*

        Same, but my name in my email signature doesn’t look totally off from the text in the body of my email. My title below my name is in bold and matches the company’s brand font. So I don’t think it looks odd that I just say, “Thanks!” and then let my signature do the rest.

        1. Mad Harry Crewe*

          Yeah, at my last company, the signature was your name in the standard email font, in bold. I used #2. At my current job, the signature is a much smaller font and has a line above it, so it’s obviously not part of the message, so I use #1.

      3. Littorally*

        Ditto. I don’t have the break between the signoff and my name, which helps with that unfinished look.

      4. Lana Kane*

        Same, in my mind it’s what it’s for, so there’s no value judgment of cold vs warm. It’s just a signature.

    3. Kimmy Schmidt*

      I do #1 for the reasons you stated, but I see a lot of #2 and it doesn’t bother me.

    4. Hawkeye is in the details*

      #2 is what I do, and what I see most people do in my current and in my last job, but there were some who did #1

    5. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      I do #1 and find #2 a little odd. However what I REALLY dislike is, some of my colleagues have set up a signature consisting of:

      Thanks,
      Esmeralda (cursive font)

      Esmeralda Eggplant
      Llama Groomer

      I cannot stand having the “Thanks” be rote. Plus, sometimes Thanks needs an exclamation point, sometimes it’s a period. Sometimes it should be a breezy “Thx!” It feels insincere to me when it’s just part of your signature.

        1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

          Best and Regards are overly formal in an email context to me in most situations, but they don’t grate on me like the auto-Thanks. As with professional clothing – it’s always better to err on the side of more formal than more informal. “Thanks” doesn’t always align with the email’s content, and to me says the sender couldn’t take two seconds to decide if a Thanks was actually warranted, and then adjust it to the context.
          “Here’s that file you requested.
          Thanks,
          Esmeralda”

          versus

          “Here’s that file you requested. Thanks for your patience, took me a while to dig up!
          Esmeralda”

          The second version indicates Esmeralda is on top of professional norms.

          1. Fae Kamen*

            I guess I agree on a purely rational level, but I can’t imagine mentally dinging anyone’s professionalism for signing off “Thanks.” We have enough to worry about!

          2. Yorick*

            Right, Esmeralda doesn’t need to thank me for sending something I requested and it sounds weird for her to. Instead, she could end with many other more appropriate options like “Cheers” or “Best” or “Have a great day” or “Happy to help.”

    6. acmx*

      I do both and it varies. First one is when I’m emailing one person. The 2nd one if I email FYI to my group. Or I’m replying with just an acknowledgement (‘got it’ or ‘thanks’ etc). Or mood.

      I don’t use ‘best’, though. Best what?

      1. ecnaseener*

        Best wishes I guess. All my best.
        I actually usually use “Thanks,” but after the spirited debate on that earlier this week I figured I’d go with a less contentious option lol

        See for me when I’m just doing a quick “got it,” I won’t bother with any closing at all — it’s [email content] and then the automatic signature. I don’t type “Thanks,” on a new line.

        1. acmx*

          Ha re: less contentious option. I don’t really care how people sign off their emails. I change mine up to be more personal or amuse myself. :)

          Agreed: a quick ‘got it’ just gets my auto sig. My sig block doesn’t have any close. It’s my name and contact info only.

      2. Aquawoman*

        I’m the same way about “Best” but IME it is THE sign-off for people under 35 or 40.

        1. Lana Kane*

          I don’t get “Best”. It’s not immediately comprehensible to just say “best” without other context.

          But I’m a “Thanks” or Thank you” person myself, which apparently is contentious!

          1. Siege*

            I use Best. Sometimes, it’s “Best regards”, other times it’s “this is my best middle finger”. Regards is for when my email makes it clear the recipient done effed up. I don’t care for thanks, but often do use it if I’m explicitly making a request in the email (“Jane, can you count how many XL shirts we have left? thanks!”). Thanks as a generic reply always strikes me as thanks for what? Are you just generically thankful? No request was made in this, it’s information on the number of XL shirts, so what am I being thanked for?

            It doesn’t bother me, but I don’t get it in a lot of cases. I do like the ambiguity of Best, though.

            Another way to read it is “I am signing an email.” “Best regards” is “I am signing an email while angry.” :)

            1. ampersand*

              +100 for making me laugh, though I always sign off with regards, unless I’m saying thanks.

              I love how opinionated people are on this topic! And opinions are all over the place. Pretty sure we could not all agree on one sign off even if we tried. :)

            2. Dancing Otter*

              And complaints are always, but always, signed off with “Sincerely” and one’s name in full. Right?

            3. Cassidy*

              >Sometimes, it’s “Best regards”, other times it’s “this is my best middle finger”.

              Awesome comment.

      3. Wordybird*

        “Best” is my number one work email pet peeve as I also have no idea what it refers to. Best wishes? Best day ever? I’m the best? You’re the best?

        I work in a very regulated field so I can’t do it but I have wanted to change my sign-off to “Better” so many times just to see what others would think/say. :)

        1. Usagi*

          An old coworker at a previous company felt the same way, and company culture was such that most people signed off with “best.” So this coworker began signing all (within reason, of course) his e-mails on a scale, based on how “good” the news of the e-mail was. “Worst,” “worse,” “bad,” “okay,” “good,” “better,” and “best.” So I’d receive e-mails from him like

          Hey Usagi,

          Unfortunately I have to deny your request for more resources for your Bunny Fur Trimming Project; funding has already been tapped out for this quarter. I’ll add your request to the queue for next quarter, though, so please remind me closer to then.

          Bad,
          Old Coworker

          or

          Hi Usagi,

          Great news! Due to some great planning by another team, we were able to find more funding for your Rabbit Fur Trimming Project! I’m preemptively approving it and moving it forward, you should have access to the funds by the end of the week — please resubmit the request (same paperwork with dates changed is fine) for posterity.

          Best,
          Old Coworker

          or

          Hi Usagi,

          Thanks for submitting your funding request form. I’ve filed it with the rest of your paperwork.

          Okay,
          Old Coworker

    7. Kat Em*

      I do #1, especially since my signature doesn’t include my nickname. So it looks more like this:

      Sincerely,
      Cindy

      Cinderella Charming
      Princess of Kingdom

      1. Sparkles McFadden*

        Yes, this. This also relates to an earlier AAM letter regarding signing emails with initial. I would use my initials sometimes because my signature has my full name.

    8. t-vex*

      I do #1 with my nickname if it’s someone I know well and/or am trying to come off as super friendly

      ~Vexie

      Tyrannosaurus Vex, MD
      Title
      Company

    9. MMMMMmmmmMMM*

      I usually do #2. That said, I’ve also just ended an email with “Cheers! M” (m is first initial), so I think it really depends on where you work and what the norm is.

    10. RabbitRabbit*

      I do 1.1, putting a couple dashes at the start of my signature to provide a small divider:

      Sincerely,
      Bunny

      Bunny Rabbit, HRA, CC – Hay Growing Regulator
      Happy Hay Farm, Inc.
      bunny_rabbit@hfa . com | 555-555-5555

    11. hugh*

      I prefer #2 and that is how I sign off. Although, I usually use Thank you, as the closing. For each email I send I sometimes change the closing to make it more personal:

      I appreciate your help,

      Look forward to meeting you,

      Have a great weekend,

      Please let me know if you have questions,

    12. PJS*

      It depends. I typically do #1 with people I know well or have communicated with previously because it feels weird to sign off with my full name. If my email is more formal or to someone I don’t know, I’ll usually do #2 . If we end up emailing back and forth after that initial email, I’ll usually switch to #1.

    13. Miss Bookworm*

      Our signatures don’t appear in the outlook email window where we’re typing the email; they’re added automatically by the server once we hit send so 99% of the time I’ll do #1 because it just seems better. The other 1% of the time is when I’m emailing back and forth with a coworker and I get lazy after the nth email and just stop putting anything.

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

      I use the #2 option (12-year-old me is giggling at doing #2) but if I really want a personal message, I might actually erase the signature line altogether and just write my first name. But this is rare and only if I’m, for instance, expressing my condolences.

    15. Nela*

      It depends who I’m emailing.
      If I’m responding to a client or a colleague that I communicate with on a more informal basis, I do #1, but I’ll maybe add a few empty lines before the official signature.

      If I’m responding to someone I don’t know that well, I’ll go with #2.

      FWIW, my signature has a literal scanned signature graphic and my full name printed underneath, so the image provides a buffer if I do sign my first name.

    16. JelloStapler*

      I sign my first name above my full name, which is what I also see done most often.

      As an aside, Colleagues and I actually just had a conversation about how signing off with “Best,” annoys a lot of people (“Best…what?”) but it’s definitely an individual thing.

      1. Yellow Warbler*

        It’s short for best regards. My EU colleagues shorten it to “BR” while US colleagues shorten to “Best”.

      2. Overeducated*

        I have heard people calling it “passive aggressive” recently and that makes me sad. “Best” is, in my mind, the most neutral email signature there is. And that’s all I want, not to attract attention with it one way or another!

    17. Yellow Warbler*

      #1 is a good option if you use a nickname. Since my name doesn’t shorten, I prefer the streamlining of #2.

    18. Well...*

      I use #1 almost always, and it signals that we are on a first name basis. #2 to me signals you may not be.

    19. Overeducated*

      I do #1 because I appreciate it when other people sign off with what they want to be called. When someone has their full name and title, it can be hard to know.

      I also like to move to first names ASAP with a lot of correspondence because I have a PhD but do not work in a university, and it really grates on me when men with PhDs specifically address me as “Ms. Educated” despite the title in my email signature. If you’re going to call me “Ms. Educated” but sign off as “Peter Professor, PhD, Professor of Professing,” cool, we’re switching to first names immediately, have a great weekend Peter!

      1. Well...*

        I got offered a job once, that REQUIRED the PhD I have, to Mr. Lastname when I am in fact a woman. Like there’s a clear gender neutral option here! I don’t mind if you use it but if you’re not sure about my gender, please feel free to go with Dr. before assuming I’m a dude. There was obviously a disconnect between the people interviewing me and the staff handling the bureaucracy wrt the offer but come on. Not cool.

    20. Jules the 3rd*

      At my employer (multinational Fortune 100 tech co), there’s a lean towards #2.
      – My team lead joined us from a Fortune 500 pharma and does #1 as do a few people from NY.
      – The rest of the US contacts I checked do #2, I’d guess it’s about 10 use #2 to 5 use #1
      – All my European / Latin America / South America / coworkers that I email (about 20) use #2. All, across a range of professional levels, from shipping techs to finance. I couldn’t find anyone outside the US who used #1.

      It’s probably company and country influenced.

      1. Insolence*

        It must be the company. I am in Europe and use #1. In my company (Fortune 500 Financial sector) almost everybody uses #1 and I interact with senior officers of European Supervisory authorities, C-suite of the sector…and they all use #1, with few exceptions using #2.

    21. talos*

      I actually don’t have an auto signature at all, and often don’t sign my name either. Most of my coworkers do the same. I think our reasoning is that you can see who we are anyway.

      I really only sign for people I haven’t met before, and then I’m obviously doing #1 as I have no auto sig.

    22. RagingADHD*

      I like #1 for the first time I email someone, or if we correspond very rarely, because the template signature block includes the full name and contact info, but the first name is more personal. It reflects the paper-letter convention of a signature above the typed signature block.

      I don’t usually do it for routine emails with someone I work with frequently or have known a long time.

    23. allathian*

      I do #1. In my org, we’re all on first-name terms with each other, some even use nicknames. I usually end with a salutation in the first message of a convo, but not on subsequent messages, when I usually sign off with my first name.

      That said, I really dislike it when people incorporate the salutation into the signature, or even worse, when they use abbreviated versions. I would prefer not seeing a signoff at all in an email rather than Thx or something.

    24. tamarack and fireweed*

      Really, I could care less. I’d seriously side-eye anyone who would base a negative judgement of an employee or contact on such a minuscule detail.

      I did #2 in my younger days, always with the proper “– ” separator tho. These days, my signature has grown – it contains full given name, the short form I go by, handles on a few relevant IM platforms, two phone numbers, full postal address of my office, pronouns, and an acknowledgement of indigenous land stewardship, so, it’s #1.

    25. Virginia Plain*

      I use #1 although with Many Thanks or Regards instead of Best.

      From me, #2, like the use of Kind Regards, means “sod off”.

  10. MechanicalPencil*

    Does anyone have any experience with a career coach? I’m not sold that’s what I’m looking for.

    I feel like my career thus far has been somewhat meandering without a super clear path. I’m not thrilled with my current position and don’t want to continue in this sort of position (it was a pivot to keep a job during the pandemic), but I don’t know what my next career step should be.

    I’m wondering if this is something a career coach could help with. When I’m looking at job postings, it just turns into “well that sounds interesting/awful/ambivalent.” And I feel myself falling into the same trap of looking for a next job rather than a logical career progression. Semi logical progression.

    Is this something a career coach can do? If so, how does one find a good career coach? If not a career coach, then what should I look for?

    1. AliV*

      I worked with one and found it pretty helpful. Both for accountability and for having a cheerleader when the search grinds you down.

      1. Nunya*

        How did you go about finding and vetting your career coach? I’m thinking of hiring one, too

        1. AliV*

          Mine is an acquaintance who has gone back and forth between working in HR and freelance consulting. She also specializes in a field I was vaguely interested in, which helped me get a foot in the door in that profession.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      My career coach helped me focus on my strengths and weigh pros and cons of any position I was considering. She was immensely helpful, even during a pandemic– I was on the cusp of a really fantastic opportunity when business started to shut down, and my work with my coach helped keep me going.

      Also, my coach is not a therapist, but while working with her I developed a very strong sense of my own worth and I was able to let a lot of things roll off my back in a way I hadn’t before. So she helped me cope in my job while helping me find a new one. Which I did. In my industry but with a very different job focus, and I’m much happier.

    3. Cilantro & Lime*

      I worked with a career coach many years ago after being laid off and feeling like I needed a total change, but didn’t know what. Honestly, it wasn’t very helpful and I ended up back in the industry I’d previously been in. I think at the time I probably needed therapy more than a career coach. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      However, if you’ve got a semi clear idea of what you’re aiming for and just need a road map/a little more structure to make it happen, I think a career coach could be really helpful!

    4. Lyudie*

      A few years ago I found one through LinkedIn’s professional finder feature. I think she was helpful, maybe not as helpful as I had hoped but she had a ton of experience as an HR person in various industries so hearing things from that side of the interviewing/hiring relationship was useful. I saw her a handful of times, not as an ongoing thing, maybe four times in as many months. It was a good experience overall as far as making a plan, exploring options, etc. I do think it’s more helpful if you have an idea (or ideas) of what you might want to do next.

      1. Joan Rivers*

        THIS sounds like a very interesting article, or book:
        “Do I need a career coach or a therapist or a life coach?”

    5. Overeducated*

      I have had a grand total of two sessions with one from within my organization (so not a “help get a new job” service exactly), and the coach basically asks a LOT of questions about why I am approaching a problem a certain way and what my thoughts or feelings may be blocking from my view, which I feel like helps me ask better questions and come up with different solutions by looking at issues from a different angle. (Even though there is talk about feelings, it’s very much not therapy, it’s action-oriented.) So that could be helpful if you think you need to be asking different questions about your immediate job search and long term goals in order to make good decisions, which it sounds like may be the case.

      I’m not sure how to find one though – mine is a free service that is more like “coaching from a trained peer” that is supported by my employer. And I am not sure how much is worth paying for this service.

      1. Just Looking*

        After reading a bunch of Alison’s insights on job-hopping I decided I needed a career coach to help me end my job hopping streak, so I googled, read reviews and found one in my area that offered the services I thought I needed. Initially I wanted help with my resume, but after her evaluation I ended up with about 10 sessions that did help me strategize in my job search, identified my strengths and weaknesses and even find my own narrative (which were thing I knew I needed from reading this website, but I seemed able to do on my own). Turns out, it helped me land good interviews and even my current job. It was also the first sign that I needed to start seeing a therapist to work on myself at a deeper level, which I am now working on.

    6. RagingADHD*

      Based on my experience, make sure the coach not only has experience in your desired field, but is up on current industry practices. Probably a good idea to cultivate your own separate contacts in the field that you can bounce their suggestions off of.

      I wasted a ton of money on one who gave me terrible, counterproductive advice. I still cringe thinking of how foolish I looked when I followed her suggestions.

      1. hamsterpants*

        My fear as well! As far as I am aware, “career coaching” is completely unregulated so I’m not sure what is stopping people from giving out junk advice. I had a therapist (so not a career coach) who advised I deal with my work stress by simply leaving the office and turning off my work phone at 5 PM every day. As a junior employee in a company with a strong culture of long weeks and 24/7 on-call, this would probably have gotten me fired. It’s an anecdote but made me SUPER wary of anyone outside my industry giving advice.

    7. CorgisAndCats*

      Personally, I would go for a career counselor rather than a career coach. At least in my area pretty much anyone can call themselves a “career coach” whereas, a career counselor has a masters in counseling and specialized in career counseling and is licensed (and regulated) by their state’s counseling office. If you go this route, look for someone who is fully licensed and not an associate level. An associate is still gaining hours for their full licensure so the fully licensed counselors will have more experience. I’m a psychologist so I am biased but I truly believe that a bit of counseling can benefit literally anyone and it is particularly helpful for navigating big decisions, such as a career change. I think it would help you distill what you are looking for, what is working/not working at your current job, and help formulate a path forward.

      1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

        Career Counselor sounds like the right approach to me.

        A career “coach” to me sounds like someone who keeps you on track within your work setting to get chugging up the ladder.

        A Career Counselor, especially one with solid workforce development experience, is someone who can help you ask the questions about which directions you want to take, how to evaluate whether the directions make sense for your goals, where to find training and job leads for that particular goal, etc.

        If you’re in the US, you can do this for free at your Dept of Labor Career Center. I do it in NYS and love it. And spend plenty of time working with folks on these very questions.

  11. AliV*

    I don’t have a question but want to vent about the job search. I’ve been looking for about two years. I’ve devoted so many hours to applications, had dozens of rounds of interviews. Have had three phone rejections, which are the worst. Just really difficult to keep at it.

    1. Pivot*

      I’m so sorry, I feel this. I stayed at a job (associate at a law firm) where I was miserable for 7 years, actively looking to leave at least about halfway through. Constant anxiety, but job just good enough pay-wise and I was just far enough career-wise that I couldn’t walk out or just leave for anything. So constant submitting, trying, interviewing, hoping for YEARS, even willing to change my path or lower my standards, and just nothing worked out. It was exhausting and I feel your paid. But- happy ending, and I hope you get one too. One night I spotted a job that sounded amazing and above me on Indeed (in-house counsel) and threw in an application… And this time it worked out. I think I was just in the right place at the right time, FINALLY. I left for an equal salary but a shorter commute and was willing to leave massive boss-related anxiety for the total unknown. It was a leap of faith. Three years later, I’m still here. I’ve been promoted and had multiple raises and bonuses. I love my bosses. I love the company. I may never ever leave. I can’t imagine how I was so miserable for so long. But moral of the story is mostly that sometimes it takes a long time and that sucks but it was so worth the wait. Good luck… I hope it happens for you soon.

      1. AliV*

        Thanks for sharing your story, sounds like you were searching for a really really long time!! Yeah the management-related anxiety is a huge drag. I’m glad to hear your persistence paid off and you found a healthier environment.

    2. cubone*

      sending you love and luck. It sucks. My mantra during my job hunt was “it sucks until it doesn’t”. It’s not fun, it’s tons of energy and constant rejection, but you just keep going because that’s all you can do. You’re hearing back which means you’re doing SOMETHING right, try to hold on to that. We’re cheering you on!

      1. AliV*

        And the “good” news with all these interviews is that I feel like a real pro. I’ve done so many that they make me less anxious and I don’t have to do as much prep/practice.

    3. Medical Librarian*

      Sending you all the best luck and vibes. I hope you find something very soon.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      It’s been a very rough two years and that has nothing to do with you personally or professionally. It just sucks out there.

      Take time to fill your days/weeks with “little joys” such as a scoop of ice cream or calling a good friend/loved one. Routinely connect with things that provide a moment of relief. If time/setting allows take short walks, but make it part of your routine, walking can be very supportive in more than one way.

      1. AliV*

        Yes it’s true that the terribleness of the last however many months makes it harder and of course affects the hiring process too.

    5. Anhaga*

      Good luck, and you can do it! I realized about 2 years into what became a nearly 10-year job that I did not like the job and the management was abusive, but it took another 8 years, lots of research, and so, so many applications to find a different, better career path and get out (and I still didn’t end up in the path that I’d thought I would). Getting the position I’m in now–which I absolutely love–was a stroke of luck that came when I answered a vague job posting for something I had only a little experience in. Just keep doing what you know is right in terms of your materials, and keep your mind open about the kind of positions that might work out well. The search process is hard, but you will find something!

      1. AliV*

        Omg eight years?!? How did you stick it out? I think about quitting but there’s that “it’s easier to find a job if you have a job” that keeps me from doing so.

    6. DayByDay*

      That’s tough – sending good vibes your way. If a second (or tenth) set of eyes on your resume would be at all helpful, I’d be happy to help out…

    7. Voluptuousfire*

      I’ve spend so much time job hunting over the past decade and Emmy main takeaway is that it all boils down to timing. The stars align and interview just fall into my lap. Other times it’s 3 weeks before I get a nibble.

      Just gotta keep on keeping on. Unknown it sounds like a useless platitude but it WILL get better and it will be great.

  12. Potatoes gonna potate*

    I’ve been working as a contractor for my former employer for about 2 months now. It’s going well so far. I am hitting a bit of a snag now and would like some help on wording.

    To give context, my function is to prepare tax returns. Each return that’s prepared is reviewed by a senior, and once they sign off on it, its sent to the client. I get paid for every return that gets sent to the client. So far it’s been working just fine until lately. Now that the deadline has passed, the immediate post-deadline time is very slow due to company wide PTO, everyone working less hours, people taking vacations, and just less urgency all together.

    All of that is perfectly 100% acceptable — I was in that exact role pre COVID so I know how things are. But it affects me now b/c I don’t get paid unless they review it.

    Knowing what I know about how things are post tax season, how do I bring this up? (should that even be a factor in what I say?) I plan to ask what I can reasonably expect. My hours and output won’t be changing b/c of the off season — I was literally doing 6-10 hours during busy season — but anything else I should keep in mind? My own “boss is out until sometime next week so I have a little time to come up with something to say.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      You don’t get paid *unless* they review it or *until* they review it? Are you doing work that you don’t get paid for?

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Until they review it. Nothing goes to the client directly. My contract specifically states I only get paid once it’s reviewed, so the only work I’m doing is the actual return (which is technically unpaid but not considered unpaid since it’s the work I ahve to do?

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Well, the return isn’t unpaid, it’s just that you’re not paid for it until it’s reviewed. Which isn’t uncommon. Could your future contract specify that returns will be reviewed within X days?

    2. Person from the Resume*

      Often a contract would say that the deliverable (tax return) must be approved or rejected by X amount of time. if not reviewed before X date, it is approved automatically and the contractor can be paid for the deliverable even if it’s not reviewed (because it the fault of the company for not reviewing before the contract deadline.)

      I’d say you need to ask to adjust the contract to say that the company must review the tax returns you turn in within X days and they must pay you within Y days. Hopefully the existence of a contract will make their review of your work a priority.

      You need to consider what is reasonable. Maybe this just needs to be a slightly higher priority for them. Maybe it needs to be moved to someone else if the reviewer goes on vacation.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        The key here is a contract. What does your current one say in terms of time frames? If it says nothing, then you need to talk about amending it, but understand that you may not have much success.

        If you don’t have a contract, you need one. This is not a good set-up for the old “gentleman’s agreement.”

      2. Potatoes gonna potate*

        My manager will often move around the returns but he’s on a mini vacation now (I mean it is the long weekend and all). I think so too that it should be a higher priority and I want to mention that – just not sure how to without sounding abrasive.

    3. Accountress*

      Can you talk with your manager about doing direct review of smaller/less complex returns? When we were out of busy season, my audit manager would review items that were under X hours / had fewer than Y conditions, to take on some work from the seniors.

    4. It's me*

      Could you try setting something up like a timeline for the review process? Say something should be reviewed within X days/weeks of them receiving it? I also work in tax so I completely get the summertime vibe of the office but wondering if a timeline will help in this situation not only you for payment purposes but also might help the reviewer’s scheduling to keep them on track.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        That’s what I was leaning towards, asking if ours can be prioritized for when they are available and a timeline. This is definitely what I’d do if I was them (which is exactly the position I was in in the before-times. I make sure not to say it out loud but I definitely need to stop thinking “this is what I’d do”).

    5. Jane of all Trades*

      Could you do something like 50% payment when you submit for review, and the balance once the return goes to the client?

    6. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Thanks for the input all, I forgot to mention that I do have an actual contract; I’ll read it and take it from there. The office is closed now and will reopen on Tuesday b/c of the holiday. Will def report back.

    7. RagingADHD*

      Irregular income is normal when you’re doing gig work / piecework. It’s one of the downsides of freelancing in general.

  13. AndersonDarling*

    I’m doing some peer interviews and I’m trying not to be biased when I receive sloppy resumes. I was passes 3 resumes and two of them are each 6 rambling pages, but the last one is a thoughtful 2 page resume that clearly shows progression in their career. One of the “lesser” resumes didn’t even have the job title for two of the jobs!
    I want to give everyone a fair chance, but I’m already leaning toward the candidate with the thoughtful resume.

    1. Hawkeye is in the details*

      I think that’s perfectly reasonable, especially if the job entails professional communication and/or knowledge of/adherence to professional norms.

      If it doesn’t, then maybe you can pick the best one or two of the not-great bunch, just to give them a shot, but if it’s a job in an office setting, I see no issue with rejecting them and holding out for a few more decent resumes.

    2. ecnaseener*

      It’s good that you’re trying not to be unduly biased — if these candidates were never taught how to write a resume, that’s not on them and they could still be a good fit. But it’s one data point to consider, and if the job includes concise writing & professional communication (and it’s not a job where a lot of training time can be taken up coaching the new hire on professional communication) it could be a pretty sizeable data point.

      1. Workerbee*

        Hmm. Thinking back to when I first started writing resumes, I looked for examples of other resumes to build off of. I knew I didn’t know enough on my own. This was at the cusp of the online world becoming prevalent, so it wasn’t overly easy and I depended on samples picked up from college and my parents’ discerning eyeballs. (I recognize the privilege in this.)

        Nowadays, I think I would expect someone to have done a search for resume examples in some way. I am however assuming that the job posting and application process were also online, ergo, the person seeing the posting has internet access to begin with. Even among the bad advice out there, providing 6 rambling pages is not one I’ve seen!

    3. ferrina*

      I like to wait until the interview before making a conclusion. Yeah, some people have bad resumes because they are bad communicators, but many have bad resumes because they haven’t been exposed to the same career resources as others!

      Resume building is a skill that requires social capital- i.e., having family/friends/resources that can coach you on how to build a good resume. Even going through a resume builder company isn’t the same- some companies have terrible product, and without knowing what good product looks like, you won’t know!

      As with any skill that requires social capital, there is a bias to certain populations. Higher income populations in particular are more likely to have access to the capital to build a strong conventional-looking resume (that is not true universally, of course- some higher-income families don’t have that same access for a multitude of reasons). Looking past “sloppy” resumes can be an opportunity in the diversity of a company.

      Example: I received a three page resume for someone with two years experience and a TERRIBLE layout. HR thought I was nuts for wanting to interview the guy. However, I recognized that the resume he gave me was government-style; he was former military. No one at our organization was former military, so they didn’t recognize the style he was using.
      He ended up being one of the best project managers that has ever worked for me.
      After he started, I explained why his resume didn’t work for this style of job, and he and I were able to fix it up together. He had no clue that the resume style we were looking for was different

      1. ferrina*

        ^that said, if this is an editing job and the resume is full of grammar errors, typos, etc., reject them with no guilt!

      2. Susie*

        love this comment–I had a similar reaction. If you can gather enough information that the applicant has the skills you’re looking for, then I’d ignore the format.

    4. Engineer Woman*

      The resume is an indicator of the candidate’s communication style and attention to detail. They know this is what someone will first see of them, so did they proofread? Are there many typo? It is long and rambly? Is it a copy-paste of their old job descriptions?

      Of course, this is needs to match the job. The above might not apply for a grocery stocking or landscape maintenance position whose job doesn’t involve too much communication.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        There’s a difference between a poorly put-together resume and an error-prone resume.
        My classic example of one that’s too careless is the person who applied for a publications position, currently working as a “poofreader” (sic). But a technician who writes three separate entries for the same company because the company changed their role without changing their title, I would let that slide.

    5. RagingADHD*

      If you are hiring for a job where candidates need to have enough experience for a 2-page resume and a clear path of career progression, then I think they should have a decent grasp of what a resume is for and how it should work.

      If you were hiring entry-level or junior level it makes more sense to give a lot of leeway on not knowing how to do this.

  14. Office layout changes?*

    For those who worked from home for a while and are now returning, have your offices changed configurations?

    Like less open spaces or more open spaces? No more office/ cube sharing? Or more hot desking?

    We moved into a new office about 6 months to a more open, fewer walls, lower walls, fewer offices, shared cubes layout. They are talking about getting rid of the shared cubes and adding more walls because of Covid.

    1. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

      At the job I just left we had gone from individual offices for corporate (separate building) and a cube farm for the call center to WFH for everyone during COVID. When they reopen this fall, it’s going to be mostly WFH for call center folks, they got rid of the corporate office space and the former call center space is going to be a hotdesking space for corporate and call center folks who need to come in. There will be a few dedicated desks for people who really do need to work in the office most/all of the time.

    2. Mr. Cajun2core*

      No more office sharing for us, at least for now. It will probably return in a year or so.

    3. Yellow Warbler*

      The cubicles and office structure have not changed. Cubicles have been retro-fitted with plexiglass partitions on top of the half-walls. Conference rooms have chairs removed to increase spacing, and max occupancy notices are posted on the doors in giant red letters.

    4. Workerbee*

      There are no plans to change the open office, shared-desk structure of my workplace. They did put a standing air purifier on top of one of the empty desks, though.

  15. Roxie*

    I’m sick of management confusing someone who is loud with no filter as “bright and smart”. It’s not, it’s annoying to work with people like that. How do some people not see through that?

    My 2-cent rant for today.

    1. Anon for this here post*

      +1. Thank you for this. If I could add on, quiet =/= stupid. I’m quiet/introverted, but when I do speak, I have my coworkers say to me in surprise, “You’re smart!” Um, thanks? I like to think before I speak and not blab incessantly.

      1. Enough*

        “It is better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and prove it,” Mark Twain

        Too bad too many people fail to recognize the fool.

        1. Well...*

          I gotta say I hate this quote. I’d take an honest loud mouth any day over someone who never puts themselves out there and silently judges everyone who speaks up for every minor mistake.

          1. Joan Rivers*

            Maybe you hate the quote because you don’t understand it. It’s not telling us to “judge” anyone. It’s about others judging the one who stays silent.
            Or maybe you have a specific problem with someone?

            1. Well...*

              There’s not that much to the quote, so I’m pretty sure everyone in this conversation understands it. I’m just saying I don’t like attitude that often comes along with people who use it. I actually don’t think it’s better to hide what you do or don’t know so people might think you’re not a fool, so I also disagree completely with it’s premise.

          2. VI Guy*

            I think of it as the polite way of saying “If you plan to say something stupid, please don’t”

    2. ferrina*

      Right!? My other favorite is incomprehensible jargon = “so smart and trendy!”
      No, some people use incomprehensible jargon because they are incomprehensibly dumb!

    3. MMMMMmmmmMMM*

      SAME. I currently have a student who is always loud and incessant in his questions. If they applied to the topic at hand, that would be one thing, but often his questions are itty bitty minuita. Which, again, would be fine, but its always when we’re in the middle of something, and it takes away time from the other students. Its actually made me really dislike him quite a bit, and I found I really need to reel my feelings in when it comes to him.

      1. Brent*

        I think teachers should be encouraging questions from students. The classroom is one place where noisy/asking question is often equated to dumb and silent is equated to smart.

        I’m surprised and disappointed to see a professor sharing this view. I think students should be encouraged to ask questions, and not viewed as nuisances when they do so.

        1. hamburke*

          When I was teaching, I had a couple of students who would ask questions way beyond the scope, maybe for some curiosity but mostly to debate and get off subject. I’d tell them that their questions were interesting and thought provoking but beyond the curriculum and I’d love to have a further conversation after school if they were interested or I could suggest resources that they might like. I had one or 2 conversations with some really intelligent students but mostly, no follow through.

          I also had a q&a journal in the front of the room where students could ask any question not related to the unit. I’d answer them all after a test before we moved on to a new unit.

        2. Cassidy*

          Some students ask questions that are explicitly addressed in that day’s assigned reading(s).

          Those aren’t questions that should be asked unless one is seeking clarification.

      2. Alternative Person*

        I get you. I’ve had students who have done similar and it drives me up the wall. I want to answer their questions, but there’s only so much time in class and there are other students who need my help as well.

        It’s definitely one thing when they’re directing it to the topic at hand and another when they’re picking over some small aspect like if they question you enough your answer will change or will somehow be invalidated.

    4. DG*

      I work for a smallish company where our CEO occasionally weighs in on hiring decisions. He recently made a comment to the effect of, “We need to hire more go-getters – you know, like Larry, Moe, and Curly!”

      I’m sure it doesn’t surprise you that Larry, Moe, and Curly are outgoing white men. They are nice enough and perfectly *fine* at their job but are regularly outshined by women and BIPOC colleagues.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        For a minute I thought he was literally using the Three Stooges as an example of excellent employees LOL

    5. hugh*

      I find it super annoying as well. My biggest gripe is that management doesn’t see through it – the loud folks are seen as more productive and “team” oriented. I would feel silly loudly announcing my progress on a unsolicited basis. It is probably my #1 or #2 reason I would like to continue to work from home.

      1. Cassidy*

        Or “disrupter.”

        SO sick of the constant metaphorical bomb jumper into the pool being the pet.

    6. Well...*

      Yes the unfairness of how people evaluate smart irritates me to no end. Still I think there’s something to be learned here about how you present yourself and take initiative. I try to model myself after people who do this well, and it means speaking up more for me (also balancing thinking carefully with thinking quickly)

      1. anonymath*

        Yep, I try to understand why people like it and what they’re getting out of it, and aim for those benefits myself.

    7. Hunnybee*

      My boss is a loudmouth and a windbag and a mansplainer. He constantly interrupts everyone to go on rants that mean nothing. He’s a bully. And yet, he never really says anything at all.

      Since this manager took over the team I work on, everyone has found another job except me.
      He has been open about his dislike of introverts (I’m an introvert, as were my former team who left) and hires people like him.

      He has been hiring people who are like him. So, that’s super fun.

      1. allathian*

        Are you looking for a new job? Sounds like you should be, by the sound of it. You’re never going to do well under this manager because he doesn’t appreciate your strengths.

    8. Sparkles McFadden*

      You forgot “passionate.” I am so sick of having management excuse away people who scream at everyone by saying “But he’s just so passionate he gets carried away.”

    9. MissDisplaced*

      The American corporate and social structure favors extroversion because it is seen as optimistic and confident, even if it’s all fake bullshit with zero substance.

  16. cubone*

    How do you all define “meeting heavy”? Or too many meetings? Is it a specific # of meetings per day/week or is it less about a specific threshold and more if meetings are not useful/efficient?

    I started a new job and in the interview, the hiring manager brought up that they do have a “meeting heavy culture”. I was coming from a VERY meeting heavy (and extremely toxic) workplace so it wasn’t ideal, but didn’t deter me from the other positives. Several of my new colleagues have made those small talk jokes about how many meetings they have to be in, etc. I know it’s possible I am still too new (but 3 months in!) and am not yet getting the full scope but oh my goodness, I have never had my days be this relaxed and FREE of meetings. It’s so weird that people keep bringing up but I would describe it as a very independent work culture, not a lot of meetings at ALL. It’s so weird!

    I can share some specific #’s of how many meetings I’m in at this point, but wanted to put it out there to see what others define as “meeting heavy”.

    1. SomebodyElse*

      Meeting heavy to me means less than 1 1/2 hour free on calendar for the majority of days each week and being double/triple booked.

      1. cubone*

        This is my definition tooL less than 1.5 hours free on most days (not including lunch breaks) and having to navigate conflicting meetings frequently.

      2. violet04*

        I agree. I work in software development and some people are in more meetings than others. We do scrum/agile so I host a daily status meeting with my developers but it’s only for 15 minutes and sometimes ends after 10 minutes. I do my best to protect the time of my developers so I’ll attend meetings to discuss new requirements, etc. and then talk to them once I have something specific to hand over for them to work on.

        People in certain roles, like system architects, are in a lot of meetings becoming a lot of different teams need their input.

        We are supposed to have no meetings on Tuesdays. Most people are good about honoring that, but sometimes urgent meeting are needed to address software issues that may be impacting our end users.

      3. LadyByTheLake*

        Yes, this seems about right, although I have had many jobs where an hour and a half unbooked in four weeks would have been a complete luxury. Fifteen minutes unbooked in a week was average.

    2. Old Reliable*

      I’ve don’t consider my role “meeting heavy” but when it starts to creep into 2 a day, every day that’s heavy for me. My meetings are generally short – an hour tops and many are closer to 30 minutes. I find the interruptions make it feel worse than the total time spent would seem.

      1. cubone*

        This is a good point! I said in a response below that I often am more aware of how many meeting FREE days I have, versus total meetings. I think managers overall tend to underestimate the energy meetings take and that people can rarely just go to and from deep work into meetings.

      2. JanetM*

        Just the other day, I heard myself saying, “Four meetings in a day is fine. Four meetings in two-and-a-half hours is a bit much.” Also, six meetings in a day is awful.

        I do consider my job fairly meeting-heavy.

    3. Kimmy Schmidt*

      I think it’s totally relative. Perhaps this company used to have no meetings at all, but moved to a couple meetings a month recently. In contrast, that would be a meeting heavy culture! It also depends on the norms in the industry, the productivity at these meetings, and how you define meetings. Is every stop-and-chat or quick briefing considered a meeting?

      1. cubone*

        I think you’re right on the mark. It does seem like there’s a bit of a “let’s jump on a call to discuss this” culture, but I haven’t found that too problematic for my personally (again, because my days are pretty free LOL).

        For context: we have a 1 hour All Staff every other week, a 1 hour team meeting every other week, and I have a 30 min. 1:1 with my manager every other week. So that’s 6 standard monthly meetings. And then I’ll have maybe 1-4 (1 being low, 4 being a busy week) “extra” meetings that pop up for project related work, etc.

        Most weeks, I have at least 2 days with zero meetings in a week (sometimes up to 3, but never 0). Which I think is where my personal standard comes in – in my old job, I literally can’t recall EVER having a day with zero meetings. So I don’t mind a day that has 2-3, if the days before or after are zero.

    4. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      It depends so much for me on how big the meetings are, how long they are, and what they are for.

      A daily 2-hour meeting with 30 people, with no agenda or purpose other than to hear each other talk is deadly.

      I would much rather have 6 30-minute meetings throughout the day, each with 5 people, and focused on achieving a certain goal. It’s more people, and it’s more time overall, but they are in bite-sized chunks and actually have something to do with the business.

    5. ThatGirl*

      I would call my new company pretty meeting heavy, though my personal meeting level ebbs and flows – but I average 4-8 meetings a week, probably? When I first started I was jam-packed (literally hours a day) but some of that was meet and greets and orientation type stuff.

    6. I'm that guy*

      Are you spending 25% of your working hours in meeting? 50%? Do you have to block off time on your calendar as busy so that you can do work and people can’t invite you to meetings? Do you find yourself double-booked and triple booked? Is there an end in sight or is it just how it is? Do you find yourself logging on at night so that you can work without being interrupted?

      That’s was I consider meeting heavy.

      At the beginning of Covid I was in meeting 25-50% of my work hours, but that was because we had two software upgrades and a couple of major projects that all hit at the same time and hit right as we all started to work from home. Now I am down to 1-2 hours a day (which is close to 25%) but some days I have no meetings.

      My boss has to book blocks of time as busy just so he can do is work. And it was his boss that told him to do it.

      1. cubone*

        We use Microsoft which has an automated Analytics email on that provides stats like (I’m surprised at how useful I find it).

        According to my last few months, I averaged 15-25% of my time in meetings!

      2. anonymath*

        Yep, that’s me — I block off time now so I don’t get 7+ hours of meeting, so that I can eat and visit the restroom etc, and if I have any other Real Work to do I need to block time for that.

    7. One of the Spreadsheet Horde*

      I would say it depends on the role. At my level, meeting heavy are days where I have less than 4 hours free each day for a week or so. Most of my role is individual work in spreadsheets where I need to concentrate so that much time in meetings would get frustrating. My boss is making high level decisions based on team inputs and using my spreadsheet summaries more often than building his own, so heavy for him would probably be less than 2 hours free a day for an extended period.

      I’d also consider it meeting heavy if there are frequent issues with double/triple booking or needing to schedule outside of normal hours.

    8. Gloucesterina*

      Yeah, I feel like it is relative to many factors: What is the “meat” of your role, and do the meetings generally support your progress on the meat or impede it? Are the length and substance of the meetings fixed, flexible, purposeful? For example, if the purpose of a meeting is to build rapport on a team or generate multiple ideas to solve a problem, how is are interactions structured to invite and support contributions from all participants–e.g., are people invited to contribute in different ways (video, audio, chat, email a colleague later on after having some time to think).

    9. RabbitRabbit*

      Yeah, so very culture/company dependent. I spent 4.5 hours on Wednesday in meetings and was beside myself.

      Normally I do two meetings a week that are 1-2 hours long (board meetings integral to my work), a few ‘stand-up’ meetings of maybe 10 minutes per week, and two monthly meetings of about an hour to an hour and a half.

    10. Unkempt Flatware*

      Do they meet to discuss the edits needed to be made on “Shared Doc X”? Do they meet to discuss the upcoming meeting? Do they meet to “brainstorm ideas”? For me, it matters why there are meetings. Sometimes meeting constantly is really part of the job. Sometimes it’s because someone doesn’t know how to delegate and work independently (or doesn’t like to) and the culture is now based on that.

      1. M_Lynn*

        Same. My work is very collaborative, so I’m commonly in meetings 4-6 hrs/day. It’s a lot, but that’s where the work gets done so it rarely feels like meetings are getting in the way of my work. We have maybe 2 hrs/week of all-staff type meetings. I consider “meeting heavy” to be days when I don’t have enough time to prepare for all my meetings, which obviously makes them less effective, especially the ones where I’m leading.

    11. Nesprin*

      I mean, I’m supposed to be in the lab, so having meetings 3x a day is extremely heavy for me. but moreover it’s about how decisions are made- does it require a meeting for input or can decision maker x make/delegate the decision to the appropriate person. Every damn thing requires a meeting in my institution, which feels pretty horrifically heavy.

    12. Alice Quinn*

      I feel like this is totally dependent on your job and work culture. In my previous role at the company I work at now, the nature of my work meant I would have 1-2 meetings a day tops, and more than that felt weird. In my current role, most of my day is spent in meetings. Today I have 7 meetings and it feels light.

    13. allathian*

      My job mostly involves writing on my own and requires very little synchronous collaboration. A normal week for me involves about 2-5 meetings. Sometimes only one, and if that’s canceled, I have had weeks even during this WFH period when I haven’t had any meetings scheduled at all, although they’re definitely an exception. Some of my teammates whose work requires more collaboration are double-booked often and for them, up to 5 meetings per day is not unusual.

    14. New Mom*

      Good question! This is so specific to each person. For me, I feel totally drained when I’m in more than 3.5 hours of meetings in a day. My work requires quite a bit of data entry that I cannot do in meetings so I actually have protected time on my calendar so I can’t get overbooked.
      Everyone who is a level above me is in pretty much in meetings from 9-5 so I’m not too keen on a promotion.

  17. K8*

    Hey everyone, I’m a systems engineer who has worked in the defense industry for 15 years. Looking to change industries and wondering what industries would be best (or easiest to transfer my skills). Defense has a lot of red tape and I’m tired of the classified work (had to be in the office for the majority of the pandemic). And I just really want a change. Has anyone switched out of defense? And if so, what industry did you wind up in? Thanks!

    1. No Tribble At All*

      Do you have any contacts in fields outside your classified area? If they can vouch for you, it’s easier to talk about a work history that’s mostly redacted.

      I know people who had gotten out of the classified side of defense into more aerospace-y, commercial side. If you’re a systems engineer, that’s pretty widely applicable.

    2. Should i apply?*

      I haven’t worked in defense, but I am an engineer in medical device development, and I know we have hired some engineers with a defense background. For us its a plus that you have experience having to closely follow processes which is important in medical device. Of course that doesn’t really get you away from the red tape, just a different kind.

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I worked for a beltway bandit for a number of years. Other parts of the government – federal and state/local – are a relatively easy transition, but there’s still a lot of red tape.

      I suggest you look at the kinds of things you were working on, and go find a civilian equivalent. F-35 radar to weather radar; DoD networking to other kinds of networking that are security heavy (banks, critical infrastructure, medicine). That’s how my company diversified – and you’d just be diversifying yourself.

      Professional societies with lots of DoD workers often have lots of resources for transitioning out; as do the DoD uniformed & civilian workforces.

    4. Yellow Warbler*

      Construction/manufacturing and O&G are good bets, but both are very old-fashioned/red.

    5. Rufus the 26 pound orange tabby*

      I’ve noticed that there are many jobs recently for engineers in the aero tech industry (including satellites and space). They really love people with a security clearance!

    6. Wisteria*

      There are LOTS of systems outside the defense industry. Look around at all the things you use, many of them are systems, they all needed a system engineer in the design process. Just search on Indeed in your area for “system engineer.”

      You can also search on any specific skills, like requirements development, verification, architecting, etc., whatever you happen to have done.

  18. Jenna-Benna*

    In an interview, how do I best explain why I’m looking to relocate back to my hometown after just six months in a new role I accepted in a town about 1,000 miles away? I paid for my own move. The town I moved from is very progressive and the new town I currently live in is not.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Since it’s your hometown, you could go with any variant of “I realized I really miss it here,” “I grew up here and living elsewhere has made me realize how much I appreciate this town,” “I want to be closer to family,” etc.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I’d explain it just the way you did here. How they react will tell you a lot about the workplace culture.

      1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

        Eh, I would say “realize I miss my family” rather than “new town is not progressive.” The latter makes it seem like the OP didn’t do her homework before moving and/or is kinda impulsive.

        1. TWW*

          Also, unless OP’s hometown is the most progressive place in the country, it might then be only a matter of time before OP moved again to some place even more progressive.

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I wouldn’t mention politics, honestly. “It turns out I really don’t like the location, especially compared to Town A.”

    4. TWW*

      The prevailing politics of the region may be the reason you’re moving, but doesn’t need to be the reason you tell the interviewer.

      They’re probably more interested in knowing if you’re likely to move again in 6 months, and you need to reassure them that you’re not. “I accepted [my current job] because it was an excellent opportunity, but I realized that I prefer living in [hometown] because my friends and family live here.”

      1. Fran Fine*

        They’re probably more interested in knowing if you’re likely to move again in 6 months, and you need to reassure them that you’re not.

        Agreed (and I like your script too).

    5. VI Guy*

      I had a similar situation, although I stayed in New Town for longer. I didn’t have to explain the move in an interview, but I did tell new coworkers that I had wanted to live somewhere else to try new things, and discovered that my Old Town had more new things to offer. New town was a better place to visit than live, and made me appreciate Old Town much more.

      Old Town for me is diverse, which is what I thought progressive meant and not related to politics.

  19. Looking*

    Should I ask former managers/colleagues at my current company to be my references if we all still work at the company? Or is that just asking for word to get out that I’m looking?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      How much do you trust them? At every workplace I’ve been while job searching, I always am very cautious about whom I tell that I’m looking. If you trust your former manager not to tell your current manager (or anyone else), go for it.

      1. ferrina*

        +1 I usually look for someone who has moved on from the company but can speak well about my work. Whoever you use, ask yourself if they have a habit of being discreet.

  20. Primavera*

    Our company is rolling out our remote policies over the next month and they’re not great. We’re actually going to have less flexibility than we did prior to COVID and the rationale isn’t strong.

    As a middle manager, how much should I fake being okay with this in front of my direct reports? I know they’re going to be unhappy, and I’m unhappy too, but it’s out of my control.

    1. EndlessWorry*

      It’s a fine line for sure, but as someone who’s been subject to fake positivity from managers in similar situations, I just think it creates more of a barrier with your reports. There’s a way to phrase this that shows you know it’s not ideal, but without contributing to a pessimistic mood. E.g. “I know these policies are not ideal, we’ll work together to find solutions to team needs within these limitations” or something like that.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Don’t fake enthusiasm. You don’t have to fake solidarity either by going over the top with “I’m with you all, and upper management doesn’t know what it’s doing.” You can explain what upper management’s reasons are, and state that you don’t agree with those reasons.

    3. JelloStapler*

      I’m sorry to hear it, sounds like they are doing it just to do it. Don’t fake it, that is rife with toxic positivity, making others feel like they have no right to be upset or speak up.

    4. IL JimP*

      as a manager when I’ve had stuff I knew wasn’t going to go over well I would just do it as more matter of fact and not try to spin it

      The policy is X
      Team Complains about it
      I understand your frustration but moving forward we’re going to have to do XYZ

    5. Sparkles McFadden*

      Just state the facts. It’s not your job to sell the idea to everyone (nor is it the time to trash management). Just let the staff know what the new guidelines are. If/when there’s griping, just say “I know this is not the best situation, but it’s the situation we’re dealing with.”

  21. Hello Friends*

    This is somewhat unrelated but would love to get other opinions. I work for a state trade association and we send out weekly/monthly newsletters to our membership with the latest news in our industry. For many years, we have used Constant Contact. With the new Microsoft Office 365 “Quarantine,” no one is receiving our emails. Since the new feature was launched, our open rate has dropped by about 20%. I was just wondering if anyone had better suggestions for email distribution services that might be able to actually get into inboxes. Thank you!

    1. Alex*

      I don’t have any advice, but a LOT of commiseration. Microsoft has been preventing me from getting some really important emails over the past couple of months!! And people I’ve sent things to haven’t received them. It’s driving me batty and has slowed down our overall work. UGH.

      1. Hello Friends*

        Ugh right!? Don’t get me wrong, I hate spam going to my inbox, but this is way worse. I’ve missed three or four interview requests for my organization because when I initially saw the “quarantine” email I assumed it was spam. And we are a trade association for a sector of the healthcare industry so its not like we are sending out fluff pieces, we are sending out “if you don’t do this brand new regulation, you will be getting fined.”

    2. JanetM*

      I don’t know exactly how it works, and it may not be applicable to you or you might already be doing this, but you might check with the people who manage your email if your organization is using DMARC/DKIM/SPF. (You now know everything I do about this. It came up in a project I managed, but the email admins did all the work on it.)

        1. Mad Harry Crewe*

          My organization uses DKIM and SPF. I’m not sure how applicable they will be in this case, but I’m only aware of one specific application of these tools. In my case, the recipient organization needs to update their email security to recognize and accept the sender’s SPF and DKIM.

          SPF is basically a way of saying “emails sent to us from this outside origin are cool” (so it’s only on the recipient side, once the initial ‘this is how the SPF system identifies us as an origin’ setup is done) and DKIM is is a way of proving that an email originated where it says it did. The sender generates a key with a public part that goes in the recipient’s system, and all emails sent will carry the sender’s half of the key, which is matched up. So if an email arrived that claimed to come from Server X, but it’s DKIM didn’t match up with Server X’s public DKIM key, the recipient system would know it was a spoofed origin and reject it.

    3. WellRed*

      I don’t even know what this but I noticed I’m getting very few responses to emails all of a sudden. Will google.

  22. EndlessWorry*

    Any advice on not worrying endlessly about a background check after a big-deal job offer? I have no criminal record but my work history is kind of complex (lots of businesses merging/buying each other out so it’s been hard to track down employment verification contacts, and I had a couple of short stints at companies because I wanted to do something else). I’m terrified somehow the offer is going to fall through because I got something wrong in the info I entered.

    1. Colette*

      Background checks take longer than you expect, especially if your work history is complex. That doesn’t mean it’ll be a problem, just that it’ll take a while. I once had a background check take … 3 weeks, I think? when I was already in the office doing the job on contract. I was mostly concerned my contract was going to lapse and I’d have to get all of my accounts recreated.

      Put it out of your mind; proceed with job hunting as if you won’t get the job.

    2. TimeTravlR*

      I doubt it will be an issue. I had a lot of little jobs here and there for a time too and have passed multiple (some very high level) background checks. The people who do them know how to fit the puzzle together. Also, if there is something they wonder about (like you entered dates wrong and they don’t match up with what the employer reported), they will ask about it and you can explain, “Oh, that was so long ago! I am sure they got it right and I got it wrong.” But I would say as long as you don’t have any criminal stuff you’re trying to hide (they will find it!), you will be fine.

    3. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      It seems like something you could email your HR contact/recruiter about. Maybe something along the lines of “as you know, there’s been a lot of mergers and acquisitions in the llama grooming industry in the past decade, so some of my former employer companies have changed name, structure, etc., and many of my professional contacts have moved around accordingly. Let me know if I can help with any of the employment verification process if it presents a challenge.”

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      The background check for my current job wasn’t especially long but it was nerve-wracking. One company doesn’t exist anymore and first it wasn’t a problem, then it was. I was prepared with all of the documents I needed (offer letter, separation letter, W2s, etc) so all worked out but it did suck! I also got my grad school dates wrong but that wasn’t even a blip for them.

      Get your docs in order so if questions come up, you’ll be prepared. I even asked the recruiter what would happen if there were “issues” and she said things came up all the time and it wasn’t a major problem.

    5. Nikki*

      The company will most likely not reject you outright if something doesn’t match up. They’ll contact you and ask for clarification and they’ll be pretty lenient about things that were clearly mistakes on your part vs. obviously trying to hide something. My job history is kinda complicated to verify because every company I’ve ever worked for has since been acquired or merged with another company, and one company no longer exists and its owner died. The last time I got a new job, they did their best to verify everything and anything they had trouble with I was able to provide them with tax documents and contact information for people who could help verify employment. It wasn’t a problem and I started the new job on time.

    6. Cat Tree*

      I had a similar complex work history, partly due to short internships in college which were still within the time range of the check. It’s really not a big deal. They will call you and work with you. I think I ended up sharing some tax return info to prove I worked at a place that they couldn’t hunt down. (I didn’t love sharing that but since they already even more sensitive info about me it was just a drop in the bucket.)

      Anyway, to feel better about it remind yourself that everyone involved wants your background check to work out. The employer invested a lot of effort to find the right candidate, so it’s in their interest to be patient rather than start the process over. And the company that does background checks is hired by your future employer so they want to complete their work to keep getting hired to do background checks. At this point it benefits everyone involved to do the work of sorting through your work history.

    7. Carol*

      I am always afraid of this! The only thing that has ever come up was for one job. I listed a teaching role as 2 consecutive years when it was 2 separate 9 month contracts…I just thought of them as continuous since they were part of a 2-year degree and were guaranteed to renew rather than a “let’s see in a year” kind of thing. But the recruiter reached out and let me know right away when that happened and I explained it, and it was fine.

      So even when something does trip it up, it’s usually a technicality or something.

    8. MacGillicuddy*

      Some companies I worked for don’t exist any more- bought out, taken over, folded, etc. Never had any trouble with background checks.

  23. Travel Anon*

    Does anybody have insights on working a job that requires travel while being a parent to toddlers/infants? My current employer is great in just about every way imaginable and offers a lot of flexibility, but once a week (in normal times) I either have really long days on the road or spend the night in a hotel. I don’t have kids yet but plan on starting a family within the next few years, so I’m weighing the pros & cons of staying. My team is small and the only one that travels, so I can’t turn to coworkers for tips. I’m especially interested in thoughts on the infant stage and breastfeeding/pumping with that kind of schedule.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Will you be raising them with a live-in coparent? A lot of advice will change based on that, and on the specifics of how you divide things up. My spouse and I both traveled for work when our spawn was an infant/toddler, although it wasn’t really required, and it was only 1-2 times a year. It is, of course, a bit more stressful for the parent left at home, but it was also nice in some ways for me to have that one-on-one time with the kid. My spouse did pump and freeze enough for those days, which some people can do over time, it depends, though. For me, it really started to wear thin after 3-4 days, though. And the spouse coming home from a work trip might be expected to do more of the infant/child care to relieve the parent who stayed at home, even though you’ll be tired and needing a break after your trip!

      1. Beka Cooper*

        Agreed with all of the above. I’ve never had to travel for my job, but my husband did pre-covid, and it got tiring doing all of the daycare pickups and dropoffs for a week. I do have in-laws who help too.

        I only was away from my kids overnight once while in the breastfeeding stage, and I did think it was a pain in the butt to have to wake up in the middle of the night to pump. However, one thing that gave us more flexibility with our second kid to leave them with grandparents for a day excursion was buying a car adapter for the pump’s power supply. So that could be a useful accessory if you’re traveling by car a lot!

        I also seem to remember hearing things about people traveling by plane running into issues with carrying breastmilk on board, if it was over the limit of liquid allowed. So maybe something to check into if you travel by plane at all for work!

      2. Travel Anon*

        Thank you! Live in coparent, but no other family network nearby. This is all very helpful, I appreciate it!

    2. TimeTravlR*

      My neighbor had to travel internationally some while her baby was still breastfeeding. Her employer got her a special bag so she could freeze and ship it if she was gone an extended time!
      In your case, for just overnights, I would just say build your support network before it’s a thing. Whether it’s your partner, family, very trusted neighbors. It’s always good to have a plan, and a back up plan!

    3. rachel in nyc*

      I had a trainer who in a previous incarnation worked in the corporate world and travelled a lot when her daughter was young. She had a family member who either travelled with her to watch her daughter or stayed home and cared for her daughter, since she was a single parent.

    4. Sled dog mama*

      I traveled 50% from when my oldest was 16 months to when she was almost 3. My travel was flying to a different site two time zones away.
      From a parent perspective I’m both happy and sad I did it.
      The time I was home with her and my husband was great because I got a lot better at leaving work at work. I also missed things, my husband and I had an agreement (since he was SAHD from birth) that he didn’t tell me about firsts and let me discover them on my own.
      One of my daughter’s first sentences was “I FaceTime you?” a clear product of the regular FaceTime calls when I was away.
      It can be done but it’s hard work and requires really good communication between you and whoever else is caring for the child.

      1. Zzzzzzz*

        I did a summer (10ish weeks? Maybe 14?) traveling one day a week, with an under-one. Sometimes it was later at night for an early meeting, and other times it was a 6am flight getting back at 10pm. The issue was being so tired because I couldn’t let my husband do all the overnight wake-ups. If you’re used to traveling though, it might need up being regular baby exhaustion.

        Also, bottle feeding is a great option for lots of people! All the science says fed, loved babies are what matters. If you love breast feeding, great! Pumps can travel with you; plenty of my friends did it. But if you don’t, bottle feeding is great! Me and plenty of my friends did that. Also you don’t have to decide now- I’ve had friends who thought they’d go one way, and changed their preferences later. You can’t really know. (And if you emotionally commit to one- or any parenting thing, really- you make it harder to adjust later when you see what works for your family.)

        I think having a family-friendly company/coworkers and a job you like are more important than travel.

        Another thought elementary aged kids seem to be more upset about travel- they miss you. Babies and toddlers are only slightly more advanced than goldfish in terms of memory. YMMV but that’s been true for my kids so far.

        1. Travel Anon*

          This is all great, thank you! And oh yes, I am completely open to formula (either exclusively or to supplement) so I’m not fully committed to any specific plan, just collecting as much anecdata while I have the luxury of time :) This is all very helpful, I appreciate you all taking the time to respond with your experiences!

    5. Policy Wonk*

      An employer who offers flexibility is worth its weight in gold when you have kids. I would take that over a no-travel job any day!

      I traveled a lot when my kids were little. With a supportive partner and good day care we made it work. My travel was international, so was often a week at a time. We had to coordinate schedules, and day care (later teachers) needed a heads up because children are sad when mom is gone, but it is doable.

      I also note that I only breastfed a few months for non-work related reasons, and didn’t travel until I had stopped, so can’t help you there. But I brought the pump and regalia to work with me while I was doing it. Having a private office helped with that. My office now also has breastfeeding rooms.

    6. Secret identity for this one*

      When my kids were born, I stopped traveling and almost entirely stopped working late hours.

      My wife and I discovered that when you are the only parent at home with a baby or toddler, you literally count the hours and minutes until the other parent comes home. There were a few times when each of us had to do an overnight alone with the kids, but it was stressful and we would not have wanted to make it a regular occurrence.

      The decision to stop travelling probably stalled my career, but I don’t regret it. The first several years of the kids’ lives, when we were both prioritizing family over jobs, were by far the happiest years of our relationship (which eventually failed).

    7. Carol*

      Well…this is different for everyone, and clearly a lot of parents make it work…personally, I would not work a job requiring travel during the infant stage due to constant sheer exhaustion and the difficulty of doing anything remotely “extra” for a while. I also would not have wanted that separation from my infant because already you “never” see them if you’re commuting to a typical 8-5 job except nights and weekends. For the first 6-9 months I would not have wanted that kind of separation. Pumping was already grueling but would have been a footnote to the general exhaustion and need to stay close to the baby. Once they’re a toddler I think it’s a bit different. Plus, routine solo care of an infant/toddler can be rough if it’s constantly up to one spouse to fill the gap.

      It’s tough because you may not know how you feel about it until you’re in it, as you can’t always predict how you’ll feel in the midst of parenting, and you never know the personality of the baby in advance, either. But, yeah…beyond the logistical questions, you may just not want to leave your baby that often or have the additional stressor of travel during a profoundly stressful time. YMMV.

    8. Malarkey01*

      It varies..a lot…on the structure of the travel and the child. That said one overnight a week sounds easier than my weeklong trips once a month. With my second my husband and I just socially did a “me night” once a week where we took turns going out with friends or doing some hobby and the other one was full time kid care. That mirrors your travel a lot and it was easy to do as long as spouse is on board and you can even work together to make that night easier by having food prepped or a don’t worry about the house being clean or whatever plan that night.

      For longer travel I told work that traveling for the first 9 months was non negotiable and if that was required I understood but would need to move on. For me the effort of getting everything set for an infant and dealing with feeding and just the mental fog I was already in, I couldn’t add more to my plate. For some though the infant time is easier than the toddler time when it was easier for me because we did full time daycare by then and shhhh but I actually enjoyed having a little break and a bed all to myself and no one yelling when I was in the shower so didn’t hate the travel (but other people I know did so it’s really a personal thing).

  24. Marian The Librarian*

    Does anyone have a MSLIS and or library background that transitioned to another field? I have experience in Records Management and digitizing documents, but has anyone used to their background in another field/area?

    1. kicking_k*

      Uh, not really. I did, too, wanted to work in archives rather than RM, and now I do. While I was hunting my mother kept dropping suggestions that if I didn’t find something soon I should go back to office admin, which I did have previous background in. (I didn’t want to!)

      I know people who’ve gone sideways into consulting or data officer roles, and one who now designs training on digital archiving/RM. Not too many people who’ve gone into a different field altogether.

    2. TimeTravlR*

      The federal govt (US and likely other countries!) all rely on people with records management understanding and experience. You might try there!

    3. AnotherLibrarian*

      I have not, but I have known several people who have either gone into totally different fields, become book dealers or worked for vendors of other products. What are you hoping to learn?

    4. cubone*

      I worked with a lot of librarians/MSLIS in the community information and referral field (think systems navigation for communities and healthcare, 2-1-1 services, etc.) There’s a certifications (AIRS) for it.

    5. Msnotmrs*

      In my state, there are a decent number of jobs at the state govt level with transferable skills. Archival work at the state historical society, rules and regulations work.

    6. Maintaining my amateur status for the privacy olympics*

      My early career work was in libraries in a paraprofessional capacity in a library. When I moved across the country from that job I transitioned into legal tech work – e-discovery project management, and then later compliance consulting. I think there is a lot of crossover to other industries, but it’s going to depend a lot on what you want to do and how good your tech skills are. Is there an industry you’re particularly focusing on?

    7. Overbooked*

      Retired librarian here. One former colleague – this was at a large state university – went from tech services to a position as student liaison/advocate at the U’s medical school. Years later, a manager at the public library where I worked changed to a career in logistics/materials movement.

  25. No Tribble At All*

    TLDR: boss straight-up said if we go over budget, I’m the first to go, how do I calm down

    I started a new job about 2 months ago. There’s a year-long training period before you can do everything without supervision (it’s typical for my field). So, even though we’ve had a lot of overtime this past month because Stuff Got Busy, I still haven’t been able to do much. The team lead had a conversation with our supervisor about the amount of overtime, and at what point they should send the trainees home for the day (because it’s not useful to have us around if we can’t contribute, and we all should avoid billing overtime). Boss mentioned that if we go over the contract’s budget, he’ll be forced to let people go, starting with the most recent.

    Which is me! I’m the most recent! And now I can’t stop freaking out! I have no idea how close we are to “over budget” for the contract. We end up needing to do overtime through no fault of our own (suddenly get a bunch of requests at 4:50 pm, and the team has to complete them before we leave). So in some ways we’re understaffed because we don’t have enough *certified* people, but in other ways we’re overstaffed because we have extra trainees shadowing the team leads. I’m now super anxious about this, especially because I’m a subcontractor, so I don’t know if there’s another role in this contract my actual company (the subcontractor) could move me to, or if I’d have to they would keep me on and find me a new contract somewhere else, and, like…. I get why layoffs would be LIFO, but then why hire me in the first place if we’re that close to going over?

    How do I talk to my boss (at the prime contractor, not at my subcontractor company) about this? Am I vastly overreacting? Am I sorta overreacting? How/should I talk to my subcontractor boss about this? “Heeeeey I heard if other people have to take too much overtime, the project will have to let me go, is that for real?”

    1. Excel Jedi*

      Start applying elsewhere.

      If you talk to your boss, he’s going to either (a) tell you this is the way things go in your field, and it’s not personal, or (b) tell you not to worry and that everything’s going to be alright. Option B would likely be a lie, because if he doesn’t have the money to pay you, he’ll let you go.

      It sounds like your job isn’t secure, so I’d be looking for one that offered more security.

    2. ferrina*

      Oh, that’s awful! You are not overreacting. That is serious.

      I’d do 2 things:
      1. Dust off that resume. It sucks that you’d have to be applying elsewhere just 2 months in, but I’d want to be prepared. And like you said, why would they hire you if they know they are that close to going over budget?? That would make me worry about how they are managing the budget and what problems I’m not seeing. So I’d start applying quickly, addressing in my cover letter the reason that I’m moving on so quickly.

      2. Ask your boss outright. “Hey, you said that if we come close to the budget, layoffs will need to start. You and I both know that I’m first in line for that. What are some of the metrics I should keep an eye on to know if we are close to budget? And in what ways can I best contribute to ensure that doesn’t happen?” You need to be careful- while a good boss will understand why you are worried, a not-good boss may see it as treason. Focusing on what you can do to avoid going over budget can help assuage this- you are looking for opportunities to help the team, not trying to figure out if you would leave! (ideally you shouldn’t have to do this dance, but it might be necessary with some bosses). With a bad boss, unfortunately, it’s safest not to ask at all.

    3. No Tribble At All*

      Update: I talked to both my team lead and my manager and they clarified that I’d misheard, we’re currently under budget and not projected to go over, and we’d have to go severely over budget for me to be in danger. I trust their honesty because I know for a fact the manager is incapable of lying (he has no brain/mouth filter). The restrictions on overtime are in effect, but that means people shift their hours if necessary.

      So, heart attack averted :) I thought of what Alison would say: use your words and talk to your managers.

      1. Lyudie*

        Phew!!! Glad you talked with them and got clarification. If you’re like me you’d be fretting all weekend, now you can enjoy it :)

  26. bubbleon*

    I was promoted a few weeks ago and the team I managed was handed off to someone else who completely ignored every piece of information I provided about strengths, weaknesses, and how to keep things running smoothly. My former team’s been struggling ever since, to the point where I’ve been in multiple meetings this week where they were brought up as the biggest pain point other coworkers have had this month.

    I’ve made it very clear that I’m available to help whenever they need it, but even the suggestions I made during the handoff were overlooked so they seem pretty sure they’re not interested in hearing from me. I don’t want to tell the new manager how to do their job, but I want my former team to succeed and (selfishly, I know) they’re making me hate being associated with them at all. It sounds like I left a mess on the way out the door when I did everything I could to avoid exactly this. Ugh, happy Friday.

    1. Former Usher*

      I know this doesn’t address your problem, but congratulations on your promotion!

    2. ferrina*

      I am so sorry. That sucks, but there’s nothing you can do to help your former team.

      You need to safeguard your own reputation. When you hear of issues, look surprised! “That’s so strange that they’re running in to that! I made sure to train them in my processes before I left….you know, I wonder if they decided to experiment with a new process. I have no idea.” You need to 1) show that it’s a shock that things went so wrong because 2) you clearly prepped everything for a smooth transition but 3) you’re not there any more and have no say in what on earth is happening now.

      1. bubbleon*

        Thanks, I’ve dropped a few of those into meetings throughout the month and actually had a slightly more detailed conversation with my manager early this week about it, so I think I’m covered on that side but I do probably need to be a little more aware of how it’s impacting other peoples’ opinions of me/my involvement with that team.

  27. My Own Enemy*

    My Situation (lengthy):

    Direct report went fully remote w/ covid and I think plans to try to continue fully remote. This week, things have been happening with them that have frustrated me and taken up a lot of my time, e.g.

    * not being able to get into a VERY IMPORTANT remote meeting *AND* not letting me know they couldn’t until about 7 minutes in when I reached out to see WTF was the problem. This resulted in us both missing about 1/4 of the meeting, and having to interrupt the presenter and IT person who was in the meeting for help.

    * putting their appointments, vacation, etc. on their calendar, but not indicating they are busy, out of the office, etc. They did not now they should/could do this so I had to tell them how. This is extremely important when being remote since we now use this feature to schedule meetings, so I was trying to schedule a meeting with my staff (knowing she was on vacation) but she kept showing up as free.

    * using only one monitor at home (whatever – they told us we could take a second monitor to use), which I didn’t realize was such a big deal until yesterday we were all on a remote meeting and they were delaying the meeting (which they already rolled in late to) to print a spreadsheet that we were using – I urged them not to do so, they said they didn’t have a second screen and had to, and then had to cancel printing b/c they realized the file was so big it was not going to fit on a letter sized paper (which I had tried to tell them)

    * the straw that broke the camels back: even before covid, I have asked and asked and reminded this person to set an out of office message if they are going to be out a full day or longer. they go on vacation. i send an email to a group of people, including them. i get no out of office response back. this person used to be hourly, then moved to salary, and is now hourly again and when i’ve brought it up with them before, they’ve said “it’s no big deal, I just check my email on my phone and can forward you anything important” NO NO NO NO NO.

    * there are other things that frustrate me – and it’s my fault for letting it go on so long. I think I am just going to copy/paste all this in my notebook and have a conversation about why them going fully remote forever concerns me

    1. Person from the Resume*

      I’d sit them down (virtually, I guess) and provide the feedback. Tell them that if they do not correct these issues that they will need to return to the office when it reopens or if it is open give them a few weeks to correct the issues or return to the office.

      Only two of these are remote specific (I’m assuming they could attend a meeting in person), others would be a problem in the office too, but it is completely reasonable to say “You are not performing well. Here are 5-# examples of you not performing well. As a poor performer you will need to work from the office.”

    2. pancakes*

      It sounds like this person is quite inattentive in ways that would also be a problem if they were in the office. People who are bad at keeping their calendar updated, for example, or about remembering to turn on an out-of-office reply when needed, have always been a bit of problem.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yeah. – this isn’t a “remote” issue, this is a “this person doesn’t follow your instructions” issue.

      2. JelloStapler*

        Many of those issues translate to communication and being part of a team, remote or not.

      3. violet04*

        Yep, you need to have a conversation with them on what is expected of them for their role. It may get to the point where they are on a PIP and you need to be prepared to enforce the consequences. Also, sorry you’re dealing with this. It sounds incredibly frustrating.

    3. SomebodyElse*

      Do you have discretion over who on your team works remotely? When my company implemented a telework policy, it was still manager’s ultimate call if they would allow it for an individual. I had one who I did not let go remote, because they were iffy at best when they were in the office.

      I will admit I was wrong about their ability to stay productive as they were fine during the shutdowns. Since you’ve seen your employee in action I would just not allow it.

      Yes, you should have had the conversations and the coaching as things came up, but do it now with the phrase, “I’ve noticed a pattern”

    4. IL JimP*

      I don’t want to minimize your frustration because I would be frustrated too but other than being late to the meeting the rest is annoying and requires coaching but not really a huge deal.

      I think they need a very direct conversation about reliability to meetings because that’s not acceptable and a more generalize coaching conversation about what the requirements are of the job including equipment and using scheduling software

      All this to say this isn’t really a remote issue it’s more of training/coaching issue. The problem would likely still happen (other than the monitor thing) if the person was in the office

      1. Ice scream*

        Yeah, where I work nobody cares if you put busy or out of office on your calendar.

    5. Sparkles McFadden*

      These are all performance issues that need to be addressed. They’re not related to the employee working remotely. Address the issues the same way you would address an issue with an in-office direct report.

      Let’s say an in-office employee were scheduled to give a presentation and didn’t bother to set everything up in advance of the meeting ,resulting in the meeting being pushed back and finally cancelled. That’s about the same as not getting into the remote meeting or having issues with opening necessary files. The email and calendar scheduling…all the same issues that you’d have with an in-office employee.

      In other words, address the performance issues clearly and don’t muddy anything by bringing up remote vs. in-office.

    6. Jules the 3rd*

      It sounds like you have 2 categories of problems:
      – Remote access to important meetings etc
      – Them letting others know about their schedules

      Remote access is 100% only an issue if they work remotely, and you should check whether they’ve gotten better at it.

      The scheduling thing would be a problem *whether or not they’re in the office*. If you’re scheduling a meeting for next week, you need to see availability on their calendar.

      If it were me, I would try to separate those two issues, and I’d prioritize the scheduling, while monitoring the remote access. Have the conversation and be clear that the scheduling has to happen, whether they are from home or in office.

      Good luck.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      This employee must understand that:

      –Being on time for meetings is mandatory.
      –Using her calendar to show availability is mandatory.
      –Having a second screen is mandatory.
      –They must use an OOO message, it’s mandatory.

      To me this sounds like she did not get a good orientation to her job. With the exception of being on time for meetings, I would not intuitively know these things as I do not use them in my current job. I would need to be told directly.

      So my next thought is, what are you doing when you tell her?
      “it’s no big deal, I just check my email on my phone and can forward you anything important”
      This calls for clearer language from her supervisor/boss.
      “Yes, it is a big deal. The way we work here we are very dependent on the OOO messages. Therefore I would like you to set yours up and get it working by [day/time].”

      If she still says NO, then she is heading toward insubordination. You can go with, “I am asking you to set up your OOO message and use it. Will you do that?”

      I actually feel kind of sorry for her because it sounds like no one bothered to help her orient to her workplace.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        It sounds like there is also a fundamental misunderstanding on the employee’s part of what is and is not allowed when they are hourly. Doing work when they are supposed to be off is not something hourly people are supposed to do (or rather, they have to be paid for it).

        But all of it sounds like the employee needs to be told to be on time, communicate issues proactively, and manage normal office notifications (busy, OOO) because those are requirements of the job, not personal preferences. If they still struggle after these explicit discussions / PIP, then they aren’t a good fit and should be managed out.

  28. Stormfly*

    So, I just got word that I’m not being promoted from an individual contributor role to a manager role this year, and I’m wondering if anyone has any perspectives regarding whether I should stick it out, or whether it’s time to find a new job.
    I’ve been on a project for months that involved 12 to 14 hours a day multiple days a week and some weekend work, and earlier in the year I was involved in shorter projects that involved similar time commitment.
    My feedback has been great, and I had a conversation about my promotion prospects with my grandboss about it a couple of months ago, When I asked if there was anything else I needed to be doing, I was told I was on the right track, I just needed to keep doing a good job for the remainder of the project. As far as I’m aware, my performance hasn’t changed since then; certainly I haven’t heard anything close to negative since.
    The reason given was that I need more experience at the type of project I’m in at the moment before I move up, but the project I’m being moved onto next is more of what I’ve been doing for the last few years, which apparently isn’t the kind of experience that matters. So, I’m concerned that despite promises, nothing’s going to be different next year. And I’m feeling pretty let down that this was only flagged after the decision was made, and there’s nothing I can do about it.
    So, is it time to go? I’m lucky to be in an industry with an abundance of jobs, so it wouldn’t be difficult to find a job with a >20% pay increase.
    On the other hand, the work we do for our client actively benefits our society; if I was to leave, I could probably only aspire to a job that doesn’t negatively impact society.
    And I’ve got a really good network in the company, I haven’t worked anywhere else. I’d have to start from scratch if I left. Though I’m wondering if that reason why I’m hesitant is actually reason why I should leave, should I be pushing myself more by going somewhere unfamiliar?

    Any perspectives would be helpful, particularly anyone who felt that staying at the individual contributor level a little longer actually helped their career in the long run. (That’s the benefit of this that I was sold on, so it would be great to know if there’s something to it.)

    1. Colette*

      Do you want to be a manager? It’s a very different job, most of the time.

      What’s most important to you? Do you want the promotion because it is the work you want to be doing, or is it money or status that makes you interested in it?

      There’s nothing wrong with looking around to see what your options are.

      1. Stormfly*

        Yes, I’m fairly certain I do. (Obviously can’t be a completely sure until I’ve done it fulltime.) This is the kind of company that won’t promote you to a job until you’ve been taking on the responsibilities of the job at least part time well in advance. So, I’ve quite a bit of experience with project planning, work management, prioritisation, stakeholder management, coaching, etc. I really like the coaching side of it, and I know that the people management side is the big thing that puts some people off.

    2. Tuckerman*

      Why not apply to some places and see what lands? You don’t have to leave, but you might find something you like.

      1. Stormfly*

        That’s probably the smart thing to do. The issue is that I’m so exhausted; the idea of putting together personalised CVs, cover letters, etc., just to put feelers out feels like a lot right now.
        That’s how they keep you I suppose, keep you working so hard you’re too tired to look elsewhere!

        But I’ve got some leave coming up, I should probably use that time to put some work into it.

        1. ferrina*

          During your leave, draft a template CV and cover letter. I’ve got a Master Resume that is 3.5 pages long, but then I delete irrelevant bullets/jobs for each job I apply to, and I never need to re-write anything. Ditto with cover letter- write ~6 paragraphs that cover main things that you might say in a cover letter, then when you go to write a cover letter, you can start by picking three paragraphs that are pre-written and need minimal tailoring. It is such a sanity saver!

          1. Sparkles McFadden*

            I do this too. I also make sure I am constantly updating my master documents so I don’t forget about new items that make great bullet points.

          2. Stormfly*

            Seems like a good place to start. And even if I don’t put it to use right away, at least the task of putting it together at a future time will be less daunting.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          They keep you too tired to look for a new job in your off hours?
          They put you on a task that is not where you need experience?

          Move on. Seriously.

          I know better but it feels like you are working for my former employer. They will keep you where you are at because you do it bestest, fastest, whatever.

          I bet if you talk around you will find that other employees have heard the same bait and switch stuff.

          You know, it’s really nice to feel needed and it’s really nice to feel like you are making a contribution- until one day, years later, you wake up and realize you are still working as hard and you are just running from one fire to another putting out fires. Nothing has change. Suddenly those feelings of being needed and making a contribution shift to feeling used and feeling stretched beyond comprehension.

          I got a big heads up that I ignored. I noticed my peers lasted about 8 years and then they moved on. Because I am dense, I went 11 years. Don’t do this. It’s okay to believe what you see around you and it’s okay to take action accordingly.

          1. bookartist*

            +1. I could have written the above except I’m on year 6 and should have moved on at year 4.

            1. The New Wanderer*

              Me too, only I’m at 14 years and most of my peers were promoted several years ago while it’s only now becoming an option for me (and only because I’m about to hand in my notice). I’m staying within the industry so I can keep most of my network, which is reassuring. But yeah, time to get out to grow.

          2. Stormfly*

            Yes, I definitely have friends who’ve left the company with the same story. Being strung along for months and years, and only actually acting on finding them the role they’ve wanted once they hand in their notice.
            It’s definitely a company with high turn over. Maybe 10% of the people I started with are still around, and I’m in the early-mid career stage.
            I’ve been told that I can take it easy next year, I can clock out on time every day and it won’t count against me for next year’s promotion cycle. If I could trust that that was true, fair enough, but I’ve had promises of quiet periods after tough projects before, and they’ve rarely materialised.

            1. ten four*

              Hmm, sounds like “jam tomorrow” to me. This promotion path was a nice clear line in the sand, and they went from “on track” to “no, but you’ll get there…later! Probably!” That’s not even counting your observations of other employees and this whole nonsense about “next year you won’t have to work long hours!”

              I get being tired and not wanting to deal with it, but I’d dedicate some of your leave time to putting your resume out there. A 20% pay increase is nothing to sneeze at. And – I hate to be awful about this – a strong network within your company wasn’t enough to get you a promotion despite your excellent performance.

              I’d get my promotion some place else, and then maybe later you can come back to your current place at a higher level. :)

      2. ferrina*

        +1 I think it’s time to look around and see what you can find. Sounds like you aren’t fully committed to leaving, but sometimes it’s good to start looking before you are crying/screaming/driven Lady Macbeth-style mad!

        Based on your comment, it sounds like this is what your job looks like-
        Cons: You aren’t getting the promotion and career development you want, and you aren’t getting career opportunities they promise you; you’re underpaid; you’re regularly working 12-14 hour days (!)
        Pros: Your job has a positive benefit for society, and you know people at your current job.

        Note- if you have a network at your current job, it usually means that you have the skills you need to build a new network at a new job.

        1. Stormfly*

          When you write it like that is seems like a no-brainer.

          Yet, I still don’t want to want to leave, if that makes sense? I’m someone who doesn’t seek out change in general (though I do adapt well to it when it occurs). So, I’m worried that that wanting to stick it out is me giving into my instincts in a way that’s clouding my reason, and is going to harm my career development in the medium and long term.

          So, having a look around seems like a good idea. Being able to compare my job with a concrete offer will put things into perspective more than thinking about it in the abstract.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Because I have had my own version of this story- a good question to ask yourself is “stick it out –for what?” They have already denied you the promotion you wanted. They gave the lame excuse about needing more experience with X, then they took X away from you. This is called being set up to fail.

            Aim for a company that is interested in watching you grow and develop and puts things in your path so you CAN.

            I understand the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know. Having come out the other side of this one, I also have the clarity to see that working just about any place else would probably have been better for me. I should have moved sooner. These places can wear us down in ways that we never anticipated.

          2. ferrina*

            I hear this so much! Knowing you need to leave isn’t the same as feeling you need to leave (if that makes sense?). From my experience, I’ve waited until I felt the need to leave, and by that point I was suffering severe stress, burnout and just going mad from the frustration. Definitely not at my best for a job search, and more inclined to take the first thing that came my way, whether or not it was a good fit. I’ve learned to start searching when I first know that I need to leave, even if I’m not feeling it yet, because job searches can be long and it gives me time to be picky in which job I ultimately get.

            Just looking around can help put things in perspective. Good luck to you!

          3. Can Can Cannot*

            If you do decide to leave, you can dial back your overtime, working a reasonable number of hours. If things don’t get done today, that’s OK. Deciding to leave might be the mental shift that you need to stop the burnout.

    3. Yellow Warbler*

      I’ve stagnated at jobs that wouldn’t pay me what I was worth or provide upward mobility. I stayed because I had a nice boss, liked my colleagues, and had decent job security. But stewing in resentment (even if mild) always eventually affects my work ethic and interpersonal skills, despite my best efforts. I’d move on before I tarnished my reputation.

      1. WellRed*

        Yes I am stagnating right now for similar reasons. One thing that would send me packing: the unreasonable hours you are working OP. Is this industry standard or are they abusing you?

      2. Stormfly*

        I’ve definitely been stewing for the last couple of days, and it’s not a good feeling. (One advantage of working from home is that you don’t have to remain stoic, you can let it all out and cry with impunity during the work day, once you’re not on a video call.)

    4. Mockingjay*

      The company likes you exactly where you are. You are the dream performer: you work complex projects, you go above and beyond to get it done, you take on problems and solve them.

      From a business perspective, the company needs you in this productive role more than they need you as a manager. Unfortunately, career paths and company needs don’t always align.

      If you decide to look outside the company, you can always reduce your availability outside business hours in order to do so. Alison has tons of posts on how to say: “sorry, I can’t come in this weekend, I have another commitment” and stick to it.

    5. Green great dragon*

      If you leave, and don’t like it, might you be able to come back? Might you be able to come back at a higher level, with that extra experience or when they don’t have the option of keeping you in the same role?

      I do not think the extra years at an individual contributor level compared to others helped me. More like baked in a delay – for the next level up they care about experience of manager-level work, not experience of below-manager work.

      1. Stormfly*

        Yes, that would make sense, based on what I’ve seen when looking at specs for jobs I’d be interested in. It’s generally only years of managerial experience that are called out.

        No, there wouldn’t be a problem with leaving and coming back, it happens pretty often. So, if I do go out into the world and dislike it, I could come back in a few years.

    6. Carol*

      It does seem like any promotion potential for you is well down the road at your current place, if it exists at all. It sounds like you should scale back your crazy hours, set some boundaries, and start applying elsewhere. Change is difficult but I have gotten my best opportunities by leaving, sad to say, even though I’ve always been a valued performer. I know a lot of others have only gotten good pay raises & promotions through leaving as well. Sometimes no matter how much you learn and take on in a particular job, people think of you as when you first started.

      I currently work in a workaholics environment that generally only recognizes those who consistently put in (or appear to put in) very long hours over YEARS (so if you do that for projects when needed, it’s noted but then forgotten in the next crisis) and even then, a lot of folks do that and stay flat and never seem to move up. The highest merit doesn’t even keep up with COL. Unless I see a clear opportunity for myself here in the next year or so, I’m probably going to try to move on. Don’t really want to, but it’s kind of the only way forward at a lot of places.

      1. Stormfly*

        My place is better in that respect at least. They do promote people frequently. So the potential is definitely there soon-ish, but if it didn’t happen next year, there’s no way I’d stick around.

    7. MacGillicuddy*

      Have you ever addressed the schedule of your projects with your manager? What was your manager’s reaction when you brought up the subject?

      If you never brought up the issue of your work load, are you in an industry in which people are expected to always work those kinds of hours?

      Unless you’re in something like Big Law, those kind of hours indicate a management problem – they don’t have enough employees for the amount of work, or they have unrealistic schedules/deadlines. Or the person doing the work doesn’t have enough support, or they’re new to the job and it takes them much longer than it should to get things done.

      What are the criteria your company is using to move a person into management? I hope it’s not “individual contributor proves themselves by doing the work of two people “. That seems like a toxic work environment.

      You wrote “ I’ve been told that I can take it easy next year, I can clock out on time every day and it won’t count against me for next year’s promotion cycle.”

      I would not believe this for ONE SINGLE MINUTE! Your company has been taking advantage of you.

      And your idea that if you change jobs you’d be “starting at the bottom”. That’s just not so. You have experience already and shouldn’t be applying to junior or entry level jobs.

      Start job hunting.

    8. TechWorker*

      Honestly you sound a bit like me 2 years ago. I was doing most of the job of a manager but told I couldn’t be promoted because I was too stressed. (The project was on fire, I was working long hours and pissed off because the stressed part was because I took over a car crash, not -just- due to lack of experience :p). I nearly quit, maybe should have done, but the promotion did come through 6 months later, and I’ve had another since then. Honestly the main reason I didn’t quit was that I was too burnt out to apply. I am now much much happier and have better work/life balance despite being more senior with more responsibility.

      So – I actually don’t think what you’ve described proves you should leave – with regards to ‘did staying as IC longer help’ – well experience actually doing the work is useful when you’re managing it, and it sounds like you’re actually also getting project lead/mgmt experience too. If your company does want to keep you then they need to try harder – I would have a talk with your manager about promotion timelines and about what went wrong in the last project (if you’re working 12-14 hour days, something *is* wrong – if that’s a normal contribution level then get out now :p). If that’s not convincing, then I agree with others you should leave.

  29. Mimmy*

    The question this morning about interview bags made me think of a question I have about bags and interview attire…. and lo and behold, it looks like I’m going to have a virtual interview next week!

    My questions…

    1. The bag question can wait for now because, obviously, I’m not going anywhere for this, but I was going to ask about good brands for petite women. I have one that my sister gave me years ago but it’s too big.

    2. What would be considered appropriate attire for a virtual interview? This is a well-established non-profit. I was planning on asking you guys about a suit for in-person interviews during the spring/summer and whether I should get a second suit for fall/winter interviews.

    I applied for two jobs this week and was not expecting any responses until at least after the holiday!! I do have a follow-up question that I’ll post separately…

    1. ecnaseener*

      …As a petite woman, it never occurred to me that I couldn’t carry a big purse. My work purse is very big, I guess it might make me look smaller but I’m already going to look small. It doesn’t have a long handle though, that’s important – no bumping against my knees.

    2. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

      For #2 – wear what you would normally wear to an in-person interview. It will help you be mentally prepared to be in that kind of headspace, it will look good on camera and it will show that you put in some effort. I interviewed recently and always dressed up like I would have for an in-person interview. When I was conducting interviews over the last few months I noticed when someone did or did not put in that effort.

      1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

        Agree with RPS. I have been an interviewer for multiple positions since shutdown, and the candidates who dressed up start off on the right foot. Just a simple professional blouse and a jacket. I’ve seen hoodies on candidates on one extreme, and someone kind of dressed for a party (?!) on the other. Just… be normal.

    3. rachel in nyc*

      I have OPINIONS on bags. (And am technically petite- 5’5′) My feeling is that it’s partially about what you need the bag to do- do you just need it to hold you wallet and keys? Then you can go for a pretty small bag. My tiny friends (5’2′ and under)- like coach. I think partly because of the sizing.

      Do you need something to hold your resume, notepad, and a change of shoes (NYC- I need to change into interview shoes)? I have a decent sized classic black Kate Spade bag that was bought for me in high school probably. It fits everything I need for an interview without looking bulky. (But I don’t mind a large bag.)

      Or the most practical bag I own. My Hunter backpack. Yes, like the boots. It’s rubberized so it’s designed to keep the weather out and everything inside dry. I will admit they are expensive and mine is both from Target (staying up until 2am to get it was totally worth it) and navy blue. But it’s super practical and I’d take it to an interview no questions.

      So to me, it starts with figuring out what do you need to take with you to your interviews- and how are you getting there.

      1. Fran Fine*

        Yup, these are the questions I ask myself when choosing a bag for interviews as well. I tend to go for larger leather totes so I can carry a change of shoes, my makeup, wallet, and padfolio all in one bag. I’m 5’3” and large purses have never really bothered me (I actually hate small ones because I feel like I can’t put them on my arm without looking like T-Rex).

    4. The Rural Juror*

      I have a leather tote bag from Fossil that’s a good size. It’s just large enough to fit my laptop, but not so large that it looks like I’m carrying a beach bag. I’m all of 5’0″, so I understand the concern. I’ve picked up plenty of bags in stores and then looked in the mirror and gone, “Nope!” because they look too big for my frame.

      Someone mentioned on one of these open threads a while back that they had trouble with patterns looking weird on virtual meetings/interviews. She had a nice, dark-colored dress with a neckline she thought worked well, but the pattern was just busy enough to look “off.” So, maybe something solid-colored in a darker tone? Or a light shirt under a dark blazer?

      GOOD LUCK!!!

      1. moql*

        I second fossil. I’m not petit, but I have one that fits that sweet spot where it fits a small laptop with a shape that keeps it from looking huge. Mine has a long strap that can be detached without a problem.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      1) I have a rule about clothing and accessories. I must be comfortable with all of them. I can’t have a handbag that falls off my shoulder because of [reasons]. I can’t have clothes that don’t move with me. (Yes, some garments feel like they have their own agenda.) If you are not comfortable with what you have, that will take your attention away from your interview. Wear items that you are confident about.

      2) I am very frugal person. I’d opt for a navy or black suit and use it year round. I’d change the color/pattern of the shirt with the seasons. Under the heading of “know your area”, I’d put on a pair of Cuddle Duds or other thing under the pants for winter use. No one would care here.

    6. Mimmy*

      I was talking with my husband about this, and he thinks suits for interviews is old-fashioned. Have any of you heard that?

      1. Coenobita*

        Suits for interviews are still 100% a thing in my field (I work at a national nonprofit that has a pretty casual day-to-day dress code). Though for a virtual interview, you can definitely get away with an unmatched blazer and just pretend your bottom half matches – that’s what I did for my last interview. :)

      2. Fran Fine*

        I have. No one does it anymore for real in my area (and I’ve worked for a law firm, insurance company, transit company, and now in software), but a lot of the companies in my city have business casual dress codes. The one time I saw someone interview in an actual suit was when I worked in insurance, and you could tell this guy was fresh out of college and was told that interview suits were still required. Well, he was known as “Suit Guy” from that point on because no one, not even the company executives, wore suits to work so people found it odd that he wore one to an interview. They were like, “This is still a thing?! Why?”

  30. Methuselah*

    Are there many people here who have experience with retail or restaurant work? I’m just curious because I’ve worked in the industry my entire adult life, then I took 8 years off to take care of my son who had disabilities. Ever since I’ve been back in the business for the past 3 years the new trend seems to be every restaurant installing tons of video cameras throughout the entire store. They don’t even hide that it’s to watch all employees at all times and make sure they’re not eating a single bite of food or taking a sip of any drink for free, that they are never sitting down at all ever for any reason, never touching their phones for any reason, and to make sure that they are always, always rushing around busy. This is no matter how long the shift may be, (I’ve seen the district managers call and scream at people who sat down for 5 minutes during a 14 hour shift). It’s also no matter how slow business is or how much work is complete. They insist on us cleaning things even if it was just cleaned 2 minutes ago, and it’s just insane and disgusting in my opinion. Pretty much all the higher up people watching these videos are sitting down in an office or at home gleefully bragging about watching the employees. It’s worse since Covid. And to add to that, almost no restaurant allows employees to eat a meal for free anymore, many charge full price, some give a small discount. There are some restaurants now that even forbid employees from drinking anything but tap water. And I’ve seen a lot of restaurants refusing to allow outside food or beverages in even if the employees can’t afford the food. The industry has always had it’s problems but when I came back after my 8 year break I was shocked at how disposable we are to the big bosses now and how widespread the awful treatment has become. I’m actually glad to see all the posts on social media of restaurants shut down because nobody will work there. Has anyone else experienced this is retail or restaurant work?

    1. pancakes*

      I don’t have much restaurant experience – just a little, a long time ago – but I know lots of people who do. “Family meal” for staff is still a thing at well-regarded NYC restaurants, but I’d be surprised if it’s common in neighborhood places or chains. Chris Crowley at Grub Street has done some great reporting on restaurant workers throughout the pandemic.

      1. Methuselah*

        I’m in several very large groups for restaurant workers on Facebook and a lot of this was going on before Covid, but it seems like once Covid started the upper management at places around the country had a meeting and decided “these Aren’t essential workers, their jobs are essential to their survival! Let’s use that to our advantage!” I’ve seen dozens of posts of signs, letters and groups texts from corporate offices explaining how hours will be cut, meals are now all full price, no water bottles allowed, only store cups that are paid for with a receipt for proof are allowed now, more cameras are going in to observe safety behavior, etc. All because of “Covid precautions” supposedly.

    2. lapgiraffe*

      I’ve seen some restaurants pull back on things like free bread, free soda water, comped dishes or drinks, all of these things for customers, but I have not in any way seen them pull back on staff meal or nonalcoholic beverages for employees! I sell wine to both restaurants and retail stores and would say the retailers are worse about the big brother component, definitely a lot of owners and managers not trusting their employees, but I honestly can’t say that it’s been a big deal with the (dozens upon dozens) of restaurants I work with.

      The exception to that would be national chain accounts, they definitely keep tabs on people in infantilizing and unnecessary ways. You may live in a place where the restaurant scene is dominated by chains and there aren’t many independent options (which definitely have their issues/working for them is not a panacea), but I would say you make better money, have better customers, and have a higher likelihood of decent managers and owners when you avoid the national chains. A good restaurant manager is going to be on the floor with you for the majority of service, and there shouldn’t be enough time for them to sit in an office with nothing to do but watch their employees.

      This may also just be a regional difference, I grew up in the South and when I go back to visit my family there’s definitely a different vibe in restaurants, in my liberal northern city there’s a lot more attention focused to providing good wages, good benefits, happy work environments, and improving all the bad things about working in restaurants that is definitely not happening back in my conservative hometown.

    3. Jules the 3rd*

      Aaaaand people wonder why employees are reluctant to go back to work.

      This sounds awful.

    4. Yellow Warbler*

      My experience as a server is that chains have consistently strict treatment, while mom-and-pop places skew either truly wonderful or demonically bad, with no in-between.

      The key to surviving a chain is feeling out the FOH manager. Some know that they need to keep up appearances for corporate, but can find ways to keep things reasonable for staff as well. Depending on the size of your town, servers talk, and you can get a feel for who to seek out: “Todd is great, I followed him from OG to Chili’s.” Just be careful about referrals in this biz. Servers come and go, so check out why someone left before you use their name.

      1. Brownie*

        “mom-and-pop places skew either truly wonderful or demonically bad, with no in-between”

        Two of my best friends work in the local restaurant scene in my town and the stories they tell consistently reflect what you said. They’ve both secured spots at the best, as rated by employees, restaurant in town and they get comped meals, free drinks (even a free beer occasionally after big events), health insurance, well above standard market pay, and a very conscientious owner who has put their money where their mouth is and has excellent business sense. The restaurant thrived during the pandemic and showed a bigger profit than a standard pre-pandemic year even.

        In contrast several of the other locally owned restaurants have folded or are in danger of going under in the last year. All of them were known to be horrible to their employees, talking US Kitchen Nightmares levels of dysfunctional owner behavior. Since the local pool of restaurant experienced staff is relatively small and tends to migrate with the good managers the owners’ behaviors are an open secret. It’s utterly jaw-dropping to listen to some of the stories about how strict and downright abusive the bad owners are. It really is, at least in my area, one of those two extremes of either employee heaven or hell when it comes to the non-chain restaurants.

    5. Disco Janet*

      Yep, it’s common – has been for awhile in my experience. From the small neighborhood ice cream shop I worked at nearly 20 years ago to the department store I was in 10 years ago, cameras everywhere (clearly to watch employees) has been the norm.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Chaine, especially. They have no problem telling employees, “We know you are here to steal from us.”

        Meanwhile they shamelessly steal the employee’s energy, confidence, autonomy, ability to trust, and so on.

    6. hot priest*

      When I worked in the restaurant industry — from about 2005-2015 — it was common for there to be cameras everywhere in the restaurant but this was mostly for security purposes and to keep an eye on the front door when there was no host on so that the manager could run out and greet the guests quickly. Neither my managers nor myself when I was a supervisor used them in this weird panopticon-ish way you’re describing.

      We also used the cameras to replay embarrassing/funny things liken when I wiped out on a spill before someone had a chance to put a wet floor sign up, or when servers did funny dances behind the line or stuff like that.

      The situation you’re describing in restaurants now would make me hesitant to return, too — and I loved serving! (I do not love the recurring nightmares, however, which persist to this day.)

  31. NaoNao*

    How much of a stretch for a new job is too much?

    Current job (and most of career) has been independent contributor learning and development. I’ve been unable to break a certain earning ceiling and move into management jobs despite many attempts and approaches. I’m now working on my MBA as one part of a multi-part plan. I’m a genuine expert at my current skill set: making training and delivering it, as well as project management and vendor management for training products.

    I recently interviewed for a job at double my current salary, but it sounds like almost 3 jobs in one: sales training strategy development and roll out, sales personnel recruitment and growth, and managing the work of the training developers.

    I **can** do these but it feels like a pretty big jump to me. The interviewing team seems to be interested and I’ve passed two interviews, being very transparent and direct and not overselling my skills, background, and expertise.

    So how much stretch is too much? Any advice or shares welcome.

    1. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

      For me, it depends on what kind of support and ramp up they’re going to offer you. If they want you to hit the ground running day 1, that could be too big of a stretch. If they’re willing to give you a slow-ish ramp up and have lots of training and support scaffolding built into the onboarding, it could be fine.

      1. Fran Fine*

        This is where I’m at. This may not be too big of a stretch if you have proper support and if they’re not planning to give you ALL THE THINGS right when you start.

    2. Gloucesterina*

      Do you want this type of stretch (wearing multiple hats)? Or do you prefer a more intense focus on one or two hats?

  32. Emmie*

    I was one of two finalists for a SVP level position I did not get after ten interviews. I am not upset about it… I know the right opportunity will come my way. I want to reach out to the outside recruiter who helped me, and thank the people at the company who interviewed me. This networking/ interview thank you thing doesn’t come naturally to me. I am probably overthinking this, but I’d like to email them to thank them. Can the AAM mafia help me?!

    – What do I say to the person who is the boss of the role? What about the founder? The CEO? All interviewed me. Is it okay to tell them that I’d like to be considered for another future opening?
    – I already talked to one of the outside recruiters, M. What should I say / email to the other recruiter, F? Is it okay to ask for referrals to other outside recruiters? I had a really great experience with both F & M.
    – Is it okay to send LinkedIn connection requests to them?
    I really wish the organization well. They are in such a special place in the market. The work they do makes a difference with a population that is in meaningful to me.

    1. Message in a Bottle*

      Wow, Emmie! Ten interviews! You have such a great attitude about it.

      I think a LinkedIn connection request is fine. Not sure about the rest of your questions, though.

      Also, did you send thank you e-mails all along? Just curious. I usually send after one, but I wouldn’t know what to do after ten!

      1. Emmie*

        I didn’t send them after each one. I wish I would have because it was the right thing to do in hindsight. Tbh, I stay in jobs for a long time, so I am out of practice with interview formalities.

      1. T. Boone Pickens*

        While 10 is high, it’s not unheard of for a SVP/C Suite position. I just wrapped up a CFO search that had a total of 8 interviews between my vetting of the candidate and the interviews spent with the hiring committee. While lots of interviews can be a drain, if the process is communicated clearly on the front end regarding what the process will look like, it tends to go pretty smoothly.

        1. Message in a Bottle*

          When you have that many interviews to people send thank you e-mails after the first one? Throughout the process? Only at the end?

          I think thank-yous are important but not sure how to factor them into an 8-interview process.

          1. Emmie*

            I don’t know either. Some were with the outside recruiters. I didn’t send them throughout the process. Instead of waiting, I’ll send them a day or two after next time.

        2. Emmie*

          I think they could’ve done a better job of communicating the number of interviews ahead of time, but I believe they didn’t know. It sounds like they had two great finalists – me and another person – and didn’t expect to need that many interviews. I tip my Stetson to really great and ethical outside recruiters.

    2. LadyByTheLake*

      Keep it simple — a “I enjoyed meeting you, thank you for your consideration” would be more than enough. If they want to keep in touch the next step is up to them.

  33. Take a pay cut to shift career?*

    If you’ve taken a pay cut to shift your career, were you happy you did it? Any regrets?

    I am considering taking a significant pay cut to shift my career because I am unhappy in my current job and there is an opportunity for me to switch gears to a different track with a different employer. There is no way to get into this different track without taking a pay cut. (Say I’m an experienced llama groomer, but I want to switch to evaluating the quality of llama grooming. You must start as a low level llama evaluator to make this switch. An experienced llama groomer earns a lot more more than a low level llama evaluator. Even an experienced llama evaluator will pretty much always earn less than an experienced llama groomer.) Benefits are pretty much identical.

    The opportunity to switch is not a permanent one, but will last at least 12-24 months with the possibility of becoming permanent. There is nothing that would prevent me from going back to my prior career track if I ultimately don’t care for the switch.

    Though the pay cut would be significant, my budget can absorb it if I reduce the amount I am putting into savings every month.

    I would love to hear others’ experiences making such a switch. Was it a good thing? Any regrets? Anything else for me to consider?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      If you’ve taken a pay cut to shift your career, were you happy you did it? Any regrets?

      No regrets. I also now make almost 3 times what I used to make (took a while, but it happened).

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Even an experienced llama evaluator will pretty much always earn less than an experienced llama groomer.

        That said, I also had no regrets at the time. As long as I can pay my bills, I’m fine. I mean, I don’t want to be underpaid. I’d always love to be paid more. But I know, for some folks, having the absolute highest salary is of primary importance, even if they’re miserable or not doing what they really want to do.

    2. Nicotene*

      I did it, but it was in order to get better work-life benefits, not just to switch from one type of office job to another type of office job. I took about a 40% paycut to go from an in-office full time job to a flex job that’s from home. No regerts, lol.

    3. Chidi has a stomach ache*

      I was in academia and took a pay cut to leave last year when higher ed got thrown into disarray from COVID. The actual cut to gross salary was small (~2%), but I lost some retirement matching benefits which eat into my take-home pay. That being said, after just a year I got an institutional raise that means I’m making more than my academic gross salary (still less in take-home for a while), and it looks like this will be a regular thing (as opposed to my university, which was openly telling us no raises, even for COL, for at least 3 years, and didn’t have a great track record before that). The work-life balance and shorter commute is much better for me. There is also a lot more growth opportunities in the new track. No regrets so far.

    4. Former Usher*

      I took a modest pay cut to change jobs once. (It was a disaster for reasons unrelated to that pay difference.) One thing I didn’t think enough about was trying to optimize the timing in terms of the end of year bonus, options vesting, and some bonus vacation time that would not be paid out. You might feel better making the switch if you are able to wring every last benefit out of your old job first. Just something to think about.

    5. Not An Architect*

      I did, and I have no regrets whatsoever. I didn’t have dependents or anything so enough to live on was enough to live on, and that was fine. I knew the deal going in; I know that I may well never make as much in this career, and certainly my current salary (4 years down the line) is still well below what I was making in my first job out of grad school on my old path. In terms of my work and life as a whole, though, I’m in a much, much better place. No regrets.

    6. Water Everywhere*

      I took a pretty big pay cut to switch jobs (same career) once because I was increasingly miserable at a disorganized constantly-in-crisis-mode workplace and had a chance to work a temp position at a well-run org. I tightened my budget, made the jump, and it worked out so well that the new workplace made room in their budget to make my job permanent and increase my salary. If your budget can afford it, the change can definitely work in your favour in the long run!

    7. Malika*

      The only regret is that i didn’t make the jump earlier! Career sustainability and ensuring you have a path leading towards development rather than burnout is, in the long-term, a financial sound choice. I have spoken to people who have ruined their health by making the ‘sensible’ choice of staying at the wrong job for too long. A detour and pay cut seems to be a far more attractive choice than that.

  34. rachel in nyc*

    I’ve been considering next steps in my career for a couple of years. After getting my J.D. and passing the bar, I fell into my current (non-law) job at a non-profit- it’s basically specialized accounts payable. Crappy pay, great benefits, really healthy office. (Literally this week, we’re all complaining about getting extra vacation days because we don’t get days paid out and we all have extra already.)

    There isn’t really any upward mobility in my office- and I could move to a similar office at another non-profit but it’s never going to be as healthy an office. (Our’s is uniquely situated for a slew of reasons.)

    But I can’t figure out how to take what I’ve done- J.D. and finance and turn it into a job that pays more (and doesn’t require 60 plus hour weeks.) I’ve considered going back and getting an MBA or MPA. I’m not opposed to it but I don’t want to get a degree just to get a degree.

    Anyone have any suggestions?

    1. BananaBum*

      Have you thought about going into a compliance role for corporate companies? I work for a large med device/pharma company, pays v. well, and they look for people with JD’s or experience in law. I know the compliance managers make in the 120-130k range and compliance directors 180-200k, plus bonus and stock.

      1. rachel in nyc*

        I hadn’t really. I have this vague concept that compliance requires specialty training- though I don’t see why I couldn’t learn it.

        1. BananaBum*

          For the people that I know in this field, none of them have specialty training (myself included). I fell into a compliance role after working as a paralegal right after college and just stuck with it.

          1. Fran Fine*

            That part. Most of the people I know who are in compliance learned on the job or did certification exams through orgs like FINRA. You definitely don’t need to get another degree.

    2. Maxie's Mommy*

      You might enjoy negotiating medical insurance contracts for hospitals, to maximize reimbursement for the hospital.

    3. Msnotmrs*

      I don’t have a lot of experience in this field, but have you thought about working for a legal nonprofit, like Legal Aid? You would probably see an increase in pay, but keep a lot of the same nonprofit feelgood aspects.

    4. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Are you trying to avoid a job with a law firm because you’re concerned about the working hours? Not every position is for workaholics. There’s work out there for people who want to maintain a work-life balance that favors life over work. I’d consider going through my network of pals from law school to see if any of them have a position available.

      1. rachel in nyc*

        It’s a mix of that and a mix of I feel that I missed that window. I haven’t done any “real” legal work since law school- my current job prefers a law degree because I need to interpret contracts but I’m not drafting contracts or anything.

        1. Glomarization, Esq.*

          In my jurisdiction, the local bar association offers CLEs, networking events, lunch ‘n’ learns, and panels and stuff oriented to specific practice areas. If you’re not already a member, maybe join your local bar association and put yourself out there? Like, “Hi, I’m rachel in nyc, I’ve been paying my bills in a JD-advantage position and I’m looking to get an actual lawyering job.”

          Or maybe your law school’s alumni services office can offer placement assistance? Everybody’s mileage will vary with that, but with any luck yours is better than mine.

        2. Glomarization, Esq.*

          Or, if you don’t want to get a lawyering job at all, I’ve had success getting work as a contracts specialist (for a major contractor in the energy sector) in a jurisdiction where my law credentials weren’t valid. It was paper-pushing, a bit repetitive but required attention to detail because every file was a little different, for 40 hours a week. Work stayed at work, pay was decent.

    5. LadyByTheLake*

      I see below that you interpret contracts — most large corporations have contract specialists (sometimes housed in the law department, sometimes separate) — but your background would appear to fit.

      1. Coenobita*

        Yes, what about a contracts role at a consulting firm? I used to work for a medium-sized company that held a lot of federal contracts, and our contracts folks were absolutely worth their weight in gold. My impression was they had the occasional tight deadline, but since they were paid mostly on overhead there was no pressure for them to work the long hours expected of us technical staff (who had billable hours targets).

    6. TPS reporter*

      Research organizations (universities, hospitals, biotech) are starving for people like you to do research admin- proposal and contract review, maybe some financial transactions. The pay can be very good at certain more prestige places and it’s pretty much normal hours.

  35. Decidedly Me*

    I’ve been invited to a meet up with my company’s partner company. I’ve never been to one of their meet ups before and it’s different from ours – theirs list meetings on the agenda and ours are just for fun. Given the meetings, I don’t know what I should be wearing to these. I don’t know anyone at the partner company to ask or their dress code culture in general, but I can email the coordinator. Is that a weird thing to be asking about?

    1. pancakes*

      Is there anyone at your company who’s been to one of their meet-ups? If yes, I’d ask them. If no, I don’t think it would be odd to ask the coordinator how people generally dress for these.

    2. TimeTravlR*

      Is it in the office? After hours? If outside the office, and especially if after hours, I think I would go with business casual, but stay on the more formal side. For men, I would think a really nice polo-style shirt (or maybe even wear a button down and keep a tie in your car, just in case!) and nice trousers (not suit pants, but not Dockers, either).
      For women, nice slacks and a blouse would be a good happy medium.
      If you are dressed a little more formally than the rest, I don’t think that is as big of a deal as wearing jeans when everyone else is in a suit!

      1. Decidedly Me*

        Thanks! It’s off site – different city that everyone’s being flown into for a few days. It’s part team building/part meetings from the agenda I was sent.

  36. Mimmy*

    So as I mentioned above, I applied for two jobs, one of which I have probably have an interview for next week. The other job is at the state university.

    But, I have a quandary.

    Both jobs are full time. I am also pursuing an online graduate degree that I’ll finish next spring. This fall, I am taking two classes and will be taking on a couple of leadership positions on committees. I thought about withdrawing my application for both jobs because it sounds like a lot, but my husband thinks I shouldn’t rule them out just yet. I didn’t seek out these two jobs; they were forwarded to me, one of them from a vocational counselor who’s been helping me. So I felt like it was the right thing to follow up and apply.

    Sigh. I always get myself into these situations that I end up later second-guessing!

    1. ferrina*

      Do you like free time, or hate it? That’s an important thing to know. Imagine your life with all these commitments- does that sound invigorating or exhausting?
      Picture the life you want, then pick the path that brings you there.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Mimmy- TWO jobs! That is great!

      You know your limits. For me, I could work FT and maybe take one or two classes. That’s it. So you probably already have a similar thought in your head. Our personal limits are the first consideration.

      Next. I’d be sorely tempted to see if they would take me half time or three quarter time until I finished the degree. This is what I’d check out, for sure.

      Last. I’d have to ask the voc counselor their thoughts on this, too.

      1. Coenobita*

        I’d be sorely tempted to see if they would take me half time or three quarter time until I finished the degree. This is what I’d check out, for sure.

        I like this suggestion a lot! Your schedule constraint has a defined end point, after which the employer would be able to take advantage of your additional credentials/skills, so it might be worth it to them.

    3. Llama face!*

      I’ve been giving myself similar worries in my job hunt (on different points of “but it may not work”). What I keep reminding myself of is that a job application isn’t a promise. It’s the first step to see if that job works for BOTH sides and either side can discontinue at whatever point they realize it isn’t going to work for them. So you aren’t making any commitment yet. You are just investigating. Maybe reframing it like that will help?

      1. Mimmy*

        That’s essentially what my husband says. I also think I learned some of these perspectives here on AAM :)

  37. FlyingAce*

    I have been attending a workshop the last couple of weeks (2 hours a day, 2 days a week). This workshop is being facilitated on site at a different location, so most attendees are in the same room as the facilitator; there are just a few of us joining virtually from other locations (in my case, another country). It has been very hard for me to follow along; it is very hard to hear the facilitator when he starts walking back and forth to address all the attendees in the room, and the way the camera (likely from a laptop) is set up, we cannot see what he is writing in the whiteboard (he is not using PowerPoint or anything similar where screen sharing could be used). Would it be out of line to request a session exclusively for those of us joining remotely?

    1. TimeTravlR*

      It seems like the feedback that this is not working for those who are remote would be valuable. The cameras in our training rooms follow the voice, which is great. We also use smart boards so they can be seen by all participants (on their computer or in person). Whoever is running the workshop needs to get updated! But yes, I would ask for something extra for the remote users. Especially if you (or your employer) is paying, you are not getting what you paid for.

    2. ferrina*

      Let the trainer know what is not working! He may not realize that the mic isn’t picking up his voice while he’s walking around, or that you can’t see the white board.
      Start by giving him a chance to address those issues, then if that doesn’t work, you can ask for an exclusive session.