open thread – May 7-8, 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.

{ 1,167 comments… read them below }

  1. WonderMint*

    I’m part of a team of three; myself, my coworker with ‘Senior’ in his title, and our shared manager.

    The three of us have weekly touch bases. My coworker, who is relatively new to the company, often addresses me during these meetings in the third person as if I’m not there. He’ll say something along the lines of, “She’s on the right track.” It feels like he’s reporting my work back to our shared manager while I’m in the room. We do collaborate often, but there’s a difference between “She’s on the right track” and “You’re on the right track.”

    I would accept this as a quirk except this individual regularly acts like I am entry level, not someone with multiple years of experience. He’ll tell me how to do things I’ve done for years, and no amount of “Oh, I know, I was handling that prior to you joining the company” can suppress the comments. This is the tip of the iceberg with his condescending behavior, but I’ve decided to draw the line at speaking about me as if I’m not in the meeting.

    1. Ashley*

      When my co-workers go third person, I third person it back to them. It is passive aggressive but my manager and their manager don’t think it is worth addressing.
      I would probably try a big picture conversation with Senior one day about this and layout your experience and how he seems to doubt that and if there are things they have seen that is concerning. After that, I would talk your boss about Senior’s behaviors and how it impacting the work? The example of telling you how to do what you have been doing if nothing else slows you down

      1. SheLooksFamiliar*

        As a contracted consultant, I was in a meeting with my HR partner and hiring partner. The HR manager kept referring to me as The Contractor: ‘I’d like The Contractor to tell us about the talent sourcing model on page 3…’ I said, ‘If you mean SheLooksFamiliar, let’s get started…’ She referred to me as The Contractor again, and you can bet she was The HR Person from then on. But I’m petty that way.

        WonderMint, do you think Senior would respond well to a request to refer to you directly, and/or by your name? If not, I’ve always liked this approach: ‘It’s odd that you’re telling me how to do something as if I’m entry-level, when I’ve actually managed this for years. Unless I ask for your input, you can assume I don’t need it.’ Or words to that effect.

      2. TechWriter*

        I’d skip the “does he see things that are concerning” part. I think you intend it like a rhetorical question, with the answer obviously “No, so lay off.” but Senior would more likely see it as an opening to offer more unwanted guidance for WonderMint.

        In my dreams I’d respond with “I’m right here, you can address me if you like.” and “Please stop telling me how to do basic work tasks that I’ve been doing for years.” But I think in reality I’d just be… quietly annoyed.

      3. Llama face!*

        I am imagining these meetings being like politicians in a parliament session: “Madam Speaker, as you can see, my colleague here has yet again failed to grasp the concept of directly addressing the other attendees at this meeting.”

        Sorry you got stuck with a condescending coworker, WonderMint!

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      He’ll tell me how to do things I’ve done for years, and no amount of “Oh, I know, I was handling that prior to you joining the company” can suppress the comments.

      I’d be a little more direct. “Yes, I’ve been doing that for years, long before you got here. So why are you telling me how to do it?”

      1. So not getting paid*

        I use “I’m well aware. Thank you.”

        Pretty abrasive, but it works.

      2. ..Kat..*

        I agree with being more direct about this with him.

        Are you female? This could be some jerk male dominance behavior.

      3. tangerineRose*

        “Yes, I’ve been doing that for years, long before you got here. So why are you telling me how to do it?” This!

    3. TWW*

      He’s rude, and probably assuming that he’ll soon be your boss.

      But in some cases I think the way we use pronouns can be a regional or cultural language difference. I’ve always felt it was shocking to use third-person pronouns to refer to a present person in most situations (one exception being when making an introduction). I remember my very proper English grandmother once telling me off for calling my mother “she,” and I think that lesson has stuck with me ever since. OTOH, when I mentioned this to wife who grew up on the US west coast, she seemed baffled at why anyone would have a problem with that, and she was a perfectly polite person.

      1. WonderMint*

        I agree with your intuition that he either thinks he’s my boss, or he thinks that his title gives him much greater leverage over me.

        I should let the third person stuff go – it just feels like the easiest thing to address rather than some of the other issues. But I should absolutely pick my battles.

        1. SheLooksFamiliar*

          He’s addressing you in the third person, almost as if you’re a subject to discuss. It’s patronizing and condescending, IMO, and part of his overall behavior toward you. He’s not acting like someone who happens to have senior experience, he’s treating you like a subordinate.

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

        I think it depends on the intent of what you’re actually saying. The OP’s example, that “she’s on the right track” seems to be a judgement/assessment of OP rather than just something factual, and does seem rude. (I appreciate that it’s part of a pattern of condescending behaviour and this is the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back, but I wonder if there is anything more concrete OP can point to about the condescending behaviour and address that instead?)

        Now that I think of it, I refer to other people in the 3rd person at daily stand ups and things like that – I wonder if it’s perceived as rude? Although I’m not making judgement on people, the things I say are more like “Yesterday I worked with Bob on the mane straightening process and he came up with an elegant way to deal with the tangle problem – Bob, can you elaborate about that?”

    4. Asenath*

      There’s always the response “Who’s ‘she’, the cat’s mother?” used to teach generations of children to use names when referring to people, but your co-worker might not get the point if he wasn’t taught that as a child.

      1. identifying remarks removed*

        Lol – my first thought was that expression. However, I’m English and when I was living in the US I had coworkers who didn’t think referring to me as “she” was offensive. It was a definite cultural difference.

        1. Barbara Eyiuche*

          Yes, I agree. It is English. One of my profs (in Canada) was talking about this, and only the people in the class with parents or grandparents from the UK knew what he was talking about.

      2. CatMintCat*

        I now have flashbacks to my mother saying “She’s the cat’s granny. Use the lady’s name.”

        Australian, and I would never dream of using “she” or a title for somebody who was in the room. My mother would haunt me.

    5. that's no fun*

      This feels a lot like Senior is grouping himself in with manager as if they’re more on the same level than you. I would hate it.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Right, sounds like an odd power play to me.

        Good thing, anytime in my career I’ve seen someone do these things, it was because the person did not have enough skills/value to succeed in their job on their own merits, and knew it. Bad thing, it’s still unpleasant and scary when someone uses this technique on you – you never know if this will be the one time out of 1000 when it will work vs the manager seeing through your teammate’s BS. I’d honestly pretend not to understand who the “she” is that he’s referring to, or why he’s explaining your job to you.

    6. LKW*

      I’d be tempted to insert “Well for the most part he seems to be adjusting to the company culture although he does have a habit about referring to people in the third person even if they are present and part of the discussion.”

      Have you called it out -have you said in the meeting – “yo, dude, I’m sitting right here. Can you see me or did I accidentally mix up my sunscreen and vanishing cream again?”

    7. Distractinator*

      “He’ll tell me how to do things I’ve done for years” – my favorite passive aggressive response (very satisfying, and potentially somewhat effective) is to respond with “That’s right! That *is* how I do that process!” like he’s a good student who’s just answered a question correctly. Or better yet “good guess! We do it almost like that here but also…”

      About your primary complaint – given that this guy seems to care a lot about hierarchy, maybe mention to your shared boss that you find it annoying and explicitly ask them if they can correct him next time he does it to you – “You know, she’s in the meeting, it’s not polite phrasing to talk as if she’s not here”. You’re not asking them to fight you’re battles, you’re determining the smartest tactic. Or at least if you’ve spoken about it, they’ll have your back and are likely to agree with you when you correct him, as opposed to acting confused or downplaying it.

      1. Crabby Patty*

        > “That’s right! That *is* how I do that process!”

        I love the friendly sarcasm! Will have to use.

    8. Noncompliance Officer*

      I was in a meeting one time where people were trying to brainstorm solutions and someone said, “I bet NonComplianceOfficer can tackle this issue in his spare time.” I said back, “I really don’t think NonComplianceOfficer has any availability and he would appreciate it if you didn’t talk about him like he isn’t here.”

    9. Person from the Resume*

      I’d let the third person thing go and focus on other stuff.

      When he calls you “she” in the meeting, he’s talking to your boss about you. If he calls you “you” then he’s talking to you and not your boss even if your boss is in the room.

      Like if the boss asks him: “how’s the project going?” And he’s answering the boss then he would say “I did this. And she’s on the right track.” He wouldn’t use “you” for you because he’s answering the boss and not you.

      So he’s just always directing his conversation to the boss during these meetings. Let that go and focus on the other stuff.

      1. introverted af*

        Agreed frankly. I know it can be frustrating to be treated this way, but unless Senior is talking over you when you are expected to answer for yourself this would not be my hill to die on.

    10. Chilipepper*

      Right in the meeting say, “you said she is on the right track, who is ‘she’?”

      At another meeting with the manager, I would bring up the other issue. Say, “coworker, you often explain to me how to do my job but I have been doing these tasks for years. I wonder if you have a concern about how I am doing the tasks?”

    11. Momma Bear*

      If the meeting is a one on one, that is very weird. I can almost see it if it’s the three of you. Have you talked the shared manager? One of my favorite PMs is the kind of manager that is quick to call people out for crappy team behavior. “WonderMint is here. Why don’t you address them directly?” Or “WonderMint has been working on this task for three years. Do you not trust their judgement?” Can your shared manager help in that way?

      Regarding the work you already know how direct have you been? “I’ve been doing Teapot design for three years and I understand this process. The way you keep reminding me how to do it implies that you have a problem with my work. What is the specific issue here?”

    12. Observer*

      When he starts instructing you perhaps you could respond with “As I said, I’ve been handling this since before you got here. So why are you telling me this?”

      And when he refers to you in the third person you could call him on it in the moment – “I’m right here.”

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

      Any chance your name is Joaquin and Senior thinks you are Wakeen? :-)

      I’m with Ashley, third person it back to him. “Can Senior Llama Wrangler submit his TPS reports on Friday? Will Senior Llama Wrangler need those hoof prints by noon?”

      As far as mansplaining your job to you, if you stumble on a solution, I think we could all use it. As far as I’m aware there is no cure, but you could try a pointed, “I’m not entry-level” Every.Time. he gives you advice.

    14. SnappinTerrapin*

      Is he prior military?

      A lot of NCOs form a habit of speaking in the third person. It’s considered more respectful, rather than condescending.

      Which doesn’t rule out the possibility that Senior intended disrespect.

      1. WonderMint*

        He’s not – but “Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain” pointed out there is no hard and fast way to solve mansplaining, which is exactly what is going on between us.

        1. SnappinTerrapin*

          I agree. That is a more disrespectful behavior than the third person.

          Work interrupted me before I got to that point.

    15. TimeTravlR*

      My go to in these moments is a joking, “hello!! I’m right here!” Most (most) people get the point.

    16. Violette*

      “He’ll tell me how to do things I’ve done for years…”

      Can you come up with a cheery response that sounds like you’re giving him genuine kudos for being a fast study? “Hey, it’s great that you’re picking up on how we do things here so quickly!”

    17. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

      I might try something like “Hang on a minute. I feel we’ve got wires crossed somehow, because you’re explaining this to me as though you think I don’t know it, but to me this is all familiar stuff. Is there some particular thing which happened which gave you that impression? / Is there some particular aspect you think I might not have encountered before?” And persist with it till either we’d identified where he got the wrong idea, or we’d established that it was groundless. Basically the approach is “Here is a misunderstanding which is affecting our work, let’s get to the bottom of it”.

      That said, I do also let things like this go if I’m not going to be working with the person long term. Inward thought “I’m noticing that you seem to think I’m an idiot, but I only have to put up with that a little bit longer, so let’s just do the task”. It’s the long-term nature of working with this person which would tip me towards more likely investing in addressing it.

  2. May Flowers*

    After a very long year of being furloughed due to the pandemic, I have a new job! However I have no idea what to do about my old one. Should I just quit or do I leave myself still tied to them should they ever get back on their feet? My direct boss (who was also furloughed) and my references all knew I was searching. I wouldn’t mind a chance to go back to my old job if they ever wanted me back but I also am excited for this new job. I don’t know what to put on my resume, because all the advice I saw on here was to not write an end date with a furloughed job because you’re not technically gone from them but I don’t know how long they want to keep me in furlough limbo. Also I have a work laptop that I want to give back and would love to get all my stuff off my desk for my new job (we all suddenly started working from home with no idea that furloughs were coming).

    So what should I do about this dangling thread about my furloughed job? Just leave it alone, at least ask to get my desk stuff back, or should I just withdraw entirely for a clean break?

    1. Taura*

      If you’re 100% about accepting the new job (and it sounds like you are), wouldn’t you just resign from the old one?

      I’m assuming these are both fulltime and you wouldn’t be able to do both if you accept the new one AND your old job brings you back from furlough. So it sounds to me like you should 1. Accept the new job if you haven’t already and get the ball rolling there 2. Resign from the old job and arrange to return their equipment and pick up your stuff from the office and 3. Update your resume to say “Job at Company A, from back then to May 2021” because you’ve resigned, so that’s an endpoint. I don’t think it sounds like your old boss or company would feel like you ditched them or burned a bridge for leaving in this situation.

      1. Ya Girl*

        Yes, exactly. Unless these are two part-time positions that could feasibly be done at the same time I’m not sure what else you would do!

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I would go with the clean break. Just, psychologically, it’s easier to commit to your new life and not marinate in what-ifs.
      Should your old company ever bring people back, they could just rehire you in the conventional way. But a year is a long time for a furlough, with no end in sight.

    3. 867-5309*

      I am confused… If you’ve accepted a new job then the expectation is you officially resign your old one? Unless you are temporary or contract in the new position?

      If I found out someone accepted an offer but did not resign their last position formally in hopes of being called back, I would be upset and consider the ethics of their decision-making. It is not fair to either employer. When you leave, you can let your old employer know you would welcome the opportunity to return in the future if business allows it.

      As your resume, you could do something like this:
      06/15-05/21: Marketing Manager (Furloughed from 03/20)

      Or:
      06/15-03/20: Marketing Manager
      04/20-05/21: Marketing Manager (furloughed)

    4. Blue Eagle*

      If it were me, I would wait to say anything to the old employer until after your first week of work to make sure it is what I thought it would be. And at that point I would contact the old employer to say I have a new job and would return their computer. I wouldn’t say anything until I actually started, though, because anything can change between the time you accept the offer and your first day of actual work (e.g. old company calls you back, new company rescinds the offer, etc).

      1. Can Can Cannot*

        +100. There’s no need and no benefit to resigning your old job until you are certain about the new job.

    5. A Simple Narwhal*

      If your old job became un-furloughed, would you drop your new job and go back? Because if you knew for a fact that you’d do that, then I don’t think you’d necessarily need to say something – and in fact I probably wouldn’t, since that might affect their plans to eventually bring people back (it might push you down the list/eliminate you from consideration). But if you wouldn’t drop the new job and are just open to the idea of working for your old company someday in the future, I think you should say something to your boss, especially since you need to turn in company property and get your own property back.

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        Wanted to add that my advice to say nothing assumes no double-dipping or any conflicts such as receiving benefits that assume you aren’t working another job while waiting for the first one to come back.

    6. Bagpuss*

      I agree with others that you need to resign (unless these are both part time roes) but in your resignation letter you can say how much you enjoyed working there etc, so you are not burning any bridges.

      If your direct manager is still working and not furloughed then you could also consider calling them direct and mentioning that you have had to move on as of course you need to to work, but that you’ve enjoyed working at the company and hope she’ll keep in touch. If you’re on good terms then there’s no reason why they wouldn’t view it favourably if you apply in future if jobs come up that would suit you.

    7. Momma Bear*

      IMO, someone who is furloughed always has the option to move on and I would expect that a certain percentage would do so. If you have a new job, put in your notice so they don’t call you back/you have no loose ends. Tell them that while you would love the opportunity to come back/work for them again, you have to move on at this time. It’s all business – theirs and yours.

    8. LizM*

      I know the rules are different for feds, but our ethics rules mean that we can’t take outside employment if there is a conflict of interest, and those apply even if we’re furloughed. If the two employers are competitors, I’d make sure there is no conflict of interest between your new job and your furloughed job and check what your ethics rules are, but you may need to formally resign.

    9. I'm just here for the cats*

      If your furloughed they probably figure people are looking. Especially if they haven’t given you any timeline for returning. I would just reach out to your old manager or whoever is still at the company and say that you started elsewhere. Then ask about coming into the office to drop off the work stuff and pick up your personal belongings.

  3. Seeking Recommendations*

    Hello,
    I received an email last week informing me that an employee of mine has applied to a graduate program and listed me as someone who will provide a recommendation letter. 
    That was news to me, but *shrugs shoulders* ok… it’s not too unusual for our industry and the program is one that caters to working professionals so it’s not an issue of this signaling the employee plans to leave. 
    When I go into the website to submit, I see a series of questions and a notification that the applicant has not waived their right to review the recommendation. I am asked to rate the employee on a scale of 6 and the scales are top 1-3%, 4-10%, 11-30% etc. For some questions, I don’t think my employee is in the top 30% and it also specifically asks about their professional ability to succeed. 
    I’m uncomfortable answering these questions knowing my employee will review later as these things are not things I’ve discussed previously with them. I haven’t addressed these things because, while I think the person is not, for example, a great communicator, their lack of skills in that area has not been integral enough to their success that I need to mention it. In other cases, I have mentioned areas for improvement but so far have not tied those things to impacting their ability to advance, which I am being asked about. They are relatively new professionally.
    I don’t meet with the employee for another week. I don’t think there is an upcoming deadline to submit this so I have some time. 
    Does anyone have a recommendation on how to handle this? 

    1. merope*

      With regard to whether or not your employee will see the recommendation: having not waived their right doesn’t mean they will automatically be sent a copy of your comments; it only means that they will be able to view the comments if they want. If this prospect makes you uncomfortable, I think (as a person in academia) it would be quite acceptable to decline the recommendation request.

      As for your question about the content of the recommendation, as you note, these are not skills required for the person’s current position. If you did want to frame your comments to the individual, that would be how I would do it, acknowledging that graduate work is different from their current employment situation.

      In the context of the recommendation you would give, from my perspective as a humanities scholar, a top 30% would not be sufficient to admit the student to the program, and so you might also want to consider whether you are the best recommender for this person as you don’t really believe that they’ll be successful there. That might also a good reason to decline the reference request.

    2. treeway*

      I’d say talk to your employee! Do it in a light way, that lets you scope out the importance of your recommendation/whether they will review it, like “I saw you applied for X program, that’s a great step, I hope you’re successful. Do you have any idea what they look for in a recommendation?”

      You never know, it might just have been a small tick box to waive and they didn’t know not to tick it, or they didn’t know it would be weird not to waive. (I do think it’s weird they didn’t talk to you about this beforehand if they were putting you in as a recommendation, since that’s just courtesy, but starting a conversation about it will give you a sense of where they’re at)

      1. Rhubarb McCustard*

        Nah, this isn’t modelling good professional behaviour. Just be direct.

    3. 867-5309*

      I think you need to tell them…

      “Josephine, I received the request for a reference to your grad school program. I was not expecting it and when I went to answer the questions, a couple things popped up.

      I think you excel at x, y and z and am happy to reference that but they also ask about a, b and c, which are areas where you have opportunity for growth so I would not be able to rate you as highly. It has not come up before because a, b and c are not critical to the work you do for us at Acme Inc. but I did not want you to be surprised if you see my answers to those questions. I want you to be successful in pursuing your advanced degree so let me know if it makes sense for someone else to serve as your reference to the program.”

      1. LKW*

        This. Give them the opportunity to switch references or make the case why you should evaluate them differently.

      2. Reba*

        Yes, this. I actually would point out that it is Not Great to spring a recommendation request on someone, too! Like, more directly than “not expecting it.”

        You could say, “it would have been better to talk with me beforehand; it’s polite to give recommenders a heads up in general, and in this case I think we should discuss what my recommendation would say.”

        1. Jane of all Trades*

          100% agreed. To be honest I think it does not reflect well on their judgment to spring this recommendation on you. They should have checked if you are comfortable doing this, and if you will be able to provide a strong recommendation.

      3. Malarkey01*

        THIS, PLUS providing feedback for professional growth and subpar skills is your job as a manager with or without recommendations. It’s fine to say “while this is not critical to our work your communication skills aren’t where they should be. I encourage you to improve them by (example) (example).” This should be part of regular feedback.

      4. Llellayena*

        This. I would also add in that conversation “also, since one of the areas I think you could improve on is communication, you should know that receiving the prompt for a reference without you asking if I would be willing to provide one is one example of this. Asking ahead of time allows the person to decide if they can provide a good review (which you don’t want to find out they can’t mid-review) and if they have the time to complete it.”

      5. Elle Woods*

        This is excellent advice, IMO. It gives the employee an opportunity to explain why you were chosen as a reference and your approach in serving as one.

      6. Public Sector Manager*

        Definitely THIS! No good can come from being honest in the online review. It will probably sink the employee’s chances and then your employee, who didn’t tell you about being a reference, will be demoralized and if they review your comments, is going to be even more of a problem.

        The best and kindest thing to do is to follow this script and let the employee find another reference that can speak to the qualities the program is looking for.

    4. Carol*

      The custom, to my knowledge, is to decline if you know it won’t be mostly positive or a strong recommendation. If they’re newer, you could use that as an excuse if you are not looking to have a performance review conversation yet.

      FWIW, it’s definitely expected that you will request a reference for grad school ahead of time (because they take a lot of time and academics are very busy), and I certainly waived my right to view my recommendations as a courtesy to them. So she’s (imo) violating or unaware of some basic norms here that theoretically should come up if she’s researching how to get into academic programs.

      But I would definitely not submit a mixed or negative review. Even though she did not follow proper process, you will tank what is a fair amount of application work and probably money on her end by doing so, and it’s much kinder to just decline and tell her to find someone else.

      1. Crabby Patty*

        >it’s definitely expected that you will request a reference for grad school ahead of time (because they take a lot of time and academics are very busy), and I certainly waived my right to view my recommendations as a courtesy to them.

        Yes, this, precisely. I’m asking a favor that generally is time-consuming, and, in return, am giving the recommender the space to write freely and honestly. It’s only fair.

    5. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      My graduate program asked me to put a supervisor as a recommendation source since the program was catered to those who were currently working in the field. HOWEVER, I asked my supervisor prior to listing them.

      Since they didn’t waive their rights, if you feel comfortable, I would just print out the recommendation form, and show them how you would mark them as part of your meeting. You can then give them the option to allow you to send, or find a new person to recommend them.

    6. Bagpuss*

      I can’t comment on whether you should decline or submit a mixed recommendation as I’m not in this field, but I do think it’s appropriate to speak to her and raise these points so she can make an informed decision as to whether she still wants to use you, and I’d also be very clear with her that it is both rude and unwise to give out someone’s name as a reference or as someone who can provide a recommendation, unless she has asked in advance whether the person whose name she gives is willing and able to help .

      Rude because you are asking them to do you an (often quite time consuming) favour for you, and unwise because the last person you’d want writing a recommendation or giving a reference is someone you’ve just annoyed by making assumptions and handing out their contact details, or someone who may be caught off balance if they get a phone call asking for a reference…

    7. Mouse*

      I will say, I recently applied through one of these, and they did not make it super clear that adding a name would automatically send them an email. It was clear if you were paying attention, and maybe you can take that as an indication of your employee’s attention to detail, but I personally would be curious to see if they bring it up in your next meeting not realizing that you’ve already gotten the email.

      1. Jessica*

        This! Sometimes also a system won’t let you advance further in the application process until each step is complete, so if the topic for your application essay is listed on page 6 and the request for references is on page 5, you have to fill out the reference part first before you see the rest of the application.
        It was definitely a faux pas for her to list you as a reference without asking you first, but she might have thought she was just putting in your info as a placeholder and was planning on talking to you about it later.

    8. Another JD*

      When I asked my favorite professor for a grad school recommendation, he said he would only do it if I waived my right to see it. Some professors wish to keep things private, which I respect. I absolutely wasn’t worried about what he was going to say – I was one of five students regularly invited to his house, and fifteen years after graduation we still keep in touch.

      1. Esmeralda*

        Yes, that’s what I’ve always done. I almost always send the student a copy of the letter, but they have to waive their right to see the letter before I’ll write it.

    9. Crabby Patty*

      It’s customary to waive one’s rights, because it allows for an honest recc and shows confidence in one’s work.

      I really wish this truism were promoted more heavily in academia and elsewhere.

    10. tamarack and fireweed*

      You got some good advice, and this was clearly at least inelegant. But I want to comment on one point: I see more and more people who are asked for references for grad programs refuse to answer that ranking question since it seems overall quite unfair to applicants, especially if their itinerary to grad school was in any way not completely linear.

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

      I’d go through that form with my “draft” answers first, and give her the option to go through it with you or to just submit it. Things like communications skills that could be improved are always useful even if not integral to the job at hand, so it could be a useful opportunity for her to get feedback outside of the usual “review” process if she is open to it.

  4. Rayray*

    Feeling conflicted. After a few years in two different jobs I hated, I was laid off last year and then started a new position. It wasn’t my ideal position but I was desperate and had relevant experience. It honestly is a good company, little toxicity in comparison to previous jobs and a good culture. The job I was hired to was admittedly a little beneath my skill set but I was hired in at the top pay rate for it.

    As I got into the job, I was a little nervous because some people had been there a few years and were still a level 1 or simply hadn’t made any lateral moves. I was getting ready to fix up my resume and just send it out if I saw anything. I was then offered a sideways move with a little pay bump ($2/hr). They were rebuilding a team that had gone through some drama and turned over almost entirely. My manager clarified the bad things I’d heard and assured me my new manager was wonderful as he had Started out working for her.

    I do kinda like the job. It’s less boring than my last one but I am having those new job struggles where it’s hard to remember everything I’m learning but I think I can get there. I just kinda feel like maybe I still want to try looking for something else if possible. Housing costs have skyrocketed so badly I had to move back to my parents house when my roommate moved out of state. I want my independence but it’ll be a very thin budget with this job. I know I need to be loyal to myself before I am loyal to my company But I’d still feel kinda bad if I just jumped ship. My former manager really pulled for me and for getting me better pay. Like many jobs, the pay rate is probably similar or only a little better than it was 8 years ago but housing costs have basically doubled.

    I know this is more of a rant than a question, but any one have advice?

    1. Lucy McGillicuddy*

      If they don’t pay you enough to afford rent you shouldn’t feel bad about finding someone who will.

      1. Carol*

        YEP. If you have to live with your parents (and you don’t want to) this job doesn’t pay enough and you are perfectly entitled to find something else.

        If you do find something and resign, you can always acknowledge that your manager went to bat for you and thank them, and just be clear that it’s a timing/pragmatics thing.

        1. Rayray*

          Thank you, I like that advice. I was genuinely shocked when he brought up the pay because he wanted to keep me. I was actually making more than most people on the team (it’s easy to tell when they do that level 1 and level 2 thing) I am not saying al managers are stupid but it was incredibly refreshing to hear someone openly talk about money as a motivating factor for employees.

          1. Momma Bear*

            The bottom line is it’s all business – yours and theirs. Even though your manager went to bat for you, if you can’t afford housing then that’s still not good. Look for something that will pay you what you can live on. You can also consider a roommate situation vs parents, but that’s a personal choice.

    2. 867-5309*

      Where the previous few years with two different jobs at the same company?

      It sounds like you are trying to figure out what you want. If the last four roles you’ve had were not “ideal” (two you mentioned hating and these last two) then before moving someplace else, get clear on what you want and do not want beyond just salary.

      1. Rayray*

        So on the job history,

        The job I had 2013-2019 was my first out of college job. It was fine at first but got increasingly toxic worth management changes and I realized I’d never move up there plus I never got raises so I bounced.

        The job I had 2019-2020 was something I could have enjoyed and really excelled at but I worked for an absolutely INSANE micromanager. It was absolutely awful. I was laid off and it was such a relief.

        I do think I’ll like my current role, I’ve learned that a successful job for most people is finding something they’re good at and like an OK amount not necessarily passionate about it. I just would like to earn more money but I’m pretty capped out probably. I also don’t like my commute and while I could move closer, I wouldn’t go too much closer.

        I like the company a lot and was waiting til I had passed my 1 year mark to ask about moving around within. I’m happy I got this move but I need more money. I’m considering maybe doing some classes or something to help me out there. Housing costs have just gone crazy here in Utah, like insanely so and I honestly feel like most employers probably aren’t keeping up. I feel like my pay is probably fair but I need to look out for myself. I could definitely get by with a roommate but I’m at that age where most friends are settled in their own situations and I’m not about to move in with a random.

        1. Rayray*

          And to clarify, I was hired at this company in July 2020 and was offered the new role just a couple weeks ago.

        2. 867-5309*

          This is tough… I do not think the move will reflect badly on you since you were at your previous company so long and then laid off due to COVID. That said, have you talked to your boss about the salary band? If you are being paid fairly, what is the likelihood that you will find something that pays more?

          FWIW – Utah is not unique. I live in a Midwest city and both the rental and buying markets are through the roof. Given how quickly things started to jump 10, 20 and more percent, I’m not sure how an employer would keep up, on top of some speculation that we’ll see a market adjustment to housing; though hopefully not as severe as 10 years ago.

          Bottom line – it never hurts to look and see if you can find something that pays more money. It’s easy to say “money isn’t everything” but do keep in mind that you might trade money for misery and just be okay with that. I think you’ll need to stay in your next gig for a couple years.

          One last thought on a personal note… I am over 40 and still rent. I move every 2-3 years. My friends all own homes (or at least, have mortgages – haha), most have kids, etc., including my younger siblings. There is no one journey so if you need to, and are open to, room-mating up to get you where you want and need to be, don’t worry about the optics. You do you.

          1. Rayray*

            Thanks for taking with me! I appreciate your advice. Money definitely is. Lag important BUT I would rather stay here and be on a thin budget than be somewhere I’m miserable. I might put out some feelers but I may just try to work some overtime or maybe even try a side gig. I’ll figure something out.

            1. Kes*

              Yeah, I think I would investigate in both directions – talk to your boss about what opportunities exist for advancement within your team/company (read: that would give a raise), and also do some preliminary research in your local job market to see what kind of roles are being listed that you could apply for and also what such roles are typically paying at other companies (glassdoor/payscale). That way you can make a more informed decision about what you want to do.

          2. Utahn*

            Utah is not unique. I live in a Midwest city and both the rental and buying markets are through the roof.

            Though I feel like Utah/Colorado/Idaho/Wyoming also have the added issue of being hemmed in by mountains so in some cases it is difficult to find somewhere to build. In Utah there have been some pretty prominent cases of houses sliding off mountain faces or mountain faces sliding onto houses which is not encouraging when the only place left to build is up the side of the mountains.

            There’s a lot of land west and south of Utah Lake but to make those areas actually useful for expansion, you’d need a bridge/causeway over the lake. Eagle Mountain and Saratoga springs on the northern part of the west side of the lake are already a pain in or out of especially if there’s any construction on Redwood Road since that is the major artery on that side of the lake. I feel like they should almost make a bypass or spur of I15 if they want the land west of Utah Lake to be developed in any meaningful way.

            Utah also has the problem of 65% of the land area being owned by the federal government, an additional nearly 15% either state owned or tribal owned. Private ownership and so in most cases private development is restricted to only about 20% of the state. In some areas where just isn’t anywhere to build. There’s a lot of local resistance to high density housing, and most of the higher density construction that you do see is geared towards luxury not affordable housing. There was a housing crisis in Utah before the pandemic and it is only getting worse.

            I looked at housing costs recently and I could possibly afford a house (I rent right now) in Vernal UT…which is over some mountains, through a national forest 160 miles from my work.

            1. Brooklyn*

              I’m not from Utah, and you obviously know your area best, but I think you’re underestimating how many places have similar issues, if not necessarily with mountains. I live in New York, which is a bunch of islands and the city can’t expand unless transit does – which means the city would need to buy up land to build through, which is becoming less and less possible. Used to live in Oakland – hemmed in by mountains and two bays. Before that, San Diego – go more than 5 miles from the coast and you end up in the dessert and it’s 20 degrees hotter.

              There’s a lot of places where the only way to accommodate growth is by building denser, and Americans really don’t react well to their formerly single family neighborhood getting apartment complexes. Keeping an area affordable means keeping housing prices low, and current home owners don’t want that. It’s the inevitable effect of telling a generation of people that housing is an investment.

  5. Ann Perkins*

    Good morning! Does anyone here have knowledge related to hiring for federal jobs? I’m applying for a direct hire job within the Treasury. My husband’s a fed so I have some familiarity at least but I’m stuck on the documents section. It says “The following documents are requested for this application. You do not need to submit documents that are not applicable to you.” and then has a long list of documents, some of which are obviously not applicable since I don’t currently work for the government. But it does include cover letter and performance appraisal. Spouse said don’t include my most recent performance appraisal, but what about the cover letter? Is it best to go ahead and include one for a federal job?

    1. Ann Perkins*

      Also if anyone has any tips or insight, I’d be grateful. I’m currently trying to get out of a job where I’m paid five figures less than the man I replaced, at the same juncture of our time in this role.

      1. TimeTravlR*

        Include it since it’s on the list.
        My top tips for getting a federal job (I apologize if someone has already said this, but helping people get into the fed is one of my passions):

        Before you do anything with your resumes, read the vacancy announcement. Then read it again and highlight keywords… anything that jumps out to you as really important to the position. For instance, advanced Excel experience, data analysis, etc. Then, as Alison’s has taught us, don’t just write a description of your job. First list the job, general duties, systems, etc., then under each job description list accomplishments that pertain. Quantify!

        So your experience section should be:

        DATE – Present
        EMPLOYER CO. 1, Location, CO
        Supervisor: Joe Joseph, Supervisory Relocation Analyst, jo.joseph@employer1.com, 216-555-1212
        Position: Relocation Analyst

        Write a paragraph or so about your job, again tying it to the vacancy announcement and using keywords as much as possible.

        ACCOMPLISHMENTS:
        – Developed data analytics dashboard utilizing Tableau to provide real time information to senior leadership. Recognized with cash award.
        – Integral participant in working group to revise and refine national housing relocation program. The efforts of the working group resulted in a 20% increase in relocations completed in less than 30 days, and savings of $1.2M.

        I have even gone so far as to capitalize keywords, especially if they are at the beginning of a paragraph.

        For example:
        DATA ANALYST for nationally recognized relocation program, providing on time support to customer-centric database something something.

        Best of luck!!!

    2. McMurdo*

      I would say include it! I’ve gotten federal interviews with and without them, but definitely more often when I’ve included one.

    3. Usually Lurking*

      I would still write a cover letter, especially if the job is beyond entry level. They do not necessarily use the letter to score your application (and in fact for getting through the first round where your application gets referred to a hiring manager or not they probably wont look at your cover letter at all). But once if gets to interviews the people interviewing you will have read your cover letter and it will impact their thinking of you, even if they can’t explicitly use it to justify hiring you.

      1. Cover letter needed!*

        Absolutely right. I help hire for my federal office. Cover letter is crucial when you get hundreds of applications. And AMA has good advice on writing one.

        1. Are cover letters needed?*

          Hm, from what I know at my center, cover letters don’t even get passed onto the actual hiring managers at the center doing the actual hiring. Only the required documents that the job application asks for are what the HR reps pass onto when they make the referrals.

          Unsurprised to see that it probably changes from department to department though. So @Ann Perkins, you should probably include it (since it definitely doesn’t hurt), and also my experience is 100% Not at the Treasury.

    4. It’s just a name*

      If it asks for a document you need to submit it. It could be the people screening the packages will reject you just because you omitted something requested. I used to give applicants a note if their package was incomplete and would consider them if they got the materials in before the deadline but not everyone will do that. Also following instructions is a factor we considered. If I asked for a recent and relevant writing sample and you sent a 10 year old sample that did not illustrate relevance to the job, you were rejected.

      1. Ann Perkins*

        Thank you! So if USA Jobs only lists resume and questionnaire then I should be good if I opt to send a cover letter too, correct? What’s throwing me off is the phrasing of “requested documents” once I get to the agency’s website but then most don’t apply to me, like an SF50. Writing sample is included on the list too but that would be unusual for the kind of job I’m applying for.

        1. It’s just a name*

          A cover letter is a good idea. My organization rarely lists jobs on USAJobs and instead uses our own site. Our employees are all exempt and we get to do our own screening. For other positions, an HR rep that is relatively unrelated to us does the initial screen and creates “certs” (certifications) which is a list of people who passed the screening and we can select from. As an example, I was hiring for a paralegal position but the HR rep put someone on my cert list who was a gate guard, you know, because legal work and law enforcement duties are apparently the same to them. Also veterans preferences were listed and if we hired someone from the cert list who did not have that, we had to write a justification for selecting a non-veterans preference person. Not a big deal when you are looking for a specific set of skills. Also when HR was screening they would dumb down our job description making it more generic. Ideally I was recruiting a patent paralegal but I wasn’t permitted to ask for that experience only a more general job description. I really don’t miss hiring people. :)

      2. Fed Too*

        With federal jobs once they close you cannot accept updated documents for incomplete packages with the exception of updated references*. Include everything on the list that you COULD provide and it may not be looked at but won’t disqualify you if you over provide. I’d disagree with your husband that you should include a performance review if you have one.

        *I believe this is universal but policies do sometimes differ by agency or job series

    5. LCH*

      Usajobs frequently holds webinars on this but the time frame to get signed up seems to be a month.

      1. Ann Perkins*

        The turnaround time on this position seems really quick – the job is only being posted for a week. I’m hopeful, it’s just new to me to go through a federal job application since I’ve always worked private sector for small employers with much more informal processes.

        1. Cover letter needed!*

          Yes, to clarify, submit a cover letter even if not required. It helps differentiate you from dozens or hundreds of others who have applied, and helps those of us hiring see more about you when we’re trying to whittle down all those applications into actual interviews. As someone said above, the first round of application reviews may not need the cover letter or even look at it, but those of us in the office that you would actually be working in will look at it. Good luck!

        2. Madeleine Matilda*

          A week is pretty standard in my agency and others. There are tight deadlines for hiring to be completed (OK tight for the Fed not for other places) and many steps to be done so often the application deadline is short. It could be short for other reasons such as they expect a large pool of applicants so want to limit the time to apply or they may even have someone in mind.

    6. Grits McGee*

      Current fed- my agency never looks at cover letters, but we hire internally 95% of the time and we’re terrible at it. Other agencies put much much more emphasis on cover letters, and won’t talk to you without one. It definitely never hurts to include one, and may really hurt if you don’t.

      Additional advice, based on what I’ve heard in my agency-
      -Go ahead and use the USA Jobs resume builder and make a 5 page monstrosity that lists every task you’ve ever done in your jobs.
      -Fill out the application early, in case they spring a ton free-response questions on you. (These used to be called KSAs, but I’m not sure if that’s still the correct terminology.)
      -When they ask you to rate your own skills, give yourself the highest rating possible (that you can feasibly defend).
      -When they ask you to justify a response using skills and experience in your resume, take the time to write everything out (even if it’s already spelled out in your resume). At least at my agency, this is how HR decides who to actually forward on to the list of candidates eligible for interview.
      -If you do get an offer, be prepared to wait foreeeeeeeever for the background check to come through. An acquaintance who was offered a job at Treasury last summer didn’t start until a week or two ago because the financial background check they do for Treasury hires dragged on for almost a year. Hopefully as the pandemic gets more under control, this will be less of an issue.

      Good luck! Go get that Treasury pay scale bump!

    7. Policy Wonk*

      Submit anything that demonstrates you meet a requirement. E.g., if it says you need to have one year of experience in X or at GS-Y, a fed would submit a relevant SF-50 to show that. You would probably include a resume that shows your experience. Be sure whatever is required is clear, as I have seen people get rejected because the requirement was a college degree or X years of experience – they didn’t include 20-year old college transcripts and the resume did not show that they had x years of experience in the required area.

      Yes, include a cover letter and resume, even if it isn’t required. The USAJobs info is needed by the HR people, but a hiring manager likes to see the brief resume rather than have to wade through the pages of printouts from the system.

      Good luck!

    8. Madeleine Matilda*

      Long time Fed and hiring manager here. When they say not to submit documents that don’t apply that usually means you don’t need to submit proof of registering for selective service if you are a woman or your SF-50 if you aren’t a Fed. I would include a recent performance appraisal and writing sample if it is being requested. There should be a contact listed in the announcement you could try to reach with these questions to make sure you include everything the agency expects. If you don’t include something it could eliminate your application from consideration without any review of your qualifications.

    9. Ariadne Oliver*

      Don’t bother with the cover letter. In my agency, they don’t make it to the hiring manager and our HR definitely doesn’t care. All we usually care about is the resume. Since you’re not already a federal employee, you will more than likely not have anything to attach.

  6. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    I’m having a hard time deciding something. I can get supervision through my job to gain my license to practice independently. However I’d have to work two more years at my job after that and I’m concerned that the extra workload of getting my hours might be a problem.
    I already work about 10 hours a day and am unable to do hobbies like gardening. Also since COVID has been receding, little annoying things are being added like babysitting at a picnic on Saturday for free.
    On the positive side I do have semi flexible hours, can go to the restroom and eat when I need to and there’s not a lot of racism in my department. I don’t know what to do.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      After noting your user name, I’m shifting my advice:
      It sounds like you want out. So I would write out viable paths. Like:
      a) One year to get the license at zero cost, two years after that, then set up an independent shop.
      b) Apply widely to lateral moves to get out of this job. Then worry about licensure.
      c) Some other path to licensure.

      Is it the job or office that is crazy? Like, should you be trying to get a license? Is this what you want to do for decades to come? Is your office unusually bad, or par for the course of good/bad trait splits in the industry, or actually pretty good considering most other places that do this work? Do you enjoy this work?

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        The job is crazy because you’ll be chill and then there’ll be an emergency. I don’t know what I want to do for decades to come- I just started full time work two years ago, spent a lot of time in the “3 years experience required for entry level ” wilderness. It’s a split of goof and bad traits.

    2. TheCultureisStrong*

      well for one, babysitting?? Is this children? and is it directly related to your certification? are you exempt?

      Second, if you make it one year, is that year transferrable to another “supervisor” or does it have to be continuous? How hard is it to find a supervisor?

      third, once your employer knows you are asking them to sign off on your license, are they going to use this against you to extort more hours and babysitting?

    3. Ya Girl*

      How flexible are your hours if you’re working 50 hour weeks though? Going to the bathroom when you want does NOT count as flexible scheduling. I would definitely explore other options if you can without hurting your licensure!

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        It’s more flexible in that no one is really mad if I go to the doctor in the middle of the day or something.

    4. WellRed*

      Not sure why you are babysitting your will but wanted to point out that “not a lot of racism” is a pretty low bar on the grand scheme of what makes a workplace bearable,

      1. ThatGirl*

        so is “I can go to the bathroom when I want to” …. yeah, this sounds like a pretty lousy place to work.

        OP, not sure what your license is in, but there have got to be better places to get supervision.

        1. AspiringGardener*

          I have to imagine that there is a lot of context missing here regarding the role and industry, because this doesn’t make sense.

          1. JustaTech*

            If you’re working some place that requires coverage (like with children) it might be normal to have to call in a float if you need to go to the bathroom because of regulations about how many adults have to be in the room.

            But you should either have to do that for safety reasons or … not? Like, if there isn’t a legal or safety reason to not let you pee when you need to, then the company is bizarrely controlling.

        2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

          I was thinking of other options and the truth is that at the other options your caseload is so high ( like a hundred people) you might not have time to eat or pee. Also you have to be in an office. Technically I’m late every day, but nobody checks up. Here unless there’s an emergency, you can pretty much do what you want.

          And the people here are almost all black. Nobody gives me guff about my hair or makes fun if I slip into AAVE. Also for no reason they will increase my pay? Like today I got a call and my boss was like you get 2k more now. I have to look at salaries because I might not make as much other places.

          And sometimes my cases are chiller than they’d be other places. Like a bad session is that the children stole your crayon box again, not I’ve relasped and am now homeless…

    5. TWW*

      If the best things you can say about your job are you’re allowed to use the restroom and there’s only a little racism, it is not a job you will be happy stuck in for two years.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        I was thinking of other options and the truth is that at the other options your caseload is so high ( like a hundred people) you might not have time to eat or pee. Also you have to be in an office. Technically I’m late every day, but nobody checks up. Here unless there’s an emergency, you can pretty much do what you want.

        And the people here are almost all black. Nobody gives me guff about my hair or makes fun if I slip into AAVE. Also for no reason they will increase my pay? Like today I got a call and my boss was like you get 2k more now. I have to look at salaries because I might not make as much other places.

        And sometimes my cases are chiller than they’d be other places. Like a bad session is that the children stole your crayon box again, not I’ve relasped and am now homeless…

        1. TWW*

          How “stuck” would you be? Like if you wanted to leave before the two years was up how much money would it cost you?

          1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

            I’d have to reimburse them but I’m not sure how much that would be

            1. TWW*

              For me, that would be the critical piece of information before deciding anything. I would never sign an employment contract that I couldn’t afford to get out of.

      2. Mimi*

        Yes, this. I don’t know what field you’re working in, but “ten hour days, but there are bathroom breaks and only so-so racism” does not rate for my scale of what a good job looks like.

    6. Lindsay*

      I mean, if the only positives to your job are they let you use the bathroom….that’s pretty sad, really.

    7. BookJunkie315*

      Based on the information you have provided, I’m going to take a wild guess that you are a social worker or adjacent field. I recommend starting the licensure process, getting the supervision at your current job, tracking hours, etc., while also applying for new jobs. Always get paid for your job search if possible! Social work will never be easy, especially in these times, but working for the best possible agency and coworkers really make all the difference.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        That’s true. I am social work adjacent- I don’t actually have a social work degree and some companies are strict about that.

        1. AspiringGardener*

          Why are you doing free babysitting? Or is it somehow related to your caseload and considered part of your core job description /salary?

          1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

            Like this other department will have classes or events for the parents, but then we have to babysit the kids and it’s like stranger ass kids I’ve never met. It’s maybe every few months but always annoys me because I’m bad at babysitting.

            1. ThatGirl*

              My husband has an LPC. There are many, many places to get supervision for an LPC that do not require you to pay them back if you don’t stay, or are better working environments than the low bar of “not that racist”. Yes, some of them may require you to deal with more serious problems, but if that’s the career path you want to take, counselors have to deal with all sorts of mental health issues along the way….

              1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

                I think I’m not emotionally prepared for the guilt. With hundreds of clients, you’re not going to be able to serve then well and with these extreme cases, there will be deaths. I’ve only had one death on my caseload in two years. And I’m not talking about a white person’s understanding of racist where they say n word n word. I’m talking from a black perspective so yea not that racist is a higher bar than you’d think.

                1. ThatGirl*

                  Well, fair enough, I’m not Black so I’ll trust you on that.

                  That said – it depends what kind of work you want to do long-term. LPCs can work in a variety of environments from EAP providers to universities to psychiatric facilities to private practice providers. Some of those are lower stress than others, but my husband’s worked at a university counseling center for a decade and never had a client death. And his caseload is higher than it should be, but it’s not in the hundreds! There are options out there for you, and I would encourage you to look into them. (BTW, if you are interested in working for a university counseling center, I know that non-white counselors are very much in demand in many cities.)

  7. that's no fun*

    I’m disappointed my boss won’t allow me to stand up for myself against a client, or, you know, stand up for me. The client is difficulty to deal with and in the past 5 years has never had a good relationship with anyone at the company I work for.

    My instructions right now are to mail the products and apologize when the client calls and complaints. That’s it. We know they will complain. We know the product is fine. Rinse and repeat. I’ve been their direct contact for a year and it’s been constant this entire time. But to me, there’s a difference between complaining and abuse and I find the client abusive.

    I was recently berated by the client. To the client, I am (and this is nearly a quote) full of excuses, inappropriate, never own my mistakes, dismissive, rude, sloppy, embarrassing, alienating, unprofessional, and have a poor work standard.

    What did I do? I had apologized repeatedly over the course of 4 weeks on multiple calls concerning a product the client felt the quality was lacking on. Basically, we produced a teapot and they always have glitter in the glaze for decoration. The client didn’t like how one bit of glitter looked on the bottom of the teapot. And after apologizing extensively, I made the severe mistake of pointing out that while I was very sorry for the mistake, that speckle wasn’t detrimental to the product and there would be no future impact on the teapot’s ability to hold water.

    I could see not allowing me to stand my ground and enforce that that behavior is unacceptable if we valued them as a continued client, but we don’t. Our contract is ending and neither the client nor the company I work for have any interest in attempting to renegotiate. There’s also the argument that we don’t want our reputation smeared by them—except I’ve been forwarded emails on accident showing that they’re already publicly trash talking the company I work for.

    Why CAN’T I say that I find that kind of reply excessive and unwarranted? Why WON’T my boss reply and say they disagree?

    1. LadyByTheLake*

      Why escalate a situation that is already ridiculous? Your boss and everyone else knows that the client is in the wrong, so what they say doesn’t matter. What would arguing with them prove or solve? You are never going to get this client to agree that you are right or get an apology or get them to not be absurd. So your boss has the right of it — don’t engage, don’t take it personally, regard the client as the kook they are — all the more so because the relationship is going to end soon.

      1. that's no fun*

        I wasn’t viewing it as arguing or trying to prove something, I suppose. Part of the reason I’ve spent 4 weeks repeatedly apologizing about the same matter is because we’ve avoiding having any kind of conversation with them. If I complained endlessly about a problem and was never met with a conversation about why the problem happened and how it would be managed in the future, that would feel incredibly unproductive. I was trying to manage their expectations in the hope that they’d stop bothering me about the same issue.

        It’s true though what you say about “why bother.” Not engaging isn’t working to stop the complaints, as they were already constantly complaining, but not engaging is a good way to prevent the personal attacks.

        1. LadyByTheLake*

          I don’t think anything is going to stop the personal attacks — with this kind of person trying to argue with them or defend yourself usually escalates them and makes the attacks worse. If this were going to be an ongoing relationship though I would advocate for being able to say, “You cannot speak to me that way, I am going to end this conversation now.” And then you end the call. Many reputable call centers have that sort of script and hang up for when customers become abusive.

        2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

          There are some people (coworkers, customers, family members) who will just. never. be. happy. Their entire personality is tied up in complaining, feeling put-upon or slighted, etc. As you’ve seen, it’s not personal – they’re going to complain about whoever is in your chair.

          You can’t win with them, and the only productive thing to do is ignore their complaints. They are still paying your company money, after all. For yourself, you have to cultivate a sense of Zen. Don’t respond to the tirades if at all possible. If you’re stuck in a phone call, answer blandly: “Mm-hmm. OK. We’ll do that.” Etc.

        3. Kes*

          I mean, it sounds like they’ve been a client for a while though and your company probably already has tried everything and has found nothing works and the approach that minimizes it the most is to not engage, or engage as little as possible. It might not seem like a good solution but it might still be the least bad solution, especially since at this point it sounds like your company is just trying to minimize interactions and get through to the end of having to deal with them.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      The next time the client calls to berate you, can you offer to have them speak with your manager? I’m 99% sure this client is calling just because they are a monster and enjoy abusing people and they continue to do it because they are allowed to. If they ask (prompted by you) to talk to your manager, then you are doing a good job by fulfilling that request. Then let your manager experience the customer first hand.

      1. that's no fun*

        It’s funny because they actually already talk to my manager. I’m put on blast, apologize, and then they go to my manager. The “don’t engage, just apologize” used to be a method to get them to stop calling so many people on my end, because my boss very much didn’t want to be bothered. But if they’re already doing that…

        1. Malarkey01*

          Not defending the client because they are ridiculous but it does sound like they have a point about all you do is apologize (which ISN’T your fault that’s literally what you’re instructed to do) but from a client perspective that can be so frustrating.
          Maybe reframing it as “the client AND I am being jerked around by my managements refusal to actually resolve these issues” would help to not take it personally. You may also be able to say “I understand your frustration and that you aren’t happy with the product. However the contract is ending and my hands are tied here. I’m not sure what I can do but am open to suggestions”. That’s not confrontational and factual.

          1. I'm just here for the cats*

            But it sounds like the customer is being nit-picky. Like he doesn’t like that a piece of glitter is out of place but the teapot looks perfectly fine and is usable. There probably isn’t anything they can do to fix the issue for the client because he has a perfectly usable teapot.

            I wonder. is he asking for anything in particular or is he just calling and complaining.

        2. Beth*

          If your boss takes the stance of “I don’t want to be bothered by the horrible client who abuses my employee, so I’ll get out of the client’s way and give them a free field for abuse”, then you have a boss problem as well as a client problem. Your boss sucks.

    3. Ashley*

      At some point during this I would have asked the boss to start taking the calls when they get the abusive point. It is one thing to tow the company line, but it is another thing for you to take the abuse and the public relations ding personally. I would say you could ask your boss about this but be prepared to spend any capital you have. If you are friendly with another manager or higher up you could ask them if you have previously asked your boss the why questions with no help. But the approach should be trying to understand the company perspective more then questioning it most likely.

      1. that's no fun*

        This is a good point. It may help me a lot in the long run to try and re-frame things myself. Why question a process that it already too much for everyone involved??

    4. LKW*

      You’re understandably taking this way too personally. This is a complainer. He complains. It’s what makes him feel better, bigger, stronger. If he’s not asking for discounts, and he continues to give you orders, then this is what your company has decided is an adequate trade off. As long as this client remains profitable, this will continue. Now, you could up the antics with this guy – offer to discipline the team for bad glitter distribution, burst into apoplectic tears, tell him that you hope one day your company can meet his exacting standards. But I don’t think it worth it. I’d say grin like the Cheshire Cat, and work in some new phrases that might catch him off guard – I’m sure this crowd can think of a few.
      – Well, I’m so disappointed that we didn’t make the cake rise to the occasion.
      – Goodness, I’m going to recommend the team go swimming with rocks in their pockets they did so poorly!
      – I can hear the disappointment in your voice and it’s like listening to sad songs on the radio.

      I’m saying – find a way to say I’m sorry in seventeen different ways to entertain yourself.

      1. Law Office Anon*

        Every law office has this client. Every single one. It’s not personal, they just act like this. The only way to deal with it is to cash their checks and move on with your life. The client where I currently work is so bad, we have a [Client Name] Threat Level Warning System. He will call, I answer, then I put [Client Name] on hold and give my boss my assessment of [Client Name’s] current Threat Level. “It’s [Client Name], seems like he’s at orange. Good luck.”

        Really, OP, don’t take it personally. These clients aren’t reacting to you or your work or your company. They’d be like this with anyone. They’re taking out their emotional crap on the person who has to take it and that happens to be you, but it is not about you. If it helps, while he’s yelling, repeat to yourself, “This is not about me. He is sad, his behavior is sad and it’s not about me.” I’m not saying you need to feel bad for him, but it is sad for a grown adult to behave that way. It certainly helps me to remember that my life is way better than [Client Name’s] if only because I have the emotional regulation of an adult.

    5. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      How about “I am sorry the product was not to your standard” on repeat to every statement? And when they get abusive or direct comments at you, say “I am sorry, I need to end this call” and hang up? I had management that told us we were not allowed to be combative, but we were allowed to hang up on anyone that was. I feel like you should be allowed to do so once you get through the initial “I am sorry the product was not to your standard” response.

    6. Momma Bear*

      Can it just be perfunctory as in “We recognize that you were not wholly satisfied with this teapot and apologize for confusion with the design process. As has been pointed out on x and y occasion, this glitter has no impact on your teapot’s ability to hold water.” Then have no further discussion. The contract is over. There is a point with some people where they will never be happy, no matter how much you scrape and bow and flog yourself. So don’t. Your company has no interest in working with them again so just move on. Personal attacks may persist and you may just need to ignore them until they get tired of it. It is normal to want to defend oneself, but that doesn’t always help. State your case once (unemotionally as possible/professionally). Be a gray rock.

      Who forwarded the emails? Does your boss know? You might also talk to HR since the client trashing the company is beyond just making you the scapegoat about all of it. I do think your boss throwing you under the bus is poor form. The manager should be protecting you from this client, IMO. He’s allowing your professional reputation to be trashed. He’s a coward.

    7. LizM*

      Do you have to answer their phone call?

      Could you start sending emails at 5:30 pm that say “Sorry I missed your call today, the day got away from me. Tomorrow is pretty busy too, so here’s the info you asked for in an email…”

    8. I'm just here for the cats*

      OMG I’ve dealt with these types of clients in my last job. In one instance the corner of the inside page was wrinked. Not even very badly. They had a fit and demanded an entire case of books for free because one page in one book was bent. oh and they didn’t want to send the “ruined” book back.
      I feel really badly for you and I wish your manager would have your back. You shouldn’t have to go through this type of treatment for 4 weeks. Does your boss realize how badly the client is treating you, and what they are saying online?

    9. I'm just here for the cats*

      Forgot to add to my original post. You should be able to say ” Client this is the 5th week you have called to complain about this particular issue. I understand that you are frustrated and feel that this is unfair and that you want X. However, we have explained several times that X is not possible because our teapots are hand painted there is sometimes going to be variations in the way the glitter lays. This does not cause any damage to the teapot, which is totally usuable and within our desging specs. We cannot keep having this same conversation. Besides this issue is there anything else that I can help you with. Please do not berate me I am following our standard procedures. Let me get you to my manager.”

      I know you said that you were supposed to apologize and not engage. It sounds like because the guy was wanting to speak to a manager too many times. But obviously that is not going to work. I think your manager needs to step up and explain to the guy giving reasons and shut this down. Like, how much longer is left on their contract? would the company be open to closing the contract early? If I was the manager, and I had the authority I would say something like ‘I’m sorry you are disappointed in your teapot. As we have discussed several times there can be slight variations. This does not cause any problems to the teapot’s function and falls in line with industry standards. Since you keep contacting us about this problem, And there is no resolution, I wonder if you would like to close your contract with us early. We would not charge you any early cancelation fees , and this would give you the option to move on.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      I think you need a new boss. Seriously.

      Why do they keep this client? Are they that hard up for money?
      Really, the appropriate answer here is to tell the client to take their business elsewhere. Your boss is spineless.

      So assuming you have to stay put at the job, what I would do is ask if this client can be put on rotation so that others take a turn. I am envisioning a 3 or 6 month rotation. Or inform the boss that you will be passing the calls to the boss because it is tying up too much of your time and taking away from your other work.

      If he actually points out to you that it has been this way for years and the client has burned through every employee there, then ask, “If this is the case, then why keep this person? Maybe something should be done to let the client seek out another firm because clearly they are not happy with our service.”

      As an aside- to me no paycheck is worth this level of derogation. Basic human decency has to be in place.

    11. CheeseWhizzard*

      You have a boss problem, not a client problem. Bad clients are common; this is entirely on your boss. Good bosses do not allow clients to abuse their staff. They stand up for their people and they take responsibility for their team’s work. To quote Alison: your boss sucks and he’s not going to change.

    12. Wendy*

      I worked at a client site for my previous employer back from 2006 to 2012.

      I worked as a visitor parking attendant at a university that is located in the city where I live. I was assigned to work in the visitor parking booth that was located roughly 75 feet from the visitor parking garage and 50 feet from the faculty/staff garage. My responsibilities were to inform visitors of the parking fee, where to pay for their parking, and to make sure there were enough parking spots for guests arriving at the university because various departments reserved parking spots for their guests to parking in visitor parking.

      My former employer, a parking company, had a contract with the university. I reported to 2 managers, the manager who worked for my former employer, who was over the account, and the Director of Parking and Transportation services.

      During the spring of 2011 the Director of Parking and Transportation services told me that the university was going to renovate the visitor parking garage and that visitor parking would be moved to the first level of the faculty/staff garage. There was a call box located at the entrance gate of that garage as well as at the exit gate of that garage. The Director of Parking and Transportation services told me that in addition to my main duties, I was supposed to prevent anyone from pressing the call button at either gate once visitor parking was moved to the faculty/staff garage because, according to her, she and her 2 staff members were too busy to answer those calls. She did not want another department or another employee at the university answering those calls.

      There were problems with this because I could not do all of my assigned duties plus prevent anyone from pressing either call button. The Director of Parking and Transportation services or one of her 2 staff members would get calls from either call box, and would then transfer the call to me. When I would tell them that I was currently with a customer, I was told the leave the visitor parking booth and assist the customer. I would then receive a phone call from one of them reminding me of what I was supposed to do.

      I wanted to tear my hair out.

      The 2 solutions the manager over the account came up with were to 1) build a bridge with the Director of Parking and Transportation services be getting to know her by talking on the phone with her and 2) make a spiel I could use with my customers to free up time so I could assist customers at either gate. I had no idea how to build a bridge with the Director of Parking and Transportation services. The spiel that my manager gave me did not improve things either because I would still get call from the Director of Parking and Transportation services or from one of her 2 staff members informing me that there is someone at one of the gates needing help as well as another call reminding me of what I was supposed to do.

      My former employer wanted to keep the client happy because the client was paying them a Huge amount of money.

  8. Interview questions re: benefits*

    I currently work for a great company but they lack one essential component that just won’t change – flexibility on remote work. I will likely be looking for another job next year and although I’ve been reading AMA for the last 8 years, I still have a couple of interview related questions!

    My questions mostly stem around asking point-blank about some benefits. For example:

    I currently get 5 weeks of PTO which is a ton of vacation time for the US and the companies I would apply to have unlimited PTO. Is it appropriate to ask about vacation culture and paid time off in the initial interview as well as with the hiring manager, basically asking if it’s acceptable to take off 5 weeks of vacation per year with this unlimited policy?

    Another question I’d like to ask is about remote work. Some positions say “opportunity for working remote” but they have an office where I live. Can I negotiate and get in writing remote work terms? I would hate to sign up for a new job where I have to be in the office just because I live in the same city as one is located. 

    1. Momma Bear*

      IMO, get whatever the remote work situation is upfront, in writing. I had a job offer that specifically listed 3 days remote and 2 days in, plus all other days which required my in-person presence (like a client meeting). It’s legit to ask about the work/life balance when you are at the negotiation stage. Unlimited time off is not so great if you can never take it. I might not ask about the PTO right out of the gate, but definitely by the time you start talking compensation.

    2. Public Sector Manager*

      I’m a government employee (state) and even before COVID, we’ve had many applicants ask: “what’s your office’s policy on remote work?” That’s not an odd question to ask during an interview. Asking about PTO is better saved when they are ready to make you an offer, especially because if they come back with something you don’t like on the PTO, you have a lot of leverage to negotiate a better deal for yourself when you are their pick for the job.

  9. V*

    I am a final semester MA student who just got an interview for my dream job after graduation…..my retail job wouldn’t let me change my shift to do the interview, so I just quit. Now I’m afraid I won’t get the dream job…or any job again and feel super nervous, and this is basically a “please sent me good vibes” post.

    1. JelloStapler*

      You’ll get a new job again at some point, even if it’s not this one- but sending you great vibes for the dream job!!

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Sending vibes toward the dream job. And toward being free to aggressively pursue employment in your field without negotiating with your retail job.

    3. Cowgirlinhiding*

      I had to do this to attend my Senior project presentation. It forced me to look from something fast. I found a temp job at the school I was attending that turned into full time and a career. Sometimes that push is all you need. Good luck with interview! Use all of the suggestions and practice questions Allison has here. You will do great!

    4. LKW*

      You will totally get a new job. I was once fired and already had a job lined up and I still remember panicking the day after the firing. You’ll be ok and you will get through this.

      Your retail manager sucks btw. So short sighted.

      1. Mental Lentil*

        Yep. Now instead of finding someone to cover one shift, they have to find someone to cover all the shifts.

    5. Not A Manager*

      I think you might feel better if you immediately applied for a few short-term type jobs similar to the retail one. I am sending you very very good vibes and I’m sure you’ll get a job after graduation even if it’s not this exact one. But you might feel less anxious if you know you have a plan for a bridge job if you need it for a bit.

      1. Esmeralda*

        And you’re likely to find something fast. Retail, restaurants, are having a hard time finding staff.

    6. Unkempt Flatware*

      You sure will find something and this will be just a blip on your timeline. In fact, you’ll likely look back and go, “that’s right mo-fos!”. Trust yourself and believe in yourself. You’re a champ.

    7. Observer*

      Whether you get this job or not, you’ll get something. Quitting a garbage retail job that won’t allow you any sort of schedule flexibility is not going to keep you from ever getting another job again.

    8. I'm just here for the cats*

      Good vibes comming your way. And even if you don’t get this job, an you need another retail type job as a filler, You can probably find another retail type job until something in your field comes through.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Many good vibes. For a lot of retailers their employee retention plan consists of making the employees feel they can never work elsewhere. It’s a ploy, a technique to keep people locked in to their crappy jobs. You know a job has nothing going on when they have to stoop this low.
      Chin up, keep going. You will make it. Alison issues all kinds of warnings about dream jobs. So while you are waiting on this look around and see if something else looks like a good fit. This will help fill up your brain and your time while dream job processes what they need to process.

    10. Arthur Dent*

      Sending good vibes! Sometimes things like this are the push we need to look at things from another perspective

  10. Lower East Pubnico*

    I just got a rejection for an internal posting that I thought I was well-qualified for. I know the hiring manager and my work is pretty public, so it’s hard not to feel like it’s personal or a judgement of the work I’m currently doing. And this department semi-regularly asks for my help because I’ve got a skill they don’t have, and the snarky side of me wants to say, if you needed my help, maybe you should have hired me.

    Any tips for gracefully handling an internal rejection and moving past it?

    1. MMMMMmmmmMMM*

      Remember, its not always about you! You could be a rock star, and there might have been someone who was just better.

      To quote Picard: “It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose.”

      1. Ashley*

        Or they were looking for a some other skill they didn’t bother to list in the posting. At best you could ask, what could I do to be a stronger candidate next time a position like this comes open?

        1. HigherEdAdminista*

          Or they have a person in mind for the position, and they knew if they put you in the interview group and didn’t hire you it could a) cause more bad blood or b) raise questions with others about the hiring process if they candidate they hire isn’t as qualified.

      2. LQ*

        I don’t think it’s always a matter of “better” either, sometimes it’s just different. It can be that there is a wide skill gap that you can’t see that they think the new person will accomplish. Especially if you are internal and can be borrowed for some of the work with the skill you have occasionally but the new person brings a skill that’s entirely missing.

        1. Princess Pretty Pants*

          I was wondering this as well, if they feel they can rely on you where you are now but add other skills through a new person. Sorry to hear you didn’t get it, been there, not easy but you get past it. You may even look back in time and see how it was good you didn’t get it…

    2. wannabe job hopper?*

      Even if you want to stay put, job hunt. For me, it would make me feel better about my situation to see other options are out there. So sorry it didn’t work out, I would also be really irritated about them asking for my expertise but refusing to hire me for the job.

      1. Lower East Pubnico*

        Thanks, I think this is a good suggestion. Not that I’m going to flounce out right now, but in case this is a situation where I have to look outside to get an opportunity to advance.

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      The snarky side of *me* thinks they might have said “We could bring on LEP to glaze our teapots, or we could hire this new person as a teapot glazer and we’d still get LEP’s help when we need it, so it’s a win/win!” And the petty side of me would occasionally be too busy when they need help in the future. (In other words, no, I have no tips for handling this gracefully.)

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        “In other words, no, I have no tips for handling this gracefully.”

        Ha amazing, this made me laugh :-D

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

          I was thinking the same thing is extremely likely. This way they get the new person and a quarter (or whatever the time commitment is) of the OP… Internal moves almost always have a lot of politics that go with them.

      2. Lower East Pubnico*

        Ha! Thanks for the laugh. It does help just to know that other people would have the same reaction here.

    4. Blue Eagle*

      Being that it was an internal transfer, would you be up for touching base with the hiring manager to indicate your interest should the position come up again as a prelude to asking what skills you need to develop that would make you the #1 candidate for the position. Then see what the hiring manager has to say. And hopefully the feedback will help you move past the frustration that you are feeling.

      1. SomebodyElse*

        Agreed with this. You have absolutely everything to gain by reaching out to the Hiring Manager and thanking them for their consideration, asking to be kept in mind for future opportunities, and asking if there are any skills they can recommend that you build in the interim. You may just hear there was something unrelated to your skills that caused them to go in a different direction

        My last hiring decision came down to:
        A. Former employee hoping to come back- Good reputation and knowledge of the job
        B. Current employee from another dept who is really sharp and has a great reputation
        C. Outside candidate – Skills and experience I was looking for

        Any one of them would have been a good choice, (It was the first time I’ve seen a hiring panel totally split on candidates, usually one stands out among the rest as the favorite) but I went with the outside candidate because I wanted a fresh perspective in the role. It was a bit of a leap of faith, but I’m glad I made the choice that I did. That doesn’t mean that there was something wrong with the other two or their performance.

        1. Lower East Pubnico*

          This is good advice. I think I first need to process the disappointment a bit first, because I definitely don’t feel up to reaching out right now without any bitterness showing through. At the moment, I don’t feel like reaching out to this person asking for anything like help or a favour! So any wording suggestions would be appreciated!

          1. SomebodyElse*

            Totally get the processing time, and I should have mentioned that as well.

            How’s a variation of this:

            Hiring Mgr,

            I wanted to take a quick moment to thank you for the opportunity to apply to the position. I understand that while I wasn’t the right candidate at this time for the role, I would like to be considered for future opportunities that you may have. In the interim, do you have any advice you wouldn’t mind sharing for areas I should consider for my professional development? I’d be happy to set up time for us to chat.

    5. Roaring Twentysomething*

      I went through that recently!

      Take some time to process—rant to your partner, family, therapist, pets, houseplants…talking it out can help sort through your emotions. Obviously keep this at home!

      After you’ve vented, I’d dig into why you applied to this position. What about it attracted you? Is your current role simply unbearable or were you excited at the prospect of specific responsibilities? Consider what you know you DON’T want as well. You might find the internal role wasn’t quite right after all. You might affirm that it was perfect for you. Either way, use that to fuel your next steps.

      Keep developing your skills, keep a decent relationship with that department—your work is clearly valued! They might appreciate an inquiry on what skills to develop if another role becomes available. Working well with the department even after you’ve been rejected is a sign of maturity.

      It stings, though! I feel your pain.

    6. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      You don’t mention your current manager, but another reason could be because in order to pull from another team the hiring manager would have had to have asked your current manager and gotten their approval. Before you get mad at the other team, are you sure your current manager didn’t block the transfer?

      1. Lower East Pubnico*

        No, they wouldn’t need to have my current manager’s approval for a transfer.

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I am planning on applying for an internal promotion as soon as it’s posted (which should be this next week but who knows), and under the notion of “plan for the worst,” have already been mentally writing my “Can we have a discussion about where Red’s path goes from here, since my understanding was that we were all on the same page as far as career progression and that this seemed to be the logical next step, but if that’s not the case, can we get on the same page and figure out what steps I can take to better position myself for whatever the next step should be” meeting request for my boss (who really wants me to get the promotion) and grandboss (who is the hiring manager for it). Is a meeting of that nature, either with the hiring manager or your current manager (or both?) an option that might be useful to you?

    8. MPH Researcher*

      As a hiring manager, here’s what I recommend you do: Send a gracious e-mail to the hiring manager thanking them for considering you and asking what you could do to be a stronger candidate in the future. This will help keep your reputation high in the office (Managers chat with each other about internal hires!), and keep that manager thinking of you fondly in case other positions open up. Something like:

      “Thank you for considering me for the teapot salesman position. I appreciated the opportunity to interview with you and the team. I really enjoyed learning more about selling teapots and would love to be considered for any future openings you may have. Do you have any suggestions for skills I could work on to be a stronger candidate in the future?”

      As far as moving past it, as others have mentioned feel free to start a casual job search. Even if you don’t want to leave your current company, you never know what’s out there until you look. It will probably also help you feel better to have some control over your future. Even if you feel like being snarky or kind of down because of this rejection, try not to let that show at work. People do not perceive “sore losers” in a positive light.

      1. Lower East Pubnico*

        Thanks for the script! I need to process the disappointment a bit first, because right now I don’t feel like reaching out, but this is good wording.

    9. fhqwhgads*

      It doesn’t mean you’re not good. It just means they thought someone else was better.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        And that could be “better by a very slim margin”.

        The last two hirings our board did we could have done a coin toss. Both candidates were equally great.
        In the last round the difference was that it appeared one candidate might stay with us for a while, and the other candidate probably would not. The latter candidate had huge talent and fantastic creativity. Someone will hire her for sure.

        Brace yourself that their assessment could be CORRECT. I went right up to the wire on a job. This job was SO ME. It had my name all over it. Even the pres of the board was incredulous as she told me someone else got the job. Then she explained why. The other person had done X professionally. While I had plenty of experience with X, it was just personal experience. That professional experience swayed the board and they voted for the other candidate. I did not agree with the logic involved there but that was not important. The important part for me was I could actually see why they went the way they did. And surprisingly, that gave me huge relief. I did not lose out to The Three Stooges. I lost out to someone who was a super star in their own right. I decided I could live with that.

    10. Leah K.*

      If helping this department is not necessarily a part of your job and more like a thing you did to be a team player, I would become a lot less available next time they need your help.

    11. Alice Quinn*

      I am going through this exact same issue this week! What’s helping me is keeping in mind that the hiring manager is looking for the best available candidate. That doesn’t mean you’re not a great candidate – it just means that someone else was a better fit or possibly had some qualifications you didn’t. I think accepting an internal rejection with grace is probably even more important than an external rejection because you never know what opportunities will be available in the future.

      I’m sorry it didn’t work out – and I understand the disappointment. Just don’t let it turn into bitterness.

    12. Momma Bear*

      Since you know the hiring manager well, it’s worth meeting with them re: what others have mentioned. It could simply have been that this other person has your skills AND… Could also be that management has a long-term goal they have not divulged and decided they needed x instead of y. I’d try not to take it too personally at this point. Just keep being valuable to the company and keep looking for opportunities.

  11. GarlicMicrowaver*

    Is it OK to not want to manage people, ever, and still grow in your career? Maybe the question is… is it unrealistic? The thought of managing someone, mentoring them and hand-holding them seems very daunting to me. I will say that MAYBE it is something I would be open to down the line, but I have a crazy toddler and a crazy enough job as it is. Thoughts?

    1. V*

      No advice, just me completely relating to this. I just don’t want to be a leader, even if it means earning less over my career. It is not something that suits my introverted personality at all.

      1. violet04*

        I’ve been working for 20 years and I have no desire to be a manager. I work in software development and right now I’m Product Owner / Team Coach because my company is doing agile.

        1. ecnaseener*

          Does the “Team Coach” part of that not involve managing people? Or is it more project management type thing

      2. The Real Persephone Mongoose*

        Being a leader and being a people manager are two different things. I had this discussion with my first boss at current company when I was interviewing for a position on his team. He was aghast that I didn’t have any designs on being a PM. I explained that it’s possible to be a strong leader without being a manager. I was his second in command for 8 years and happy as a clam. I continue to be second in command. But I am a strong leader. I just don’t have to do reviews!

    2. Nabuma Rubberband*

      I feel the exact same way. I see that my peers are all getting manager jobs now, and I really, REALLY don’t want to be a manager.

      I think that some industries have “Principal” career paths for people who want to continue to advance without taking the management track, which is great! We don’t all need to be managers, and based on 80% of the managers I have had, most of us shouldn’t.

    3. ATX*

      I work for a large company and there are tons of people who stay in an analyst role for their entire career. I think it’s fine! Managing people is not for everyone, and it’s a lot of work that’s not fun (speaking from experience :)).

    4. DistantAudacity*

      Sure – you can grow towards being for instance a subject matter expert.

      I don’t know your field, obviously, but an SME of some sort (technical/industry/client whisperer/whatever) can lead to all sorts of interesting things. You may get more responsibility, but it would be domain-related, and not managing people.

    5. RagingADHD*

      It entirely depends on your industry and the career tracks available. Some industries have more room for continued advancement as an individual contributor or subject-matter expert. In others, you’ll need to take on a leadership role in order to get raises or show growth, and avoiding management will mean you “top out” at a junior level with limited prospects for pay and benefit increases.

      At some point, everybody reaches a level where they are content long-term and enough is enough. Does your industry offer a path to that point for you?

    6. 867-5309*

      Career growth is a challenge for individual contributors in many (most?) industries.

      Microsoft is one company that has high regard for senior individual roles and they allow remote work, so consider it on an employer-by-employer basis. Consulting is another option though usually when done for another company, at some point they expect you to manage client relationships, business development and retention, which to me are worse than managing a team. :)

    7. The Prettiest Curse*

      Yup, it’s totally fine. I have no desire to be a manager (of people – I’m fine with managing events) and my work life has been fine. I think that managing is so difficult to get right that you shouldn’t do it unless you’re totally certain that it’s what you want to do.

      1. Grace Poole*

        I totally agree. I have zero interest in managing people.

        And the tricky thing is that thoughtful people who realize that management is a skill and a lot of work don’t want to be managers. Many ladder climbers who want the better title and the extra salary, but who might be terrible at the job, are the ones to strive for it.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          I mean, I know that management is a skill that takes work, but I’d be a truly terrible manager anyways! That’s why I know it’s a skill. ;p

    8. JelloStapler*

      I’ve been in a position that managed people and I decided I am not sure I want to do it again.

    9. Noncompliance Officer*

      Management is a skill and calling just like any other career. The mistake many companies make is when the only path “up” is management. If someone is an awesome llama-groomer, wants to move up, but doesn’t have great management skills, a lot of companies will shoe-horn them into the chief llama-groomer role instead of building a path for them grow some other way. This is why we have so many awful managers.

    10. LKW*

      Yes, it’s totally fine – but it may mean that you have to move jobs on occasion and you have to drive to keep your skills up to date and it may mean that your salary level doesn’t rise as far as if you took management positions.

      One thing to note – as your career grows – so do the careers of the people you manage. So while you may initially manage people who are pretty junior and have to do a bit more hand holding – as you move up the ladder – you manage the people who are managing others. You’re managing the managers.

      But yes, if you’re not interested in managing there are plenty of places that just want do-ers.

    11. LQ*

      It is absolutely ok! I think that it feels not ok because the people most likely to complain/demand more are people who WANT to be promoted, so companies/bosses often will feel like that is the thing they need to address. (I know my org is doing a lot of this. Everyone it seems wants to be promoted, but no one is acknowledging that that’s just not possible. You can’t have a company with 500 CEOs and no one working. But that’s what the senior leadership is saying can totes happen. 100% of mid level leadership is promoted from within so it’s not like no one ever gets promoted…)

      It always seems to leave people who either right now, or for always, just like their job and want to do well and be done and have a life and hobbies. Most managers know and support this, but weirdly I think organizations seem to not know this.

    12. Law Office Anon*

      My brother started working at [major tech company] when it had 8 employees. He’s a senior vice president now, but he’s never managed anyone. He likes programming, he’s good at it, he helped develop the backbone of the code 20 years ago that’s still in use today and they’re happy to give him new titles and better pay occasionally to keep him around. He’s said that if he’s ever required to manage, he’ll quit. He has no interest in managing anyone, ever.

      So, yes, it can be done, but your opportunities for advancement will be more limited and will depend much more on your knowledge and abilities in what you do.

    13. Public Sector Manager*

      I promoted to supervisor in 2010 and manager in 2013, and although I really wanted to be a manager and supervisor and move up that career chain, I do miss my old position and the freedom I had. Not wanting to manage others is a thing, and I wouldn’t fault anyone who doesn’t want to manage because managing people can be the least of your concerns. Just this week, while the overall work of my team is relatively slow, I’ve had to deal with two personnel issues, a surprise audit asking for records, a request from an outside vendor that they just had to have resolve right this second (with no apparent reason and a C-Suite who told them “no problem!”), and one of the supervisor’s working for me, who is normally kind, thoughtful, and secure, just go completely off the rails. So today, I really wish I could be in my old job and just worried about what was assigned to me.

      You can definitely grow your career to a point without being a manager or supervisor. But a lot of that will depend on who is managing you and what opportunities they will let you have. Remember, a lot of managers and supervisors want to further grow their career too and they might take opportunities that would be great for you and give it to themselves.

      One of the senior people on my team has never wanted to promote. I continue to give her unique assignments and projects she likes because she’s a great employee and that’s one way I can show her she’s valued. But she’s on my team now because her prior manager in our office took credit for her work, never let her do the things she wanted to do, and she felt trapped. So it’s a mixed bag.

      Best of luck and I hope you can make it work!

    14. Wry*

      If it’s OK with you, then it’s OK, as far as I’m concerned. I understand, of course, that in some industries or companies you can’t advance past a certain level without moving into management, and that some people assume management is something everyone aspires to, and therefore might try to pressure you into it or make you feel like your goals aren’t valid. All I can really say is that your own self-awareness is more important than others’ perceptions. We’re all entitled to our own goals. We’re also entitled to change our minds about our goals. If right now you’re not interested in management, I wouldn’t give it another thought.

      I feel I’m in a similar place, in that I enjoy my role as an individual contributor and I’m not convinced I’m well-suited to management personality-wise or that I would enjoy it. I suspect that the stress would not be worth whatever extra money I would make (I don’t know how much managers at my company make but I’m in a low-paying industry). I’m in my fifth year with my company and I’m in the highest-level non-manager position in my department (individual contributor with “senior” in my title). I’m very happy with this for now, and in the future I think I’d be more likely to pursue a lateral move, explore a different area of my industry, or try out a new industry entirely rather than moving into management. All this is to say, you’re certainly not alone.

    15. The Real Persephone Mongoose*

      I’ve been working in corporate America for 30 years now and have never been a people manager. I’ve adamantly refused to even consider it. The closest I’ve come is to take on the bit of admin work that comes with managing a vendor team. My career has done just fine with it. I’ve also found that as I get older, I have more time so I can expand into some pseudo management activities. I onboard new employees, mentor them and grow them. I have an excellent track record and many of my fledglings are doing great. But I continue to refuse a people manager role. I can be a leader without being a manager. I like the latitude and flexibility my IC role offers me. Sure….I COULD be a PM and my career would go further, but I’m happy where I am right now. If you don’t want to do it right now, don’t. Maybe in the future, you will change your mind. Children grow up giving you more time. You grow in place as much as you can and feel like you want a new challenge. Assess how you feel if the opportunity comes up. If it feels right, do it. If it doesn’t, pass.

    16. Momma Bear*

      Yes. At an old company, we infamously had a guy who was the top SME on llamas, but did NOT ever want to be a manager. The company wisely prioritized his expertise over making him be a manager. I’ve also seen where people step up into management, decide it’s not their path, and step down into a technical role. I would look for ways to grow your skills so that you are valued for the work vs encouraged into management you don’t want to do.

    17. Not So NewReader*

      It’s okay not to want to manage people.
      And it’s okay to recognize where your load limits are. My theory is we can only give so much of ourselves and then we are done giving. We have to stop and spend time putting things into ourselves and our lives.

      I will say this, if managing people feels like raising a toddler then you can just fire those people. You can’t fire your toddler. Keep the toddler, figure out the management question later on.

  12. Matilda*

    Any advice on how to deal with drama in the workplace? I sit with my coworker “Jane” (in her 60s, been with the company for 10 years) and “Sally” (new assistant manager, 6 months in the job). I’ve been at my job for 3 years. Jane and I either got off on the wrong foot or something, but there’s always been a chill in the air.

    I thought things were okay until today. There was an event going on and Jane said to Sally, “Okay, Sally, let’s go over there.” She then went over to tell the boss and while she told him that they were going over there, she made eye contact with me and kept her eyes on me. 

    I jokingly said, “Have fun!” to them as they left.
    When they returned, Jane goes, “Matilda! There’s cake! You should go over there!”
    I just gave a little chuckle.

    Now, there’s only 3 of us in the room and Jane didn’t invite me. Could I have invited myself? Sure, but it felt like she didn’t want me there. 

    I know that things are awkward between us, so I shouldn’t be surprised, but it’s ironic because if roles were reversed, Jane would make some comment about why she wasn’t invited to go with or say something about being left out. (ie: It’s okay if SHE does it, but not when someone else does.) She likes to do this- she has to side with another person so it is 2 against one.

    Not to be dramatic, but it scares me because I need a job and I’ve been in other places where they bully you out just because they don’t like you. It’s scary because she targets me/it’s intentional and I’m just trying to do my job. 
    I also feel like they’re poisoning the well or something because when Sally started, we talked. Now she only speaks to Jane, and will wave and greet Jane in the morning, but not acknowledge me.

    I’ve been in this situation before and the only solution was to leave. I can’t do that until I find another job though. Any words of advice or similar stories are much appreciated. 

    1. LadyByTheLake*

      I don’t understand why you think you need Jane’s invitation to go to a general work event. I guess I’m missing something.

      1. TechWriter*

        It’s not that she needed Jane’s invite, it’s that Jane purposely didn’t invite her just to be cruel. It’s not about the event, it’s about Jane.

        Matilda, I’m sorry you have to work with such a petty person. I’d suggest accepting that Jane’s gonna Jane, and just treat her with unerring kindness, not stooping to her petiness level. If you can try to shift your mindset and observe her like David Attenborough observing a wild animal, “Here we have the Petty Jane. Ah, yes, she’s just done what we know to be the preferred dominance display of this particular species, how fascinating. Of course, it’s all a waste of precious energy, since Matildas don’t respond in kind.”

        If her bullying behaviour ever has a tracable impact on your ability to do your job, that’s the kind of thing you can raise with your manager.

    2. RagingADHD*

      I also am not entirely sure I’m following the scenario. There were three of you plus your boss at a work event, Jane verbally invited Sally and the Boss, and made eye contact with you while talking about going to the refreshment table. Then they all retuned to where you were, and Jane urged you to get refreshments too.

      It sounds to me like she was including you in the conversation, and just didn’t happen to use your name. They also all returned to where you were instead of going off somewhere else to speak to other people without you. So I’m not seeing where the bullying is. Maybe I’m not visualizing it right.

      In my experience, the best way to deal with this level of workplace drama is to completely ignore it. (That’s not the case for more overt things). If you and Sally used to get along and chat, then go chat with Sally. If you want to go get cake with everyone else, go get cake. If Jane doesn’t greet you, you be the one to greet her.

      Assuming Jane is doing something targeted to cause the chill, ignoring it will remove her power and thwart her. Just be friendly and relaxed with everyone and treat them all the same.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        I don’t think that’s what happened. I think they were all in their work area, Jane invited Sally to go to the event in a way that guaranteed Matilda would overhear, and when she went to tell the boss they were leaving, she watched Matilda to make sure Matilda saw what was happening. And yes, excluding is a form of bullying.

        I’ve worked with a Jane who always had to have an enemy and a pet. We had a large enough team that she could rotate – someone was on top and someone was always on the bottom, but they weren’t always the same person, and her pet could easily become her enemy. The only thing to do is ignore it. Unfortunately, in a team of three, you might be stuck in the enemy role as far as Jane is concerned, but Sally might still be salvageable.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Okay, thanks – I wasn’t picking up on that. I thought they were all in the event room together.

          Agreed, though – ignoring is still the best course. YLet her play her ridiculous mind games all by herself. She wants to play tug of war but you drop the rope, as they say.

          1. Esmeralda*

            Matilda, you could still have gone. You did not need Jane’s invitation. Was it Jane’s event? Was she in charge of making the invitee list? No. If you wanted to go, you should have gotten up and said, great, let’s go!(which would be an excellently sneaky way of challenging Jane). So what if she doesn’t want you there, or if you think she doesn’t want you there.

            Unless she has actual power over your keeping the job, you need to not let her bully you. Say hello to Jane and say hello to sally. Ignore the bitchiness. Take yourself along to office events.

    3. ....*

      What else has she done? There’s a lot of room between “didn’t invite me to walk to an event with her” and “bullying me out of my job”. It does sound very frustrating still.

      1. Matilda*

        She’s in charge of ordering office supplies. She would go around and ask everyone what they needed, *except* me. I started to bring in my own materials and my boss noticed that. He then told Jane to ask me if I needed supplies. She did, but she also ignored me for the rest of the week.

        Jane accused me of “hiding” the teapot labels. When I left my desk to go to a meeting, she apparently searched my desk for them. (A coworker passing by told me this.) She then found out that someone else had them. “Oh, Fergus had them!”

        Other staff members have noticed how she acts towards me and have made comments to me about it in private, etc.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Okay, in a scenario like the office supplies, I wouldn’t wait for her to ask. I’d just email her anytime I needed something, and say something like, “could you please put this on the list for next time you order.”

          Because that is the normal thing to do, and this whole setup of being asked or not is just bizarre and nonsensical.

          Be relentlessly normal.

          1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

            Yes! It sounds like there are slightly strange expectations going on.

        2. LP*

          I’m sorry to hear you are dealing with this. I don’t know what to tell you but clearly if others are commenting to you then you know it’s not you and this is likely a pattern for her. Wishing you the best at perhaps taking some of the suggestions here, to try and make the best of your time there, and can’t hurt to see what else is out there.

        3. Esmeralda*

          But why did you do that? She didn’t ask you — you could go to her and say, I hear you’re ordering office supplies — that’s great, I need X Y and Z! Do you need me to do a requisition form?

          And then follow up when the others get their supplies — hey Jane, I see the supplies have arrived. Could you bring me my XYZ to my desk, or do you need me to get them from receiving?

          I’m not defending a Jane, I’m saying you will defeat her by forcing her to treat you properly. Don’t put up with her BS. If you can challenge her crap in these situations where the boss can hear, so much the better.

    4. Malarkey01*

      I think you are way over thinking this and potentially the one being a little dramatic- and sometimes it’s hard to explain how one example is sympathetic of a whole environment. However two coworkers choosing to walk over to an event together is not excluding you when you don’t need an invite to walk over yourself. It can be as simple as one mentioned it to the other in passing and said I’ll walk over with you- the same thing that happens all the time in offices when someone says “I’m going to the cafeteria too, I’ll walk with you” or “I’m heading out, give me a second to shut down my computer and we can catch up about the knitting project”.

      While it stinks if two coworkers get along and you’re on the outside, the way to avoid drama here is not to see normal office interactions as move than they are.

    5. BRR*

      Accept that Jane doesn’t like you. Of course be professional and polite but I’ve found it the most helpful to just acknowledge how things are and move on. Think of it this way, you’ll win with Jane if you stop caring but you’ll lose if you keep giving her this much space in your head.

    6. LKW*

      If you and Jane report into Sally – then get time with Sally. Put 1 on 1 meetings on the calendar. If you don’t report into Sally, but she is senior to her, then ask for time to pick her brain and learn from her. Butter her up.

      Every couple of days, compliment each of them randomly. “Cute shoes” “You always have the best penmanship!” whatever. Just toss out the flattery. Don’t do it every day but if something strikes – if you see that little smile – that’s the shit that you hone in on “Oooh, Jane’s wearing her cute shoes again! Cute Shoe Day!” And if Jane tries to dismiss “Well I’ve been wearing this for 3 years and you’ve never said anything.” respond with “I know and I’ve always thought it looked great on you. As you know I generally keep to myself but I’m trying to put more kindness out into the world and thought I should start with the people with whom I spend so much time.”

      Just behave as if there isn’t a chill in the air. It’s tough but you’re a drama free person working with a drama queen.

    7. Hobbette*

      So sorry this happened to you. It’s amazing how Jane manages to hold down her job considering she’s still in junior high!

      Many years ago, I was being introduced to three colleagues on my first day at a new job. Colleagues 1 and 2 were friendly and welcoming (“Glad to have you here, please join us for lunch,” etc.) #3 was sitting right next to me and DID NOT EVEN LOOK UP FROM HER COMPUTER – not a word, not even a nod. If memory serves, it took a few days before she even spoke to me and then only when necessary. Go figure. I really hope things get better, but sometimes all you can do is remind yourself that it’s really not you, it’s them. Good luck!

  13. TWW*

    I’m half way through my “2-weeks’ notice” and feeling utterly miserable! I was already feeling overworked and underpaid (part of why I’m leaving), but now I’m even more overworked since I have the additional responsibility of training my replacement and wrapping up loose ends. I’m also feeling even more underpaid since new job will pay 35% more.

    So my question: how bad would it have been to quit without notice?

    I suspect they answer is “very bad,” especially since I’ll have opportunities to do freelance work for my old employer, and my industry is insular (e.g. my new boss is my old boss’s old boss). But I’m curious to hear from anyone who’s done this.

    1. Nabuma Rubberband*

      I’m SO sorry that you are experiencing this…it’s the worst feeling.

      I think about this a lot, and honestly I have read conflicting advice from people (like here, vs Liz Ryan, etc). I have seen companies fire people as soon as they put in their notice so I don’t think it’s that bad to get everything in line and put in your notice effective end of week if you know it’s going to be a miserable slog.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        I agree. If it becomes unbearable, then find an excuse to exit early. “New job asked if I could start earlier,” or “I wrapped everything up early so I’m going to take a break before my next job!”
        As long as you let them know you are leaving earlier than planned and don’t no-show the last week, you should be able to gracefully exit. Another option is to talk to someone above your manager, or HR if you have a solid HR Dept, and let them know how overworked you were, and that was the reason you quit, and you can’t take the stress for the last week.

      1. Malarkey01*

        And really EMBRACE the senioritis that is your notice period. Continue to wrap up some reasonable things or train the replacement, but really let go of caring if it all gets done. It literally isn’t your problem if the week ends and you have to tell your boss “here are the files for the llama account, wasn’t able to finish x and y on that”. Leave at the end of the day, spend a little time cleaning out your desk, feel no guilt having that 20 minute non work conversation with Ferguson and when something starts to overwhelm you think in 3 days no matter what this isn’t my problem and I don’t have to solve it today.

    2. CatCat*

      It would be bad. But you also don’t have to do ALL the things in the notice period. You’re allowed to put up a boundary on what can reasonably be accomplished in your remaining time during normal working hours. “Hey Boss, in the week I have left, I won’t be able to train Sally and wrap up A, B, C, D, and E. Given that, what should I prioritize?”

      And if they won’t prioritize, do what you can do during normal work time and then just let some of the balls drop. Soon to be not your problem.

      1. LadyByTheLake*

        This is really important. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO DO ALL THE THINGS. CatCat’s script is exactly right.

        1. Carol*

          Gosh, yes. Stick out your 1-week but set some boundaries.

          I truly would not risk burning a bridge over one week. Your feelings are valid but transition times can be stressful and I could see this being a bad decision due just to the overall stress of the situation, rather than what’s really best.

          Could you frame it as doing a favor to your replacement, who will likely soon be overworked and stressed as well?

    3. LadyByTheLake*

      It’s pretty bad to quit without notice — that’s regarded as unprofessional and will get you talked about and tanks that employer as a reference. All those apply, so yes, you needed to give the two weeks. The good thing is, it’s only two weeks!
      I did quit one job once without notice but: (1) I finished a major project first, so the ultimate client was not left dangling; (2) I had discovered that my boss was a con artist/thief/liar; (3) he had a terrible reputation in the industry, so working for him was actually hurting my reputation; and (4) quitting without notice enhanced my reputation since my boss was so universally loathed by everyone who mattered.

    4. TheMonkey*

      This sounds rough. But I think if you can adjust your thinking a little bit, you can get through another week.

      Give yourself permission to prioritize and set boundaries. Don’t spend next week trying to get EVERYTHING done and your replacement fully trained. (Most folks don’t even meet their replacement much less train them).

      Sort out your tasks to see what must absolutely be done by you. Determine if that’s feasible in your remaining week and prioritize. (Bonus if you can delegate any of these to your replacement as a training exercise, unless it will make even more work for you to double check it)

      Ensure any documentation/SOPs you have are up to date (or as up to date as you can make them in your remaining time).

      Provide a reasonable amount of orientation to your trainee/replacement.

      LET THE REST GO! You’ve got one week left, and you already have a new job. You clearly don’t need the reference and have no further responsibility to them after the end of next week.

      After all, what are they going to do, fire you? ;)

    5. Ashley*

      I would push back on the overtime hours as much as possible and stick with I can’t get all this done in X days. What would you like me to focus on?

    6. Morning Glory*

      Don’t quit without notice, but do release yourself from the responsibility of wrapping up every single loose end before you go. That way you look after yourself, and don’t burn that bridge professionally given the small industry and opportunities for freelance work later.

    7. SomebodyElse*

      Surely at this point your job is to tie up loose ends and get as much training in as possible. Make sure that is all you are doing. Decline anything else, hand off everything possible as quickly as possible, and do what you can for the person taking over.

      And yes, stick it out. It’s 5 days, 40 hours, a measly 2400 minutes. Get yourself one of those countdown clocks, make big X’s on your calendar, buy yourself a treat for every day complete. Don’t burn this bridge since you’ve just about crossed it, you literally have one foot on the other side! (feeling motivated yet?)

    8. AllTheBirds*

      A bit off-topic, but why would you want to do freelance work for this cheapo employer that you can’t wait to leave?

      1. TWW*

        Good question! It’s because one of my job tasks is highly specialized and not something my replacement or anyone else on staff can do. It was my favorite part of the job, but comprised only 10% of my duties. As a freelancer, my competitive hourly rate for that task would be about 1.5 times my old fulltime wage.

    9. Your Local Password Resetter*

      Adding my vote to setting boundaries and triaging your workload.
      Remember, you’re already leaving with another job lined up, so there isn’t much they can do if you just give a reasonable effort and call it a day!

      1. SweetDove*

        I am halfway through the almost three weeks I gave and there is definitely giving limits. I am tying up loose ends and leaving information for everyone, but my boundary is I am not working extra at all. I still have about half hour left and am reading AAM.

    10. InsufficientlySubordinate*

      My last two weeks at the “yelling” job, I did useful stuff rather than the stuff manager had wanted up until then. All my emails were sorted into projects and archived or deleted. Process documentation completely done and packaged with relevant emails and contacts. Management never spoke to me in person again after I put in my notice, but I did my most professional job and did not stay late…at all. It was lovely and low-stress.

    11. Observer*

      So my question: how bad would it have been to quit without notice?

      Why quit? Just work a reasonable amount of time, prioritizing training your successor, wrapping up loose ends and your regular work, in that order. Don’t stress over the work that is not getting done.

      Be gracious about it, but don’t let yourself be pushed into taking on a ridiculous load. And do realize that you might not wind up with freelance work from this. But quitting means you DEFINITELY won’t so you’re no worse off by sticking it out with reasonable boundaries. And this way, you won’t leave old boss with a Story to tell.

    12. Momma Bear*

      Here is a take on the training your replacement and feeling burned out – take on only what you can and leave the rest to the new hire. Leave SOPs but it’s not going to be your monkey/circus anymore. Even if you might freelance, it shouldn’t mean you are stuck doing an impossible task. I’d push through this last bit, though, and then treat yourself to a break.

    13. Tofu pie*

      Barring some serious reason (e.g., medical issues, boss behaving egregiously, etc.) I think you should work through your notice period.

      As a manager, I’ve occasionally had employees who quit without notice or behave badly during their notice period. And it sucks; because it pretty much undoes whatever professional reputation or goodwill you’ve built up during your employment when you leave on a bad note. It will likely hurt your colleagues more than your boss or company if they are saddled with unexpected extra workload or have to figure out how to do your tasks because you left without adequate instructions, creating unnecessary frustration and uncertainty.

      When we do reference checks we always ask how the employee was during their notice period. It is a major red flag if they, say, took multiple questionable sick days during their notice period or started turning up two hours late or whatever. And you don’t know how it will come back to haunt you later. Occasionally we’ve conducted informal reference checks on candidates when we know a friend/ex colleague who works at the same company where a candidate was employed – or a personal contact has reached out to us for the same purpose – and it reflects badly on you if the informal referee mentions they had a negative last impression.

    14. Lizzo*

      I’ll echo the recommendations here to 1) set a boundary for what you can reasonably accomplish during your last week, and 2) hang in there! Soon all of this will *not* be your problem.

      And please know that I feel your pain…during my notice period at a previous job, I got VERY sick at the start of the second week, and despite being confined to my couch at home with a fever, I kept working trying to wrap things up, because I was a conscientious employee, and because they kept asking me to do things. On Thursday, I was still sick and asked boss if I could come in Saturday to return my laptop and clean out my desk so my husband could help me (an executive assistant agreed to take my laptop, badge, etc.)…and MY BOSS ACCUSED ME OF FAKING ILLNESS and told me that since I hadn’t done any work that week (?!?!?!), I needed to extend my notice by another week. Friday morning I dragged myself to the doctor, got a diagnosis of whooping cough, then dragged myself the 45 min commute to my office, where everyone said I looked like death, and what the hell was I doing there? (Boss, thankfully, was on a business trip.)

      TL;DR: BOUNDARIES. Don’t kill yourself trying to do it all–it’s not worth it.

    15. enlyghten*

      Anecdote:
      A previous job had me inspecting vehicles exiting a lumberyard. As with any job, some customers were jerks. For a while after I started the job, these folks would stress me out. Sometimes a lot. Eventually I sat myself down and asked myself why I cared that they were being jerks. All indicators said I was doing my job well. 519I realized there was no downside to not taking these people seriously. When I let go of caring about getting yelled at for no reason, I stopped holding on to the stress. Their tantrums couldn’t hurt me and I knew by that time that my superiors wouldn’t reprimand me for them.

      My suggestion is to sit yourself down and ask yourself what is important. Are the loose ends worth the stress? What are the actual consequences of not completing them (it’s not likely your new job will fire you for it). Do what you can, but let yourself let go of the responsibility of making everything perfect. Train the replacement, don’t set them up for failure, but they aren’t your responsibility, ultimately. They are the company’s responsibility. Train them to your satisfaction with the time you have.

      There are professional responsibilities and moral/ethical responsibilities that go along with giving notice, but they don’t include running yourself into the ground. Do what you can; let go of the rest. They will survive just fine and you will be better able to start your new position rested and ready.

  14. The Prettiest Curse*

    Today I found out that the person who bullied me off my project team at my last job is no longer with that company. (I don’t know if they were fired or resigned.) This person had bullied at least 4 people before me, 3 of whom left the company to escape the bully.
    I’m happy for the rest of my former project team (who were all lovely) that they no longer have to work with this person. They caused so much toxicity on that team for so long. And I’m glad that I put my experience with this person on the record so that there was some kind of documentation of their extreme awfulness.
    I’m going to spend the weekend trying to find out exactly what went down. Wish me luck!

    1. Elle Woods*

      That’s fantastic! Good luck getting the details. I’d love to hear an update!

    2. The Prettiest Curse*

      So, the update is that apparently this person left for another job after spending quite a while taking out their resentment on the person who replaced their best friend as their supervisor. (The best friend/previous boss was fired for enabling their friend’s bullying of me.) Hopefully they will be less crappy to people in their next job, but I reaaaaallllly doubt it!

  15. Notice Period?*

    What is normal during a notice period? My boss is treating it like I am not leaving and I am working as if everything is normal, but the amount of stuff that is due after I leave is mounting. For my part I am creating as many documents and contact lists as possible, but the whole nothing is changing feeling seems odd.

    1. Nabuma Rubberband*

      It’s perfectly fine to set boundaries here. Your boss is taking advantage. And two weeks notice is a COURTESY, not a legal requirement. In many states there is at-will employment where either you or the company can cancel the employment contract for any reason, or for no reason, at any time.

      Don’t take it all on. You can’t save them, and that is not your job.

    2. 867-5309*

      I’ve worked places like that… they just don’t have the organization to think about a transition so keep doing your work, document as much as you can for the next person and be clear with your boss that you won’t get to x, y and z because it’s due after your depart.

    3. TheMonkey*

      “Normal” would have some kind of planning/hand off/status meeting so you can take your tasks and duties, get them in reasonable shape and provide some kind of background for whoever is going to be taking them on (even if temporarily) once you’re gone. If there are no plans to have this kind of meeting and things are getting close to the end, you can always request one.

      1. Just Another Manic Millie*

        Requesting such a meeting doesn’t always work. After I gave two weeks notice at a previous job, I tried to show various co-workers how to do my tasks, only to hear that it wasn’t their job – it was the job of my replacement. Well, yes, but my replacement didn’t start at the company until after I left. So I told the office manager that I would be glad to come in for a few days after my official last day to help out. She coldly told me that it wasn’t necessary, because she had hired my replacement, and everything was under control. I tried and tried to tell her that no one at the company knew how to do various tasks that were my responsibility, but she kept interrupting me and insisted that she didn’t need me to come in, because everything was under control, so I finally gave up.

        Shortly after I left, I started getting calls from my former co-workers, asking me how to do this and that. I kept telling them that I didn’t own a computer, and I was unable to picture a keyboard, and I was unable to describe the steps needed to do this and that. I also told them that I had told the office manager that I was willing to come in and help, but she had insisted that she had everything under control, and if they didn’t believe me, they could ask her.

        I did visit the office to show them my COBRA letter and point out all of the mistakes in it, including the fact that the amount of money that I had to pay each month was $XXX in this part of the letter and $YYY in that part of the letter. (This was because no one wanted me to teach them how to draw up a COBRA letter.) And I found out that the receptionist and the office manager had gotten into a screaming fight, resulting in the receptionist running out the door. (I think this happened because the postage meter ran out of postage, and the receptionist didn’t know how to call Pitney Bowes and activate the $500 we had sent them to appear in our postage meter as $500 worth of postage, to be followed by sending them a new check for $500 the following day. When I had tried to explain this to the receptionist, she wouldn’t listen, claiming that it wasn’t her job.)

        Even the office manager called me to ask how to do this and that, and I reminded her that I had offered to come in, and she had told me that it wasn’t necessary. Sometimes TPTB just don’t care.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          This is amazing. What strikes me is that no one could go online get the general number for PB and then start asking questions. BTDT They simply patched me through until I came to The Person In Charge of Caring. Once I found this person, I wrote down their name and number. It wasn’t that hard and everyone was very nice.

          1. Just Another Manic Millie*

            I’m not sure if the receptionist and the office manager even knew that Pitney Bowes was holding onto our $500 until we needed to have it appear in our postage meter. I tried explaining the procedure to the receptionist, but she wouldn’t listen to me, claiming that it wasn’t her job. (What’s funny is that when I started at the company, managing the postage meter was the receptionist’s job, but she did it so badly that it became both of our jobs, and eventually, it became my job.) I don’t think the office manager knew anything about it, because I always got the $500 check from the company’s treasurer, and I doubt if he ever told her about it, or if she ever asked him about it. It was just one of those things that is vital to a company but no one except for the one person in charge ever thought about.

    4. Malarkey01*

      If they assign you something due after you leave just say “oh I’ll be gone after Friday so this should go to someone else”. Rinse, repeat. If they still hand it off to you it’s fine to hand it back on Friday and say I didn’t get very far with this but here’s what I have done”.

    5. Beth*

      Your boss is in denial. This is not your problem. Don’t let him try to make it into your problem.

      The last time I left a job, I gave 2 months’ notice (in the US!), because I was wearing so many hats and handling so many mission-critical elements that I figured it my bosses would want to hire my replacement in time for me to train her.

      They had already persuaded themselves that I wasn’t that important or valuable, so . . . they didn’t hire a replacement. At all. They jobbed out some of my functions (accounting, IT) and just left others flopping (operations, data integrity), and hired a new person into a completely different role, who didn’t even start until after my end date.

      Best I’ve been able to work out from what I heard from my former co-workers, they eventually required FOUR new hires to fill my roles, and the turnover was appalling. I had lined up an IT contractor for them: he fired my bosses within six months. Pure schadenfreude . . .

    6. Engineer Woman*

      I agree with TheMonkey. Your notice period is mostly handovers and transitions. If there are still day to day things you can do (example: you generate a daily report) then maybe there’s still some continuation of those tasks, as in no changes during week 1 of notice and then check as replacement does it for days 1-2 of week 2 and then days 3-5: not your work anymore.

    7. Observer*

      but the whole nothing is changing feeling seems odd.

      It IS odd. But also, not your problem.

    8. Momma Bear*

      I made sure that any works in progress were passed along to the next person and I wrapped up loose ends. If things are due after you leave, talk to your boss about who will take over. If there is no one named, leave notes but at some point it becomes someone else’s job, not yours. You can’t do a job you no longer have. I would notify the people affected to talk to your manager but not destroy myself getting things done. I had a job where the manager pretty much ignored me for the last few weeks and at the end I just left my computer and figured it wasn’t my problem if they didn’t have a transition plan.

  16. awesome3*

    Happy Teacher appreciation week: I hope your schools give you sandwiches, you get discounts and free food from restaurants, and that your unions are advocating on your behalf. Not in that order.

    1. Dumpster Fire*

      Thank you, but none of that happened. We didn’t even get the free pens that we usually get when the administrators go around glad-handing us and thanking us “for all you do”. We WERE, on the other hand, told to be thankful. Not sure for what….
      I’ve had better weeks. But then again, I’ve had worse, so I’ll just hope that next week will be better.

      1. awesome3*

        Sorry. That’s the worst. This year has been a lot of that it seems. If there is a Sonic in your area I think they are still doing deals for teacher appreciation.

      2. PhysicsTeacher*

        Oof, I feel this.

        We’re all burned out this year. Just gotta endure it at this point.

        I hope your school doesn’t have many days left.

    2. purpler*

      Thank you! I’m about to head to the teacher’s lounge for treats and soda. (Sandwiches were Monday!)

    3. Ey-not-Cy*

      We had Mexican for lunch today, so good. All week we have had treats. I’ve eaten too much. There are only two more weeks left of school here, and we’ve been testing for the last two weeks. It’s been a long year. We have been in person all year with many distance learners first semester, not as many second semester. The double dance is quite the learning curve, even for this librarian. Lots of final projects going on right now–my green screens are in full usage, and I’m scrambling to locate all the library books. Many of us have been vaccinated, the students are on the lists now, and we had prom! Graduation will be outside, so some normalcy is returning. Here’s to next year!

    4. ecnaseener*

      My sister’s school gave each teacher…one bag of microwaveable popcorn. You know, the 50¢ kind.

      1. Crabby Patty*

        That breaks my heart. I mean, jeez…

        Reminds of many scenes in Michael Moore’s excellent “Roger and Me.”

    5. Flower necklace*

      We got lunch today. But the highlight of the week was the cards I got from students. One of my coworkers had them make the cards in his class. They were so sweet!

    6. MidwestTeacher*

      No discounts around here. I got a cookie from the union (that I pay into every month). One admin (for the distance classes I teach) sent a nice, if generic, email, the admin for in-person classes sent half a line at the top of a list of end of year dates.

      1. awesome3*

        Oof. I would rather my union fight for all employees who are providing translation services to be compensated for it, but a cookie would be nice too I guess. :/

  17. Startup candidate*

    I may get a job offer from a startup this week. I’m coming from a safe government job so have no experience in this area. Something that would factor in to my decision making would be whether the business is likely to survive. What information should I look for to make a judgment on that? Thanks so much for your help! (Regular who has changed names for this.)

    1. A Nony Mouse Today*

      I’m also currently doing some work with a new start up. One of the big factors is the startup’s ability to communicate well about their vision, their business plan, and their whatever they’re building because if they can’t do that well the chances of their getting investment when they need it is badly reduced.

    2. 867-5309*

      – What is their cash burn rate?
      – Who are their investors?
      – What is their valuation?
      – Have they communicated a roadmap to profitability?
      – Are they investing in development?
      – Is the leadership team talking in real numbers or is it all about culture and “changing the world”?

      I have worked for a number of start-ups and the path to profitability and sustainability are riff with ups and downs. One hired me and and I was let go when the next funding round was 10% of what they needed to sustain staffing. It turned out the executive team was paying our salaries because they had no money. Today. they are publicly traded and successful. I’ve worked for two others who could not get out of their own way and they shuttered inside a year. Still another saw steady increases in growth and is on-target for their profitability metrics.

      That said, I love the challenge of building while you fly, being a generalist and getting to touch many different things within my discipline, etc., so I don’t mind the risk. It’s exciting and fun.

      1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

        +1 to all of this.

        Also – if they are being funded by one major external source, what is that source’s definition of success, and can they pull the plug at any time? (which is what happened to me at OldJob after 11 months).

    3. irene adler*

      Ask about their funding. Where is it from? How long do they expect it to last (before producing product)? How long will funding ‘carry’ the company when product is launched but not fully supporting the company? Burn rate? Amount of funds in the bank?

      Side comment: Get the highest salary/most benefits you can negotiate for. Reason: annual pay increases (including COL) aren’t a given. Might be a long time before you see any salary increase. Talkin’ multiple years. And they may try to get you to pay for part of your benefits to offset the higher salary. Or, there may not be much in the way of benefits (again, negotiate for higher salary).

      1. irene adler*

        If they are involved with seeking investors, they will file a 10-K with the SEC. This filing may also be on the company website (look under Investor Relations). It is the info a company must provide to any potential investor. It is the “unvarnished truth” about the finances of the company. Look for the section concerning risk factors. This part will be informative. Remember though, it is often a worst case scenario.

    4. PX*

      I’d be keen to dig into their financials: how are they funded, how recently have they raised capital, are they profitable yet, whats their revenue like, growth, and potential (ie are they in a saturated market? whats their current and projected customer base)?

    5. ratatatcat*

      (I work with startups but only on specific funding projects so my perspective is a little skewed) I’m not sure if this is information you’d necessarily have access to, but how startups have been funded and their plans for getting funded in the future are pretty key to some of the ways they develop (even beyond survival, also just in terms of how they operate might change which you may/may not like), so it might be helpful to know what their vision is for future funding

    6. We Live in Interesting Times*

      Others’ comments on this are spot on. I would only add (having gone through this) — save as much of your new salary as you can. We kept getting told there was plenty of investment in the company, and then it turned out a round had fallen through. The company tanked without paying folks their final three paychecks. Of course, it could have gone the other way and we’d all be millionaires now…

  18. GG*

    I’m updating my resume, and am trying to address the issue of different people having different ideas about which Excel skills are “advanced”. So I’m currently leaning towards saying something like:

    Advanced Excel skills including charts, conditional formatting, named ranges, and building custom formulae using assorted functions such as Vlookup.

    1) What’s do you think of this kind of phrasing?
    2) What other things do you know how to do in Excel that you consider advanced? (I’m sure I’m forgetting some, so your answers might help me think of more to add, or at least encourage me to learn some cool new functions.)

    1. Two Dog Night*

      I wonder if it might be better not to use the word “advanced,” just because people’s definition of “advanced” does vary so much.

      Other “advanced” areas, IMO: pivot tables, Power Pivot, data validation, the analysis pack, writing macros, creating add-ins, getting data from external sources, the LAMBDA function (if it’s available–it’s really new but very cool).

      1. Ashley*

        I agree skip the word advanced and list activities. I am ‘advanced’ because I know how to fix a basic formula between two sheets in my office … or I use excel instead of an adding machine for most math problems. Meanwhile I know I use about 10% of what Excel can do. The term varies wildly.

    2. Annika Hansen*

      People seem really amazed by Pivot Tables. They are not difficult to do and make summarizing larger sets of data easily digestible.

    3. No Tribble At All*

      I like the listing of specific skills, but I don’t think conditional formatting counts as “advanced”. To me that’s more medium level, so to speak? Like, they’re good skills for normal users, but you’re not an excel guru, so to speak. But I work with people who commonly use macros that process and create new files, so I think my baseline is skewed.

    4. saffie_girl*

      I like using examples of what you can do, but I agree with others that it is probably best to leave off the level. If you get it wrong in the hiring managers eye, that may end up creating a larger problem.

      Perhaps something like “regular” or “daily” excel user including…

    5. SomebodyElse*

      I would class your examples as “Proficient” but would leave the rank off entirely. It’s so subjective, I never believe what I see on a resume because it really does vary too much in definition.

      For me though, Macros are the beginning of the advanced ranking, I feel like if there’s a button for the function it’s part of the proficient category. (but again, it’s subjective so I’m not claiming to be the final word on this! )

    6. TWW*

      On my resume I just list my key software skills without qualifiers.

      For the job I recently was offered, the posting specifically required Excel, so in my cover letter I mentioned that I have 25+ years’ Excel experience, but I figured it was pointless to try to describe how advanced my skills are to an unknown person who may or may not be impressed by my conditional formatting chops.

      Unfortunately, if I saw a resume citing VLOOKUP as an example of an “advanced” skill, I’m afraid I would conclude you actually weren’t that advanced.

    7. Hillary*

      I agree about leaving advanced off since that’s highly subjective. This is intermediate to me – advanced tools are things like macros, index formulas, and the statistical analysis functions. It’s also about how large the data set is – advanced means successfully working with 100k+ lines regularly and being able to handle millions of lines without taking hours to process.

      Fun things to learn: countif/sumif, countifs/sumifs, and indexes. If you do financial work learning how to build self-adjusting what if scenarios are hugely valuable. What happens if they ask for a different % than I expect? Or we go through three rounds of counter offers? What happens if the project start gets pushed out six months?

    8. Unkempt Flatware*

      Advanced excel skills in my world means being able to create, run, and maintain complex macros and develop meta-data to be able to analyze large multiple data sets at once. I work in state program management.

    9. ecnaseener*

      Seconding/thirding/fourthing the suggestion to leave out the word “advanced,” but not just because it might be wrong — if I’m understanding you correctly, you want to take up resume space with a complete sentence explaining how you define advanced excel skills? That would read really weird to me, like you’re trying to teach the reader what the word “advanced” means (or like you’re saying “I’m just coming up with a definition of ‘advanced’ that applies to me, here you go”)

      1. Imprudence*

        Last time I needed to describe my abilities with Excel and word, I said I was the go to person in my office for queries and problems with them. I thought that positioned me quite clearly as competent in a way that was easy for non experts ( who wouldn’t recognise a vlookup if it was in front of them ) to understand. Does that help?

        1. ecnaseener*

          It’s perfect for a cover letter. I still don’t think it would play well on a resume.

          If you can frame it as a job accomplishment/duty, it could be a resume bullet — something like “supported office’s needs in performing complex excel tasks”

  19. Anxious Annie*

    How do you ask for guidance at a new job without looking needy?

    This is a pretty inconsequential question, but I am not sure how to approach it. I’m overthinking it, for sure.

    I’ve recently started working as a… teapot organizer at a new teapot learning organization location. I’m not new to the organization, but new to THIS location. It’s a very stressful time for 90% of the staff members working here due to Covid-19 and due to new restrictions put into place by our jurisdiction. They are all super stressed. However, my position isn’t really affected by it. But it’s probably the least “important” position at the teapot organization by far, so my “needs” are usually seen as frivilous compared to others. Anyway… I’m supposed to re-distribute teapot building resources to new locations in the building from their current location. Since I’ve only started this position 2 weeks ago, I’m still getting used to where the heck everything is. I’m afraid to ask my supervisor and assistant supervisor WHERE they want me to put things, as they think… I should *know* where to physically put things in the new building? I know I might sound stupid, but I have NO IDEA where would be the best places to put things in this building. Everyone is so stressed out about figuring out how to do their jobs with the new restrictions there’s like… no good time to ask, because to them it’s on the bottom of the list of important things to do? I also don’t want to sound more clueless than I am, but I honestly have no idea where these resources should go. I’ve only been here for 3 weeks, I have no idea!!

    HOW can I ask this question to my supervisors a) without sounding like a needy idiot and b) without “bothering” them during such a stressful time? I feel like I can’t win.

    1. merope*

      I think the key to this question is how you ask it — it’s not about helping you, it’s about helping THEM. Frame your concern as wanting to provide the best support for them, and defer to their expertise. And it may be that they themselves don’t know, but they might have some suggestions as to who should have input into these types of decisions (i.e. I imagine the people who are getting things from the resource locations might have some ideas about their placement).

    2. Lucy McGillicuddy*

      Can you send an email to your boss that says “when you get a chance, could you tell me where these 3 things go: 1. 2. 3.?”? Then they can answer on their own time ? Also if everyone is that busy I wouldn’t worry about where “the best” place to put things is – just worry about finding them a spot.

    3. Blue Eagle*

      Do you have only one question or a bunch of questions? The thing that used to drive me up a wall with one of my staff was interrupting me in the middle of something to ask of one question, then 15 minutes later with another question, then 10 minutes later with still another question. My best recommendation is to group the questions and ask them all at one time. And if you can suggest options (e.g. I’m not sure of the best place to put the cartons – would you prefer they be in the closet or next to your desk or would you prefer I put them somewhere else) that would be even better. Good luck!

    4. JustTellMe*

      I agree with Merope, in that it should be phrased as you wanting to make their work easier/more efficient. If you accidentally put the resources in a place that’s not convenient for them, or is not where they would think to look, then that is time wasted as they try to find/spend extra time getting those resources. So I would probably say something like, ” I know you’re busy, but I wanted to ask you about the best locations for these resources in this new building. I want to make sure that they are located in the most convenient place so as to not interrupt work flow, and I know different buildings sometimes have different preferences. What places would make sense in this building?”

      If you have a huge list of resources needing locations, I wouldn’t burden them with the whole list. Maybe pick a few of the most critical ones, or group them by types. But yeah, I can see how if you ask where each and every little thing goes, it could seem like you need a little too much hand holding. Could you use you experience at past locations to guide you on where stuff needs to go?

    5. SomebodyElse*

      -I would start out by mapping where you think the things should go in the new building. Don’t overthink this, just start with the obvious and sort of go from there.
      -Then, start talking to the people that will actually be using the thing. Let them know where you are planning on putting the things and ask for input (trust me everyone will have an opinion)
      -Then revise your map with the information you’ve learned
      -Present the revisions to your boss for review and advice. Frame it as “Based on what I know from my short time here, this is what I recommend. I’ve received input from the various teams and have implemented as much as possible. I want to make sure I’m not missing anything from your perspective”

      1. SomebodyElse*

        Edit…
        The first thing is to make sure you have enough information about the new building, do you have a directory/map/design of the new space and where everyone/everything will be located? That needs to be the first thing you get … then go on with the other stuff as it makes sense.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Some where there has to be a map of the building- usually for fire exits or whatever.
      If you can locate a map, you can mark it up so that you never ask the same question twice.

      Has anyone given you a walking tour of the building? If no, you can ask. If you don’t feel comfy asking your boss, perhaps there is a friendly face around you who would not mind. I am not sure if this would help answer your question.

      If you know who ordered it, ask them where they want it. I had stuff that I had to put in someone’s office- this was a large area. A new person was in charge of the office, so I simply asked her, “Sue used to have me put all X’s over here. Is that okay or would you prefer something else?” People don’t mind if you are offering to put it in a spot where it’s out of their way but they still know that it’s there.

      If you are getting the “you should know attitude” then what I would do is keep asking different people to spread out the “work” in answering you. It won’t be like this forever, just for a bit, then you will work into it.

      If you get disgusted enough, you could just say to your boss, “I know I keep asking where to put things, can you give me some general rules of thumb so I don’t ask so much?”

  20. LQ*

    How do you know the difference between when you are ignoring things that don’t need to be done/don’t need to be done by you, and when you aren’t doing your job?

    1. RagingADHD*

      It sounds like you are not clear on where your responsibilities are, and/or what type of followup or “maintenance” work is necessary to uphold your long-term priorities.

      That sounds like something to discuss with your manager and get guidance. If you have a list of these things, maybe ask how important they are and who is getting them done.

      1. LQ*

        I was afraid that was going to be the answer, I know my boss will say I’m doing a good job of figuring it out. Which feels like a really disappointing answer.

        1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

          If that’s the case, then you need to go high-detail. List all of the stuff you’re doing every day, pushing off, and just dropping altogether. Keep a detailed diary/task list of this for a week or a month, and then go through these things with your boss.

          Also, just by doing this exercise, you’ll be able to see if there’s any correlation between dropping things and bad consequences for your organization.

    2. saffie_girl*

      Ask your supervisor for clarification. They should be able to offer clarity of the specific situation and you will start learning the broader patterns when these things come up again.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      My first clue is when it interferes with my work. I don’t have any x’s and I need them to do y process.
      Okay time to stop ignoring x’s.

      Another thing I look at is, is the task small or big?
      I work in a low budget place. I will go get more paper goods when they are out from the supply closet for the bathroom because I figure others are doing that also. (small task) I will NOT sweep up big piles of mud or dirt that get tracked it. I need the tp and towels, but I can walk around the mud. The mud is a bigger task, it’s in a shared area, not my own space.

      I will do one-time things IF it makes my job easier. I made a little sign for the bathroom because people could not find the light switch. Since my office is closest to the bathroom, they always asked me. This worked so well, no one has asked me in over a year where that switch is. I was answering that question several times a day.

      There are some things that I won’t do even at home. So when the ceiling light needs a new bulb- this one is a no-brainer for me. I don’t do ladders. I notify someone to pass the word.

      Then there are things that I do just because it’s part of my personality. It bothers me if a person looks lost and doesn’t know where to go. I’d want someone to help me if the situation were reversed. It takes two minutes to answer their questions. So I help and it’s not in my job description.

      Generally, if something takes longer than 15 minutes AND happens on a recurring basis then I try to figure out if it’s actually mine or if it’s someone else’s. If your boss won’t answer you, perhaps you can find a friendly person who can. “Hey, are we supposed to be doing ABC or is someone in particular assigned to it?”

  21. Keymaster of Gozer*

    Question that came up on our company manager’s forum and I’m interested in hearing other’s opinions (the post isn’t by me or from my department). BTW in the UK we don’t have baby showers:

    “We’ve had a lot of celebratory parties arranged over zoom for weddings and women going on maternity leave with online donations instead of gifts because of Covid. One of our staff is going off on maternity leave in a month or so and she and others have asked if we can do a ‘gender reveal’ party with the same donation/gift setup as well as the maternity leave one closer to the time. Never encountered one of these, is this something we should be doing here at (company)?”

    (The overall opinion thus far is ‘just do a standard new baby thing, no need to add another’)

    1. Taura*

      (From the US, if that matters) It does seem a bit strange to do it twice? I suppose I could see “So-and-so asked if we could do the party when she comes back with a gender reveal as opposed to when she leaves, can we do that?” but asking for two parties instead of changing the timing or asking for space to make an announcement later on seems off to me.

    2. NotRealAnonForThis*

      Speaking as someone from the US:

      Don’t let this take a foothold as “normal”. Just don’t.

      1. Lora*

        Hahahahaha 100% agree. It goes nowhere good.

        Back story: the original “gender reveal” party consisted of a normal baby shower type of thing with a cake, and when they cut into the cake the inside was pink or blue according to impending boy/girl. Things have since escalated to, I am not kidding about this AT ALL, tannerite explosions that break windows and crack house foundations, cannons and explosions that actually kill the parents-to-be or other family members, fireworks that light wildfires burning 45,000 acres of land, plane crashes, etc.

        The cake lady has since publicly asked people to stop with this nonsense and have normal baby showers.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          Oh dear god! I didn’t know really what these things were (my personal objections to something like that are routed more in gender politics) and yeah, I really hope now that we DON’T import that custom!

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            Also, babies don’t really have gender. They have a sex. Gender is a social construct.

            In the middle ages & renaissance, children weren’t seen as having a gender until about age 5.

        2. Sunny*

          As a trans person, I don’t inherently mind the cake variety (or the ones that just use paper in baskets, or things of that variety); they seem kind of silly to me, but lots of people do things I think are silly and cake is always nice.

          As a resident of California, I have serious issues with the bomb gender reveal parties. If you must have the parties, just do cake (or blueberry/raspberry pie, if cake doesn’t work for you). It’s much tastier.

        3. No Tribble At All*

          IIRC the reason she did it was because she had a history of miscarriages, so the “reveal” was more a celebration that a pregnancy had lasted long enough that they could determine the sex.

      2. Rusty Shackelford*

        HARD AGREE. Even when people don’t die (and yes, they do die), a gender reveal party is just the stupidest thing, IMHO.

      3. Donkey Hotey*

        Pretty, pretty please don’t let it become any more acceptable.
        “I’m happy you’re having a baby. I don’t need to know about their genitals.”

    3. LadyByTheLake*

      Just say no — even the person who came up with the (horrible horrible) idea of gender reveal parties has now said that she made a mistake.

      1. JustaTech*

        And it’s so sad because for her it was really celebrating that the pregnancy had gotten as far as being able to (maybe) see stuff on a sonogram, because she’d had several miscarriages.

        If a person wants to have a colored cake at their baby shower, awesome. But it doesn’t need to be a thing (and certainly not an *additional* party!).

    4. ratatatcat*

      So they basically want 2 parties with 2 sets of donations and gifts? That seems like it’s asking a bit much, especially since while I assume coworkers probably care that their colleague is having a baby, ie major life event hence the courtesy celebration, they almost certainly don’t care at all about the gender of the baby.

    5. Ashley*

      I have found gender reveal parties to be nothing but a gift grab round 2… well except for the number of people that die, cause forest fires, or create neighborhood wide structural issues. Please do anything and everything to skip a gender reveal party. Plus as we learn more about gender, it is really a reveal of the baby’s sex because you probably won’t really know there gender until 4 or 5 (or later depending on how open the family is).

      1. JustaTech*

        Over the winter I was out cross country skiing on a public trail in the woods when someone fired off an air cannon of confetti for their gender reveal photo shoot. Like, I guess better a photo shoot than a party, but generally cross country skiing is a very quiet activity, like hiking, and random cannons are out of place.
        (And then they had to fire off all the cannons with the wrong color confetti. I can only hope that it all biodegraded quickly.)

    6. RagingADHD*

      No. Besides the gift-grabby nature of trying to get more parties and gifts than everyone else, there’s the fact that a “gender reveal” has nothing to do with their work life at all. A maternity leave/new baby party acknowledges that they are having a major life milestone, and also the fact that the team is supporting their being out for a while.

      Boy or girl isn’t a milestone and doesn’t need any different type of support from work. If they want to do some kind of staged gender-reveal event (which I personally believe is incredibly tacky), they can video it themselves and share it with their friends at work through social media.

      Hopefully they wont’ kill anyone or set any wildfires, as gender-reveal events gone wrong have now become notorious for.

      1. WellRed*

        Yes even at workplaces that do baby showers a gender reveal would be really odd. Plus, are they planning a separate gender reveal for family and friends? Once the cat’s out of the bag, it simply isn’t possible to keep secret for many people.

    7. Undine*

      I say no. In addition to being just another baby thing, you may have employees who are offended by it. Even worse, it’s potentially an equalities issue — I don’t know much about that in Britain, but you may have employees who are intersex, transgender, or non-binary who really will suffer if this becomes a standard thing. (It sounds like you’re big enough that you almost certainly do.)

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Yeah, that’s basically my objection to it, before even knowing a bit more about this type of party! I know it’ll offend a lot of people (including me) who don’t believe what you’re born as = your gender for life, or even if gender is something you have to hold to.

        1. NotRealAnonForThis*

          So I’ve never had luck (or had the technical knowhow to not bugger it up apparently), so I did a quick copy and paste from Wikipedia (yeah, I know, mileage varies on accuracy, crowdsourced, yada yada, so boulder of salt but here it is):

          History and development
          The gender reveal party developed in the late 2000s. An early example was recorded in the 2008 posts of then-pregnant Jenna Karvunidis on her ChicagoNow blog High Gloss and Sauce announcing the sex of her fetus via cake.[6] YouTube videos can be found as early as 2008 and 2009, becoming significant around 2011, after which the trend continued to grow through the 2010s.[3][2]

          In 2019, Karvunidis observed an increase in extreme reveal events over the preceding five years, with parents “burning down forests and exploding cars, bringing alligators into the mix”. She expressed regret at having helped start the trend, learning how the LGBT and intersex communities feel, and finally revealing the daughter they announced back in 2008 to be a gender-nonconforming individual who wears suits while still identifying as female.[6] After the 2020 El Dorado Fire was started by a malfunctioning pyrotechnical device at a gender reveal party, Karvunidis pleaded for people to stop staging such events.[7]

          Comparison to baby showers
          Baby showers, a traditional prenatal celebration, have some key differences with gender-reveal parties. Primarily, the focus on gender-reveal parties is fetal sex, while baby showers focus on the giving of supplies and items for the future infant to the expectant parent(s). Traditionally, baby showers are for women only, while gender-reveal parties have no inherently-associated gender restriction and attendee limitations (if any) are determined by the pregnant individual or couple. Some couples combine the two.[1][2]

          Spread and mediatization
          The trend was popularized on social media platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest, although it originated before the latter two.[3][5] This mediatization has significantly boosted the likelihood of expectant parent(s) to have or take part in gender-reveal parties. Internet remix culture lends the practice great receptivity toward individual creativity, a factor in their growing popularity.[1][2] Demographic research shows the most gender-reveal parties are done by expecting parents that are middle-class, heterosexual White Americans who are married or partnered.[1]

        2. Hotdog not dog*

          Gender reveal parties are nothing more than a ridiculous gift grab. When I was pregnant we declined to learn the baby’s sex before the birth…our thought was that it wouldn’t make any difference since we planned to love our child no matter what. There was a lovely baby shower with beautiful multicolored and gender neutral gifts. At work, my colleagues held a nice luncheon with cake, gifts were minimal (everyone brought a favorite children’s book), and it was a very thoughtful and appreciated gesture. Especially at work, a whole big shindig is much too much. Keep it simple!

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            IMHO, if not a gift grab, at the very least they’re an attention grab.

            1. Hotdog not dog*

              The books were fabulous! Affordable, gender neutral, easy to transport, and got a ton of mileage before being outgrown! Plus, it made for some fun conversations during the luncheon (“oh, I’d forgotten that one, I loved it when I was little!”)

      2. Hare under the moon with a silver spoon*

        Im from UK (London if relevant) – seems a bit off especially as we’re hopefully moving towards more trans-inclusive spaces. Like others have said gender is just a social construct.

    8. Ya Girl*

      Am I reading this correctly that she’s expecting coworkers to give gifts at two separate parties? Absolutely not.

    9. No Tribble At All*

      No, it’s not something you should be doing, for two reasons:
      (1) don’t let people double-dip on parties, especially when part of party is “everyone else brings me presents”
      (2) gender reveal parties are stupid

    10. Dark Macadamia*

      So she’s asking for two celebrations when everyone else gets one? No thanks lol

      I can’t stand the concept of a gender reveal party, partly because it seems like it’s not an alternative/theme for a baby shower but an EXTRA baby shower now?

    11. often trapped under a cat*

      Agree with everyone else: do not go there.

      In my worklife, we have baby showers for expectant parents (moms and dads). We’re still fully remote, so all these things have been virtual, and no donations have been solicited from employees. Prior to the pandemic, a physical card was circulated along with an envelope for cash donations. No one kept track of who gave and who didn’t or of who gave how much. I think because that anonymity could not be preserved virtually, donations were abandoned. It’s unclear if/how/when they might resume. Now we do virtual cards, which are great, and have Zoom parties, which are–for me–more fun than in-person ones. I can hear more of what people are saying, I can “chat” in the sidebar while the main conversation is going on “live” and without having to make my way through a crowded, hot, noisy conference room.

      As for gender-reveals, a couple of years ago in my non-work life, I talked someone out of it by gently raising the question of why someone’s genetics were something to celebrate? In this day and age, what a fetus’s genes say does not necessarily indicate the actual gender of the person that fetus will become. The person was receptive to the argument and cancelled their plans.

    12. Bagpuss*

      Yes, this seems weird to me (UK) and if it happened in my workplace I would definitely see it as a gift-grab, if there’s already a practice of doing something for someone going on maternity leave.

      If you have to respond, then I’d be inclined to say that no, it’s not something to add but of course of the new parent-to-be wants to include a gender reveal at their leaving-to-go-on-maternity-leave event then that’s their choice. (You might think, but probably shouldn’t add, that you can’t see any way of stopping them… )

    13. LKW*

      I would advise that for a life event everyone gets one celebration. Marriage, baby, adoption, whatever. One. I’m not a fan of any of it but this nonsense of repeated celebrations for a single event is just getting out of hand.

    14. Malarkey01*

      (US) it’s so so weird to do this with coworkers. I don’t like gender reveal parties in general for a lot of the reasons already stated, BUT at least when you normally do them for close family they at least are interested in the sex of the baby because they will be part of the baby’s ongoing life (personally think there’s bad gender issues around this but knowing my sisters kid is a boy or a girl is at least interesting to me). I give zero cares whether Jane my coworker has a boy or a girl. It’s nice to say congrats Jane is becoming a mom but after that I have zero stake in her baby or her.

    15. Beth*

      Holy cripes, nip the “gender reveal” thing in the bud NOW. It will be written in gold in the great book of your virtuous deeds if you do so.

    16. I ♥️ Spreadsheets*

      From a UK reader –

      I work in childcare so it may be different, but we have tended to have a work baby shower before our staff go on maternity leave. If they want to have a gender reveal then that is a personal decision and is nothing to do with work. Over the last 6 years I think I was invited to 3 or 4 gender reveal parties from people who only knew me from work, while a few more have bought in cupcake with coloured icing to share the sex of the baby.

    17. fhqwhgads*

      No. These are bad enough when they happen with friends and family. It does not need to become a work thing as well.

    18. I take tea*

      I find the gender reveal party to be both perplexing and down right off-putting. If you have any clout to push it back, please do.

    19. allathian*

      Ugh. I hope you can stomp hard on this one.

      I didn’t even want to know the sex of my child before birth, and our NHS won’t attempt to turn the baby just for that for a sonogram, although they’ll tell you if it’s obvious. I’m glad neither baby showers nor gender reveal parties are a thing here, but then, I’m in Finland and we invented the “baby box”. New parents get a lot of stuff, mostly baby clothes, for free, before the baby’s born. Including a box with a thin mattress that you can use as your baby’s first bed, instead of a bassinet.

    20. Policy Wonk*

      Do the standard thing. Nothing more. If Mom-to-be decides to reveal the baby’s sex, that’s up to her. Do not give in to this madness!

    21. Robin Ellacott*

      I’m in Canada but it’s a burgeoning Thing here too. Personally I hate gender reveal parties (largely due to my beliefs about gender) and I think all in all even if you are ok with the concept it’s just not a work thing.

      I also would be embarrassed to get, or attend, two celebratory parties and flurries of gifts for the same event.

    22. Here we go again*

      IMHO, I always thought Gender reveals are dumb.
      Especially since I knew a guy who died at one because the old cannon used exploded. Please don’t force people to participate in this. We once had a diaper raffle where I worked for someone going on maternity leave. That was fun, everyone brought in a package of diapers and we had cake.

    23. Tessa*

      You don’t get two parties. How embarrassing to even ask. It’s more than enough to ask for one. No one needs a gender reveal.

    24. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      Shit, I don’t even attend regular showers of any kind. If it’s people I care about, they get ONE gift for their wedding or birth of child WHEN IT HAPPENS. This would make me uncontrollably snarky. I’ve given gender-neutral baby gifts for like five decades (hello green! hello yellow!) and this seems like some insidious back-to-the-regressive 1950s or before era with rigid gender roles. Ugh.

    25. Snark No More!*

      I agree with the commentariat on this. Unless you want to do two parties for every expectant mother from now on, don’t set this precedent.

  22. CareerShifter*

    Anyone give up a full time job to return to grad school after over 15 years?

    I don’t mind studying for GREs, but I don’t know how to get around letters of recommendation. My professors from way back when couldn’t speak to my work habits after 15 years, and I don’t want to tip off my current bosses that I’d be leaving…

    1. SAinthebooks*

      I returned to grad school after 8 years. Not quite 15, but still a significant length of time.

      I asked my professors from way back. The professorial comments are likely more relevant to your success in your new program than your current bosses’ comments would be, since they (presumably) would speak more to your academic aptitude, interest, development, collegiality, etc, rather than to “work skills.” Plus, your professors may have records on performance that they could reference to write a letter.

    2. Koons*

      I’m doing exactly this, 15 years later! It’s a complete career shift, and a first professional degree for the new field. I used previous managers and intradepartmental co-workers as references (to show I could work well across departments) which worked out just fine. I also took a 3 month course (continuing ed) in a topic in my new field last fall, just in time to ask for a recommendation from the professor who was pleased to help someone entering that field. I was accepted to the program I wanted, and start full time in the fall!
      I had been thinking of grad school on and off over the years and finally decided I wasn’t going to go because I didn’t want any debt, and didn’t think a masters would truly help in the field I was in. But I reached a burnout point with my current career, which is a bit dead-end, and decided to make a full switch. The types of schools I looked at were very supportive financially, and I wouldn’t have done it without that.
      Good luck with everything!

      1. Koons*

        I should add that I wrote a statement of purpose for the application which outlined why I wanted to switch careers, and sent that along to my recommenders, along with an easier to read bullet pointed email highlighting how my work with them would support my application, so I hope it was easier for them to make the bridge in the letter to my going to graduate school. The two career paths are not closely related, but do use similar skills (visual analysis, project management, constant keeping up with new ways of working).

        1. CareerShifter*

          This is great advice re: statement of purpose, thanks!
          And I’m in a similar boat re: visual analysis/proj management…I want to go back to school to understand the technical bits of what I’m visualizing/managing!

    3. Carol*

      I did this, not with as much time, but my older professors were happy to write recommendations for me.

      Include a recap of what you did with them/how they know you, work you did for them, any academic achievements, and some basic info on where you are now and what you would bring to a grad program. Make it very easy for them to remember you and write the letter (in fact, some ask for lists like this as a default). Be grateful and not demanding, always give them an out if they don’t want to recommend you.

      You could include one former manager to round it out, but you want academics in there, too.

      You could also consider enrolling in a somewhat related course in a state university (not a for-profit money machine), and getting a nice current reference from that professor. Community college won’t hold as much weight, although that’s rank snobbery as many of those teachers have PhDs and just couldn’t hack the oversaturated R1 job market.

    4. Unladen European Swallow*

      First, I’d confirm with the program to which you’re applying if you are required to have academic reference letters with your application. It’s not uncommon for programs to give separate instructions for those who last earned their degree more than 5 years ago and NOT require a letter from a professor. I’d focus on getting a letter from a supervisor/manager, maybe from a colleague. Ask if they can focus their letter to include information on the skills that would be required in a graduate program, which might include critical thinking, data analysis, writing, etc.

  23. Anansi*

    Any advice for dealing with unresponsive coworkers during the pandemic? I wonder if now that we’re over a year into this, a lot of people are just fed up with virtual work. I get it! But work hasn’t slowed down and there’s still a ton of things to do. While there have always been a few people who are tough to get a hold of, in the last few months there’s been a huge uptick of people just ignoring their emails, skipping scheduled calls with no notice, saying they’ll send needed materials and then…not. I feel like I spend the whole day haranguing people repeatedly for basic things. Is anyone else experiencing this, and have you had any success in navigating it?

    1. Product Julie*

      Yes, I am experiencing this constantly, and no I don’t have much advice. I just try to set a better example and be sympathetic, because I know my workload has gone through the roof right now.

      1. Anansi*

        I feel like that’s probably the best thing to do, and I’m definitely trying to be understanding. It’s frustrating though!

    2. TWW*

      Unpopular opinion: Start strongly encouraging employees to get vaccinated and come into the office. There will be some workers who can’t, but over the next several weeks, many, if not most, US office workers will be able to safely return to onsite work.

      1. Crabby Patty*

        “over the next several weeks, many, if not most, US office workers will be able to safely return to onsite work.”

        Is there verifable data supporting that?

  24. NeonDreams*

    I finally got a internal interview at my company! I’ve been in customer service for almost 6 years and completely burnout on the profession. I’ve been applying to internal positions off and on for years with multiple rejections. I’m super excited because it’s off the phone and more solitary. The listing says remote, which I’m not sure about. But I’ve been remotely working for over a year now due to the pandemic. I could get used to it.

    Anyway, wish me luck. It takes place a week from Monday.

    1. Blue Eagle*

      Sending you positive energy and wishing you luck! Customer service definitely takes its toll – wishing for you a new position that lets you develop new skills and is enjoyable to boot.

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      As a former CSR, I’d like to say that anyone who stays with it as long as you have deserves an award.

      Getting off the phones might help with the burnout. Good luck!

      1. Fran Fine*

        Getting off the phones might help with the burnout.

        It did for me (I was in customer facing roles for seven years, but it felt more like 70 by the time I escaped) – good luck, OP!

  25. Tuckerman*

    Glad I read the recent interview here with the EAP worker. My husband and I were overwhelmed trying to find time to compile a list of possible daycares. I contacted our EAP, they asked a few questions about our needs, and said they’d send me a list of daycares by Monday. I wouldn’t have thought to use our EAP for this if I hadn’t read the interview!

  26. Nabuma Rubberband*

    It’s perfectly fine to set boundaries here. Your boss is taking advantage. And two weeks notice is a COURTESY, not a legal requirement. In many states there is at-will employment where either you or the company can cancel the employment contract for any reason, or for no reason, at any time.

    Don’t take it all on. You can’t save them, and that is not your job.

  27. Alu*

    Probably a basic question but – if a job ad for a copy editor asks for a writing sample, are they asking for an original sample of my own writing or a sample of writing that I have edited (with track changes)? I would assume they would want to see examples of the editor’s work in practice but I would feel uncomfortable sharing someone else’s writing that I have edited without their permission. Copy editing is currently a large part of my current job but I’m branching out into freelancing and am not sure how to handle this, as I’ve seen it come up in a couple of listings.

    1. RagingADHD*

      I would assume it’s a sample of your own writing, which hopefully is copyedited to the same standard.

      1. WellRed*

        I agree. It’s helpful to see that a potential copy editor can also write clean, concise copy. They can always give you a copy editing test.

    2. Alex*

      I would assume they want a writing sample of your own writing. If they want to see your editing, they will give you a copyediting test.

    3. AllTheBirds*

      I’d send two writing and one editing sample. I don’t think it’s overkill to send just two more.

    4. Weegie*

      This is extremely odd. I’m an editor who hires copy-editors, and what I’m interested in is their editing style, not their writing style. I set them an editing test if they’re invited to interview – and when I’ve been interviewed for editing jobs previously, I expect to be asked to complete an editing test.
      If you can, ask the person advertising the job to clarify, because the job may actually be geared towards copy-writing.

  28. Lucky*

    I received a very healthy market adjustment to my salary yesterday. I’m thankful, but I also know that this means I was underpaid and the company understands that I’m disgruntled about the lack of promotion opportunity. So, yay?

    1. AnonE.Moose*

      I would take it as a win, in my experience in some industries, they know this about employees, don’t do anything about it then are surprised when people start leaving.

    2. ATX*

      I would consider that as a win! There are a lot of companies that don’t offer promotions unless there is head count for that type of position or someone leaves. No one at the fortune 50 company I work for gets promoted from analyst –> manger –> senior manager unless there’s an open position or additional headcount and they are promoted into that job.

    3. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      I’d take it as a win. I’ve gotten a couple of those. I’m pretty sure that my immediate management is constrained by rules set by our parent company regarding how much they can give as a raise. These rules might be appropriate for parent company’s industry, but not for the software developers in our little sub-company. This means it’s not difficult for people in my role to get out of sync with market rates. Fortunately, management has been able to successfully advocate to bring salaries back in line with market rates. (I do wish we had a more systematic way for these salary reviews to happen for the whole parent company, though…)

    4. twocents*

      My company does market analyses every couple years and adjusts pay (up only) if appropriate.

      The alternative is that they ignore the market or ignore that they’re underpaying, so I’d see this as the best option.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Yes, yah! It’s the best they can do with what they have.

      The ball is in your court to decide if it’s enough or if it’s too late. I think this is one of those questions that people can come up with a wide range of answers on.

      If you have arrived at “disgruntled” it might be too late for you. If you were looking for promotion opportunities, again, this raise might be too late for you.

      Does it help to think of this as the SO who wants a second chance?

  29. Need resources and ideas for dealing with poor team lead*

    My team lead has poor leadership skills at best. Some days she’s dictatorial and revamps everyone’s work until it’s unrecognizable; other days she won’t respond to DIRECT requests for information or assistance.

    Suggestions for managing up when you work with someone you truly dislike and don’t respect and hate interacting with? Resources for dealing with this situation? Websites, books, articles?

      1. Need resources and ideas for dealing with poor team lead*

        Nope. She’s the lead teacher for my grade level- basically the person who funnels info from admin to us and (supposedly) from us to admin. She has more “clout” because she’s also the department head.

    1. Let me be dark and twisty*

      Check out “Managing Up: How to Move Up, Win at Work, and Succeed with Any Type of Boss” by Mary Abbajay. She spoke on this topic at a seminar I went to and she was phenomenal. She breaks down different leadership management styles and techniques, like the micromanager or the ghoster or the impulsive reactor, and gives tips on how to deal with them. I’m not sure if she has a specific scenario for the type that your team lead is but you might find something that helps!

      Specifically for your team lead, all I can suggest is document. Document, document, document. If she revises everyone’s work and you have no idea what you’re supposed to do, document it. If she doesn’t respond to your emails, document it. If she ignores requests for help, document it. It will all catch up to her and she will probably try to throw the team under the bus for her bad decisions. Keeping a folder of memos for record (MFRs) or some other kind of internal documentation will save your hide. Just make sure you keep the documentation courteous and professional.

      (If you need to work out some aggression, boxing lessons and those smash-it places are very helpful!)

  30. wannabe job hopper?*

    So, I had Zoom interviews scheduled this week. Annoyingly they were scheduled spaced out such that I had to take a half day from work. There were only 2, and the second one (my potential boss) was a no-show. I emailed HR and asked if they would like to reschedule and they apologized and said yes.

    I’m trying to err on the side of “this stuff happens” but also, would have thought common courtesy would have been to let me know that it wasn’t happening WHEN it wasn’t happening. I’m rescheduling, but just wondering how big of a red flag people think this is? I have a nightmare boss now and I REALLY want to screen out future nightmare bosses.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      It’s possible that it was just a glitch, like the recruiter forgot to invite the manager on the invitation. Or there could have been a legit emergency.
      I would go to the rescheduled interview and see what happens. If the manager ignores the error and doesn’t apologize, then you will know for sure.

      1. wannabe job hopper?*

        Thanks! They told me her “previous call had gone over.” But I’m rescheduled for next week and will see what happens!

        1. Workerbee*

          Ooh. This happens all the time at my org and it’s because people can’t stop talking and think it’s okay to add even more 5-minute thoughts if someone says, “We’re at time.”

  31. Nonny*

    I’m officially unemployed and finally got my COBRA paperwork from HR today. Regarding the federal government covering COBRA payments, do I have to apply for that? Or accept COBRA and pay and hope to get reimbursed?

    1. Greensleeves*

      Your former company is responsible for implementing that and they’re the ones receiving reimbursement from the government, so you should ask them about it. Note that you’re only eligible if you were involuntarily terminated, not if you resigned.

      1. Nonny*

        I was laid off. The paperwork they gave me only included information on how to accept COBRA… Which is not surprising, this who process has been a hot mess.

          1. Nonny*

            They just said the benefits administrator would contact me via mail. I’m anxious because COBRA is going to cost me $2,200+ a month and if I can’t get covered, I won’t enroll.

    2. Undine*

      I am on Cobra, and my company sent paperwork that includes my reason for leaving so it’s supposed to be automatic. However, I still got a bill for my Cobra, so I called them up and they said they hadn’t got everyone in the system yet. So if you do receive a bill, call the number on the bill to get it sorted.

  32. Please I Just Want to Sleep And See My Family*

    This is more of a rant. I work seasonally, with a job that is pretty straightforward but needs constant coverage in case something goes wrong (think llama security guard making sure the llamas aren’t escaping their pens). There are four of us, and we rotate coverage. This spring, right before the start of the season in March, one of us left. Boss asked the rest of us llama security guards if we’d be ok working some extra OT to cover for that person until they hired a new one. We all said yes. Well, it’s not a small amount of OT, it averages out to 20 hours/week, often involving working 12 hour overnight shifts for 7-9 days straight, and it is now May, and no one has been hired. Also no word on providing any alternate coverage so we can go back to having lives outside of work. To top it off, I have a vacation scheduled in early June, that I was planning on taking last year but was postponed to this year due to covid, and was jut informed I now probably can’t take it it due to our coverage issues, even though I requested this time off back in early March and was told no problem, and have since spent a fair amount of time and money on setting up said vacation (I cannot, for various reasons, move the date).

    I’ve talked to my fellow llama security guards, and we are all worn out and not willing to do this much longer. I understand it’s been difficult to hire someone new, but we feel that at some point management has to pull in someone from another department, or get a temporary emergency hire, or get someone else to work some OT to take some of the load off of us. Am I totally off base here? I’ve talked to my boss, who has just sort of shrugged and said there’s not much he can do until someone gets hired.

    1. WellRed*

      It’s not reasonable to ask people to add 20 hours to their work week. I’d push back on the vacation for sure, with the reasons you mention here plus, “it’s part of my compensation package and I need to be able to use it,” also, can you and your coworkers band together in this?

    2. Bagpuss*

      I would definitely push back on the vacation – be clear that you have incurred non-refundable costs and as the vacation was approve 2-3 months ago, you aren’t in a position to cancel.
      Is the work something which a locum or temp could cover? IF so, can you suggest that to your boss?

      It may also be worth talking to your colleagues and pushing back as a group to say that you are not able to continue todo such high levels of OT, especially as you agreed to cover on the basis that it would be a limited, short term thing.
      Is your boss qualified to provide the coverage? IS that an option?

      1. Please I Just Want to Sleep And See My Family*

        We could do an expediated temporary hire, but unfortunately this job is in an extremely remote area, so it’s difficult to find people locally. My boss /could/ provide coverage, in fact he has in the past when we’ve been in this situation before (seasonal turnover is pretty standard, one year we were down three people, so I’m really annoyed that it’s causing this much disruption this year). But he’s leaving in two weeks, and the new guy has just started training and I haven’t met him yet so I’m not sure how to approach him about this.

        I’ve talked to my co-workers about pushing back as a group, but they are much more passive about this than me and aren’t willing to do that yet.

        I did manage to get the cancelation with a refund date on my vacation pushed back by two weeks (it’s actually a class for a hobby of mine I had to go through a somewhat lengthy application process and knock out a bunch of prerequisites for to get in to. So… I’m really hoping I don’t need to drop it!), so there’s that. My current plan is to keep politely but persistently pestering my boss about it for the next two weeks and hope that we’ll be able to work something out.

        1. Workerbee*

          Oh, I wonder how long your boss has been planning to leave. He doesn’t sound like he’s cared for awhile. He has no reason to in his final two weeks, either.

        2. Observer*

          What happens if you tell your boss that you are going. Period. This was approved months ago, you incurred costs that you can’t recoup, this is an opportunity that you won’t get again any time soon, and you only agreed to take on the insane amount of overtime because you were promised that it would be very short term. 3 months is NOT short term. So, you’re going.

          I hope they have been paying you overtime rates.

          1. WellRed*

            Yes, if they can’t hire people, they certainly aren’t likely to fire anyone.

        3. TL -*

          Can you just tell the new guy you have a vacation scheduled for X dates, approved since March?

    3. I take tea*

      Band together and push back. Right now the job gets done anyway, so there is no pressure to fix the situation. Make it harder for the boss to shrug it off. Be squeaky weels, all of you.

    4. NotGoneGirl*

      This sounds like one of those things that’s since things are “working” there’s no pressing need to change things. Of course, it’s breaking you guys, but it’s still working from a higher level.

      I’d do my best to hold strong on your vacation. Sometimes things have to break and/or the boss has to feel the pain to get things moving.

      Plus, if you are really doing something that requires this level of coverage, they shouldn’t want you absolutely burnt out where mistakes are more likely to happen. Although I know that isn’t often seriously considered other than talking about it (doctors, nurses, emergency personal, etc, etc).

      1. Just Another Manic Millie*

        “This sounds like one of those things that’s since things are “working” there’s no pressing need to change things.”

        That’s exactly what I was thinking. I wouldn’t be surprised if they never intended to hire another llama security guard.

        At one former company, on my first day, I was asked to do someone else’s job, in addition to my job, until they could hire a replacement. They never hired the replacement, and I was stuck with doing two jobs. (Friends told me that it was completely my fault, since they assumed that someone wasn’t hired because I was doing the two jobs so well, but IMHO if I had done the two jobs poorly, I believe they would have fired me, instead of realizing that the two jobs were too much for one person.)

    5. BubbleTea*

      Can you all decide as a group to stop agreeing to overtime, or to limit it to the amount you’re willing to do? They can’t fire you all or they’d be even worse off! It is the only way they’ll get the recruitment sorted by the sounds of it.

    6. Free Meerkats*

      First day with the new boss, directly tell him that you’ve had the vacation time scheduled since March, your former boss knew, and effective [date] you’re done with 20 hours of OT a week. Nobody is going to advocate for you and your coworkers, so you need to do it. Alone, or with them as a group.

  33. Newbie*

    Hi all! I’m in a bit of an awkward situation. For the past few months, I’ve been interning with a great company. My boss told me and the 2 other interns on our team pretty early on that unfortunately the company wasn’t looking to hire anyone full time but that everyone on staff would be happy to help us in our job search (all of us interns are post-college or seniors). Well a few weeks ago, I was offered to stay on with the firm as a fellow (Wohoo!). When I was offered the position by boss asked that I “be discrete” and not mention it to the other interns. I totally understand that! But now one of the other interns and I Have become pretty close and text outside of work as friends. He has asked me 4x in the past 2 weeks about how my job search is going and every time I just lie and say “nothing new to report”. But the thing is, our internship ends next week and I will be starting the fellowship at the end of the month and will accordingly be updating my LinkedIn. I don’t know what to do! I don’t feel comfortable continuing to lie to him and I also don’t want him to feel hurt when he sees I got the fellowship and as far as I know he is still looking for a job. Any advice???

    1. ratatatcat*

      I think this is maybe a judgement call about the sort of person the other intern is and what your relationship like: is he the sort of person who will be able to deal with it in a professional, calm-headed way and actually keep it low-key?
      Another thought is it might be worth waiting until the middle-end of next week and frame it like you were just offered the role, to minimize the amount of time he knows while interning there. Presumably the company will not keep you as a secret employee forever so he’s going to find out fairly soon!
      (caveat being I suppose if you signed an NDA or something contractual but I’m guessing not)

      1. Newbie*

        I think he would be calm-headed and professional when hearing the news I just am such an empath I don’t want him to feel bad! I know he’s been disheartened with his job search but I guess it’s not my responsibility to control his feelings aarrgh.

    2. 867-5309*

      This is something your boss can also help you navigate. As them something like, “With the internship program ending next and Suzy and Dan moving on to something else, they have been asking about my plans. Is now an appropriate time to mention that I am staying on with Acme Inc.?”

      Also, this is a difficult but important lesson to learn early in your career: Sometimes you know things that you cannot tell a work friend, even someone who becomes a good friend outside of work. I was in the mid-20s leading internal communications for a division of a large company. We had layoffs and I learned that one of my closest friends (inside and outside of work) was being let go and could not say anything. It is hard but hopefully they understand that you needed to keep the news under wraps.

    3. WellRed*

      Does the boss show other signs of not being a good leader or manager? Cause this is silly in general and unfair to you.

      1. Crabby Patty*

        There is nothing wrong with asking the intern to be discrete. In fact, it’s a smart move in this case, and it happens all the time in the workplace, with good reasons.

    4. elle*

      It’s kind of a red flag that your boss asked you to avoid mentioning it to the other interns. That’s not fair to you at all.

      1. 867-5309*

        If there were several weeks left in the internship, I could see why the boss asked Newbie to keep things under wraps so as not to demoralize the others. OP just needs to go back to their boss with this question now that it’s a bit later and closer to the end of the program.

        1. Newbie*

          I definitely don’t take this as a red flag from my boss (who is a junior associate, interns are her only reports). She framed it as wanting to be considerate of the other interns’ feelings since there was still a month left in the program and it had been previously stated that there were no open positions. She said ‘if we could, we’d hire all of the interns. That’s how impressive you’ve all been”. This new position is on a different team so she won’t be my boss when I start the fellowship but she has been an amazing manager and mentor to me, definitely the best boss I’ve had (and I’ve had 7 other internships).

      2. Malarkey01*

        Asking to keep staffing changes under wraps for a time determined by management is incredibly normal (whether it’s people being let go, being told you got a promotion over others, or being told of hiring decisions). There’s no red flag there.

        1. elle*

          Sure, I understand being told to wait for the official announcement or something. But it sounds like OP was just asked to keep it a secret indefinitely and then have to handle the fallout themselves when they leave and OP doesn’t.

          1. Crabby Patty*

            “When I was offered the position by boss asked that I ‘be discrete’ and not mention it to the other interns.”

            Where does this indicate that the boss told the intern to not say anything indefinetely and that the intern/fellow would be left to handle “fallout”? In fact, nothing in the OP’s post says anything remotely of the kind. Malarkey01 is right. There’s nothing nefarious happening here.

    5. Blue Eagle*

      You were asked to keep it quiet. If you tell your friend and your friend tells others, it may get back to your company and will be negative for you (i.e. you can’t keep confidential information private). Why not ask your boss when it would be OK to mention your fellowship. And once it is OK to do so, let your friend be the first to know the good news that you were offered the fellowship.

    6. Kathenus*

      I’d reframe your thinking, you’re not lying to your friend, you’re maintaining information as confidential as requested by your boss. There are lots of things that friends and coworkers might like to know, and we might like to talk about, that we are told to not discuss. In your case this is one of those. While maybe your friend is also discrete if you share it, you’re taking the risk of your new boss finding out if they aren’t, which could start you on the wrong foot in your new job with your boss losing trust. Keep it confidential until you’re allowed to share, then let your friend know that you’re sorry you couldn’t share but you were instructed not to do so before. Congrats on the fellowship.

    7. Snark No More!*

      This is not lying. This is being discreet. When your friend asks about your updated profile, you tell them you were asked to be discreet. It’s a normal business thing.

      And I don’t understand how everyone is a “lifelong, BFFs” after knowing one another for less than a year.

  34. Amber Rose*

    I don’t care.

    I’m so burned out and exhausted and I can’t get myself to do any work because I can’t bring myself to care whether it gets done. Whether it does or not, nobody else will notice or care either so what’s the point.

    Apparently this is the limit of my work ethic. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do about it.

    1. Remember Neopets?*

      Did I write this post somehow?
      I KNOW that what I do is important and that not doing it would be a bad idea for the company and that my boss is just clueless.

      But I’m so burnt out and I keep getting asked to do things that aren’t in line with my responsibilities (because my boss is clueless) so what would happen if I just don’t do my job? Aside from my company losing out on revenue that they won’t realize because no one else knows how to handle reporting….

      1. Amber Rose*

        I asked to take on more responsibilities/cross train with the aim of proving my worth or something.

        Effectively I just demoted myself though, since now I’m seen as an assistant to someone else’s department rather than the head of my own who helps out in other places.

        It’s demoralizing.

    2. Siouxie the Banshee*

      Hello, other self. : ) I could have posted this.

      Nnothing, nothing at all about my job merits me being there beyond the paycheck, and resentful that I was presented something that is so different than the reality. And I am not sure I can muster the effort to pretend anymore. I don’t give a flying fig about their efforts to team build their failing culture. But how do you know if it is just the job, or the whole thing?

      Amber Rose, do you feel that it is your job, or any job?

      1. Amber Rose*

        Actually I don’t even think it’s my job, I think it’s just me. I’m well aware that at least a portion of these feelings stem from feeling invisible and unappreciated at work. The most praise I’ve gotten in a long time was when I found a particularly tasty pizza place to order management’s lunches last week. -_-

    3. Donkey Hotey*

      I knew I had physical dopplegangers out there, but this is the first I’ve seen of an emotional doppleganger.
      Sending hugs if acceptable and either tea or whiskey as appropriate.

      1. Over it*

        I feel the same. For the past few months I just can’t make myself work or find motivation in the career I used to enjoy. I feel ashamed to say that, but somehow it’s just too hard to do everything.

    4. Sympathetic*

      I have no words of wisdom for you, but I’ve been there, and it sucks. Hoping something changes for you soon!

    5. :(*

      It’s a bit disheartening how many of us empathize deeply with this post, yet no one has advice. :(

    6. Pickled Limes*

      I’ve hit this exact same wall. I’m sorry you’re here too, and I wish I knew how to get us all back to a place where we can care about stuff again.

      1. BubbleTea*

        It sounds like you all need a proper break, and once you’ve had some time to reset mentally, to consider whether there are problems in your job that you can cope with if you get enough rest and downtime, or if there are fundamental problems you can’t live with or fix.

        I know paid time off can be really scarce in some jobs but I have found I risk burnout if I don’t take a full week off at least a couple of times a year, and ideally more than two days in a row every quarter. Just before Christmas I hit the wall where I not only didn’t care but also couldn’t work, I just felt overwhelmed by it all. Between two days off sick, three days paid time off and various bank holidays and weekends, I got two clear weeks off and came back able to function again. It took several days before I could wind down though.

    7. IFeelYa*

      I have definitely been at that point many times this year. I don’t have advice because the very root of it is how upper management or administration does not address it even when people are pointing it out repeatedly.

    8. Tofu pie*

      I was also in this situation. I literally could not work any more. Even replying to basic emails was overwhelming.

      I saw my doctor who wrote me a medical certificate to take two weeks off work. I just stayed home and slept. Frankly I couldn’t care less what happened at work – someone else took over, as they always do, and certain jobs didn’t get done but that wasn’t my problem.

      Sorry you’re experiencing burnout. It sucks. Your mental health is so important so I hope you have the right support system you deserve.

  35. Epsilon Delta*

    Graduate school!

    I have the opportunity to get a Master’s degree with tuition reimbursement from my employer. I do not want to go to school just to go to school, but I do think a master’s would be valuable for my career progression and contributing a higher quality of work. The trouble is I don’t know whether it would be best to pursue a technical master’s or an MBA. I am not sure whether I want to get on the management track or continue on the technical track. Obviously I need to figure that out before getting a graduate degree, but I’m wondering if others have faced the same choice and how you determined which path to take.

    The other issue is that while it has generous terms, my employer will only reimburse $5,000 per calendar year due to IRS tax limits. Many masters programs cost way more than that, even if they’re designed to be part time. Some I’ve looked at are nearly $1,000 per credit, so taking just one or two courses a semester would put me over the tuition reimbursement limit. I know there are online programs and other less expensive options, but I’m not sure at this point if they would be a good fit. If it turns out that I’d need to cover a large portion of my tuition, I wonder if the master’s is truly necessary from a financial perspective. I work in tech where credentials don’t always carry as much weight as they do in other fields. There’s still a lot of room for advancement and salary growth without the graduate degree. I know people who work as high level developers and architects without a master’s, and I know people who are managers without MBAs.

    Have you made a similar choice between a masters and MBA? How did you decide? And how did you determine that the cost was an appropriate investment in terms of salary growth compared to contuinuing to gain experience on the job/through specific trainings?

    1. New Grad*

      Are you looking into local colleges? My master’s program was roughly 4k a semester, not including textbook costs and that was for 12 units. That was for an MFA. Perhaps MBA’s are different? I would say look into grants your school would offer. I think most grad schools in the US, Fafsa won’t cover anymore, HOWEVER, my grad school still had us fill out our fafsa and we were awarded university grants, which was like 3K a semester for mine. So maybe along with grants offered by your university, you probably won’t have to pay much out of pocket. I graduated without any debt and it is a GREAT feeling!

      I can’t speak to the MBA vs. a regular Masters, but from what I’ve read of this site, it seems like the consensus is that work experience trumps all, lol. So unless your future plans will make an MBA necessary, then you’d be safe doing either and then continuing to have your work experience speak for itself alongside your masters. Maybe consider speaking to your employer too. Since they are reimbursing you, perhaps chat about if they have advice on what they feel would be the long term benefit of those degree paths, and if they have something they recommend.

      1. Epsilon Delta*

        I started with my nearby state schools. They are really affordable for undergrad, but surprisingly expensive for the master’s programs I’m looking at! Similar price to the private universities nearby.

        From what I’ve seen so far, the only way to get discounts/grants for grad school is to be a full time student. No financial aid for people working full time while doing the master’s on the side. Some of the school websites come out and say it explicitly.

    2. Carol*

      Would you pay for this without the discount? That can be one good way to figure out how much you really want it.

      You could look at it as future-proofing–I know some older, seasoned, experienced workers who got laid off during the pandemic due to their lack of credentials. Sucks, but something to watch out for in the future.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’m not in tech, so grain of salt, but I was debating between a specialized masters in my career field and a general MBA. I ended up opting for the MBA because it gave me more long-term options if I do ever decide to change fields.

      Cost-wise: I actually ended up accidentally getting two masters degrees at the same time, so I was a full-time student while working for four years. My tuition reimbursement program from work ($3600/year cap) covered approximately one semester per year, and I paid for the other semester out of pocket. (The current graduate tuition for the school I attended is roughly $450 per credit, with 9 credits in a semester being full time.)

      I didn’t actually need either of the masters degrees for my career though – I’m a perpetual student. I’ve gotten a second bachelor degree since then and I’m still attending classes at the local community college. So I didn’t put a whole lot of consideration into it as an investment, more like, “I’m going to continue my education in some field no matter what, so it might as well be some field reasonably useful.” (I don’t judge your hobbies, haha. Some people juggle geese. I collect degrees and certifications. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ )

    4. JustaTech*

      Something to consider about the financials: while you’re in grad school, even part-time, any existing student loans will be paused (I think you have to tell your lender). So you don’t have to make payments and I’m pretty sure that it won’t accrue interest in that time either (but do check!).

      My master’s hasn’t done wonders for my career, but doing it pulled me out of a really bad headspace, and I really enjoyed it, so there was value to it.

    5. Tuckerman*

      FYI, the IRS tax limits don’t apply to job-related graduate classes, unless there was a very recent change. I had a tuition benefit while getting my Master’s and only the non-job related classes were taxable after the 5K. Even though I was pursuing a degree in a different field, many of the classes I took were relevant to my job at the time, so they were not included in that limit.

    6. Penelope Toodlesworth*

      Not to sound like a salesperson, but consider Western Governors University. It’s a fully accredited nonprofit all online school that is competency-based, meaning you can go as fast as you want to. If you have prior experience, you can test out of a course or zip through a project in no time. You’re not held back or slowed down by an arbitrary semester-based calendar or a professor’s syllabus. I mention it because tuition is a flat fee ($3,500-$4,000, depending on the degree) per 6-month term. If you accelerate and go fast, you can earn it in a single term or two and have zero to minimal out of pocket expenses once the tuition assistance is factored in.

      After two decades in my field, I did my bachelor’s in four months and am on track to do my master’s in three months, all covered by my company’s tuition assistance. Two free degrees. No downside to that.

    7. Nonprofiteer*

      I was in a similar position a few years back in terms of degree choices and employer reimbursement. MBAs and MPAs are pretty common in my field, but I went for a well-regarded academic program (interdisciplinary) that was interesting to me and had some relevance to my work. I went part-time (mostly one class per term) and wound up doing the whole program online. Tuition and fees I paid were tax-deductible against some consulting work I do.

      A big reason people do MBAs is for deep networking in their industry and city. If that wouldn’t useful for you, it may not be worth thousands of your own dollars and all of your free time!

  36. Anon COVID boss*

    Any ideas on how I can compartmentalize finding out my boss is an anti-masker and anti-vaxxer? They had a conversation on our team’s chat application that I don’t think they realized the entire team could see that was full of conspiracy theories and hatred of Anthony Fauci. I’m not at a place in my life where I have the emotional energy to job hunt, but finding this out has been hard for me to deal with. In other ways, they are a very supportive boss who always gives me stretch opportunities, talks me up to senior management, etc.

    1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Are you vaccinated? Are you allowed to wear a mask at work? If yes to both, you can compartmentalize with the awareness it doesn’t affect you.

      1. Donkey Hotey*

        Agreed with CiP. Get your shots, wear your mask, and let them jeopardize their own health.

      2. Anon COVID boss*

        Thanks. Getting my second dose today, and will continue to wear a mask any time I’m in the office, even though I know my boss doesn’t follow those rules when they are in the office. Our company offers vaccine time off, and I felt weird submitting my timecard for approval with it knowing that my boss will think I’m a sheep who has been brainwashed for getting the vaccine. But, let’s hope they can compartmentalize their view of me too :)

    2. JustaTech*

      You’ve learned something important about your boss, so tuck that away in the back of your brain. But if your boss ever starts to make you think that you’re nuts, or starts gaslighting you, remember that, hey, they believe in conspiracy theories!

      It’s disappointing to learn that your boss, who is a big factor in your work life and career is … not always reality based. As long as they aren’t actively jeopardizing your health the best you can do is not think about it, and take advantage of every opportunity they give you.

    3. tangerineRose*

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with that. It’s frustrating to find that someone you respected is like this.

    4. tangerineRose*

      I haven’t figured out why some people are so angry at Fauci. It seems like most of the people who don’t like him seem to think that he should somehow magically immediately know everything there is to know about a brand-new virus. I saw a bit from the news where a man is complaining that the number of masks to wear has changed from 0 to 1 to 2 and somehow thinks that Fauci should have always known the right number.

      I don’t know, maybe people are mad about the coronavirus, and since he frequently delivers bad news, they blame him? I don’t get it.

      1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

        I think it’s a combination of propaganda needing a boogeyman and the appearance of flip-flopping in the early days of the pandemic. The totally normal and reasonable truth, which is that as we learned more the advice changed and some mistakes were made, has been twisted into a view that the advice was false all along. It is politically useful for certain people to push that view.

        1. Crabby Patty*

          Yeah, it’s too bad more people don’t understand scientific inquiry and the data collection process within, and how further collection can either verify the known or produce new knowledge.

          What’s worse is that many people don’t seem to want to understand scientific inquiry.

    5. Roci*

      Agree with Cheesecake, and here are some thoughts that have helped me:
      – Recognizing the grief and shock that comes from losing respect for someone you care about.
      – Remembering that there are many groups deliberately and unintentionally perpetrating mis/disinformation about this topic, and fear and stress make people confused and easily misled. Your boss may be wrong but they may not be malicious.
      – Try to separate their words/beliefs from their actions. If they follow vaccine/covid safety procedures, that is something positive. If they don’t, focus your attention there.
      – Of course you can speak up against misinformation and conspiracy theories when you see/hear them. But remember that it is not your duty to convince anyone of the truth, and in fact it is almost impossible to do so. Forgive and absolve yourself of this responsibility. My brain often “helpfully” comes up with “surefire winning arguments” and I have to remind myself that I don’t need to practice this debate, I’m not debating anyone, it’s not my job to change anyone’s mind.

      But do take note for the future because someone can be very nice and supportive but if their judgment is this misguided, it might have implications for your job/the business. Good luck to us!

    6. Piano Girl*

      I have found that since I received my second vaccine (Pfizer) I don’t get as angry at those who are refusing to get their shots. I still think they should (and it has still colored my opinion of them) but at least I’m not seething inside.

  37. New Grad*

    What’s considered a professional hairstyle for women? I just recently graduated and am working my first professional job but I always feel like my ponytail hair makes me look student-y, which is weird since so many women I work around, a slicked back ponytail seems to look so well on them.

    Maybe it’s because my hair is just so much more naturally frizzy. No matter how much I condition or gel my hair back, there’s always curly baby strands that refuse to go down.

    1. OyHiOh*

      I have unabashedly curly hair. The texture is such that it simply will not slick down or otherwise behave like straight hair.

      I have an asymetrical cut that hangs long on one side of my face and is short enough not to curl everywhere else. I use a claw clip for work to gather the pieces closes to my face and move them more over my ear because I cannot stand hair in my face when I’m trying to work. I air dry and don’t use product most of the time so it sets in loose soft coils.

      I add anti frizz and shine serums to my shampoo and conditioner (Formula of Beauty, the add-ons are available at Target) – those make a big difference for “cared for hair” rather than “rolled out of bed and didn’t bother doing my hair this morning.”

    2. CatCat*

      I use a gibson tuck, which I learned about on this web site! Go here for tutorial: http://www.saralynnpaige.com/style/simple-gibson-tuck/

      It is easy to master and will look less “student-y” than a ponytail. I don’t know if it will work for you, but it is worth checking out.

      My hair is mostly straight, but with these random bits that just love to curl up near one of my temples (though that seems to have died down a bit as it’s gotten longer) and flat iron has helped with that in the past.

    3. ratatatcat*

      I think a little frizz is just a part of life that colleagues should not notice, but I also have naturally frizzy/curly hair so maybe I’m on the defensive…

      I like those big prong clippies – they can give a decent updo or a pulled back look (don’t know how to describe this really but like….pulling back hair on either side?), which I think works a bit better with curly hair than a ‘strict ponytail’.
      A low, loose bun is also good, and I think makes the frizz seem like it’s just part of the ~’gently romantic hairstyle’~ vibes.
      I sometimes keep a brush at work and just occasionally brush the top down a bit during the day which helps a little.

    4. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      As long as hair is clean and not getting into things (if you work with say food or heavy machinery), I think any hairstyle can be professional. Frizzy/unruly hair is natural and normal. I wouldn’t stress about it.

    5. RagingADHD*

      Unless you’re in the military or something with a very strict appearance code (like, I don’t know, a flight attendant maybe?) then a professional hairstyle is anything that looks well-kept, splits the difference between super-trendy and dated, and looks good on you.

    6. TechWriter*

      I think it really depends on the industry/workplace/role!

      I have super low maintenace mostly-straight hair, so I’ve never done more than wash and brush my hair or pull it back in a ponytail throughout the day. I work in tech, and when we had an office, the more casual side of business casual was the norm for most of us (with people on other ends of the spectrum depending on their role; from the occasional dev in cargo shorts and a t-shirt to admins in hose and skirts hairspraying and curling/straightening their hair in the washrooms every morning.)

      If the other women at your work have ponytails, you’re fine in your ponytail. I’d hazzard you’re the only one who thinks your ponytail looks studenty. Imposter syndrome anxieties!

    7. LadyByTheLake*

      As someone approaching 60, the best advice I can give is to accept the hair that you have and look for styles that work for that hair (and your face shape) rather than trying to copy styles for a different kind of hair. My hair is completely straight and will not curl no matter what I do. I can do the slick back look no problem (and a classic bob), but I spent years coveting loose, tousled hairstyles that look great for people that have curly hair. I was probably in my forties when a friend (who has gorgeous frizzy hair that I’ve always wanted) was going on about how she wanted to just have straight hair in a simple bob and I was complaining about how I wished I could just do the casual updo that looks great with her hair and then we had to laugh.

      1. ThatGirl*

        absolutely. accepting what my hair will and won’t do and what I am willing to do TO it has gone a long way – as does having a good hairdresser.

    8. 867-5309*

      I look about 12-years-old with a pony tail. :) I don’t think anyone else notices so yours is probably fine also.

    9. Llellayena*

      Just about anything as long as it’s reasonably neat (like, not just tumbled out of bed)! Ponytail is fine, frizz or no frizz. I have very straight long hair and used to have it in a ponytail every day. I switched to using a clip instead of a band, in part to manage end-of-day knots, and that looked professional to me. Then I got a hairstyle with bangs and I’m able to leave it down since it now stays out of my face. I’ll occasionally use a clip, but not often. My hair does frizz sometimes, no one has ever commented (I generally don’t use products).

    10. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Hello, I basically look like Merida from the movie Brave in terms of length and texture :) My go to is a nautilus bun.

      1. MacGillicuddy*

        I think of a ponytail as being higher up on the back of the head.

        In a clip or rubber band at the base of your neck doesn’t count as “ponytail” IMO.

    11. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo*

      I have very, very curly hair myself. A low, loose bun has been my go-to hairstyle – it’s quick and easy to do, but looks professional and put-together.

    12. Anonbeth*

      I have curly/frizzy hair too. I spent a long long time (in the early 2000s, when sheet-straight hair was The thing) trying to slick my hair back perfectly smooth. If your hair is like mine, it’s just not gonna happen. I would just accept that your hairstyles are always going to be a little curlier/softer than your colleagues’, and that’s fine. Since you won’t get that slicked-back look from the front, you can play with side parts or kinda rolling and pinning the wings of your hair back to frame your face from the front, before doing whatever style in the back.

      Styles I like (my industry is the casual side of business casual): low ponytail, braid, french braid, low bun, high bun. With the buns you can make them a little looser so some curls are free. A Gibson tuck, like someone mentioned, or an updo with bobby pins or a hair fork are also fun and can be more forgiving with curly hair than straight. Some of these styles can look a little more prom-hair than professional so figure out what you like.

      Also, if you’re interested, you could look into curly hair products like leave-in conditioners and moisturizers that might make your hair have more of a soft curl/wave look than the frizzy look. I’ve looked on naturallycurly dot com in the past.

    13. Robin Ellacott*

      I wear a ponytail or casual chignon so often that kindly staff lose their minds if I ever wear my hair loose. My hair is wavy and by no means smoothly slicked back. Sometimes I make a hole in the hair over the elastic and push the elasticked part hair back trough the hole to make a few rolls at the back (like those weird loop things they had in the 90s). I use clips at the side to tame the wispy bits, and I think it looks perfectly respectable. I can’t stand hair in my face and sticking to my lips.

      I am in a senior management role and nobody blinks at my perennial ponytail (apart from a sense that some people I work with think it looks prettier when loose). I’m sure unless you work in a VERY formal or image conscious field, it will be fine.

    14. Esmeralda*

      Depends on where you work. I have wavy to curly hair (depending on how long it is) which will never be smooth or lie flat. I pay for fairly expensive cuts so that even when it’s crazy curly/sexy/ cuuuuute, it never looks messy or untended. And it’s always clean. I’ve never had any trouble being seen as very professional, because that’s how I approach my worm. I’ve worked mostly in academia but also in large corporate offices.

      Lol, maybe the RBF helps…

  38. Sienna*

    Anyone else following the story regarding the Washingtonian Magazine CEO threatening to demote her employees and take away their benefits if they do not return to the office? She did it via an editorial in the Washington Post with a thin veneer of lamenting her “lost work culture” like things such as office birthday parties and whining about minute things that amount to nothing more than presenteeism. The magazine has proven over the course of the past year that working from home has worked out quite well for them and their bottom line, but it sounds like the CEO misses lording over her minions in an office setting and needs that ego boost again.

    It made me think of all the past poor management I worked for, to include my current job where they treat their employees like livestock and wonder why they can’t keep anyone in a position or can’t hardly hire anyone. And those are typically the very same ones running to the news saying things like “people don’t want to work anymore”, no they don’t want to work for YOU and deal with YOUR abuse anymore.

    Thankfully, the entire editorial staff has banded together in solidarity to refuse to publish to show her the true value of their labor. I hope this inspires others as well, it certainly has inspired me.

    1. AnonnyMouse*

      Argh — just missed seeing this and double-posted. :(

      Following on Twitter, and there’s already been at least one “this isn’t how employment law works” comment regarding the CEO’s threat to make them all contractors.

      1. LadyByTheLake*

        That was my first thought when I read that (awful, truly awful) opinion piece — that’s not how employment law works!

      2. Sienna*

        no problem! But I am quite amazed by her brazeness. There’s also former employees popping up on twitter talking about all of her other illegal, under-the-table, actions over the years. She really set herself up for failure with this one.

        Wasn’t there another CEO that put their foot in their mouths recently? I swear I saw something a week or so back dealing with yet another CEO also doing something underhanded and brazenly admitting to it via the company blog. A tech company I believe.

        Either way, I’m glad to see more workers banding together for better working conditions for all.

        1. Elle Woods*

          Are you thinking of Basecamp? The CEO, Jason Fried, recently announced via the company blog that employees could no longer discuss politics or societal issues at work, and got rid of things like fitness benefits, wellness allowance, farmer’s market share, and continuing ed allowances. About 1/3 of employees quit.

          1. Observer*

            What happened at BaseCamp was a very different thing, though. TERRIBLY handled, and they are doing some (very necessary) backpedaling. But nothing at all illegal. Just stupid.

      3. CG*

        I was thinking about starting a conversation about that article in the open thread today too, so I’m glad I was beaten to it! (lol at the Washington Post commenter who said, “Glad the WAPO is getting the Bond villain point of view.”) And yeah, when I got to the part of the article that basically said, “if someone’s not in the office to celebrate people’s birthdays, management should change their status to contractor”, I IMMEDIATELY thought of AAM’s points about the legal distinctions between contractors and employees.

        Holy crap. As a Washingtonian, this made me think that City Paper, WaPo, and DCist are all going to start sending job postings to Washingtonian staff asap…

    2. BlueWolf*

      Haha came here to see if someone posted about this yet. I couldn’t believe that when I read it this morning (jk, I totally believe it because I read enough Ask A Manager to know these attitudes are all too common).

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I am told the Washington Post comments section has now spilled over into Twitter.

    4. Sienna*

      She’s now posted an apology that The Daily Beast reported on, but now it’s trending on twitter and the story’s gotten legs. Now more of her previous illegal labor practices are popping up and employment lawyers are weighing in.

      She could have just sat there and ate her food but noooooo she just had to spill out her grievances in a poorly written op-ed. I’m also kind of giving WaPo the side eye for even allowing that op-ed but I guess in newspaper currency clicks are king and they certainly got a lot of them today.

    5. JustaTech*

      Yeah, I just found out that we didn’t hire for a desperately needed position because the candidate wanted to WFH (at least partly, maybe full time) so that they could pick their kids up from school because there still isn’t any after-school care running.

      And my VP said no.
      He’s being beyond unreasonable about WFH already (company policy is 1-2 days a week on-site if you’re not lab staff, he wants us 5 days a week, if you’re in the lab or not).

      What the heck is wrong with these bigwigs who want people on site for no reason except to lord over them? If your company can’t show if people were productive during quarantine, that’s the company’s problem. And if people *were* productive, why mess with something that’s working?

    6. Spearmint*

      I’m appalled at the brazenness of that CEO and supportive of the solidarity shown by employees. It does make a bit sad to think that most workers in most industries, even professionals, don’t have the leverage push back on something like this so strongly (because they lack large social media presences and network contacts in national media).

    7. Absurda*

      Yeah, I came here just to talk about this. After years of reading AAM, I think it’s safe to say that some office cultures deserve to die.

      I’ve worked remotely for years and most of the time have had managers that live in other states and I collaborate with folks all over the world. It’s totally possible. That this CEO can’t figure out how to do it speaks more to her failings as a manager than her employees’ abilities to work.

      Lastly: does she really think celebrating birthdays is what builds office culture/a sense of team work? I mean really???!!

      1. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo*

        Let’s hope the person born on Leap Day doesn’t work there!

      2. Mina The Company Prom Queen*

        I know, right? I’ve been working remotely for years too. It can (and does) work!

        Also agree on that CEO’s thing about celebrating birthdays. Doesn’t she have bigger fish to fry? LOL!

    8. I should really pick a name*

      “The hardest people to let go are the ones you know”

      Wow.

      Come back to the office or you’re first on the chopping block.

    9. Observer*

      I just googled “Washingtonian Magazine”. You know how Google has a box with a few related questions when you search? The first question is “How do I cancel my subscription to the Washingtonian magazine” It looks like this has bitten the REALLY hard. Also, there are as many hits about the staff refusing to publish as about the actual editorial.

      Which would explain why she’s kind of apologized. Kind of. But at least she’s walked back the threats.

    10. OtterB*

      I saw that. It connected in my mind with all the people complaining that they can’t hire people for jobs (especially restaurant jobs) because they want to offer low “tipped wage” pay and not enough hours for someone to get by, and isn’t it awful that expanded unemployment lets these people laze around.

      And to me it boils down to “I want my peons back! I’m entitled to my peons!”

  39. blaargh*

    I started at a small consulting firm a few months ago. There are usually 2 – 4 people on each client engagement. There was a project that I was tangentially involved with but someone else was supposed to be doing the bulk of the work – or so I thought. Earlier this week my boss sort of threw something that had to be done for the client at me and seemed to expect me to do it, even though I hadn’t been told I was really on the project or given any context. It really didn’t take me too long and the client completely loved it and me. Today in a meeting (related to that task) my boss all of a sudden said “blaargh will be in charge of this going forward”. What?!? When was that decided? No one told ME that. What does that even mean?

    This has happened a couple times. Is this normal, am I overreacting? It’s probably a compliment since they think I do good work, but I would just like better communication around things. I think a part of it is that the business is growing quickly and the founders are overwhelmed.

    1. PX*

      Not really normal but also not unexpected in small companies and with not-so-great managers! In particular what I hear about consulting definitely implies that roles/assignments are very fluid and liable to change at the whim of someone senior, so not really surprised. Would recommend you try and have more 1-1’s with your manager, learn more about their management style (some of them are just that kind of person who decide stuff and announce it right there and then) and perhaps see if you can gently train them into at least giving you more warning of upcoming changes!

    2. AllTheBirds*

      Sound like you have to take the lead on opening a discussion around this, maybe asking Boss to fill you in prior to him making general announcements…? And see how it goes from there.

    3. consulting*

      I am at a small consulting group, and this doesn’t sound that far out of bounds. Especially with WFH, the little interactions that happen where I am either overhearing conversations or part of hallway conversations are gone, so sometimes I miss out on context. I can relate to your questions, because I have a similar dynamic sometimes, where I get pulled onto something others clearly know much more about. I realized people are busy and may not think to offer info because they know what they know. But since we are consultants, it’s also our job to proactively ask questions. We also have standing meetings where we can request info or assistance, and sometimes I have to just send messages requesting a meeting so I can get up to speed. You have to really dig into showing initiative at these places because you’re all responsible for keeping the place open on some level.

      One benefit is that, at places like this, you may have a lot of flexibility to fill gaps and develop new skills you might not at other shops. Sounds like you did a great job, so keep doing good work, and push yourself to engage more with your boss or other folks about things that are going on if you need to. If you do this, you may also get brought into things earlier, even at the pitch/proposal stage, so you have a better idea what might be coming at you.

  40. El Camino*

    I saw an unintentionally viral tweet yesterday about employees making sure it’s a good time for the company before they use their PTO and they were getting ratio’ed like mad, and completely shocked by folks’ responses. I thought folks here might appreciate it. Link in comment below.

      1. WellRed*

        My god, one of the comments was along the lines of: “If you are on vacation, you can be sure I plan to call or email you if I need things!” I think she was an atty.

    1. OtterB*

      I noticed that tangentially. I’m not going to wade into a fight on Twitter, so I didn’t read much of it. But Twitter isn’t good for nuance. My opinion, from what I saw, is that people aren’t recognizing that there are legitimately two competing interests. Your PTO is part of your compensation and you need to be allowed to take it, so “never take time off unless there’s nothing happening at work” is a no go. But your boss and your organization have a legitimate interest in managing when people take PTO. In some jobs – things with big project milestones, things with a known quarterly or annual crunch time – it’s pretty common to schedule your time around the business needs. Things that are less cyclical, especially things that are hourly and coverage-based, yeah, this is something management should deal with so that people can take their time off.

      1. Mina The Company Prom Queen*

        That’s where a manager’s ability to approve or decline PTO requests comes in. If your manager knows that the time you requested won’t be a good time to take PTO, they have the right to decline the request and ask that you take your PTO another time. The only time there is something wrong with this is if the manager is unreasonable. Employees still have the right to take their PTO as it is part of their compensation. And managers have the option of approving or declining the requested days. It shouldn’t be held against an employee if they request PTO at a time when a manager doesn’t feel they should ask in the first place.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        Comments are moderated (an anti-spam measure), so the double post lets the person respond immediately, with the link showing up after Alison reviews it.

  41. Drtheliz*

    How do I tell people (colleagues) I’m pregnant without, for want of a better phrase, making it weird? I’m not going to be available after mid-August, so it’s starting to matter. I have definitely “popped”, so I don’t have to tell people I see in person (few as they are) but professionally nobody but my boss and an IT person has seen me below the shoulders for six months.

    I was trying “be vague” and just saying “not available in September or October” but I apparently worried somebody, which… Oops? Any tips?

    1. NowWhat?465*

      I would just be matter of fact about it. “Hi all, just for reference I’ll be on parental leave starting mid-August and expect to be back in early November. You should see the blocked dates on my calendar in case you try to schedule something with me. I’ll follow up with those who need details for coverage individually in the coming months.”

    2. Ann Perkins*

      Is there a particular reason you’re not just saying you’re expecting at this point? Be matter of fact about it as it comes up, it’s not weird to be pregnant. “Yes, we’re expecting and due (date)! The plan is for me to take (x amount of time off). I should be back (y date) barring no problems.

    3. JelloStapler*

      I guess I am confused as to why it would be weird to share you are pregnant? Just say it “You may not know, but I’m pregnant and due in August so you’ll need to talk to Fergus about the Teapot Kiln while I am on leave.”

    4. elle*

      I have a co-worker who, as far as I know, never announced she was pregnant and just one day “went on leave” with a vague out of office saying that, n return date, no explanations. I heard her teammate say it was maternity leave and I was shocked. I guess it’s not a big deal but hiding it makes it seems wildly awkward and also strange because I legit thought she was on vacation for a week not on maternity leave which is kind of important for how to communicate with her/her team going forward. I guess what I’m saying is, it’s not weird to announce you’re pregnant and taking maternity leave. What makes it weird is avoiding telling people.

      1. Generic Name*

        Yeah, I had a coworker who basically did the same. I suspect she told a few people, but since everyone was working remotely, word didn’t exactly spread. She didn’t even tell her teammates and we weren’t “officially” told until HR sent around the birth announcement. All we knew was she would be going on leave for a few months, no reason given. It was pretty weird, and it’s made me question her overall judgement.

      2. twocents*

        Exactly. If I found out by accident that your leave was parental and that you’d deliberately avoided mentioning it, well, not every pregnancy is welcome news and it’d seem this pregnancy wasn’t.

    5. FlyingShrimp*

      Hi! I’m also having a pandemic pregnancy and am going on leave next week. I shared with my team during a team meeting and then the directors of my organization (I work at a small nonprofit), something along the lines of “It’s a weird time but I have some happy personal news, I’m expecting a baby mid-may. My tentative leave dates will be X-X, but we’ll keep you posted as plans develop.” and everyone came back with general excitement.

      As it’s gotten closer to leave actually starting, I’ve just added a note to the end of emails with colleagues that I work with regularly along the lines of “FYI I’ll be starting maternity leave [date], so [temp] will be covering projects like this while I’m out.”

      As others have said, just be matter of fact about it!

    6. WellRed*

      I’m not clear on why you can’t just tell them? You’re making it weird my treating it as a state secret. Congratulations, though!

    7. JustMyImagination*

      I had to virtually announce my pregnancy last year. It is a little awkward! With Zoom meetings, there really isn’t much of the before and after meeting chit chat where you can let people know. Instead the announcement feels so much more formal.

      I told my manager during a 1:1 meeting and she made a little slide to include in our next group meeting. I then let everyone know it wasn’t a secret so they could feel free to mention it to others.

      1. BubbleTea*

        Yes, I told a few people during phone calls I was having anyway (first my grandboss, then my line manager, then my supervisor, then the rest of my team, then whoever happened to be calling me) and when we FINALLY had a much-delayed all-staff meeting I got the meeting chair to put it on the agenda so I could tell everyone. We typically do a little “who has exciting life news?” section at the end where people mention new babies, pets, vaccines if they want to, etc so it didn’t feel weird. An email would have done, but if we hadn’t had a meeting I’d reached the point where I’d need to email because we needed to plan cover.

    8. MaineGirl*

      I had the same experience. I’m due in 2 weeks and no ones been in the office since last Spring. I announced on an all staff holiday call when we were all asked about something we were looking forward to in 2021. My boss and a few other colleagues knew already but it was nice to get it out in the open. I’ve been casually mentioning it to coworkers since then as we talk about projects and plans for the summer and fall.

    9. Observer*

      If you don’t want to make it weird just say it. Be matter-of-fact and factual. That’s it.

      Hiding it, not telling people, being cutesy are the things that might make it weird. A straightforward statement won’t.

  42. NowWhat?465*

    Has anyone else noticed an uptick in interviewers being less flexible and direct with interview times now that everything is done via Zoom or video chat?

    I just got a second round interview, which will be two 45 minute interviews with other department heads, followed by a 30 minute follow up with the hiring manager. Except they said they may not schedule all interviews on the same day, so they would like multiple blocks of 1 hour that I’m free over the next three weeks and they’ll get back to me. I’m more of a fan of dates and times and making something work in there, not indefinite holds on my calendar until they get back to me.

    I was skeptic about this job for a few reasons but decided to move forward to the next round in case I could get more details. But this has turned me off even more. For reference, I’m a professional with 7+ years in my industry and have never run into this issue until interviewing this year so it seems odd to me.

    1. often trapped under a cat*

      During the year that we’ve been remote, the bosses at my place have seen their calendars fill up with meetings as people who normally would just drop by their offices to talk about something instead have to actually schedule a conversation. It’s not unusual in my company for someone’s day to be fairly back-to-back with meetings. There isn’t a lot of time left for doing interviews. Or they have to move things around to clear an hour, and that takes time too.

      1. NowWhat?465*

        I understand that, as I’m in the same boat with meetings. I find it easier as a candidate to be given timeslots and then say what works for me, rather than pre-emptively blocking every free 45 minute block for the next three weeks in hopes that one of those slots will work for them.

        1. often trapped under a cat*

          I agree that it seems clumsy, but if it’s HR doing this, they may not have any choice.

          But as someone who has been a hiring manager, there are times when I just can’t give a whole day over to interviewing. Or when I and the other person who will be the new hire’s supervisors can’t interview at the same time (or even on the same day).

          If the job is worth it to you, you’ll have to deal with the uncertainty of this stage. And I think you don’t have to hold all your free time open until you hear back. A reasonable interviewer will understand that life happens, even in this day and age. If they don’t, that might be a sign that this is not the right place for you.

  43. Hotdog not dog*

    Thanks to all who answered my question last week about when the clock starts ticking for 2 weeks notice! The punch line turned out to be that instead of putting my last day as May 14th as I intended or 2 weeks from whenever I was able to notify all 5 of the people I provided admin support to, my manager accidentally put in my last day as the day I gave notice. It’s apparently too much work to reinstate my system access, so I ended up with an extra 2 weeks (paid!) I suppose the people I never managed to track down to tell them I was leaving must have noticed by now…

    1. ratatatcat*

      I do love to see a powertripping boss get their comeuppance! congrats on the 2 weeks!

    2. Blue Eagle*

      Hey, congrats on the extra two weeks. I remember commenting on your post last week and am glad that everything seems to have worked out in your favor.
      And sending good vibes that the new job turns out to be everything you are hoping for!

    3. Siouxie the Banshee*

      You had that good karma coming! I hope that your time in-between will be inspiring and refreshing!!!

  44. 3Owls*

    Hypothetical question: You are a manager, you receive an email from someone you’ve never met with screenshots of Facebook posts an employee made, in a private group, complaining about their job, customers, etc. Nowhere in these posts or on the employee’s profile do they say where they work. The only place they say where they work is on LinkedIn, so the person who took the screenshots and sent the email had to do some digging to find out where the employee worked.

    As a manager, what do you do?

    1. Reba*

      As long as the comments are not egregious (racist, violent, or exposing customers’ or coworkers’ info) I’d be inclined to do nothing.

      1. pancakes*

        Same, and I would think less of the person who went digging if the comments aren’t egregious in those ways.

    2. JB*

      Assuming you are not concerned about the posts your employee made (which it sounds like you don’t need to be, unless the complaining contained privileged or private information about clients/the company that really shouldn’t be shared) I’d say just have a private discussion with the employee and let them know that you received those screenshots, that you aren’t concerned by the content of them but that you ARE concerned for the employee’s privacy/safety and wanted them to be aware that someone did this.

      That way the employee will know they need to shut down their FaceBook tighter or that there’s a bad actor in this private group.

      It’ll definitely be an embarrassing conversation and the employee will not be happy to find out you know about things they said in private, but if you don’t say anything, this person may be doing other things to try and hurt the employee that they’re not aware of.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Yep, there’s someone trying to damage them and they need to know.

        Depending on the content of the complaints, I might want to have a different conversation at another time about whether those need following up on – is there something toxic in the environment that needs addressing, are they overworked and underpaid, are they missing out on professional development or is someone else taking credit for their work, etc?

        But if it’s normal work venting, leave it be.

      2. Bernice Clifton*

        Agreed. If the complaints aren’t egregious you don’t need to tell them as a warning, but just as a courtesy that someone is trying to get them in trouble.

      3. Mina The Company Prom Queen*

        And definitely tell the employee who it was that sent it. They should know who is trying to do this to them so they can block them.

    3. NowWhat?465*

      For me it would depend on the complaints and the group, but I’m leaning towards leaving it be.

      If there was no identifying info in the complaints, and it was general “my annoying client stressed me out today…” or “I have a coworker that cannot stop eating during meetings and it’s driving me nuts.” I honestly wouldn’t care. The fact of the matter is, work can be annoying sometimes and some people like to vent.

      Also the context of the group matters a lot. If it’s a general facebook group for people in a city/neighborhood or an alumni group that’s a lot more public and I would advise the employee against posting there as it can easily be linked back even if they don’t think it will. If it’s more so a private group such as a new moms spring 2020, extended family, or a support group where you expect a certain level of confidentiality, I would DEFINITELY want to be told if I was in the employee’s shoes. I would maybe discretely pull the employee aside and let them know they’re not in trouble, but this info was sent to you, and you just wanted to be aware that someone saw it and took the effort to show their boss.

      1. 3Owls*

        The group is a private group. It’s purpose is for people in this industry, which is notorious for overworking and underpaying it’s people, to vent. Nothing was said that we all haven’t thought at one time or another.

        1. OtterB*

          In that case I second the other people’s advice to tell the employee that (a) they aren’t in trouble, because they are venting in a group that’s made for it, without identifying their employer or customers, but that (b) someone has tried to get them in trouble and you thought they should know in case it’s part of a pattern.

        2. Observer*

          I’m with OtterB. Someone in that group is almost certainly acting in bad faith, and both your employee and the others in the group should be alerted. You can’t really do much about the rest of the group directly. But you can let your employee know.

          Then make a note for yourself that if you ever encounter the emailer, be very careful because that person is not trustworthy.

    4. Hillary*

      This won’t be a popular opinion, but for me it’s worrisome. At best it tells me the employee doesn’t have good judgment about where they vent. At worst (and this depends on the content) it’s sharing company information inappropriately. People always think their vaguebooking is more vague than it actually is, and I know people who’ve been fired for this.

      1. LDF*

        Please be more critical of screenshots. The “best” case isn’t “they have bad judgement”, it’s “these screenshots aren’t even real”. Literally anyone with a modern desktop web browser can edit a website locally so it looks like anyone is saying anything and take a screenshot of that. This isn’t deepfakes-level technology, if you know how to right-click you can learn to do this in 5 minutes.

    5. fhqwhgads*

      Is it an anonymous email or seems like a real person who you happened to not know? If it’s anonymous I would assume this person knows the employee and knows where there work not due to any digging, but because they already knew.

      As a manager (which I am not currently but have been in the past), it depends. If I’d have stumbled upon the same info by myself, how would I react? That’s probably how I’d react to getting it this way too, presumably I checked for usual signs of photoshop or whatnot. If I would not have found the info concerning had it come to me from someone I knew, or from finding it myself, then I would not be concerned now.

  45. ELI*

    I am the only person in my company that does the job that I do.
    For the past nine years I have not had a vacation or even a day or two off where I do not have to answer emails and phone calls.
    On top of that, my company insists that twice a year I go to work at another “site” and perform a second job along with my original job, for only one pay. These assignments require me to be away from home for 6-weeks at a time. I have expressed in depth that I do not want to do theses assignments.
    My manager has said within the last month that I “need to prove that I am more than a glorified clerk”.
    Recently while returning from one of my (extra) work assignments, my car got damaged. When I told my manager about it they said ” if you expected me to feel sorry for sending you to another site to work, it didn’t work, I assume you have insurance”.
    I handle 10-50 million dollars worth of revenue every year.
    Am I in the wrong for being sour ?
    Any suggestions would be appreciated.
    Thanks !

    1. Reba*

      More than sour, I would say you should be looking for a job where you will be treated well!

    2. JelloStapler*

      I think it’s time to move on, they are very clearly taking advantage of you.

    3. A Nony Mouse Today*

      This brings to mind the Vonnegut quote about the “rolling donut.” I’d suggest applying said quote to your current employer and finding another job.

    4. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      1. Enforcing the vacation boundary is within your power – don’t respond to emails or phone calls on vacation, tell boss you won’t going forward
      2. Sounds like the away assignments are part of your job, not a second job. Your employer is allowed to set the terms of your employment (within reason). You could try to refuse but they might fire you. Or you could search for another job. Not sure it is reasonable to expect extra pay.

      1. ELI*

        Thanks for your reply !
        To clarify I am expected to take on a whole extra set of responsibilities ( think supervisor / safety ) and continue to do my regular salaried position.

    5. Carol*

      Oh my goodness, find a different job. For how much they clearly need you, they seem fine with treating you with disdain. Yikes.

    6. Water Everywhere*

      Are there other companies that hire for your skill set? Please start applying to them because THIS company does not value you at all. Never mind feeling sour; if you had quit on the spot at your manager’s “glorified clerk” comment, I would not at all think you were in the wrong.

    7. Natalie*

      “need to prove that I am more than a glorified clerk”.

      I think your boss is on to something here! Prove it by getting another job.

    8. Maggie*

      Of course you aren’t in the wrong- most people would job search after 6 months of that.

    9. HigherEdAdminista*

      You aren’t wrong. I would start a job search. Asking you to spend 12 weeks a year traveling to do a second job for no additional money isn’t at all reasonable. Neither is never allowing you an actual day off. Neither is the constant berating comments.

    10. AnonEmployee*

      Your job won’t change, your boss won’t change, your company won’t change, only you can. I am in a similar boat where I am the only one in my company who handles certain areas of our enterprise applications, I have no backup. But the difference is that I DO take vacations (sometimes for two weeks!) and I don’t answer the phone/emails while I’m away. I set the expectations for my boss, and he respects them. Your company has found a very loyal and dedicated employee in you and have sought to take advantage of that.

    11. I take tea*

      Your situation is absurd. I add my voice to the “please, look elsewhere”, but in the meantime Alison have some great tips about how to wean people off calling you when you are on vacation.

      1. ELI*

        I will happily take and use any suggestions.
        For the record, I have started my new job search. Keep you fingers crossed for me.
        Thanks for all of the reply’s.

  46. MeTwoToo*

    I’m contemplating not renewing my professional license for the next cycle. I have a masters in a field where I was working. I had to move to a state that does not recognize my field at the masters level, only phd, so I moved to an adjacent field that didn’t require a license. I’ve been working in that field for almost 20 years and am very happy. I’ve maintained the quarterly trainings and license and fees, thinking that I might move again and continue in my original field. Right before covid my licensing board made it more difficult to get ceus via online or at home study in order to encourage in person trainings. This is difficult but not impossible in a state that doesn’t have my license. I could take a class at the university every three years to satisfy it. Maintaining the license probably costs me around 800-1000 dollars every 3 years and I plan to retire in 10 or 12 years. Is it worth it?

    1. Glomarization, Esq.*

      I’m a “never say never” kind of person, so if it were me, I’d maintain the license. For about $300/year, it keeps a door open for you in case life throws you a curve ball, such as unexpectedly losing your current job.

      In my field, and in the jurisdiction where I practice, it’s easier to keep your license current than to let it lapse and then have to get it reinstated, so that informs my perspective as well.

    2. ThatGirl*

      My only question is, if you change your mind in a year or two, how hard is it to get your license back? If you genuinely don’t think you’ll need or use it again, I don’t really see a problem to drop it – that would be my only consideration.

    3. Emmie*

      I let a license lapse many years ago. I wish I kept it up because the cost to recertify is not worth it because I must retest, and the benefits are minimal. I recommend you think about the likelihood you could use the license again, and whether you would gain any professional or personal advantages from being licensed. Before you make a final decision, find out if your state has any out-of-state license statuses. One of my licenses allows us to place it on hold for a period of time, and you can return to active status by completing the CEUs required during the on hold time period. If you are uncertain about maintaining it in your home state, perhaps maintaining the license would be helpful.

    4. Healthcare Worker*

      I’m in healthcare and let my license in another state lapse, and have lived to regret it. I suggest you look into the process of reactivating your license to see how onerous it may be. Reinstating my license was incredibly difficult and expensive!

  47. Zorak*

    Hi, folks, I’m looking for some advice on salary negotiations when you’re moving from a High Cost of Living city to a Low(er) Cost of Living city.

    From the research I’ve done with cost of living calculators, it looks like the salary I make in City A (about 90k), would be equivalent to making 60k in City B. My role is a bit niche so I’m having a hard time finding a ton of salary data, but I think it would be reasonable for this role to be paid up to 70k in City B. Some friends and family are telling me I shouldn’t accept a salary lower than what I currently make, but I feel like that’s going to be way off base in City B.

    I’m comfortable accepting a lower salary, but I also don’t want to undercut myself. Any advice on how to approach this?

    1. LadyByTheLake*

      Your friends and family are wrong BUT, so are you. Assuming that you are correctly paid in City A, the expectation is that you would not get that same amount in City B — you would get about 15% less. Even if the cost of living is WAY more in City A (such as 50% more), the pay differential never makes up for all that difference. As I say, it’s usually about 15% difference. So you should be looking for something in the $75k range.

      1. Zorak*

        This is a good reality check! I think you’re right that I should probably be shooting for $75k, and that feels like something I would be able to negotiate (vs pushing for >90k). Housing in City A is about twice as expensive as it is in City B, but I’m sure there are a ton of little costs I’m not thinking of! I think I’m in a good position to negotiate for a salary at the top range of the budget because 1) I have very strong, specific experience, and 2) I’m talking to multiple firms and can compare the range of what they’re offering. Thanks for your input!

    2. SomebodyElse*

      If you are asked for your salary expectations then go in with a range starting at your current salary to current +10%, but that you are in a position to negotiate and don’t want to be ruled out on the basis of salary. Let them decide then what they can or can’t offer and then go from there.

      This should be passed this info along (assuming it comes up in the phone screen) to the hiring manager, and most managers would be fine with offering you something lower based on your comments about being open.

      1. BRR*

        If Zorak thinks $60K-$70K is about the accurate range I wouldn’t suggest starting at $99K (current +10%). That’s too big of a gap and would be an immediate turn off to most hiring managers.

        One option would be to ask what the hiring range is. Also, I throw in “depending on benefits” because it usually keeps me from being ruled out if I guess too high (since all companies think they have stellar benefits) and leaves room to negotiate up if I guess too low.

        1. SomebodyElse*

          I said a range of current to current +10% with being open to negotiation not to start at current+10%… that would be weird and would be too much.

          Generally speaking that is what most people do when giving a salary range and is not unusual to see starting out. So even knowing it might be high for the market it’s a reasonable place to start. 75K would be the lowest I’d start with, and as I said, I wouldn’t want to set that low of an expectation to start.

          1. LadyByTheLake*

            Somebody Else, I think you might not be remembering that they are moving from a high priced city to a lower priced one. If Zorak were to tell an Omaha employer that their necessary salary range is a San Francisco salary to San Francisco salary +10% , the employer is going to stop the conversation right there — the gap is just going to be too huge.
            Having moved from a city in the midwest to San Francisco and back, I know of what I speak.

      2. ecnaseener*

        Eh, I don’t think just saying “this is my range but don’t rule me out based on this range” will necessarily work. They can and will rule you out based on what you tell them.

    3. fhqwhgads*

      This might not help, but did you check if your niche is in this websites salary survey from last week? It might be a long shot but could give you some more numbers to work with.

  48. Curious About HR*

    This is a question for anyone who might work in HR! I’m in higher ed, and consistently, every time we receive a company-wide email about performance reviews (whether mid-year check-ins or the full ones), my department just … ignores them. Management rarely acknowledges them and deadlines are ignored for as long as possible. It’s gotten worse since we all went remote, to the point where I seriously doubt I’ll hear anything about our latest requirement (the deadline has already passed).

    My question is: does this reflect poorly on our team? I’m currently in the lowest possible position and do not manage people, so I have no control or insight into what might be going on behind-the-scenes. All I know is that management seems very resistant to performance reviews, which is an ongoing frustration for us on the bottom. Does HR care? Is HR supposed to care?

    Thank you!

    1. jenny*

      Yes, this can reflect poorly on the people who are delaying their performance reviews. No, should not have anything to do with how people see you, lowest possible position and do not manage people.

      1. jenny*

        Are you supposed to care? Only if your manager tells you it’s part of your job to care

    2. BRR*

      HR probably cares because it’s a bottle neck for them but it shouldn’t reflect on you. I can’t imagine anybody thinks the employees on the bottom fo the org chart are the ones holding things up.

    3. Roci*

      HR is supposed to care, I can’t say if they actually do. They might be talking to management about it where you can’t see.

      In your position I would worry less about the general performance review system (since you can’t control it and it won’t reflect on you as an individual contributor) and focus on making sure you get the feedback you need from your manager. And if you get raises/anything as a result of your review, pushing your individual manager to put that through for you. Anything beyond that is out of your hands, unfortunately.

  49. Caduceus*

    Is there a level of raises that for you would be considered to offensive to accept? Should employers even be giving raises at super low levels? What are your thoughts?

    1. RagingADHD*

      No, I’m never so offended by a raise that I’d refuse to take it. That would be silly.

      I would be pretty ticked off if a minor cost-of-living adjustment were billed as a “raise”. Whether that would lead me to look for another job depends a lot on the rest of the job and the market as a whole.

      1. Caduceus*

        I’m talking like sub 1 percent, sub 500 dollars level of things being billed as a raise.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Are they calling it a *raise* or are they calling it a COL adjustment or something along those lines? There’s a big difference between “you got all 5s on your evaluation so here’s your $400 raise” and “no raises this year, but everyone gets a $400 COL bump.”

            1. But I’ll take what I can get I guess*

              Lol we might work for the same place, cause that’s the term my company uses for the annual not-even-COL “raises”

        2. Maggie*

          I mean I’d still take it, because turning down any amount of money to make a point is silly. But I would realize that they didn’t value me and then job hunt. No use in starting a fight with people who truly dont care to make a ‘point’ that they won’t even get.