open thread – June 11-12, 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.

{ 1,159 comments… read them below }

  1. Princess Deviant*

    I’m autistic. I really struggle with interviews (applications are great, I just meet difficulties at the interview stage!)
    What can I do to improve this?
    It takes me a while to process information, which is why I don’t always do well answering questions I’m hearing on the spot. And I look away a lot when thinking so I can’t maintain eye contact. I think I come across as weird. Can I mitigate this in any way? If you have any tips, they’ll be gratefully received. Thank you.

    1. Long Furby*

      Not autistic, but if I’m feeling anxious about an interview or want to be extra prepared, I look up questions I think might be used and write up answers for them. I practice saying the answer out loud, which engrains them into a sort of automatic memory. I find this useful because even if I’m not asked those exact questions, I can often pull bits and pieces from my scripted answers, allowing me to go on autopilot at least momentarily while finding the words I want next. It allows me to come across smooth and collected as well as well spoken – or at least that’s what I’ve been told by hiring managers after successfully being selected!

    2. R*

      Practice. With somebody a bit removed from yourself if possible. For example I practiced with my father in law. Close enough for me to feel comfortable asking him for help, but far enough apart for it to be good enough simulation of how I might feel in an interview. Also, if you look at someone’s nose or mouth, they will probably think you are making eye contact even if you aren’t.

      1. Corporate Drone Liz*

        I would look at eyebrows instead of nose or mouth- a bit closer to the eyes!

        1. Zephy*

          Seconded. Or the bridge of the nose, that’s usually close enough to eyes to read as “eye contact.”

        2. Monica*

          I agree. I find myself comparing eyebrow shape and thickness which makes me smile due to the absurdity of it.

          1. Princess Deviant*

            Haha. I can’t do that. I couldn’t listen to the what the other person was saying and compare eyebrow shape as well :-) My rain can’t do two things at once.

    3. Chilipepper Attitude*

      I hope someone with direct experience answers. But when I am on an interview panel, if someone said, “let me think about that a moment … ” before some answers, that would work for me.

      I don’t know if it would also help to have something you say, like repeating the question, to give your brain time to catch up? Something like, “oh yes, repeats question, answers question.”

      Do you have anyone you can practice with? You can practice with common questions so that you only have to use tricks like the ones I listed for some questions?

      1. RagingADHD*

        Agree. I get glitches when I’m talking to people, and don’t always give as much eye contact as expected.

        IME, NT people are more likely to accept ND traits as “normal” when they can recognize the reason for it (since ND traits are just human traits happenung at inconvenient times or intensities).

        So verbalizing things like, “Hm, let me think about that,” or “Let’s see, that would be…” or “Let me make sure I’m getting that, you asked…”

        Even directly saying, “could you repeat the question,” or “I’m not sure I follow, say that again?”

        These are all very socially acceptable, as long as you are relaxed and comfortable saying them. Trying to hide glitches causes a tension or falseness that NT people read as shady or inauthentic.

        Having a notepad to take notes when others are talking buys you time to check in and out on eye contact, so you can do less direct contact but still look engaged. I also bring a list of questions I wanted to ask, or talking points to cover, so I can check them off or refer to them as I go.

        Pretend you’re a super- organized journalist doing research and practice, practice, practice that role.

    4. Bagpuss*

      Re: looking away – is that because you find it hard to make eye contact, or that looking away helps you think? If making eye contact is hard, would it work if you tried to look at the top of their head instead, so you weren’t meeting their eyes but were looking in the right direction?

      In relating to processing information and delaying answering, would it help to practice and to have answers ready for the more common questions, such as asking about why you feel you are suitable for why you want the specific job?

      One option might be to raise it yourself – obviously this does mean that you have to disclose that you are autistic, but may be worth doing at the interview (or before) especially if you might want to ask for accommodations if you get the job.

      If you are not comfortable with that, you could still say something like “May I take a moment to consider that?” which at least tells the interviewer that you are not ignoring them, but are processing an answer.

      1. English, not American*

        Can’t speak for Princess Deviant, but I literally can’t form sentences while looking at any part of a human face. I only got diagnosed a week ago so don’t have any autism-based strategies, but I’ve managed to get hired after interviews where I looked at people’s mouths while they talked (I struggle to process speech if I can’t lipread) and generally looked past them when I answered, with intermittent flickers of eye contact. The only interviews I’ve had that didn’t result in offers I obviously bombed, so it can’t be that noticeable.

        1. English, not American*

          “Obviously bombed” meaning I didn’t have the skills/knowledge they were after.

        2. Epsilon Delta*

          As far as I know, I’m NT and I still have a really hard time keeping eye contact while thinking or talking through a tough or especially long question. I try to start and end with eye contact, and/or make intermittent eye contact during long answers. Has not hurt me in interviews, as a woman in tech. Granted, tech can be its own beast known for drawing socially awkward people of flavors, so take it with a grain of salt I guess.

        3. Princess Deviant*

          OMG yes me too. You know that is a good idea – I never thought of looking at their mouth. I could probably do the lip reading thing when they are talking at least. Thanks! That is helpful. And welcome to the club.

        4. allathian*

          AFAIK I’m NT, but I don’t think anyone is comfortable with prolonged periods of eye contact, at least not in a professional setting. Prolonged eye contact is something you do with a romantic partner in the early stages of a relationship when you literally can’t get enough of looking at each other. When I talk to someone, whether it’s casual chat or in an interview setting, I do look them in the eye at times, usually to emphasize a point I’m making, and then look away again.

          I don’t retain verbal information well, so when I’m interviewing, I always bring a notepad and jot down key points. That’s to keep myself to the point as much as anything else, because I’m likely to ramble on and on.

      2. Princess Deviant*

        Hi Bagpuss, that is a good question and it made me realise that no, I can’t look at any part of anyone’s face when thinking of an answer or when they are speaking to me, so looking at people’s noses or chin isn’t going to work for me either! If the interview is on Zoom then that will be better because I can look in the camera without seeing their faces, but also listen too. If not then I think it’d be a case of asking for accommodations, or at least making them aware. Many thanks for answering.

    5. Journalist Wife*

      I am wondering if the same solution I’ve thought about for myself might work for you. While I do not have the same medical issue you do, I am very much on the “visual/kinetic” processing side of things, and struggle frequently with processing audio questions quickly. I have frequently thought about possibly using a notebook to jot down words here and there in conversation/interview settings — certainly not whole sentences, but 2-3 keywords in complex questions — to stare at while formulating a response. I have not had to interview in quite some time but almost always use this method when meeting with others for discussions, both to reinforce the words visually to focus on while responding (to avoid tangential responses) and also to provide a fairly natural “dead space filler” of activity & engagement while my brain scrambles to process auditory questions and fit them together in a visually pictured format, from which I can respond easily, confidently, and with more efficient responses.

      I’d be interested to hear whether anyone else who does this routinely in work meetings or other settings has been successful at doing so in an actual job interview, and how they pulled it off with confidence?

      1. ProperDose*

        I would be considered neuro-typical but I feel I have the same processing style as you with verbal/audio. The past several interviews I’ve had were panel interviews or consisted of a few people. I have always brought a notepad and pen with me and jot down notes from the interviewers question, so that I can look down and make sure that I’m on track with my answer. I can write and look at the person at the same time. In that notebook, I write down the questions I want to ask at the end of the interview in advance, and I’ll make notes on the responses. This way – I can look back on the conversation when I’m writing thank you notes.

        When I’ve started a new job, I type out a lot of what is going on in a meeting. I would do it in person on a laptop in OneNote, and now that I’m remote/WFH, I can type out nearly everything said in a meeting. Once I get a better feel for the job and can remember topics better – I can stop writing such detailed notes.

        Not one person has said anything to me about it. I just go in to interviews or meetings like it’s nothing but normal!

        1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

          I also take notes during interviews and meetings. I’ve even gotten compliments on my organization (the notes are not very organized, and I do it BECAUSE I’m prone to disorganization, lol). I like transcriptions, email communication, and other records of discussions, because I am likely to forget verbal instructions/information.

          I also write down answers/notes on the most common interview questions beforehand.

    6. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      There was a thread on job searching for teenagers with autism a few years back. I don’t know how well the advice holds up, but there was a lot of it in the comments. Link to follow.

        1. Princess Deviant*

          Thanks, this is really good! It is the first time I am job seeking while knowing that I am autistic, so although I am FAR from a teenager, the advice is still useful because I feel like I am starting from scratch. I particularly resonated with the comments about how Asperger’s (I am on the spectrum, and if I had been diagnosed earlier it would have bene called Asperger’s) people can give a negative first impression, which made me feel a bit sad. On the one hand I want to be myself, but on the other hand I don’t want to f’ck up every opportunity because I can’t social right.

    7. Alexis Rosay*

      As someone who interviews a lot of candidates, if someone told me up front, “Just so you know, I tend to look away while I’m thinking so I’m sorry if I don’t maintain eye contact,” that would make me more understanding throughout the interview and would show self-awareness.

      However, I interview folks for positions that get a super wide variety of applicants, so I tend to be more on the forgiving side and I’m not sure everyone thinks like me.

      1. Zephy*

        Great, but I would replace “I’m sorry” with “thank you for understanding.” There’s nothing here to apologize for.

      2. Washi*

        I agree, I think that would land fine in an interview, as long as you said it breezily (rather than super apologetically) like it’s nbd.

        Also, I wonder about practicing the beginnings and endings of interviews? That part is basically always the same from interview to interview, so if you can get off on the right foot with a warm, comfortable greeting/how are you, and then their last impression of you as you leave is also warm and excited about the job, whatever happens in between is more likely to be perceived in a favorable light. I know I didn’t expect candidates to be super polished on every single question, as interviewing can be a nervewracking and kind of artificial experience.

        1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

          If you think the potential risk is a good trade-off, you might even be able to ask for the questions ahead of time as an accommodation, and practice the whole thing.

          Also, if you’re applying to the same place multiple times (especially if it’s a public institution like a library), write down the questions or save the sheet they give you. My library has to ask everyone the same questions.

    8. JillianNicola*

      Speaking as someone on the spectrum and as someone who did hiring for a while, I just want to say to give yourself a little grace – it’s totally okay and normal to take time to think about your answers! Don’t pressure yourself into feeling like you have to have the answer on the tip of your tongue as soon as the interviewer asks the question. As an interviewer, I’d rather give the person space to really think about it and come up with a good answer than rush them into a crappy answer; people who rush right into the answers without any sort of thoughtful silence/thinking always raised my suspicions a little, and more often than not they didn’t quite answer the question or they only answered part of it. I don’t know how much masking you do (I do a lot, which helps in these kind of situations), but honestly even as a ND person I wouldn’t think the interviewee was weird or autistic because they took time to answer or looked away while thinking. I’d just think they were nervous, because aren’t we all?

    9. SpiderLadyCEO*

      Can you prepare answers to questions you are likely to get in advance? That way you are a little bit more prepared when you go into the meeting. Also, I find a lot of interviewers don’t mind if you take a second to mull over the answer – just tell them to be patient while you think.

      For eye contact, I generally do what the person above said and look at noses or mouths, but I have actually found I have an easier time with Zoom interviews, because then to look like you are making eye contact, you just look at the camera, and don’t have to look at the people at all.

      That being said, you could just be over thinking this and you might not be coming off as weird at all. I just hit my 90-day eval and my boss actually mentioned to me that she noticed I struggled with eye contact and she was happy to let it go. And then we had a whole meeting where I couldn’t look at her face at all, and looked at the table the entire time and she just let it slide. So people might be less bothered by this then you think.

    10. Anonforthisone*

      If it helps you to feel better, looking away while thinking is actually something very natural. Our eyes tend to drift up (and I think to the right) when we are thinking. So if you can, offer yourself some kindness and remember that no one maintains perfect eye contact.

      One thing I have heard that helps if you need time to think, is to repeat the key elements of the question back to the person while you are processing. A great example I saw of this was in a recent clip of mayoral candidates in New York City who were reflecting on their favorite NYC films. One of the candidates was clearly thinking of an answer, so he included a little filler where he was thinking, but still answering right away. It went something like this (not a direct quote, but this was the spirit of what he did):

      “Favorite New York City movie? Wow. When I think back over the history of film, New York City really does play a prominent role. It is a city with a lot of stories, and it really stands out. For me, I think ‘Do the Right Thing’ by Spike Lee has to be my favorite.”

      I imagined that on the spot this man (like many people) felt his mind at first go blank and he also wanted to give an answer that conveyed something about him that voters could relate to. So he spoke in a measured tone, with some generic, but relevant, preamble, to give himself time to think of his choice. For a job interview, let’s say they asked you what you found challenging about your last position. You could do something like:

      “I was lucky to have a supportive team, and it meant that whether we were experiencing an individual challenge or facing a challenge as a group, we knew that we had support in over-coming it. For me, I found (example) to be personally challenging because (reasons), but this gave me a chance to practice (skill) and to also practice engaging with feedback and integrating it into my work, and that did turn out to be a silver lining.”

      1. Momof1*

        Can people really do this? I find it impossible to be thinking about two things at once. I can’t be reading and listening at the same time, I can’t take notes and still be actively listening to the speaker/conversation (a fact that caused me no end of trouble with certain teachers), and I certainly can’t start talking about something random in the interest of “giving myself time to think” about something else, even if the two things are marginally related, like in your example.

        If this is really a thing other people are capable of, how? Is it a skill you can practice? Because, I definitely feel like my inability to do this holds me back in interviews especially. Like, I can start answering a question and, because now I’ve started thinking about the answer and not the question, forget what the question was and just end up kind of rambling into an awkward stop and either hoping for the best, or awkwardly asking “Does that answer your question?” after every, probably bad, answer I give. The only thing that helps with this is practice, but then it feels like I am just reciting rote answers, not even necessarily answering the question as asked, because if I think about the question, I forget what answer I’m giving, get lost and then super awkward.

        1. MissCoco*

          I can sometimes do this, and it involves being very good at the pre-script preamble part for me, or coming off as a bit scattered, since I can’t fully pull it off.

          I will say, I think I interview much better since I quit trying to do this type of multitasking.
          Something that helps me (I tend to ramble) is to start by restating the question before I take a second, that really focuses what I’m thinking about during the pause. For the example above “I really grew in this position a lot, initially there were several things I found difficult, let me think about what aspects I still find challenging”

          And when I finish answering a question, I have a few variants on “did that answer your question?”
          One of my favorite is along the lines of “You can probably tell I could talk about llama grooming all day, was there anything specific you’d like me to elaborate on?”
          I like getting it out in the open that I’m aware I’m a bit talkative, and it’s a way to sort of self-interrupt before I awkwardly trail off

          Another thing I find super helpful in interview prep is to have some bullet point reminders of some classic interview situations: a list of accomplishments, problems solved, etc. Then for a given question, I can select a scenario that demonstrates whatever they’re asking about. It takes some of the mental work out of the storytelling part, because I’ve practiced explaining those situations a few times, and I can keep a finger on the story I’m telling, so I only have to remember *why* I’m sharing it

          1. Nesprin*

            I have good luck with “Let me see, are you asking about my favorite movies featuring New York? Let me think” (pause) “I really like Coming to America, because of X. Does that answer your question?”

      2. Cthulhu's Librarian*

        So, you’re correct that our eyes tend to drift when speaking/thinking, especially when it’s not a confrontational type of conversation. But the idea that there are specific directions that indicate specific type of thoughts has turned out to be not quite accurate – it varies by person, seating arrangements, culture, and a whole lot of other things.

    11. RJ*

      I’m in the same boat – I process questions fairly slowly, especially in stressful situations, and find myself freezing up in interviews. What really helped me was to start putting together a big list of probable questions and spending time really honing my answers, especially for “tell me about a time when” questions, so I wouldn’t find myself spending agonizing minutes trying to remember a situation that fits the scenario being asked for. I still get some curveballs now and again, but working out what I’m going to say to the most likely questions makes it a little easier to talk about my work experience as a whole on the fly.

      (I did get lucky in my current role – the interview panel sent me the questions they planned to ask 15 minutes before the interview started so I could prep my answers. I wish more places would do something like that.)

      1. Mimi*

        I’m neurotypical, but for “tell me about a time when” questions, I really recommend making yourself a list of projects and work interactions you can talk about! I have a double-handful that are relevant to learning, teaching, solving problems, overcoming challenges, etc, and I’ll pause a moment and answer filler/repeat the question as described above, “Hm, a time when I had to work with a difficult client, let’s see… Oh, there was a time when…” while I consider the situations on the list or think of something not on the list.

    12. Ellis*

      I am autistic and have had much of these same difficulties (for context I am a woman on the mild end of the spectrum–you wouldn’t know I was autistic unless you knew me very, very well–which can change the dynamic a bit). Some things that worked for me:
      -Instead of always making eye contact, I look at a person’s nose, ear, or chin while they’re talking. Then I make eye contact while giving my answer. This is easier for me to process but you might be the opposite.
      -Instead of saving all my own questions for the end, I try to intersperse them into the conversation. For example, if the interviewer asks me to describe my experience with X skill, I answer and then ask how much of the job uses X or what methods they use for X. This gives you some time between answers, but it also allows you a natural place to pause and write down notes.
      -I cultivate an air of interesting weirdness. This is the big one–I really think my working life got better when I stopped trying to mitigate some of the weirdness and just let it be. I currently work in what is considered a very polished, normative, social industry (consulting) and it doesn’t seem to hold me back. How successful this is will depend on the company culture, but I don’t think I’d work well somewhere where they hate weirdness anyways. In my interview for my current job, I talked about how interesting I find filing cabinets and the history of information storage (I don’t remember how we got on this. I do nothing at all related to information storage, filing cabinets, or history). When I onboarded they told me they really enjoyed my “quirkiness.” So win-win. This does take a certain comfort with yourself though, and that can take some time to get to.

      1. Generic Name*

        I love the comment about interesting weirdness. I am also in consulting, but I am in a sub-specialty where many of the folks who are specialists are considered “odd”, so that helps. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve also learned to embrace my weirdness. I’m trying to think how this translates to interviewing well. I agree that “interesting weirdness” and “quirkiness” read much better than “odd duck who makes me feel uncomfortable”, which I’m afraid happens to lots of folks on the spectrum without them realizing it.

        1. Ellis*

          That’s fair. What I meant by that in terms of interviewing was, sometimes you spend a lot of energy trying to time yourself making eye contact, make the right body language, subvert all your natural tics, etc–and instead of coming off as neurotypical, it just looks uncomfortable or staged or even weirder. Or impacts your ability to do the important part (answer the questions) because you’re expending all this concentration on staring at a person’s face for the right number of seconds. I think a lot of times these situations are more forgiving than we believe. Personally one of my strongest autistic traits is that I really like there to be checklists for how to Do Things Right and I want to know how to meet the criteria Precisely, but that isn’t actually how others perceive it.

          And again I’m sure this depends a whole lot on the company. There are some firms my company has partnered with on various projects where I can tell my relative lack of tone and expression would NOT fly. I could probably alter myself enough in the interviews to get past it, but at this point in my career I don’t have the desire to and I think it’d be a much more difficult working environment. For the most part, I want to work somewhere where it’s OK if I look weird, and that means I won’t be successful in every single interview situation.

      2. Gloucesterina*

        How cool – have you read the recent book about the filing cabinet catalyzing the development of the concept of “information”? (I think it’s from University of California Press, not exactly sure.) Would you recommend it?

        1. Ellis*

          If you mean the one by Craig Robertson, I haven’t yet (I tend to buy academic books in big chunks during the EOY press sales) but he has a great article in Places Journal take from the book!

      3. JB*

        “Cultivating an air of interesting weirdness” – yes! I second this one hard.

        I think part of the trick is to not really try to hide who you are. We tend to get the message that autism is ‘unprofessional’ and we need to pretend to be neurotypical in the office. This isn’t really true; professional behavior doesn’t come naturally to anyone, but common advice for professional behavior doesn’t always apply well to autistic people, so we kind of have to find our own way.

        If you fully embrace and are comfortable with who you are, rather than embarrassed or trying to pre-emptively apologize for your autism (as we are sometimes taught to do), most people will accept you with grace. The ones who don’t, usually are not worth your time and effort to win over anyway.

    13. Generic Name*

      With my son (who is on the spectrum) I’ve found that practicing scenarios that he feels uncertain or anxious about helps. Same with talking about it in advance a lot. Do you have a friend you could do a ton of practicing interviews with? You could practice saying, “That’s a good question, let me think for a moment” until it feels natural for you.

    14. JB*

      I am autistic and I am told (unsolicited) that I interview very well. Obviously autism is not one-size-fits-all, but here are some things I do, maybe they will help for you:
      1. Before an interview, I look up common interview questions and then I answer them out loud to myself. I only do each question once so it doesn’t sound over-rehearsed; and usually the questions from these lists are not exactly what is asked in the interview; but it helps me to have in mind what sorts of experiences I want to reference, what skills I want to showcase, and how I want to phrase it. This reduces my internal ‘loading time’ because I only need time to process the question, the answer doesn’t take as long to ‘buffer’, the words are alread there easily at hand.
      2. If I do get an unexpected question that I have to think about, I say, ‘oh, what a good question! Let me think about that for a second.’
      3. I only make eye contact while being asked a question, nod to indicate that I’ve heard it, and then I let my gaze roam naturally between: other parts of the interviewer’s face (ex. Chin, forhead), the ceiling, and whatever is in front of me (should be a notebook and/or a copy of my resume). If you don’t stare at their face for too long it seems people don’t notice if you’re actually looking them in the eye or not. When I look at the ceiling I also make an effort to purse my lips a little, nod my head, or otherwise indicate that I am thinking and not just looking around because I’m bored. (This is especially if I have to do this while someone is asking a lengthy question or talking about something/answering my own question – I have a really short window for eye contact before I stop being able to hear or comprehend what the person is saying, so I have to look away!) Then I meet their eyes again at the end of my answer and usually smile a little.
      4. You didn’t ask about this, but I write down any questions I want to ask and have it on my notebook before starting the interview. Otherwise I’m going to forget them. It also helps because sometimes an interviewer gives you information up-front that answers all those questions! I’m not good at coming up with ‘fluff questions’ on the fly, so instead when they ask if I have any questions, I look down my list and check off each one they’ve already answered and then let them know they’ve answered all my questions already and thank them for providing such a thorough explanation of the position. This way it’s clear that I did have questions and they really were all answered, rather than maybe coming across like I’m not very interested in the position.

      1. LC*

        I am so with you on #3, that’s what I do without really thinking about it. I’m not autistic but I’ve got some pretty serious ADHD and there can definitely be some overlap in how we process things.
        Making strong eye contact for a sentence or two per question is doable for me, so I try to choose the best time to do that and it’s usually when they’re asking the question. If I’m listening, my natural state is to look away, just because that’s usually how I process speech best, but the “make an effort to purse my lips a little, nod my head, or otherwise indicate that I am thinking and not just looking around because I’m bored” part makes such a big difference, I think. Gives me the space to act naturally, in the way that will help me do my best, without drawing too much attention to the fact that it’s a little different than most people.
        (Also, hard agree on #4, I would never remember any questions on the spot, even the ones that are particularly important to me, and honestly, these two points are exactly what I think, just written out much better, so I’m glad you shared this. :-) )

    15. SnappinTerrapin*

      Some of what you describe is within the spectrum of “normalcy” for “neurotypical” people, so please, don’t feel alone and don’t be too hard on yourself.

      I see a lot of good advice here. Rehearsal is a good strategy for normalizing any uncomfortable situation, no matter who you are.

      Taking a moment to think IS NOT A BAD THING! It shows you really are being thoughtful in your responses.

      Taking notes and repeating questions can be reasonable strategies for organizing your answers.

      As for eye contact, try not to obsess about it. Staring would be as uncomfortable for your interviewer as it is for you. Look away to think, if that works for you, and look back toward the interviewer as you answer.

      Practicing and experimenting will help you develop the right combination to feel comfortable to you.

      Best wishes!

      1. JB*

        I’d like to push back gently on the inclination people have to say ‘oh! Neurotypical people do that too!’ in discussions about autistic struggles.

        Yes – neurotypical people don’t make eye contact 100% of the time. Yes – neurotypical people often pause to think before speaking. But these are both clinical symptoms of autism, because autistic people do it differently, more dramatically, and for longer periods of time than allistic people.

        It reminds me of a conversation I had recently with my friends. ‘When I have to stop speaking to find a word,’ I lamented, ‘my sister often prompts me with the last word I’ve said, as if I’ve forgotten I’m speaking to her. It’s very frustrating because it distracts me from finding the word I wanted.’

        They all said, oh, that’s so rude of her! It’s absolutely normal to pause for a moment to find a word while speaking!

        Well, eventually we all came to understand that how they defined ‘a moment’ was much, much shorter than what I meant when I said ‘a moment’. So their initial response was not very helpful; my sister would have no doubt been confused and hurt if I told her she was being rude. And, generally, it’s quite frustrating to say, as an autistic person – ‘I’ve struggled with interacting because of these problems’ and hear back, ‘oh, those aren’t problems, everyone does that!’ Well, if everyone did it in the way that we did it, then it wouldn’t cause us to struggle with interaction, would it?

        1. SnappinTerrapin*

          Good point. I considered addressing that, but felt that the other advice was more constructive.

          We each walk in our own shoes, and experience our own lives. “Norms” are over-rated. We each tend to be hyper-aware of our own experience, and less aware of others. It might be helpful, though, to realize that the experience of being uncomfortable in various situations is, in fact, a universal element of being human. The variations are in what makes us uncomfortable, how the discomfort manifests itself, and what strategies work for us individually to manage it.

          But what seems like an eternity for the person experiencing the discomfort can seem like the blink of an eye to the other party to the conversation.

          There have been several suggestions far more helpful than mine. I sincerely hope mine wasn’t harmful.

        2. Generic Name*

          Thanks for offering this perspective. My son is a teenager, and as I’m ushering him into young adulthood, I try to have conversations with him about social interactions. I don’t ever want him to feel like he’s wrong or ding things wrong, but I do want him to know that social convention says you do X. Not because not doing X is wrong or bad, but because doing X makes going through daily life a bit smoother.

        3. Stitching Away*

          Thank you for saying this. When you finally get diagnosed, which is almost always an uphill battle against invalidation, you then fall into the lifelong battle of invalidation of all the people who go, oh, that’s normal, I do that too! When no, it’s not.

          Or the normal is over-rated thing. Normal is not over-rated. The statistics on employment for those who are disabled alone tell you that. I have no problem with myself as disabled, or anyone else who is disabled. But society hates us, and is stacked against us, and it’s a terrible place to live in.

          So statements that undermine difference are so harmful because it feeds into that voice in your head that says that if you’re struggling to do what you need to do, but other people aren’t, then it’s really all your fault, and it’s not because your brain is wired differently. I get that it’s well intentioned, but good intentions have never prevented damage.

    16. Dream Jobbed*

      Agree with others – have “speeches” prepared for some of the questions you know you’ll get. Have some stories ready to go that show you in a good light – you’d be surprised how often they can be tweaked to answer another question. Know your resume inside and out, and don’t worry about repeating things on it, because if they are going through dozens they won’t remember all your details.

      Picture an x on their forehead just above between the eyes. This is where you want to look. They can’t tell you aren’t looking in their eyes, and you don’t have the discomfort of direct eye contact. Practice with someone until you find the sweet spot. (This is great for great for staring contests too.)

      I wish everyone could hear Temple Grandin speak about the benefit of different thinking in the workplace. Her example of how an autistic brain would have seen the issues with the Fukushima Nuclear Plant and potential flooding is fascinating. Having a brain that sees things differently can be a huge benefit, and I hope your strengths in a way that you can bring forward in an interview. I wish I could tell you to just let the interviewers know you are autistic, but I don’t think that’s a reality in today’s world. And I am so sorry for that.

    17. GMan*

      Regarding your statement “it takes me awhile to process information” I think that this isn’t always a bad thing.

      Sometimes, when we don’t understand something right away, we panic and think something similar to ‘oh no, I look dumb because I’m not answering fast enough!’ but actually, taking a pause before answering can make you look very thoughtful if done correctly.

      When you need time to process a question, nod your head slowly and deliberately to the interviewer, gently furrow your brow, maybe break eye contact, smile, and then always start your reply with a statement like “thanks for the question” or “great question” to give you the maximum amount of time to think.

    18. meyer lemon*

      This isn’t directly related to the two issues you mentioned, but one specific trick to make all of your anecdotes more compelling is to focus on ending them well. Usually if your answer ends on a fairly definitive point, the interviewer will forget if you took a long moment to think it over before you start (this is something I do too, and I’ve been told that I interview well). The best way that I’ve found to do this is to prepare a few examples ahead of the interview, and plan to end them on a positive note–showing that you achieved a good outcome, for example. But any answer that wraps up fully feels a lot more complete than one that just kind of trails away.

      1. Princess Deviant*

        Oh that’s good – I would have to practise the answers, but that is doable.

    19. Hillary*

      I second everyone recommending practice (I’d say with friends), especially for behavioral questions. There are a lot of good question sets on the internet. In grad school we practiced at happy hour – going through those questions with friends helped us become more comfortable with them and turned them into conversations. It helps me a lot to reframe interviews into conversations – I’m learning about them just as much as they’re learning about me.

      The other thing I like to do is have stories ready for each bullet on my resume. I’m for most types of questions I’m going to be asked, and it gives me a way to redirect the interview if I need to.

    20. At home with work*

      I’m not autistic. I do have social anxiety that is absolutely hidden from anyone but my closest people.

      Eye contact is a weird thing. I do the looking away to formulate ideas and put connections together. I’ve had people comment that they notice I do it and that I get a look on my face and that they interpret as me being clever. I honestly think they’re just seeing me relax into my brain. When I’m anxious about an interaction I start to over think how much eye contact is normal and I’ve spent time formulating how much actually occurs in conversations.

      I’ve noticed that you don’t want to constantly maintain eye contact. Make some. Moving back and forth is what people do when they’re talking and listening. People don’t literally maintain it for long periods of time.

      If you have to think about a question, repeating it back while you’re thinking is a good tactic. It sounds like you’re listening to the other person when really your brain is screeching 17 ideas, multiple physical sensations and just going blank all at once.

      If you need a moment to think, it’s okay to say you need that moment. People do it all the time. Most people are not very quick with their words, often describe needing time to think and plenty don’t think out loud. I’m very quick worded/thinking and as you can see one commenter thinks that’s not trustworthy! I’ve encountered this attitude frequently.

      If you don’t understand something, I think it’s perfectly acceptable to say so. Try to interpret the question, so you asked this, do you mean this? It shows you’re listening, thinking and are not afraid to say I don’t know/I don’t understand which is a quality more people need.

      Remember too, you’re interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you!

    21. Cooper*

      Take notes! I do the same thing with looking away, but if you’re sitting there with a notebook jotting down what people say, it can give a welcome break from having to make eye contact.

      Also, doing “active listener” things helps a lot! I do a lot of nodding and then looking to jot down some notes, saying “uh-huh” when appropriate, etc. I also tend to make a vague “hmm” sound to indicate that I’m thinking when I look off in a random direction– it seems like up-and-to-the-side is the expression that most neurotypicals equate with a person who’s thinking.

      Interviewers are going to expect you to be a little awkward, but reframing it as just being conscientious and thoughtful has worked well for me! (Caveat: I work in software development, so neurodivergent people are the norm, not the exception, in the places I interview.)

    22. Princess Deviant*

      Thanks so much to everyone who has commented. It has been really helpful, and in the tradition of taking time to process information, I shall bookmark this page and come back to it in order to absorb the advice and figure out which will work for me and which not.
      My immediate takeaways though are:
      -Prepare some standard answers to common questions and some standard scenarios (tell me a time when…) and practise them.
      -Make notes (this helps me concentrate too).
      -I can look at their lips when they’re talking.
      -It’s ok to take time to think of an answer.
      -Be myself, and lean into my interesting weirdness (I love this one).

      Thank you so much for your help, you’ve given me a lot to think about. And it is great to meet other ND people here too and hear your experiences.

      1. Wisteria*

        I’m autistic. It’s entirely impossible for me to tell you how successful the strategy is, but whenever I do some thing that is “off script“ I try to name what I am doing and why to make it seem less off script. For example, if I need time to process a question, I might say, “oh what a good question, let me take a moment to process that so I can give you a good answer.“ That will let me stare off into space for a second without it being nearly as weird (I hope) as if I were to stare off into space for a second without telling them why I’m staring off into space.
        What really gets me on interviews is when somebody asks a question that has a motivation behind it that is not clear. During the interview where I got my current job, they asked me about supervising some interns that had happened 20 years ago. In my head, I was wondering why they were asking me about some thing that happened 20 years ago. Later, I was able to put together that they were asking a larger question about supervising people, and for whatever reason they fixated on these people 20 years ago. That is a common autistic problem, where we answer the question they ask and not the question they meant (that is a common allistic problem, where they don’t ask the question they mean). I recommend to you that you practice asking things like, “did that address what you were getting at?”

    23. MissDisplaced*

      Not autistic. But I think TONS of people struggle with interviewing. Whether it’s nerves or stress or simply lack of practice time. I think the best thing is to always be prepared with YOUR story, your skills and have the standard Q&A things memorized. Do your homework on the company–at least pertinent facts about what they do.

      I don’t think you absolutely must maintain eye contact constantly. Most people do look down or to the side or up if they’re thinking about something that takes a moment. But you can try to keep this limited by really having the answers to most interview questions memorized. This takes practice! Speak them out loud or record yourself in Zoom to check your voice and expressions. Practice with friends or family being the interviewer. And remember, most people (even interviewers) are forgiving of slight quirks as long as you are engaged, speak coherently and Answer The Questions. They understand you might be nervous. I’ve gone on tons of interviews over the years, and I can say that only 3 or 4 people were truly being rude jerks (and those aren’t the jobs you want anyway).

    24. Jyn’Leeviyah the Red*

      Have you read the book Look Me in the Eye? My husband was diagnosed a few years ago and it really really helped him start to navigate the world and understand what impressions he was giving off! Maybe that would help you to start to sort through a bit?

    25. Not an Architect*

      In addition to a what other people have said, it’s fine and normal to look away while you’re thinking about an answer. So you might say, “Hm, let me think about that a moment” and then rest your eyes somewhere else while you get some thoughts and words lined up, and then look back in their direction as you start speaking.

    26. Not an Architect*

      Also, if having structure helps you, then STAR is a good approach for any question that’s along the lines of “tell me about a time when…”. In half a sentence or a sentence, outline the situation (S). Then them what task you were faced with (T). Describe the actions you took (A) and what the result was (R).

      What I have done in the past is look through the job description for key things they’re asking for and then think about instances where I’ve had to show those skills/attitudes. Then I’ve thought about situations where I’ve had to demonstrate them and bullet-pointed out a STAR response and practiced saying it. That way I have a kind of bank of responses that describe how I’ve been good t things in the past. Sometimes I draw on them to enrich or strengthen my answers to questions that aren’t situational, too, when it’s relevant.

  2. Resume vs LinkedIn*

    What is your ratio of skills listed on your resume to skills listed on LinkedIn? I treat LinkedIn like a dumping ground and customize my resume to the job description, but I’m wondering if word-stuffing for ATS is still a thing.

    1. Liesl is my dachshund*

      My LinkedIn is a bit lighter and more conversational compared to my resume. I speak more to the overall position and tell a story rather than bullet points.

    2. lost academic*

      Keep editing until you are really at the end where all you are talking about the specific impact to the end result and the direct action that caused it. Leave out the adjectives, leave out anything that’s a commentary on something that isn’t connected to that negative result. Make it about the work and entirely the work – not her attitude, not how people react to her, but action and result. Remember what you are trying to achieve – giving actionable and clear information. If you’re not trying to do so, then just don’t say anything at all, because there’s no need to talk about someone’s behavior this way otherwise.

    3. TWW*

      On my last successfully used resume I didn’t list any skills, other than a few “key software skills”. My last 10 years of employment history and the accomplishments listed under each job paint a picture of what my important skills are.

      By contrast, on LinkedIn I have dozens of skills, including ones related to hobbies and not relevant to my current work. As far as I can tell, no potential employer ever looked at my any part of my Linked in page, much less the skills section, so it doesn’t really matter.

      I don’t know what the purpose of LinkedIn is supposed to be*, but I use it as a scrapbook of things I’ve done, things I’ve learned, and people I’ve met over the years.

      *I mean, obviously its true purpose is to make money for the LinkedIn company

    4. 867-5309*

      I do not list any skills on a resume that are not quantifiable (languages, software) and ignore them when hiring.

      I have never looked at someone’s skill list on LinkedIn and mine are all from “endorsements,” which don’t mean much.

    5. Anonymous Koala*

      My LinkedIn is also kind of a skill dumping ground, and I customize my skills for each resume. All the skills on my resume are quantifiable and industry specific, and often directly lifted from the job post. I’ve also had some recruiters tell me that to get through their ATS, if the job ad asks for a specific skill, I should repeat the same skill with the exact same phrasing in the bullet points under every job I used that skill at. So for example, if a job asks for ten years of experience with llama tail french braiding and I’ve been french braiding llama tails for twelve years, the last twelve years worth of jobs on my resume should mention the phrase “llama tail French braiding”. I don’t usually organize my resume that way unless a recruiter specifically asks for it, but it was an interesting insight into how those mass ATS systems sort resumes. And I did get interviews after submitting resumes like that, so I guess it worked?

  3. Snarkus Aurelius*

    I swear I’m a feminist here, but…

    How do you legitimately describe a woman as difficult to work with and abrasive?

    Jane’s work is fantastic, but her personality leaves a lot to be desired. She’s emotionally unpredictable. You never know when one detail is going to make her snap at you. She has mini-mean flashes. She’s too rigid on things that don’t require rigidity. When she’s really on a kick, the passive-aggressive behavior is on high, although it’s not that often. For 75% of the time, she’s a nice person, but these behaviors are too big to ignore.

    I’d rather work with someone else and produce B+ work than work with Jane and produce A+ work.

    When I have to explain Jane to other people, how do I do that without using the typical misogynist terms? (I’m guessing I need to show and not tell.)

    1. Nancie*

      Don’t describe her personality, describe how it impacts her work. “She’s very knowledgeable, but people are hesitant to approach her for collaboration.”

    2. Threeve*

      I don’t think “unpredictable” or “inconsistent” are stereotypes, so just leave out “emotionally,” and that would be fine. And “hard to work with” is fine too.

      I feel your dilemma. How and why did the word “difficult” become gendered???

      1. Artemesia*

        Rigid and hard to work with are not gendered. ‘Explodes in anger’, ‘attacks others’ and ‘unreliable’ are not either.

      2. mreasy*

        Probably when people realized that most of the time when used about women in the workplace it just means “doesn’t agree with everything men say.”

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

      Describe her behavior the same way you’d describe it if she were a man…her gender isn’t relevant to her behavior. “She’s difficult to work with and unpredictable. While her product results are often good, her behavior creates a contentious environment that interferes with work.”

      1. Karo*

        On the surface I agree, but women are more often perceived as difficult to work with and unpredictable than men because of how we’re “supposed” to behave. So if OP just left it at that, I’d still question whether they were evaluating her fairly (unless I personally knew OP to be contentious and fair). I’d be prepared with specific, concrete examples as well. It’s the difference between saying that she’s unpredictable vs saying that you asked her where the file was and she called you useless and incompetent. The latter very clearly shows an unnecessary escalation whereas the former is vague.

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

          Almost any of words that could describe both male and female behavior can be weaponized against women though. Specific examples are nice, but often behavior like this is a bunch of small insignificant details that, on their own, won’t elicit much of a reaction from the management. By itself, the incident in your example really doesn’t give the full picture of her behavior or why it’s creating a contentious environment. The Bosses could easily say, “So what? Ask someone else or look for the file.”

          1. No No No*

            I would not consider telling a co-worker that they are “useless and incompetent” is “insignificant”. And if the boss replied “So what? Ask someone else or look for the file” it would pretty clearly be perceived by many, if not most, people as a toxic work environment.

    4. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      You can leave out the interpretation or perception of her emotions, and just describe the objective results.

      “She yells at people over minor issues, and it’s inconsistent from day to day about which things she disagrees about.” instead of “she snaps at you.”

      “She insists on doing A according to a long, detailed procedure, but doesn’t care about doing B, C, and D to that level of precision.”


      1. Anonymous Educator*

        This is a good approach in general to feedback. Rather than labeling with an adjective, describe the behavior, its effect, and what the employee should do in the future.

      2. TR*

        +1 I had a female boss who was horrible, and I found that the best way to describe what she did was to get down to the details of what happened, ie: “She screamed at me and threatened to fire me for asking what the project schedule was” as opposed to “she flips out all of a sudden for no reason.”

    5. Lora*

      Exactly that – show don’t tell.

      “Jane was very rigid and inflexible on Project ABC, which really needed someone who could roll with the changes.”
      “Jane is not direct or clear in communications and it generates more conflict rather than resolving conflicts”
      “Reactions are way out of proportion to the situation”

      FWIW I have a couple of male colleagues who are also rigid and inflexible on some things where we need someone who can come up with creative solutions, who make passive aggressive comments instead of directly resolving conflict, and who massively freak out about a bunch of nothing and are super challenging to deal with. And I definitely do a “show don’t tell” description: Dave was in charge of Project A, and here’s the things that happened and here is the outcome we are still trying to cope with today. Whatever they might think about someone’s personality, it’s hard to argue that this is just a You Problem or a matter of opinion when the results are crap, and when you can draw a clear line between “Jane didn’t communicate properly to resolve the conflict and as a result Wakeen didn’t get his information when he needed it and so Project A was six months late” or whatever. For most instances, you can say Jane’s an a-hole but nobody is going to care, or they’ll brush it off as a You Problem unless you can also say “here is the problem Jane’s a-holery directly caused, which would not have happened if she’d behaved decent.”

    6. Dust Bunny*

      My mom is difficult to work with. She’s:
      –Brusque with others
      –Reluctant to adapt to new technologies, especially if it’s a new version of an process she has already learned. (She’ll complain incessantly that it’s not the way we used to do it; why did they have to mess it up?)

      Yes, she gets emotional in the mix, and the more frustrated she gets the less well she pays attention, which escalates everything, but I can describe her well enough without bringing that in.

      So maybe brusque and rigid will suffice?

      1. No No No*

        Your description of her being “Reluctant to adapt to new technologies… (etc.)” is more powerful in describing rigid behavior than just using the word “rigid”. Likewise, if you have an example of her being brusque, that will be more powerful than describing her as “brusque” alone.

    7. TexasTeacher*

      I didn’t realize “difficult” was gendered. when men act that way, what are they called?
      I kinda dislike dropping a perfectly good word. Maybe we can expand our use of these words more intentionally to include men. I mean, I have a brother I could easily see being called emotional and difficult to work with!

      1. Mimi*

        A man might be described as “he’s a bit picky, but does good work” or “he’s just like that; don’t mind Dave being Dave,” or, “he’s an amazing visionary and a true leader in the field” and it’s only 15 minutes later that you learn that he can’t keep support staff for more than nine months because he’s such a nightmare to work for.

        The first two would definitely label a woman difficult; the third might get stronger language, or “difficult” with vocal emphasis and facial expression.

        1. Carol*

          Yeah, sometimes it’s in how “difficult” is delivered as well as just the word. Sometimes it’s an Old Boys Club code for any woman who doesn’t fall in line…sometimes it’s used carelessly but just applied more to women.

        2. MissDisplaced*

          When I think about my one boss I would say: often contradictory and sometimes difficult
          >He is often unclear or vague about what he actually wants, and presents contradictory ideas about goals.
          >He is over enthusiastic about “ideas,” but has a hard time focusing on details or deliverables.
          >He may often get snappish and escalate issues too soon instead of letting giving people time to adequately respond.

          To the mostly male rest of the industry: He’s a good salesperson.

        3. College Career Counselor*

          I’ve heard “prickly” used to describe people who are quick to take offense (at minor/perceived slights), or who bristle when asked for clarification on something. It’s descriptive, but not particularly precise, so I am going to take to heart the advice to describe behavior more directly. That’ll probably land better than what my first impulse is…

      2. Snarkus Aurelius*

        A “strong leader.”

        My male coworker punched a coffee table when a project didn’t go his way and my boss called him passionate. I frowned during a meeting and the same boss told me I needed anger management.

        1. Frankie Bergstein*

          Terrifying! I would struggle to work with that. Isn’t professionalism projecting a cool head whether or not that’s how you feel inside?

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Men in power can have a toddler tantrum without getting labeled as anything; women, generally, have not been allowed that luxury.

      3. Eden*

        It’s more that women can get labeled “difficult” for behaviors like “not willing to clean up after male colleagues” or “refusing manager’s sexual advances”, not about any actual difficult behavior. No one here is saying that “difficult” should only be used for women, it’s thr opposite, that describing a woman as difficult is loaded.

      4. Threeve*

        A lot of it stems from Hollywood, I think. It’s really common for an actress to get labeled as notoriously “difficult,” which can be the kiss of death for her career. Difficult is always the word used. I’ve never heard a male actor described that way. And “difficult” actresses have often earned that reputation from just standing up for themselves or calling out a man’s terrible behavior.

          1. Dust Bunny*

            It’s not that it doesn’t get applied to men, it’s that it gets applied to women for far less “difficult” behavior, or because they stood up for themselves.

          2. linger*

            Possibly, but not directly because of the “Dorothy” persona. Remember, Hoffman’s character in Tootsie, Michael Dorsey, was explicitly established within the first 5 minutes as a perfectionist nobody wanted to work with.

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

          I’ve heard it applied to Chevy Chase, Christian Bale, Jeremy Clarkson… and other male actors. But your point of it being used for female actors more often, and for behavior that wouldn’t get a man in trouble, stands.

        2. ginger ale for all*

          Yes, it happened to Ashley Judd from Harvey Weinstein. You can google it for details.

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

        I think that “difficult” is used to mean something different when it’s lobbed at women — doesn’t smile enough, won’t volunteer to do office-keeping tasks or social functions, doesn’t engage in enough small-talk and only answers work questions. Those aren’t what people mean if they call a man “difficult.”

      6. Sparkles McFadden*

        The word “difficult” has been co-opted. In my personal experience, a woman is labeled as “difficult” if:

        – She is terse (but a man will be called “no-nonsense”)

        – She doesn’t soften her opinions with ego-soothing prefaces such as “Your idea is really, really great but I think I know how to make it a little bit better.” (…by doing the polar opposite because the guy’s idea is ridiculous.)

        – She says “I’m a in the middle of something but can help you in about an hour” instead of jumping up and immediately helping a colleague who is having a crisis.

        …you get the picture

      7. Sunflower*

        I think part of the problem with difficult- from all aspects- is it’s vague and doesn’t really give me much background and because of that, its used when people simply don’t like the other person’s behavior but perhaps the facts don’t really back it up.

        I see women getting labeled as difficult mostly when they aren’t pushovers. The issue is like sometimes, yes, you have to budge but I’ve seen difficult used to describe perfectly acceptable pushback on ideas or needed disruption of the status quo. Generally, men are applauded when they stick firm and women are called ‘difficult’.

        I prefer something like rigid or inflexible because it describes much more about why someone is difficult.

        1. anonymath*

          I agree with using the descriptors of behavior, too, because I have had colleagues who will present me with difficulties because…. they’re “too nice”, can’t prioritize, say yes to everything and commit us to impossibilities, won’t be specific about technical things, etc. Or someone can be difficult because they’re hard to reach, although when you actually have their attention they’re great!

      8. Wisteria*

        Both emotional and difficult are judgments, not behaviors. Stick to describing the behavior. What about the person is difficult? Be specific.

    8. Ace in the Hole*

      Agree with others: just describe the behavior and its results.

      It sounds like a lot of your discomfort essentially boils down to “I don’t like working with Jane because she does X, but X is often attributed to women who don’t actually do X because of sexism. How do I say Jane does X without feeding into the problem?”

      Unfortunately… I don’t think there’s a way to totally avoid it. Some people just happen to behave in stereotypical ways, talking about it will inevitably reinforce some people’s sexist worldviews, but you should’t avoid talking about it because it affects your work. I think the most important things are to take the time to reflect internally on whether your perception of her behavior might be unconsciously influenced by her gender (which it sounds like you have) and be willing to shut down conversations if the person you’re talking with starts getting out of line talking about Jane or other women in a sexist way.

    9. Coenobita*

      I don’t have any advice that others haven’t suggested, but I want to put in a plug for Kat Matfield’s “Gender Decoder” tool for those who are interested in gendered language in working/hiring! The tool is meant to help you avoid masculine- or feminine-coded language in job ads (or, at least, to help you balance out the terms you do use). It’s at genderdecoder dot katmatfield dot com.

    10. Massive Dynamic*

      Specific example + work impact, instead of the problematic adjectives. So instead of “Jane gets very emotional and upset when she’s made aware of a mistake she’s made and refuses to change her process.” say “On X date, Jane ordered Y supplies for Z project but failed to factor in ABC, and we were short on supplies. When asked to rectify the error and build a safeguard in her process to avoid a repeat, she declined to do so. On X+5 date, she made the same error. Both errors netted a $__ loss in revenue.”

    11. TWW*

      When do you *have to* explain Jane to other people?

      I’ve worked with difficult people too, but I can’t remember ever needing to verbalize my opinion of their personality.

      On the other hand, if I work with someone who’s kind or helpful, I will talk about that. So I guess if I say nothing, most people who know me would hear silence speaking volumes.

    12. meyer lemon*

      I wonder how necessary it is to go into this level of detail at all–for example, I would hesitate to describe one coworker as mean and passive-aggressive to another, unless I was trying to give them a warning or something. I’d just say we don’t work well together.

    13. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Serious question: what other people are you explaining Jane to? If you are just venting to friends, probably language can be more casual/know your audience type deal. If you are venting to coworkers, it’s probably not a good idea to describe Jane at all. If you are taking to your boss, specific examples of how Jane’s behavior impacts your work specifically (and focus on the work, not your feelings) is the way to go.

      1. Exhausted Educator Was Exhausted*

        I ended up in this position once after agreeing to serve as a reference when a very Jane-like direct report of mine was applying for a graduate program. I could legitimately praise many aspects of her work, and had sort of written off “difficult” aspects of working with her as personality differences between her and me. Interestingly, though, the reference form directly asked what this Jane ought to work on in order to be more effective in official or unofficial leadership capacities. So I actually did end up giving examples of a couple of “difficult” recurring behaviors that I thought were relevant in response to that question. (In retrospect, these behaviors were something I should have addressed as a supervisor rather than just writing them off as personality differences–they did affect our group’s ability to collaborate effectively.)

    14. Sparkles McFadden*

      I’ve never thought the label of “difficult” was particularly helpful in the work environment because it could mean so many things. I think it best to call out individual actions. Examples:

      – “Jane isn’t terribly flexible and not prone to compromise. Even in cases where a compromise makes sense and isn’t high stakes, she’ll hold her line.”

      – “Jane can be a bit unpredictable. Sometimes she seems to take things very personally.”

      Both of those are true and could easily describe male or female coworkers.

    15. Lizy*

      I think you did, in your question. This person is difficult to work with and abrasive. It really doesn’t matter if “this person” is a he, she, or they.

      1. Wisteria*

        Except that abrasive is used with women when they exhibit the same behaviors that men do. The problem with adjectives is that they don’t say exactly what the problem is. What is the behavior that you believe is abrasive? Describe the behavior without using judge mental adjectives.

    16. Sara without an H*

      Be as specific as possible and avoid attributing motives. “Jane drew a hard line that we adhere to Process X for this project. Unfortunately, the circumstances changed and sticking with Process X put us behind on deadlines for a month. When anyone raised this issue in meetings, Jane snapped at them.”

      Oh, btw — your next to last sentence is deadly. Deliver that in a quiet tone of voice and you can blast Jane’s reputation to tatters.

    17. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      A few years ago, I was transferred to another team and warned that the woman in charge was “challenging” to work with. Turned out that meant AWESOME — she was smart, passionate about diversity, happy to praise good work. Yes, she had a temper, but she only lost it when I did something really stupid! We’ve both since left the company but she continues to hire me for side gigs.

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

        No one should ever lose their temper at work, but most especially a manager. It’s nice that you worked well with her, but please know that you should never be subject to her “losing it” over mistakes.

      2. Venus*

        Years ago we had a coworker who was great but had little patience for difficult people. If I ever met someone and they complained about her then I knew to steer clear of them!

    18. hamsterpants*

      Make sure that when you describe your male colleagues, you apply a similar level of scrutiny.

  4. Loki Varient*

    When you start a new job, how long does it take to really feel like you’re running on your own and are being productive?

    Both my last job and the new job I just started seem to take forever to get me into training and allow access to the internal systems. Between sporadic trainings, I’m mainly reading through the website and looking through the files of my predecessors. I’m at my desk and ready to do anything asked of me but it takes a while to start getting regular duties to do. I guess I’m surprised that the two companies I’ve worked for, fairly big and well established places, don’t have a speedy and well organized on boarding and training process.

    But is this just the norm? I feel kinda useless sitting at my desk with little to do for long periods of time and get paid for that but is this the standard process for new employees?

    1. Long Furby*

      At my last job change, a little over a year until I felt like I could really cruise.. My job is very checklist oriented and there’s a different checklist for Every. Single. Task. so it took me a while to tackle learning those rhythms as well as the over-arching cycles of the job.

    2. LC*

      No idea if it’s standard, but I’m in the same position. I’m a little over two weeks in and there are only so many times I want to ask for more work to do.

      I assume it takes a couple months to feel like you’re being productive on your own, but one of the people I met with the other day told me that it’s super normal here for it to take a full year before you really feel comfortable and like you know stuff. (She told me this in the context of seeing it my eyes that I was already being hard on myself for not knowing things, and she told me to be kind to myself, which was actually very appreciated.)

      Now, I sure hope I’m at least doing *stuff* sooner than that, even if I’m not fully self-sufficient. But I’m trying to not let myself feel bad about being paid to do not much. It’s not like they think I’m being super productive for whatever reason, they know what’s going on. There’s only so much documentation and intranet documents and KBs that I can read, but I’m trying to at least stay moderately on topic, working on a bunch of SQL tutorials and reading AAM.

      1. Artemesia*

        The only good way to train someone in a setting where there are a lot of complicated procedures to learn is to have them DO those things under supervision. Someone needs to show you, then let you try it and give feedback, rinse and repeat. Since you have read the on line material etc can you suggest supervised practice? And if they are resistant, suggest shadowing a peer to see how things are done.

        1. LC*

          Oh they’re definitely showing me stuff and letting me try things after I watch a couple of times, it’s just they only have time to do that so many hours in a day. I do a decent amount of shadowing and I’m getting more familiar with stuff, but there’s just not much I can do without someone holding my hand.

          I could probably be a *little* more persistent in asking, but honestly it’s exhausting always having to ask people for more work. (Plus there’s the whole “I’ve had a super rough two years mentally and haven’t worked in year which was at least partially by choice because I feel like my brain is broken and I have been trying to put it back together and am terrified that a new job will break it further, so I’m trying to avoid the absurd burnout I got in my last job” thing. But that’s another story.)

          1. SomebodyElse*

            Can you ask them for a ‘filler project’? I use them when I onboard someone as a project that is fairly easy, is on my ‘want to do’ list vs. ‘must do’, doesn’t have a specific timeline, and is easy to pick up and set aside.

            Also ask them for a list of people who you should be getting to know or making contact with. Then you can schedule short(!) introduction chats – no more than 15-30 min to learn their team and what they do.

            I always feel bad when I have someone start and know that it takes awhile to really ramp up. So I like to overload them off the bat with stuff like this to keep them busy and feeling productive during the inevitable downtime in the beginning.

            1. LC*

              The intro 1:1 chats have actually been awesome, I’m really glad they have that as part of on boarding. Especially since it’s almost entirely remote, it’s really cool having some dedicated time to chat with the people who I’ll be working with often, but not every day. What they do, their story, how they usually interact with my team, etc. etc.

              I like the idea of asking for a filler project. I hadn’t really thought about it in quite those terms, but I like the framing of it. Thank you for the suggestion!

        2. jj*

          The framing I was given once, totally changed how I think about training people, for the better. And it was so simple to think about!

          – I do, you watch
          – I do, you help
          – You do, I help
          – You do, I watch
          – You do (I leave)

          depending on the activity, depends how many iterations you need of the cycle, but once I started thinking of it that way, training folks felt a lot simpler!

    3. MysteriousMise*

      I’ve started loads of new jobs in the almost 30 years I’ve been working. I find it takes between 4-6 months to not feel like a newbie who still isn’t sure where the staples and printer ink are kept….

    4. Abby cats*

      I work with IP and I spend the first 9-12 months feeling confused and hesitant. It take until about 16-18 months until I’m solidly working solo without regularly interrupting someone with questions.

    5. Spearmint*

      I can only speak for myself, but I was in a similar boat when I started my current job. I had very little to do for the first couple of months, and it probably wasn’t until 6 months in that I had enough work for it to feel like a full-time job. And even then I didn’t feel fully settled in and independent until about 1 year into it.

    6. Mimi*

      Have you proactively communicated that you don’t have enough work to do? Told you manager/other senior team members that you have availability for more projects? If you haven’t said anything or haven’t been forceful/repeated about it, they may not realize. Especially if everyone else is busy, you may have to push to get them to prioritize the work of giving you enough work that you can become a full member of the team.

      I’ve heard people say that it takes six months to really get into (many) jobs, and in my current job, I definitely felt like I leveled up/really hit my stride about five or six months in. To be clear, I wasn’t twiddling my thumbs before that, but I needed a lot of hand-holding, and I was coming to my manager multiple times a week saying, “FYI, I’m going to run out of work tomorrow/this afternoon/at the end of the week.” If I hadn’t said anything, he would have thought my plate was full (and continued to assume so; we would have checkins where he’d say, “So it looks like you’re pretty busy at the moment,” and I’d reply, “Actually, I need more work.”

      I think it took 3-4 weeks for me to feel like I was doing any amount of “real work” and not just doing trainings and reading documentation.

      I don’t remember how long it took in my previous job, but I definitely picked up projects by wandering in to other teams and asking them to give me work. (I learned a lot of useful stuff that way, too.)

    7. Asenath*

      It depends on the job. I’ve had the situation where I was basically sitting around reading stuff, supposedly to help me understand things, but it felt like I wasn’t doing anything productive for a week or two, until I got something “real” to work on. At the other extreme, it probably took over a year for me to be confidently running on my own but I had tasks right from the beginning. In that case, the job had a lot of different aspects, some with weekly deadlines, some with deadlines every second month, some that popped up once a year (and they were big and important jobs that needed a lot of preparation), and the biggest of all which hit at an even longer period. So in a way, it was the nature of the job. I’d find things to do (although getting the bosses to set priorities could be a challenge) and feel if anything a bit under-utilized, and then there was this big crucial job looming which I could have been preparing for… I got used to it, though, especially once I’d been through a full year and knew that much of the job, and liked the challenge. It did take time to get up to speed, though.

    8. Anonymous Educator*

      I think it really depends on how well the on-boarding process is run at the organization. I’ve had places I’ve felt able to do meaningful work in after a month. Others where it’s taken me three or four months to be actually productive.

    9. AnonPi*

      I think it depends on the job and how well they do their onboarding, but yeah it seems to be the norm for most places. Some I’ve been good to go in a few weeks, but most places it takes months. Unfortunately a lot of places don’t do well with onboarding and training, to the point that not only can it take months to be given all the info/access you need, they often miss things to tell you and you have to find out along the way by making mistakes.

      For instance where I am now, they rushed to start me (I didn’t get to give but a week’s heads up I was taking another job, and only 3 days notice what date I was starting – I couldn’t really negotiate since I was in a contract job at the same company I was being hired at, and HR had no problem telling me on a Wednesday to show up for orientation on Monday). What did I do for the two weeks? Mostly sit and read procedures, and a half done manual that didn’t actually explain how/why anything was done. All that hurry and rush for nothing.

      Then they tried to assign me work, that I couldn’t do because no one had trained me. It was excruciating. Asked how to start, they’d explain step one then go away. Finished step one, had to go back and ask what was next. They’d show up an hour or two later and show me step two. And on and on. Especially since I had done a lot of work in prior jobs where setting up training manuals was part of my job, and I will say that as long as a person understood the basics of operating a computer and knew what Microsoft Office was, they could follow it do everything with few to no questions, they were that detailed. I’m hoping to do the same in this job before I leave, but it’s all I can do to get required work done daily, so I haven’t had a chance yet.

    10. RagingADHD*

      For admin roles, total winging it for three months and six to nine months before I felt fully competent.

      Now as an independent contributor, I was doing the work right away but it took probably 18 months to feel I was good at it.

    11. Elizabeth West*

      It depends on the job. Sometimes it’s easier based on whether it’s something you’ve done before, what your predecessor left you, or if the training is good and gets started right away. Other times, there’s a lot more to learn and you might start working but won’t have a handle on things for a while. Or they’re just slow getting people started. That bit is not on you, though.

    12. Prague*

      Two weeks of sheer jumbled confusion. 2-6 months to be able to fake it on most issues. Nine months to a year to feel like I really have a clue. A year and a month to discover how much I still don’t know. Repeat.

      That said, all of my jobs have deliberately built upon each other – I’ve essentially trained myself into being the best candidate for the position I hold now. My timeframes have shortened over the years, and I remember them being longer.

      Also, the more you can show initiative and find things to do, the better. But especially early on, check to make sure you’re not doing irreversible actions or wasting resources. “Boss, I intend to do X” can really help.

    13. Generic Name*

      It really, really depends on the level of the job. At my company, entry-level employees probably take at least a year to become fully trained to do their work independently. Independently as in, “here is a task, let me know if you have problems” and they complete it on time and within budget and come to you with problems, and you don’t feel like you have to keep reminding them to do stuff. My field is very technical, and unfortunately the work on the ground is basically not taught in schools, so it is normally on-the-job training.

    14. Jules the 3rd*

      Depends on the job. I have trained four people in a procurement role that involves simple stuff (put the orders in the system) and more complex stuff (if A doesn’t have the part, ask B, then C, then we get inventive with D / E / F). The simple stuff takes about 3mo to become automatic. The middling stuff takes about 6mo, the harder stuff takes about a year. And I still monitor / pop in for the ‘once a year’ or ‘remember X is a faster option’ stuff.

    15. New Mom*

      I started a totally new industry and felt REALLY new for the first three months, and then we had a re-org and I had to learn many new things again, so it took about six months before I didn’t feel like a total newbie.

    16. Quinalla*

      Slow/Bad onboarding is unfortunately far too common – just keep bugging people. Feeling like you are fully contributing can easily take 3-6 months depending on the job, sometimes longer.

  5. This Is Not My Work Phone*

    Looking for VM greeting suggestions

    My team shares an after hours support phone. We’ve finally started swapping it virtually, with the keeper of the phone forwarding the number to each team member when it’s their turn. This means that any missed calls will land in our personal VMs.

    What’s a good VM greeting so that our support callers don’t think they’ve reached the wrong number? We rarely receive calls (most requests come in through email or our ticketing system), and all of our callers are internal users or the internal support desk. But our few calls generally happen when something is urgent, and we support a medical system so things can be truly urgent.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Are you willing to switch your greeting when you’re on call, or are you looking for one greeting to cover all the bases?

      “Hello, you’ve reached Sam. If you’re calling in a support issue with system X, please leave a message including (necessary ticket information) and I’ll get back to you ASAP. If this call is unrelated to system X, please (leave a message, text me instead, whatever you want other people to do) and I’ll get back to you as soon as I’m done handling any issues with system X. Cheers!”

    2. Niniel*

      “Hello, you’ve reached the (company name) team! Please leave your (contact info) and a team member will call you back shortly.”

    3. Joielle*

      Maybe something like “You’ve reached Jim’s voicemail. Please leave a detailed message after the tone. If you are calling with an after hours support request, I will return your call within one hour.”

      I think it’s less awkward when you mention the after hours support line in the context of giving actual information about it, and if you give a timeframe people might be comforted to know that their urgent issue will be dealt with promptly.

      1. jj*

        is your company willing to buy really cheap tracphones for you all? I work an after hours hotline and that’s how we do it, so we have a set business voicemail on that phone, and keep our personal phones seperate.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          It sounds like the company already set up a phone specifically for the after-hours hotline, and the original plan was that they passed it around, but for their convenience they’d rather forward it to their personal phones? So I suspect that if they said “Hey, why don’t you buy us all phones?” the response would be “Hey, why don’t you use the phone we already bought for this?”

          1. This Is Not My Work Phone*

            Yeah, that’s pretty much what happened when my manager tried to get us ONE additional phone. Despite the fact that the division head gave their blessing for one member of the team to work remotely from ~1500 miles away. That’s a little too far for physically swapping the phone.

    4. 867-5309*

      Some phones will let you set up a couple voicemails, so you have voicemail A and B and can easily switch between them as needed.

      I use the Burner app, which lets me customize and outgoing voicemail and gives me a separate number, while still ringing through my main personal mobile (I do it because I’m a privacy hawk – not because of work – though I previously used it when the overseas company I worked for was setting up a US office.)

      1. ecnaseener*

        YouMail also works for this, if all of your work calls are coming in from a single forwarded number (or from a set of a few different numbers). I’ve been using it throughout the pandemic — calls from work get my work voicemail and everyone else gets my personal voicemail. The free version works fine!

    5. Buggy Crispino*

      I would set up a google voice number so that work calls can forward to that number and go to GV voicemail. That way there is no interaction between your work and personal accounts.

    6. Ezri Dax*

      A former job of mine had a similar setup. Our shared voicemail started by explaining it was the team after hours line, then assured callers their messages would be transferred to the requisite person.

  6. Fake Remote*

    What has your recent experience been with jobs hiding the fact that remote is temporary? Any good stories?

    I was recruited for a job in NYC, which is about 2.5 hours away. They didn’t tell me until the third interview that the remote aspect was only until September. That’s 5 hours a day in the car, longer if I take the bus. They acted confused and concerned when I pulled out.

    1. The Tin Man*

      I have one better – spouse was hired to a job in January that said they were going to remain fully remote with optional going into the office. Cut to a couple weeks ago when she learned they’ll be going back in 2 days/week mandatory starting in September. Good thing we didn’t do something like get a puppy, knowing that one of us would still be working at home full time.

      Oh wait.

    2. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

      When the shut down happened and started lifting our state department jobs asked us who wanted to return in office and who wanted to WFH. I stated I would WFH if it was permanent/long term. WFH was presented by management as being permanent/long term. I did not have internet at home and only got it for WFH. After a full year of WFH (and me paying for the internet for it) I moved to a rural area and signed a 2 year contract for internet for work. Again after checking with management WFH was permanent/long term. All the other state departments go back to office next week. Our entire department is trying to get block us getting called back. (buildings will not allow social distancing if we are brought back, work process has improved via WFH, the big wigs in our department are committed to WFH) They had expanded their job search areas with WFH and a lot of the new hires live no where near the city they’d have to report to if we suddenly got called back to office. They will lose employees over this if they do. If I’m going to pay for internet that I only need for work (with a 2 year contract no less) then I’ll get a different WFH job and be disinclined to keep the state job.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      This has not happened to me, but thank you for bringing it up. I’m still applying to jobs outside the area and some of them just say “Remote.” I will add that to my list of questions, just in case.

      1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

        I see SO many job postings listing “Remote – [my city]” but then when I actually read the posting, buried way down at the bottom is text saying they will require relocation across the country in September.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          WHY would they hide that?! It seems like they’re prioritizing the short-term “get an employee” over the long-term “keep the employee”.

          1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

            Totally! Or maybe they think they can wow the candidate enough to convince them to move from Seattle to Omaha.

            1. Msnotmrs*

              This is kind of happening, though? I live in a mid-sized Midwestern city and one of the reasons our housing prices are going up precipitously is due to fully remote workers from coastal areas moving back to be closer to family/better cost of living, or snatching up real estate as an investment. It’s happening all over the Midwest and mountain West.


              1. Windchime*

                This is exactly what I did. I moved from north of Seattle to eastern Washington to a small city in the middle of nowhere. My realtor here in Smalltown said that her last three clients had been people moving over from the Seattle area. Housing prices here are climbing fast, but not as fast as Seattle–I wouldn’t be able to afford to buy my old house that I just sold last October.

      2. Windchime*

        Pre-covid, I was searching for a remote job. A lot of jobs say “Remote” but what they really meant was one or two days a week remote and you’re expected to be in the office the rest of the time. Fortunately, my job went truly remote with Covid so I was able to move to a lower cost of living area and still keep my job. If they changed their minds and wanted us to come in more than 1-2 days a month, I’d have to quit.

    4. voluptuousfire*

      I hate that! Or you do a remote job search on Linkedin and it just says “remote” and you click on the listing and it’s for x city/remote and it talks about going back in the office once it’s safe to. No thanks.

      I have no desire to commute full time anymore. No need for that. Hybrid work schedule or WFH full time.

    5. New Mom*

      I sadly have a few:

      One of the families in our mom’s group – the dad works for a tech giant who told everyone months ago that they could work remotely indefinitely, so they decided to to leave their pricey rental in the Bay Area and buy a house far away and then his employer reneged on their WFH statement and the family are moving and unsure of what to do. It really sucks because the mom won’t have a job where they are moving but since he had his high salary from the tech job they thought it would be okay while they settle.

      At my org, an employee has had multiple unexpected financial hardships throughout the pandemic, one including both cars getting totaled. Now both the employee and their partner will have to return to their separate offices and they are in a situation where they need to buy two vehicles and cannot afford to do so. My employer was not willing to accommodate them.

        1. Alternative Person*

          A family friend got completely screwed over one time when their all-but-new car got totaled by an uninsured driver. I don’t know all the ins and outs but they lost a lot of money even though they were insured.

    6. MissDisplaced*

      Oh, that’s terrible! Why were they surprised when you pulled out with NYC being 2.5 hours away? Did they think you were going to move there without moving expenses being included? It was a Bait and Switch.

      I think this will be a huge problem as a lot of people do not want to go back to the office at all. And worse, companies have the power to dictate this on the spur of the moment and change the work mode, even if we ask upfront what if the position is WFH all the time. All we can really do is quit if we don’t like it, at least right now.

      What I’m worried about is MOST companies banding together and not offering WFH in order to force more employees back to the office because working in cities/offices is tied to other areas of the capitalist economy (Big Oil, Big Auto, Commercial Real Estate, Retail, Restaurants, etc. all benefit). Cities NEED all those good little worker-bee consumers in offices to spend their money commuting there, to spend money when there, and to fill empty commercial space that makes the wealthy 1% people more money. I find it sickening. And they’ll do a great PR spin about how working in offices “builds a culture,” or “encourages collaboration,” and how “Americans need to get back to normal,” but it’s really just bullshit because they want to concentrate that money at the top of the capitalist food chain. What do laborists hate most? Free agency of workers who quit jobs or refuse jobs because of no WFH, thus creating a labor shortage in cities or certain industries. They will all move fairly quick to eliminate that labor free agency by various means necessary.

    7. Stitching Away*

      I saw a posting the other day that said remote – must live in x county because position requires face to face meetings.

  7. FOMO - where MO means Moving On*

    TL/DR: How do I know what titles my skills match to?

    I work at a small East Coast manufacturing company, for a teenaged number of years. I have increased responsibilities and added to my job title over that time, but not really an official promotion or position change. I am responsible for: order entry, billing, a portion of customer service, stock forecasting, am on the production scheduling team and anything to do with International paperwork, both in and out. We hold a specific customs designation that I am solely responsible for all records and reporting (even to designing the recording process).
    How do I know what other, potentially larger companies, would call positions that use these skills? Here it’s a very hybrid Cust Serv/Exp/Admin type job title – mostly as duties were added, it just grew longer. But as I might want to look around, I’m having trouble determining what companies might call these jobs.
    Can anyone offer the job titles they would refer to in this position? I’m having a bit of fear of this entire process, and this is freezing me up even more

    1. bubbleon*

      oh hey we’re in pretty similar states of paralysis! What I’ve learned is that there’s absolutely no rule for what companies call their positions. What company A might call Customer Service, company B might call Client Experience. It’s entirely about the job responsibilities rather than the titles. If you’re on Indeed or the like, try searching for skills rather than focusing on an exact job title.

      Make sure your resume is up to date, and I’d put it everywhere I could for recruiters to find you when they’re looking for your particular skillset.

      good luck!

    2. Chilipepper Attitude*

      I want to echo the question!
      I want to shift gears a bit and I don’t know what job titles to look for.
      My son is in IT and also wants to shift within that field (he really wants pen testing if anyone has specifics on that) but he finds the job titles are a crap shoot.

      I think the solution is to just start reading job postings in a specific geographic area you want to be in and get a sense of the keywords that connect to the duties you want to do. That will lead you to some job titles that you can search for.

    3. Forrest*

      LinkedIn can be really helpful for this kind of research— go and find some companies that you’re interested in, or some competitors, or just anything that looks interesting, and go to their company LinkedIn page and hit “people”. That will show you everyone who works at LinkedIn and has a public LinkedIn profile. You can search within that by keyword— “customer” “customs”, “client”, “sales” etc— and it’ll show you all the people who have that word in your job title or in their descriptions.

      You can click on those people to see their profiles, and look at their current job titles (and, if they’ve filled it in, what they do in that role), and their previous job titles and companies. Just jot down any that look promising! You can then search that job title in both LinkedIn People and look for job adverts related to it and see if it looks right. And if you see stuff that looks interesting but you’re not *quite* sure whether it’s in your area or too much of a stretch, you can try emailing people to see if they’ll talk to you about it— not everyone will say yes, but if a few people do that can be really useful.

    4. Purple Cat*

      So “typically” as you move to a larger organization, your role would become more specialized.
      Some of the titles in my company for what you do include:
      Order Entry = Customer Solutions Analyst
      Billing = Accounts Receivable
      Stock Forecasting = Supply Chain Analyst, Demand Planning, Inventory Analyst
      Raw Material side = Warehouse Management Specialist, Material (Procurement) Planner
      Production Scheduling = Production Planner

  8. Threeve*

    If you’re vaccinated, would you try to share that somewhere in a job application, or is that weird?

    1. Liesl is my dachshund*

      No. I wouldn’t share it because it’s like sharing medical history which I wouldn’t do on a resume or cover letter. Wait until the employer requests the information or intimates that it’s an expectation. There’s a whole lot of information on what employers can/can’t ask and do re: COVID.

    2. HugsAreNotTolerated*

      No. Let’s not normalize sharing private medical info with our employers. Also, unless the job application directly asks you if you are COVID-19 vaccinated where would you even include that information?
      As Alison always says, “Your resume & cover letter should reflect your workplace & educational accomplishments, not your personal life.”

    3. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      No, because I would assume that anyone working with others would have been vaccinated. If called in to the office for an interview, it would be OK to ask what the current mask policy is so that you can comply with it, but that’s it.

      1. Eden*

        That’s… not a good assumption. I’m vaccinated and hold no illusions that many people are choosing not to.

    4. Never Nicky*


      I’m vaccinated for lots of things (thanks NHS and sensible parents) and wouldn’t think to say “oh, I probably won’t get diphtheria” either.

    5. Unkempt Flatware*

      No. Any medical info could put the employer in a position where it could look like they are or could discriminate so they leave questions like that out. So I would not put it in voluntarily.

      1. RagingADHD*

        According to the US dept of labor, employers can require covid vaccinations. So they can ask. But it’s still odd to volunteer it up front, because it’s not relevant at the application stage. A candidate who wanted the job could decide to comply with the requirement at the offer stage.

    6. Lemon Zinger*

      No. There is no reason to voluntarily share private medical information with potential employers.

  9. Should I apply*

    For those of you who have switched careers, or made a significant change in the type of work you do, any books or tools that you would recommend to help figure out what you want to do next?

    I am in the process of looking for a new job, mostly due to boredom & lack of engagement with my current job. So far I have been mostly applying to similar jobs, that would be a title / pay increase and hopefully more interesting. However, none of these jobs really excite me. That is making me question my whole plan for getting a new job. As a bonus, I have a phone interview with a big tech company this afternoon that I currently have no enthusiasm for.

    I am currently reading Designing your Life, which says it uses design principles to help you figure out what to try next. Most of the book is pretty good (though Alison would probably disagree with its section about the “secret job market”). I like its emphasis that there is no one “right” choice, and trying things before making a big commitment.

    So for those of you who have been in a similar situation, wanting to change but not knowing what you want to change to, any recommendations?

    1. Career Changed*

      I read the book What Should I do with my Life by Po Bronson before my career change. It is personal stories of people who made career changes, found their career or finally got there after a series of fits and starts. It is not a “How To” book but personal stories of people who made career changes. I liked it because the message was not “do XYZ and you’ll you will know your new career”. The message I took from it was “it might take time to figure it out and you will probably make mistakes but lots of people do, so just keep working on it”. After I read the book, I talked to people about the book and their career/career changes. I did not change careers right away, but I definitely got me to try new things at work were not part of my job , some I liked, some I did not but I feel like it got me on the road to a career change.

    2. Guacamole Bob*

      In ~2011 or so I worked my way through many of the exercises in The Pathfinder, and it was super helpful. I ended up going back to grad school and have been really happy with how my career has evolved.

      It was a long time ago so I don’t really remember the details, but I do recall that it had some really useful questions to ask yourself about the different aspects of your work. Like how much interaction there is with other people can be as big a factor in job satisfaction for some people as the type of work, and whether the work is consistent or varied, in one location or in the field, etc. And whether you care about the mission of the work: one person might be happy to take a wide range of roles in order to work for an environmental nonprofit, while a different person might not really care what product their company makes as long as they get to do specific kinds of tasks in the accounting department.

      You have to put effort into working through the exercises and doing some research from there, but the book was helpful for me.

    3. Blossom Fowler*

      No recommendations but I second the question! I’m going to look for that book, and hopefully other commentors will have suggestions for additional books.

    4. Beth*

      Well . . . I mostly just started out by taking classes at the local community college. I knew I needed a different set of business skills, including computer skills; I discovered along the way that I really love database administration.

      That said, my current career included a huge dose of random luck, determined by the job market at the time I changed careers. I brought a new set of skills I really enjoyed using to the new industry, and found out that I loved what I was now doing.

    5. knitcrazybooknut*

      Barbara Sher has a whole series of books like this. The title I remember most is I Could Do Anything (If I Only Knew What It Was). Some great ideas.

      I have on my shelf a book called Finding Your F*ck Yeah! that I haven’t read quite yet.

      1. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

        I was going to say that one! (“I could do anything if…” etc)

        Also “Is your genius at work” by Dick Richards.

        Also, less directly on topic, Nancy Kline’s “Time to think” and “More time to think”. The framework described in those is useful for future-planning in general.

    6. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I worked with a career coach, if that’s an option for you. She helped me identify my skills and what really interested me in my work, and with her help I looked into jobs based on those skills and interests. I thought I wanted a major industry switch, she helped me recognize just how passionate I am about my industry. We got sidelined by COVID but without her help, I never would have pursued my current job.

    7. cubone*

      I know it’s a bit of an oldie, but I really think What Color is your Parachute is a classic for a reason. The full book is pretty extensive, but even just the workbook is helpful. I still recommend it to people, even the younger folks, who seem to take a lot from it. WCIYP does a really good job of articulating how other factors than just “job responsibilities” impact your happiness in the role. Eg. location, salary, people you work with, working environment, etc. It can be a bit dry at times, but it does a great job at walking you through how to evaluate those things in a very pragmatic way.

      My other advice is to keep an eye on Linkedin or whatever job board and save ANY job description that jumps out at you, even if it’s not something you would apply to or 100% perfect. I’ll save these JDs as a Word doc, highlight the key words or responsibilities that jump out at me, and put them in a folder. Once or twice a year, I go through and reread them and I always notice something jumps out that I’d never realized.

      Lastly: I absolutely ADORE the work of Barbara Sher. “I Could Do Anything If Only I Knew What It Was” and “Refuse to Choose” were life-changing for me. They’re not for everyone, but as someone who loves to try different paths but never “deep dived” in any one field, her work really helped me see that this isn’t a character flaw or a lack of commitment. If you identify with that at all, definitely check her out.

      1. Mimmy*

        How come I never knew about “Refuse to Choose”?? lol. I have long been a “scanner”! Sent a sample to my Kindle to explore later :)

    8. Parakeet*

      I volunteered in the field that I switched into, for several years. My situation was a little different because when I first started volunteering, I wasn’t planning to do it professionally, and wasn’t planning to become disillusioned with the field that I was in at the time. But I did a bunch of different kinds of skilled volunteer work over the years – and learned a lot of new skills – because I wanted to do more than one thing with my time, and to contribute to the world in different ways. And picking up those skills gave me, well, more skills, and some idea of what I liked and didn’t like about a lot of different types of work, and eventually led to my switching the field that my current full-time job is in.

    9. Anonymous Koala*

      I feel like this is the kind of thing informational interviews were made for. Make a list of any career that you’re interested in and the questions you have about it, and reach out to 1st and 2nd LinkedIn contacts to ask for a 15 min conversation about the field. A lot of people don’t mind this kind of thing (though may take them a bit to get back to you) and it’s a fantastic way to get an idea of what working in different careers is actually like. Plus people will often remember you and reach out if they find jobs they think you’ll be a fit for. I’ve done this for people and asked others for casual informational interviews, and it was directly responsible for the career switch I made earlier this year.

    10. Smidge*

      Squiggly Careers – they have a podcast and a book. I found it super useful when I was making a career switch! They have podcast episodes on identifying your values and how to draw on that to figure out career stuff, one on career pivots, and a lot of other interesting and probably relevant ones. (I think those are mostly within the first 80-ish episodes).

  10. Marian the Librarian*

    I had an interview for an Academic Librarian position. (Non-teaching position; It’s a Collection Development position.) It was a Zoom interview with 7 people. They gave me a list of the interview questions prior to the interview and the panel asked those questions.

    It was…. awkward. There was no conversation and they were very formal and serious. I talked but didn’t know how long my answers should be. (It was difficult to judge because they were very quiet. I didn’t want to ramble on either.)

    I asked questions at the end and they gave short replies. It was weird.

    I don’t think that I did well, but are academic library interviews normally like this? How long should your answers be? Are they always so stiff and formal? (It’s been a while since I’ve had an academic library interview.)

    1. Long Furby*

      It’s varied at the different universities and committees I’ve been on, but it’s not a for-sure bad sign! Initial screenings and panels tend to be more rigid because we’ve been instructed to ask everyone the same questions. If I’m representing my department or another committee, it’s more relaxed because we don’t necessarily have that mandate from on high

    2. Beth*

      I know that in at least some settings, interview protocols can be incredibly restrictive — every candidate MUST be asked exactly the same questions in exactly the same way, so that there is absolutely no chance that anyone is receiving “preferential” treatment. It sounds as if you may have had that kind of situation.

    3. Cat Mom*

      Yes, academic librarian interviews are rigid and awkward at the first round level. I was an internal candidate and the department admin went from calling me by my first name to Ms. Cat Mom. Maybe it would be helpful to imagine yourself at an audition for Saturday Night Live, where Lorne Michaels instructs all the folks judging the audition not to laugh no matter what.

    4. Data Diva*

      University hiring committees can be kind of an odd duck. I know when we hire here at my school, we have a pre-set list of questions, we have to ask all the candidates those questions, in the same order, and aren’t really encouraged to give feedback (verbal or otherwise) to candidates during the interview. It was an incredibly awkward phone experience when I interviewed and I really couldn’t judge if it went well or not (because of all of the above). FWIW, my on-campus visit was much less weird/awkward compared to my phone interview. I shot for about 1-2 minutes of me talking for each question they asked.

    5. Lucy McGillicuddy*

      I work at a University and everyone interviewed is asked the exact same questions – and often the group interviewing doesn’t know each other well (they like to have a mix of people on the committee from all over campus) so they might have just not been super comfortable with each other either. I wouldn’t hold it against the job.

      (As far as timing – we always have an hour earmarked for an interview but in my experience it’s never taken that long.)

    6. GigglyPuff*

      I’ve done several academic library job interviews, they’re all a little weird in different ways. But you’re almost never going to get feedback from your answers in the first interview, there’s a little more conversation during the second in-person round but not always. The ones that go better, the person “leading” the committee does a much better job introducing and explaining things. When they just jump right in, it’s awkward and uncomfortable, and if it’s obvious the other interviewers are disinterested, it usually ends up being a weird culture vibe when I’ve gone in for the second interview. So I do judge them some by how they conduct the interview outside of the formal, ask everyone questions, especially if they never even bother to tell me about the position or library before they ask me if I have any questions.

      For the questions, for me, I’m always interviewing for the same type of position, so I’ve been able to anticipate the questions. That’s helped me get better at answering them. But also I’ve just gotten so much more relaxed the more you do it, it definitely translates across. I’ve even had people point out how comfortable I am, because honestly there comes a point where it happens or it doesn’t. So I’m able to disassociate a little since I’m fortunate I have a steady job, it’s not the end of the world if I don’t get the job. So with questions, some I’ll answer with a couple sentences because that’s all it needs, others I’ll talk for a few minutes because that’s the appropriate answer I have. Learning not to ramble and add in extraneous info is difficult, I still do it sometimes but being confident in your answers, even when you are essentially saying “I don’t know” or “I’ve never done that” makes a huge difference.

      I’ve also had people be short when I’ve asked questions at the end and even though I try to keep them to 3-4 short ones, I’ve stopped at like two before because I could tell they were annoying them or didn’t know how to answer them (which is also good feedback for me). Or because they’ve scheduled back to back interviews but didn’t tell you and have to go which is super annoying.

      I’m sure you did better than you think, I’ve definitely been like “dear lord I totally bombed that” and then been invited for a second interview. Good luck! But don’t forget you’re also interviewing them!

    7. Kimmy Schmidt*

      Was this a public university? We are required to ask the exact same questions to all candidates to comply with internal HR policies and state expectations. What kind of questions did you ask that they gave short replies too? Our initial interviews are usually only 30-45 minutes, so we don’t have a lot of time to get into too much detail. And I think Zoom is just naturally a little more ‘stiff’ because everyone is muted unless they’re talking. You don’t get that eye-contact, head nodding, knowing looks, committee chat, etc. that you would in-person. Overall, this sounds pretty standard for academic libraries.

      1. Marian the Librarian*

        Yes- it was for a public university. I asked about the culture of the library, the management style, etc.

    8. Ace in the Hole*

      Was this at a public institution? That sounds pretty standard for a public sector interview. They usually have panel interviews with extremely rigid structure. There’s an approved list of questions the panel can ask and they aren’t supposed to go off-script, with minimal to no follow-up questions after you answer. It’s to standardize the interview process to reduce discrimination.

      Usually you get there, have a very brief amount of small talk during the introductions about very light topics (i.e. “I hope the construction outside didn’t make traffic too bad!” or “Isn’t the weather lovely? So glad it stopped raining.”) Then you go straight to the scripted questions, get your chance to ask questions, and finally have a very brief goodbye.

      The only part that sounds weird is the short replies to your questions, but that might just be the interviewers being a bit awkward. I’ve usually found that the part where I ask questions is the most natural-feeling part of the process since that’s where they’re allowed to be more spontaneous and conversational.

    9. Jellyfish*

      Are they always so stiff and formal? In my experience, yes. As others have mentioned, state schools will ask every candidate the exact same questions with no deviation. The interviewers take notes while you’re talking, which can come off awkwardly in a phone / Zoom interview, and they don’t ask follow up questions.

      It really worried me for my current job as they were extra formal even by academic standards. First, I thought I interviewed poorly and would be out of the running. When I got the call to go for the in-person marathon that is academic interviewing, I was concerned about cultural fit. A rigid, serious office would not be a good place for me. Things were much better at the second interview though, and I finally saw people’s personalities come out over lunch.

      You probably did better than you thought!

      1. Springtime*

        I work in a public library, but we also ask candidates the same questions so that everyone gets the same opportunity to share their experience and accomplishments in each area. Usually we have a couple of extras at the end based on the specifics of the candidates application, and we do welcome questions from the candidates. But having been on a couple hiring committees lately, I agree that it is really hard to make Zoom interviews feel comfortable and not stiff! You don’t have the intro few minutes where you say, “Is this seating location comfortable for you? Here’s a glass a water. Here’s where you can put your coat. How was your travel?” As Jellyfish said, most of the time, you’re looking down writing notes (also a problem in person, but worse on Zoom). Even when you’re looking at the candidate on the screen, your probably not looking right into your camera. And honestly, I think our skills for small talk in polite and formal settings are rusty. If we go that route, it’s just, “Here’s my cat!” and “Here’s who’s annoying me right now.” Best to just avoid it for now when we’re trying to make a good impression!

    10. AnotherLibrarian*

      Yeah, ours are my public are often like this. The first time I had one I also thought it was super weird. However, once the “formal” part is over, we do try to loosen up and make it more of a discussion. Some people don’t know though that you can do that.

    11. Sara without an H*

      Yes, this is typical and yes, it’s a lousy way to screen candidates. But Campus HR offices almost universally require it, at least in the initial stages.

      1. Nettie*

        Curious why you think it’s lousy? In virtually every first round interview I’ve ever had, I was asked a set list of questions that I assumed all candidates were asked. They had them in advance, so why shouldn’t I?

        1. Sara without an H*

          I don’t object to sending the candidates questions in advance (although that’s not always done in this type of interview). What bothers me is the lack of opportunity to ask follow up questions to candidate’s responses.

    12. Nettie*

      I think giving candidates questions ahead of time for the first round interview is really fantastic. I’ve only had it happen once or twice, but I was so impressed. It gave me time to prepare and I was able to relax a little more during the interview itself.

      Of course, I do see how it could feel awkward if you don’t feel like you’re having a real conversation. But overall, I wish more employees did this.

  11. Awkward*

    I’m starting a new job soon, and am unfortunately due for a colonoscopy in September (I have to get one every three years because of a chronic illness). I’d have to take one or two days off for it for the prep and then the actual procedure.

    I’m not sure how to approach my new manager about this. I know you’re not supposed to ask for time off soon after starting a new job, and I also don’t want to go into detail about it because it’s embarrassing.

    Do you guys have any suggestions for how to ask about getting medically necessary procedures/tests done when you’re new at a job?

    1. Liesl is my dachshund*

      Be honest. Tell them you have a medical procedure that requires this time frame and you will need to be out of the office for this time frame. You can frame it is, “I just made the appointment, they’re hard to get, and I must keep it,” without divulging why or what the appointment is for.

      It’s possible they’ll require you to provide a doctor’s note or something if you’re using sick leave unless you don’t ask for leave then it’s time away from work you’ll have to explain.

      I’m facing a similar dilemma: I am going to get a hysterectomy but don’t have a date yet. I’m interviewing for a job and I feel confident of its success but this procedure has a long-ish recovery time. I’m inclined to let them know should they offer me the job about the timeline and see how that plays out with them. Personally, I don’t feel comfortable starting a job and then taking at least 2 weeks off and then slowly returning to work. That’s not fair to them. But then I also have the privilege of making this decision, too.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Exactly this. “I’ll need a couple of days off for a medical procedure.” That’s not “time off so soon.” And it’s totally normal! You don’t have to say what it’s for, and chances are they won’t press.

    2. BlueBelle*

      Will you have PTO or sick days by then? It is 3 months away, it is perfectly acceptable to ask for 2 days off for a medical procedure. Especially this far in advance. Good luck!

      1. Awkward*

        I forgot about PTO! I think I’m allowed to start using PTO after the first three months, so I’ll try to schedule it for early October.

    3. it's me*

      I don’t think September is really that soon, nor do I think you’d have to supply details.

    4. bubbleon*

      There’s a big difference between asking for weeks off for vacation right after starting a new job and 2 days for a medically necessary procedure. Don’t even worry about that aspect of it.

      You can just mention to your manager as early as possible that you have a procedure scheduled for September and will need 1-2 days for the process. A decent manager will know not to ask questions, but if yours does you can say it’s not something you’re comfortable detailing, maybe offer a doctors’ note if you’re worried about credibility. As long as you’re not starting the job at the end of August and having the procedure in the first week of September you should have enough time to give them a heads up that coverage or anything similar wouldn’t be a problem.

      1. it's me*

        “not something you’re comfortable detailing” And if you think that might raise flags somehow, maybe “It’s a mandatory screening.” I think at least a few people would get the implication, since colonoscopies come more into the picture—if you will—as people enter middle age.

        1. Ama*

          Yeah, I’m at the point where with my age and my family medical history I pretty much have to have all the cancer screenings (and of course didn’t do any for the last year because, you know). So I gave my boss just a “hey I’m going to need to take time off for several medical screenings over the next few months, nothing to be worried about just can’t be too careful with my family history.”

    5. irene adler*

      Give your manager as much advanced notice as possible. That will help with planning.

      And, just say it is a “medically necessary preventative procedure”. “Preventative” reduces the curiosity folks may have regarding what this procedure is. Or from worrying about your health.

    6. bassclefchick*

      I think the common recommendation here will be useful. Just say you have an outpatient medical appointment that is already scheduled. GOOD bosses will understand and be fine with that. Also, if your manager is “of a certain age” it’s possible they’ve already had one and won’t be embarrassed at all.

      I get it. No one wants to discuss their digestive tract. But preventative care is so important. Take care of yourself. I just had one in April, so I wish you good health! Dang that prep is NASTY.

      1. Threeve*

        My reaction would probably be no different if you told me you needed a colonoscopy than if you told me you needed any other medical procedure. (Unless it’s teeth. I’m never not going to cringe and shudder if someone tells me they need dental surgery).

      2. Awkward*

        I was going to ask my new manager if I could schedule it, but your post made me realize it sounds better to say it’s “already scheduled,” so I’ll try to get the appointment scheduled now.

        1. Observer*

          Yeesh. Do not even THINK about asking for permission to schedule. Either your boss is s decent human being, in which case they would be wondering why you are asking permission? Or they are not so decent, in which case, they might take the opportunity to refuse permission because OBVIOUSLY if you asked you really don’t need it. Neither reaction will serve you well. A matter of fact “I’m going to our on the 19th and 20th for a health screening that can’t be scheduled for the weekend” is much more effective.

    7. JustKnope*

      Starting in June/July and then needing to take a few days off in September for a medical procedure is no big deal at all! Use Alison’s normal script: I have a routine medical procedure that will require me to be out a couple days. Matter of fact, not over-sharing but also reassuring.

    8. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Can you get it scheduled now, and then your line is “I have a minor medical procedure scheduled in September – routine, but necessary – and need to be off the 12th and 13th to get that sorted. Can we get that on the calendar ASAP? Thanks.” Because of course your new manager is reasonable and understanding, right? If they make it weird from there, then that’s a different ball of wax, but.

    9. Malarkey01*

      When you start I’d just tell them you have a scheduled medicine procedure for September 3-4 and will need to take off those days. You can say it’s no big deal but something I need to take care of and we’re hoping they can walk you through the process of requesting/documenting the leave. I’d say it matter of fact and not apologize since a known procedure is very different than needing “fun” time off.

    10. Weekend Please*

      I don’t think you need to worry about it. If you needed time off within the first month of starting you might want to provide some more information, but I think at that point you can be vague and should have enough of a track record that it won’t be a big deal.

    11. Rusty Shackelford*

      What everyone else said, but also, in my experience, 2 days of prep is overkill. Does your prep really stretch over 2 days? Mine was done in an afternoon. (Also, you might see if you could schedule the procedure for a Monday, giving you the weekend to prep, assuming you work M-F).

      1. Bookslinger In My Free Time*

        I have IBD and have had two day prep preceded by a week long diet (it was MISERABLE and part of why I got a new doctor). It depends on the doctor and how “clean” they want things. My current team prefers a one day prep, bless them.

      2. jenny*

        I think we can assume this is not their first procedure and they know how long it takes them to prep

      3. Awkward*

        It’s one day of prep and then the procedure is the next day, so I need two days off. (I don’t think my doctor does colonoscopies on Mondays, so there isn’t really a way to just take one day off for it.)

        1. Observer*

          It might be worth checking with your doctor if they have made a change in scheduling. This is such a common request.

          But if they don’t do Monday, it’s still just two days. Really not such a big deal.

      4. My Brain Is Exploding*

        There’s one day of prep and one for the procedure. You still have meds in your system and are sleepy!

      5. Sparkles McFadden*

        Yes, I was going to suggest discussing the prep with the doctor. I did one day of “liquids only” (and I went to work as usual…but with a large iced tea in hand) and my liquid prep was 32 oz. at 8:00 pm, 32 oz 8:00 am and the the procedure at 2:00 pm.

        In any case, a new job will likely be fine with a medical procedure.

    12. Awkward*

      Thank you for all the helpful responses! I feel less guilty and nervous about requesting time off for a medical thing after starting at a new job now. :)

    13. Observer*

      I’d have to take one or two days off for it for the prep and then the actual procedure.

      Can you schedule to do this on Monday so you can prep on Sunday?

      I know you’re not supposed to ask for time off soon after starting a new job, and I also don’t want to go into detail about it because it’s embarrassing.

      There is nothing to be embarrassed about. That doesn’t mean that you need to share details. Just let your boss know that you need to have some semi-routine testing done that cannot be scheduled outside of work hours. That tells your boss that you are not just blowing off work, which is really the only thing a reasonable boss wants to know.

  12. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    I was so worried about my performance review but I ended up uncomfortable for a different reason. Too many compliments! Wishing the raise was higher but thems the breaks!

    1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      This is something I struggle with as well. Praise makes me feel uncomfortable, and public praise in particular makes me want to melt into the floor.

      Good job on the performance review!

      1. SarahKay*

        Yes, I’m actually really glad that my manager is on a different site so my performance review is done by phone. I can take myself off to a private office for it, and quietly squirm with embarrassment rather than having to try and look professional and calm when he says nice things.

    2. SoloKid*

      My trick is to give compliments/positivity back (not every single time, or too many in a row, since that ultimately sounds like a brush off!)

      Mgr: “Your peers said you did a great job training on system XYZ”
      Me: “Thank you, it really helped that Lucinda was able to secure the printed materials early, which let me focus on the presentation.”

      Mgr: “Your reports are always submitted early and I never need to second guess them.”
      Me: “Thank you! I appreciate that your requirements are clear and that you give context to what is needed.”

      Mgr: “I think you’d be a good fit for this advanced project on llama grooming”
      Me: “That sounds great and I look forward to learning more about Mohair brushes.”

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Here are 2:
      If your reports come to you with problems early, instead of trying to hide them or BS them away, you’re a good manager.
      If they do it without showing fear or shame, you’re a good manager.

      1. CatCat*

        I had one manager who when I started said to me, “At some point, you’re going to make a mistake, maybe even a significant one. We’re all human and it happens. Please let me know when that happens so we can work together to fix it. We’re not performing life saving procedures here. If there’s a mistake here, there’s probably a fix.”

        It was super great to just have it open like that.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          I love that your manager said that to you.

          The only thing I’d add here is that especially if you’re performing life-saving procedures, owning up to mistakes early on is even more important.

        2. AnonPi*

          This so much! I’ve always had that attitude, and its how I try talk people down when they get worked up over mistakes. Getting overworked about it won’t solve the problem. Someone may be inconvenienced for 30 minutes while we fix it, but no one is dying here over waiting for a bit. I had a temp manager that flipped out over every mistake, and she didn’t like my response, lol. She also complained how could we possibly make mistakes, and I informed her that we were indeed human and not robots.

          Letting your staff know they can come to you without worrying about you overreacting is one of the best things you can do. I’ve seen a lot of what could have been manageable mistakes become huge issues costing lots of time and money, because people were afraid to say anything.

    2. JillianNicola*

      Former retail lead. People preferred to work for me over other team leads. Most importantly, I was able to get good results out of ‘problem’ team members, because I treated them like they knew how to do their jobs (which they did) and didn’t hover or micromanage (like all the other leads tended to do). They respected me because I respected them, and they would almost always complete the tasks I gave them. When I left, I had quite a few team members tell me I was the only team lead they liked working for. My productivity numbers might not have been where the company wanted them, but for me that sentiment was a far higher marker of my success! (Caveat that in most jobs productivity absolutely should matter, but in retail the goals are ridiculous and so closely tied to the company’s bottom line and capitalism at large that I really didn’t care about those markers)

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      If your direct reports feel comfortable giving you “negative” feedback. If all your direct reports do is flatter you or “agree” with all your ideas all the time, you’re not a good manager.

      1. The cat's pajamas*

        To you and Alton Brown’s Evil Twin* : This is true, but not always a reliable indicator. I’ve had to learn to not cover up mistakes, and working on being ok giving my boss negative feedback. I know my boss is ok with it, but I’m still struggling with that thanks to past personal trauma and toxic jobs. Baby steps though, I’m at least now able to start addressing minor easily addressable negative things. :)

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      Also, apart from the indicators you see from others, there are also some general behaviors you can notice in yourself…
      “How quick am I to grant time off to my employees when they ask for it?” (Should be very quick)
      “Do I ever deny time-off requests? How often does that happen?” (Should be rare)
      “When was the last time I gave a high-performing employee an unsolicited raise?” (Do this, a lot)
      “When was the last time I gave an employee a raise who didn’t deserve one, just because that employee asked for one?” (Don’t do this)
      “If there’s a policy I’ve created that my employee is enforcing properly, do I stand by that employee when someone violates the policy, or do I throw my employee under the bus?” (Don’t throw employees under the bus)

    5. Lora*

      1. People who have worked for me previously asking if they can come work for me again.
      2. Able to get resources needed to get things done. This is key, if you can’t win the respect of your colleagues in other departments, they won’t want to work with you or help you out. And then you’ll be constantly fighting for resources and help, and you’ll be silo’ed. And you won’t have nearly as much to work with, you’ll be resource-starved because you can’t draw on your friends and colleagues for help.
      3. Things that your group does are real and solid work that doesn’t fall apart when someone else tries it out, can be transferred to other sites or departments, the work stands up to tough scrutiny and is validated by real world experience and consistent over scale. Integrity, objectivity and diligence are really my core “work” values and seeing that reflected in my group’s work when it goes out into the world is super rewarding. It’s most important to me that people are willing to do tough work that is so solid you can bounce rocks off it, and be honest and have integrity to not do sloppy or kissing-up saying-nice-things-to-management type of work. There’s a lot of pressure to say things senior management wants to hear and not-say the bad things like “this doesn’t have a hope in hell of working,” so I am super gratified when we have heard “the goal is X” and figured out how to reach the goal without sacrificing those values. It takes a lot of creativity to work within tight constraints, and I’ve seen plenty of colleagues whose solution to those constraints is to lie through their teeth about what is feasible.

    6. cubone*

      Not to be glib, but truly the best answer is that a good manager knows there isn’t a rank of Good Manager to achieve and then never have to think about it again. The best managers are self-aware, always learning, reflecting, and willing to recognize their own challenges and weaknesses.

      1. Workerbee*

        I agree. I try not to do the things that bad managers have done, and while I’d like to think I’m a good manager, I could be a terrible manager for somebody based on any number of factors. Better not to sit in complacency but always keep learning and improving.

    7. irene adler*

      A red flag would be that a third party is asked to inform you of an issue or discovery on the part of your direct reports.

      I’m QC and have been asked by the manufacturing crew to let their boss know if a piece of equipment is broken or if they are out of inventory of an item or if equipment has been left dirty. Things that are normal in the course of a workday but their boss is a shoot-the-messenger type and they don’t want anything to do with that.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I always thought that each day was a clean slate so “good manager/supervisor” status had to be renewed each day.
      This is because it takes a while to build trust but it only takes one day to shatter trust.

      For me, I felt that I was doing a better job if I was showing/teaching new things. This may not be applicable to all settings. We always had new stuff to deal with, so I’d learn the new stuff and turn around and show them.

      Show them how to be resourceful- what resources do they have available and how do they use those resources? Show them when they need to ask about something vs when they can make a judgement call. Then watch to see if they are actually doing it and following the advice. If not, it could be that I was not clear enough, or I did not realize there were so many exceptions to consider and so on. I definitely knew I had not done well with something if several people asked me the same question. whoops, I was not giving them the answers they needed. I’d start over by saying, “Okay, I should have given you all a better explanation about ABC. I am going to redo this explanation right now- hopefully, this will make more sense.”

      Live the traits you value in your people. I don’t like surprises, so I made every effort to make sure no surprises came up. In return they would tell me preemptively that a problem might be starting with this or that. They got really good at making accurate assessments that something was starting to derail. This saved us so. much. time in back tracking and redos.
      In a similar vein I was super concerned about their safety, they in turn became more watchful of safety issues and protected each other.

      Punchline: Be the employee you want them to be.

  13. bassclefchick*

    Question for those in academia: I just got rejected for an internal position at my University. It would have been a lateral move, but a $15k increase in pay. How did I find out? Not from HR, but from someone on the committee. Since it’s an internal move, I thought for sure I’d get it. The committee member told me that I was the first choice, but the hiring manager went with someone else anyway.

    Is that common? I have a great relationship with the supervisors I would have been working with (or so I thought). I’m not shocked HR still hasn’t told me. They’re notorious for not communicating. I AM shocked the hiring manager went against what the hiring committee recommended. Thanks for the support!

    1. Tuckerman*

      I got rejected for an internal position at my University. I didn’t hear from HR at all, and I didn’t expect to, for an internal interview. The hiring manager called me, though, and it was nice to get feedback from her.

    2. Damn it, Hardison!*

      As a manager, I wanted to hire a person already in my department for an open position but was overruled but the head of my department. Understandably, she moved on a couple of month later. I’m sorry you didn’t get the position, that really sucks.

    3. HigherEdAdminista*

      It is very common. A few years back, I applied internally for a role I was well matched for and where I knew the hiring manager very well; it would have been a promotion in terms of title. One of my faculty references was sure that I would be getting it and leaving the department very soon, but I was never even interviewed. Why? Because the Hiring Manager had someone in mind for the role before the process started, and likely didn’t want to get my hopes up by interviewing me or risk burning the bridge by rejecting me.

      There was another position where there was an interim person in it who was good, but didn’t have a lot of experience. My friend was on the hiring committee and they said they felt pressure to recommend this interim person, because the Hiring Manager wanted to keep working with them. However, there was one other candidate who was a star and the committee eventually decided they had to recommend this person over the interim hire as the first choice. The Hiring Manager did not take the recommendation of the committee and hired the interim person.

      Though these processes and committees exist, in theory, to make the process seem more accessible the fact that it can take so long to create or fill positions means that there is often a candidate the Hiring Manager has their eye on that the can guide into the process. Sometimes this is an internal candidate, who has already been basically doing this work, but for less money or out-of-title; however, sometimes it is an external candidate who was known to them in some other way.

      Higher Ed hiring is rough. Everyone I know in this industry who has gotten a different position after entering, was basically recruited for the position, or had a long history of networking that got them into place.

      1. Anonymous Koala*

        This was my experience in Higher Ed too. From talking to internal and external hiring managers, it seems to me like often search committees are just there to rubber stamp someone through. In my experience the longer a search committee expects to search – like if it’s a tenure track position, a year is typical – that more likely it is that they’re actually looking for someone, not just pushing a specific candidate through.

    4. Teapot Wrangler*

      That seems really odd to me. Why bother with a committee if you’re going to ignore them?

      1. Reba*

        Complying with a requirement/procedure. If the hiring manager really did already have a candidate in mind, it sucks that they essentially used bassclefchick to tick a box. But it’s not uncommon.

        1. Fran Fine*

          This. I’m not in academia, but this happens in corporate environments all the time as well.

      2. Academic Librarian 2*

        >>Why bother with a committee if you’re going to ignore them?<<
        That's been my question all along. Early in my career in academia, I was on a search committee that recommended a candidate who had all the skills we asked for in the job in question. However, the search committee had no actual hiring power, and the hiring official chose another person who had a personal connection to the college. I stopped volunteering for search committees at that point, because … "why bother with a committee if you're going to ignore them"!

    5. Lana Kane*

      This happened to me. Someone on the interview panel said they had identified me as the top candidate, but the person with the final say went with someone else. In my case it was office politics, but there could be other reasons that aren’t along those lines. Maybe the hiring manager weighs a particular skill more heavily than the panel did, for example.

    6. Lemon Zinger*

      Unfortunately this is more common in higher ed than you’d think. They have to follow the rigid interview process, but ultimately they can and will hire whoever they like best. There is a TON of favoritism/nepotism in higher ed that goes unchecked.

    7. AnotherLibrarian*

      So, at my institution, the hiring manager is always on the committee and the committee usually bows to their preferences. So even if the rest of the committee wanted someone else, the person supervising the job (who is usually the hiring manager) get’s final say. At my old institution, the provost office could overrule the committee and regularly did, which drove us all nuts. Also, the committee member telling you isn’t that uncommon. Academic HR departments are often pretty bad. I don’t know why…. but they seem to be.

    8. JelloStapler*

      My experience with HR in Higher Ed is that they are very good at communicating much of anything.

    9. Bon Voyage*

      I’m just a grad student but I’ve given feedback on a few candidate searches. What you describe sounds in line with what I’ve seen and heard. I know of some cases where a committee’s first and second recommendations were close and a chair’s preferences would come into play.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Yes, there are always written rules and unwritten rules. Definitely read all the written ones, but also keep a look out for (or even just ask someone about) the unwritten rules.

      2. Red Panda*

        Yes! Find someone who is in a similar position or at a similar level of seniority and pay attention to what they do (in terms of meeting etiquette, email formality, &c.)

    1. londonedit*

      Take notes and ask questions! And don’t expect to know everything straight away – you will feel like a fish out of water for a while!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I second taking notes. This really helps me learn, plus I can refer to my notes later. The first few days at a new job, particularly a setting you’re not used to, are always a little overwhelming.

      2. Red Panda*

        If you are self-conscious about asking too many questions (like me), taking notes is a good way to show your coworkers that you are serious about learning and not just depending on them for answers. It’s okay to ask questions – your coworkers will probably forget that some things aren’t universal knowledge and will need the reminder to explain them. Friendliness and attentiveness will go a long way in your first weeks.

    2. bubbleon*

      For actual work:
      – Ask questions. If you’re not sure what you’re doing, or if you feel like you’ve done something wrong, check! I can’t tell you how many times people have made bigger mistakes because they thought they had to pretend to be on top of it instead of double checking
      -Be mindful of your responsibilities and workload. It can be tempting to take on a lot and show off that you’re a great employee, but don’t overload yourself and say yes to everything for the sake of it
      -Similarly, don’t just say no because something falls outside the exact definition of your job. That doesn’t mean that you have to take on another job entirely, but if your job is llama grooming and someone asks if you want to help groom a horse, take a second to consider if it’s something you’re interested in and might be good at before saying “i’m a llama groomer”

      Not so work related:
      -If you curse frequently, eliminate any swearing from your vocabulary until you’re very clear on what the company culture is. (trust me, i’ve seen looooots of people make this mistake)
      -If there’s any opportunity to drink with coworkers and you partake, no matter what other people do stick to 1-2 drinks for at least your first outing (this one too)
      -Talk to people in other departments if you have the opportunity to mingle in the kitchen or around the watercooler, etc. You never know what connections outside your team will be helpful!

      1. ecnaseener*

        Seconding ask questions. But at the same time — try to find answers or even guess at answers before you ask, and share your guesses. People will be way happier to help you if you ask “I have X situation, and I checked the training manual and found that we do Y in a similar situation, but I wasn’t sure if this was different because of Z?” instead of “I have X situation, what do I do?”

    3. Spearmint*

      – Don’t worry if you don’t have have much to do for the first couple weeks or months, it’s not uncommon for onboarding to take some time.

      – To do lists are your friend, even if you didn’t need them in college. They work best when written by hand, in my experience (I say this as a tech savvy millennial who started using computers at age 4).

      – Unless coverage is very important in your job (e.g. you’re an admin answer the front desk phone), you don’t need to ask permission to go the bathroom, go for a quick 5-10 minute walk, get up to grab coffee, etc.

    4. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      Remember that the initial few weeks of work are about learning – Ask your questions in a ‘why’ manner, rather than in a ‘That doesn’t make sense’ or ‘well, I want to change this’ manner.

      Its better to be overly formal for the first few days of work, than under. No one will judge you for feeling a bit uncomfortable, and being more formal because of it, but they will remember and judge you if you presume familiarity.

      Remember that just because someone tells you X about a coworker, doesn’t mean it is true – there’s a lot of petty and spiteful office politicians out there. Take things with a grain of salt when you safely can, and form your own opinions based on your own interactions. (I once was told Admin Staffer X was lazy, stupid, horrible, terrible human being – but it was by someone who wanted their position, and didn’t get along with them. My experience with them was that Admin Staffer X struggled with things outside their job description, unless given explicit instructions on what to do and how, but they were also overall kind and pleasant, and would work themselves to the bone if you told them the project was a priority).

      1. London Calling*

        *Remember that the initial few weeks of work are about learning – Ask your questions in a ‘why’ manner, rather than in a ‘That doesn’t make sense’ or ‘well, I want to change this’ manner.*

        Sound advice for people who have been working a while, too. Not that I have anyone in mind AT ALL.

      2. Clisby*

        +1000 to that last part. Don’t get pulled into other people’s drama. Ideally, don’t make your own drama.

    5. OfficePro*

      Proofread! Should be ‘accepted’ not ‘excepted’.
      JK, but really though, first impressions are difficult to shake off and since you’re most likely to “meet” most of your co-workers through e-mail or chat well before you ever meet face-to-face your writing/typing is going to matter more.

      1. Oui Oui*

        Yes! This can be very important in making a good impression. For those with spelling changes and prone to mixing up words (like ‘accept’ and ‘except’) a resource like Grammarly can be very helpful.

        1. Oui Oui*

          LOL I just made myself the perfect example of why proofreading is needed! I wrote “spelling changes” instead of “spelling challenges”. It’s lucky for me I am anonymous!

    6. Nicki Name*

      Bring a lunch on day 1. And then ask where the fridge is so you can put it there if your new co-workers decide to take you out to lunch to introduce you to everyone.

      1. RagingADHD*

        This principle extends to a lot of things. Different offices are more or less social, or more or less inclusive, cliqueish, etc. Be open to respond to some invitations (chatting, lunch break, going out after work) but be prepared to be self-sufficient as well.

    7. Rick T*

      Lots of good advice above. I will add: As you start learning the policies and procedures for you job start with the assumption they are there to save the company money or to met requirements from outside the company.

      Two examples from my job selling server, storage, and networking gear to medium and large companies:
      – A hardware configuration must be done by a tech architect and will be reviewed by an independent reviewer who *must* approve the quote before it is priced and delivered to the customer. We do this because one (now-fired) sales rep kept sending quotes for the wrong products that required returns and a different (now-departed) sales rep built his own configurations that were wrong. Both sets of errors cost the company time, money, and reputation so the owner laid down the law:

      – I have to save configurations in 3 different formats (binary, XLS, XML) because no one version of the data can fill all the data requirements for quote generation, ordering from distribution, or getting special pricing from the manufacturer.

      Externally it looks like our processes takes extra time and cost money. Internally they pay for themselves with higher quality quotes and better pricing so we win more business.

    8. ecnaseener*

      Assuming this is your first full-time job after being a full-time student your whole life: Don’t freak out if you start to feel bored several months in. You’re used to a semester/school year schedule, and office work will feel like a lot of sameness (even if you have different projects etc).

    9. Purple Cat*

      Ask questions and take good notes!
      Ask your boss for “who else” you can also turn to for questions if they’re busy/in meetings a lot. You can trust they’ll give you the name of a good resource.

  14. Box of Kittens*

    Low-stakes mentorship question!
    I’m a mentee in an industry mentorship program. Recently, my mentor and I decided to read a business book together. Is this something that I could do at work, like read a chapter a day before I go home, or is this something that’s frowned upon? I’m questioning this because this is very much a work program that is set up by our industry’s main networking organization and part of one of my goals this year at work, which is to take advantage of learning opportunities. It’s not a mentorship I set up on my own for general life stuff. I also read a lot outside of work as a hobby, so selfishly I don’t really want to spend time outside work reading this book, which will be helpful but I wouldn’t have picked up if I wasn’t in this mentorship program. But the optics of reading at my desk feel kind of gross. Should I get the ebook and read it on my computer?? What should I do here?

    1. roll-bringer*

      It doesn’t sound like something you should be doing on the clock instead of other work (similar to how reading Ask a Manager for 3 hours during a workday isn’t actually Work, even if what you learn is relevant to work.) My suggestion would be to borrow the audiobook edition from your local library and listen while you eat lunch every day (or read while you eat lunch, if that’s your style) so it’s only taking up an hour of your free time a day. And just be sure to pace your read with your mentor so it doesn’t become something you have to spend hours and hours reading every day.

    2. Joielle*

      I think it’s fine to spend time reading the book at work! Professional development is a legitimate work activity. If you’re worried about the optics, the ebook on your computer might be better, but I wouldn’t worry too much about it if you just have the physical book.

      And it probably wouldn’t hurt to mention to your boss that you’re reading this book with your mentor as part of this mentorship program – not necessarily to ask permission, but to let them know that you’re doing something that works towards your professional goals, and to give them context if they see you reading. And, I guess, if they have a problem with you reading the book at work, it would give them an opportunity to tell you that.

      1. Anonymous Koala*

        In general, I think it’s great advice to keep your boss in the loop on your professional development activities like books you’re reading with your mentor, seminars you’re taking in/outside of work, etc. The best bosses I’ve had were interested in my development within our field over the short and long term, and most of them would have been okay with an employee spending work downtime on reading for a work sanctioned mentorship program. But this can vary by work culture and I think you’re right to worry about the optics, so keeping your boss in the loop might be a way of circumventing some of those concerns.

    3. Threeve*

      I wouldn’t, or I’d keep it really limited–if your mentorship was with your employer and not your networking organization, it might be a little different, but since it’s not I think you’re unfortunately right about the optics.

    4. Beth*

      It may vary by industry. In my field, everyone with a professional credential has to complete a required number of Continuing Education credits every year, which means reading, webinars, and other study activities. This is part of our job requirements, and it’s expected that we’ll do most or all of it at work. (We’re all salaried, and we all have a really strong work ethic, so there’s no element of “slacking off” or “using paid hours”.

      I would suggest that you ask your mentor. Be prepared and willing to do the reading in your own time, but make the inquiry into the norms of your industry regarding this kind of study. Either way, it’s a new thing you’ll have learned.

    5. Weekend Please*

      I think it depends on how busy you are. If there is legitimate work you could be doing, you should be doing that instead. If you have a lot of down time, I think reading is fine.

    6. DG*

      I like the e-book idea – maybe have a Word doc pulled up at the same time to jot down things you want to bring up to your mentor and ideas on how the subject matter applies to your job/role/career goals, which makes it feel like more of a work-related task. I’m sure you wouldn’t think twice about working on a performance review assessment or personal development plan during working hours, and this isn’t all that different.

    7. AnonPi*

      Just ask your manager! Where I am at it would be expected to do mentorship related activities while at work, including meetings, attending seminars, and reading books. But of course some places/managers may feel different about that, as you can see from the other responses there’s not a one size fits all, so it’s best to ask. I would mention your mentor wants you both to read this together for discussion, and you wanted to spend a little time at the end of the day working through the book. Even if your manager prefers you to do it on your own time, they shouldn’t get upset just because you asked.

    8. Coenobita*

      I read books for work on a regular basis (I’m not an academic, but part of my job is to keep up with current research in the field) – it’s 100% legit on-the-clock work but it still feels super weird to be reading a book at my desk! I generally prefer to read physical books, but I often go the ebook route for work for exactly this reason (and because it’s easy to search the text if I want to come back to something).

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

      I haven’t done a specific mentoring type of setup, but do do a lot of what you could call “professional development” activities – certifications, learning new skills etc

      The way I approach this is “who benefits?” Who’s the main beneficiary of the work, in the bigger picture? Is it an investment in myself, or to meet a specific company need.

      Training (or reading a book, or whatever) that primarily benefits a business need I’d treat as work time. Something that’s more of an investment in myself I’d be more inclined to do in my own time.

      In your case I would discuss with your boss and see if they suggest taking time to work on it at work, or do it in your own time.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep, agreed and adding- it’s good to develop a habit of at least sometimes reading on your industry/field/related subjects. Everything is changing faster and faster. Call it personal development or career development or “my ability to remain employable”. Frame it whatever way you want. I have some very sad stories of people who did not keep up with how the times have changed. It doesn’t take much, say, ten years? And all of the sudden a person can feel way behind.
        There’s a very sad story of a woman who needed to work. And she probably would have stayed working indefinitely. She made an error in judgement. Years ago she decided computers were not important and she did not push herself along. After years of her ignoring the problem, people tried to help her “catch up” and by then it was just too hard and too overwhelming. Her “catch-up” period was over several years, she was given that much time. And those years turned into sheer torture for her.

    10. Wisteria*

      Check with your boss. At my job, unless my project specifically authorized it, reading a professional development book on company time would constitute timesheet fraud. Yes, I am a salaried and exempt worker.
      To me, this is no different from taking a class, which is typically expected to be done on your own time.

  15. roll-bringer*

    Has anyone here taught in NYC with an internship certificate while working on their masters, or knows someone who has? The ability to work full time as a teacher with that certificate while I finish my masters degree is the deciding factor in whether or not I go to my dream school, so I’m looking for insight on it and whether it’s something I can reasonably rely on (pending, of course, being a stellar student teacher.)

    1. Anonforthisone*

      I know a little about the internship certificate in New York, but my area isn’t teaching, it’s one of the other school-based positions. I’m guessing you don’t have an initial certification from undergrad, but are going to get that through your Master’s?

      Does your program have someone in it who is coordinating fieldwork who can let you know how full-time workers tend to manage?

      1. roll-bringer*

        Yeah, I asked the director at the grad school if she can connect me with current students who are using the internship cert to work full-time as teachers – I’m not worried about time management; it’s that if I can work for NYC DOE teacher pay my second year of grad school, my dream program becomes more affordable than the lower sticker-price option B that is a strong program but doesn’t work out for teaching full time in the second year. So I’m trying to suss out whether or not it’s a longshot to get a job second year.

    2. alex b*

      I’d be wary and do your homework on the NYC Dept of Ed site because NYC is suuuuper strict and specific about certifications and qualifications for K-12 teaching. That internship certificate gets you some paid work, but you have to be in a registered program, and no way it’s FT teaching.

      You could possibly qualify for some FT private-school positions, but you might not be very competitive.

      IME no way NYC allows someone to teach FT with only a BA even if you are at Teachers College (or Banks St or wherever) for an MEd. It would be student teaching only, presuming you’re in a certificate-based program. I know bc I looked into it and already had an MA in a subject—no go.

      Have you considered NYC Teaching Fellows? I got accepted like 10 years ago and turned it down; now I’m a poor, stressed professor here and regret not taking that route into the public high schools. Hunter (part of CUNY) also has some cool programs to check out; those would probably be compatible with NYC DoE.

      Definitely ask advisors in this “dream school” program—they should know what the fieldwork looks like and if it pays. They also should be able to navigate the convoluted DoE here.

      Best of luck! In any case– being a teacher rocks, NYC rocks, and you’ll get there.

      1. roll-bringer*

        When I looked at Teaching Fellows this year, the availability was all subject areas/age levels that aren’t what I’m looking for (general ed & special ed, grades 1-6). I’ll be working on a masters to get the initial certificate and start student teaching in the fall, whether I go to dream school or Hunter (which is my second choice, but still a choice I’m excited about!) All my teacher friends started right out of undergrad so they don’t know anyone who’s used this certificate, and I went ahead and asked the dream school contact if she can put me in touch with students who are teaching under it or were until graduation.

        Thanks for your help! I’ve spent so much time on the DOE and NYSED and UFT websites this year I feel like I dream in cans of alphabet soup!

  16. Person from the Resume*

    Looking for a recommendation for a home office desk chair. I’m expecting to pay a pretty penny (~$500 or more), but the reality is that I sit in this chair for 9+ hours a day 4-5 days a week so it should be something I invest money in in order to get a good and supportive one.

    I need enough low back support and I’m 5’3″ so the depth shouldn’t be too much that when my back touches the back my knees can bend normally. Any suggestions?

    I’m using an office chair I bought 10+, maybe 15, years ago before I worked from home so I can make it last, but I the cushioning has worn out, and it is creaky and loud. So loud that I have to try not to move too much when I am off mute on Zoom. :)

    1. LC*

      I recently bought the C2 chair from Element (it was like $300 at my local office furniture place), and honestly didn’t do as much research as I should have but I have been super happy with it so far. Having adjustable seat depth was the number one priority, and between that and the rather lower back support and the arms not being a mile away from each other, it was definitely the most comfortable one I tried.

      Side note, *shakes fist angrily at the patriarchy for only considering 5’10” men when making standard office furniture so it’s nearly impossible for anyone much shorter (or taller, I suppose) to find desks and chairs that actually fit and won’t break our bodies*

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Historical footnote: not just measurements of the average man or the average American man, but the average American soldier at a time when the US army had a height minimum.
        Incidentally, that is something I learned at my first job, after I developed neck issues working at a desk that was way too tall for me.

        1. LC*

          Ya know, I remember hearing that somewhere but I couldn’t find any actual source so I thought I might have remembered wrong (plausible). That makes so much sense though, and is just absurdly frustrating.

          I also learned about anything remotely related to ergonomics at work after my set up was exasperating an unrelated injury. Desk too high, monitors too low, chair that was so deep that I was incapable of sitting in it like a normal person, etc. etc. It sucks that that’s how so many people learn about this stuff.

    2. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      I’ve had good luck with streaming chairs, personally. They’re designed with the comfort of folks who are going to spend hours to days at a desk in front of a computer in mind.

    3. Threeve*

      Weird suggestion: if you have the space, also hang on to your current chair when you a buy a new one. Maybe even get another inexpensive chair (even try Nextdoor or Craigslist). Also, find a few office-chair-compatible pillows.

      It’s amazing how much just occasionally switching out your seat helps your comfort. Using just the one all the time is like wearing the same pair of shoes all day, every day. Even the best shoes can get uncomfortable if you never take a break from them.

    4. T. Boone Pickens*

      At that price point I’d go with a Herman Miller Aeron chair. You can pick up a refurbished one for around $500 and a new one will set you back $1000+. They are incredibly customizable and are the best office chair I’m ever owned.

      1. Anonymous Koala*

        Seconded! They are amazing, and if you do a lot of document reading on your computer I recommend the one with the adjustable neck support.

    5. Montresaur*

      my spouse works in facilities and has a lot of great things to say about Steelcase. I actually have one of their chairs (used, his office was throwing it away) and it’s great. I’m 5’7” but it might be worth your time to see what they offer. If I can I’ll update with a specific recommendation when he gets home. Good luck finding a nice chair!

      1. Gloucesterina*

        My work offered an ergonomics consultation complete with the ability to test out different chairs (wild, right? I was very fortunate) and I ended up with the Steelcase Gesture chair and $14 footrest from Staples. It has highly adjustable arms and seat depth, which I learned is key for a shortish person with narrow shoulders. At first, I thought, hey it’s just a nice chair, and gee, what’s this footrest for if I could just rest my feet where the wheels attach to the chair?

        But after consistent use, I have to admit it is pretty lifechanging to have the correct type of support.

        I was hoping the Aeron would work for me, due to the lovely material and space-agey vibe, but it was not adjustable enough for my build.

      2. Montresaur*

        updated to add: spouse recommends the Steelcase Gesture (which I think someone else mentioned downthread), or the Leap.

        Also thanks to @Gloucesterina for bringing up the foot rest, I’m going to look into that myself

      3. Can Can Cannot*

        We like the Steelcase Series 1. About $400 from Amazon. Almost as nice as the Aeron we also have.

    6. Mannheim Steamroller*

      My wife bought the “Dexley” chair ($250, reimbursed by her employer) from Staples last year and loves it so much that we recently bought another one for me to use.

    7. Reba*

      I have the Amia Air from Steelcase! (there’s a fully upholstered and a mesh-back option, “Air” being the latter.) It was recommended for petite people because of the seat pan depth, adjustable lumbar support, and option of extra-adjustable arms, which I recommend. I’m 5’3″ also and I’m super happy with it! Also you can choose the colors :)

    8. Qwerty*

      I am 5’4″ and recently acquired the GT Racing chair for <$200. There's an adjustable cushion that is meant for lower back support but sometimes I use it to just shorten the seat depth. I never attached the neck pillow because I find the chair more comfortable without it. Plus it kinda looks like a throne when I'm on a video call, which had the surprising side effect of adding extra authority to my words when interacting with some of the more difficult guys at work. (But meant black blazors blended into the chair, so interviewing outfits took more time to pick out)

      I looked up "petite gaming chairs", "gaming chairs for women" and "gaming chairs for kids" to find info on what the height range is for most chairs. They mostly are made with men in mind, so the ones aimed at teens will probably fit you best.

    9. Hillary*

      I have a Steelcase Think and love it. I’m a 5’6″ woman with a longer torso – I’ve got about 4″ of space beyond the back of my knees with my back touching the chair. I had a Herman Miller chair at a previous job and hated it – the base didn’t fit my hips and I could never get the lumbar support right.

      If you’re in a metro area that’s opening up, you might want to look for an office furniture liquidator. They often have very high quality used chairs, and they have showrooms where people can try them.

    10. Nea*

      There is only one chair that I can sit in for hours at a time, and it’s the Container Store bungee chair. After my back surgery it’s about the only chair I can sit on at all! I sit on one in the office for 8 hours then come home and sit on the one at home for several more; on weekends I nearly live in it. It comes in three colors and if you get the one without arms it’s only $150.

      My only complaint is that they discontinued the bright “berry” color. That’s the one I have at the office. (I was told, when I asked permission to bring my own chair, that I could but it might get stolen. I said “I bet not if it’s hot pink!”)

      1. Nea*

        PS, it’s height adjustable, so it would fit your legs, and the bungees stretch a bit, so it’s guaranteed to fit your everywhere else.

    11. anon24*

      I’m 5’4″ and have a Qulomvs Big and Tall Gaming Chair for Adults I got off Amazon. They’re about $200. Yes, it’s designed with big people in mind, but it’s so comfy. I have a gaming addiction and some days spend 12+ hours in that chair and am never uncomfortable. Everything is adjustable and it has a lumbar support cushion and a headrest pillow. I reconfigured my cushion placement to fit with my shape and body type, and have them both sitting in slightly different positions than they are meant to and it works great.

      1. Nea*

        It’s my experience that anything designed specifically for gaming is the most comfortable and low-fuss option on the market. They don’t want you to have to stop gaming for anything!

    12. T. J. Juckson*

      I have a “cheaper” ($500) chair from Herman Miller (the Sayl), and generally like it. My partner decided to buy himself the chair he has at work for home, since he knew he’d be working from home for a long while. He has the classic Eames Aluminum Group chair. I sat in it once and OH WOW. By far the most comfortable office chair I’d ever sat in, even without making any adjustments. I’ve had an Aeron and other fancy chairs in previous jobs. The Eames: it just felt… like air? Really nice? Just better?

      And you might say, for $2,200+ retail, it better be nice! The Design Within Reach outlet sometimes has them, around $1,500 (my partner’s came from there), and they appear used at various auction sites. If I had a full-time WFH gig, I’d seriously consider upgrading.

    13. Person from the Resume*

      Thank you everyone who contributed suggestions. I really appreciate the help with research. And, of course, gaming chair is a good idea that I didn’t think of.

      It’s nice to see some recommended chairs at a lower price point than I expected. OTOH I just realized I probably spend more time in my office chair than in my bed so that’s another reason why a pricey chair is not totally crazy.

      1. Eden*

        If it’s a really good chair, then you can also get it used. I have a used Herman Miller Mirra, paid $400 dollars for it, feels exactly the same as the Mirra I was using in the office before we went remote. And of course as you say, you spend so long in it that even the full price tag is honestly reasonable.

    14. Anonymous Hippo*

      I have the TITAN from Secret Lab. I have chronic neck and back pain and this is literally the only chair that I have no pain. I’m taller than you, but Secret Lab has smaller sized chairs as well. They aren’t soft/comfy, but I find them very comfortable, especially since they have a large flat base so your legs aren’t always being pushed together like in a curved chair.

    15. Here we go again*

      I sell furniture for homes. My advice for selling an old man his recliner is the same. See if there is a showroom where you can try it out. Chairs are like shoes everyone has a different fit. It sounds like you’re going to be in the chair more than you’re in your car. And you’d test drive a car before you buy it.
      Also your chair when you get it home won’t be broken in like the showroom chair.

    16. Stitching Away*

      I am barely 5’2″ and just went shopping for a recliner. I had thought that I could just figure out what seat depth I needed and then go from there. What surprised me was that what was comfortable and did not cause me pain was not the same measurement from recliner to recliner. It varied by 1 to 2 inches. I was very glad I found a place where I could a whole bunch to see what didn’t cause me pain.

  17. Kingsley*

    I just interviewed at a software company that did 1 on 1 team interviews throughout the day. After a previous interview a couple weeks ago with the hiring manager. For those of you who have participated in these kind of interviews? What are you looking for? What did you hope to get? Most of it seemed to be personality / communication style but is there anything else I’m missing here?

    1. Tbubui*

      My partner has a lot of those 1-on-1 team interviews in tech/software development. You’re right that they’re mainly assessing personality/communication style. It’s all about seeing if you can work with the team, since collaboration is so important for software development.

      To a much lesser extent, my partner says it’s about seeing if you can adhere to basic professionalism. Sometimes tech doesn’t have the best reputation for grooming/hygiene…they just want to know if their candidates can meet a basic cleanliness standard (don’t smell too bad, can wear reasonably clean clothes, etc.).

    2. Anonymous Pygmy Possum*

      My (fairly small) software team does a series of about 4 or 5 1 on 1 or 2 on 1 interviews with our candidates over about 4 hours, and each person does a different part of the interview. Some people do a coding test or a unix test. My officemate and I spend about 30-40 minutes talking with the candidate and going over what we do day to day, talking about the office and the work and why we enjoy working there. The other parts of the interview are the more technical parts, so when I’m doing my part with my officemate I’m taking mental notes about how engaged the candidate is with our work once they actually know what we do, since its a little hard to figure out via our website, and seeing how they communicate and ask questions. For me, the mental notes/observations are really second to the rest of the interview – unless something horrible comes up that would immediately disqualify them (which has never happened), what really matters are the technical skills for the role at our company, and the other interviewers will have a better sense of that. But the way that the candidate absorbs information and asks questions is useful info as to what it would be like to work with them.

    3. Qwerty*

      Sounds like a covid friendly version of “meet the team” ? We used to have candidates have lunch with the team. It’s for both your benefit and the team’s benefit.

      Your side – Get to know your potential coworkers, see what the team dynamic is, ask any questions that are more suited for contributors rather than the manager (maybe hear their perspective on the management style)

      Their side – Allows the team to feel part of the process. Each of them probably has one or two things they care about, or might have a different perspective when looking for red or yellow flags (ex: so many team lunches where I, the only woman, was completely ignored or talked down to by candidate).

      In general, I find having more exposure between the candidate and the people they’ll be working with to be really helpful not just for hiring the best candidates, but ensuring a smoother onboarding process. The team will know your strengths/weaknesses and can prepare a bit. More of people’s personalities come out during casual bits so there’s less potential for first day shock, or finding out that there’s been a communication error in what the job is. I’ve seen so many instances where there’s a big difference between what the manager meant to convey as the job, what the candidate heard as the job, and what the job actually is – which tends to happen more frequently in places that do minimal number of interviews.

    4. fhqwhgads*

      When we do this it is about personality/communication style/basically making sure you’re not a jerk. We also tell the candidates up front that’s why we’re doing the team interviews.

  18. Not sure it's worth it*

    I recently agreed to a small (in $) freelance contract. I live on the West Coast of the US, and it involves working with folks in a variety of other locations, including some in England. The organizer lives on the East Coast.

    Would it be reasonable to set a limit on the times I’m willing to attend group meetings, for setting 7am as my earliest availability, or would that come across as overly demanding and spoiled?

    1. JustMyImagination*

      Not exactly the same but I work on the East Coast and we use contractors based in the UK and across the US for projects. When setting up meetings, I always email the team and ask them to provide availability on X-dates in EST. We know they’re working with other clients and wont always be immediately available.

    2. Joielle*

      I don’t think I’d bring it up preemptively – that does strike me as a little demanding, since you’d be expecting everyone to remember your time zone and availability whenever they schedule a meeting. But if someone proposes a meeting time that would be too early for you, you can just say “That would be 5 am my time – could we push it back a couple of hours?”

    3. HugsAreNotTolerated*

      I’m all for setting boundaries! But in this case, I think that you can set those boundaries with your East Coast US people since that’s only a 3 hour time difference, but it would likely be very annoying to your UK people. 7am on your time is 3pm to them, and that leaves only two hours (really 1, since nobody wants to end their day with a meeting) that you’re available to them in their regular work day.

      1. Not sure it's worth it*

        Hmm…I have 4pm meetings all the time, so I would not agree that’s an unreasonable meeting time.

    4. Mononoke Hime*

      People are usually quite understanding when working with others from different time zones, although it also requires compromises from all parties. It is easier to have a general (albeit unwritten) rule but make exceptions occasionally for important things.

    5. Haha Lala*

      I think that’s reasonable, especially if you tell them up front and make it clear it’s due to the time difference. You can just tell them your regular hours, and ‘translate’ it into their time zone so it’s clear. Maybe suggest a window for the whole team to have meetings when necessary, taking into account everyone’s time zone- 7am-9am on the West Coast, which is 10am-12noon East Coast, and 3pm-5pm in London.

      I live in the midwest, but I’m working on a project with a teams from both the East Coast and in England. We routinely have our meetings first thing in the morning for me (8am) which is afternoon for our clients. I also make a point to check for emails from the guys in England first thing in the mornings, knowing that I need to reply quickly in order for them to see it that day, otherwise I’ll be waiting till the next day for a response. And I don’t bat an eye at the 2am emails any more, since I know it’s not their 2 am!

      1. Not sure it's worth it*

        Thanks, that seems like a reasonable way to approach it–constructive and saying what I *can* do rather than what I can’t!

    6. 867-5309*

      What were the expectations set for the contract? For example, did they say you need to available to work with all of these team members regardless of time zone? And is it full time?

      I know my expectations for freelance talent is that they are more flexible, especially if the nature of assignment is they needed available to meet with team members in different time zones and this was made clear during the hiring process.

      1. Malarkey01*

        Agree and how much meeting time is required for this work? If it’s one weekly check in setting it for 4 UK time might be fine. If we need to meet more often or for longer periods of time having a 1 or 2 hour block of time would be a big problem for our program.

      2. Not sure it's worth it*

        Not full time at all, it’s a pretty small side project. I was offered the position via email and am awaiting the contract to sign. So far it’s been difficult to pin them down on specifics, but as I await the contract I’m thinking about what *I* need since they’re being quite vague.

        To give some more context, I have a long history of being a contractor off and on with this company. Sometimes the contracts have been very well-paid, while other times I’ve gotten screwed because the vague, unspoken expectations. Contracts with them dried up in the last two years after I put my foot down about some things (they were booking me to travel for supposed multi-day projects, then when I arrived I found the project had changed to be only one paid day. These were not great destinations–think Minnesota in the winter–where I was then stuck unpaid for several days.)

        This is the first time they’ve reached out to me since I told them I would only travel if I was guaranteed to be paid for all originally scheduled work days and I want to rebuild the relationship while also being firm about my needs.

    7. StellaBella*

      I work globally and my limit is 11pm to 6am I am off calls. It is reasonable to set limits.

    8. AcademiaNut*

      I would definitely sort it out before accepting the job, to find out if it’s possible or not. I work in a very international field, and odd hour telecons are a fact of life.
      Meeting organizers do their best to avoid meetings between midnight and 6am for as many people as possible, and to rotate the inconvenience, but sometimes there’s no time that is reasonable for everyone. Refusing on principle to ever be the one inconvenienced would come across as overly demanding and spoiled, particularly as the newest person.

  19. Tbubui*

    Hi everyone!

    Right now I’m working at a small non-profit with 5 other employees plus our director. Director is completely burned out and is taking a month off per her doctor’s instructions. She is leaving me in charge until she comes back. I stepped into a leadership role last spring/summer when COVID hit to get our services online, but Director always had the final say in everything. (My main role was managing workflow and getting a floundering team back on the right path that summer.)

    Since she’ll be completely unplugging from work and I’ll be responsible for everything that month, I’m a little bit overwhelmed. I know I’ll only be managing 4 employees but it still feels like a lot right now. Does anyone have any experience or advice stepping into a supervisory role quite suddenly?

    1. Alexis Rosay*

      Yes, I stepped into an Interim ED position when my boss left. Trust yourself–they asked you to step up for a reason–and leverage your good relationships with the other employees. Don’t be afraid to ask for their opinions or help when making decisions on their areas of expertise. Meet with each person individually to understand what kind of support they need.

      Be aware of yourself and how you show up as a supervisor, rather than an employee–make extra sure not to joke at someone else’s expense, gossip, or show favoritism.

      Also, remember that in this type of role, your job is to keep things going, not rock the boat with radical decisions or vision-setting, which I think makes things easier.

      1. Tbubui*

        Thank you! That does help quite a bit. We have an excellent team so I’m definitely not going to radically change anything while Director is gone. And thank you for the reminder about supervisor vs. employee. I take care not to gossip or show favouritism as an employee, but I know it’s even more important as a supervisor.

        And thank you for the reminder about asking for help when needed. I work on an area that’s quite distinct from the rest of the team (but I do have experience in their area) so I will need their help and insights to get up to speed on what they’re doing as well as what supports, if any, they will need.

    2. Malarkey01*

      I’d ask for clarity on what their expectations are for the role. A month isn’t that long and normally when we have people act for that long we’re looking for them to “keep the train running”, handle work assignments, escalated issues, any immediate personnel stuff like leave requests. We aren’t looking for them to handle any strategic planning, large personnel actions, or make any large decisions for things that could be delayed (so no one gets put on a PIP and we don’t decide to pivot to a new project but would expect that anything needed to keep a project on task would continue).

      1. Tbubui*

        Thank you! Director and I are having a meeting on Monday to discuss expectations and such. I wanted to get an idea from people here before the meeting on what to expect and maybe some questions to bring up. I hadn’t even thought about personnel stuff like leave requests so I’ll definitely ask her how to deal with that!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      We can’t get the work done without our people. And they can’t get their work done without a supervisor. I think it helps the level the playing field to really think about how interwoven everyone is. I have found it helpful to say this out loud, “I am going to need inputs from you folks.” And then really listen to what they are saying. We all sharpen each other, one person gets an idea and another person fine tunes the idea- things go this way often.

      It’s okay to say, “I dunno, what do you think?”, listen to their thoughts and then say, “I like that, let me think that over for a minute.” Basically, you retain your final say in matters but you also allow their suggestions to weigh in. It’s okay not to know all the answers, the problems start when no one makes that final decision. So collect up inputs where necessary and then make the decisions they need you to make.

      The longer I go the more I realize that everyone is guessing, very seldom is anyone 200% sure they have the right answer. It takes time to become a good guesser. Groups can and do have a collective genius- and you can tap that genius as often as you like.

      The best piece of advice I heard about making management decisions was to chose the most conservative option. Sometimes this means which choice is easier to correct if it is the wrong choice? As a simple example- given the choice of throwing ABC out in the garbage because it doesn’t look useful OR pushing ABC off to the side to find out later if it is useful, the conservative choice would be to push it off to one side. You can throw it out later, but you cannot, later, pull it out of the garbage as the garbage truck drives away.

      1. Tbubui*

        Thank you so much! This is very helpful framing for me. My temporary job as a supervisor is to help people to do their jobs, and to do that I need to listen to my coworkers’ input and suggestions. And thank you for the advice about management decisions. It’s better to set something off to the side than to scrap a whole project, especially since there may be salvageable parts.

  20. Anon for this here post*

    My boss sent the assistant manager “Joe” and I an email about Llamas. Joe has to figure out where to buy llamas and I have to give the count for how many llamas we need.

    Joe asked me something about the email, not how many llamas we need, but something else about it. I was leaving for the day and responded, “I don’t know. You’d have to check with boss on that.” 

    I know that I should have offered to look into it or discuss it the next day, but it was busy and I had to go. 
    Yesterday the boss asked him about the status and he said that “Anon said that she didn’t know how many llamas we need.”

    I never said that! I think that Joe just panicked and told the boss that, but I feel like I was thrown under the bus. Later on I talked to my boss and said that I was working on it, but was waiting to hear back from the people who deal with the data. My boss waved his hand and said to not worry about it, but I felt a bit taken aback by his behavior.

    Then at a meeting Joe said, “He provided me with the llama count and by “he” I mean the boss.”

    It’s not like Joe asked me “Hey, how many llamas do we need?” Again, I should have offered to meet with him to discuss it, but there were other things going on and things kind of fell to the wayside.

    Is there a way to remedy this or avoid it in the future?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I think I probably would have just waited til the next morning to address the email, assuming I was leaving at my normal time and not popping out for the day at lunchtime. I find that rushing answers when I’m in a hurry to do something else results in dodgy communication and misunderstandings, so I try not to answer emails if I don’t have the time to give a clear answer.

    2. Asenath*

      Never answer an email or phone call when you’re on the way out the door. You’ll be rushed and probably respond in a way you will later wish you hadn’t.

      Obviously, there is an exception if you are in the kind of job where you get calls that need immediate responses – the place is on fire, it’s going to have to shut down if there is some kind of supply problem that you and only you can handle.

      I don’t think you need to fix this. You’ve addressed it with your boss, and it sounds like a fairly minor miscommunications. Sure, Joe shouldn’t have worded his comment in such a way, at and the moment, maybe you could have said something like “Actually, there was a bit of a miscommunication about the llamas, and future enquiries will go to me as usual”. I think meeting with Joe to discuss it risks making you look a little insecure because you’re putting too much weight on it.

    3. JuJuBee*

      I usually respond to emails letting the boss know I don’t have the answer. In other words, I reply: “Got your request. I’m working on it and I’ll get back to you when I know more. What is the timeline on this request?” That way when the bus rolls by, I’m not under it, because I’ve already responded that I’m working on it – not that I don’t know what to do – as a colleague could imply, and I’ve established the deadline. Is it expected before I leave for the day, OR by tomorrow OR by next week? I can safely set or rearrange my priorities and all my bases covered! End result = Boss happy.

      Then Joe’s assertion that I don’t know what I’m doing makes him sound like the jackass.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      It sounded to me like Joe asked you in person about the email. In which case my answer would have been “I’ve already logged out for the day. I’ll read it first thing in the morning.”

      1. Anon for this here post*

        He asked me about the email, but it wasn’t “What is the llama count?” It was something else. I probably misunderstood his question, but felt taken aback when he told the boss that I didn’t know. We never even discussed it or called a meeting.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Just add in when a person can expect a solid answer from you.

      “I don’t know. I can find out for you tomorrow or you can check with the boss, if you need it right now.”

      OR to remove any ambiguity:

      “I will find this answer for you tomorrow.”

      Then when tomorrow comes, you can ask the boss (or whoever) yourself.

    6. KitKat2000*

      >> Yesterday the boss asked him about the status and he said that “Anon said that she didn’t know how many llamas we need.”

      If this happened in front of you, it was also an opportunity to remedy the situation, by saying something like “Oh, actually I think we might have gotten our wires crossed there! My answer was that I didn’t know X about the llama purchasing process, not that I’m not working on getting the count. I’m getting that from the data team.” If it didn’t happen in front of you and you heard about it from your boss, you could say the same (with a calm, matter of fact tone – you’re just clearing up a misunderstanding, like if someone had said they thought you were going to be out next week but it’s actually the week after).

      As for this comment — “He provided me with the llama count and by “he” I mean the boss.” — If Joe said that in front of me, I would find it very odd, and that oddness would reflect on him, not you. I’d advise you to let this comment go and just move on.

  21. kiki*

    I posted last week about my coworker who asks women on the team for help with things he could and should do himself and socially engineers his way into being helped even when women try to get him to work independently first. All the women on the team brought our concerns to our manager; she basically waved us away and told us to handle it ourselves. This might seem extreme, but we all decided to start looking for new jobs. Our concerns have been waved away by management way too often– often snowballing until they’re crises. We’re also all paid less than our male employees. Maybe all of us leaving will force our coworker who refuses to read to do so.

    1. Certified Scorpion Trainer*

      choosing to leave over being treated as subservient and being paid less is not extreme. i hope you all find something new soon.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        Honestly, it’s not only completely reasonable to be looking for other jobs, I would make sure to document everything you can about this (including the boss’ reaction) and talk to a lawyer as a group. The general behavior issues probably won’t rise to the level of a legal issue, but all of the women being underpaid compared to the men damn well might.

        1. Empress Ki*

          Yes talking to a lawyer as a group would be great. It’s important that this kind of organisations pay the price for their sexism.
          A glassdoor review from each woman would be good too.

    2. CatCat*

      That doesn’t sound extreme. It sounds like the natural consequence of management’s lackadaisical about work issues and underpaying women. I hope you all find great opportunities with better employers out there, and I hope you’ll update us.

    3. HugsAreNotTolerated*

      Nothing extreme about it. You’ve already taken steps to address the issue with the co-worker directly. It didn’t work, so you reached out to your manager, who blew your concerns off. Leaving a workplace where you’re not treated equitably to male co-workers is not extreme. It’s common sense.

      1. Momma Bear*

        “Our concerns have been waved away by management way too often– often snowballing until they’re crises.”

        It’s not that this guy is just annoying but that there are serious problems with the office/this guy. They feel there’s no resolution other than leaving because they’ve been ignored. I can’t blame them.

    4. Tbubui*

      Just chiming in to say I don’t think that’s extreme at all. If management can’t back you up on such a clear example of sexism and there are existing pay disparities you’re perfectly correct in leaving.

    5. JuJuBee*

      “she basically waved us away and told us to handle it ourselves” Sounds like your manager is telling you to start saying “no” and to let the chips fall where they may. Stop helping him.

      1. Kiki*

        I mentioned this in the post last week, but the issue is we genuinely need to collaborate on some things and this coworker started manipulating those situations and/or taking our responses like “sounds like you should come back to me once you’ve read the documentation” to mean we don’t know how to do things. He only does this to female members of the team. I know the solution sounds really simple (“just stop helping him!”) but we’ve found we can’t escape him.

        1. Momma Bear*

          In the meantime I’d send him links to the relevant things and say, “Your answers are on page 12.” And I’d CYA and cc everyone as necessary.

        2. Observer*

          Manipulate right back.

          Also be more explicit and don’t worry about being “rude”. If your manager wants to know why you are being “unhelpful” tell her that she told you to handle his refusal to do his work, so your handling it.

          Put stuff in email. When he says things that imply that you don’t know how to do your job, call it out and correct him by clarifying that the issue is him not doing his job. Be relentless. And CC your boss and grandboss on everything. Make this their problem.

          And keep looking. You should not need to take on this burden.

        3. Not So NewReader*

          Every time he comes up with a new manipulation he has tipped his hand.

          You can develop a response so he does not use that particular manipulation again. Yes, crafting specific responses for each situation is a total PITA and waste of your time.

          I have to tell a story, that I think you will appreciate.

          I was helping to take care of an older- but not helpless- family member (FM). This FM was used to having everything done for them since childhood. One day I happened to be there when FM wanted breakfast. FM wanted a bowl of cereal and wanted us in the room to get it for them.
          Since the other person in the room told FM to get it themselves and disconnected from the conversation that left me to deal with what was left.
          So FM said they did not know how to make a bowl of cereal. I suggested they start with a bowl.
          Where are the bowls? “They are in the same cupboard they have been in for the 50 years you have lived here.”
          Ten minutes later a bowl was located by FM.
          Next was the cereal. Where is the cereal? “In the same space it has been for the 50 years you have lived here.”
          Same deal with the spoon.
          So eventually there was a bowl, cereal and a spoon.
          All that was needed was milk. Where is the milk?
          “My best guess is the fridge.”
          YES, BUT WHERE in the fridge?
          “I have no way of knowing without opening the door and looking around. So that is what you will have to do.”
          Now to put the milk on the cereal. I don’t know how much milk to put on it.
          “That’s odd. When I pour it for you, you always tell me when to stop. So, Yeah, you do know how much milk to put on it.”
          And eventually the milk landed on the cereal.

          It was 45 minutes. I know this story sounds awful but I can tell you for sure that this person was in a much deeper hell than I was. This process was much, much harder on this person than it was on me.
          Sometimes people actually have to go through doing things the hard way before they decide to change their behavior.

        4. TR*

          I went back and looked at our original post, and I’ve been in similar situations. I’ve worked with lots of men who took the POV that, if something is important, someone else (usually a woman) is responsible for remembering and telling them — they simply can’t be expected to keep track of this boring stuff on their own. It’s not all men — it’s a certain personality type, but the way that personality type manifests in men is different, in that it’s more likely to lead to this expectation that a woman is responsible for doing it for them (in women, the thing usually just doesn’t get done).

          I also get why it feels impossible to deny the requests for information because, at that point, you’re hurting your own project for what feels like the petty reason of not wanting to be this dude’s calendar.

          IF you’re willing to accept that there is a personality difference where some people just can’t pay attention to details AND you don’t want to be responsible for constantly reminding him of things, you could try to have a team meeting where you approach it as a problem-solving exercise and say, “We need This Guy to be able to access the project information, and the solution where he asks us constantly isn’t working, so we need to come up with another solution as a team for how we can store that information and make it accessible to everyone.”

          And then, after you set up your solution, the answer would just be, “Hey, we agreed you would check (whatever place you agreed to store things) instead of asking me.”

          1. Kiki*

            Yeah, I don’t want to get too far into analyzing my coworker’s behavior and psychology, but from stories he’s told and seeing him interact with his wife, it seems like his wife has been managing all the “boring stuff” for him most of his adult life. It’s frustrating because I do not think he’s doing this maliciously, but he seems to be unaware that a certain amount of administrative tasks are expected of everyone, even technical people, at work and in life. It’s especially frustrating because all the female employees he asks for help are ALSO technical (we’re all software engineers). How he thinks women just mystically do all the administrative stuff and our technical duties is a mystery

    6. Observer*

      This might seem extreme, but we all decided to start looking for new jobs.

      What’s extreme about this? Even without the lower pay – which is illegal – you’ve got a legitimate issue.

      By the way, I would contact the DOL on your way out.

    7. Trixie Belle*

      Please keep us updated! I like the advice below too. Stop helping! Stop being nice. If this fool asks stupid questions or has stupid requests, reply and include everyone, maybe his behavior will stop if he is called out on it enough.

  22. My Employee Works Too Much*

    Hi all, I posted in the open thread a few weeks ago about my employee, Fergus, who works too much and had taken over part of the department admin’s job. The situation has taken a strange turn and I’d appreciate some advice on what to do.

    Fergus asked to have a very basic administrative task reassigned to the department admin, Lee. It wasn’t an unreasonable request (although it was something we all do and was so basic and not time consuming or laborious that it seemed like an odd thing for Fergus to be upset about) so I talked to Lee about it and they were happy to take it on. They didn’t realize it was something that was assigned to them because everyone had been doing it.

    About a week later, Lee came to me about this task, because Fergus was still doing it, and they wanted to make sure it is actually their responsibility. Lee requested that Fergus stop doing the task so they could have ownership of it. (Again, this is a specific task that Fergus had asked to have reassigned to Lee.)

    When I spoke with Fergus about it, he kind of had a meltdown, with lots of hand wringing that Lee would do this very basic thing wrong, or at least different than what Fergus would do, he didn’t want Lee to be the owner of this task (what?) and the whole thing was so over the top and out of proportion to what the situation was, I don’t know that I was entirely successful with hiding my frustration (I tired! I really did!). Again, this is a very basic administrative task and it’s not something that needs to be done in a certain way to be accomplished. It was such a strange interaction that I feel does not bode well for redistributing Fergus’s workload.

    Does anyone have experience managing an employee like this, do you have any advice?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I’m pretty sure I remember this. Fergus is worse than I thought he was.

      You need to get much more hands-on with Fergus. He obviously has problems with controlling things; you can’t give him any leeway about what he does and what these other people (like the new employee) do. This is not a case where you’re going to micromanage; Fergus isn’t following policy and direction, and you need to bluntly tell him so.

      Part of it is you need to acknowledge his purported concerns, without saying that Fergus gets to make decisions about those concerns. Yes, when he relinquishes this task, Lee might make mistakes that Fergus wouldn’t make. And, yes it might take Lee longer to do it than Fergus would. But THE COMPANY has decided that the best thing for THE COMPANY, in the long run, is for Lee to do this work, not Fergus. This is not discretionary.

      1. My Employee Works Too Much*

        I’m currently working out how to present this to my boss so she sees it as a performance issue. From her view, Fergus is a nice person who goes above and beyond! We want nice people who go above and beyond! He also has a skillset that is hard to find in our area. We need him!

        It’s frustrating because there is only so much I can do to manage Fergus without her support. I have a meeting to talk with her about it this afternoon, wish me luck.

        1. Observer*

          Document the amount of extra time Fergus works, the things Fergus lets slip, the amount of time you spend managing him, all the delays he causes with his behavior and all the negative interactions he has and causes with others.

    2. WellRed*

      I think there needs to be a sit down with Fergus and HR about whether he needs a leave of absence or something. We’ve had an update this week from someone who eventually hit diagnosed BPD. A commenter further up is stepping into her boss’s role while boss is off on stress leave. His behavior is not Ok and at this point seems to be a bigger issue than work.

      1. My Employee Works Too Much*

        Yes there is definitely something going on that is out of my scope of work as a manager to deal with. It was not a normal response.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Based on past posts, he’s taking up an enormous amount of your time and energy. Is he worth keeping on if you don’t see significant changes from him?

      1. My Employee Works Too Much*

        My boss hasn’t been letting me treat this like a performance issue with Fergus. Part of it is that she LOVES Fergus as a person. But the other part is that he has a skillset we need that’s hard to find in our area (we are transitioning back to the office next month and remote work won’t be an option once we do), and he produces good work overall. Do you have any scripts or suggestions for how I could approach this with her? It’s completely exhausting to deal with.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          “I’ve done XYZ to work on these issues with Fergus. It’s continuing to take up a huge amount of my time and energy — I’m spending X hours a week dealing with this — and it’s impacting the rest of the team in XYZ ways. I’ve been as clear as I can with him about what needs to change. At this point, I need to be able to attach real consequences to these issues, so he understands this stuff is serious and needs to change.” (That’s pretty vague because I can’t remember the specifics of the past issues, but that’s the general idea.)

    4. Observer*

      One REALLY important thing to keep in mind is that this is a legitimate work issue. And it’s NOT about Fergus being “too dedicated” or anything like that. At best, he’s a control freak who is not going to be able to keep up with the work he is SUPPOSED to be doing. At worst, he’s going to cause some significant problems with his work, but also with other staff.

      You need to both have a big picture conversation with him, but also call this out in the moment. Don’t argue or discuss. eg TELL him “this task can be acceptably done in various ways. You are not to keep Lee from doing it nor try to enforce your way of doing it on them. And you are not to take time from your tasks to make sure that Lee is doing the task to your standards” Not let him get into “but” anything.

  23. Ace in the Hole*

    The recent question about thank you notes got me thinking… how do you send one when you don’t have the direct contact info of the interviewer? I’ve had a number of occasions where communication with applicants went through a generic HR email, or public sector jobs where panel interviews are the norm and applications happen via a centralized database.

    Is it normal to ask for their emails in order to send a note? Just skip it? Something else?

    1. Chilipepper Attitude*

      I only send them when I am given an email to an actual person, HR or the interviewers.
      At my govt/city job, the candidate gets a score in the minutes after the interview ends. So even an emailed thank you arrives too late to be helpful. It might help my employer/hiring manager feel more comfortable or excited about their choice if there was an email thank you.

      1. Ace in the Hole*

        That makes sense. I’m not thinking to get better outcomes from the interview itself… moreso that I’m in a pretty small world professionally and I want to be polite to foster good relationships whether I get that particular job or not.

    2. GigglyPuff*

      Whoever you talked to, to schedule the interview (if it was through email). Usually just a “can you please pass this along to the interview committee?” followed up by the thank you note. It’s always landed fine.

    3. Cookies for Breakfast*

      I came here today to ask the exact same question. I had a few interviews in recent months and was never in direct contact with hiring managers: all my emails went through the organisations’ HR department. For one job I was particularly keen on, I wondered whether I should send a note to the HR person, but ended up holding off (the company, on the other hand, ended up ghosting me after two rounds of interviews).

      Bonus points if anyone seeing this is based in the UK. Are thank you notes common practice here, at all? I haven’t been on the hiring side for a few years, but thinking back to when I’ve been involved in recruitment, the only candidate I ever remember getting a thank you note from was someone I was interviewing for a US-based role.

      1. Teapot Wrangler*

        Not really. If I’m going through a recruiter, I’ll usually say “Can you pass my thanks on to [Name]” at most. I’ve never had a thank you note when hiring and would find it a bit odd if I did

    4. Lemon Zinger*

      You can totally skip it. Call me crazy but I don’t think thank-you notes are necessary anymore. My office has our admin coordinate all aspects of interviewing, so if anyone should be thanked, it’s her! She is the only point of contact for applicants. If applicants email her and say “Please pass along my thanks to Bryan, Michelle, and Steve for taking the time to meet with me” she is always happy to forward that to the relevant people. It feels a little weird to get a thank-you note from someone who was intentionally NOT provided with my email address!

      1. Eden*

        Yeah. I’m not a hiring manager but am involved in hiring. A few times I’ve gotten emails from candidates I’ve talked to and it felt pretty weird. Maybe this is a know-your-field thing but in my field I’ve gotten maybe 3 of these in 5 years and wish it were 0.

  24. Sketties*

    I interviewed 2 stellar candidates for an open position. Ready to offer to #1. #2 highlighted different aspects of the job that will interest her, and didn’t focus on the leadership/management part of the job she was interviewing for. I have an open position for someone else on my team that would allow her to do all she wants to do, but it just doesn’t have a management component. I want to offer that to her but it is a lower title for her, though she’s coming from a smaller shop where people where more hats and have higher titles because of that. The pay would still be about a $10,000 increase.

    I want to have a conversation with her about why I still think she’s a good fit for that position, but is this something I should instead lay out over email? Or should she get notified she isn’t getting job 1 first through HR and then I follow-up with a phone call?

    1. Kingsley*

      Honestly, if this were me, I’d really appreciate the phone call because it would be the opportunity to discuss and have a conversation.

      1. Sketties*

        That was my first thought… but it would mean telling the candidate she didn’t get the job over the phone. Since she’s not internal and that’s not expected, I was thinking of Alison’s advice that people usually want to process that information while not on the phone with someone.

        1. Fran Fine*

          Oh yeah – if you call, she could assume it’s good news, so maybe send her an email first to let her know that you want to go in another direction for the job she interviewed for while letting her know there’s another position on your team you’d like to offer her instead. Then ask her if she would be open to a call to discuss it further.

    2. CatCat*

      I would lay it out over email before she gets the rejection. And offer time for her to consider and availability for you to discuss if she has more questions.

      We had a similar situation on my team. There were two great candidates for the supervisor of my team position. An internal candidate got the position, but they reached out to the other candidate to see if she would be interested in a non-supervisory position (peer-level to me) and she was. It worked out great for all.

    3. Cat Mom*

      Since you’re making an alternative offer, a phone call conversation makes sense. If you were only letting her know that you were going with the other candidate, that’s when you’d just email.

    4. Another JD*

      A brief email gives her the message she didn’t get the job she applied for, and time to process and decide if she wants to talk about position B. “We had many great candidates for position A, and unfortunately we aren’t able to offer you the role at this time. However, we were very impressed with your experience/ability in X,Y, and Z so we think you’d be a great fit for position B and would love to speak with you.”

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I think I may sort of be in a #2 position, in that I am one of two people up for a management job and my skillset is slightly better oriented toward project management than people management, and the other candidate is the other way around. (I’ve joked-not-joking that what they really need to do is give her the people managing job and create a project managing job in our division for me. :P The other candidate and I are equivalent roles on two different teams that report to the same director, applying for a manager role on the third team. )

      So speaking from that angle — I told my manager (who is on the hiring committee) that if I am not selected for the role, it would be very important to me to be told personally, and that given some of the other specifics we’ve discussed throughout this process, I’d rather hear from her or the hiring director than from HR if that’s an option, and that goes double and triple if they’re following up “we chose another candidate for this role” with “BUT we have another role that we think would be awesome for you.”

      Normally I’d much prefer the impersonal emailed rejection, but if you’re already inclined to make her the offer on the other role, without putting her through another interview process, I think the phone call would be good.

    6. meyer lemon*

      In her position, I’d appreciate an email with the basics and an offer to have a longer phone call if she’s interested in the second job. For me personally, I’d struggle to take in any level of detail during the course of the phone call if I’ve just received the news that I didn’t get the first job.

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        Heartily agreeing with this. I would definitely want the job description, salary (if not included in the description), and a bit of insight into how/why you see my strengths fitting this role from the discussion we already had, plus an offer to talk further about whether it’s a good fit on both sides.

  25. Let me be dark and twisty*

    Anyone else doing a survey about expanding telework or returning to the office at their companies? What findings are surprising you?

    We did one and an interesting (maybe?) result we got was that there’s a generational difference in people’s expectations about the work-from-home program. Namely, individuals who are within 5 years of retiring do not want expanded work-from-home. They want to go back to our pre-COVID policy, which was allowing telework just one day a week. People who are more than 10 years from retiring, want to work from home full-time. People in between, 5-10 years from retirement, really don’t care but when pressed, they lean towards being in the middle. Maybe 2 days in the office, 3 days at home.

    It’s interesting to me and my colleagues because most of our senior leadership, including the 3 C-suite execs who have final decisional authority to approve expanding telework, are all in the first camp. As a result, there’s a lot of anxiety from everyone else about being able to work more from home, and so much so that there was almost a consensus that if telework isn’t expanded, people will start leaving and moving on. Which is making meetings a little more stressful and awkward because everyone wants to talk about the findings but no one wants to poke the bear.

    1. Toodie*

      I am actually kind of surprised at your results! I am less than two years away from retiring (unless the economy tanks) and I am very pro-WFH. I work in tech, and in my case I think it’s partly because I have zero interest in being promoted: I just want to work out my time, doing a good job, and then bow out.

      1. Clisby*

        I would have been in the same boat except I retired a few years ago. However, I had worked 100% remote (IT job) for about 17 years, so I can’t imagine working up any enthusiasm for going back into the office.

    2. ThinMint*

      We had done one about a month ago and my employees that are closer to retirement love WFH, but I would say we saw a generational skew of them saying there were some things they felt they could do better in the office, whereas younger staff didn’t feel like any of their duties needed to be done in the office to be done more efficiently. All tasks and equipment being equal, that was interesting.

    3. Mannheim Steamroller*

      I would be interesting in a study on the “poking the bear” element. How willing are people to poke that bear? Which companies are punishing employees who dare to ask The Dreaded Question? Do they fire or merely reprimand the questioners?

    4. StellaBella*

      Yes. Our org did a survey, max days back in office was 3 preferred. We will aee.

    5. allathian*

      This is really interesting. Did your survey data show any differences in preferences related to tenure? I would imagine that fairly recent hires, unless they specifically switched jobs to WFH, would both benefit and prefer time at the office more so than more established employees who know everybody they work with already.

  26. Out of Academia*

    Any advice for finding solid, boring-but-stable jobs?

    I work in academia (in a student services role, not a professor) and this past year has just drained my motivation and my faith in university administration. Between the industry-wide changes due to COVID and losing over half my team, including supervisors, within a year, I am burned out and just don’t have the energy to keep taking on additional tasks or to put in the passion that higher ed jobs typically require. My job is customer service oriented and I’m just over all the angry calls and unrealistic expectations. At this point, a stereotypical 8-5 office job that doesn’t require passion or unpaid evening/weekend hours sounds ideal, just to build myself back up.

    1. Asenath*

      Have you considered other non-teaching jobs in academia? There’s often a variety of them, and not all of them require passion or unpaid overtime.

      1. ThinMint*

        That was my thought too… plenty of stable/boring jobs in higher ed that aren’t student/customer facing. I think the stability of higher ed, in most offices, can’t be beat. Look for something that serves the university and isn’t in an office that is auxiliary. No special student service programs, but enrollment management, facilities management etc.

        1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

          If you want stable and boring, DON’T go into enrollment/admissions. I work in academic fundraising and even I think the pressure on admissions is too much!

          1. Out of Academia*

            I currently work in admissions and I agree the pressure is too much :) Hence what I’m trying to avoid!

    2. AnonPi*

      Not much advice, just to look for something not customer service related. I’m in a similar role where I started mostly doing work that interfaced with visitors, and slowly taking on other administrative/project work over the years. I’m at the point now that I’m burned out on the work involving visitors (about half my job) and really just want to do the project based work. I keep chipping away applying for jobs similar to the project type work I do, but doesn’t include any customer service type work. There should be jobs at your university/college that doesn’t require student interfacing work, like sponsored research, fundraising, institutional research, publications, etc.

      1. Stuck in CS Hell*

        Just to add I’m in the same position as both you and the OP. My job has literally just told us the reason they pay us so little is because the company views our dept as an expense/money sink because we provide free support and that was just the last nail in the coffin for me to get out of here.

    3. Red Panda*

      This may be different in your country (I am in Canada), but I have found that government jobs are the best for stability. In my federal government job, everything is very systematized, which means that there’s a known process for most situations. I’ve found it’s a good fit for my anxious/easily overwhelmed brain.

      1. Bon Voyage*

        I’m in the US. If you’re in a place with municipal/civil service jobs, they seem to value predictable schedules and firm work/life boundaries. (Though they have some of the same problems of being undervalued as many jobs in academia.)

    4. Carol*

      Similar position a while back and I burned out so fast, even without COVID-related mess as a factor. I moved to a position that is still social but less customer service and it was such a relief. If COVID had happened on top of that I would have considered leaving higher ed entirely for sure.

      There are tons and tons of corporate jobs that require only internal customer service or only minimal external. I would definitely just start applying and/or maybe reach out to a temp agency if you have that flexibility–maybe they have some temp to perm stuff. I think this is totally reasonable and sometimes you just need a job with clear boundaries and a steady paycheck.

    5. RagingADHD*

      I was very content working as a secretary in law firms. Tax, corporate and estate planning are usually stable, low-stress practice areas (as opposed to litigation or family law).

      Since they tend toward high-net-worth clients, you get the occasional high-maintenance phone call. But it’s nothing like angry customer service stuff. More in the realm of people who just want their ego fluffed.

    6. Eden*

      A friend of mine spent a few years in reception/scheduling in a non-emergency medical facility. Medical = stability and non-emergency = no weekends. She definitely found it pretty boring though.

    7. Msnotmrs*

      Government work, at any level. You know exactly what you’ll be paid, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what the job duties are in the first few weeks. You might take on additional duties, but in the 3 govt jobs I’ve had (state and muni) it’s never been more than I can reasonably handle in a 40 hour workweek. You don’t have to have passion, but being a team player usually helps.

  27. Guacamole Bob*

    For those who travel for work or live with partners who travel for work, how much contact do you have when one of you is on a business trip?

    My wife’s business travel tends to be pretty intense, so I don’t expect long phone calls every night, but I also don’t like going days without hearing from her. But I think we have a little mismatch where I still look for a text or something more often than she thinks to send one. My work travel tends to be lower-key conferences and such, where I’m more likely to have time and energy to be in touch, so I think that plays in, too.

    There’s probably a wide range on this one, and obviously each couple needs to work out the right balance for themselves, but I’m curious about others’ experiences.

    1. Sophie*

      At the very least, I expect a few back-and-forth texts after the main work part of the day (after any meetings/conference sessions but before dinner) and a good night text so I know nothing terrible has befallen my partner at dinner/drinks. We don’t really do phone calls when one of us is traveling.

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        I think this is where I usually land, but with maybe an instance of contact at another time during the day? I find my “I hope nothing terrible has happened to her” itch starts kicking in at more like 18 hours than 24.

        Part of it may be the pandemic – we’ve been working 20 feet apart for over a year, much of that with our kids at home too. Even when we’re both WFH there’s a level of background text and email contact – forwarding a thing from school to be sure it was handled, replying to a group chat about weekend plans, etc. – and having that mostly drop away while she’s traveling has been a little jarring.

        Plus I expect contact, even if it’s a single-emoji text, within a couple hours of a flight’s scheduled landing time. Irrational, since if something happened I’d hear about it on the news, I know.

        1. Coenobita*

          We have a mostly-unspoken agreement to be in contact when leaving/arriving places (e.g., “heading to the train station, everything’s on time so far” or “just landed! weather sure is hot here!”) and once/twice a day otherwise. It’s definitely a “don’t worry, I’m not dead” kind of thing :)

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            My family had an arrangement well before cell phones …before unlimited plans for long-distance calls even. The traveler would call and hang up after 3 rings.

            1. Dancing Otter*

              My parents used person-to-person calls, asking for the person traveling (generally my father). Of course, he wasn’t there to accept the call, so Ma Bell didn’t charge anything.
              That said, once on arrival and one conversation a day, then just before boarding to confirm the pick-up details, seems like plenty to me. When my daughter worked out of town all summer, I considered myself lucky to get a call once a week.

    2. ThinMint*

      We do some texts here and there, and I try for a phone call once a day or every other day, after conference sessions but before dinner. But the phone calls are not long, just quick check-ins.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      My work travel is client-focused, so I don’t get a huge amount of downtime. I usually call or text once a day. My partner stays up pretty late so I sometimes talk to him when I get back to the hotel at night. Sometimes it’s limited to texts about the dog.

    4. JustMyImagination*

      My travel stints tend to be 3-4 days at a time where I’m on the project site for 8 hours and then have to catch up on day to day work in the evenings. Usually there’s dinner in between with the other project participants so they’re long days. At a minimum, I send a goodnight text but will try to stay awake long enough for a 5-10 minute phone call.

      1. Never Nicky*

        My partner and I both used to travel for work pre Covid for varying lengths of time.

        We might send a text or two while we’re gone, but we only really communicate if one of us needs picking up from the station/airport.

        And yes, we are in a very happy and committed relationship but we tend to have intense work trips!

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My husband and I travel a lot more individually than we do together (him for work, me for not-work – I have like four times the PTO he does, so we have a vacation accord) and we pretty much never call each other. We text sporadically during the daytime and I’m the primary instigator of those – when he’s gone, he mostly gets updates on the pets’ antics, and when I’m gone, he mostly gets updates on what fun things I’m seeing around – and sometimes we have text chats in the evening before bed and sometimes we don’t. But if one or both of us is busy, it is what it is and neither of us is too overly fussed about it. (We also have an agreement that if I send him something that’s time-sensitive or that I particularly want an answer to, and he doesn’t get to it within a couple minutes, I can force an audio beep on his phone to draw his attention to it, because he doesn’t always notice his notifications. But I definitely try not to abuse that, because it’s not something he can mute, and he has a canned “in the middle of something will get back to you ASAP” one-button response he can send back to me at that point if he needs to.)

      My bestie, when we travel together, has ongoing text convos during the day and long phone chats with their spouse every night, and if my husband wanted that level of communication it would drive me bonkers, but like you say, whatever works for each set of folks :)

    6. Rusty Shackelford*

      When one of us travels, our minimum amount of communication is a phone call every night. Anything else depends on the intensity of the work travel.

    7. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Spouse used to travel a lot for work, often for weeks on end, in very different timezones. In a busy year he would be away for over a hundred nights in total (“occasional travel” my ass).

      We used to speak daily, but often for literally two minutes, as there was basically no timing that was convenient for both of us. Also, our children have never been good at lengthy phone calls and it was more important to maintain that connection than ours (children then preschool or elementary school age)

      I also found it difficult as the at-home partner to manage my emotions about the separation with lengthy “miss you” conversations. It was much easier to have short matter-of-fact chats, but monitor each other’s social media (photos of the children’s activities on one side, photos of yet another new airport on the other) to feel connected. We had to have a semi formal conversation about that, though, as his perspective was very different (lonely when not working, but thoroughly engaged with the 16-hour days when working).

      Sharing funny memes or gifs or tweets was a good way to show “I’m thinking of you” without getting bogged down in “I miss you”.

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        I’m definitely not looking for long “I miss you” phone calls! That sounds exhausting, like you say. And I hear you on the kid thing – last night my spouse talked to each of the kids for a couple of minutes but hung up before she and I got to chat at all.

        It just feels strange because she’s been prepping so hard for this big work thing and I have no idea how it’s going because she’s been to slammed to tell me!

        1. Malarkey01*

          Ohhh wanted to add the kids are another layer. I don’t know why, but when I chat with the kids on travel it’s exhausting-I think it’s the combination of them not being good on the phone, feeling like I’m pulling information out of them, and having to be “on” even when exhausted (and I really really love my kids and am an involved parent). There have definitely been times I’ve chatted with the kids and then told husband okay I gotta go bye (he’s done the same). It really is just different for everyone.

    8. Malarkey01*

      In the “before times” my spouse and I both travel a lot. We usually don’t speak during the week because we’re tired, times don’t align, and when we travel we’re typically doing twice the amount of work and really don’t have much time. Usually we’ll try at least one text a day (sometimes just a funny picture of something we saw) so we know everyone’s alive, and usually text when we’ve landed, headed to the airport.

    9. Joielle*

      When my spouse travels for business (usually 5-6 times a year for 4-5 days at a time) we usually talk on the phone (or Facetime) every night for 5-10 minutes and text each other good morning and a couple of times throughout the day. I’ll usually send pictures of the pets, and he’ll send pictures if he has a fancy dinner or does something interesting. It’s not set in stone, and if something comes up where we can’t talk for a day or two we’ll just let each other know what we’re up to. But we definitely do talk or at least text a couple of times every day.

      I’m definitely more on your end of the spectrum, though, so I can relate. It’s hard when the person traveling is busy with work and meeting people and going out to dinner, and the person at home is just doing the same old thing. Sometimes I feel left out even though that’s silly because it’s work!

    10. Zephy*

      This is a relationship question, not a work question.

      Have you told your wife, out loud with words, that you would like to hear from her more often when she’s traveling for work? Like you said, she doesn’t need to block out three hours every night for a long phone call or extended text conversation, just a quick heart-emoji or goodnight/good morning text would be okay, right? I’m Like This too, I like frequent low-stakes check-ins with my spouse when we’re apart, and intentionally or not it does sting a little when those heart emojis go unacknowledged for too long. (I recognize that’s 100% a Me problem, luckily my husband is also Like This so it’s not usually an issue for us, but if your wife is not Like This it’s worth a conversation at least so she understands where you’re coming from.)

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        Yeah, this is definitely borderline between the Friday and the weekend open thread. :)

        We’ve talked about it and most of the time we’re about in balance. But both working from home during the pandemic has upped my desire for “are you sill alive?” contact and this work trip is probably the most intense she’s had (she’s a lawyer in civil litigation in a week-long trial – no other case at her firm has actually gone to trial in at least five years) so it’s been harder than usual for her to stay in touch. It’s unlikely to be a recurring problem, and if it looks that way on her next trip I’ll talk about it with her more explicitly.

        We’re fine, but it did make me curious about what other couples’ experiences are.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Years ago, way before the pandemic, I was a big fan of “are you still alive” phone calls. We settled on a routine of him calling to say he arrived safely and he’d estimate what time he would call the next day. The second day gave us a better idea of time frame- his habit was to call before turning in for the evening. This gave him time to do work stuff, hang out with other people, and do his thing.
          Usually we’d talk about 10 minutes or so, unless some major life issue was unfolding at the same time he was away. Because he called every night it was easier to keep the calls short.

        2. Zzzzzzz*

          I think this changes my response… a big trial is exhausting and overwhelming in ways that are beyond belief. (Some of my colleagues have multiple high stakes trial in a year, sometimes two in a month- I would not survive.) If she has a bunch of depositions in a trip, there is time for texting (and calls, depending on preferences). In a trial week, I think you gotta want her to use allll her free time (read: maybe 15 extra minutes?) to take a longer shower and/or sleep for 15 more minutes. Not that your feelings aren’t valid, by the way! I just think that a trial separates this out from nearly all other work travel.

          1. Guacamole Bob*

            Yeah, it’s definitely a special case. And I’m not annoyed with her at all, to be clear. The fact that it would be crappy of me to expect more than an occasional “I’m alive” text is part of what made me curious about how this experience varies across different couples and different types of travel.

        3. Anonosaurus*

          Oh dear Lord a trial! If you were my husband you would be lucky to get a single one-line text per day during a trial. They are another level of intense and exhausting.

    11. Teapot Wrangler*

      When I’m away, it is usually pretty intense – group breakfasts, dinners etc. so generally, the most we’ll communicate is a couple of texts per day but if I had free evenings or it was a longer period (say a week +) I’d hope to have actual text conversations or calls rather than random texts replied to hours late

    12. SnowyRose*

      I’m the one that travels for work (pre-COVID it would be roughly 25% of my time) and typically, I might text with my husband or chat briefly at least once a day. My days tend to be pretty long, as in 12 hours or more depending on the reason for travel. So by the time I can call, it’s getting later into the evening and he’s either doing the bedtime routine with the kiddo or exhausted himself and ready to crash.

    13. Anon for this*

      If domestic travel, we text during the day, talk to each other at night. For international travel, my personal cell doesn’t have an international plan so I rely on my employer’s phone. So beyond calling to confirm safe arrival, we limit communication to e-mails. Depending on the time difference there may only be one per day. (If in the same time zone there may be many…)

    14. HBJ*

      My spouse calls me every night except if he’s working late and expects me to be asleep before he’s done. Then, he’ll usually send a text to ask if I’m still up, and I’ll call back if I am. These are sometimes long conversations, but sometimes are just, “I’m really tired/have an early morning and need to go to sleep. Love you, goodnight.” He often calls me in the morning as well, especially if we didn’t talk the night before. He sometimes sends me texts during the day or calls if he has a few minutes while eating lunch. I sometimes send him texts during the day, too.

      Writing this out seems like a lot! I did not ask him to keep in touch this much, but I do appreciate it. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer. I think it’s up to the couple, but I don’t think wanting a daily phone call is at all unreasonable.

    15. Rainy*

      When I travel for conferences (which is the only time I travel so ymmv), we try to set up a time that works with any time difference to have at least a short call every night, and we text through the day as normal (but a little less as I’m generally pretty busy).

      When my spouse travels it’s almost always for DnD, and I hear basically nothing from the “made it safely” text on Friday until “about to take off” on Monday morning! :)

    16. RagingADHD*

      When my partner traveled a lot, we would talk on the phone every night, and occasionally a brief check-in at breakfast or lunch. Texting during the day was uncommon-just if there was some family news or a question that couldn’t wait.

      But we had one contact every day, for sure.

    17. Lemon Zinger*

      I traveled a lot for work before the pandemic and will resume some travel soon. My partner and I both work from home so we are used to being able to chat throughout the day, like I did with coworkers when I worked in an office. When I travel, we text when we are able, and will usually end the day with a phone call of about 20 minutes or less. Sometimes I’m just too exhausted to talk (especially if I’ve been working late or have jet lag) and we skip the call.

      Totally find what works for you both! And set expectations where possible. For example, I’ll warn my partner that I’m attending an event tonight that doesn’t end until late, so a phone call isn’t likely. My partner knows that when I’m away for work, he can expect to hear from me every day, multiple times a day, but my responses won’t always be detailed or immediate.

    18. angstrom*

      I used to travel a lot, including overseas in different time zones. Minimum was texts at key points of travel (landed, at hotel, etc.), good morning/good night texts, at least one phone call on a multi-day trip. Partner understood that sometimes I was too busy or tired to talk.

    19. Lyudie*

      I generally don’t travel, thank goodness, but when my husband does (for a while it was once or twice a year) it’s for team building stuff so he is occupied most of the day. Usually he will send a text after dinner when he gets back to the hotel to say hello, maybe chat about something interesting that happened that day. When we were newly married it was a phone call each night, but at this point a text check in seems all we need. I definitely like a “hello” each day though.

    20. Ranon*

      Usually the person traveling for work provides a proof of life text every few days (often daily but it’s not surprising if they miss a day), the person with the kiddo texts a cute kid pic once a day or so. We actually don’t tend to do a lot of kid calls, our kiddo doesn’t seem to need them so we’ll send a picture of what we’re doing to share or something but won’t try to line up schedules for a chat. We’re definitely very low on the communication side of things but it works for us and that’s really the thing that matters.

    21. Any Mouse*

      I travel a lot for work. My husband used to travel moderately for work, but that stopped for him with the pandemic.

      My husband wants a 30 min call every night, at minimum. He would love a multi-hour call. Or maybe to stay in the hotel with me for part or all of the trip.

      I want a text when he arrives at his destination and a text when he’s on his way back. A once-a-week chat while he is out, if it’s a long trip.

      I tend to defer to his 30-min-a-night call preference, though I will occasionally stick him with a brief text acknowledgement for the day if I’m especially busy while on travel (and occasionally indulge his multi-hour call requests).

      I think that the biggest cause of this difference is in our social styles, which are exactly the same during non-travel. I value both alone-time and socializing-with-other-people-beyond-spouse time much more than my husband does. My husband is thrilled to have me as his one-and-only-and-constant social outlet. He doesn’t want to talk with different people and he doesn’t want to be by himself in the same ways I value for myself.

      We make it work. I care about my husband a lot, so I’m willing to bend his way some to communicate regularly with him, even though it is more than my preference. In turn, he is gracious about it when I stick him with just a short text on occasion, he does not (usually) try to dissuade me from my social tendencies or occasional recluse time, and he accepts that work travel is important to me.

      From my end, it can feel smothering to have to check in with him so often, and it can be draining or too intense to be his one-and-only social outlet so often. It’s a trade-off I’ve accepted for his other wonderful qualities, though.

    22. Rara Avis*

      My husband and I try to at least touch base every day when we’re separated. I prefer talking to texting so we do usually call or FaceTime.

    23. allathian*

      Before the pandemic, my husband would travel about 30-50 days a year. We had a system where he’d text me when his plane landed and/or he got to the hotel. Normally we wouldn’t text during the day because he’d be too busy to chat. Often he’d go to dinner with the hosts of the meeting, and then he’d call from the hotel and we’d talk for 5-15 minutes. The dinners were often long-winded affairs and I like to go to bed early, so we’d normally skip the good night texts. I don’t want to hear from my husband at 2 am unless he’s in hospital or something, I trust him to get back to the hotel on his own.

      I basically only travel once a year to an annual professional conference, and then the system works the same way.

    24. Sc@rlettNZ*

      In the before times, my partner used to travel overseas a lot for work (he’s an academic). We would usually email at least once a day, sometimes more, and we might have a chat in Messenger if we were both online at the same time. I’d probably panic if I hadn’t heard from him for a day.

  28. MysteriousMise*

    I’ve started loads of new jobs in the almost 30 years I’ve been working. I find it takes between 4-6 months to not feel like a newbie who still isn’t sure where the staples and printer ink are kept….

  29. Alice Quinn*

    I don’t have a question this week but wanted to share my excitement – my company did reviews of salary based on performance and how penetrated into the pay band people are, and I am getting a 10 percent raise! So excited!

    1. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      That’s great! My good news is that the colleague who never has a kind word on her lips said “that’s good” to me this morning. May miracles never cease!

    2. Cj*

      We were notified of a new incentive program this week, and also that bonuses would be larger this year because they are passing on some of the PPP loan that they got when they thought the world was ending and our revenue ended up being similar to past years. Yeah!

      1. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

        wow, that’s great! So many companies took those loans and then (did bad things to) their employees — it’s good to hear of someone actually using the loan to help people out.

  30. TheCultureisStrong*

    One of my bosses is a big man baby, who has big moods and needs ALOT of managing up. I’m having a meeting with my “happiness” coach, another manager his level, and this is what I want to talk about. He’s exhausting.

    Background: he’s supposed to be developing me into his primary back up, this should involve tons of exposure and delegation. Special projects, coaching time, ect ect.

    He hasn’t done any of this. He claims I’m “too busy”, I don’t communicate when I have extra time, and he’s annoyed I am not more responsive to after-hours emails, which he responds to within in mins, and addresses the issues and I should be learning to solve.

    I don’t have the words to address this, other than I am not a mind reader, and after two years, I really don’t care anymore. He can assign me work like a big boy, or stop complaining.


    1. Cookies for Breakfast*

      I’m here to offer commiseration more than advice. I also have a boss who is allergic to delegating, though it’s out of control-freakness rather than man-babyness. Nothing ever gets done unless it’s his idea. My job is split between repeating my suggestions enough times that he’ll believe he just thought them up in the shower, and explaining to people that I know as little about project requirements as they do, because the answers are locked in my boss’s head when they should be on the documentation he said he’d review weeks ago.

      I’ve been venting about this for months, to my family’s utter delight. I’ve now got to the stage of accepting that he will never change, but my job just might. Every time he takes over a project I’ve spent days preparing for and hours explaining, I roll my eyes internally, and resolve to browse some more job adverts on my next break.

      I’m so sorry you have to deal with this guy. I hope your conversation with the other manager helps some way, or an opportunity to work with someone with a more compatible style can come up for you.

      1. TheCultureisStrong*

        I’m sorry you are dealing with this as well! Man there should be a support group for people told to “take initiative” but only, if it’s the exact thing someone wants them to do, in the exact moment they need it.

        I think part of my boss’s problem is fear – either he’s just not that busy and doesn’t have a lot to delegate and if anyone finds out… or he’s worried if I get too good at his job, they’ll replace him?

        overall, I like my job. I am planning on doing some serious pushing back. I can’t read his mind.

        1. Cookies For Breakfast*

          You make a great point about fear. I think that’s part of what’s driving my boss too (and honestly? I wouldn’t mind it as much if he bothered to set out clear expectations for my role, because I too worry I’ll be seen as useless if he takes over everything I do!).

          If you’re ever up to sharing an update about how your pushing back goes, I’d love to read that.

    2. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Eh, this is like the flip side of the “difficult woman” question at the top of the thread. Calling your boss a “man baby” is both sexist and demeaning. Also, you sound kinda bitter and checked out which isn’t going to make you very successful at work. I think you need to either improve your own attitude (the one thing can control) or have a big talk to brainstorm with boss about the problems or find another job. Staying on and being a bad ill-tempered employee will ultimately mostly hurt you (bad reference, stress, etc).

      1. TheCultureisStrong*

        I can call him a male toddler – if that’s better. I’m referring to the behavior not the gender, but I do realize the phrase in question is gendered negatively towards men.

        I am definitely both of those things but mostly because I keep hitting a brick wall of “take ownership” or show “initiative” but not any of the things I suggest, and he can’t seem to delegate or help me figure out what he wants me to do.

        I have had that conversation with him, more than once. I have tried to make it easy for him to do his job. I am now having to have a conversation with my coach because playing the impossible quiz with him is giving me a bad attitude.

        I’m looking for a nice way to say I’m burnt out from trying guess what he wants.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I do agree you sound very burned out. It sounds like this has been two years of limbo.
          BTW, “happiness coach”??? really?? Can I ask why they feel they need to have “happiness coaches”?

        2. Aron*

          If there is a Grand Boss, go to Grand Boss. If your boss is The Boss, I would be looking for a new job. People don’t usually change.

  31. Escaped a Work Cult*

    When did phone screenings turn into Zoom calls? Is this something new with the pandemic?

    1. FedUp*

      I feel you. Client meetings that in “before times” were ALWAYS on the phone have now inexplicably turned into Zoom calls with video. I never saw your face before the pandemic, why do I have to see you now??

      1. Escaped a Work Cult*

        It’s not necessary! I’ll see your face after I get past the phone screen. It’s really inconvenient to hop on camera for just a phone screen!

    2. Reba*

      Yeah, people have forgotten about the good old phone.

      Tell us about the work cult sometime?

      1. Escaped a Work Cult*

        Sometimes it’s more convenient for me to be on the phone, especially when I’m working full time and mostly in the office.

        As for the work cult: my previous job got suckered into S c I e n t o l o g y. The pitch was “we’ll teach the management style, nothing else.” I spent a lot of time going to those “trainings” and it was the main reason I was screaming LET ME OUT! My ex-boss was bad at management and desperate. I felt for him but yeah, happy to be gone.

          1. Escaped a Work Cult*

            Yeah, I know way too much about hats and communication and other things that do not make sense.

    3. Lemon Zinger*

      We’ve simply moved over to Zoom for screenings but with cameras off. I don’t think we’ll go back to phone screenings, as it always seemed like someone was being dropped from the call or had bad service and was asked to repeat themselves a lot.

      1. Escaped a Work Cult*

        That’s pretty fair then! My screening came back with a “please be on webcam” and oh man did I not want that.

    4. Eden*

      Well, I don’t have a landline and my cell doesn’t get reception at home. I cannot call candidates on the phone from home. I never turn on my video for screens, but sometimes candidates do. At some point I think my company will have to make a decision to either disable video for all screens or require them because otherwise there is probably a question of fairness/similar experiences/etc. For now I just tell them they can turn off video if they happen to turn it on. One candidate ended up turning it back on which was pretty annoying bc then I felt obligated too and I wasn’t necessarily dressed to represent.

  32. ScarletBegonia*

    I started a new job less than a month ago, after being at my old one for 10+ years, and I can’t shake the feeling that I don’t have *enough* work yet. I came from a very high-volume, fast paced company, where 12 hour days were the norm, and right now I am finding that I can get almost everything I need to do in 6 or less hours a day. I’m in a senior enough role that I would expect to be busier eventually, so not sure if this is just a warped sense of norms from my prior role, what’s “normal” when you are starting somewhere new (as it’s been awhile since I changed roles) or something I should be talking to my boss about. Has anyone found themselves in a similar situation?

    1. bubbleon*

      Definitely a warped sense of what’s normal, but it’s also not unusual to have a lighter workload in the first few weeks while you’re getting up to speed. I don’t know if I’d talk to the boss about it quite yet.

      Consider that you also might just be operating at a way faster speed than is expected or necessary in the new gig. I recently switched teams after a significant amount of time and was just as shocked to learn that “this needs to be done in 2 hours” actually meant it needed to be done in 2 hours instead of 1, which was the expectation in OldRole. I’ve since slowed down (a bit, probably not as much as I could have), I still have a full, productive day but I also finish at a way more reasonable time than I was before.

      Congrats on the new job!

    2. RagingADHD*

      Is there a seasonal cycle or project life cycle to your work? In some jobs and in my work now, the periods of only a few hours’ hands-on work per day are prep time / breathing space for when the rush comes and we’re slammed.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Sounds to me like you went from total chaos and insanity to order and sanity. This is your new normal, the reset might take a moment?

  33. Mannheim Steamroller*

    A question for those whose employers are starting the “return to office” with hybrid schedules:

    What is the nature of your company’s “hybrid” setup? Are you in the office every other day, or for some consecutive days each week, or alternating full weeks?

    My employer has decided on semi-consecutive days during each week, starting gradually now and raming up into September. All employees are assigned to Group A or Group B, with each group in the office for five days out of every 10-day pay period. Group A will go in on Mondays, Tuesdays, and alternate Fridays, while Group B will go in on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and alternate Fridays. In other words, the pattern will be a week of A-A-B-B-A followed by a week of A-A-B-B-B.

    On our in-office days, we will also be banned from working excess hours and encouraged to stagger our hours, both to minimize the number of people in the building at any given time.

    1. StressedButOkay*

      That sounds…complicated! For us, they’re just letting folks work from home who want to work from home. Pretty much forever, at this point. We’re still a hybrid, as there are sometimes functions of our jobs we need to go into the office for, but the majority of our staff are home based 95% of the time here on out.

      If we need to go in, we simply hot desk it and check the calendar ahead of time to see what’s available that day.

      1. Mannheim Steamroller*

        Yes, it does seem a little complicated. However, when they finally “flip the switch” for my department, at least I’ll know to go in every Monday and Tuesday, and stay home every Wednesday and Thursday, so the only question will be with regard to Fridays. (A simple Outlook reminder will help with that.)

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      We haven’t actually implemented it yet, but what people are talking about is coming into the office 2-3 days a week but no set days—it’s dependent on what your department decides makes the most sense.

    3. mediamaven*

      The whole point for us in returning to the office 2 days a week is to enhance collaboration so everyone will be in on the same designated days.

    4. WhenIsRetirement?*

      2-3 days a week every 2 weeks; the other 2 weeks at home. But next month they plan on bringing people back every week, but most people can still work 2 days a week from home.

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

      At least your employer seems to be coming up with a system. Mine just keeps saying they’re allowing hybrid and anyone who’s going hybrid has to give up their office/cube permanently and they’ll have to hot desk when they come in. But no rules about what hybrid is specifically going to mean — set schedule, only when called in, only when the employee wants to, a certain # of days — nothing. I think that my org is going to start out offering all this flexibility, but end up walking it back after it’s shown to be a bit chaotic.

    6. Lemon Zinger*

      I work remotely but my colleagues on location have been split into three different groups, similar to yours. They rotate, each spending a week in the office then two weeks at home. This is only temporary for the next few months before most of them will be required to return to the office full time. Apparently it is working quite well, with a few exceptions (mostly people with performance problems who NEED to be supervised but don’t want to be).

    7. Toothless*

      Almost everyone I know is staying remote until September, but we were given the option to come in half the time on either a Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday schedule with “alternating Fridays” but no specific dates attached to which Fridays. I checked with the office admin and she said that as long as there was only one human per office at a time (my building is mostly individual offices with 1 or 2 people in each) it didn’t matter who it was, and my officemate wants to stay remote as long as possible so I can come in whenever I want. Anyone who comes into the building has to fill out a short online form for the day attesting that they’re not sick and agree to wear a mask if not fully vaccinated.

    8. Seacalliope*

      We’re moving to 1-3 days a week, depending on the nature of the role in the organization. I’m an individual contributor, so I’m not required to come in, but teams that more actively collaborate with each other will be. There was originally talk of a tumble schedule so that one team would be in one week and another the next, but the org is about 25 people and we’re all vaccinated, so now it’s more about easing in than about capacity concerns.

  34. Free Meerkats*

    Just got the notice (still unofficial, waiting for guidance from Safety and the Mayor’s Office) that Public Works will be going back to butts in the seats July 6. My work group is the only one at the treatment plant that has been 80% remote since March 2020 – you can’t take sewage home to treat it… We are regulators and it’s worked out reasonably well for us.

    While I kind of welcome the interpersonal contact, I’ll miss that extra half hour sleep and trying to work with a cat on my lap; the office cat doesn’t like me.

  35. Savannah*

    I co-manage a team of 70 part time people and we’ve been working for about 2 years to get them a raise, its long overdue and because they are classified as temp part time, not in the union and at 0 FTE its been a whole process to do so. We finally have settled on a timeline and new pay rate with the help of our manager and finally got the details last night. On the one hand we are thrilled with the pay raise for our team, on the other hand its more than we thought it would be and now is 2-4$ away from what I and my co-manager make, which has us feeling some type of way. I did take a significant pay cut to take on this job so market rates don’t match what we are currently making but its all very niche work. My c0-manger is pissed but I’m trying to see it as an opportunity to start a discussion about our pay rate. Our manager shuts down these conversations in the past pretty forcefully and we assume its because her own pay needs to be addressed (moral of the story, everyone is underpaid) But has anyone used this type of leverage in the past to move their own hourly pay rate?

    1. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      if it takes the company two years to address a clear problem with compensation, then maybe you need to leverage yourself into a better job with a better organization.

      1. Savannah*

        Welcome to academic medical institutions. I’ve never known any of these orgs to act fast when it comes to raises or compensation.

  36. Unfettered scientist*

    Someone in my office just lost their father in law to cancer. Previously we had chatted sometimes because we were in similar situations (both had fathers -in -law with cancer). But despite an incredibly low chance of survival, my FIL pulled through. My coworker hasn’t announced this or talked to me about it (I’m mostly out of office, though I did overhear someone else offer condolences when I was in the office last). Should I say something, even if the coworker hasn’t told me directly?

    1. WellRed*

      I think it’s unfortunate that your office didn’t say anything to get the word out. I told my boss obviously when my brother died. She took care of the rest and people sent condolences etc but I didn’t personally have to tell it.

      1. Unfettered scientist*

        Yes, I agree. When a relative of mine died, someone I was working with organized a card, but there’s not really a centralized mechanism for that (boss is too busy) and I don’t know if it’s weird to essentially say “since our desks are close to each other, I overheard you talking about your FIL’s passing with someone else, I’m sorry to hear that” (I mean, it is weird, but I’m not sure what else I can say?)

    2. Haha Lala*

      I’d send them an email/message saying you heard what happened and you’re thinking of them and their family. And leave at that, make it clear you don’t need a response, and let them decide if they want to talk to you more about it or not.

      They probably don’t want to talk about it more than they have to, and they might be unsure how to bring it up to you specifically, given your past conversations.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Yes, if this is general knowledge that your coworker knows, it’s nice to say something.

      A lot of people don’t want to make personal announcements or have to rely on formally notifying people, and rely on the grapevine for news to filter out because it’s less labor and stress for them.

    4. Lemon Zinger*

      I’d send an email saying something like “I was so sorry to hear that your father-in-law passed away. My condolences for your loss. Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help, and please don’t feel obligated to respond to this message.”

      Short, sweet, and puts the ball in their court so they have control over what to say/do (if anything).

    5. WFH with Cat*

      Yes, do reach out to your colleague and offer your condolences. There is a pretty good chance that they think the news was already shared with you and may expect/hope to hear from you.

      That was my situation with both of my parents’ deaths when, unfortunately, people I trusted to share the news with others didn’t for … reasons? It was upsetting to find out weeks and months later, especially since I had hoped to hear from some people who never contacted me because they had no idea I’d lost loved ones.

      1. Unfettered scientist*

        I ended up emailing the coworker. The next time we saw each other, I thought I could tell he had read the email but said nothing so I didn’t bring anything up. He asked about my FIL though. I’m thinking I’ll take his lead going forward.

  37. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    Any advice for diplomatically navigating a disagreement about job titles?

    E.g. My employer just calls everyone “Teapot Analyst.” The majority of what I do now is Sr. Teapot Analyst work. I was recruited by a competitor for a “Teapot Analyst II” position doing most of the same things. They hired a good friend of mine with similar skills but who has more breadth and less depth of expertise–she had 4 positions across 4 companies during the decade I’ve worked in one for one.

    Months later, the same employer called me back to talk about a “Teapot Analyst I” position. No real justification for the lower position; it’s just what they’re looking for at the moment and I still have the right skills and experience for advanced Teapot Analysis. Again, finalist, but two other candidates with more job hopping ended up getting the offers. Most of my questions were to find out about proving myself/being promoted back to the Analyst II position I’d been pursued for previously since I’d already been educated about the division and company in the previous recruitment.

    The recruiter’s last communication expressed a desire to contact me again for future openings and implied they’d be lower still on the hierarchy (I’m guessing Jr. Teapot Analyst). I still do Sr. Teapot Analyst work now, and while I’m happy to learn new skills and platforms, I’m not working or approaching opportunities at a Jr. level–is there a diplomatic way to navigate this? Or do I need to just stand firm and decline to interview for any position with that company that isn’t a step up in title?

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      I wouldn’t really call this a disagreement about job titles – it sounds like you agree that the existing jobs are titled correctly, but they’re just not what you’re interested in. So that’s what I’d tell them. “I’m only looking for Teapot Analyst II, or possible Analyst I if there’s a probability of moving up quickly, so I’d appreciate it if you think of me when those openings come up, thanks!”

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I’m not so sure the titles are correct–that’s hard to judge as an outsider, and the answers to direct questions I received was vague.

        My experience has been getting paid based on my title, but work being assigned based on skills/capability. In a perfect world, they align, but I have found myself making Jr. money in the past doing Sr. work, and I’m not chomping at the bit to return to that situation.

        I & II overlap in salary bands over a range that would represent a (modest) raise, so the the major difference as an outsider looks like where my salary would cap out and what title I’m job hunting with if/when I job hunt again in the future.

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Could your resume state your position as “Teapot Analyst (equivalent to Teapot Analyst II)” or similar? Could you make your seniority obvious in your bullet points?

    3. RagingADHD*

      Just be clear with the recruiter about what you want and don’t want. This isn’t a disagreement, and no tact (other than normal professional civility) is required.

      You aren’t looking for jobs at the junior level, because you don’t want to step backwards. The recruiter is bringing you the wrong listings and needs clarification.

  38. Is she a robot?*

    How do you work with someone with no sense of humor? I don’t mean the person isn’t funny or doesn’t joke – even though she isn’t funny and doesn’t joke – I mean you make a joke, a play on words, etc., and she looks completely blank. She also doesn’t pick up on sarcasm in people’s voices, so if you say “Oh, yay, inventory,” in a voice most people realize is sarcastic, she moves forward with the assumption you like doing inventory. (She leads my team meetings. They are truly awful.)

    Within a short amount of time, I just stopped trying to talk to her much at all, but that’s unkind- I want to do better. (Please, no speculation that she might be on the autism spectrum – I’m just interested in finding ways to be kinder to someone who doesn’t “get” my personality or how to chat pleasantly/informally.)

    1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      I’m a little confused actually. I don’t have a sense of humor and…its OK? I’d just be like ” maybe my jokes don’t land, but we can still talk about topics like how are the dogs lately/ have you heard of bands/ etc”?

      1. Nicki Name*

        This. Clear, direct language, no jokes, nothing that relies on tone of voice. It may be boring but it’ll end the confusion.

      2. Epsilon Delta*

        Yes this. If she is clearly not getting your jokes, please spare her and everyone else the awkwardness.

    2. Data Diva*

      Is there anyone else that she seems to interact well with? Could you model those interactions? Anything you know she’s interested in that you could carry on a conversation about? I think it’s ok though, to have some people you talk to more or less at work, as long as you’re kind when you are interacting with her.

      1. Is she a robot?*

        Actually, no! I’m the person who is most forgiving of how she makes most interactions painful. Other people won’t even stand next to her in line because – and I quote – she “has no personality.” She seems disproving of …. everyone!

        1. Observer*

          Let’s see, people don’t want to STAND near her because she “doesn’t have personality” and anyone wonders why it feels like she doesn’t approve of anyone?

          She may be lacking social skills, but it sounds like your team is lacking basic kindness and empathy.

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      Not having a sense of humor and not being able to chat don’t seem like the same thing to me. Just stop trying to be funny and see how that works.

    4. Elle Woods*

      I worked with someone like this many moons ago. She had no sense of humor and was not at all interested in getting to know her colleagues. The only thing that worked was keeping it strictly professional (“I’ve completed the TPS report you requested,” “The new marketing materials arrived from the printers,” “The CEO ordered us each a new llama for the holidays,” “I’m heading out for the day,” etc.) It was tough at first but eventually I got used to it.

    5. Mononoke Hime*

      It may be easier to approach it as a communication style mismatch. Play on words and sarcasm are very specific styles that not all people “get”, just like some people cannot read the room or understand hints being dropped in a conversation. I’d just be straightforward when communicating with her.

    6. Bookslinger In My Free Time*

      As a parent of a child who does not get sarcasm, metaphors, or anything other that clear, specific, concise language, and as an introvert to whom small talk is torturous, keep it clear, keep it specific, and if you want to chat about anything other than work, make an effort to suss out her interests (I will talk books ALLLLLLLL day long, but if you start telling me about a sport my eyes might glaze over- I will listen to be polite, but there’s not going to be much conversing). I personally prefer to keep work at work and home at home, so to all but the people I share office space with there isn’t much non-work interaction going on- if I am talking to someone about something, chances are it’s work related.

      Just stick to work topics with her and call it a day.

    7. TWW*

      I’m a hilarious person in my opinion, and I love to joke and be sarcastic, but I’ve found that part of having a “sense of humor” is knowing when (and how) to turn the humor down or off.

      I know people who don’t easily understand jokes, sarcasm, and metaphors. With such people, I believe it’s the duty of the person who claims to have a sense of humor to adjust.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        Drax the Destroyer: Nothing goes over my head. My reflexes are too fast. I would catch it.

    8. Sara without an H*

      Is it possible that this person just doesn’t pick up on social cues? But it seems as though the easiest solution is just to use plain, clear, literal language and avoid any puns, metaphors, or attempts at sarcasm.

    9. Is she a robot?*

      I should clarify – I don’t want her to joke with me; I don’t try to have conversations about personal things; I just want *daily* hour long meetings with a person who stares at us all without affect to be *less* tortuous. I am not even so crazy as to think they could become pleasant- I just want them to be somewhat less awful. It’s like being around a “psychic vampire;” I and everyone on the team dread these meetings and come out of them deflated. I’ve taken the stance of saying nothing but things relating to the task at hand and saying it in the most straightforward manner possible- those meetings still last the full hour they are scheduled for, with everyone in it uncomfortably silent and staring.

      Whoa. That turned into a rant/vent. I guess being off today has really highlighted how my work day goes off the rails every day at 1:30 pm!

      I still need to find ways to be kinder to her. Sigh.

      1. ampersand*

        It sounds like the only way to make this bearable is to care less (I mean that in a matter of fact way). I’m not sure I could pull that off; anything that causes second hand embarrassment/weird discomfort for me makes me want to crawl into a hole and never come out, so I feel your pain. This sounds unbearable, but that’s also all the more reason to mentally distance yourself from caring about it. Can you try to view these meetings as super boring instead of cringe-worthy?

      2. AcademiaNut*

        It does sound frustrating. FWIW, I don’t think it’s specifically the sense of humour, but rather a bunch of social/interaction things which, when combined, make interacting with her painfully uncomfortable. Plus the fact that she’s your manager, so you have little ability to control how you interact with her to make it more productive or pleasant

        Honestly, I think the most effective thing is to try less. Give up on trying for pleasant or even non-unpleasant interactions with her, say what you need to for your work related tasks, and stop caring. When everyone is staring at each other in uncomfortable silence at the hour long meetings, mentally check out and plan your dinner menu for the night, or think about what you want for your next vacation, or something like that.

        And probably start looking for a new job, because being managed by someone who drains the energy out of the room and makes your work environment that uncomfortable sounds pretty terrible.

        If she were your peer, or your report, or even someone senior who you didn’t report directly to, my advice would be totally different. You would have much more ability to either avoid the person, or control the interactions. The fact that she has control over your work environment makes all the difference.

      3. Exhausted Educator Was Exhausted*

        In a couple of your comments you’ve mentioned what other people on your team say about her (“no personality,” “I and everyone on the team dread these meetings”). Maybe consider what effect the conversations about this person with others are having on your perception of the problem. If the conversations seem very problem focused or venting/gossip-y, could you try steering them in a more solution-focused direction?

      4. Ursula*

        Okay, I thought about it some more and I guess I do have other tips besides pushing back in the meetings, though I think that would be good too. Specifically I was thinking about how you say you want to be kinder, so here are the ways I would go about doing that.

        You say it bothers you that she has a very neutral unemotional resting face. I’ve found that when people receive genuine smiles, they will often immediately or eventually begin to return them out of instinct. So whenever you are asked a question by the lead, I would take a half second to just smile genuinely at her and then answer. This will either trigger the instinct or at least model the behavior and make the room’s vibe better.

        If you want to try finding out about her interests and get topics that work for chatting, arrive to the meeting 5 min early because it sounds like she likes to be as efficient as possible. One topic I always find easy to talk about even with coworkers I have nothing in common with is industry news related to our work.

        Last, like another commenter said, you could try to find the behavior boring instead of cringey. You could also try to find them amusing! I have an Aubrey Plaza-ish sense of humor and love awkward situations, I find them really hilarious. Maybe try to appreciate her quirks and find them charming/amusing in a very awkward way? Aiming for a “laughing with you, isn’t it hard being a human” vibe of course. And limiting talking about this with others – like another commenter said, that venting is very likely making this seem worse than it is and contributing to the environment feeling uncomfortable. Can you find anything good about this person? Are they technically very skilled? Have they ever helped you with your work? Try to focus on that and even bring up these points when others complain about her. This will help you to change the vibe in the room to “awkward, but whatever” from “awkward and it’s the WORST” lol.

        I hope that helps!

    10. Ursula*

      To be honest, as a team lead, I would probably react to a sarcastic “yay, inventory” with a blank stare. I would guess what you want is commiseration or to be taken off the boring task, and I would find that an annoying passive-aggressive way of expressing that, not very amusing. We all have parts of our jobs that are boring. Personally I find environments where people often “joke” about coworkers/tasks sarcastically usually become negative/toxic. It starts out as venting, but…

      To me, it seems like a bigger problem is that you have daily one hour meetings. That sounds like a lot. Would joking really make that less of a pain? I wouldn’t want to have daily one hour meetings even with people I like. Could you push back on this with your boss?

    11. Aron*

      I’ve learned the hard way to avoid sarcasm and dry humor in the workplace, after getting pulled aside by a person who had (unknown to me) just got promoted to my great-great grandboss and said s/he was hurt by a dry, sarcastic comment I’d said to someone else a week earlier. Nowadays, I try to avoid sarcasm and instead use direct, clear language in professional communication with coworkers. I remind myself that it’s work, not a stand-up comedy routine. It’s made a big difference.

      (I have also listened to recordings of my presentations and realized how little of my own brand of sarcasm comes through clearly as sarcasm. It leaves a lot of room for interpretation and misunderstanding.)

    12. Generic Name*

      She doesn’t get your jokes, so stop joking with her. Honestly, the further I’ve gotten in my career/the older I get, I find that being seen as “funny” at work is overrated. I’m not saying you can’t have a sense of humor or ever laugh at work. Laughter is great! But, as you’re seeing, the funniness (yes, I made that up) of a joke depends on the audience, and the risks of jokes falling flat in a bad way are too great while at work.

    13. allathian*

      You say she leads your team meetings, but is she also your manager? I’ve worked both ways, both with managers who were more hands-on and wanted to lead our team meetings, and others who assigned a team lead who was basically responsible for setting the agenda in cooperation with our manager and for leading the meeting. In those cases, our manager didn’t attend unless she had specific information to tell us.

      If the person who’s leadin the meetings isn’t your direct manager, maybe there’s something you can do to push back on the number of meetings. If she is, she’s in charge of your work environment and there’s probably not much you can do about that.

      I don’t know if there are any ways to improve mutual understanding with this person. Like someone else said, just stick to work stuff and speak plainly when you do have to speak to her. Stop engaging with her any more than that because she doesn’t get it and probably doesn’t appreciate it. If she’s as socially awkward as it sounds like judging by your post, she would probably prefer you to stick to business. I read in your post below that that’s what you’re doing. Keeping non-essential communication to a minimum is probably not a problem for her.

      I hope it goes without saying that I’m not saying it’s okay to be mean to her, because I’m not. But since your kind banter goes right over her head, continuing to banter because you feel uncomfortable when you have to work with someone you can’t chat pleasantly with, is a you problem.

      I honestly don’t see any other solution here than just to accept that the team meetings are going to be awkward and awful and that you need to find a way to live with it for as long as she’s your team lead. And if you at least can tolerate standing next to her in line even if “she has no personality” you’re already ahead of the rest of your team, because you aren’t shunning her just because she’s lacking in social skills.

    14. Trixie Belle*

      I would look at you with a blank stare too if you were doing a play on words with me. I have a very dry sense of humor so you would receive another blank stare.

  39. Anxious Annie*

    I’m laughing at myself for worrying about a job that I haven’t been offered yet, but here we go. How did you decide that a long commute was or wasn’t worth it?

    I’ve been looking for a librarian position for a little over 8 months now. I’m working part-time in my current position, I think with the economy of the province I work in the odds of me being hired full time are slim to none. Even if I were to be hired full-time, I still wouldn’t be making “enough” money in some ways. It’s at a school and, so, of course we go without pay for 2 months during the summer, etc. Anyway, I applied for a position to be a library manager of a rural library, about a little less than an hour away from the large Canadian city I live in. The pay isn’t amazing, but it’s for 12 months of the year, which entices me. The experience would be good for my resume (I think), especially when it comes to gaining management skills. I’m a little nervous about it because it’s quite different from the positions I have had in the past. All of my references and a “mentor” I have in the field seem to think this would be a great opportunity for me, and I agree.

    The only thing that’s making me a little bit anxious is the commute. Like I said, it’s about 50 minutes away from where I currently live. I can’t actually imagine living in the town I’d be working in… I don’t even think there are apartments there and I can’t imagine renting a house. I currently live with my mother (I know) and, honestly, I wouldn’t really mind commuting if I could stay with her, because my expenses are quite low. I’ve also been doing a lot for her around the house, just in terms of home maintenance. My mother is also 75 and I’m her only caregiver. Living with her (or living within an hour distance) eases my mind a lot. I think I could handle this position for 2-3 years and then see where the economy is, if there are better jobs available, etc. I think it could be kind of fun. The library is quite well funded for a library of that size.

    However, what makes me reconsider is the fact that people HATE long commutes, from everything I’ve read. When I think about it, I don’t think I’d mind it. It’s a lot of highway driving, which would probably be a nightmare in the winter…. so if I’m offered the position. I think I’d really see how the commute was during summer and fall while staying with my mom and re-assessing from there. People make long commutes seem like an absolute nightmare, so I am wondering if something’s wrong with me because in some ways…. it might not be *that* bad for me. By that time, I think I could relocate to a different part of my current city which would cut the commute down to 35 minutes. I don’t know. I’m completely over thinking this!!

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Eh, mine is about that long and it’s freeway traffic. Just find yourself some books on tape or music or whatever. I don’t love it but until I can live closer to work, I count it as “me” time at the beginning and end of the day.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        I would MUCH PREFER it if it were rural/suburban. Granted, I don’t have to deal with [Canadian?] winters, though.

    2. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      I commuted 90 minutes each way for four years. I did it for my husband, who had a business in our hometown. It felt worthwhile to me at the time. If I’d known how the marriage was going to end up, I’d have just moved!

    3. JustMyImagination*

      I’ve never had a commute shorter than an hour! I spent 8 years driving an hour highway to a job and the last couple of years on public transportation. You have to enjoy driving for a longer highway commute. But I found it a nice time to decompress. I’d usually start the drive home thinking of that last lingering work problem and by the time I was home I was off that thought and didn’t think about work at all when home. In the mornings, I’d mentally use that time to think about my upcoming day and I’d go into work with a bit of a plan. In the winter, you just have to have the mantra “I’ll get there when I get there” and take it slow and steady.

    4. Cj*

      I have a 40 minute commute that is all highway. I can work from home if there is a snowstorm and there is enough warning that I take my laptop with me. I don’t mind at all. If it was stop and go traffic in a city, it would drive me nuts, but the highway is fine.

      I listen to news radio, and I know a lot of people like to listen to audio books on a longer commute.

    5. CatCat*

      I wouldn’t turn down a truly *great* opportunity that would help smooth the way for better opportunities in the future over this commute. (I would turn down anything lateral or only a minor promotion, but if it was GREAT, that would give me significant pause on turning it down.)

      And I am one of the people who hates commuting with the fury of 1000 suns. I would definitely be working to keep my perspective that this is a stepping stone for me, but I could deal.

      But you don’t even know if you hate commuting.

      1. Anxious Annie*

        Yeah, I think that’s where I’m feeling a bit torn. Like I *SHOULD* hate commuting because a lot of people do? (I realize that sounds ridiculous after tying it out!!). I hate driving looooooooooong distances on the highway, like 2+ hours, but 50 minutes doesn’t seem too bad. I live in the city where driving from one end to the other could take at least 35 to 45 minutes. Adding on an extra 15 minutes to that number doesn’t… make it seem so bad?

        All of my commutes have bee super short, so far. Currently it takes me exactly 10 minutes to get to work, which on one hand is good… but on the other hand there are some days (like today) where I literally roll out of bed, brush my hair, brush my teeth, etc. and go to work. I’d almost think I’d be more organized if I had a longer commute!!

        1. Dust Bunny*

          I’m not kidding about the “me” time. As much as I’d like to drive less (and I can go back to riding the bus once I’m convinced the pandemic is under control) having the buffer time between home and job is a weird sort of plus for me.

        2. MissCoco*

          Since you mention having short commutes currently and in the past here’s my two cents:

          For all but my first 18months working, I’ve had minuscule commutes, and I don’t like driving. A short commute is a priority of mine, BUT when I was commuting 90ish minutes a day for ~18 months, it was basically fine. I didn’t enjoy it, and it wasn’t sustainable for me, but I would have been fine another year or so, it just isn’t something I want for the rest of my career.

          Think about how those specific 2 hours are being used in your day now, and then think about how you feel about missing out or reducing whatever you’re doing then.
          Also highly recommend doing the actual drive at least one way in rush hour traffic, and figure out if there is a worse time of day as well

    6. Can't Sit Still*

      A long commute that is mostly at the limit isn’t always bad; it’s the long commutes in stop and go traffic that are a nightmare. Some people enjoy them regardless, though. They listen to the news or audiobooks or make phone calls and otherwise use the time to decompress from work.

      My longest commute was an hour and 20 minutes, and since only the last 30 minutes were in traffic, I didn’t mind too much. It was exactly 109.5 miles roundtrip every day, which eventually got to be too much and I moved.

      1. mreasy*

        Yeah I really don’t mind even backed up city traffic and wish I could commute by car, even in slow NYC traffic! But I can’t afford parking and it’s truly a horrible environmental choice when the subway is available, albeit inconvenient to my home.

    7. Anonymous Educator*

      You’re getting at something here, which is that long commute tolerance is complicated. I’ll share some of my experiences, and maybe that will help you a bit in deciding.

      One time, I was interviewing for a job that was quite far away, but it was also something I was extremely interested in. So, after the interview (on a different day), I drove there during rush hour just to see what my actual commute would feel like. That was a no. Just looking at Google Maps or calculating the time wasn’t enough. I had to actually feel what it would be like.

      Another time, I took a job in a different state with a 2-hour-each-way commute (with multiple modes of transportation and multiple connections). It was pretty brutal. I took it because it was the only job I could get, and it was for only a year (the next year, I knew I was moving), so I just dealt with it.

      Yet another time (how does this always end up happening to me?), I took a job with a full-driving commute that was anywhere between 90 minutes and 2 hours each way in traffic, and it was terrible. Part of it was that the commute itself was bad (which it was). Part of it was that I hated the job, so having to go through all the traffic only to be at a job I hated made the traffic all the worse—suffering just to suffer more.

      Then I had yet another job that was a 2-hour-each-way commute, which I didn’t mind at all. No driving. No traffic. All public transit. I could zone out. Listen to podcasts. Close my eyes from time to time. There was even a walking portion, so I got some built-in exercise in my day.

      People make long commutes seem like an absolute nightmare, so I am wondering if something’s wrong with me because in some ways…. it might not be *that* bad for me.

      It definitely is highly personal. The fact that you think a 50-minute commute is long is already quite different from what I consider a long commute.

      1. Anxious Annie*

        Yes, that’s a very good point! I’m actually going to try the commute this weekend to see what it’s like. Of course, that won’t reflect what the commute would be like during rush hour, but I really just want to see the condition of the highway, as well.

        1. Ins mom*

          Don’t forget the expense of fuel and reliable vehicle will reduce your net income. If you never commuted before you’d better pencil that out. In the Midwest the roads are good and traffic density isn’t much problem. As for weather here there’s probably 10 days a year where driving is no fun, maybe two or three when unsafe. I ditched it twice in 35 years

    8. MissBliss*

      Most of my career I’ve had a commute of about an hour (metro area to metro area). I’ve also had one job in my neighborhood. The relief of changing from a 1+ hour commute to a 10 minute commute was great… But the transition back from the 10 minute commute to an hour long commute wasn’t bad. I’ve recently changed jobs so my new commute will probably be an hour and a half, and I am not looking forward to it, but I won’t be doing it every day.

      For me personally, an hour long commute isn’t bad. The bad part is when the commute time starts to creep. Maybe it’s normally 50 minutes but there’s an accident up ahead and so it actually takes 75 minutes to get home. Or the traffic is just heavy, so it’s only 10 minutes longer than usual, but you feel like you’ve spent a lot of time not moving. Those things are almost unavoidable with a long commute and they drive me batty. Things that make them better: employers and coworkers who understand it’s not your fault, and sometimes you’ll get in later than anticipated (one of my bosses would also recognize days when the going home traffic would be bad, like when the weather was bad, and would send me home early); knowing what small things make a different in traffic (at one job, if I left between 5-5:15, I’d get home after an hour; if I left after 5:15, it would take more than an hour); and having things you enjoy in the car (public radio, audiobooks, podcasts, Top 40 pop).

      I don’t think you have to hate long commutes just because other people do, and I think it’s worth finding out if it’s worth it to you. Having that knowledge can be valuable.

    9. SnappinTerrapin*

      I had a 70 mile commute for several years, with a few assignments that were 95 miles from home. The last couple of years in that job, the commute began to take a toll on me, but that is partially a function of getting older, I think.

      I experimented with routes, with two main options. Since I was working overnight shifts, I wound up preferring the freeway route over the more scenic (if I had been driving in the daytime) route on a two lane highway through the hills. It cut down on the headlights-in-the-rearview-mirror-while-navigating-curves issue on the morning commute back home. Construction zones were also a little annoying, so I planned a little “cushion” in my schedule to reduce the pressure of worrying about being late.

      I currently enjoy a 20 mile commute, mostly on the freeway.

    10. TWW*

      I had a similar 50 minute commute (lived near a city, worked in the country) for 4 years. I didn’t hate the driving itself, but getting home and 6pm and leaving the next morning at 7am left me feeling like I was never really at home.

      I also lived for several years in the rural Midwest. There weren’t any apartment complexes like you see in cities and suburbs, but there were a number or (quite cheap) rental options. I lived in a very small mother-in-law cottage in someone’s very large back yard. I had a coworker who lived in the attic of someone’s garage (which was a lot more pleasant than it sounds). So don’t write off the possibility of getting an affordable place near work.

      1. Anxious Annie*

        That’s true! I did have a look on some websites for rentals and some are quite affordable (one was a quite nice 2 bedroom basement suite for $850… for comparison I rented a BEDROOM last year for $750!!!!), so I’ll definitely take that into consideration especially as winter comes up, if I get the position.

    11. Colette*

      I think there are a couple of reasons why people don’t like long commutes. One is traffic – you have to pay a lot of attention in stop and go traffic, and it’s not pleasant. If you’re commuting from, say Winnipeg to Gimli, that’s probably not a problem. If you’re commuting from Toronto to Milton, it may be. The other is the time – a 50 minute drive doesn’t sound bad, but it’s about an hour and 45 minutes a day that you can’t do what you want to do because you’re driving. If you work from 8 – 5, you’re gone from 7 – 6; if you work until 9, you won’t get home until 10 – and those are on days with good weather.

      1. Anxious Annie*

        Yes, that’s a good point. I’d say that the drive location-wise would be more equivalent of Winnipeg to Gimli versus Toronto to Milton. I guess what makes the situation tricky, is that… I just can’t see a ton of local jobs in my field popping up anytime soon, especially jobs that are in my city (or in the closer commuter towns) at the moment. The drive would mostly be on highways, with not much city driving at all.

        1. Colette*

          People do that kind of drive – I’m not saying you shouldn’t, just make sure you think it through before you decide.

    12. Malarkey01*

      There are a few things most people HATE, that I just love so if something doesn’t bother you don’t let yourself be convinced it’s awful (I LOVE to fold laundry and thanks to negative comments by others I started dreading it until I realized I was letting others influence my mood).
      I don’t mind a 50 minute commute, I hated my 15 mile 60 minute commute of stoplights, stop and go, looking for parking for loved driving 80 minutes where I got right on and off an empty highway and could listen to audio books.

    13. Kiki*

      For me, what I disliked most about my long commute wasn’t actually the commute itself, but having to juggle the rest of my life around such an extended workday. I didn’t mind driving; I actually really enjoyed listening to podcasts and audiobooks to prepare for and decompress after work.
      The issue is that the daily time commitment to commuting blocked other things. I enjoy. I like exercising in the morning, but to arrive at work on time with my long commute, I’d have to start working out at 6am latest– earlier than I prefer to be up. Unless I planned ahead, I couldn’t really meet up with my friends to do anything until 7pm. committing myself to 2+ hours of commuting every day just put a crimp in my lifestyle

    14. CatMintCat*

      My ideas might be skewed, but I don’t consider 50 minutes, especially driving, to be a long commute. Music, podcasts, Audible books would make that go pretty fast.

      But I did 2.5 hours each way on public transport foryears. That was looooong.

      1. Lizzie*

        Two hours a day is ten hours a week, or 40 hours a month, on travel. I have certainly done longer commutes (bus, walk, train) for closer to three hours a day, and found it eventually ground me down – the knowledge that whatever time I left work, it would be ages before I got home. It made the days seem very long. I eventually changed jobs to one where I could work to work in 7 minutes and that took a lot of adapting to! Always getting home while it was still daylight was astonishing!
        How long is the public transport commute if you couldn’t drive for some reason?
        What is your concentration like after a long day?

  40. Anon This Time*

    I’m wondering if this is legal.
    The way our office is set up, I have to walk through someone else’s office to use the bathroom and kitchen area.
    Up until now, I’ve had no issues, but my bosses are proposing a change that would restrict my ability to use that as a means to access the bathroom. The only other way would be for me to walk outside (living in the NE US) and access the bathroom and kitchen from a different entrance.

    Possibly relevant information. I’ve been draggging my heels on an IBS diagnosis bc doctors weren’t open during the pandemic and I’ve been working from home. If I do get an IBS diagnosis, would this be ADA compliant? I don’t want to go outside in the rain and snow if I have an attack.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      Sounds unfortunate but legal. Lots of people don’t have bathrooms inside their workplaces, or even indoor workplaces.

      1. WellRed*

        Hard disagree here. It sounds like an office environment but even so, I can’t imagine a business of any size without a bathroom. I don’t think this would be ADA compliant, certainly not for someone with mobility issues.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          I didn’t say without a bathroom, I said without a bathroom inside their workplace. And Anon didn’t reference any mobility issues.

        2. RussianInTexas*

          ADA compliance only kicks in for private businesses where they have more than 15 employees. Imagine an office building with bathrooms on various floors. Most offices in that setup will not have their own bathrooms, just “access”.
          “The ADA applies to organizations and businesses that fit one or more of the following criteria:
          All local, county, state, and federal government agencies.
          Any business that relies on the general public or for their benefit.
          Privately run companies that currently have 15 or more employees.
          Non-profit and charitable organizations which either have 15 or more employees or which operate for the benefit of the general public.”

    2. CatCat*

      Can you still perform the essential functions of your job if you have to go outside in the rain and snow to access the alternative bathroom entrance?

      1. WellRed*

        The issue isn’t the weather though. With IBS she could have an accident before she can get to the bathroom.

    3. TWW*

      I don’t really see how it could be illegal. Many people work indoor jobs that require going outside to get to different parts or the worksite.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      What about everyone else in the office how do they feel about going outside to get to the bathroom and kitchen?

    5. zaracat*

      As Rusty Shackelford says above, it’s not ideal but not actually illegal, and there are a lot of workplaces where difficult or lack of access to bathrooms is just part of the job. But mostly in those cases you’ll know about it right from the start. I think what makes it harder in your situation, OP, is having something which was previously available without question (potentially) taken away.

      It sucks that you don’t a legal basis to get what you need, because then you are reliant on having management who meet their employees’ needs because it is the right thing to do and not just to be legally compliant – and we know from this site just how many awful managers there are out there. But assuming your management is good, I’d approach this not just as an individual problem but as one which may well affect other employees who have needs they’ve previously not had to disclose.

  41. Party like its 1992*

    Non-profit Peers: I think these are red flags (which can be subjective to each of us based on our past experiences) but I need help putting them into perspective. My past might be clouding my judgment or I really just need to listen to my gut for a change.

    1st round interview with a non-profit in which I’m one of two candidates they’re interviewing for a Development Coordinator position. I’ve done this role many times over so I know I’m qualified, it’s the workplace elements that I’m questioning.

    – They’re losing 75% of their revenue is from govt grants. They’re a rape crisis center and rely on Victims of Crimes Act funds which have greatly decreased due to a decrease in federal government convictions. There is no way to easily replace those funds; the Dev Director wants to move away from reliance on grants to other streams. She’s been with the org for a year.
    – 1/3 of the workforce will be laid off by September IF an HR bill isn’t passed (likely it won’t be since it’s been stopped since March). All employees know the situation. I read about it in the news before I applied. Most of those cuts will come from programs/services.
    — The Directors (all of them) will be furloughed in the new fiscal year for a short period of time. I don’t know if it’s rolling or concurrent.
    – The position is more robust than others I’ve had. Usually, it’s development and communications but this one has events and intern/volunteer management for that department. $39k for full-time. The position is a combined position from two currently staffed roles: one Development and one Communications. I don’t know if those people wanted to stay on to do both jobs or if they were told they were being laid off and then the org came up with this new job.

    – Entirely WFH
    – Casual and dress for the day when you do meet with people
    – Diverse staff and Board
    – Chill vibe: First round interview the Dev Director introduced me to her cat, has pink/white hair AND she asked me to share my joke that I referenced in my cover letter.

    History: I left a job in 2019 (well documented on this forum) that had a lot of chaos and some red flags prior to my accepting the role. I’m having a hard time reconciling my gut and past experience coupled with unemployment – all of 2020. I’m in a new city (moved here in Nov 2020) and jobs are just opening up, but networking is low to none.

    I’m fortunate to not have to secure a role but it’d be great to get back into the workforce as well as put something on paper to move away from the bad job in 2019 (although I have two co workers as references).


    1. Dust Bunny*

      This seems to me like the cons drastically outweigh the pros. Isn’t it basically “probably going to lose most of its funding and lay off a big chunk of staff” vs “I can wear yoga pants”? Not much of a trade-off.

      1. Party like its 1992*

        This is where I’m at, too. Continuously thinking about it should be a sign right?

        I don’t think there’s a timely recovery, in losing 75% of funds and transitioning to new funding streams in less than a year.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      I’m fortunate to not have to secure a role but it’d be great to get back into the workforce as well as put something on paper to move away from the bad job in 2019

      So it sounds like you don’t need the job for income purposes, but just want the experience? If so, that would cancel some of the cons (there are a lot of them, and they are big). If it’s good experience and will get you where you want to be, and the rest doesn’t cause problems for you, then I’d go for it.

      1. Party like its 1992*

        No, I don’t need the experience; I have 20 years of experience, but I want to get back into working (after a year-long gap). I like 50% of the job is responsibilities (development, but I’m not that excited about events or managing interns. It’s a typical small non-profit role: we’ll get rid of 2 people who were good in their respective skill sets and put their duties into one role and try to hire one person to do all of these skills/tasks.

        Perhaps this is the kick in the pants I need to go freelance/contract and really focus on the development work I like.

    3. TCO*

      I see a lot of red flags. It sounds like you’re being set up to fail:
      – The job may actually be two jobs (is there clarity about what will be jettisoned/deprioritized when they are apparently cutting the staff hours for these roles in half? Or will you be expected to do everything the prior two employees did?)
      – The organization is clearly in financial trouble with no feasible plan yet to recover from that. And your job will be to help raise funds that you’ve said yourself are not realistically available. Who else is helping with this fundraising? Because you’re not going to have much time to do it given the long list of duties.

      Maybe if you don’t really need a job, you can afford to take this risk. Personally I’d look for something more stable (which might very well also offer chill vibes and casual dress codes! Those are common!).

      1. Party like its 1992*

        I’ll be expected to do everything the prior two employees did. It’s definitely two jobs, but also events and intern management which are different skill sets in of their own.

        I need to admit that unstable roles aren’t for me, but they are for some people and those people thrive in that environment.

        I can and can’t really take the risk. I’m 46 and looking to the future as well. How many more jobs before I retire at 60 let’s say? I’ve had 7 non-profit roles in 20 years mostly because we moved with my and my husband’s military career. We recently moved to a new city and getting back into the non-profit sector.

        I’m not interested in or need a position that ‘goes somewhere’ because I’ve been an ED and Dev Director. I just want to do very specific development tasks to grow a development program in new and current approaches.

    4. MissBliss*

      The part I find most concerning is the combination of the two roles. The other financial issues are things to be worried about, but also, if they’re going to be replacing that revenue, it makes sense that they’re prioritizing development capacity. They’re going to need staff to build out other revenue streams. But the combination of the two positions suggests to me that they’re simply trying to cut costs by putting the two roles together, and perhaps have not thought critically about what they want to accomplish through this role. How much does events bring in? Are they trying to grow that program? How do interns and volunteers contribute to the organization? If the big priority is replacing funds, how do they anticipate this person will assist with that?

      1. Party like its 1992*

        Yes, about the combination of roles although I’ve seen dev + comms before, but not events and interns as well.
        Originally the position was part-time, $15-$20/hour which was fine with me. Then they asked if a FT, $39k was ok and it was. I forgot to d/load a copy the job description (JD) so when I went back, after the position change, I noticed the JD was different but couldn’t verify since I didn’t have the original. Turns out, yes they changed the JD to include more duties as they made it an FT position. Weird the new title was Development Specialist while the previous was Dev and Comm Specialist. Why the title change?

        Events, per their 990, are about $75k which is 10% of their revenue. But one is a lot of work – an auction. So they’re not factoring in costs into the net.

        Four interns (unpaid as the university won’t allow it but the org would like to pay them to keep them motivated) and an unknown number of volunteers unless they consider an Auction Committee and Dev Committee as volunteers to be managed (I do in the long run they’re managed).

        I asked all those questions and more. It seems like they think one person (versus their current two) is more affordable and capable to manage all these discrete tasks/responsibilities. One interview question they asked was, “how do you see communications having a role in development and fundraising.” Well, it does but that doesn’t mean a strong fundraiser is also a strong social media/e-newsletter writer and a strong event planner, and a strong intern manager.

        I was asked to attend the 2nd round but this will depend on my schedule my hysterectomy.

        1. MacGillicuddy*

          $39,000 is $18.75 per hour, based on 52 forty-hour weeks. Seems pretty low for doing 2 jobs.

      2. Party like its 1992*

        I’ll add that the Dev Director, for whom I would work, said that if I have any questions to reach out any time. I feel comfortable talking with her about these concerns in depth prior to the July 8th interview just to make sure I’m going into this with my eyes wide open. It was hard to think of many questions on the spot after she offered more insight into their situation. However, she did bring up the situation before I did so that was nice.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      ugh. I am not in the field so just from my perhaps naïve perspective:

      If 10% of their revenue equals 75k, then their annual revenue is around $75ok.
      If they lose their grants, you said that is 75% of their annual take. (grabs calc) This means their revenue is down to $187.5k. Do you think you can find them $562.5k?
      I’d be afraid here that the unspoken is, “We want you to fill that gap in revenue!”.

      Are you up for this? (I wouldn’t be myself- it sounds like sleepless nights.)

  42. It's Bananas*

    How do you deal with people who cut you off and don’t let you get a word in edgewise? I was talking to someone at work and started to say something, but she cut me off and just kept talking.

    Another time my coworker kept badgering me with questions. I tried to ask her something and she ignored me, cut me off, and kept asking questions.

    Why do people do this? How do you deal with it?

    1. It's a Bev-olution and I'm all in*

      I used to be like this. For me it was my lack of focus: I was two steps ahead of the conversation and wanted to contribute but really I was interrupting. I had a boss give me feedback on it which helped me realize that I needed to concentrate on listening more and speaking less.

      For me, it helped when someone would visually disrupt my speaking with a hand. “Karen, I was speaking and didn’t get to finish my thoughts before you started talking. I would like to finish.” If you continue to wait, we’ll talk right over you and that’s no ok.

      As for the questions, (hand) “Karen, I can’t answer your questions if you keep asking more. I want to be part of this conversation.”

      Disrupt the loop with a visual cue and a pointed statement of what you want to happen and guide the conversation back to your ability to speak and the topic at hand. They might be put off and reluctant to speak when it’s their turn (perhaps pouty?) but end your statement with, ‘And what do you think?” to give them their time to speak.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Never underestimate the power of “I wasn’t finished explaining [answering, whatever].”
        That can jar some people because it reminds them of other conversations with other people and they suddenly realize they are doing it again.

    2. Asenath*

      Sometimes people do this because they’re too focused on what they’re saying or because they don’t notice the cues that someone wants to say something. Address it directly, interrupting if necessary: “Excuse me, could you let me finish what I was saying?” (And then repeat the interrupted question). Multiple questions – are you answering them? If so, stop since that should make a break in the conversation. As soon as she takes a breath, “As I was asking…..” and repeat your question. Make the “cues” showing that you want to speak too big to escape notice.

    3. ATX*

      I continue talking through it until they stop. Feels awkward at first, but they do stop :)

      I also say, “not sure if you realize this, but you’re interrupting a lot.”

      I also have no issue calling people out. Just yesterday I told someone he was coming across disrespectful. He quickly apologized, sweetened up his tone, and wrote me a nice email after our call to apologize.

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      In the moment, keep saying “Stop. Stop. Stop. Stop. Stop. Stop.” until they actually stop. Or “Can I say something? Can I say something? Can I say something?” until they actually stop. If they don’t actually stop, talk to them after the meeting and say they need to let other people (including you) talk.

      If they aren’t receptive to that feedback, talk to their manager. If this person is your manager… yikes!

      1. Unkempt Flatware*

        Replace “can I” with “I was saying something and I’d like to finish” or simply “let me finish”

    5. irene adler*

      In addition to the above, you might add in a gesture as well (no, not THAT one!). If they aren’t hearing your words maybe a visual will get their attention.

      Hold up one hand, palm towards the offending person, to indicate “stop”. Then say the “excuse me, please let me finish” statements per the other suggestions. Two-handed also works.

      Or, throw up both hands up in an “I surrender” gesture (this is more for the second issue – asking too many questions). Then say “Okay I give up!! I can’t respond if you won’t give me the opportunity to do so!”

    6. RagingADHD*

      Wait them out and just stare silently until they stop, then answer. Or hold up a hand and say, “please let me finish.”

    7. Buni*

      Admittedly all of my experience with this is with 5-12yr olds, but my standard teacher-reaction is

      1) wait in silence until they have absolutely run down and stopped talking, wait another few seconds, and then
      2) variations on “What’s the point of coming here to ask me a question if you’re not going to listen to the answer?” (or “Why bother asking me a question if…”).

    8. JuJuBee*

      I interrupt the interrupter.

      “Oh, I’m sorry. I thought you wanted my input.”

      Then I walk away.

    9. JelloStapler*

      Honestly what I so is stop talking and when they stop talking, I wait and just look at them for a few beats. Then I ask if they’re done and ready for me to answer.

  43. The Prettiest Curse*

    I haven’t been buying new clothes much since last year (unless something really needed replacing), and I have a few items that have been discreetly mended. Since I’ll be returning to the office soon, I’m wondering what people’s thoughts are on wearing mended clothes at work?

    For context, I’m talking minor darning, not major patchwork jobs, but some of the darning is in visible areas.

    1. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

      At one point darning cloths vs constantly buying new was expected. Unless the darning is very distracting I’m guessing most people wouldn’t notice. Or would be intrigued that you have the skills to fix it. (sewing and mending is becoming a lost art in some circles and having a resurgence in others.)

      1. Teapot supervisor*

        This. Think the ‘buy it brand new every time there’s a minor tear’ thing is a relatively new one. I remember both my parents owning work clothes which had had minor repairs. To be honest, for minor darning, even in visible areas, I’d be surprised if many people noticed anyway.

    2. MissCoco*

      I wear plenty of darned clothes to work, as long as the thread is matched reasonably well, I think people rarely (if ever) notice even my amateur mending.
      I would probably draw the line about a very obvious or large mend, but for typical small holes with maybe some puckering from the darning, I don’t think twice about wearing them

      1. Fran Fine*

        Same. I’m not going to throw away perfectly wearable clothes because of stuff like that, and most people don’t notice.

    3. HRH*

      Prince Charles wears mended suits at work! You can google for images. If it’s good enough for royalty….

    4. Rainy*

      I always mend clothes! If it’s a sturdy piece that can take the repair and still be functional, I absolutely mend it. Sometimes I’ll do something decorative if it’s a place that’s obvious and a repair that lends itself well to something fun like a piece of embroidery or a visible patch. If not I’ll do something very subtle. I keep meaning to try to teach myself invisible mending but haven’t gotten around to it yet.

    5. Vermont Green*

      Consider “visible mending.” If you Google it, you’ll find all kinds of artful mends celebrating beauty, color, and thrift. You mend, but you don’t blend and try to hide the fix. Instead, it’s exuberantly there for all to be amazed at.

    6. RagingADHD*

      Totally depends on the general dress code/norms, how visible it is, and what garment.

      Jeans with a cool looking patch or embroidered darning in a jeans-friendly environment? Sure.

      A blazer or suit jacket with visible mends in a formal situation? No.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Or a blouse or blazer with a nearly-invisible mend under the arm, where it’s unlikely to be seen? Yeah, probably okay.

    7. Buni*

      I finally managed to get down to see my parents last weekend, wearing some visibly patched trousers. When my mother noticed I just said pointedly “When exactly do you think I’ve been able to go clothes shopping this past year?”.

      Admittedly this may not fly in a work environment, but then my colleagues at work have watched me hem a pair of trousers while still wearing them…

    8. Not So NewReader*

      My rule of thumb is that if it looks mended then it’s a no-go. A lot of that has to do with my comfort level and not with dress code.

      I’ll tell you what happened to me. If a pair of pants split along a seam- let’s say in the back on the butt. I tried mending them. I do a decent job and I have never had one split after I mended it. But I spent the whole darn day worrying about it. I landed on the fact that for me some repairs are just not worth it. What I save in cash, got spent many times over in worry.

  44. D3*

    People who work in higher ed administration…..
    Why is it always so darn hard to find tuition due dates on college web sites?!?!?!
    Between my own current graduate education and my kids’ undergrads over the last couple years where I was the one paying the tuition, I’m familiar with the systems of six different universities in three states, and this was a problem for ALL of them.
    I’m trying to plan my summer budget and cash flow around a large purchase I’d like to make, and I know at some point in late August or Early Sept I’m going to have to pay tuition, but I cannot for the life of me find a date. I have a call in to the financial department and am waiting to hear back. But I’m tired of having to make these calls.
    If I can log in and see the amount due, why can I never see the DATE the tuition is due? This is important if you want to get paid on time. (And we once had a kid have all their classes dropped when the payment due date was earlier than my guess based on past semesters…)
    Seriously, just put tuition deadlines on the academic calendar for the year, K? It’s a simple thing that would be so helpful, and so far none of the schools I’ve been paying tuition to do it!

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      weird – every college I’ve attended (which is uh … seven of them) does put the tuition deadlines on the academic calendar, and also put a tuition due date on my registration confirmation.

      1. Rainy*

        Yup, same here. You do have to find the academic calendar, not the event calendar, but the tuition deadline has always been on them.

    2. Rainy*

      I just check the academic calendar. The best way is to google the string: “university name” “academic calendar” rather than relying on getting to it through a link from the main uni page. I do this for all kinds of stuff–googling will almost always get you there faster than trying to work through the formal set of links or using the “find on site” search bar. And I work in higher ed!

    3. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      Strange, I’ve worked at various universities and they always make the tuition deadline pretty clear – I just checked my current workplace and found it in 3 clicks (Admission – Tuition – Fall 2021 tuition details). Perhaps when you speak to the registrar you can ask where this information is located on the website so you don’t need to ask every semester.

      I can also sense your frustration coming through in this post, and, while I’m sorry you’re experiencing this, I don’t think it’s fair to take it out on people here who happen to work in higher ed. None of us are hiding the tuition deadline from you!

      1. Clisby*

        Yes, at the college my son is attending it wasn’t on the academic calendar, but googling “College Name Treasurer’s Office tuition deadlines” was right on the money.

  45. Violet*

    Question for hiring managers.

    I’m in an interview process that was phone screen that was 45 mins. Okay, that fit within lunch. Then the next week, an interview that was 90 mins long. I have met five people. Fine with me as I liked all of them!

    Now, they want a third interview for three hours. I really only get a hour lunch and fortunately, a co-worker covered the extra time for me last week. All planned, all okay. I also am taking some vacation days now, mostly because the HR person who screened me encouraged me too. (And I am not trying to be around to take them later this year.) I had the days and am juggling other potential opportunities as well. I can’t take another short-notice half day. The interviewer and I are working it all out and I’m delighted that they are so intetested in me.

    To hiring managers, what kind of time do you think candidates have for interviews? I kind of miss the Before Times when we could do it all in one day.

    Just curious because so much time off close together could look suspicious even in trusted employee. And it just doesn’t seem fair to my current employer.

    I am wondering, why not get it all done in a morning if it is going to take more than an hour (not including the phone screen as I understand why that is done ahead) or just schedule in one-hour blocks so people can do it during lunch? Is it expected folks will take multiple vacation days for interviews?

    Not complaining and happy to be considered. :-) Just wondering what the professional norm is.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      The HR person at the place that’s interviewing you asked you to take vacation days so they could interview you for longer and longer stretches of time? I think this is a red flag, or at least a dark orange one.

      You’re sacrificing a lot on just the possibility that you might get a job. They must be serious about you if you’re getting multiple interviews, but you don’t even know if you’re a finalist.

      For what it’s worth, most interviews I’ve either done as a candidate or participated in as part of hiring have involved some kind of 30-minute phone screen (or video chat screen) followed by a more intense all-day (or chunk-of-the-day) interview.

      I know of other people who have been through 6 or 7 interview rounds for the same position, so I won’t say that doesn’t happen. I’ll just say it’s ridiculous.

      What they’re asking you to do isn’t reasonable. One vacation day maybe. Vacation days? No.

      1. Violet*

        They aren’t asking that I take vacation days. So far, this has taken about two hours and 15 minutes. Most within lunch.

        But the additional three hours stumps me. To do it all three hours at once would require paid time off whether the ask me to take that or not. I’ve suggested breaking it up over two days and two one-hour lunches.

        I am gonna take your advice and proceed carefully. If they are able to be flexible, that will speak well of them.

          1. Violet*

            We have almost gotten it split to two sessions, one for an hour, one for 90 minutes–during my lunch. I still had to text a coworker–while on vacation–to switch a lunch time. I told the interviwer this. I also asked to make the 90 minute block 75 minutes.

            I try to save my negotiating capital for an offer, but I also felt so uncomfortable beng 30 minutes late from lunch for an interview–again.

            Haven’t heard from the interviewer. Hope that 15 minutes wasn’t a dealbreaker.

            Hiring managers, we only have a hour lunch and can only bend that so far, so many times.

    2. Chauncy Gardener*

      I think things have changed a lot, especially if the position you’re interviewing for is remote and so is the rest of the team.
      My current company (and the last one too) is pretty much all remote and we need a lot of ‘eyes on’ the various candidates to check for culture fit, technical skills and aptitude, customer communication skills, etc. So it’s probably a 1/2 to 1 hour initial interview (all of these are over Zoom), a one hour with the CEO (it’s a small company), 1/2 hour to 1 hour with two other managers (together) and one final 1/2 to 1 hour with the HR person. BUT we’re extremely flexible about the times and also upfront with the candidates about what our process is. We want folks to stay with us for a long time and be happy and a good fit. We’ve found these interviews help us understand the candidate and, more importantly, help the candidate understand the company and the managers so THEY can decide if they want to join us.

      1. Violet*

        Thanks so much for weighing in. I think up to one hour at a time is fine. That can fit within a lunch break. Your entire process is four hours, tops. And only those most considered candidates make it that far.

        The process I’m in is going to be five hours with some sessions breaking the hour mark. I just hope others know that’s a lot for someone who doesn’t know where they are in the process. I want to be happy long-term too, but if not hired, I have to maintain a good relationship with the job I’m in.

  46. Teapot Wrangler*

    I’m struggling with a colleague at work. I don’t have much to do with her but almost every interaction is painful.

    For example, several months ago, her team were short staffed so I said that I assumed she wouldn’t want to attend both instances of a meeting I was running twice because she must be busy and she accused me of speaking to her manager about her workload(!). She then insisted on coming to the meeting but was 20 minutes late (it lasted half an hour) and didn’t realise that a live demonstration would involve needing to see a screen so she then delayed the meeting whilst coming off the phone and onto her computer.

    More recently, in a breakout room with a new joiner, she said that she thought I was colluding with her manager because we’ve said similar things about a joint project. I have no idea what her manager has been saying to her but it definitely isn’t what I’d be saying to her!!! I’m now walking on eggshells around her and am very pleased that I don’t often have to interact with her but my team have raised some issues with how she’s been interacting with her. Having looked into it, I agree with them that her emails were condescending and in a few cases counterproductive to getting the required work done so I’m going to have to say something but I have no idea how to raise it without causing more drama / getting upset myself. The culture here really would suggest I should raise with her rather than a manager (and of course I now wouldn’t want to speak to her manager about it in case that feeds into the collusion idea.

    Any tips on how to manage this conversation or with the relationship more generally would be very much appreciated!

    1. LadyByTheLake*

      Go to your own manager and ask for advice. Don’t do it in a tattling way, do it in an “I need your advice on how to deal with Difficult Person.” Leave out the meeting example, it’s annoying but water under the bridge, but do bring up the team interactions and how it is counterproductive and that she ‘strangely’ keeps accusing you of colluding with her manager (laugh at that one) but include it because it gives a flavor.

      1. Teapot Wrangler*

        That’s not possible at the moment – my manager is off on long term sick otherwise I absolutely would go to her. She’s great at this sort of thing!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I think I would insist that if she had any concerns about how I was handling things she should come to me immediately so that we can discuss it. It could go like this, “You have mentioned this a couple times now, why don’t we have a brief phone meeting before hand and I can go over what my thoughts are with you. Hopefully that will make my actions feel more transparent and will lessen these concerns.”

      Annnnnd, I’d watch my back. When accusations do not fit me or anything I am about, I tend to wonder if this is what the other person is doing to me behind my back.

  47. Panic! at the Office*

    How do you recover from overreacting to a crisis at work? We got a bomb dropped on our office related to a MAJOR meeting that was to be held in a few days, and while i was trying to process the issue/come up with a workable solution/find out how widespread the problem truly was, my boss (who is on a work trip) called. I couldn’t keep the panic out of my voice, but i did do my best to tell him the issue while also conveying that we were actively working on a solution. Despite this, it made him panic and think that none of the attendees for the meeting (including his boss) were going to attend and the meeting would be a failure. He called several times over the course of the day asking for constant updates and i could tell he was not happy. If he had called even 15 minutes later, we would have had a much better hold on the situation and I would have been passed the “oh S@#$” moment and onto the “okay well, its bad but fixable and this is how i’m going to do it” phase. Plus, it turned out the issue wasn’t that bad at all. But i still freaked my boss out and i obviously don’t want to do that again. Any advice?

    1. LadyByTheLake*

      I’ve recovered from something similar. Just talk to your boss and apologize and explain that he caught you at a bad moment while you were still processing. In the future, before you react or share such information, take a deep (deep) breath and ask a lot of questions. If the person contacts you while you are processing, use these words “I just heard something bad about XYZ. I don’t know if it is true yet. It could be a problem, but it might not be. Let me get more information and I’ll let you know what I find out.”

      By using that script (repeatedly) I have gotten rid of my “Lady Who Cried Wolf” reputation.

    2. Malarkey01*

      Use this with discretion, but I’ve not taken the call if I’m in the middle of sorting out a crisis. My first reaction is always to share information, but I have to fight that because panicking my director leads to ten times more work than being able to present it as a quick change in plans we’re doing x instead of y because this happened.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      In this setting here, just waiting 15 minutes would have changed everything.

      However, if this happens again, call the boss back immediately once the situation has been resolved.

      For me, one of my big take-aways is that my boss “freaks out” and makes the situation worse. So this pushes the boss down the list of people I call if I have serious problem or seemingly serious problem.

      A good format to use when discussing a problem with a boss is to say, “I have problem X. I have tried A, B and C to solve it and that did not work.” What I love about this format is that it forces me to think of two or three ways to remedy a situation so I can describe those attempts to the boss. This slows down my worry levels also, as I am trying to take a practical approach to the problem.

  48. Teapot supervisor*

    I guess the short version of my question is how do I get people to do things when I’m not their manager (or make peace with the fact some people won’t!)?

    I’m responsible for overseeing the workflow of our department but I’m not anybody’s direct line manager. For the most part, things run smoothly but there are some problems with a few people not following(/flat out ignoring?) my instructions. Not meeting deadlines is a big one but there’s also ignoring instructions on projects.

    It doesn’t really help that our industry can be quite a variable one so the consequence of, say, missing a deadline is different depending on the circumstances. I try and counteract this by being as transparent as possible but I can’t always tell everybody everything. I also don’t think it helps that my route to my current position wasn’t a traditional one and I think some people judge me on the basis that I don’t have the same level of experience as them (I don’t think I’m being oversensitive on that one either – I’ve had a few comments along the lines of  ‘Well, I’ve got X number of years experience in teapots and if you had that level of experience, you’d realise….’)

    I’d ideally like people to take what I tell them seriously. When people miss deadlines or produce work not as expected, it means having to scramble around to form backup plans, calling in favours from other departments, working late and so on. 

    But also my line manager is pretty understanding of the whole situation – I think his thoughts on it are, if I’ve made sure everybody knows what they’re supposed to be doing and I’ve been monitoring that, then I’ve done my bit. If somebody is repeatedly sailing through deadlines, that’s for their line manager to address. So maybe the better solution would be to just make peace with the fact that some people are just not going to take my instructions seriously?

    (FWIW, my grandboss does occasionally make comments on how ‘isn’t it Teapot Supervisor’s job to make sure everybody is hitting their deadlines etc’, to which my manager has been quick to point out ‘it’s her job to make sure people know what the deadlines are and what’s expected of them but it’s not her job to fix it if they don’t meet those expectations’. I’m not sure to what extent grandboss is satisfied with my manager’s answer!)

    1. Weekend Please*

      Is it possible to build a little wiggle room into the truly critical deadlines. Tell them a day before it is really going to be a problem and if they miss it, loop in their direct manager to make sure it actually happens?

      1. Teapot supervisor*

        I’ve been thinking about this and the best answer I still have is maybe? The work has the benefit of a very transparent workflow but the downside of that is everybody knows how long things take between their work being submitted and going out the door. So, if I moved a deadline forward, and it did actually get stuck to and the work then didn’t go through the system in X number of days, I think people would quickly guess that it was a fake deadline. Neither manager or grandboss have much tolerance for fake deadlines so not sure it would work.

        What we do, however, is try to frontload work as much as possible. So we have maybe 15 things scheduled for the first third of the month, 10 things scheduled for the second third, and 5 things scheduled for the final third, for example (where 15 and 5 are both amounts of work we can handle but 10 is ideal, if that makes sense – so it’s not a fake deadline, in the sense that if 15 pieces of work did get submitted in the first third, we’d process them and not hold onto them, but it is fake in the sense that we don’t really need all 15 pieces of work at that point, if you see what I mean). That way, if work slips back in the month, it’s no big deal, we know we have capacity to handle it. It doesn’t always work because sometimes we just don’t have 15 projects which can be moved into the first third of the month realistically but there’s potentially more we could do with this.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      This is a process issue and a multi-manager issue.

      You are the one to set the process and the schedule for these other people, so in theory their managers have delegated some amount of control to you. You need to call it out and make it explicit, not implicit.

      If Fred in the the Polishing Department is habitually late, which means that June in the Packing Department is stuck waiting, then you need to let Fred’s manager know.

      Ideally, your company would include your feedback in Fred’s annual review.

      1. Teapot supervisor*

        Part of why I’m erring on the ‘just make peace’ side of things is line managers already know about repeat offenders and, like I said, my own line manager isn’t holding me to account for things other people should be dealing with. Obviously, I’m not fully privy to what line managers are then doing about it – I would hope it’s being addressed but some people have been chronic deadline missers from the moment I started working with them!

    3. Asenath*

      I used to occasionally escalate the lack of compliance with sending me information I needed by going through my manager and the manager of the erring person (if they had one; some were independent. I tried not to over-use this process both because I didn’t want it to lose impact and didn’t want to overburden mine. But once I’d gone through all my procedures of notifying people of deadlines, using alternate methods of communication as needed (some always used email, some never did, some had secretaries who handled this aspect of their work and some didn’t), I kicked it upstairs. That usually worked. Some of my co-workers used to get upset because people who wouldn’t take requests from us seriously would behave like lambs with more senior managers, but I didn’t care. I did my job, and if they didn’t like having someone senior get after them, that was their problem. And I almost always managed to get the data one way or another.

      1. Teapot supervisor*

        I feel like I’m halfway stuck between your co-workers’ mindset and yours. On the one hand, both my manager and their manager know who the repeat offenders are. My manager knows I’m holding up my end of the bargain on managing workflow and I’m not getting the blame for the team missing these deadlines/having these bits of work be sub-par. So not my problem, why stress?

        On the other hand, it really bugs me that the team is missing deadlines and producing work which is sub-par, especially when it’s down to a few bad apples who go ‘Never mind Teapot supervisor’s instructions – I know better and I’m going to do what I want!’. (And, sometimes, then have the nerve to turn around and blame other people for it – think stropping because they missed a deadline but then other teams wouldn’t/couldn’t rearrange their schedule to get the piece of work out the door on time or because quality control is ‘being picky’ and booting the work back to them because they went wildly off brief)!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          When evaluation time rolls around how much of this shows up on your eval?

          Honestly, I think I would just tell my own boss each time Bob missed a deadline and what the deadline was for. Pass it upward.
          Keep the emails to show that YOU know things are going off track and you noticed immediately. CYA.

  49. Ann Perkins*

    Equal pay question. I’m of same age, same education, nearly identical experience as the man I replaced in my role. He and I are close and have shared salary info and I get paid $11K less than he did at this same juncture in the role, which was 5 years ago. My boss (owner of the business) doesn’t deny that I’m being paid under market rate but only gave me a 2% COLA at the end of 2020 when really I should be getting paid probably $15K-$20K more than what I currently make at this point.

    My dilemma – the previous man did not want it to be known that he shared his salary info with me. Are there any creative workarounds on this or advice anyone has to share? I plan to bring up salary discussions again in the next month but I hate being confined to market rate stats and my job performance when he’ll just in turn wring his hands over how he wishes he could afford to pay me more. I’ve been looking for a new job, but my role is fairly specialized so it could be a while until the right opportunity opens up.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Ugh. Sorry you’re in this situation.

      I think without bringing up that your co-worker shared his salary with you, you can still ask your boss if you’re being paid roughly the same as your co-worker was at the same juncture in his career.

      If your boss says it’s roughly the same, you know that is a flat-out lie, and you should get out of there as soon as you can, because you will always be undervalued.

      If your boss doesn’t disclose details but admits you aren’t and works on actually rectifying things, I’d still kind of want to leave… just the departure would be less urgent.

    2. Unkempt Flatware*

      I don’t think you should honor that, to be honest. You might tell your friend you’re doing it but ultimately, he should have told you and you should be able to be straightforward about it with boss. It is this level of in-your-face-truth that boss can’t ignore or dance around. Ask him how he plans to rectify the gross disparity now and how he’ll make up for the year of being underpaid. Because this is effing gross and ugly and wrong.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Id say “it has come to my attention” without naming the predecessor.

      If your boss is more interested in finding out how you know, than in rectifying the disparity, then you know it’s time to GTFO.

    4. Buni*

      Could you fudge it slightly? “Coworker wouldn’t discuss his salary with me but seemed very surprised when I willingly shared my own current status…”.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Eh, if he can’t pay market rate should you be concerned about the future of the business?

      Perhaps you can say, “I find this concerning. Now I am worried about our financial well-being here.”

    6. Ann Perkins*

      These are all good thoughts, thank you. I plan to bring it up on my next 1:1 and will mull over how to present this. There’s a lot of other internal politics going on so I’m treading carefully but my resentment is only growing. I do have hope that he’ll rectify it once he realizes what’s going on and I’m trying to give him the benefit of the doubt that he just hasn’t thought this through.

      1. Lizzie*

        I think that you can be pretty certain that if you leave the job, and they hire a man to replace you, they will pay that man significantly more than they are paying you. I so hate this behaviour by organisations – it has a life-long impact on women’s opportunities to obtain secure housing, save, and avoid a retirement in poverty.
        By the way, the boss absolutely does already know that he is significantly underpaying you, and that he was willing to pay your predecessor a great deal more money, five years ago! He is paying you this lesser wage DELIBERATELY, not accidentally.

  50. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

    I reworked my resume yesterday. It was two pages long, and covered my last three jobs (2000-06, 2006-13, and 2013-present) with 5-6 bullet points for each. I intended to condense the earliest job into one or two bullet points, which I did (could’ve left it out altogether time-wise, but there were skills I gained in that job that helped me through the rest of my career, that I wanted to highlight). I then looked at what I had for the two most recent jobs, and saw a lot of fluff in there too. Rewrote them also. Now I have a one-page resume covering 20 years of work, with a total of 8 bullet points, two for the current job and three each for the two before it. Does it sound like I shortened it too much or is this normal? Last two jobs were hectic, mismanaged, with the company changing hands and direction frequently, and I wanted to only leave the information that pertains to what I bring to the table as a job candidate (apparently, what I bring to the table all fits on one page). Would an employer be alarmed to get just one page from me for 20 years of work, or is this normal? I work in IT. I do have a blurb on tech skills (three lines long after I cleaned that part up as well) that is separate from the work history.

    1. TWW*

      My resume (which worked for me) was similar but even shorter.

      I listed two jobs (one starting in 1999, the other starting in 2017) each with 4 bullets points. A single line for education, and a single line for “key software skills”.

      That’s it. No blurbs, no introduction. It barely filled a page and had nice wide margins.

      As far as I know, no one was alarmed by the lack of a 2nd page. In the interview, my soon-to-be boss went through it line-by-line as sort of talking points, which I don’t think he would have done with a longer resume.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Thank you! That’s good to hear. And I did notice it in the past that my hiring managers were kind of lost in all of my bullet points. They’d pick a few lines to go over, but I think it was hard to find the ones they’d wanted to discuss in the wall of text that I gave them, and on the short time frame that they had to read my resume.

  51. Burnout*

    I talked on Tuesday for a second time in 6 months about the burnout (not overwork burn out, but all the other kinds) I’ve been feeling with my boss, saying that right now I feel like I need time off, or to drastically reduce my hours to give me an opportunity to recover before figuring out my next steps. They told me they weren’t against either, but wanted me to talk to HR to brainstorm options, which sounds fine to me. They asked urgency, I said the sooner the better, as the burnout is pretty bad. They said they would set something up with HR, but they still haven’t followed up *at all* 4 days later. (Such a lack of follow-through is part of the reason I am burned out on this job.)

    I was expecting an almost immediate email on this, as I am a long time employee and during that meeting my boss told me she was very happy with my work, told me I was doing a great job and communicated to me that I am valuable and influencing the team productively (all things that are generally rarely or poorly communicated to me, again a driver of my burnout).

    I feel like I am being strung along and taken advantage of — Any thoughts on proceeding? I am already actively looking for a new job, and/or considering extensive time off to recover.

    1. WellRed*

      Why can’t you reach out to Hr to get the ball rolling? I’d also think really hard ahead of any meeting what you’d ideally like to have happen.

    2. Massive Dynamic*

      Reach out to HR and your boss. In the meantime, take a personal day on Monday, to help drive home the point that your health is at stake here. Ask boss and HR for a follow-up appt Tues AM.

      Best of luck to you; I hope you get the support you need!

    3. Burnout*

      Good and reasonable points, both.

      I hadn’t contacted HR as the rep (VP level) is new and we are a smallish company at that level — plus boss said they would talk to the HR rep first, so didn’t want to step on toes. Every time I remind my boss of something they committed to *I* end up feeling like the asshole. I hate that feeling, so I had stopped reminding them of things. Want a great way to build resentment on your team? I can recommend this method.

      If I don’t hear anything by Monday, I’ll ping my boss again to remind them.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        You feel like an AH because of something the boss says/does OR because of other reasons?

        I am wondering if the boss is manipulating you.

        1. linger*

          Wouldn’t leap to that, but it is clear that what’s “urgent” for Burnout (at a level stated here as “I expect action on this within the next week”) generally isn’t made personally “urgent” for Boss, who, if not given a specific deadline, is translating it as “some time within the next few months” and then has it drop further down their list of priorities as other tasks arrive. If you haven’t already done so, you need to give Boss a deadline, or at the very least (in the likely event there are other moving parts to the process that Boss has to work through) get a specific estimate from Boss on exactly when action will be seen.

          1. Burnout*

            I like the more generous interpretation, though the less generous (manipulation) is something that is always in the back of my mind for this boss. A previous (wonderful) boss of mine at the same company always told me to be more generous in my interpretation of other people’s behavior at the company (i.e. they don’t notice/care vs. they are acting in a knowingly evil/hurtful way), so I do my best to stay with the more generous interpretation.

            I think I will ask on Monday something like: “Based on our conversation last week, I was expecting a meeting with HR to be scheduled by you to discuss burnout. I haven’t seen anything yet. When should I expect that conversation to be scheduled? Or is HR aware and I can reach out to them directly?”

  52. Anonymars*

    One of my most embarrassing qualities is that I cry way too easily when I’m angry, frustrated, and stressed. Which happens not infrequently at work.

    Usually it’s just with my boss, whose relationship with me is more peer-like, and they don’t really seem bothered by it? But at least once every couple of weeks something infuriating happens and I just get SO frustrated I end up crying about it during our one-on-one. I want to stop but it’s literally like a reflex whenever I feel particularly frustrated and overwhelmed. I’m otherwise very level-headed and even during the episode I’m trying to offer solutions to fix whatever the problem is. While sobbing.

    Any other frustrated criers out there? What are some tips for breaking the cycle when you feel it coming on during a meeting?

    1. bubbleon*

      It sounds like the crying would be solved if your frustration is in check. When you say “something infuriating”, do you mean something happens to you or something happens to something you’re working on, etc? Without more context some of this will of course be way off base, but my gut reaction is that you should either find a way to be less emotionally invested when things like this happen or find a job where you don’t have to deal with the infuriating cycle.

      As a manager of a frequent crier, I don’t want to add anxiety to any you might have but I’m not as okay with it as my employee might think I am. I’m patient and understanding, but it’s really annoying that she cries when she’s overwhelmed but still hasn’t figured out how to tell me she’s overwhelmed before she gets to that point.

      1. Anonymars*

        Wow, yeah — you honed in on the problem: I don’t need to manage the crying, I need to manage the frustration.

        A recent example of an episode was that I just worked on a big product launch for our company, which I had done start to finish pretty much solo. I got buy-in from the CEO on the product name, made all the domains, created the assets, tested the name, queued up the content, and then get an email the day before the launch from the CEO asking if we could change the product name. The waterworks came from frustration about this being the fourth time the CEO has done something like this, and being annoyed that now rather than gearing up for launch I have to spend an hour crafting an email about why it’s too late to change the name.

        I think the frustration is coming from having worked at this company for a long time, and just seeing the same patterns repeat themselves over and over. I’m actively looking for other jobs, but feel trapped in the meantime and powerless to change the system. But you’re absolutely right.

        Thank you so much for your advice!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I get that this is a slap in the face.

          I also get that this is a question NOT an directive.
          You can form an answer that goes something like this:

          “Yes we could but it would involve x days to tear down what has been set up and it would involve y days to set up new. The cost of tear down would be in the range of $a-$b, and the cost of new set up would run around $c dollars.”

          Learn to throw numbers at ridiculous questions. “Sure I can do that! It will take me a zillion hours and cost a bizillion bucks. Just let me know what you decide.”

          This type of thing goes on all over, throughout every industry. I had a contractor working here who told a story of a couple who bought a house. They did not like the color of the house so they had the contractor come in and take off all the siding and replace it.
          The siding was brand-freakin’-new. What a waste. And the contractor ended up thinking less of these people because of their wastefulness. I dunno if he ever went back there. (I live in an area where wastefulness like this sticks out like a sore thumb, and yeah, people do get judged on it.)
          The problem is that people form opinions about wasteful/thoughtless people. Respect declines. And that is the real problem here.

          Since you have four examples of such behavior, you have a pattern.
          You can:
          Decide if you respect this CEO or not.
          Decide if you want to continue to work for Mr. Ostrich with His Head in the Sand.
          Decide to sit down and have a serious discussion with your boss about the last minute changes.

          If there is a boss between you and the CEO you could suggest that all requests for changes be sent to your boss for pre-approval before being sent to you.

          You can also decide to deliberately listen to hear if something is a directive or if it is only a question. Questions are relatively benign, directives can be a real issue.

    2. cubone*

      I had a lot of experiences crying in meetings, tests, whenever I was angry or upset or frustrated in work contexts, and I absolutely hated it! Two things made a difference for me:
      1) Yoga/breathwork.
      Yoga classes taught me how to breather and made me realize how often I was holding my breath, and I found this immensely helpful for situations where the crying reflex came on. Being able to recognize the lump in your throat and breathe through/into it made a huge difference! Tightening up and holding your breath always, always makes crying come on for me, and usually worse. Breathing also helps me if I do start to cry – I’m much more able to breathe through it and not end up in full-on weeping.

      2) Forgive yourself for being an easy crier.
      I know it’s MUCH easier said than done, but think about it this way: you’re frustrated, you feel crying coming on, you start to feel ashamed/panicked that you’re crying …… you’re just adding more frustration/anger (the source of the tears!) on top of everything. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to be more naturally inclined to crying. Learning to recognize I felt like crying and NOT tell myself “oh no, I don’t to cry!” made an immense difference. A therapist could help with this, but otherwise, practice imagining yourself crying and saying “this is okay”. Work on breathing through it and letting it just be, and I really think you’ll start to find it’s possible to cry without falling into a full on sob cycle (with lots of practice and forgiveness!). Also highly recommend Kristin Neff’s Self Compassion website for exercises that might help with this.

      Lastly, re: your boss not seeming bothered by it. I don’t want to say it could never be an issue (and clearly you want to work on this), but…. see #2! Your boss might be trying to communicate that it isn’t something to make a big deal out of. As a manager, if someone starts to cry, I would definitely acknowledge it and check in, but I would try to be fairly neutral, because….. crying isn’t the end of the world! In all honesty, if my direct report was regularly breaking down and sobbing over regular things (infuriating tings sure, but still sounds like this is happening consistently enough that I’m assuming the catalysts aren’t unheard of?), I would probably double down on projecting an “unbothered” approach, because I would want it to be clear that while I don’t judge their reaction, we also need to move past it.

      If you have a good relationship with your manager, I would strongly recommend letting them know this is something you’d like to work on so they can support you! As simple as: “as you know, I’m an easy crier and have this response regularly when I get frustrated. I’m trying to work on being able to process and move past these emotions without full-on sobbing, and I wanted to give you a heads up that if I start to cry, it would be helpful for me to ask for a moment to take a few deep breaths, rather than push through it. Is this okay with you?” You don’t want to ask your manager to help you manage your emotions, but it really sounds like trying to “trying to offer solutions while sobbing” (!!!) is not helping at all! Be upfront that this is going to be something you’re working on and how you plan to do it, so they can be aware and help you along.

      1. Anonymars*

        Ahhh #1 is such good advice. I panic when I start to feel that lump in my through and tense up, and then that usually brings on the waterworks. Practicing more yoga breathing is a good tip.

        I appreciate your (and other commenters) response on my boss probably being more bothered in it than they let on, but not wanting to show it. They’re also very open with me about being at the point of burnout, so we share some similar work stresses, but they would probably rather I not cry, LOL.

        I like your suggestion about being open with them about it. I was thinking I could even say something like “Can i have a moment?” when I’m starting to feel it coming on, and going off-zoom to take some deep breaths and rejoining when I pull myself back together.

    3. Mononoke Hime*

      As a fellow angry cryer I totally sympathize. If your trigger is frustration/anger/overwhelm, avoiding reaching that state would be the most effective approach. That may mean developing a higher tolerance by whatever mean possible or avoiding the situation altogether. One thing I find effective is developing an emotional reserve to deal with such situation – if life in general is too frustrating or overwhelming, I’d have a shorter fuse when specific work situations come up. Making other aspects of your life better and easier may help.

      1. Anonymars*

        I love the idea of an emotional reserve! I can already imagine a little emotional piggy bank that I go to when I start feeling the bad vibes.

    4. Red Panda*

      I feel your pain – in high school, I was known to classmates as “the girl who’s always crying”. My favourite trick is based on the fact that you can’t cry while drinking water. I have a glass of cool water and sip it when I feel the tears coming on. The cold water sort of shocks my brain out of crying mode. If I need to, I also do a little mindfulness exercise where I notice the sensations associated with drinking water (condensation on the glass, coolness on my lips and tongue, the sound of ice cubes clinking).

    5. Susie*

      A few things I do–Look up or away and gather myself. I think about something funny–basically anything to stop my mental cycle that keeps me returning to my feelings and making them more intense. Basically I realized that I need to figure out a way to stop feeding the feeling and engage my logical brain.

      Also, I read an interview with a bridal make up artist who tells brides to press their tongue on the roof of their mouth when they feel like crying. I don’t know if this has a biological reason, but it definitely has an emotional impact–when I have done this, I can engage my logical brain faster.

      1. Anonymars*

        Thank you! Describing it as an intensifying cycle is so true, and just taking a moment to think of or look at something funny to distract yourself is a good tip.

        I’m so glad I’m not alone in this!

    6. Anonymous Hippo*

      I do this. And I’ve cried at my boss more than a few times. The way I fixed it was a eliminated the frustration. Most of it was due to being severely overworked, and being given insane impossible deadlines. So I campaigned for and got a third report, and I just simply started pushing back on, and sometimes outright refusing impossible deadlines. Dropped the stress and frustration right down, and I’ve not cried at my boss in nearly a year now, and it was a near monthly thing (financial close, not hormonal, lol).

      All that to say, I couldn’t figure out how to change my reaction to the stress, so I eliminated the stress.

      1. Anonymous Hippo*

        I will say I don’t think you need to be ashamed of crying. To me, I was just pushing back some of the stress that my boss was letting fall down on me, so I was never embarrassed about it, because I was literarily at my breaking point, and it was their fault.

        My boss also didn’t seem bothered by it, as he understood where it was coming from. I think it actually helped my cause when going out for that extra headcount, because he knew I was absolutely at my limit, and he did what he could to help with things, without acting like I was fragile. I will say I do work in an atmosphere where letting your emotions out is generally acceptable, granted it is usually anger and cussing, but there is no reason why crying is somehow a worse emotional outburst than cussing.

  53. Spearmint*

    Ok, getting started in the morning. This is something I’ve struggled with for a long time, going all the way back to high school. I’ve found that I rarely get much done before 11am-noon aside from answering email or attending meetings (if any are scheduled). I don’t have a problem showing up/logging on in the morning, and I attend and participate in morning meetings just fine, but other than that I spend a lot of time on distractions/zoning out in the morning. My boss is happy with my work but I still feel a bit guilty that I’m so unproductive in the mornings. Plus, it can be stressful when I have a lot on my plate and have to frantically get as much done as possible before 5pm, and every once in a while I’ll even have to work late because I procrastinated in the morning.

    Any tips for getting started in the morning? Has anyone else had this issue and made progress in addressing it?

    1. bubbleon*

      Can you start setting deadlines for yourself? Even if it’s easy, low priority stuff, if you can give yourself a 10am deadline it’ll take things off your plate at the end of the day.

    2. Weekend Please*

      I have this problem too. One thing that helped was waking up earlier and spending 30 minutes doing light exercise in the morning. It really helped me to get going better and focus.

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      The night before, make a list of 2-3 small, easily attainable tasks you can accomplish first thing the next morning. Post the list where you can see it. After you do those things, check them off. By doing those, you give yourself some momentum. It’s one of the most recommended procrastination-breaking techniques. And these have to be real work things with actual impact on the business, not “clean my coffee mug”.

      Have you looked into getting a browser add-on that serves as a distraction blocker? You can set a list of sites that will be blocked from 8 to noon (games, social media, news, whatever).

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        ^ This. When my job otherwise flows smoothly and there’s a lot to do in my day-to-day, I make myself a todo list at the end of a work day right before I leave (or before I sign off, if WFH). Then the next morning, I come in to a clear list of things I need to do. I am of the “leave the job behind at the end of the day/week” school, and, while it helps with avoiding burnout and maintaining the work-life balance, it does sometimes lead to my mornings starting with a puzzled “what was I supposed to do today?”

      2. quill*

        This. I absolutely cannot remember jack in the mornings.

        Other things to do:

        – make emails you needed to check in on pop back up as unread new emails by setting reminders / dropping old mail into whatever folders you need to keep it all for reference.
        – If your company has multiple sites, say a training module, a schedule, etc, make yourself a suite of those tabs that open automatically when you open a new browser window. That way you can check on training, notifications, etc first thing.
        – Block AAM, and everything else you find yourself reading to procrastinate, in the mornings :)

    4. RagingADHD*

      I find it helpful to batch my work according to my energy levels.

      Different types of tasks that all need doing take different levels or types of concentration. If you need to do low-intensity work for a couple of hours before you hit your stride to do high-focus, that’s okay. It’s still productive work.

      If you plan to do those tasks and have them ready, you’ll be less likely to waste time on distractions.

    5. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      Does your workplace allow any flexibility? Would it be doable at all for you to, say, work 10-6 or 11-7?

      I have the opposite issue — my productivity is great within 4 hours or so after I get up, and then drops off. My solution is to take a nap instead of a lunch break, so that I get that productivity boost twice a day!

    6. Policy Wonk*

      I’m like you. I try hard to schedule meetings for the morning, set aside time to actually get things done in the afternoon. I write best in the mid-afternoon, so if I need to produce an important written product I put the time on my schedule (but need to be creative with how it is labeled, as some people don’t respect blocks listed as “reading time” or “writing time”.) Understanding when you are best able to do things and scheduling for it can help make you successful.

    7. Girasol*

      I used to sit down with coffee and spend a few minutes writing about my day: what I would do, how I would go about it if it was complicated, what I thought might go wrong and how I might handle it, and so on. Writing about doing stuff always got me into the groove when I couldn’t face actually doing things early in the morning.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Self care was a biggie for me.
      I HAD to go to bed on time- not optional. Lack of rest just encourage the cycle of delay then fall behind then work at an exhausting clip to catch up before going home.
      And I had to have some protein at breakfast each morning- to have the energy that was necessary for my job.

      I also planned out my day. Sometimes hourly sometimes every couple hours. X needed to be done by 9 am. Y needed to be completed by 11 am. Z had to be done by 1 pm. I realized if I did not have some idea of how I spent each period of the time, the entire day went right by me. I could follow this pacing better if I followed my rest schedule and made sure I fortified with some proteins. I made it a goal that the last hour or hour and a half would be my easier work. I needed the easier work at the end of the day because of how tired I was. (My job was super physical plus a brain drain.)

    9. I can never decide on a lasting name*

      Spearmint, I follow you! For decades, I struggled with this, until I realized that my circadian rythm and chronotype just works opposite of mainstream society. I have chosen a lifestyle that works with this, meaning that as far as possible, I teach, do meetings, complete routine tasks and take time off during the day and then aim to do productive work after 4 pm. I am extreme, though; right now, it’s 6.30 am and I am finishing some work.
      Good luck!

    10. allathian*

      I have the opposite issue. Now that we’re WFH I’m at my desk by 7 am most mornings, because I often wake up at 5. I’m at 60 N and the sun rises at 4 am this time of year. But unless I’m on a tight deadline and running on adrenaline, I’m pretty useless by 2 pm. Routine stuff that doesn’t require any hard thinking is fine. I’ve been able to mitigate it a bit by taking a walk during my lunch hour, but it only gives me second wind for an hour or so.

  54. Nosey Boss*

    What’s a good way to respond if your boss asks how much your new employer is paying you when you give your two weeks notice?

    I’m leaving my current job for a long list of reasons, but I figure the easiest reason to give if asked is the new job pays more. The problem is that my boss has no professional boundaries. They constantly complain to me about problems in their personal life, gossip about other employees, and have blabbed coworkers’ salaries and raise requests to me.

    So I have a feeling they’ll want to know why I’m leaving or ask me how much my new job will pay (out of curiosity, not to give a counter offer), and then will go around telling everyone. It’s something I’d rather keep private.

    I’m not sure how to politely say I don’t want to tell them though.

    1. Ann Perkins*

      “I’d prefer not to say” and then quickly change the subject to transition plans.

      1. HR Exec Popping In*

        This is the best response. Just say you prefer not to say and either stop talking or change the subject. If they ask again, repeat. If they ask why, repeat again.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      “Sorry, that’s private.”

      That’s all the politeness you owe them for a very nosy question. And there’s no reason to hem or haw if and when they press.

      “Sorry, that’s private.”
      “Oh, come on, you can tell me. I already know what you make here, how much different could it be?”
      “Sorry, it’s private. You should stop asking me that question, because I’m not going to answer it.”

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      What’s a good way to respond if your boss asks how much your new employer is paying you when you give your two weeks notice?

      I actually had an old boss ask me that once, and it was super awkward. I just said “I’m not going to tell you that.” Even more awkward is my old boss kept pressing. I just held firm. You don’t have to tell your old boss your new salary. There is no legal or ethical reason to do so. It’s none of your old boss’s business.

      I figure the easiest reason to give if asked is the new job pays more.

      If you don’t want your old boss to ask how much the new job pays, don’t give this as the reason. Just say you were interested in the new opportunity. Don’t complain about how your boss has no professional boundaries. Don’t say you left because of any specific problem at $OLDJOB, because your old boss will just use that as an excuse to try to counter offer or fake counter offer.

    4. Mannheim Steamroller*

      Do you get the sense that they might (illegally) try to withhold your last paycheck as punishment for not answering?

    5. Threeve*

      I wouldn’t use it as a reason. Just go vague with someone like her–it just fell in your lap, it’s the best choice for your career, etc. When she gets pushy, you can probably shut it down with something like “it’s nothing specific, it’s just time for a change and I’m following my gut instinct” or “sometimes you just know, y’know?”

    6. Neosmom*

      “Are you developing a counter-offer? That is the only reason I can imagine why you would need this information. So let me preemptively decline.”

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        I can see something like this, but with a joking tone: “Haha, I’m sorry, this new opportunity is right for me, so I don’t want to give false hope that a counteroffer could convince me to stay. Like I said, though, I’ll of course do everything I can in the next two weeks to make sure X, Y, and Z are set up for success. I had a question for you on Y…”

    7. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      “I’m not at liberty to say. Now, about those transition meetings?”

      Or, just, “So about those transition meetings…”

      I treat the “why are you leaving” questions the same as I did “why do you not want a second date with me” when I dated online. If you give a measurable answer, the other side will see is as an invitation to give you the thing you stated as your reason for leaving. Or, more likely, to promise you the thing and then never follow through. I am leaving because an opportunity came along that was too good to pass up. No, I cannot go into details. Now about those transition meetings.

    8. Lizy*

      “I’d prefer to keep that information private”
      “We’re still working out the details with benefits, so it’s not really comparable”
      “Oh, you know, about the same thing I’m making here”
      “It is a pay increase, but there are other things about the position I’m excited about, too”

      Or give some other vague answer about why you’re leaving. “The hours work better for me.”
      “I’ll have a chance to work with Super Awesome Database”
      “I’ve missed doing X”
      “I’ve LOVED doing Y here, but I’m worried I’ll get burned out. I’m switching to Q and am excited to learn something new”

      or just pretend you don’t hear her ask.

    9. RagingADHD*

      “I’d rather not say.”

      Remember, you are quitting! You aren’t obligated to feed their gossip mill. What are they going to do, fire you?

    10. Not So NewReader*

      “Oh but Boss, so much more goes into a job than just a paycheck!” And then you can redirect (play oblivious to the money aspect) to another area that is important to you. “This job is much closer to my home/childcare/ailing parent!”
      Pick something that there is no way in heck he can fix. “They pay for health care in full!” (but don’t lie.)

  55. It's a Bev-olution and I'm all in*

    All about References – When someone doesn’t respond to a request and the impact on your resume?

    Someone with whom I worked closely in my last position did not respond to my references request. I’m really surprised because we left on good terms or so I thought. She was an event manager and I was her right hand for 7 fundraisers to include assuming an event while she was on maternity leave. I reference this event in my resume.
    – Should I remove the event if she’s not a reference and can’t vouch for the work?
    – One reference from that last job and was in attendance for the event and at the org when I was managing the event but they’re in programs so their experience/observation is removed from my work.
    – I will not be asking the Development or Executive Directors – both active participants in the fundraising event and can vouch for my work – as references due our bad break up.

    I can probably remove the resume bullet and not be negatively affected.

    1. bubbleon*

      Just be honest about your level of involvement and responsibility on your resume, there’s no need to remove the event. The purpose of a reference is to get a feel for how you actually are in a work setting from someone who has that experience, not to fact check every bullet of your resume. Not having this person as a reference won’t negatively impact you, everyone doesn’t necessarily want to be a reference.

    2. LadyByTheLake*

      Don’t remove the resume bullet — the purpose of references is not to vouch for what’s on your resume. References are more about what kind of worker you are, strengths and weaknesses, sometimes specific skills — but not to double check the specific work history listed on your resume.

    3. Delta Blues*