open thread – June 25-26, 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.

{ 1,086 comments… read them below }

  1. AppleStan*

    I work out of a central office along with another manager, Jane. Jane and I are the two highest ranking people in the office, but on the same peer level, and our boss works out of a satellite office. Team members in the central office report directly to either Jane or myself.

    Jane is loud.


    She can be quiet (speak in a modulated tone when she puts her mind to it), but she simply has a voice that travels quite a bit, so her normal speaking volume just TRAVELS.

    With the way our office is set up, once you step off the elevator into the lobby, there are several closed doors that will take you into the office areas, and the office areas surround the lobby. The secretaries have told me that sometimes the clients will say “What was that?” because they hear Jane speaking…and Jane is in a CORNER OFFICE away from the secretaries.

    Sometimes people are trying to talk to each other and can’t quite understand what the other is saying because Jane is LOUD. Even if they are at the other end of the office. Our floor travels the length and width of our building which is a governmental building in a state capitol, so it covers quite a bit of floor length (think half a city block). To be able to clearly hear her from one side to another is just…jarring. And this will happen several times a day.

    There are going to be times, just from the nature of our layout, that you will hear someone speaking several doors away, and with the type of work we do, sometimes people run hot for a moment, and then calm down. An occasional outburst is not going to be frowned upon by anyone – it happens to everyone at this job from time to time.

    But with Jane, we hear everything … from conversation about her puppies, to her house renovation, to an issue she had with a hearing, to asking someone if they’ve been vaccinated or had COVID (do NOT get me started on why she thought that was an appropriate thing to ask in public of someone who reports directly to her and who was at the other end of the office when asking that question).

    I’m not sure if I should approach Jane directly or approach our boss. I’m normally a huge fan of just direct conversation (for instance, I did go explain to her that as a manager, she CANNOT ask people about their medical status, publicly or privately), but I’m not sure how to tell someone they are just TOO DAMN LOUD.

      1. rachel in nyc*

        My boss uses a fan to muffle conversations in our office of makeshift walls. It can get chilly but apparently helps.

    1. ThatGirl*

      Instead of saying she’s “LOUD” I would say Jane, I don’t know if you realize it, but your voice carries really well – we can hear your conversations from across the office. Just wanted you to be aware. Let her take it from there.

    2. I edit everything*

      Talk to her first. “I’m not sure if you’re aware of how well your voice carries. It can be quite distracting, and I’m afraid others in the area might overhear something that should be kept confidential–either business information or your own private concerns. Do you think you could be more aware of your volume? Thanks.”

      1. Snailing*

        Agreed on this point – it may be a little round-about, but it gives a concrete work-related reason as to why it’s important for her to be aware of her volume. It’s ok for it to travel sometimes, but she should be clued in that this is happening especially because of confidential conversations!

        1. NotRealAnonForThis*

          I’m fully leaning into the fact that the entire d@mn office doesn’t need to hear the specifics of whatever he’s working on.

          I’m already at BEC stage with my new neighbor here. Probably because I started like this, and was informed that he simply cannot modulate his voice because he’s a man and has a louder voice that carries and too bad. I’m quite loud myself, come from a family tree of loud-with-booming-vocals women AND men, and that is a line of straight BS.

          MS Teams reminds me I’m on mute constantly during meetings (with noise canceling headphones on) because its’ picking HIS voice up.

          About to bring in an airhorn. Will use every time he talks til he figures it out.

    3. Zephy*

      No advice, just solidarity. My office shares walls with an adjoining office and a classroom. My coworker has two volume settings, “On” and “Off.” The classroom has an American history class that meets at 9 AM Mondays and Wednesdays, and I swear to every God there is the professor must lecture by shouting at the wall with his back to the students, based on how clearly I can hear him. Learned some neat facts about the Gold Rush, I guess, but being caught in the crossfire of that lecture plus my coworker’s phone call was just madness-inducing on Wednesday morning.

    4. BananaBread*

      I will answer this as someone who is also very very loud. Please tell her. I literally cannot tell when I am getting loud, but eons ago when I worked customer service if I was working with a distressed customer (over the phone), people in the office told me they could not hold normal conversations because of my volume. Later when I went to grad school I had someone else tell me to stop yelling. I was not yelling, not even close to it, nor was I distressed but I honestly sometimes cannot regulate my own volume and I can’t hear how loud I can get. I think I am better now because people don’t mention it anymore, but if no one has ever mentioned it she may not know or try to regulate herself.

      1. Homebody*

        My husband is the same way :) The more interested he is in what he’s talking about the louder he gets! Usually a gentle reminder is all that is needed, no big deal.

        That being said, if this is just a character quirk of Jane’s, it may not be something that can be changed easily (volume, not the COVID thing!) and you may be better off accepting that Jane is LOUD. After all, she’s not being loud AT you, she’s just a loud person.

        1. Fostermamma22*

          I can thank a loud cubicle neighbor from 20 years ago to be the reason that I can no longer concentrate or work in complete silence!

        2. Workerbee*

          My husband is also the same way! In his case, I think it stems from having to be heard among two older, overbearing brothers while growing up, as well as defining and claiming his own space in the family, mixed with when he’s truly interested in talking about something, he stops noticing his voice getting louder (and louder,,,). Fortunately, all I have to do is tell him to quit shouting, and then he’ll reset.

          This does not prevent it from happening again (and again) but it doesn’t seem like something he’s ever going to put the necessary work into to modulate.

      2. quill*

        Yeah, many people apparently have some sort of setting where they have zero volume awareness and get LOUDER FOR EMPHASIS … or if they can hear. literally anything else. they just progressively get louder.

        I wonder if part of the problem for Jane is that she’s got something else she can hear (that maybe the rest of you don’t register as something you have to raise your voice to get over?)

        If it’s unawareness, you will probably need to either A) interrupt basically every time because Jane does not have a volume awareness wire, or B) do something about the office acoustics.

        If it’s about hearing other things and talking over them you can look into other potential noise sources, i.e. does Jane feel the need to speak over ambient music? The copier squeaking? Her telephone conversation partner also being loud / having a crunchy connection? Her own auditory processing not being great / some hearing loss?

        She may also just come from… a loud family. I am unfortunately from one and the only way to get your point across was to be loud enough for the people with hearing loss / auditory processing problems due to age / the LARGE number of other loud people inn the room, was to be loud. Overall.

      3. Empress Matilda*

        As someone who also has no volume control (and who is also named Jane!), I agree with this. Start by talking to her.

        Blame it on the acoustics of the building, or your own sensitive hearing, or just say “hey Jane, I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but your voice really travels in here.” Then you can suggest things like closing her door if she has one, or ask if it’s okay if you pop in and close it sometimes if need be. At this point in her career, it’s pretty likely that someone has mentioned this to her before – she may have suggestions or things that have worked for her in the past. Good luck!

    5. Eusapia*

      Sounds to me like you have a built in way to talk to her about this- blame it on the crazy acoustics of the building, e.g., “Something about where your office is located means we can hear everything you’re saying”. And who knows, maybe that’s actually part of it. Might not do the trick, but it’s worth bringing up to her directly before you go to her boss. Also, if people can literally hear everything, that’s something she needs to know so she can keep from broadcasting her private conversations.

      1. Ama*

        I once worked in a building with a central spiral stairwell — we had to build into our new employee orientations not to have private conversations within about 10 feet of the stairwell door (and definitely not *in* the stairwell) because that thing acted like a megaphone, you could clearly hear anything said in or around the stairwell on any of the six floors of the building. So it’s a very good excuse.

    6. Educ Admin*

      It’s possible that she has a hearing problem. Is her door open? It could be as simple as closing her door.
      She may be unaware of the issue. As her peer you can say something.

    7. Rick T*

      Jane probably has significant hearing loss and is compensating. The loudest coworker at my office was a VW bug enthusiast and worked the drag racers when he was younger… Charlie was hard of hearing on one side and essentially deaf on the other (his words).

      If you have Costco available their hearing aid lines are very attractively priced (about 1/3rd the price I was quoted by an audiologist).

      1. AppleStan*

        I wanted to give your comment some serious thought before I replied.

        Taking into account that I do not specifically know all of her medical history, etc., there is always the possibility that she has some form of hearing loss, significant or not, and may be compensating for that.

        But I don’t think so.

        Mostly because Jane, god bless her, is an oversharer of EPIC proportions. I sat in on her interview, and the things that came out there would make Alison cringe so hard. If she had/has hearing loss…we would know, I’m almost 100% sure of it.

        Some people are loud-talkers, the way some people are soft-talkers. I just need to figure out how to get the issue resolved before I receive one more complaint about how distracting she is.

      2. Yvette*

        Or Jane may live with some one who has significant hearing loss and is used to speaking loudly.

        1. Pucci*

          This! My father has hearing loss and throughout my childhood I was told to talk louder. Now I do, and others tell me I have a very loud voice

        2. Marple*

          Yes! I work in customer service and we have a lot of seniors who require very loud talking. I now no longer know how to speak in a regular voice :(

      3. calonkat*

        We really don’t have enough info (or training) to diagnose someone. I’m in the “talks too loud all the time” group, but I know it’s due to growing up with an extremely hard of hearing grandfather whose friends were all hard of hearing (town with one major factory, they all worked there before OSHA or unions were a thing, everyone in town spoke loudly, just because the adults were all partially deaf!)

      4. RagingADHD*

        There are many, many reasons why people can lack volume control – from physical hearing loss to ADHD, to being raised in a large noisy family environment, or a culture that speaks more expressively than white middle America, etc, etc, etc.

        There is no “probably” here, so it would be at best useless and at worst extremely insulting for LW to start giving Jane hearing aid recommendations.

      5. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        That’s assuming a lot. My extremely loud co-worker was just… Extremely Loud. No hearing issue, no hard-of-hearing family, just Extremely Loud. I blame it on her decades-old background of high school and college debate and speech tournaments. She was trained to amplify, and had forgotten how to modify the sound from full auditorium to normal room.

    8. The Rural Juror*

      Our office suite has tile floors and an L-shaped hallway. The person who had the office at the corner of the “L” had a voice that also carried for miles (she’s retired now…but I can still hear it in my memory very clearly). I’m in an office at the far end of the hallway, but could hear everything from each phone conversation. I know it stinks, but sometimes there’s just not much you can do to dampen the sound physically (such as rugs or whatnot). I think the best thing is to tell her. My coworker was having issues dialing in her new hearing aids, so she appreciated knowing how loud she was being. She said she didn’t realize until I said something, but, in her defense, our office finishes helped carry the sound. The easiest fix was for her to close her door when on the phone!

    9. bd*

      I realize this is a side-issue, but there has been a lot of discussion about asking employees about vaccination status. Your view is far from universal.

      1. Snailing*

        It may be fine in certain circumstances to ask someone about their vaccination status, but for a manager to ask their direct report all the way from the other side of the room has an inherent power imbalance, especially directly related to medical information, that makes it inappropriate, full stop.

      2. Amtelope*

        I’m in favor of workplaces requiring either vaccination or a request for a medical or religious exemption from vaccination, and requiring unvaccinated employees to continue masking and social distancing. But “Have you been vaccinated?” “No, actually I can’t get vaccinated for medical reasons, what do we need to do about it?” is not a conversation that should happen by yelling across a crowded room. (Neither is “I don’t want to get vaccinated because something magnets microchips.” “Okay, but it’s actually a requirement to work here.”) These conversations need to be private.

    10. SlimeKnight*

      We had a supervisor like this. You could hear all her conversations from down the hall–work, personal, personnel. When she would have performance conversations with an employee the whole office would know. Her boss talked to her about it several times (and even wrote her up one time for violating an employee’s confidential medical information), but nothing changed (she’s retired now).

    11. Haven’t picked a user name yet*

      Is it only when she is in her office? If so it sounds like it is an acoustic problem. I have been in building a where if you stood in a particular spot you could hear very low speaking as if they were right next to you. It is very disconcerting!

      1. AppleStan*

        No, it doesn’t matter where she is on the floor…it’s going to be the same volume level.

      2. AppleStan*

        That is not to say we don’t have acoustic issues (we do for anything that happens in the lobby), but this isn’t it.

        1. Haven’t picked a user name yet*

          Gotcha. Thanks for clarifying. I can also be very loud, I blame my projection on my youthful theater days, but I have had a coworker mention it to me and we haven’t had an issue since (pre-pandemic). Sometimes people just need to be made aware. Good luck!

    12. Cooper*

      As a loud person myself, I like the suggestions from others regarding the acoustics of the building and suggesting that her voice is carrying more than she might realize, assuming that she’s generally reasonable about gentle corrections. I say this mostly because my loudness is down to two things– one of them is just the natural volume of my voice, which seems to be genetic, based on my family, and the other is the fact that my ears…don’t work great. Not hearing loss, necessarily, but it’s helped by having things be louder. I frequently literally cannot hear how loud I am!

    13. AppleStan*

      Thank you to everyone. I’m going to take what you said, approach her directly, and indicate that it has to do with acoustics. I truly hope this cuts down on some of the complaints I get.

      Thank you.

      1. Robyn*

        I think you should raise it with her, but blaming or implying that it has to do with anything else other than her loudness is a mistake in my opinion. Perhaps you could let her know about how her voice seems to travel, but specify it is her, and not everyone. Otherwise she’ll assume it is everyone’s issue and not something only she needs to address. Maybe you could suggest you could make a note of things you hear her speak about each day, which will give her an idea of what the whole office is hearing. Perhaps you could suggest you both come up with some solutions to implement. The main thing is that she understands she is primarily the problem, and together you need to find a solution, otherwise, you’re just ‘kicking the tin along’.

  2. Anonyanony404*

    Hi! So I am sure I need to talk to an employment lawyer, but I thought I would ask here in case anyone can help me, as my money is tight. So I was brought back 2 months ago after a 5 month furlough due to covid, and last week they said they couldn’t afford my salary anymore, so they are switching me to hourly and I will be bouncing around the city. Can they do that? They are not guaranteeing me any hours and I only got 5 for next week, so can I claim unemployment? Thank you in advance! I am in Georgia.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      Are they changing your job? Also, is it possible your job could have been classified as hourly before?
      They can’t take a managerial job and make it hourly for their convenience. But if it is a support role, then it may meet the requirements for non-exempt status.

      1. Mirve*

        It is the other way around. Any job can be treated as non-exempt (hourly). There are requirements for being exempt that have to be met.

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

          What would be interesting though is if it was misclassified as exempt all along, and they’ve caught their mistake and fixed it. If that’s the case, I believe they would owe any back overtime (might need to be proved).

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

      I’m not a lawyer, but only 5 hours in a week, and no guarantee of time going forward, sounds like constructive dismissal TBH. Not only should you file for unemployment, but I think you’d be good with deciding that it’s not “employment” at all and just proceeding as though you were laid off.

      1. Educ Admin*

        I wonder if the employer is taking this route thinking that she’ll be ineligible for unemployment.

      2. Cj*

        Even if OP decides to work whatever hours they offer her a week, they could still file for unemployment but it would be reduced by at least part of what she earned during those hours. Here in MN, you lose $1 in UC for every dollar in wages. At least that’s how it was pre-pandemic.

        Also, if they are bouncing her around the city, those would be temporary work sites, and a decent employer would pay her mileage either in full or for the excess miles over where her old worksite was.

        1. ronda*

          I was on unemployment in ga several years ago and they definitely ask about any work you took and pay to adjust unemployment.

    3. AnotherLibrarian*

      Not a lawyer. This isn’t legal advice, but generally, folks can change your job however they want as long as those changes aren’t retroactive. It’s harder in my experience to make a job exempt than non-exempt, so I suspect the job can be made hourly without a problem. Most can. I don’t know about the unemployment rules in Georgia, but I would be looking for another job.

    4. Anonyanony404*

      Hi All, Yes I was in a management sales role (no direct reports) and now I will be supporting other sales people at locations throughout the city. I am trying not to give too much away, I hope that makes sense.

    5. Anonyanony404*

      And it wouldn’t surprise me if they were doing this to avoid paying unemployment. I have interviews lined up, but still makes me nervous in the meantime.

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

        Going to such a part-time status, are you also losing other benefits like health insurance and retirement contributions? You might come out ahead by just refusing this job change — in essence quitting — but because of constructive dismissal you MIGHT still collect unemployment. No reasonable person would consider going from full-time to 5 hours a week tolerable; you’re being forced to accept unreasonable changes to your role, working conditions or hours.

        1. Anonyanony404*

          The person I talked to said I was keeping my full time status, but that they would work with me on getting me at least enough hours to cover my health insurance premium (that is verbatim). So can I just work the 5 hours so I am not quitting and can claim unemployment? I thought if you quit you couldn’t claim unemployment.

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

            There are circumstances where you can collect even if you quit. This is where a lawyer would help you. If you only work enough to cover insurance premiums, you need to decide for yourself if that’s enough. For some people going on COBRA might be better.

            1. Cj*

              I wouldn’t spend any money on attorney initially. Just apply for unemployment and see what they say, unless you plan on actually quitting instead of working whatever hours they offer you.

              Even then, I’d check with the U/C office instead of an attorney. Just make sure they refer you to the regulations re: what they are telling you so you can verify it’s accuracy if they say it is constructive unemployment and you can quit. And *do not* reply on an e-mail, etc. for verification. They can be wrong and don’t need to stand by it if they are.

          2. rachel in nyc*

            and even if work the 5 hours- depending on your state- as other people mentioned, if your hour decrease is significant enough, you may still qualify for unemployment. I believe the proper term is partial unemployment. The best option would probably be to file.

            (basically the idea being that an employer can’t decrease your hours drastically but get out of unemployment by claiming you are still still employed when you went from a 40 hour week to a 15 hour week. what that looks like will vary from state to state. and I believe not every state provides for partial unemployment.)

      2. Joie de Vivre*

        When I worked for a manufacturing company in Alabama years ago, if we had to cut employees’ hours due to not enough work, they were eligible for partial unemployment. I suggest that you go ahead and file for unemployment and provide the information about your hours being cut so much.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I have to wonder if they took the pandemic loans and are walking a fine line rehiring-but-not.

  3. user324bh39*

    I’m a tech project lead, managing a very underperforming vendor’s team.

    My life is asking people to update documentation, arguing with them that yes, documentation is necessary, requesting them to test (“tests are important!”), asking them to correct the software according to what we defined, checking it after they claim they corrected it, finding out they didn’t, asking them to do that again etc.

    I joined my company to learn more about technology but I discover that 90% of my tasks is babysitting underperforming, unreliable developers. When I have an opportunity to do something different, e.g. when I’m sitting in a presentation on strategy, I’m distracted, I can’t follow what people are saying. I spend time looking into my other laptop and then I make an idiot of myself commenting not on the topic.

    That’s not typical of me. I’ve always been a person who loved strategy and discussions, learning new things, developing intellectually. Now I can’t follow people and I don’t care.

    What should I do?

    1. AndersonDarling*

      Are there consequences when the dev’s are not following procedure? Normally, if you deploy non-tested code then you get a warning, and if you keep doing it, then you get fired. If they know there are no consequences, then they won’t do the extra work.

      1. user324bh39*

        There are no consequences. The vendor is a long-term partner of my company. I have no formal power over the vendor’s employees. When I raise the issues to my bosses I hear that the relationship with the vendor is very important to my company and I should find a way to make them stick to the rules.

        1. Cats and Bats Rule*

          I know this will be a pain, but start documenting these encounters with the vendor, including every time they don’t respond to you. Save all emails if you can, including your unanswered ones. This will cover your butt if needed, and give you material you can use if you have to escalate. I’ve been a technician writer for over 2 decades, and I have never regretted keeping these kinds of records. Good luck!!!

        2. Troutwaxer*

          My suggestion is threefold. First, that you CYA by writing a report to your management about how badly the devs at the other company are screwing up. Explain what’s at risk, how much longer you expect software development to take, the low quality of the software you expect to be produced, what they devs should be doing that they are not – documentation and testing – and so forth. Explain to your management that you have communicated these concerns to the other company and that they have not been well-received. Tell them who you’ve talked to and what you’ve asked for.

          Also, in this vein, I’d suggest that you see if you can find out who was responsible for this relationship before you came along and see if they have any suggestions. I suspect you’ll find that they made a strategic retreat, which is something you should also consider.

          Second, I would suggest that you speak to the highest possible management at the other company and explain that this important relationship is at risk because they can’t get their shit together and make the devs perform testing and create documentation, and that you’re very close telling your management that they need to find another vendor. You may want to do some kind of “audit.” What kind of software production method are they using? Waterfall? Dev-ops? Agile? Are they using this method correctly. What kind of testing suite/software are they using? Are they using the testing-suite correctly. Are the roles within the team properly assigned? Is there someone who’s specifically in charge of testing, and a second person specifically in charge of producing documentation? Who are those people and what are they doing? Do they have separate testing, development, and production servers? Etc. The issues you discover in your “audit” should be discussed with both sets of management, and you should add other issues to the “audit” as necessary.

          Third – and this may be the most important – you’ve got to find some way to get engaged with all this. From the sound of things you’re suffering from low morale, for which I can’t blame you, but you’ve definitely got to work on the personal/professional relationships, including tracking what’s happening in meetings, which will allow your words to have some weight with the vendor.

      2. Clisby*

        Developers shouldn’t have the say in whether something’s deployed There should be a separate Quality Control group deciding that.

      3. quill*

        From a documents control perspective, this is how you get garbage documents, and garbage code.

    2. SlimeKnight*

      You have two separate problems, both of which are unfortunately common:

      1) You went into a field to do that job and now you are stuck managing vendors who do that job. There are people who enjoy this kind of thing, but most people who specifically go into tech do not.
      2) You have been given responsibility (manage a vendor), but no authority (you can’t enforce the terms of the contract).

      Your problems with concentration are probably due to the disconnect and lack of investment you feel in your job right now. I would consider looking for a new job. Now if you have some capital at your company or good rapport with your direct manager, you can always have a conversation about this, but I gather from your letter this is not the case.

    3. Cranky Lady*

      Two separate issues: the vendor and you. Document what the vendor isn’t doing and make them adhere to the contract. If deadlines get missed, be able to point directly to the extended time on requirements A, B and C because the developers didn’t follow the specifications. This is exactly the type of project management work I hate and stink at so I completely understand being frustrated with it. Can you take a break (even just a long weekend) and set it all aside? Take care of yourself and figure out what you need to help you regain your focus on the things you enjoy. Good luck.

    4. Disgruntled Engineer*

      I’m in a similar situation. I’ve set a deadline for myself – if this situation doesn’t improve within a set period of time, I’m looking for a new job.

      Which is sad, because I actually like the job I was hired into. I was given responsibility for a system that has 90% of it’s care outsourced to another company that just… sucks. They keep rotating new people through, as if they’re using our system as a training ground, so I’m constantly submitting a ticket to fix something that should be pretty straightforward (we’ve dealt with a very similar issue in the past, someone with a good understanding of how the system works and interacts with hardware is able to troubleshoot quickly, etc.) that ends up taking weeks or months, or they end up breaking something else in the process of trying to implement the fix because they didn’t understand how we use our system well enough… because they’ve never worked with our custom software before this one ticket.

      It’s pretty frustrating, because I can’t trust them. I can’t trust them to troubleshoot well, test robustly, validate anything correctly, even do simple things like verify that they fixed what they were trying to fix (we have 2 web tools, one is “open” and doesn’t require a log-in, and the other does, that should display identical information in certain situations, and we’ve had 3 issues that resulted from them trying to fix something in one web tool without verifying that the fix is showing up correctly in the other). I feel like my job went from “engineer” to “babysitter” because 50-75% of my job is literally checking that they did what they said they were going to, and that they didn’t screw something else up in the process.

      I’ve been trying to get someone else cross-trained on this system, so it’s not solely my responsibility, but everyone knows how screwed up and complicated the whole thing is, so it’s been difficult to get someone else!

      1. user324bh39*

        Yes, I know what you are talking about :(

        When I started in this position I simply did things myself. But I tend to take too much on myself and want to avoid people getting used to that. Also, I don’t think that’s fair that we pay a 6-person team but I have to do their job myself.

    5. Brave Little Roaster*

      I work in a completely different field but this whole scenario is extremely relatable. Do you have any pull to tell either your management or the vendor’s management that they need to get their act together? If not, I agree with the comments to CYA and look for another job where you can actually develop your own skills instead of babysitting. Also, the advice that I’ve gotten for myself is to work on making contacts outside the company for networking and professional development. It can be very discouraging to feel like you don’t have the opportunity to grow professionally because you’re busy with low-level tasks, and keeping your own professional development going at least a little bit by doing things like talking to colleagues or signing up for online events can help you feel less cut off from your career goals.

    6. LKW*

      I think the collective responses here are spot-on. I’m going to add a few more that might help:
      1. Translate this into the one thing that people at work care about: MONEY. If these vendors are on T&M, then you have a great opportunity to highlight how much their incompetence is costing your company. For every additional hour or day of documenting, correcting, etc, take either the average hourly rate or the average daily rate and start adding it up. If they are not on T&M you can then calculate the rework or loss of efficiencies and cost savings on your side of the equation. When you turn these things into money – and they see what they are losing or spending – it has a way of making people act.

      2. You are clearly burned out. See if there are things you can delegate. But as someone who is currently fighting a similar battle, I hear you.

    7. A Poster Has No Name*

      I think this is one of those scenarios where you need to determine if you can find ways to live with and accept the crappy status quo for what it is, or look for a new job.

      Your company sucks and isn’t going to change. If their relationship with the vendor is more important than the work the vendor is doing (that, presumably, your company is paying for), then there’s pretty much nothing you can do about that. Clearly the vendor knows they don’t need to actually do quality work to keep your company’s business, so they’re likely hiring the cheapest devs they can find and not bothering to hold them accountable, because why should they?

      It sucks.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      At one place I worked we had a situation, that maybe you can steal something from?

      We subcontracted to make X. Unfortunately, several people from the other company had their mitts in the project and all of them were giving us directives. Contradictory directives, of course.

      [Insert long story with lots of upset here.] After a bit we landed on ONE representative from our company would speak with ONE representative from their company. Each of these people became funnels for passing information. Oh things got so much better, day and night difference.

      I assume there is a written contract and the contract says the vendor will provide a, b and c. (ex: Documentation, testing, corrections.) So ask for one point of contact with the company and that person will be responsible for seeing to it that these things get done (or not).

      Bottomline, if they are not doing their contractually agreed upon tasks, they have:
      –broken the contract
      –diminished the reliability and functionality of your product
      –which in turn, makes your company look shabby and may cause damage to your company’s reputation.

      Reality is that we cannot make people do anything. Just as you can’t make the vendors cooperate, the company can’t make you make the vendors cooperate. Something will break (shatter) here before this is over and make sure it’s not you who gets broken. I’d keep documentation of all the things that you have tried and are currently trying. I’d be vocal about my current efforts to get cooperation. Like sandpaper rubbing on a piece of wood, I’d just keep wearing everyone down. The key is to drag more and more people into this mix. Your voice alone is clearly not enough.
      And I’d job hunt like heck any time I could.

    9. RagingADHD*

      You have the dreaded so-called “mommy brain.”

      When you are immersed in an environment of constant interruptions and repetitive, low-level instructions — babysitting, as you called it — it actually does erode your ability to concentrate and think deeply.

      I don’t have advice for changing your job expectations or managing the team better, but you can start reclaiming your concentration by:

      1) Blocking off work time every day when you don’t accept interruptions from the team or anyone else, to do long-range planning, high-level thinking about the project, and other tasks that require concentration.

      2) Strictly limiting your screen time outside of work, and choosing media that requires sustained attention, like movies or complex tv shows, instead of quick bites like channel surfing or scrolling YouTube clips.

      3) Finding good books that are relaxing and entertaining, and read them in paper copy (not on an e-reader).

    10. RogueDeveloper*

      How technical are you? Were/are you a developer in this language? If so (and are using a sane source control system), you can make tests a requirement to get code merged. No tests, no merges. No merges, “this person isn’t doing any work.”
      I’m assuming your using something like Jira to track cards/tasks. Who’s doing the validation before cards are “done”? Regardless of who it is (it might have to be you), move cards that fail validation back to “in progress” then if it’s not moving with appropriate speed you can talk about it. “This card is only one point but still isn’t done after a week. What’s the problem?” If velocity suffers, so be it. It will really show that this vendor team sucks if similar size/cost teams are getting 4x the work done and you can actually show that.
      Don’t be afraid to make an example of your worst contributor. “The team is barely holding on as it is, but (as shown by the metrics above) Fergus from is the worst. Most people make 5 teapots/day, he barely does one. The budget for this team can’t afford what were spending on him.” Now you’re hitting the vendor in the wallet.

  4. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    I’ve noticed that I have a lot more free time now? I started medication so now I no longer have days that I just lose to ???. This months deadlines are almost hit too. What do yall do with your downtime? It’s like 40 minutes here and an hour there.

    1. English, not American*

      I use work downtime to work on documentation. In my experience there’s always something that’s either undocumented or the documentation is outdated.

      1. quill*

        Oh yes, nobody documents / templates thoroughly enough for emergencies.

        Either you run into a specific piece of equipment or programming needing replacement and don’t have a carrington plan for it, or the subject matter expert contact list is 3 years out of date, or you have work instructions or SOP’s for equipment you don’t even use anymore…

    2. EmKay*

      1. Document how you do your job. Like step-by-step, how-to for dummies kind of thing. If you get hit by a bus tomorrow and your boss yanks a rando off the street to do your job, can that person do it with these instructions? You want to get as close to ‘yes’ as you possibly can.

      2. Learn and practice a new skill that is at least tangentially related to your current position.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        I’m actually confused about documenting my job, because it seems to be full of complicated rules that are always changing and most of the good stuff is done by feel.

        There’s always a new technique to try though.

        1. Dream Jobbed*

          You can document where to file, what and when to do stuff, etc. Not all documentation is step by step how to do it. If you get hit by the bus, a list of what is due when will be a huge help to someone stepping in.

          And thanks y’all for a summer project idea as I need to do this too. :)

        2. EmKay*

          Like Dream Jobbed said, if you can’t explain how things are done, can you at least provide a rough calendar of when they need to be done? And a list of contacts should your replacement have questions?

          At one Old Job, I was an outside hire and I received no onboarding or training of any kind. Getting frantic emails every few weeks “where is the XYZ report??” got real old REAL fast. It calmed down a little after 12 months, because I’d stuck it through and took copious notes.

    3. Bluesboy*

      That’s what the Ask a Manager archive is for…

      Seriously, if I don’t have paperwork to catch up on, sometimes there are ways to make the office more efficient that take time to set up but will save time in the future – setting up spreadsheets to calculate things automatically for example. That has the advantage that I also learn to use Excel better. Otherwise, I tend to work on keeping up to date with the sector. I’m a member of a professional organisation that has online ‘refresher’ courses for various things, from 30 minutes to an hour long. Useful, and the right length of time, plus no worries if the boss sees my screen.

      1. Jean*

        I second the AAM archives suggestion! I have spent many a spurt of downtime at work skimming through old AAM posts and comment threads. Entertaining AND educational!

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

      My org has a corporate account for LinkedIn Learning and I actually like watching a video or tutorial here and there. Even stuff that’s not technically my job but might be adjacent. Skills, especially software knowledge, are always in need of updating.

    5. Ama*

      Seconding all the documentation notes — someday, if you decide you want to leave your job or need to train someone else to help you it will be so much easier if you already have some basic documentation to fall back on.

      Don’t underestimate what needs to be documented either — even things how your files are organized (both paper and electronically) or if there’s a color coding system you use to mark things on a spreadsheet, think of your audience as someone who has never been in your office but suddenly has to do your job. It’s also useful if you have some processes you only have to do a few times a year or only on rare occasions and want a reminder of all the steps for your own memory (I do this a lot and it has been really helpful).

    6. Bend*

      One strategy is to develop ways to learn about and how to own things related to your current job. If that is not appealing, and it’s feasible, take up a related or unrelated hobby that allows you to still be totally professional and ready for work. The details really depend on the situation.

    7. Zephy*

      I’m glad medication is working for you!

      Could you cultivate a hobby that is easy pick up and put down, like a fiber art (knitting, crochet, embroidery, needlepoint)? If you’re in the office you may or may not be able to just whip out your knitting/etc, but maybe your office culture would allow that, IDK.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        I guess I do have a crochet hook and yarn. Just gotta learn how to use it. I work from home.

    8. Donkey Hotey*

      1 – I’ll echo others and say “Document exactly how you do your job.” Not from a “you might get hit by a bus” perspective but from a “Do you really think you will do this job forever?” perspective.
      2 – My predecessor had two bad habits: Zero filing and over-abundant documentation. (My little wing of the company server is 43 GB… down from 140 GB when I started 4 years ago.) If I have short bubbles of spare time, I whittle away at filing and organization. It’s like eating an elephant: one byte at a time ;-)

    9. Not So NewReader*

      I sort out things that I have been meaning to sort for years. Or I get myself organized for the next big push of work that will need to be done. Sometimes I check into updating equipment or programing that we use.

    10. quill*

      Last job? Read AAM, learn more excel tricks… once in a while I’d have a whole hour of waiting and use it to attend to personal organizational things.

      But I also had long term improvement projects too, such as “go through sharepoint and kill all our expired documents pertaining to things we no longer use sharepoint for” and “make work instructions for a variety of excel trackers and minor programs”

      At new job I’m elbow deep in training right now but I expect I’ll be back to having free hours by like, august? At which point I’ll probably be sitting in the cube with half a dozen new widgets to make in Excel.

    11. Anonymous Koala*

      In my current position I write a lot of standard reports so I write and refine template language and do research in my downtime. I also have a couple of low priority projects to pull out during dry spells. Could you ask your boss for one of those?
      When I worked in academia, I spent my downtime documenting and updating procedures, brainstorming new ideas and researching funding sources, and editing and reorganizing shared resources.
      Downtime is also a great time to work on professional development. Is there a self paced course you want to take, or a work-related book you’ve been meaning to you?

  5. Newbie*

    I’ve been working in a start-up for around two years. When I first started, my title is simply llama groomer, like everyone else in the team except for the team lead. Back then the team was around fifteen people, but since then it has grown into more than twenty people. Early this year TPTB decided to split the team into junior and senior groomers. I got promoted into senior groomers, but it has nothing to do with performance. The three other people who joined the team around the same time as me also got the promotion. There are no additional duties.

    Should I note this promotion in my resume?

      1. Ama*

        Yup, I have some lines on my resume that say things like “Groomer/Senior Groomer, Llamas Unlimited” to show that I got promoted but that it was the same basic job.

    1. have we met?*

      I would. The “senior” title shows (or should indicate) longevity, loyalty and experience.

      Take the win.

    2. Trotwood*

      This is totally normal! The expectation in most companies is that after a few years of experience you’re working more independently or efficiently or on more critical projects and the “senior” job title reflects that. It probably does reflect that you’re performing at a high level (or at least the level expected of someone 2 years in) even if it’s not tied to a specific metric or job duty. Take credit for it!

    3. Kat Em*

      I made a note in mine when I went from Groomer I to Groomer II in much the same way. If it means something to HR, let it mean something to you!

    4. tamarack and fireweed*

      Oh, absolutely!

      I’m currently in a kind of junior researcher position that people can be in for typically 1-5 years. My funding was set out for 2 years. We tried to hire someone on a peer position, same seniority level, but our favoriteandidate ended up preferring another opportunity. So instead of expanding the search, they split that role and I got word that I get another year of funding (starting at the end of this year, when my 2 years end) , and with that my title changes to a slightly less junior title, and I will get a 5% raise (instead of probably a 1.5% COL adjustment). My spouse congratulated me on my promotion and I was like “huh? is that a promotion”. Well YES. It is. I take it. It’ll go on my resume as such.

  6. Whatever*

    Hiring Managers / HR folks:
    What’s the weirdest response to a rejection email you’ve received?

    I always send out rejection emails if we don’t move forward with someone. Yesterday someone who didn’t make it past the initial resume screen replied back “whatever”. About an hour later, they replied back again “whatever” (no additional communication from me. I very rarely get back any kind of response so curious who’s heard some weird/funny ones!

    1. Elle Woods*

      The weirdest one I’ve heard came from a friend who works in HR. One of the candidates they’d planned to bring in was a no show. Friend tried reaching out a couple of times and heard nothing. Friend’s final email to him was the rejection email. The candidate replied with, “I’m glad I’m no longer being considered for this position. I had my tarot cards read and the reader said this role was a horrible fit for me. My psychic said the same thing.”

      1. T. Boone Pickens*

        Ha, that is terrific!

        I haven’t had too many notable ones. I’ll get the occasional response that is filled with profanity which always makes me laugh hysterically.

      2. SMH*

        A coworker tells the store of him and his wife both selling their homes so they could buy one together. At the open house for her home a woman came in, didn’t say a word, and went and sat in the middle of one of the rooms. After 20 minutes she told the agent that the house didn’t have good energy and she should warn people who may try to buy it! And then she left.

        1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

          Did she send them a bill? She also brings a whole new meaning to “reading the room.”

    2. Joie de Vivre*

      This was so long ago, it was a response to a rejection letter. The rejected candidate sent an envelope with a sandwich bag full of trash and a note about how horrible (and trashy) the company was.

      Just proved we made the right decision not to hire them.

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        Whut. Oh, it had to be tempting to call the authorities because of an unidentified substance being sent through the mail.

    3. Sparkles McFadden*

      I was the hiring manager for an open technical position (knowledge of SQL a must). Our HR rep insisted we interview a candidate who was absolutely not qualified. He had no technical experience whatsoever. During the interview, he worked very hard to redirect any technical question. I’d say “Please tell me how you worked with SQL in prior positions?” and he’d hand me five-year-old letters of recommendation he’d brought with him. (The letters of recommendation just said “This guy is a great guy.”) At one point, he literally said “I didn’t have to bother with any of that programming stuff because I had people under me who would handle those low level things.” He also said “I have lots of business experience so I could be a great help to someone inexperienced like you.” (At that point I had been in my company for 28 years, in management for 15 years, and been in that department for three years.) I wrote up a summary of each candidate for my boss, who interviewed the two final candidates. I mentioned “The HR pushed on us is going to be a problem.”

      After we selected our candidate, my boss emailed the HR rep so he could send the offer letter. The HR rep responded by forwarding an e-mail from Rejected Candidate. It was a complaint about me and “inability to do an effective interview” highlighting that I was “young and inexperienced” and “obviously in over her head.” Rejected Candidate suggested I be demoted into the open position and he’d fill my job since he was “so much more qualified.” The HR rep added “I really like this guy so what do you think about doing this?” My boss called the head of HR to complain. (Cursing was involved.)

      A few weeks later, the HR rep was quietly let go. My in-house network told me the guy was taking bribes from candidates to place them in the company.

      Rejected Candidate called me for WEEKS saying he didn’t understand why he didn’t get the job. I’d play his voicemails for people because they were amazing. He basically showed himself to be someone no one would want to hire…and he did it over and over again.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Wow. I thought I’d heard it all, but actual bribes are a new one on me!

      2. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        Did that rejected candidate eventually become president of a large country in the second decade of the 21st century?

        1. Sparkles McFadden*

          Definitely from the same mold. I knew some of the people from his letters of recommendation and they were all members of the “privileged old white boys club.” One guy was a consultant who kept getting fired because he would sexually harass the female employees wherever he went.

      3. Donkey Hotey*

        Yowza. File under, “When people tell you who they are, believe them the first time.”

      4. WellRed*

        My goodness. All I could think was don’t leave super spicy food in the fridge in case the applicant eats it and you get in trouble.

    4. Granger Chase*

      Not a weird one exactly, but it still makes me laugh. We rejected someone for a customer service role, and had just been sending out a form rejection through Indeed for all candidates that we opted to not to bring in for an interview. This particular applicant responded to the rejection email that we could “f*ck all the way off”. I’m still not sure what they were hoping this would achieve

    5. Robin Ellacott*

      We interviewed someone who just seemed emotionally unstable in the interview, boasted about bullying her reports, etc. She replied to the rejection email with “I knew I was wasting my time with you. I’d never accept such a junior role.”

      We wanted to reply that in that case, she was wasting OUR time, because the role, salary, and so on were all in the ad the applied to, but obviously didn’t want any more of a dialogue with her.

      And then there was the young guy who called himself an “alpha dog” at least five times in the interview, all his examples were about being better than his boss so he didn’t follow instructions, and told me I “look as though I work out” and tried to flirt with the three female interviewers while talking over us. He emailed for weeks saying he couldn’t believe it, he thought he had the job, he must have been our best candidate….”

      1. Elle Woods*

        I was a T.A. in grad school. The young guy you mention reminds me of a former student. He bombed spectacularly on the essay portion of a final exam. Wrote an email to me and said “there was no way a student as outstanding as he was could possibly have done so poorly.” He demanded a review of his essay from the course director. She concurred with my assessment.

  7. Former regular being extra anon about job search*

    Hi, excellent AAM community. I was a pretty regular commenter in the late ’10s, not so much recently as my job has gotten more toxic and I have lots of “temporary” extra duties during the pandemic.

    I am applying for a job where I could be judged on the quality of my current organization’s web presence, which the prospective employer could easily look up. But it’s not very good! Our leadership has their priorities all wrong and they have us doing lots of unnecessary side projects rather than, you know, doing good basic design and organization on that site.

    I know complaining about your current employer isn’t done but I feel like I should address this in some way , so that people would know that *I* know it’s not good. Can I say in my cover letter, “I’d like to work in an environment where I can focus my efforts on the fundamentals of good UX and design” (or something like that)? Even that seems too complain-y. I also thought of putting on my resume a line about “Did XYZwork on Product123 (new design and UI coming fall 2021)”. I mean, that IS currently planned, but of course leadership could put us on a multi-month rabbithole taskforce before it actually happens…

    I’d appreciate any thoughts on this one!

    1. peachy*

      I think it’s fine to say something along the lines of that you’re looking to work in a more design-driven organization. Your frustrations with your current company sounds fairly common, unfortunately, so an org that’s more design-focused will know what you mean by that.

      I also think that putting that line on your resume is okay as long as you can back it up with your portfolio. Like, even if the work hasn’t been implemented yet, if you have wireframes, mock-ups, prototypes, user research test results, etc. that can show your design process, that’s going to be the most valuable thing you can show.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Is there anything you can say to highlight the things that are good, despite (crappy management and inconsistent demands and etc).

      “When we did a refresh of the Highlighted Projects page last year, we weren’t allowed to touch the site-wide CSS files, but I was able to improve the foobar widget by adding inline Javascript to yadda yadda yadda”

    3. Mid*

      I’m going to be honest, judging a candidate on another company’s website is kind of a red flag. Unless you’re the only person in control of it and you list it as something you produced, I can’t see how that’s a good criteria to evaluate someone by. That’s like judging a waiter on the quality of food at a restaurant.

      1. Mockingjay*

        Agree. My company is a fantastic place to work but the website is horribly outdated and features a red and black theme. The company president picked out the colors 20 years ago. But with ultra hi-def screens and blue light blocking software, the dark red looks like dried blood. Ugh.

        Still a great place to work; they put their money into the employees. They’ll get to the website eventually…

    4. Observer*

      I am applying for a job where I could be judged on the quality of my current organization’s web presence

      I get that you are trying to leave a toxic environment. But it sounds to me like you might be getting out of the frying pan into the fire. Unless you are THE person in charge of the web site, the idea that YOU would be judged on the basis of that site is ridiculous and unfair. If that’s what they are doing, it doesn’t sound like a good place to work.

    5. Siege*

      I’m in a similar position, with the caveat that our website *is* solely my responsibility, but we use an extremely outdated and horrible Drupal distribution from our national parent and my boss doesn’t understand why it’s a priority to me to get off of their system even though it would be more work – even slapping in a totally uncustomized WordPress theme on a logical URL would be an improvement.

      I think you have the right idea to address it if your job section indicates that you have a level of responsibility for the site. But if you can change your job section on your resume to something like “Member of website team reporting to X team” that could be a way of reading between the lines that you had limited responsibility. I think in the cover letter, I might go for something more general, like “I’m interested in an environment that values contributor expertise, which this role’s description clearly emphasizes” or similar. I don’t think it’s complain-y, it’s a reason you’re not happy at your current job, without addressing the website specifically. I think, to me, it’s the specifics of good UX and design that shifts over to complain-y, unless your title is UX Designer, in which case, what you wrote is pretty appropriate, if you link it to why the job you’re applying for fits that. I think it’s just ending it with a flat statement that feels off.

      You could also just do the job section update and then be prepared to address it in an interview, but think of it as a reason you want to leave your job, not that you’re complaining about your job. They’re interested in knowing what your motivation to apply is.

      1. Former regular being extra anon about job search*

        Thanks, folks! I came back after lunch and I guess I’ll reply to this last comment, because Siege’s situation sounds most like mine. I can tell I didn’t explain the situation very well in my initial post. Basically, I am applying to a product management-esque role coming from an organization that divvies up responsibility totally differently. IN THEORY (according to my job description) I am responsible for the *technology* for these sites because I manage the technical teams, which is why I think anyone reading my resume might reasonably fire up their browser and google my current org. But I have essentially zero control over the content. We have minimal staff support for design and UX, and they aren’t in my department–I have the developers, mainly. My level of responsibility is definitely more than “member of website team” but the kind of things I’m responsible for (uptime, maintainability, etc.) aren’t easily visible.

        I think there are multiple comments here suggesting (a) it’s paranoid for me to think that I’ll be judged that way and (b) I should make it clearer what authority I actually have, then I don’t need to explain away the parts I’m not actually responsible for!

        Siege, I’ve both been myself and later interviewed people who have had solo roles before and I would always take into account the, uh, unique constraints that it involves. I think it always speaks to the person’s dedication and versatility!

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Sounds like you’re going to shine doing an Alison-style resume rewrite that replaces your HR job description with accomplishments. “implemented new [development widget] that reduced support requests from page designers by 50%” … “upgraded [software name] interface to support 33% more top-level URLs” … “maintained 99% uptime for content creators”… i.e. show you’re managing a robust framework by mentioning how you support the designers who fill it in.

        2. tamarack and fireweed*

          Yeah, from my experience a *good* potential employer would not expect you to be responsible for the content, and understand that UX and testing and resources are outside your control. I’d just suggest you make sure you point clearly in the bullet points to what you’re responsible for (and if, like Siege, you had to work with or around a technology platform that is horribly outdated you can use language like “led integration of [whatever] with legacy [Drupal] platform”. Then during the interview they might ask you about that and you can, always diplomatically, say stuff like “there were a number of constraints on my team’s ability to [implement shiny new / better principles and techniques]”. If they ask what, then you go “we pushed for replacing the legacy platform with X or Y, but it seems they were not quite ready for rethinking that” and “I advocated for more staffing on UX and testing” and “where I could make particular headway is uptime and mantaintainability and [expand on your achievements here]”. Some of this could go in your cover letter, especially the last (positive!) bit.

          TL;DR: You aren’t precisely paranoid, but a competent organization knows that. It’s a matter of you putting the achievements forward and voicing what you would have liked to do differently without trashing your current employer.

    6. LabTechNoMore*

      Probably wouldn’t bring it up proactively, but for the interview I’d be prepared to discuss how you’d improve upon your current website if given the opportunity, and cite the constraints you’re facing preventing you from doing so as part of why you’re looking elsewhere.

  8. LI Groups*

    There is a retired woman in my field-specific LinkedIn group, and she constantly takes over conversations with wrong advice and long diatribes about how she used to do things. Her information is outdated AF. She dominates conversations, tells newbies bad information, and has chased away some great mentors/field leaders.

    Would you contact the group admins and ask them to do something? I’m sorry if this woman is lonely, but there are places to get social stimulation that don’t involve misleading people about their careers. This group was a really good resource before she ruined it.

    1. Mental Lentil*

      Yes! She’s chasing people off. This is not healthy for the group.

      And you’re absolutely right—there are plenty of other places she can socialize.

    2. Allypopx*

      I would express concern, at least – pretty much what you’ve written here – and see what they say.

      1. Mid*

        I’d also politely push back on her advice when she comments. Respond to her saying “I don’t believe that’s accurate information” or “that’s not advice I would take” or similar things.

        1. Allypopx*

          Yes! Definitely this. But depending on how active you are in the group, that might only be a bandaid, and it is DEFINITELY a moderator’s place to step in. But in the meantime/in lieu of that don’t be afraid to push back directly.

        2. LKW*

          Or “That may have worked in the 90’s but here are the things I would try now, in the 20’s”. Give the newbies something else to consider.

    3. Seal*

      I had this same situation with a professional association. The retiree in question – who retired over 20 years ago – still attends meetings regularly to spew outdated nonsense and bad advice. They had actually founded the group many years ago, which is certainly admirable. But our field has evolved dramatically and the retiree hasn’t kept up; instead, they regularly lambast the group for daring to evolve with our profession. Worse, some of our members venerate this person and insist on appointing them to committees and task forces, to the extreme frustration of the rest of the group. Ridiculously, the vast majority of the group acknowledges the fact that this person is a problem, but no one will actually do anything about it. I’m one of many members who eventually threw up their hands and walked away because of this retiree. Maddening in so many ways.

      1. Sparkles McFadden*

        That’s sad (and frustrating) in so many ways. I stay involved with groups for my former profession to see what’s new. I love hearing about changes and keeping up with technology. Not only is this person squandering an opportunity, but ruining a resource for other people in the process.

  9. Amber Rose*

    We’re all heading back into the office. Much like many companies out there, it seems management has changed their minds about allowing us hybrid schedules. :/

    It’s funny, we all struggled to adapt to WFH at the beginning, but working full time back in the office after all this time is actually a worse struggle for me. My fatigue is off the charts now and my burn out levels are worse than ever. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that I really, REALLY don’t need to be in the office as much as I am.

    Anyways. I’m so ghostly around here I could probably continue WFH anyway and nobody would notice.

    1. introverted af*

      I empathize with that. Coming in is just so draining, and it might be better if I lived closer to work (which is not prohibitively expensive, but also not really what my husband and I want to do right now). I know my particular job requires me to be in the office at least a couple days, but I don’t need to be here 4 days a week. Staying at the 3 I’m currently working towards would be fine.

      1. Amber Rose*

        I’ve been doing the 3/2 split for months and it works really well. I get time in the office to deal with things, and quiet time at home to work on projects without interruption. Also 2 days a week where I don’t need to worry about my 1 hour each way commute. -_-

  10. AnotherLlamaGrommer*

    I’ve been with my current company for around half a year. For the context I have 3 short employments in the past (9 months-1.5 years) and 2 longer ones.

    My current job pays ok, better than the previous one, but it’s more junior than my previous ones – I used to have more responsibility. I am developing my skills as much as I can, but I’m not a director anymore and the scope of my decisions is limited.

    This reflects in the number of recruiters’ contact requests/ offers I’m receiving on linkedin. While in my previous job I was getting several interesting offers a week. Now it’s good if I get 2 offers/ month, frequently it’s even less than that. This is shockingly little given that my area of IT is developing like crazy.

    I’m worried that if I stay at the curent company for much longer my market value will keep decreasing. I’ve joined the company thinking I would be promoted within a year or two (this topic was raised during the interviews), but now I see that promotions of external hires hardly ever happen and when I asked my boss about “the way there” the reaction was in the vein of “Why are you even asking? No one gets promoted in the first 3 years of being here and most don’t get promoted ever”.

    What would you do?

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

      Can you take your current job off of LinkedIn and get back to being recruited for higher level jobs? I wouldn’t stay there any longer than you need to if there is no opportunity for promotion, and 3 years in a tech field is an eon.

    2. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

      How close together are the short stints? If they’re your three most recent jobs, I’d stay a little longer. If they’re mixed in with the longer jobs, you can just start looking again. If anyone asks, just say you found that the job just wasn’t a good fit. You stuck it out to see if it was just adjusting to the new job but now you can confidently say that it isn’t a good fit long term.

      1. AnotherLlamaGrommer*

        They are quite recent. How long should I stay then?

        Tech isn’t known for people staying at one company for very long but even in tech being seen as a job hooper isn’t positive.

    3. I edit everything*

      How long were you at your previous job? If that was one of the shorter stints, that might have more to do with it than your current position.
      If it was a longer stint, maybe just start actively hunting, and don’t rely on recruiters to call you. It sounds like maybe this position isn’t the best fit for you and your career goals.

    4. StudentA*

      I think you should stick it out for a year or so, unless working there is absolute hell. Then after a year, start looking. You could find something right away, or it could take anywhere from a week to who knows how long. But I wouldn’t leave after six months just because you didn’t get promoted, even if you are overqualified for the job.

    5. Cj*

      Are you responding the recruiter’s contact requests that you do get, or don’t they interest you? If one did, would you talk to them about a new position? If so, I don’t know what they difference between that would be and looking on your own – you’d still have another short term job on your resume if you took a position through them.

      Since IT skills get stale that quickly, you might just be better off biting the bullet and looking for something else. Just make really, really sure it is a job you want to stay in for at least a few years.

    6. Cj*

      Did you mean promotion of “internal” hires hardly ever happens? Because at one point every internal hire was an external hire.

    7. ten four*

      Tech is BOOMING. This is a really good time to job hunt! We can barely find candidates right now, and this is true across all the orgs in my professional circle. I would get back out there; a company that has informed you that you are not being promoted is not a good place for you to stay.

      You’re right that shorter stints are less of an issue in tech (at least, that’s been my experience). But real talk: IF the short stints are a problem THEN you won’t get a job. So there’s no point in not trying.

      But I’d bet that if you put yourself out on the market you’ll get some good pick up. And hey – you have a job, so you can hold out for the title/level you want.

    8. Easily Amused*

      I wouldn’t worry about a few shorter stints but I would worry about being stagnant. I’ve been in tech for decades and for the first time ever, just landed a role with a company that has clear goals for growth and promotion and it is making all the difference to my motivation and feelings of investment. And at 4 months in to this new job, I’m getting tons of recruiters reaching out. I’m turning them down but they don’t care that I just got there. I really don’t recommend staying in a position where you’ve already been told there’s no path to growth in the foreseeable future.

  11. TC*

    How would you handle this simple dilemma? I’ll be taking a couple of weeks off for surgery, and I’m not sure how to word it in my out of office. Probably if I wasn’t American, I’d just do the usual that I do when I’m on PTO “I’m out of the office and will return on X day, please contact blah blah for blah blah”.

    2 weeks is unusually long for Americans in my (very global) company to be out, and it will correspond with a lot of European colleagues being off for summer holidays. And frankly I don’t want people thinking I’m taking a 2 week vacation. I wish.

    But is it appropriate for it to say “I’m out of the office for surgery and will return on X day, blah blah” instead? Is that TMI? I have some work-related reasons (unrelated to me, but relevant) for not wanting to use a more generic “I’m out of the office for medical reasons” so I feel like I’d either rather be straightforward or not mention it. For reference I do simple OOOs, not conversational or cute one, and that’s in line with most people at my work too.


    1. Allypopx*

      Perhaps “on medical leave” would seem more comfortably vague than “for surgery”?

      Does your manager have a preference/is there an institutional precedent you can go with?

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Yup, medical leave. I got one of these this morning: “I am out on medical leave until [DATE], please reach out to X with any urgent matters.”

        1. Virginia Plain*

          Going to disagree. If TC’s message will be read by brits (global company was mentioned) and you don’t want people to think you’re on vacation, don’t just say leave. On leave to us usually means annual leave, which means (paid) holiday (=vacation).

    2. ThatGirl*

      Can you do one internal and one external? If you’re comfortable disclosing that it’s for medical reasons, you can do that, but I’d probably say “I am out of the office on medical leave” instead of specifying surgery? Also I think it depends on company culture somewhat.

      1. Sparkles McFadden*

        Yes, the internal message can be more detailed. I wouldn’t get more detailed than “medical leave” in either case. People just need to know whom to contact.

    3. Abby cats*

      Your medical situation is nobody’s business. If you open that door, people’s entitlement will kick it open further, and you’re setting a precedent of pressure for others who prefer privacy.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I would just stick with the standard. “I’m going to be out for medical reasons” isn’t really any more work-appropriate than “I’m going to be out on vacation WOO,” so if you wouldn’t do the latter, you probably shouldn’t do the former either.

    5. AndersonDarling*

      Remember that only the people who email you on the first day of your vacation would know that you are out for 2 weeks. If I email you a week in, then your return day is only a week away. So it would only be a few people who would notice.
      And if I saw that someone was out for 2 or 3 weeks, I would assume it is because of surgery, getting married, or a once in a lifetime tour of Europe. I wouldn’t judge. If I got a notice like that every other time I emailed, then I would get huffy. But I wouldn’t even question it if you took a 2 week vacation every year. I’ve worked with folks whose families are oversees, so they need to take their vacation all at once.

    6. Murphy*

      I usually see “on leave” or sometimes “on medical leave”. It’s nonspecific and even when I see just “on leave” I never think the person is on vacation. I don’t think either is TMI. I don’t think “surgery” is TMI either, but medical leave is less specific.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        And has the added bonus of no one trying to bother you by calling or emailing you more than once. At least, that’s the goal.

        1. TC*

          I think I may go with “on leave”. I didn’t think about it before but it does seem to imply more than just vacation. I usually say “out of the office” for PTO though plenty of people say they’re out for vacation or business trips or whatever. I’m fortunate that I wouldn’t be expecting any calls and anyone contacting me will have a way to get an answer from someone else.

          1. Cj*

            Those people that say they are on vacation or on a business trip are just begging to have their house broken into.

    7. LadyByTheLake*

      The generic “on leave” is understood (in the US at least) to usually be medical leave.

      1. Sophie*

        This won’t be true in a global company, though. In my experience as an American working for a company based in Australia, “on leave” is a generic term for “out of the office” and doesn’t carry any connotations about the type of leave.

      2. Kelle*

        No, that’s not true. I’ve never heard that. Being on leave can mean any kind of leave

    8. talos*

      For what it’s worth, I don’t think “out of the office for surgery” would read weirdly to me.

    9. TWW*

      I don’t understand what’s wrong with “I’m out of the office and will return on X day, please contact blah blah for blah blah”.

      Two weeks off may not be the norm, but it’s not impossible or unheard of, is it? Why wouldn’t you want people thinking you’re on a 2-week vacation?

      1. Chestnut Mare*

        Especially when it sounds like a 2-week vacation is typical for the European contingent.

      2. Llama Llama*

        Yeah this is just playing into horrible American feelings about taking time off work.

        1. TC*

          I don’t think playing into something is the same as operating within the norms of your company and/or industry.

    10. MoinMoin*

      I think it’d be fine to say it’s for surgery, though it may open the door for people to ask how your surgery went. You could say “medical procedure” as middle ground that’s slightly less specific but not as vague as “medical reasons,” that may garner a little less follow-up. I think being specific, as long as it’s not approaching TMI, isn’t a problem when you’re sharing your own stuff. My only other consideration is whether it sets a precedent for others to give more information than they’re comfortable with, but that might not be a big concern for your office. Really, though, I don’t think people will think a lot about it whatever you go with. Even if you put vacation and they ask about it and you say, “actually I was out for a medical thing” they’ll say “oh” or “nothing serious, I hope” and then they’ll forget about it as quickly as they forget what they had for breakfast.

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

      I know you said you don’t want to, but I would just say “on leave”. No one needs to know why except maybe HR and your manager. Two weeks isn’t shocking for me at all (also American).

      “I have some work-related reasons (unrelated to me, but relevant) for not wanting to use a more generic “I’m out of the office for medical reasons” — If you’re worried that people will think you are being reprimanded or have COVID and need to quarantine, if that’s what the culture of your org is like, they’re going to speculate even if you put “surgery”.

    12. LKW*

      It’s all about with what you want to deal with during/on your return:

      1. If you note you’re on medical leave, then (most) people will respect your time away from the office. But when you get back, everyone will check in to see if you’re ok (or got plastic surgery or something).
      2. If you note you’re out for two weeks, but no reason, people will think you might be available and then make a joke about how they wish they could get away for two weeks and it must be nice and blah blah blah.

      Personally – I’d go with option 2 and just add that you’ll be unable to answer or send emails or calls during that time. It sounds like you’d be in the mountains but would accurately reflect being doped up, in pain or under the knife. Also- put a “for questions about llama grooming – please reach out to Joe; for questions about llama wrangling – reach out to Joy; for questions about llama riding – please reach out to Josh in your email so people don’t feel stranded.

    13. SentientAmoeba*

      Why are you so worried about people thinking you’re on vacation or feel the need to justify two weeks out? My OOO is the same, no matter why I am out. I am OOO until X date. For immediate assistance, contact X, otherwise I will respond when I return.

      This feels a bit like that meme: Europeans: ON vacation, be back in two months. Americans: Out of office for 2 hours for surgery but available by cell phone if needed.

    14. anon for this*

      I was out for about 6 months for medical leave and my OOO said “I am on extended leave. Please contact XXXX or XXXX” I didn’t include a date because I didn’t know when I was coming back.

    15. Jean*

      The purpose of email auto-replies is to inform senders that you aren’t there to receive their message, and how to proceed if their message is urgent. It’s not a space to justify your absence. It’s not relevant, nor should it be. Hope your surgery goes well OP!

      1. StudentA*

        I agree with this. As an American, I’m really confused why you think it’s weird to just state when you’re leaving and when you’re returning. And as an American, I wouldn’t blink if I saw an OOO message saying someone is taking a two week vacation in the dead of summer. They don’t need to know why you’re out.

        It’s not unusual at all, in any of the many companies I’ve worked in to take 2 weeks off, especially in the summer. I’m irritated at the stereotypes frankly.

        If you want, put the names of alternate contacts in case anyone needs immediate help.

      2. TC*

        Thank you! I’m actually very much looking forward to it (resolving a chronic thing). Clearly I was overthinking my OOO.

    16. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      I always used “I will be out of the office from startdate to returndate. Please contact Nana Banana at 123-456-7890 in my absence. Thank you.”
      And I’m sorry you work where longer vacations are not the norm for Americans. My very American place of employment had pretty generous vacation time, and people would regularly schedule two or three week vacations even for domestic travel.

  12. Dying on the Inside*

    I need advice on how to fix something I messed up big on. I work at a high level Teapot Research & Development firm, where even the lowest people have Ph.Ds and national reputation is very important (it’s not academia but academia adjacent).

    Part of my job is updating all the accepted new Teapot Research Projects on everyone’s directory pages. I messed up and accidentally put a submitted project on one of my coworkers pages as final that was actually rejected, and the director of the firm that rejected it saw it and then told all of our other coworkers (not the affected coworker!! who does that!!) that he was claiming something that wasn’t true. One of my other coworkers let the affected know, and to say he was upset with me is an understatement. It was completely my fault and I apologized to him, but should I reach out to the director of the firm to explain (who I don’t know and have had zero contact with)? Or just let it go because reaching out to that person would be even worse for my coworker’s reputation? Thanks for any advice!

    1. user324bh39*

      Ask your boss. Portray what happened in a factual manner and ask how to make it better.

    2. Reba*

      Yes, I think you should set the record straight with the director! Unless your firm is really hierarchical, in which case you need to ask your boss to pass the message along. Otherwise the top boss person is apparently going to continue to think that the person was lying! Honestly, it doesn’t sound like top boss person is totally on the level here, but that doesn’t mean you should not be forthcoming about what happened.

      1. anonymath*

        Yes, I think it’s quite fair to reach out to the director. Don’t grovel, just be matter-of-fact: “Dear (person), I am responsible for adding new Research Projects to (group’s) directory pages. I made an error on 6/12 and indicated the submitted project was accepted rather than rejected. I take full responsibility for this error and want to assure you it will not happen again. (Coworker) has always given me accurate information and I regret the confusion this has caused (or, I want to ensure that my mistake won’t reflect negatively on Coworker.) Best regards, me.”

    3. Ama*

      I do think you should probably reach out to the Director of the other firm and explain it was an administrative error and the coworker didn’t realize it had been put on his page, but probably loop in your boss first in case they have some kind of protocol for handling this. It could be very damaging if the Director thinks your coworker purposely tried to put incorrect info on a public webpage. (Although I will say if I was that Director, I would have approached it as assuming there might have been a mistake not assuming it was intentional, so I don’t love their actions here either.)

      1. Emma2*

        I would not reach out to the Director without speaking to the affected co-worker first and asking if it would be helpful. I think Dying on the Inside is absolutely correct in the assessment that reaching out could potentially be damaging to the co-worker’s reputation. I don’t fully understand how DotI’s role sits relative to the co-worker’s role, but I think a cautious approach is particularly important when something has gone wrong (and things do go wrong, we all make mistakes, but sometimes running around worried, trying to fix our mistakes without talking through the best approach with the affected person, or a more senior person on the team, can make things worse).

    4. Cj*

      I’m confused as to why it would be worse for your co-workers reputation to let the director know it was a clerical error on your part. I guess I wouldn’t do it without running it by your co-worker (or your boss) first, buy why do you think that would be the case?

      The director was also very, very wrong to not to speak to the affected co-worker, tell everybody else instead (and basically saying the affected co-worker lied.)

  13. Allypopx*

    Has anyone worked somewhere with a matrix management system?

    I’m interviewing somewhere that has a heavy one (seems to be all project based, reporting line is more technical than anything. 360 reviews, very little formal direct supervisor contact) and I’m having trouble wrapping my head around it in a day-to-day sense. Positives? Negatives? Pitfalls? Questions to ask?

    1. Susan Calvin*

      Pitfalls are definitely the avenues for critical feedback – if one of your project members is dropping balls, your *project* manager is likely to notice, their *line* manager might need a tip-off, so make sure you know who & how to talk to.

    2. she-user*

      This really depends on your definition of a “matrix management system”. Many orgs call themselves that.

      Those I’ve worked in one where U was stuffed on projects and my project manager and was always my “temporary boss”. You then got reviews from your PMs. Apart from that you had a boss, with whom you talked once a week or two.

      I wasn’t a huge fan of that. In my opinion, the more complex the system the more politics and the less transparency.

      And the pitfalls of 360 reviews are generally known.

      1. Allypopx*

        That sounds to be about the case. Almost everything is project based and each project has a different manager. So not only is the project manager the manager, you may have multiple managers at once. Direct supervisor is just a weekly check-in and I would *guess* the person I would bring general concerns to but this is all stuff I’m piecing together from interviews.

        1. Susan Calvin*

          Maybe something to ask about is how much 1) disciplinary and 2) content oversight your PMs will have – because I’m used to “very little” on both counts, which works usually fine.
          In my experience, for the first, everything has to go through your line manager (who is ultimately also the one who has the most complete picture of your background, aspirations, circumstance, and will pitch for you against unreasonable PMs if necessary).
          For the second, my PMs are generally there to keep budget and timeline on track and keep different stakeholders aligned, but only understand the content enough to know which SMEs need to be in which meetings.

          I imagine if both or either of these were much different, it would be challenging.

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Did that for 10 years, as my first job — government contractor in the 90s.

      It may be laid out formally as a matrix, but the higher you go (in terms of titles and $$), the more it becomes a hierarchy.

      One of the plusses for me, especially as a newby, was that I got to be an individual contributor on multiple projects over just a few years, with multiple time commitments and levels of responsibility. Which means I was able to develop new strengths and skills. I could be an SME for 15 hours/week on one project, and an entry-level developer for 25 on another. And then 6 months later, they pulled me into a full-time skunk works project for a while. Etc.

      One of the minuses, especially when work is slow, is that people can end up orphans.

      1. Coenobita*

        Me too! Except in my case it was from 2008-2018 instead of in the 90s :)

        I directly reported to maybe five managers over the years (just counting the line managers who approved my timesheets/wrote my reviews, not the dozens of project managers I did work for). In some cases, my line manager was also a primary project manager; in other cases, I never actually worked with my manager, and there were two people whose projects I worked on basically constantly but I never technically reported to them.

        I agree with Alton Brown’s Evil Twin on the benefits and pitfalls of this kind of project-based work. I did very well in that environment and it really helped me launch my career, but I had some very proactive managers and I also wasn’t shy about advocating for myself or (eventually) my direct reports/the staff on my projects. It’s definitely not for everyone. I now work in a much less structured system and, while I am VERY glad I no longer have to bill to the quarter-hour, there are a lot of institutional issues at my current job that would have been nipped in the bud under that other model.

        We actually had a decent system for performance reviews, where project managers provided feedback on their project teams and vice-versa, then your line manager synthesized those comments into your actual review.

    4. LKW*

      I work in an org like this. I get direct feedback from my supervisor on projects. That’s the biggest contribution to my performance eval. The other factors are things that I do within the organization. I don’t have a boss per se, I have more of an advocate. He doesn’t oversee my work, but he reviews my project based performance feedback, or any other feedback I receive and then advocates for me during performance reviews.

      I’d ask how performance is evaluated and what are the activities that highlight good from great employees during evaluations?

      1. Allypopx*

        “More of an advocate” – that’s really helpful framing! I can work with that. (Assuming it’s the same)

        1. Cj*

          I’m assuming they are only an advocate if the feedback he receives from the project supervisors is good!

    5. Wisteria*

      I’ve worked at multiple matrix management places. Your functional manager becomes pretty irrelevant. They take care of some company- or department-wide communications, track training, might have a role in assigning you to projects but mostly you will find that work yourself, and handle reviews and discipline if someone complains about you. If things go well, you see them once or twice a year at review time.

      Day to day, your program lead is your manager. It feels just like reporting to a manager in a non-matrixed organization. They give you your tasks, you report your progress and problems to them, you interact with other people on your project the same way you would interact with other people on your project team and with people on other teams for that project the same way you normally do. So, you and the rest of the llama shampooing team for the llama grooming project coordinate with the llama farrier* team to manage llama flow through the grooming process the same way that you would expect to. The difference is that you might be on both a llama project and a campfire raccoon project bc you are the shampoo subject matter expert who knows how to adjust shampooing processes for different types of animal fur.

      You will probably have to fill out a timesheet bc the llama customer will be different from the campfire raccoon customer, and you can’t charge llama shampooing activities to the campfire raccoon account. They track time very carefully at these places.

      I would check into how you find projects to work on. In my experience, I have had to find my own projects once I am hired in, and it blows big time. Basically, once I was hired in, I had to keep looking for work, and I am on a constant job hunt. Definitely ask how they ensure that people are covered for work and ask at what point you will be expected to find your own and how they support new people as they learn their way around to make the connections to keep finding work.

      *llamas do not have hooves, they have nails. I had to look that up.

      1. Ancient Llama*

        Wisteria has a good perspective.
        I was in three companies like this. First did not go well, tossed back and forth between projects, second and third were both way better. I would still be at third group if I could (family issues) where I started as an employee then the manager for the same group. That last group some programs were classified, so as the manager I had to write annual reviews for people working across multiple projects, some of which I couldn’t know the actual work, so I communicated all the time with their project managers so that I could write good reviews.
        -The weekly reports are good, if your manager wants them. If not, keep your own list (much like resume: outcomes focused, not tasks), helps during that annual assessment to recall that project you were on in Jan.
        -Yes, sometimes when one project ended I had to find my own work on another, be prepared for that. But a good manager will be that advocate to help you find another project, because they talk to all those program managers.
        -The day to day is your program manager(s), who should know what % of your time they have, but sometimes they forget (lots of moving parts) and your functional manager can be that advocate to help rebalance between all those program managers, or deal with other issues. I once had an employee who had a different style as the program manager and they got in an epic battle at one point I helped smooth out. But yea, most weeks I did not talk to my functional manager if I wasn’t on a project they were also on.

        But it is definitely not for everyone mainly for those 2 reasons: may have to find your own work and if you are not up for multiple/changing projects. (of course, if you get a bad mgr, either functional or program, then YMMV no matter if you are okay with the 2 reasons, bad mgrs can make any job bad).

        Questions I thought to ask (word your own way/better) besides normal AMA suggestions (don’t ask about assurances they will find you next projects, even the best manager might not ALWAYS be able to find something every time).
        -What are the normal lengths of your programs? (first 2 co they were usually 1-5, the third was 10 or more. My experience: the longer the projects, the more stability you should have: they should be able to level out some of the work better so you can get some sense of “I saw this from beginning to end” even if it was one section of that program. With short programs they likely will need to off-load you in 6 months to another project, then when project 1 needs you to back, project 2 still needs you and project 1 finds someone else. But with longer projects you might drop from 80% to 20% for a bit then back up to 50%…)
        -I notices you mentioned the 360 reviews, is that part of the annual review process, or what is the point/how is it used? (like I mentioned, I had to chase down that info – a 360 process would have made my job easier both as an employee and a manager).

        1. Ancient Llama*

          Oops, among other spelling/grammar errors i hope you can ignore, AAM, not AMA. LOL

    6. Jules the 3rd*

      Mine’s been matrix for years.
      – Communicate communicate communicate: make sure all your managers know what you’re working on. Weekly summaries are best, but monthly project reports at the very least.
      – With us, there’s one manager who handles daily items / projects. They talk over performance at review time with all other managers. This filter strongly affects reviews, so it’s very useful to have all the managers aware of what you’re doing.

  14. Old Yeller*

    Advice for getting ready to talk to my boss about how disruptive her yelling is?

    Background: I’m an associate attorney and one of the partners I work closely with will yell maybe once a month. It’s technically never at someone and is instead about the situation, but she is still yelling in someone’s direction. It’s very similar to Alison’s podcast episode on The Yelling Boss, in that she’s otherwise great and conscientious, but she also has these periods where she flips out, and it totally rattles me, her assistant, and my assistant. (If other people happen to be around, their reaction ranges from freaked out to annoyed at the disruption).

    The reason I haven’t said anything before is because 1) I worry that she will not take it well (in a “don’t police my behavior” way) and that may impact our working relationship (which I know is already impacted by the yelling, but I worry about the 95% of the time when she is calm) and 2) …this is armchair diagnosing, but a lot of her outbursts are very reminiscent of a family member with a mood disorder who loved to go off their meds and I’ve noticed a pattern of behavior in the lead up to her outbursts. So I worry that even if I do talk to her about this, nothing will change.

    So, advice on next steps, I guess? Or how to psych myself up for this awkward conversation? Or can I just punt it to our managing partner and make him deal with it? (AFAIK, he is not really aware)

    1. Allypopx*

      It might be a kindness to try to address it personally before escalating it up the chain, but if you’re worried it won’t be taken well or if it’s triggering for you (which I’m extrapolating it might be based on your family history) you’re under no obligation to put yourself in a situation where you’re worried about getting yelled at.

      If you decide to talk to her, as for psyching yourself up – remember this is a reasonable thing you’re worried about, you’re not overstepping, and you’re completely in the right. Tell her that it rattles you (and others, if that’s appropriate to bring up) and that she’s so conscientious most of the time it’s incredibly jarring and unpredictable which means you’re on edge constantly, and ask if she can be more mindful in the future. This might be more effective if a yelling incident has been recent but I wouldn’t want you to feel like you have to wait around for her to blow again before you bring it up.

    2. voyager1*

      You are an associate and she is partner. You really think you have the standing to have this conversation with her? It has been a long time since I have worked in the law office, but I can’t think of how you have any standing to do this. I get this is annoying though.

      1. pancakes*

        The idea that associates should just endure bad behavior unless and until they make partner themselves is on its way out where I live, thankfully.

        I think talking to the managing partner is probably a better approach than talking directly to the boss because it sounds like she won’t take it well, and because it sounds like it happens often enough that she has to be aware, on some level, that she’s flipping out at work. I think it’s reasonable to approach the MP about this because it is a pattern, and because it’s unsettling for the two assistants, who very likely don’t feel empowered to talk to higher-ups about it.

        1. Cj*

          I can’t speak for voyager1, but I don’t think you’re actually disagreeing with them. V1 is saying the OP doesn’t have standing to have the conversation with her. You are also saying that it should be the MP, not the OP, that talks to her.

          1. pancakes*

            The reasons I gave for talking to the MP instead of the yeller aren’t lack of standing.

    3. Ikora Rey*

      Talk to the managing partner. Do not bring up any armchair diagnoses or personal experiences from your family. Just “she yells, it’s disruptive and I would like it to stop.” I’ve worked in law offices for over 20 years and I’m not sure that that conversation is worth having. A partner talking to a partner about yelling might go okay (though likely wouldn’t get much done), but an associate talking to a partner about yelling? Not only won’t fix it, but will likely generate bad feelings that won’t go well for the associate.

      My advice, since you say she isn’t yelling *at* anyone is to just ignore it when she does yell. I use a de-escalation technique where you agree with the feeling, “Yes, that is very frustrating” or “I can see why you’re so upset” and then disengage as quickly as I can until she’s done yelling. Her yelling isn’t your problem and if you can successfully detach yourself from it, you’ll be happier.

      1. Old Yeller*

        I would definitely never bring up my armchair diagnosis or anything related to it – that’s just part of my calculation in how to move forward.

        I’ve tried to detach myself from the yelling, but sometimes she needs me to do something during the yelling which means I can’t disengage. Recently, a client sprung a literal last-minute filing on us even though they had said for weeks that they would handle it internally. She was (understandably but disproportionately) furious and she called me and it was yelling and instructions. While it was happening I was thinking “I have to tell her that I am hanging up because I don’t like being yelled at,” but at the same time, it was something that needed to get done in the next 45 minutes or else it would create 5x as much work to fix, and she was clearly in such a state that I knew she wouldn’t do it, so I had to just stay on the line with her through it.

        1. LKW*

          Worked with yell-y lawyers. This is a tricky tricky situation. The only thing I can think of is to just yell back. Not at her but more of a “Are you kidding me? Are you telling me that client who said for weeks they would handle this are now saying they need us to do it? I’m furious and I’m yelling about this now!” Just dive into the yell, let your adrenaline rush. Either you’ll feel better redirecting your emotions or she’ll calm down because you’re agreeing with her and meeting her energy and she doesn’t have to convince you how angry she is.

          1. Glomarization, Esq.*

            I guess, but in my view, increasing the amount of yelling in the office by participating in it will exacerbate the inappropriate environment for the assistants. If you want to see your assistants skip to other firms, then this might be a good way to make it happen.

        2. Ikora Rey*

          For those situations, you agree with the frustration (we have those clients, too, and it absolutely is enraging) and then just try to get her on task while you emotionally disengage. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m just annoyed that the yelling is getting in the way of the work. 20 years ago, I’d get so upset and shake and go cry in the bathroom (I grew up in a very dysfunctional family due to mental illness), but I’ve learned to emotionally disengage, deescalate and redirect.

          So, you say, “Yes, this is so frustrating!”
          Listen to her ranting for a bit with encouraging sounds (mm-hmm, yes, uh huh).
          Wait for a slight pause in the yelling, then try redirecting, “So, I need to do X first, then Y? Did they send us Z, or do I need to get that myself?”
          If she goes back to yelling, start over. Agreement statement, then encouraging sounds, then redirecting.

          This process eventually trains them to end yelling with solutions fairly quickly. I’ve gotten my own ranting lawyer down to about 1/4 the time spent ranting over the last few years. He still yells, but not for nearly as long before I can redirect him to working.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            This is really good.

            Privately, to yourself you can say, “I will not help this person carry their anger. Anger is their emotion NOT mine.”

            I agree with getting super practical and action steps focused. It will also help you to tune out some of the angry vibes coming at you because it will redirect your thinking.

        3. The New Wanderer*

          I can understand feeling really caught in the situation because of the time pressure and necessary instructions, but I also feel like you shouldn’t be forced to be on the receiving end of verbal abuse, even if it’s not technically directed AT you. The strategy parents sometimes use with screaming kids is to respond with your quietest, calmest voice – they can’t hear you if you’re talking softly so it tends to shut them down. If she’s depending on your assistance, then quietly trying to clarify the instructions might get her to lower her voice.

          If that doesn’t work, another option is to just hang up, wait for her to yell herself out to dead air for a few minutes, call her back and claim the connection dropped, and hope she had a chance to take a breath and can deal with this more calmly.

          The boldest option is to say “I can’t concentrate when you’re yelling, let’s take a five minute break and come back to this” and then hang up (or if in person, stand up, say this, and walk out). Obviously the second one depends on dynamics, but because she isn’t yelling at you personally she might not be as inclined to take offense that you’re not respecting the chain of command if that makes sense. If she was yelling at you personally I wouldn’t advise this because someone that irrational would probably escalate.

        4. Cj*

          “I have to tell her that I am hanging up because I don’t like being yelled at,” is something you can do with a family member. I don’t think it is appropriate to do with one of your bosses as long as they are yelling in frustration, and not yelling at you about something you’ve done (in which case, of course, they should speak to you calming about even if they are really mad at you).

      2. Glomarization, Esq.*

        This, and I would go to bat for the assistants (who are in even less of a position to address the problem) by adding to the managing partner, “It’s upsetting our assistants, which is not OK with me.”

    4. Delta Delta*

      Attorneys: we’re a dime a dozen. Go work for someone who isn’t unhinged. Signed, an attorney who worked for someone who was unhinged and it was so awful my hair started falling out.

      1. Glomarization, Esq.*

        Absolutely agreed. This isn’t 2008-2011 any more, when there were no openings anywhere. People are lateraling, firms are hiring. Life’s too short to spend your talents in an office with a yeller.

  15. Mental Lentil*

    Has anybody had any luck hiring through Indeed? Any tips or tricks you’d like to share? Are the sponsored job postings actually worth it?

    1. Doctor is In*

      I did try it, did not have much luck. I am in a small town and not sure how many job seekers look at Indeed.
      Believe it or not I found my last couple of employees by posting it on Facebook with an email address for applications.

    2. T. Boone Pickens*

      I’ve used Indeed quite a bit as one of my hiring resources with a good amount of success. I think sponsored job ads make sense as long as you take some things into consideration like the geography of the position your posting, how much competition there is for your role (i.e. lots of companies are hiring customer service reps) and making sure you have good information in the ad (I’m a huge proponent of posting salary ranges in my ads). It also helps if you make sure to title your job something that will generate a good amount of clicks. For example, if you’re hiring a receptionist, title your job in the ad ‘receptionist’ versus ‘director of first impressions’ as receptionist is going to pull significantly better.

      1. T. Boone Pickens*

        Also, I have no idea what your budget is but I usually stick with a budget for my sponsored jobs at $500/mo (I’m in the Midwest) and I typically get good response rates unless I post too many jobs at once.

        1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

          We’ve done a couple rounds of hiring with Indeed. Spent even less than that. I considered it a worthwhile expense.

          One thing I did notice is that we got a lot more remote applications (this is before Covid) than I was expecting, and I’m pretty sure we put something in the ad that we’d prefer local candidates. We’re in the Midwest too.

    3. Ama*

      I have hired one candidate who found us through Indeed, but as a caveat, they also knew someone on our Board (nonprofit), so I think our job posting caught their eye more because they recognized our name.

      One tip I will give you is to go very carefully through your job posting and make sure it is formatted in a way that will read clearly on their website — this year we transitioned from a central admin posting all our jobs to the hiring manager for each position handling their own postings and I discovered the admin had just been copying and pasting from the Word document we gave her and not checking whether the spacing was correct or if all the text ran together. I do feel like I got better quality candidates this last time when I took time to go through and space out all our bullet points properly.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        We post all of our jobs on Indeed. We tend to pay to sponsor them on LinkedIn as well. We also have to sponsor (pay extra) on Indeed since we are hiring only remote candidates and that’s the only way we get have the posting list as fully remote, i.e. not associated with a city and state
        Make sure you have a very clear job descriptions and requirements and some info on your company, if it doesn’t have instant name recognition.
        We have the best luck on Indeed with hiring more junior roles. But that may be because we’re mostly hiring highly in demand experienced technical folks who already have jobs and need to be recruited out of them

    4. JelloStapler*

      I’ve been on search committees where half the time spent is combing through resumes, 80% from Indeed being ones with little no related experience, education or… Grammar.

      Indeed is a waste IMO.

  16. HungryLawyer*

    Why do some managers/companies insist that in-person work is the only work that counts? Over and over again, Alison posts letters from people who WFH and meet or exceed their metrics. Yet, their bosses insist they be present in the office or “the work won’t get done.” If a WFHer is meeting or beating their goals, why do some of their employers claim the work isn’t getting done? Why is the “butts in seats” mindset still so prevalent? By the way, I know many have a *preference* for working in the office. My question is more about employers who insist work *cannot* get work from home even when it clearly is.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I’m not sure if you’re mainly venting or actually want an answer.

      If you’re venting, yeah, I feel the same frustration. It’s extremely annoying to be judged based on appearances of “productivity” instead of actual results.

      If you want an actual answer, it’s usually a combination of two things:

      1. Insecurity on the part of the manager(s) that if their direct reports are fairly independent, what good is the manager? (Hint: good managers get out of their employees’ ways and help to support their employees instead of being demanding micromanagers.)

      2. It’s easier to track “butts in seats” than to track actual meaningful metrics… so a bit of laziness.

      1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

        +1 to (2). Metrics, metrics, metrics. And the lacks of metrics often goes to incompetence of the manager, so it’s a double whammy.

        If the boss hires a new person and can’t define the job more precisely than “take care of the relationship with vendor X so I don’t have to deal with them”, then what is the employee supposed to do, and how are they supposed to know if they are doing a good job?

      2. knitcrazybooknut*

        Agreed. Also, “How will it look?” I worked for someone who was *obsessed* with appearances. The job was 1/4 customer service, 3/4 database stuff. Her priority was looking like we were available 8 hours a day, even when we were working on a time-sensitive project and needed full concentration with no interruptions. Even now, her employees are being pushed to be in the office, even though the entire building is locked up tight, and anyone coming for an in-person visit would need to call in, get escorted into the building, and escorted out again. Plus it’s the most chill time anyways!

        But the appearance of availability is much more important than anything else, if only so she can point to it and say, see?? We’re available.

    2. JillianNicola*

      Accountability and observation. Just reading metrics doesn’t give you the fullest picture of an employee – how they work, when/why the work best, areas they could improve on, etc. Like if your entire job hinges solely on input goes in output comes out beep boop … first of all your employer should probably just start hiring robots because that’s all they’re looking for. But most jobs, there’s a much more human element – how they relate to clients, how they lead/follow, how they interact with coworkers. Personally, if I were still a manager, I would really struggle with how to effectively manage someone I’ve never or hardly ever seen in person, because there’s so much unsaid information between the lines that actually matters. That being said, if your position is one that truly excels without any kind of human interaction (beyond digital, which is imo a faint facsimile), then by all means you should advocate for WFH between you and your boss, or be prepared to search an opportunity that allows it. But yeah, there’s so, so, so much more to managing another human being than just meeting/beating metrics.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        how they work, when/why the work best, areas they could improve on, etc.

        Why do you have to see someone in person in order to see these behaviors?

        1. JillianNicola*

          Because digital communication can be misconstrued/misinterpreted. It just isn’t the same, by a long shot. How many times have you assumed someone was angry based on text? Actually observing human interaction gives you a much deeper sense of all those areas.

          I’m struggling with how to properly convey what I’m trying to say, but the gist of it is – email/Slack/Zoom/social media will always be a lesser form of communication and observation over interacting in person. Like, sure it works, but there’s some small part that gets lost. Like digital photography vs film photography. Sure, digital photography works and it can be great, and the technology is getting better, never mind the fact that it’s now ubiquitous. But then you see a film photo and you realize how much has been lost in translation.

          Humans have always been a self-centric, and selfish, species. We’re not built for cohabitation or collaboration, because another human being is a drain on resources. But we learned, and we learned how to do it really well. I feel like moving to a digital/remote world has put us back a few steps – I mean how many awkward/aggressive confrontations have you had in the past year and a half? I’m betting it’s a lot more than you used to. That’s not a coincidence, and I feel like we’re the lesser for it.

          1. JP in the heartland*

            I thought I was the only one who missed film photography! Digital is convenient, but it’s not the same.

          2. Tinker*

            On what basis do you believe that humans aren’t built for cohabitation or collaboration? You’ve asserted this before, but it’s not consistent with what I’ve seen from people who work in relevant fields — what they tend to say is that humans are intrinsically social, sometimes more so than we tend to think, because other humans are in general a net source of resources rather than a net drain. However it’s entirely possible that my reading is skewed, so I’m interested to hear what the case is for this model.

            1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

              Yeah, this is at odds with my understanding.

              It also reminds me of something that annoys me about post-apocalyptic fiction. Zombie media always shows society collapsing, and people becoming more and more solitary, like society was held together by a thread. But really, humans built societies in the first place because… humans have a tendency to do so. We ARE inherently wont to collaborate and cohabitate. If society collapsed, after a term of instability, we would make new societies. That’s what we usually do.

          3. Workerbee*

            “Because digital communication can be misconstrued/misinterpreted. It just isn’t the same, by a long shot. How many times have you assumed someone was angry based on text?”

            For something like this, I’d just use the same method of communication, and ask! While I agree that online conversation can be stripped of tone and body language, it’s still a viable form of communication that is adaptive and evolving. As an example, I have also noticed how some folks are quick _not_ to give the benefit of the doubt when reading something somebody has written. Taking a step back to think about and evaluate what’s in front of our eyeballs can make such a difference, versus going off knee-jerk reactions.

          4. Tinker*

            With regard to awkward / aggressive confrontations: I think my experience there has been mixed. First of all, I don’t have those confrontations particularly frequently in general, so it’s hard to compare because a single event which may occur by coincidence could skew the results.

            I have interacted with a lot fewer people, definitely in person and also somewhat online, over the pandemic time, and I think this has led to my therefore having fewer negative interactions with others both by sheer numbers and by the fact that my interactions have been more focused on people I have established agreeable relationships with. I’ve also reflected a lot on my priorities in a way that inclines me to disengage more from potentially hostile interactions — in that regard, I think, I have become more socially skilled rather than less.

            Among the people I interact with, I probably do see more conflicts than among the same people in the before times, but the context of these conflicts looks to me more like “stress from direct and indirect consequences of the pandemic” rather than “don’t know how to interact with people anymore because screens” — and, actually, the examples that come to mind for me are people with intensely people-centric jobs with unavoidable in-person components. When I see a marketing consultant who has just come home from an exhausting business trip that ended in an epic air travel snafu and a social worker who has been trying to hold it together for their client population for a year and a half have a total meltdown over proper loading of the dishwasher, “lack of people skills” is not my leading theory for the cause.

            Where I see people talking about feeling like they lack people skills, on the other hand, they’re generally not so much talking about conflict but rather cooperative navigation of feelings like “wow, I’m not used to being in a room with this many people” or “it feels weird actually having a conversation with someone I haven’t known for at least two years” or the like. To me, this doesn’t seem like a problem, more so an acknowledgment of a weird transient event that if anything provides a relatable common experience.

            I do feel like in the last couple months I have seen a lot more obnoxious driving behavior, but also my driving patterns have substantially changed even relative to the before times over the past couple months, and in ways that would suggest increased risk for such encounters anyway — for instance, I’m driving to the airport more, and also more often driving through areas with a lot of disruptive construction zones and heavy traffic.

            To me, it seems like what I see in conflicts is highly consistent with the way people’s social skills degrade when they are stressed, and not terribly consistent with the way people’s social skills degrade when they are unpracticed.

          5. Girasol*

            I used to work in a company where my team was extremely friendly, collegial and collaborative as remote workers in five US states and two other countries. They were fun to work with and productive. After a downsizing I ended up in company where office attendance was very firmly mandatory but the culture was unfriendly, cliquish, and territorial, and people were better with excuses than results. A team can be great at collaboration or awful at it regardless of where their desks are.

            1. HungryLawyer*

              My team right now is a very friendly, entirely remote team based in the US as well. We get along great, have team calls on a regular basis, and we all get our work done. Our manager is glad to let us all keep WFH if we want to because we are doing our jobs. He doesn’t feel the need to babysit us by keeping a literal eye on us. And he can justify that to the higher-ups by showing them we exceed our metrics.

          6. Cj*

            Humans *are* built for collaboration, precisely because of resources. A group of hunters may be able to kill way more game than they need, while one hunter might not even be able to kill enough for himself. An executive and their assistant (or any other set of team members) can produce more work together than the total they would produce individually. And so on.

            I do agree than digital communication can be misconstrued/misinterpreted. I also think people are less likely to apologize if they realize they snapped at a co-worker in a Teams message than if they realize they just did it in person, in which case, they might immediately be like, hey, sorry about that.

            I was one of the first people back in our office (last summer) by choice. But I took on a lot of duties that my team members that were WFH couldn’t do because they had to be done at the office. Which seriously messed up my concentration (because they needed things done *now*, like print payroll checks), and my billable hours.

      2. Julianna*

        Honestly to me that sounds a little micromanaged. Admittedly I’m a software developer who loves functional management that leaves me alone as much as possible and I know plenty of people who do want more hands on management, so that may just be my read though.

        If the work is getting done to the standard you expect, then there shouldn’t be a problem. If there is a problem it will show in the work product.

        1. JillianNicola*

          It’s not about micromanaging. You can observe and praise/course correct in a meaningful way without nudging every single tiny task. And in your field, yes – I’m sure problems show themselves in the work product. But that’s not true of all fields.

        2. HungryLawyer*

          Exactly my thoughts as well. Good managers will be able to figure out if someone is doing their job whether that person sits ten feet from them or is thousands of miles away.

      3. mediamaven*

        This is very true – there’s a lot missing right now when it comes to mentorship. Zoom isn’t the same I’m afraid.

    3. CheeryO*

      Metrics don’t always tell the whole story. Is communication failing? Is more work falling to staff who are in the office or are easier to reach? When I’m in the office, I end up spending a ton of time answering random questions and taking on minor tasks that would normally get spread out among a bunch of us. Are there good systems in place to check in and keep track of productivity, if it’s not a job with frequent deliverables? Is the quality of the work good? I’ve noticed that a lot of people are calling into meetings and getting their work done, but the level of engagement and work quality has fallen off a cliff.

      I know many of those things can be addressed with individual employees while they’re working from home, and obviously a good manager would do so to the extent possible, but laziness and time constraints often win out. It’s easier to just drag people back in.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Is communication failing? Is more work falling to staff who are in the office or are easier to reach?

        Those can be metrics, too. Metrics don’t always have to be numerical percentage goals and growth. They can be anything you can measure or notice.

    4. Anon for reasons*

      I’ve had bosses who did more for me than just make sure I did the work and met the metrics.

      For the bosses who served as mentors and helped me learn my profession, I benefitted a lot from everyday, in-person contact. I know work is supposed to be strictly professional, but I must confess the ones who helped me most in my career are the ones with whom I had a personal and affectionate relationship.

      Maybe that’s not such a good thing and WFH will help us move away from that icky, touchy-feely management style.

    5. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      I think a lot of times employees might feel they’re just as (or even more) productive, but their boss might disagree – not because they’re stupid or willfully ignoring the facts, but because their version of “getting all the work done” is probably a bit different than the employees. A lot of jobs have the set main tasks which might take up 75-95% of the employee’s time, but a variety of ephemeral/irregular/unquantifiable tasks take up the remaining workweek. If the employee is accomplishing 100% of the 75% of their job that is the main focus, they’ll feel like they’re as productive as ever. But if the boss sees the 75% getting done and the other 25% not getting done, they probably think the job is best performed from the office.

      Now, is this every job? No. Is it necessarily “right” or “better” for the boss to decide that the extra 5-25% of work justifies requiring staff to work from the office? Of course not. But it is a reality, and I think a lot of the “WFH is the only way to work and anyone who goes into the office is a useless dinosaur” crowd are missing some of the broader context.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        but because their version of “getting all the work done” is probably a bit different than the employees.

        I would say the onus would be on the boss to articulate what “getting all the work done” means, then. If it means “You must be sitting in front of me and look busy staring at your screen,” that’s not good enough. Bosses who believe their employees are not being productive should explain what “productive” means and what results are desired that aren’t being met.

        1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

          I completely agree. But I also think that the reality is, many (most?) workplaces have a set of unspoken or unwritten policies/procedures/modes of operation that are hard to fully and adequately describe. So, yes, it *should* be the case that everything is made crystal clear to every employee, but I wouldn’t expect that from every workplace (including my own).

          1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

            Another thought (how I wish these comments were editable): This encompasses the “other duties as assigned” portion of the job description. It’s not enough for an employee to say “I’m doing everything in my job description” because usually there are these little things that get added in order to get the work done and make everyone’s workflow smoother.

            1. Anonymous Educator*

              Whether it’s in the job description or not, the employee should still be judged by the work they’re actually doing, and not judged solely on how productive they appear to be by sitting in a chair staring at a screen.

    6. Anon for This*

      To me the question would be whether the employees are actually getting everything done. The person who is working from home is meeting the metrics, but maybe the metrics they’ve been given were based on WFH. Are there things that aren’t being addressed or falling to others because of the WFH? (See some of the letters from those who have been in, and their co-workers now expect those colleagues will continue to do some of their tasks, especially things like dealing with their mail.)

      I am seeing this now, in employees who are resisting coming back to the office. Important to note that we aren’t back yet, and won’t be for some months. But people are already talking about refusing to come back because they were able to do all their work from home. They don’t seem to realize that the reason they were able to do it all while in WFH status is because everyone else was in the same situation – we weren’t getting the same inputs from external customers because they were also at home. We managed with Zoom meetings even though there were sensitive topics that we weren’t willing to share on those platforms, that would normally require in person meetings, etc. When we are back in the office those things will also be back, thus the need for in office presence.

      To be fair, there are a handful of employees who could get everything done remotely, or get a lot done remotely and only be in the office occasionally. But where I work that would be the exception, not the rule.

      1. RunShaker*

        It’s same for me as well. My department has had great success in WFH. But head of my department is insisting we return & it’s due to same issues before pandemic. The head of my department has expectation that you continue working until work is done, no matter how late you state. Funny thing is, no one in our department would stay & work over time & company overall supports work/life balance so he couldn’t do anything but complain. Plus all that was said is above is same issue I’m experiencing.

    7. Free Meerkats*

      We’ve been told we need to be back in the office full time starting July 6. My group is the only one at our location that has been remote since it all started (the first US case was in my city), the rest of the plant has been onsite (can’t take sewage home to treat.) Since I’m the manager, I know what needs to be done, and what’s been done, and we’ve been as effective as regulators as when we’re all in the office; our numbers are down, but that’s because a lot of our job is inspecting and regulating restaurants, and they’ve been mostly closed.

      IMO, one of the main reasons the city is bringing everyone back is optics and public opinion. There have been citizen comments at Council asking when we will be “back at our desks and productive.”

      1. HungryLawyer*

        UGH I hate that comment about productivity! Suggests that everyone who has been WFH for the past 18 months (and those of us who have always WFH) aren’t productive simply because of where we do our work. I am lucky to have a boss and a leadership structure that 1) very clearly defines my team’s work , 2) very clearly defines our overall goals, and 3) trusts that we’re getting our work done. Seems to me any organization that has a blanket “no WFH” rule (assuming the jobs legally and physically can be done from home) doesn’t trust its employees. That’s a huge problem. IMO, people can adapt to be just as personable, communicative, and productive at home as they can in the office. It just boils down to whether bosses trust their workers to do that at home.

    8. Ahdez*

      In my case, the main reason I want my team in person at least part time is that our work is very collaborative and the quality of those collaborations suffer in 100% remote work enviroment. Things also take much longer to get done; for better or worse, our org culture relies a ton on in-between formal task conversations. I see this now with the people coming in daily vs the people who are still partially remote. I get that some totally desk-based work can be done remotely, but the flip side is that remote just doesn’t work for every field. That said, I am fine with the work that can be done remotely being done remotely sometimes and aim to maintain flexibility for employees who need it.

  17. Emmie*

    I have been on several interview panels lately. I wonder: what are the best / worst questions you’ve been asked in a job interview?

    1. Magnus Archivist*

      Someone once (older man) insisted I (young woman) tell a joke while I was giving a job talk. I managed to pull a safe for work joke out of the dark recesses of my brain but yikes.

      During an interview for a different position, the non-archivist the position would report to asked me how I (an archivist) organize things and I launched into an snappy but broad explanation of archival arrangement principles, MPLP, etc etc. Someone interrupted me to explain that he was just asking how I organize my personal files because the last person who had the job kept their office very messy and it really bothered the boss.

    2. not a doctor*

      Worst: Can you work with basically no training or direction? (I’m paraphrasing, but that was absolutely the gist.)

      When I asked them to clarify, they did say, VERBATIM, that I should expect to be “thrown to the wolves.” I’m not sure why I didn’t just walk out then and there.

      1. RagingADHD*

        In a way, that sounds like an excellent question because it revealed something you needed to know!

    3. deadline meeter*

      “So you just graduated [university]? We’ve worked with faculty from [university] who aren’t good at meeting deadlines. Can you meet deadlines, or does the whole place just not care about them?”

      Answer: “Uhh…I can’t speak for faculty, but as a student, we did have deadlines for homework, so…yes?”

      (I did get the job! I might have been slightly more eloquent than that.)

    4. Msnotmrs*

      Worst question I was probably ever asked was about if I’d ever had workplace conflict and, if so, how had I handled it? Fairly standard question, not that alarming really. I answered with a short anecdote about how I’d gotten a new manager, and we had initially had a personality conflict, but through better communication and teambuilding we’d overcome it. The interviewer asked how long the conflict had gone on, and I said probably about six weeks. He seemed really incredulous with that answer, like it was an extremely long time for what was basically a slight amount of regular workplace friction. It was the only thing he wrote down in the entirety of the interview. Why did he ask about conflict if he considered conflict to be egregious?? Did he want me to say “no I have never experienced conflict in a professional setting”?

    5. The New Wanderer*

      Worst questions, general category:
      – If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be and why?
      – What are your three worst qualities?
      Side note – these questions were asked at the same interview, and the second question was asked by two separate people during the in-person interview cycle. They were from a set of questions printed on a sheet that all the interviews had, and had each been told to select three questions. I did not enjoy that interview cycle.

      Worst question, red flag category:
      – How do you handle working with passive-aggressive people?
      Side note – the question was absolutely based on having a P-A individual that this position would have to work closely with, who had previously driven off multiple people in the position I was applying for. They had no plans to get rid of the toxic individual despite the clear negative effects on the team.

      Best question: Any question that clearly showed that the interviewers understood the role, its value to the team/company, and the skills needed to be successful. If the interview doesn’t contain a single question that gets at this, I know they don’t know how to hire for the role or how to value the work/skills.

    6. Bucky Barnes*

      “I don’t like trust anyone with a degree in [field]. Why do you think you can work here?”

      The job was in [field]. The second part wouldn’t be so bad if it was reworded but coming after the first part, it was bad. Everyone else liked me though. No I didn’t get the job. No, the company isn’t still around. (That’s probably not why. :) )

    7. Web Crawler*

      I got hired right out of college, and most of my relevant experience was with personal projects. One interviewer asked “what did you enjoy about working on this specific project?” I liked that question because it gave me a lot of opportunities to show off the technologies I used.

    8. Charlotte Lucas*

      My favorite was probably when I interviewed with Disney. We were asked who our favorite Disney character is. A fun yet relevant question.

    9. Diatryma*

      My favorite was for a copyediting position: the interviewer wrote, “The data is,” and, “The data are,” on a sheet of paper, then asked me to explain the difference. It just seemed so appropriate, and I hadn’t yet bombed my chances (that came later.)

    10. RagingADHD*

      Worst: “What do you do for your quiet time?”
      It was for a church secretary position, and since I was from a slightly different flavor of the denomination I had no idea that “quiet time” was jargon for “daily personal prayer & devotion.” Since being a church member was an up-front job expectation, I wouldn’t have minded answering. I just had no clue what they were talking about. If a question contains jargon, it should be jargon that’s common to any candidate who’s qualified enough to be brought in for an interview.

      A good one: “Tell me about a time you dealt with a really difficult client,” with follow-ups about what I learned and whether I’d do things the same or differently.

      1. Msnotmrs*

        Was it for a nondenominational church? I have noticed lately that nondenoms have a strange habit of rebranding things that are standard in other churches. There’s one near my house that has signs up for “kid’s summer church week.” Do yall mean Vacation Bible School????

        1. RagingADHD*

          No, it was for a mainline denom, but one of the more evangelically inclined ones back when jargon and coffee hours were cool and evangelicalism showed up more as music style than political rants.

    11. Anonymous Koala*

      I think the best questions are the ones most relevant to the job your candidate will be doing, since it shows the hiring manager really knows what they want and can give specific instructions to new people. For example, my current job has a lot of long term projects and independent work so sometimes you can goes days/weeks without talking to other people. At the interview, they explained that the job was very self directed and required independent work and asked me if I had worked similar situations before, how I managed my time effectively when working independently without regular accountability, how I organized and delegated long projects, and to give an example of a time I taught myself something.

    12. Wisteria*

      Honestly, worst question I have ever had was “How do you build trust?” I was like, O.o, you need to do that here? It turns out that trust is a company value and they have a whole culture built up about building trust. The manager had been at the company for so long that the culture was like water to a fish (she had probably never worked anywhere else, a lot of people here are like that), whereas I was like, “I … do my work? And I don’t steal? … Why don’t you people trust each other?”

      By “on,” I’m guessing you mean you were the interviewer. If that’s the case, watch out for asking questions that are perfectly transparent to you but might not be obvious to someone who doesn’t work there.

      1. Anonymous Koala*

        Oh my god I might walked out if I’d been asked that question. What did you do?

    13. Cooper*

      I think the funniest was when one of the interviewers asked me how I felt about headphones with kitty ears. (Clearly joking around!)

      We’re in software, and I was very clearly wearing a gaming headset on the call, so it wasn’t completely out of nowhere, but I can see where it would have absolutely flummoxed some people!

      (I got the job, apparently in no small part due to the fact that they just liked my attitude better than the guy with more experience, and not one but two of my coworkers have the kitty headsets!)

    14. tab*

      Worst Question: “How are you working with men?” Sexist, much? FYI, I’m an engineer. Most of my career I ONLY worked with men!

  18. Abby cats*

    I’m supposed to be discreet about still being allowed to WFH, since many departments in my company need to be onsite. It would be a lot easier if all of my GD neighbors didn’t each mow their lawns three times per week. I hate suburbia.

    1. MechanicalPencil*

      Yes! And naturally, they only mow when you have a meeting. As if they’d seen your calendar and planned accordingly. My other issue is garbage/recycling pickup. Somehow that’s become 2 separate days, and they always hit my street around the same time as my daily morning meeting.

      1. Abby cats*

        OMG, that too! My area does not have town-run disposal, so we have to choose from four companies who are licensed to operate here. That means I have to hear EIGHT trucks per week (four companies each doing trash and recycling).

      2. Filosofickle*

        Trash pickup! We have a 3-pass system — waste, recycling, and green — so trucks rolls by my house 3 times. Make that six times, because the other side of the street gets hit on a separate pass. It goes on all day! AND I hear the neighboring route the day before, too.

    2. Ali G*

      OMG At one point I wanted to knock on everyone’s doors and be like – hey can we all agree to have the lawns mowed on Monday mornings before 9 am? Ours gets done early on Mondays, neighbors on Tuesday and then like 3 neighbors get done at the same time on Wednesday. It’s ridic!

    3. Llellayena*

      What was fun was the day the neighbors were having a tree removed about 20 ft from my window…in the middle of a virtual meeting I was running…

    4. MetalHead*

      Headphones with a mic boom right in front of your mouth might help a lot. It really keeps the ambient sound down. If someone sees you on Zoom & asks, try a generic,”Oh, the headphones work better for me.”

      1. B42*

        I have a pricy headset with mic boom and amazing sound cancelling. Nobody can hear my black lab barking at the mailman 3 feet from my chair…or the kids screaming at eat other outside my door. (It’s a Jabra Engage 75.)

  19. Tired*

    How do you stay productive during the first trimester of pregnancy? I am still very early but I am exhausted and sick all the time.

    1. Mid*

      How much flexibility do you have? Can you work for 2 hours, take a nap/break, and repeat? Would you be able to take sick days, or FMLA? Depending on how sick you are, you could very much qualify for time off.

      Also, give yourself some slack! You’re sick and also literally GROWING ANOTHER HUMAN INSIDE YOU! That’s a lot of work! Let yourself be less productive for a while.

      1. Tired*

        While I do have flexibility, I need to go to work in person and take public transportation so there isn’t really a good way to take a nap during the day. I really don’t want to take time off right now. I’m trying to get the project to a good place before maternity leave.

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Oh gosh, it’s a tough time, especially if you haven’t told everyone so you can’t rely on sympathy.

      Literally the only thing you can do is nap and go to bed early. If you can vary either your sleeping patterns or your working patterns, you may find some more productive periods of the day and try to match your most challenging / urgent / important tasks to those windows.

      Best of luck.

    3. Aurora Leigh*

      I had to take a nap in my car on my lunch break. It helped some. I also let my boss know fairly early so she had context for why I wasn’t at my best.

      1. Tired*

        I did have to tell my boss already. I work with some chemicals that are not good during pregnancy.

    4. Roja*

      Fellow first-trimester here… honestly, I haven’t. I save up all my “spoons” for whatever the most important thing(s) are I have to do that day and then drop the rest. And I’ve done plenty of asking for help; my husband has picked up a ton of my usual tasks.

      Honestly, I also told my manager(s) since it was just too obvious that I wasn’t well, but I probably could have held off if I were in a different line of work that didn’t require me to be so active.

      1. Pop*

        Yes! Did this in my first trimester and now I’m back at 36 weeks in a PNW 110 degree heat wave with no air conditioning. I’m getting comfortable with not being the top employee for a little bit.

    5. JustMyImagination*

      I would block off my calendar for a meeting after lunch and take a nap. I was lucky to be working from home so I had the flexibility. But knowing that a rest was coming gave me the mental ability to push through more.

    6. Midwestern Weegie*

      Honestly- I told my boss early and asked for flexibility. In 2 of my 3 pregnancies I was desperately sick and tired and just could not perform to my usual standards. I didn’t dare take time off lest it impact my maternity leave, but I did flex my hours so I could work around my least productive hours, and spend them wishing for death in a dark room. I was no more than 7 weeks when I disclosed both times- in one case, it was already rather obvious thanks to hyperemesis and on-site work, but my current pregnancy I was working from home so I just looked like I was slacking.

      Congratulations, and best wishes for an uncomplicated, boring pregnancy from here on out.

      1. pieces_of_flair*

        Same. I had hyperemesis and it was obvious something was wrong, so I told my boss about the pregnancy right away. She gave me the flexibility I needed. In my case, the worst of the morning sickness was actually in the morning, so my boss allowed me to work from home in the mornings until I felt well enough to come in (my job at the time could only partially be done from home). We had a comfortable old recliner in the office that I could lie down on when I felt particularly awful. My coworkers were generally kind and understanding. So to answer your question, I wasn’t as productive as usual and there was really no way around it. I just did the best I reasonably could. I was fortunate to be in a supportive workplace.

        The one thing I wish I’d done differently in my first pregnancy is to start taking Zofran sooner. None of the supplements or home remedies worked for my nausea and it was incredibly debilitating. Half a Zofran a day did so much for my productivity.

    7. uncivil servant*

      Oh geez I just went through this and it was hard! I just did my work review for May (in mid-June, because I was late with everything) and it was horrible looking at how unproductive I’d been. It also coincided with a major IT outage and a COVID lockdown in my region, so there was some external excuse, but it made my stats look terrible.

      No solutions for working better, just good wishes that things are better in a few weeks!

    8. Double A*

      Every pregnancy is different, but a few things that have helped me are 1) just tell people who would be in a position to help/accommodate me a bit. I figured if I miscarried, I’d also need some time off for that and I would personally rather be open about what’s going on with the people who need to know (this of course totally is about your own comfort, but there’s this whole idea that you’re not “supposed” to tell in the first trimester and I think it’s important to realize you should 100% do what’s comfortable for you and not follow a rule that may not make sense for you).

      2) If you’re struggling with nausea, talk to your doctor about medication. Unisom and B6 (which are over the counter and perfectly safe for most pregnancies) made the difference between being able to do my job and not. You can avoid all medication if you want to, but again, make sure that’s because you really want to, and not because of some narrative about being totally pure for your pregnancy.

      3) Getting a little bit of exercise feels like the hardest thing in the world but I found it really did help improve my energy a tiny bit.

      Also know that the first trimester is truly the worst! The last month is really hard but still not as bad as 1st trimester.

    9. Jean*

      Indulge in some treats to keep your mood up (a quick break in the afternoon for a chai latte, a prenatal massage or pedi at the end of a long day, things like that). And this is also a good time to start getting comfortable with the reality that “productive” will probably look different for you from now on, so practice giving yourself grace. Best wishes :)

    10. Hotdog not dog*

      I didn’t…I just muddled through as best I could. Once the official word was out, my colleagues were very understanding. I wish you a healthy pregnancy and an easy delivery!

    11. dealing with dragons*

      sour candy and lunch naps, even if it was finding a quiet place in the office to rest my eyes.

    12. MissCoco*

      I’m answering as a non-pregnant person, but I have a sleep disorder, and during the first few years of treatment I frequently felt nauseated, and I’ve always thought that experience might share some similarities to early pregnancy.

      For me, always having mints, ginger ale, and crackers on hand was really important to make it through work. Partially it just helped my anxiety about getting sick at work to have some things that I knew would help keep my stomach settled.
      Cold beverages sometimes give me a bit of a boost that holds the sleepiness at bay for a few minutes as well.

      Finding time (and a space) to nap can be incredibly helpful! But of course it’s often hard, and I’ve never been comfortable falling asleep at my desk.
      I did start a “meditation practice” and would take 15-20 minutes during lunch just to close my eyes and rest. It still helps my energy a bit even without falling asleep, and I felt more comfortable possibly being seen by a co-worker resting at work by labeling it as meditation.

      The other thing I found really helpful was shifting my hours a bit. I try to have a snack and 5 minute walk around 10am, and then eat lunch around 2pm, because those are my lowest-energy times, so I try to give my body a bit of extra fuel then, and schedule more involved tasks at times I am going to be less worn out.

      Hope your pregnancy goes well!

    13. fhqwhgads*

      Drink lemonade, eat lemon drops, saltines, ginger ale. It doesn’t necessarily help with the exhausted half, but being exhausted and sick is worse than being exhausted alone. So you’ll feel relatively better.

  20. Mid*

    Ahhh this is kind of a Good News Friday post but I’d rather say it here and now.

    I just got a 20% raise! I had another job offer and my current firm immediately countered with a slightly higher salary, and also let me change some of my job duties slightly so I don’t have to do as much of my least favorite task and get to keep doing more of the work I love!

  21. Gem*

    Advice on navigating a very young team (I am young too) with a strong WE ALL HAVE TO BE BEST FRIENDS culture? I find it exhausting and annoying

    1. Allypopx*

      What specific behaviors are you seeing that bother you? That’s typically a good place to start. Also what’s your role within the team?

      1. Gem*

        Dress up Mondays where they peer pressure people into wearing costumes on camera. Themes are things like “prom”


        1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*


          At some point, somebody should have told these people about professional behavior. Work is not the Alpha Kappa Schmappa house.

          If you can identify a ringleader or two, you need to talk to them directly. (a) this behavior is offputting and cliquey; it’s not polite, and at some point could lead to real legal issues (b) the time you waste on coming up with this stuff should be spent on actually doing the job.

          1. Gem*

            I wish I could! We are mostly all low level at this point and there’s a super strong competitive vibe for promotions. I don’t want to alienate them too much but all the cliquiness is making me feel ill

            1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

              Oh, so you don’t have any management responsibility over them? I must have misread or misinterpreted your question.

              Where is your manager in this, then?

            2. Allypopx*

              Is it something you could bring up with a manager? If I were the manager I would loathe this.

              1. Gem*

                Our managers seem to like this gross little culture they’ve created since it’s so “tight knit” and “creative”

                1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

                  That’s a very strange definition of “creative”…

                  Given this other info, I don’t see how you can change this right away.

                2. Nea*

                  I am suddenly reminded of the series of letters from the manager who pushed out an older woman assigned to his department because she didn’t fit in with the culture he’d created.

                  One of those letters was complaining that he’d been fired by higher-ups for focusing on this party culture to the detriment of the department’s actual work.

          2. Gem*

            It’s so unprofessional. Earlier in the pandemic a few of them were sending team wide emails about how much they were struggling with weight gain and poor food choices. They always ended with workout videos. It was awful to read and made me feel terrible

            1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

              Wow. I have no advice but I HATE being lumped in with the young, unprofessional crowd just because we happened to be born around the same time.

              Actually. I do have advice – do what you can to set yourself apart in the eyes of leadership. If there’s a groupthink going on, don’t participate. Be nice and go with the flow where you need to, but also try to build strong relationships outside of this clique so others in your workplace know you as Gem, who’s really competent at X task rather than Gem, one of the 5 youngsters who like dressing up on camera.

        2. Mental Lentil*

          I would put the kibosh on that so quick it would make their heads spin.

          This is so high school. (Peer pressure? Really?) They need to be reminded that they aren’t in school and are being paid to accomplish a task.

        3. Reba*

          Oh no OH NO

          what would happen if you just, don’t do these things? Really, what would happen? I have said this here before but I am a fan of embracing a no-fun persona ;)

          So if the Girl Squad whines “but don’t you just want to have fun/team spirit/whatever” you can cheerfully say, “it’s really not for me!” “nope, I’m no fun!” “please don’t include me in your diet email threads in future, it’s not great to read that at work (or ever)!”

        4. Nea*

          Remember: Never JADE – never justify, argue, defend, or explain why you aren’t doing it. That suggests that there’s a dialog here and where there is dialog there is negotiation.

          The soft rejections: “I’m sorry, I don’t have clothing like that in my closet.” “I’m sorry, my budget can’t stretch to one-use outfits.” “Oh, I’m sorry – I was so wrapped up in other things I totally forgot!”

          The hard rejections: “I read an advice book to dress for the job you want, so from now on I’m taking my cues from [higher up who presumably doesn’t do this].”

          If you can get away with snarky:
          “But this is my prom skirt suit – look, it’s not black or navy!” “Betcha $5 Hilary Clinton wore a pantsuit to prom.” “I’m dressed like a serial killer – they look like everybody else.”

          If you can do this with a straight face and only if you can do this with an absolutely straight face: “My religion forbids me to do this. The camera will steal my soul.”

        5. TWW*

          I used to work at a place with monthly “theme days” like Hawaiian shirts, sports jerseys, Christmas sweaters, etc.

          There was peer pressure but I abstained. Nothing bad happened.

        6. Sparkles McFadden*

          This sounds horrible. I am so sorry.

          The best you can do is to just not participate. Don’t explain beyond “Eh…it’s just not my thing” if questioned directly as to why you’re not wearing a corsage and a prom dress. Yes, you’ll get the peer pressure thing but you’ll get that anyway because that’s what cliques do.

          On the plus side, you’ll be ready for anything after this crap.

        7. PT*

          A good way to do an end run around “costumes” is hats and/or necklaces. Look I’m wearing a tiny witch hat on a headband, I am in costume for Halloween. Look I have a lei on, I’m participating in the luau!

          You can get them in the dollar bins/dollar store so your investment is low, and you can just add them on to your regular outfit for the themed meeting, take it off when it’s over, and not be stuck in it the rest of the day.

          You’re still in your professional attire, and you’re not being a spoilsport either. It’s a win/win.

    2. Mid*

      Set boundaries. Be warm and friendly without being their friend. If they socialize outside of work, don’t join in, or at least not very often and leave early when you do. Keep communication through professional streams (so emails and calls, not texting) or keep the tone professional regardless of how you do it (so minimal emojis, text like you’d text your grandmother instead of your friend.)

    3. RagingADHD*

      If you don’t want to alienate people, I have found some success with folks like this by simply turning the attention back onto them as quickly as possible.

      “Raging, where’s your costume?”
      “Oh, you know…LOOK AT YOUR CUTE EARS! THEY ARE SO AWESOME! And Sally, that NOSE! It’s the SWEETEST!”

      Basically, I treat them like preschoolers. They usually like it.

      It’s still tiring, but less tiring than trying to either a) do all the stupid stuff they do, or b) argue about it. And since they are doing it for attention, they get that itch scratched at a low cost to me.

  22. ThatGirl*

    I have my six-month HR check-in coming up. Overall I’m pretty happy with this job, it’s a good company and I like my job and coworkers.

    But one thing that put me off a bit when I applied is that they definitely lean hard into the “[Company] family” – it’s a BIG company, but it was started by a family and there are still family members in high ranks. And I think they mean well, and I haven’t seen any evidence of shenanigans. If anything, they’re doing their best to build a more inclusive and welcoming culture. But I feel like I should say something about how that might be offputting to people. Would you?

    1. Reba*

      At six months, I think I wouldn’t. But on the other hand, you have recent experience as an applicant/having an outsider’s view of the company, so maybe that would be good feedback for them?

      1. ThatGirl*

        That’s the thing, I think this is the time where I’d have the best standing to say it — and we’re still on a bit of a hiring spree, so while I can’t singlehandedly change things, it might be good feedback. And they do seem open to feedback.

    2. MMMMMmmmmMMM*

      I had the same issue! A few department members brought it up when I was interviewing and it definitely made me extra nervous. It didn’t end up being a problem, so I let it go when I had my 90 day review. Sometimes people use weird phrasing.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I asked a lot of questions around that when I was interviewing, and gleaned that what they really meant was “we care about each other, but not in an intrusive way”, but I still think they could tweak their external recruitment materials a bit — it’s one thing to hear it from a department head, it’s another to see it on the job listing.

        But, I definitely appreciate the perspective :)

    3. Not So NewReader*

      No for many reasons.
      I took the job anyway.
      I am new, they are established.
      It’s working for them- they are big.
      Because they are big they are probably not as family-ish as they think they are.

    4. beach read*

      It makes sense to discuss if that is within the parameters of your job and it is expected of you. If not, I would not. I can’t think of anything you’d have to gain and it is possible HR may see it as less well meaning and more critical.

  23. autistic anon*

    Regular on a throwaway for obvious reasons.

    Today at work I disclosed my autism, and it went great.

    After a quiet surprised moment the boss basically said something along the lines of “this makes no difference unless there’s anything in particular you need us to do?” I was able to say truthfully that actually everything is currently optimised so this was just for information and context. We then had a chat about how this is actually good news and validating, and he brought up some known autistic strengths that I display which are valuable to the company (focus, attention to detail, integrity).

    It’s a load off my mind, honestly. It’s a very safe environment for this kind of disclosure but you never quite know, you know? This blog is also a very ND-aware space (better than the world at large) so I thought you wouldn’t mind my sharing this experience here.

    1. No Tribble At All*

      Hooray! Glad it went so well, and glad you’ve been in an environment that’s so well optimized for you. :)

    2. Quidge*

      Your manager is a great model for how this could go, so glad you didn’t get any nasty surprises!

    3. Wisteria*

      I disclosed my autism, and I got no real reaction. Then on my latest review someone who knows I am autistic complained that I get into “arguments” with people over word choice. I was like, dude. I am autistic. We are famously quite literal. I need to know what you freaking mean!

    4. It’s all good*

      That’s great! I’ve also been lucky when I’ve disclosed my ADD I’ve had nothing but support

  24. I edit everything*

    People who have successfully changed careers, how have you done it?

    Every now and then I think I should get a “real job,” and just freelance on the side, but would have to go outside my field to do it. And I would probably need to pursue some kind of training. I know I’m not suited to most of the jobs on offer around here (various levels of nursing, medical assistant, etc.), but could probably do HR or Higher Ed administration. It all seems so daunting, when life is already over-stressed and precarious (in part because my freelancing is not predictable or well-paying).

    1. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

      I shifted from marketing to project management in an unrelated field. I looked for jobs where my current set of skills overlapped with the skills of the career I wanted to move into. So, Marketing>Marketing Project Management>Project Management. It took some time, but I got where I wanted to be.

    2. Snailing*

      I shifted from food service/hospitality to HR, though honestly it took a little climbing.

      I started off at the food/hospitality business just as a catch-all floor clerk – combo of working behind the deli (taking orders, gathering the order, passing it on), maintaining the grocery floor, and ringing up orders, very old-school customer service oriented. I have good soft skills so I became the go-to liaison between the floor and the kitchen (it’s always “us vs them” and they needed a peacemaker!). I eventually became the floor manager and made it known to my boss that I wanted to become the general manager.

      Very small business, so when I became the GM, I also had to learn basic HR and bookkeeping and became basically right-hand-woman and was able to parlay that experience on my resume and with my network to move to an office job as an employee benefits consultant/account manager.

      I also took some classes at my community college to bolster my confidence in my abilities – Business Management and Account 101 classes. And I don’t want to be in employee benefits forever, so I just finished getting SHRM certified so my next move can be toward more general HR and hopefully in an internal position vs consulting for many different businesses (which is tiring for me, personally).

      The key for me was to look at the skills I had from my customer-service-food-retail-hospitality job and show how those were transferable to HR and admin work. And then I had a lucky break by leaning on my network – because they knew me and my potential, I got better bites there than applying to businesses that didn’t know me. Now that I’ve already broken into HR, though, I think I’ll have better luck with that next time since I won’t be trying to overcome the industry change mountain.

    3. not a doctor*

      I’ve career-shifted twice, and both times I essentially did it through 1) training/education and 2) a “transition job.” That is, a job I could get with my existing skills/background, but one that included things I would need for my desired career. Then I parlayed the skills I picked up from that position into landing my first real job in the field.

      Of the two, I think the transition job has been MUCH more important. I only needed the training the first time to get my license; I think the job would have been enough without that requirement. I did need it the second time, but I self-educated through free online courses and got the rest in my transition job.

    4. Public Sector Manager*

      Definitely find an employer where you can get it with your current skills and have that employer also offer jobs in the career you want to go into. Being a known commodity as a good employee will open many doors with an employer.

      My sister had been doing a customer service role as a reservations agent for a local hotel group. She wanted out of that job, so she took a job in a customer service role for an insurance company. Although she’s great at customer service, it’s not how she wanted to spend her career. She became interested in HR, and when there was an opening in the HR department at the insurance company, she changed roles based on her office reputation as a really good employee. Then she used tuition reimbursement and training to increase her HR skills. She just went into semi-retirement after 20+ years at the insurance company, and about 16 of those years were in HR.

      At my public agency, the current head of HR started as an office messenger. One of our IT people started as an entry level typist who did a combination of office training and off-site training they paid for to make the move to IT. One of our other HR people is now an Admin Chief for our non-attorney employees. All three moved up after establishing themselves as great employees first, and a lot of times our agency paid for their training to move into a different role.

      Taking a chance on a good employee is not a big risk at all.

    5. Silverose*

      I shifted careers with additional education. I started in libraries, but when jobs in my state dried up by the time I finished my Masters (statehouse had cut funding for education and libraries about the time I entered my Masters program), I had difficulty getting a professional level job because there simply weren’t enough to go around. I eventually decided to transition to social services. I went back to finish a bachelors degree in a related field, since neither my bachelors or masters were field-adjacent, then applied to the one social service agency with the highest level of turnover in the state – state CPS. I knew it was practically a guaranteed job if I applied in several different counties, and I knew if I could make it for 2 years with the state (CPS in my state had about a 60% first year turnover rate at the time), I could move to any nonprofit in the state and consider grad school to move towards counseling. My health has prevented the grad school while working full time, but I’ve now been in the social services field for 7 years with at least increasing salary if not job title – I can’t move into management without the masters in most agencies, unfortunately. And yes, I made it more than 2 years with the state, although there was a medical leave of absence near the end due to toxic management (not the work itself).

    6. I edit everything*

      I wish there were transitional jobs around me. There just aren’t. What I’m seeing are jobs that require specialized training from the get go, or manufacturing and retail, neither of which I’m interested in nor will be anything like progress.

  25. introverted af*

    How would you all suggest vetting companies when you’re applying for remote work? I have been looking at Glassdoor reviews, but it just doesn’t feel the same as comparing local employers that I know somebody who knows somebody that works there that would give me their opinion. I know during the interview process I can also ask about meeting with current people working there to ask about their impression, but that still…

    1. Chauncy Gardener*

      Check on LinkedIn to see if you know anyone there and can check in with them
      Also, hopefully you’ll be interviewing with at least several people before you get an offer. I’ve seen some comments from people who don’t like to have more than say, two or three interviews prior to getting the offer, but if everyone at the company is fully remote, you need more! You can also ask, if they don’t offer it, for a peer conversation. Those can be super helpful

  26. trying to help*

    Can I ask for advice regarding appropriate norms when comforting a foreign colleague re: a struggle in her personal life?

    I’m an independent consultant in the USA who has done work over the past few years with a client in the Czech Republic. We have a pretty informal and friendly working relationship, and when talking with her yesterday she confessed that she was struggling because earlier this week her partner broke up with her. She was choking up and told me she felt embarrassed to be sharing these kinds of struggles with me, but I told her it was OK and heard her out. We spent a bit of time chatting about life, sharing random war stories when traveling, etc. and it was quite nice to chat with her at length on such an informal basis.

    Given the general state of the world right now and the friendly nature of our relationship, I think it would be nice if there were something else I could do to help comfort her over the next few weeks, but I’m not sure 1) what’s appropriate in this context or 2) what’s feasible given the fact that she’s in Europe while I’m in the USA. I was thinking of buying her an Amazon gift card on her local Amazon site and telling her to treat herself to something nice but I’m not sure if that’s overbearing or awkward. Maybe I should just call her next week and check in so that she knows I’m thinking about her. Or maybe I should just leave it alone and keep our conversations focused on work so she doesn’t feel like she’s oversharing. What do you think?

    1. Bluesboy*

      You might struggle with the Amazon gift card. I mean, my Dad tried to send me one once (we’re English, but I live in Italy), and…Amazon Italy is in Italian…he didn’t have a chance. I assume you would have the same issue with the Czech Republic. (But maybe that’s just him struggling with technology).

      No experience directly with the Czech Republic, but generally in Europe I would say buying a gift card is a bit odd anyway, for someone you don’t have a close relationship with. Maybe not in the Czech Republic though!

      Personally I would go with calling her and asking how she is, but make sure you have something work related ready just in case she’s embarrassed and feels she overshared – that way, if you ask her how she is and she answers “Fine, what can I do for you?” you’re ready with something and don’t put pressure on her to share.

      1. The Real Persephone Mongoose*

        It might be your dad struggling with technology. I use non English Amazon sites all the time to purchase GCs for my FB group winners. If he’s using Edge, he just goes from Amazon USA to the Italian page. A popup comes up in the top right hand corner that says Translate Page from Italian? with an option of what language to translate the page to. Clicking Yes will translate the page so you can use it. He does need to know what the currency conversion amount is so he can buy the right Euro amount. Then at checkout it will ask him about paying in USD which is what I do.

    2. Troutwaxer*

      I don’t know about your gender, but if you’re the same gender as her partner I think sending her a gift card might be misunderstood. Maybe you could send her some chocolate or a standard “Sorry you’re feeling down card,” making it a point to mention your own partner a time or two in the next couple weeks?

    3. LadyByTheLake*

      I am in the US and having a coworker buy me a gift card after I shared a personal story would feel patronizing and invasive. I don’t have any reason to think that would be different in other cultures, so am ready to be corrected, but I vote against that. Also, the separate, “I’m thinking about you” call feels like too much. At the most, next time you talk to her one on one in one of your usual business calls, maybe say “how are you doing?” but that’s it.

      1. LadyByTheLake*

        Sorry — not coworker, but business colleague, but you get my drift. Also, I think that Troutwaxer is on point that if you are the same gender as her former partner, any over-solicitude on this could be seen as a come-on and be really uncomfortable.

    4. Filosofickle*

      I’d let it lie. FWIW, I’m also an independent consultant and my partner just broke up with me out of the blue so this is right up my street! I have shared my situation with a few clients/colleagues that I have a personal connection to and while I’m grateful for their compassion, I wouldn’t want them to send me anything. That would be too much.

    5. LKW*

      I don’t think a gift card is a good idea. As a consultant you often end up playing therapist so this is not totally out of sorts. I recommend simply checking in and asking how she’s doing without being specific and sending a funny picture or picture of a baby elephant as a nice gesture. Nothing over the top and still relatively professional.

    6. Toothless*

      I had a breakup recently that I ended mentioning to a couple coworkers, and I was mostly worried about whether I’d shared too much and whether it would color their opinion of me. I would recommend keeping things focused on work while being matter-of-fact about the breakup if it comes up again. I think continuing to be warm and friendly and respectful to her as usual is enough :)

    7. friendly viper*

      I’m from Eastern Europe and living in the US – but I don’t really see a cultural angle here. I agree with others that it’s best to keep things professional, and a gift card isn’t appropriate. I think asking her how she’s doing the next time you talk would be a kindness, but limit it to that. You don’t want to open the floodgates and become friends, unless you are ready to end your business relationship.

  27. MMM*

    When interviewing, would it be ok to ask to speak with someone currently in the same role? I had 2 rounds, one with the company recruiter, and then spoke to 2 separate managers, who manage the open role. However, there are approx 7 other coordinators that they also manage. If I were to continue in the process/receive an offer, would it seem strange to ask to be able to speak with one of the other current coordinators? Not necessarily a full-blown interview time slot, but there are a couple of questions that I think would be more relevant to hear their answers to, as opposed to just getting the manager perspective.

    1. Thought Leader*

      That would be a very normal ask! I’m a current hiring manager and my company always makes sure to include peers and not just management in the interview or at least for a 15-20 minute “coffee chat”. Definitely important to get another perspective on company culture / ask about your future manager / ask what peers actually say about the day to day (which might be different from what the manager says!) / etc.

    2. LC*

      This is a super normal ask, and I think it will probably be helpful for you! Someone doing the actual job can share a perspective that managers can overlook in interviews.

    3. Chauncy Gardener*

      Normal!! I just recommended that in a comment above. It’s a great way to get a more clear read on the company, role, everything

  28. Needless Guilt?*

    so I’ve seen this scenario play out here before, and the response is always “don’t feel guilty about moving on,” but I’m really struggling with it
    For background: company is in the middle of a merger. While my job is secure and there are plans to expand my dept, I have to learn a whole new operating system, learn new procedures, and train my dept on a whole new system (I’m the manager). It will almost like having a whole new job plus my title was downgraded. I made up my mind that it was time to at least poke my head out and see what other jobs were out there, but then my director’s cancer came back. She is out on a 3-6 month medical leave following surgery and radiation treatment. I literally told her when she left not to worry about anything, I’ve got this, and to just focus on recovering/kicking cancer’s @$$. I put off updating my resume or applying for anything with the idea that I’d refocus when she was closer to coming back. Then a recruiter for a large company contacted me about a huge opportunity — literally checks off all of my boxes. After speaking with the recruiter, I decided that I needed to interview for the opportunity. I’m now on round 2 of interviews. They seem to really like me. They’d be willing to work with me on a month’s notice for current job, but I am racked with guilt. If it was just that current job was short staffed, busy, or in the middle of the merger, I don’t think that I’d feel this way, but it’s more that I told a cancer patient that I’d support her while she’s out and now I’m thinking of leaving.

    1. Amber Rose*

      It’s not your job to support her, it’s the company’s job. You can still do your best to make your leaving easy: as much notice as feasibly possible, as much help finding your replacement as you’re allowed to give, lots and lots of documentation on your work.

      But in the end, it’s the same as if you yourself suddenly needed a medical leave. You’re not the sole pillar of support here and you have to put yourself first and allow the others pillars to catch the slack.

    2. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

      Take a deep breath and remember that it’s a business decision. You couldn’t have predicted this was going to happen. Don’t sacrifice your own future for someone else’s present. It’s easy to feel guilt about something like this, but job hunting is an unpredictable thing. And hey, they contacted you. So you have that to fall back on.

    3. Undine*

      It wasn’t a promise so much as a reminder of priorities. It’s the company’s job to ensure that they can cover for an employee who has cancer, dies, or simply quits. If she comes back and you have left, she won’t feel you let her down, that won’t be what’s on her mind. You can care about your director and advance your career.

    4. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      If it was just that current job was short staffed, busy, or in the middle of the merger, I don’t think that I’d feel this way, but it’s more that I told a cancer patient that I’d support her while she’s out and now I’m thinking of leaving.

      Use your notice to train someone to be that pillar of support you intended to be.

    5. Sparkles McFadden*

      I get where you’re coning from but there is always *something* going on. You’ll think “Not like this! This is everything all at once!” but there would always be some catastrophe. All anyone expects is for you to work with them on a transition.

      This is going to sound weird but think about how your company might find someone who already knows the new software and that will make their transition easier.

      No one knows what all of the moving parts are. Don’t pass up an opportunity!

  29. No Tribble At All*

    How do you deal with shared vacation/sick leave anxiety? My old job had vacation separate from sick time, but my new one has only one bucket for PTO. I haven’t booked any days off. I only get 15 days PTO per year, and I’m scared of booking vacation in case I get sick. Plus, you’re allowed to roll over up to 200 hours (more than I get per year, hooray) so I feel like I should be saving it all up. We’re required to use up our PTO before we go on short-term disability or FMLA leave, and we’re planning on starting trying for kids next year… so I should probably save up as much PTO as I can, right? How do I navigate this?

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      Wait. They’re saying you can’t go on FMLA unless you’re completely out of PTO? That doesn’t make sense. Those are two separate things.

      1. Kimmy Schmidt*

        I don’t think this is uncommon? FMLA just protects your job while you’re out recovering or caring for a relative. FMLA doesn’t have to be paid leave. I think a lot of companies require you to use up your PTO up first so that you continue to get paid for as long as possible.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Yep. And if Short-term Disability is available, you have to use up fully paid time before the partially-paid time kicks in.

        2. introverted af*

          At my job your PTO and other leave would run concurrently with any FMLA leave, which is pretty shitty IMO

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            Why is it shitty?

            I’ve taken FMLA twice in my tenure here – once for childbirth and once for surgery. Both times I had enough leave to cover my time off. Both times I took FMLA. FMLA protects your position, not your paycheck. If I worked for a company that wouldn’t let me take FMLA until I ran out of leave, they could fire me for missing too much work 3 weeks after childbirth, even though I had enough leave to cover 12 weeks.

            1. fhqwhgads*

              I suspect the shitty part is that the employer doesn’t offer separate, paid parental leave. For example my last 3 jobs gave 6 weeks fully paid parental leave. So you’d only need to use vacation starting at week 7 out of the 12 FMLA protects your job.

      2. Cormorannt*

        It’s not great, but it’s pretty standard. My company does the same, you have to use all of your paid time off before you go on (unpaid) FMLA.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          But FMLA doesn’t have to be paid. And even if you’re paid, you might need to be on FMLA. If you need 12 weeks off work at my employer, due to surgery or a pregnancy or whatever, even if you have enough leave to cover it, you still take FMLA. The getting-paid part and the keeping- your-job part are completely separate.

          1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

            Yeah, if I remember right from when I worked, FMLA is a required thing if you’re out for more than X number of days. We had a crappy HR person so everyone had to read up on the government site and explain it to HR. It has nothing to do with paid or unpaid leave, it just protects your job. And you can use it intermittently if you have ongoing medical needs or for family caregiving; you just need that stated in the application.

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      If you never use any PTO to decompress, you’ll make yourself ill. You know the expression, “a stitch in time saves nine”? I think it applies here.

      Perhaps you could plan to have an entire week off – properly off, without checking emails or anything – as a proactive measure, and save the rest. That might feel comfortable and achievable. Then towards the end of the PTO period, you could consider whether you feel safe to use any more for an extended weekend or longer break.

    3. TWW*

      If I have a vacation planned, but get sick beforehand, I might end up with insufficient PTO and have to cancel my vacation. Which is bad, but not bad enough to discourage me from planning a vacation in the first place.

      If the opposite happens and I use all my PTO on vacation and then get sick, I’d have to take unpaid sick days. Also bad, but I have savings for emergencies like that.

      I think banking money to cover unpaid sick days is preferable to banking PTO.

    4. QueenBee*

      We have one pot at my job, very common in my industry for all PTO and I actually love it. At first I was nervous but I love not having to deplete all my vacation but have two weeks of sick time sitting there that I can’t use unless I pretend I’m sick. Just one big pot of time to use however we want. Most of my coworkers and I mentally subtract out several days for sick time and “forget” about it and plan vacation around the rest of it. We also are able to roll over a few hundred hours. I don’t remember the limit.
      Take some time to get used to it and you’ll probably love it. I don’t think I’d like to go back to having it separate.

    5. Girasol*

      Know anyone at your new company well enough to ask how people there do it? Managers usually have an amount in mind – a week, three weeks – that a good employee will save up as a cushion for sick leave before they use PTO over that amount for vacation. A manager will question the good judgement of the guy who uses up all his PTO on vacation and has none left when he gets sick, but be more generous with someone who set aside a reasonable amount but has an emergency serious enough to blow through it all. You could ask coworkers, especially new parents, and your boss what the unwritten guidance for this is at your company.

    6. Pop*

      I’m 36 weeks pregnant with my first, so have thought about this part recently. Take the vacation! 15 days a year is not a ton of PTO. Even if you didn’t take a single vacation hour or day until you go on leave (which would probably be impossible – lotta doctors appointments if you’re the partner giving birth) that’s maybe what, three weeks of paid time? If you can, and I realize this is not doable for everyone, spend time adjusting your budget/spending so that you can save more as a cushion for unpaid off for when baby gets here. Look into signing up for short term disability insurance, which you can’t sign up for while pregnant but since you’re planning in advance might be a good financial option. And not to be a bummer, but it takes some people a while to have a baby, whether due to miscarriages, bad luck, or infertility. If you reach next year and have been saving vacation time for a pregnancy that hasn’t happened yet, it will sting extra. Good luck!! It’s complicated to decide what’s best for your family.

    7. Wisteria*

      I make sure I have no fewer than 40 hours of PTO at all times, which coincidentally is how much I am allowed to roll over. Then I freely use the rest as I please.

      I think you need some clarity on what “use up our PTO” means. Does it mean use your entire block for the year? Does it mean use a certain number of hours? FMLA just guarantees leave, not paid leave, and there can be a certain amount of time that has to pass before short term disability kicks in. For, short term disability kicks in after a week, so to be paid, I would need to use a week of PTO (hence my 40 hour rule).

    8. Epsilon Delta*

      I have the same thing and it’s the worst. I try to keep 1-2 days buffer in case I get sick, but we are allowed to go slightly negative with manager approval (or up to several weeks negative with Big Boss approval). But definitely use your PTO!

      As far as using PTO for FMLA, that’s more of a question of whether you need/want the full paycheck as long as possible. If you do want your full paycheck, then you’ll want to save up your PTO. If you don’t need the full paycheck (perhaps you can adjust your budget, or draw from savings), then I would use up all the PTO before FMLA starts otherwise it’s essentially a waste, since you would have that time off anyway. This is especially true if your company offers short term disability insurance, which pays a portion of your paycheck when you’re on medical leave, typically including childbirth.

    9. ronda*

      I don’t know about flma, but I was on short term disability. The first so many days are not covered by the insurance (maybe 5 days?), then the short term disability started which was 100% of pay, then if you get to the end of the ST, LT disability would start (I think that was at 180 days). LT disability is a % of your pay, and I think my companies documents said they terminated your employment upon LT disability (but one of my coworkers came back after about a year of disability, so maybe it depends). This requires your doctor sending in info then releasing you when it is OK to go back to work.
      my HR did ask me if I wanted to use my PTO time for those 5 days, and I think I did. I think the other option was for it to be unpaid.

      But your company may have a different insurance set-up around this and they can tell you the details.

      The people I have known to go out to have a kid have used ST disability, I don’t think the Dr will say you are fine to go back to work later, because you used PTO for part of it, so I think using PTO instead will just short change you on the disability insurance.

      If you know someone who had a baby at work, ask them.
      One of my coworkers asked me how it worked when I got back cause he need to go out for a surgery at that point & I was happy to tell him how it worked for me.
      (or ask HR about how disability works if you feel like that won’t set them off)

    10. J.B.*

      Since you want to prepare for potential pregnancy, be sure to find out what short term disability would cover. At a previous job short term disability covered nothing for full term straightforward delivery (would cover something if you got put on bed rest). You could sign up for a separate policy that was almost prepaying the leave but had to be in the policy a year before it would kick in for pregnancy. I had to burn through all leave for postpartum, so that lessened stress overall. As did having my husband take paternity leave when I went back to work.

      15 days PTO is common in the US and is one of those super stingy things. Personally I don’t get sick that often so pre-kids I would plan to use 10 days for vacation, maybe one week bigger vacation and long weekends around holidays.

  30. Underperforming Report*

    My company has been growing quickly and our hiring is slightly behind so we have a lot on our plates. My direct report has her annual review soon and she does some solid work but I’ve identified challenges in time management and attention to detail (which we also talked about at last year’s review but has gotten worse in the last year). She identified similar challenges on her self-evaluation but also said that her anxiety and the pandemic are causing these issues and she doesn’t feel motivated because she feels like she’s working hard already.

    I’m not quite sure how to address this, was planning on mostly just focusing on action items I need her to improve for attention to detail / time management but would love to hear other thoughts.

    1. Anonymous Koala*

      Could you work with her on strategies for managing the time management and lack of attention to detail? I’m not sure what level she’s at, but when I had interns some of the things that helped were:
      – breaking some of their bigger projects into slices with them, and setting some intermediary deadlines to check on the work and give feedback
      -pairing them with peers doing similar work and having them double check each other
      -creating detailed checklists for routine work (like a particular type of report) and making them use them before turning in work – I really like this one for people who have trouble with detailed work because you can get them to critically think about the mistakes they’re making by have them make the checklist draft first, and every time they make a new mistake, you can add it to the checklist as a reminder to double check the same thing next time
      I know these might create more work in the short term, but after a while your direct report might not need such hand hold-y strategies. And catching mistakes as they happen might save you some time down the road

      1. Cooper*

        +1 to the checklist thing, as someone who is BAD with attention to details. Checklists can be really helpful for those of us with poor memories– I don’t have to try to remember all the rules, I can just go down the list and see what I see!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      She feels she working hard already.
      I’d have to ask where does she feel she is spending most of her time and energy?

      I don’t think you can have an effective conversation without talking a bit about the pandemic and how things are now opening up. And also discussing the increased work load everyone has. When will more help be brought in? How much more work will she be expected to take on before this happens?

      One thing that jumped at me is that “she says she doesn’t feel very motivated”. I would never say that to a boss no matter how bad the situation was. Just my opinion but one should not tell the boss they do not feel motivated to work. I could see saying something like, “I am doing a, b, c and d. I can take on e but I need to let go of one of the first 4 because I will not be able to complete everything on time.”

      Eh, my motivation is my check so I can eat. I always have that no matter what. So I guess I would ask her where her biggest time and energy sucks are. I tend to think in terms of what can I do as a supervisor do to bring in more resources, reduce labor, raise accuracy etc. It can rejuvenate motivation when a boss brings in more support for the employee.

    3. WellRed*

      We’ve been in a pandemic for the past year. Could this be worsening her time mgt? I know I’ve struggled at times.

    4. beach read*

      Ask her what would help! Maybe even pre-review you can ask her to come up with some ideas of what could help her with her identified challenges. Does your company have an EAP? How has the company in general handled the pandemic? Has she taken any PTO? Any significant PTO? With everything that 2020 threw at us (and early 2021), recovery may take time.

  31. 23&me*

    Hi all! Just a young’n here who could really use some advice. I’m 23, graduated in the middle of the pandemic, and was very thankfully able to find a job last year…just not in the field I want to go into. My fiancé just got relocated to Germany from the US and I’m thinking of moving over there with them. I have a significant amount of savings and could comfortably travel Europe for 3-6 months before starting my job search anew. If I did this I would expect to travel for 6ish months and then job search– so assuming it takes 3-6 months to find a new job it would essentially be a year gap (maximum) in my resume and professional development. Am I shooting myself in the foot long-term if I take this time in my life to travel? For context when I job search again it will be in the nonprofit/humanitarian id organization world. Any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated.

    1. JillianNicola*

      Do it. Absolutely do it. Don’t worry about the gap (and honestly your answer of traveling/experiencing the world will be an excellent one). Experience life! I really wish I’d done something like that, either after graduating high school or college. Don’t let the toxic expectation that you must be a worker bee all your life dissuade you – if you can afford the gap, don’t even hesitate. Future you will thank you!

      1. Nesprin*

        do it! you won’t have this chance again and being an interesting human>> having another few months of employment history

    2. not a doctor*

      I can only speak for the US in terms of job hunting, but from that POV: this time in your life is exactly when you SHOULD travel! If you have the means, ability, and desire to do so (and it sounds like you do — plus an excellent excuse), don’t hesitate. Plan carefully, stay healthy and safe, and make sure you spend some of your travel time on genuine learning and broadening your horizons. You’ll come back a better, richer, more rounded person for it. Just the kind of person good companies are looking for. :)

      1. Snailing*

        Agreed, from a US perspective, if I heard from a recent grad that they worked for a bit to save, them took off a year to travel and were now looking for a job, I wouldn’t bat an eye.

    3. Troutwaxer*

      One of the things you could do is join some kind of European organization for your profession and make it a point to attend some conventions and meet with local chapters of the organization. It would be a nice combination of travel and networking, and might really pay off if you handled it that way.

      1. 23&me*

        That’s a fantastic idea; thanks so much for your reply! I plan to fit as much networking in as I can while I’m over there. :)

    4. BlueBelle*

      You will be fine! Go and travel and see the world! It is the best education and experience you can get. When you are ready to job search again mention it in your cover letter and say something along the lines of “getting this opportunity has given me greater knowledge of the global world we live in.” Global companies love that.
      I traveled the world at your age too, and it has been priceless for my career. No one ever batted an eye at the 3-12 month gaps when I mentioned them in my cover letter.
      I am so excited for you and hope you have the most amazing experiences. :)

    5. Tara*

      If you want to do something related to your future field when you’re there, there will be lots of opportunities in Germany. If you’re vaccinated, travelling around the Schengen shouldn’t be too difficult. I think you should definitely go for it!

    6. LDN Layabout*

      In terms of job searching, do you mean in Germany? I believe there’s a process in Germany that specifically supports US citizens in terms of going over and job searching and then receiving a work visa, which is time-limited (e.g. you get 90 days visa free to search).

      In which case I would think very hard about fitting your traveling in around that to give you the smoothest ride back to employment possible.

      1. 23&me*

        Thanks for the clarifying question! The short answer is no I’d only be searching for US jobs. My partner is a US employee who just happens to be “stationed” over there (for lack of a better term, he’s not military). I’d either try to find something similar so that we could stay in Europe- or just find a job in the US. He has the option of either extending his stay in Europe or coming back to the US (lucky man I know haha) so we can really do either depending on what works on my end. We’ll be married by the time I go over there so there will be no issue with me living with him and job searching from Germany. Thanks for thinking of this though :)

    7. 23&me*

      Thank you so much for your responses and the great advice everyone- can’t tell you how much I appreciate it!!!

    8. AcademiaNut*

      Check the visa stuff first. My understanding is that ​if you’re American you can have a maximum of 90 day in the Schengen zone in a 180 day period, so three months will be the max, and you won’t be able to enter Europe on a tourist visa for another 90 days. There may be alternative because you’re engaged, but you would need to talk to an expert first – usually spousal visas require that you’re married, and are actually moving there with them.

  32. Beancat*

    Still no word on whether or not we will be renewing our lease at this building (requires some length negotiation that I’m not privy to) and we’re continuing to book appointments into the next year without knowing for certain if we’ll even have a place to be. I’ve been starting to search in case the absolute worst comes to pass, but my boss has told me that even if we don’t renew the lease I still have a year’s worth of work with her to close down the business (since she will retire if the lease falls through). There’s a part of me that feels terrible saying this, but I would much prefer those tasks. I’m getting pretty exhausted dealing with the public, especially over the last year and a half, and I want my next role to have very little to do with them.

    I think I used this metaphor once before, but I feel like we’ve tossed all the balls in the air only to discover they’re filled with helium and none of them are coming down. My arms are getting tired waiting to catch them, haha.

    What would y’all do when you realized no answers are forthcoming and you only had uncertainties? Should I buckle down on the assumption that we’ll keep going as is (which my boss seems to think since we’re booking), or should I ramp up my search? Or is there some hidden third option I’m missing?

    1. mea*

      It sounds like you’re wanting a different position as things stand so I would encourage you to keep looking. It seems likely that the lease renewal will be resolved by the time you get to the offer stage. At that point you can decide if you’d rather move to a new position or stay for the close down. You aren’t by any means obligated to stay for the close down either. Do what you want when you want. Maybe ask boss what the renewal timeline is so you’re not just in a void.

      1. Beancat*

        That’s all pretty true – it’s tough because there are parts of my job I love, but I didn’t expect as much interaction with the public as I ended up getting. Thank you for the reminder that I’m not obligated to stay through the shut-down, too. In my mind I feel like I want to, but we’ll see how things feel if/when we get there.

  33. Cuddles Chatterji*

    People who work in cybersecurity: I need your advice!

    My husband is considering getting into this field. Is that possible to do without a bachelor’s degree? If so, how? Is there an associate’s degree that would assist in this goal or in programming fields in general? He has some background in programming, mostly SQL server and .NET, but no certifications or degrees.

    1. Troutwaxer*

      I’d also be interested in the answer to this, including some guidance if anyone has anything useful to say.

    2. have we met?*

      Cybersecurity-adjacent field here.

      Google “comptia cybersecurity” – CompTIA is a well-known IT certifying agency and has a cybersecurity path.

      Also: Many community colleges are starting to offer cybersecurity certifications and associates degrees.

      1. MissBliss*

        I’m not in cyber security, but I used to work for a community college, and our cyber security program was in huge demand on the employer end. We couldn’t produce graduates fast enough to meet the local need.

    3. Cooper*

      It might be worth looking into a part-time bootcamp, if he wants to keep working! I did one through the University of Denver for web development– 10 hours a week for 6 months, and then around 3 months of job hunting before I got a sweet development job. I don’t remember off the top of my head if they’ve got cybersecurity, but I think they did have a course that was more security focused.

      1. Cuddles Chatterji*

        Thank you for the info! We happen to live in the Denver area, so that’s a bonus.

    4. hamburke*

      My husband did it over 20 years without a degree but it wasn’t easy and he’s constantly relying on his reputation and people to vouch for him. It would be more difficult today too. He does have a litany of certifications up to the OSCP. He started in help desk to sys admin to net admin to internal infosec team to pen testing. He does some scripting but does not work in dev.

      1. hamburke*

        Just asked him – he said that his team would hire someone with 5 or so years of relevant work experience – no problem. The trick is getting that relevant experience will likely take 7-10 years and the bigger barrier to entry is who’s reviewing resumes. He works on a small team where one of 2 admins who have close working relationships with the managers reviews resumes but a larger company with a separate HR/recruiting dept might not have that structure. Coming out of a degree program usually will lead to placement in one of the bigger companies immediately.

  34. Violet*

    So glad to inform people that I have received an accepted an offer! Couldn’t have done it without this place. Thank you all so much.

    Now I’m trying to negotiate end dates and start dates. Because of the holiday, I’m not giving the two weeks because the 5th is a holiday. Technically, my last day should be the 7th, but I’m trying to schedule a retreat in between jobs which has its own schedule.

    Sigh. I’ve been in toxicity so long. The new job wanted me earlier but I need a breather. To your hiring managers out there, would it be bad to give 13 days notice and have my last day be the 6th? The truth is that a lot of people are away since so there are fewer people to train. But some of it that there are just few people to train, period, even if I gave three weeks notice.

    I just gotta get out of here. I am happy to come back for the one day that week. Mostly we are remote so no one but me and the trainee will be there. So it’s weird, but I need to get out and get my head straight after all of this. I also have to build up some energy for new place. I’m happy about it but hard to focus on it right now.

    Hope this all makes sense. Shorter leave period means I’m super-busy writing out all the things I do the next several days. I will try to check back later tomorrow when I get a good night’s sleep and have some clarity.

        1. Violet*

          I had put the 2nd on my original resignation letter. It was ‘proposed’ and I thought we’d negotiate. But they had accepted it but I didn’t know that. So I brought it back up just to confirm, ‘what is my last day?’ That opened the question back up.

          So after speaking with my new workplace, I did offer the 6th as my last day. It’s one day. It’s weird to go back for one day but I’m actually going on a trip on the 7th.

          I’m at peace with that. I know they’d rather the 7th but I have to prepare myself and my mind for my new place. Thanks so much for commenting! I am curious to others how this sounds, but I also am at peace with it.

    1. WellRed*

      Unless you are contractually obligated, I see no reason not to make the last day work for you. There’s no law that states we must give exactly two weeks notice or start new job two weeks from job offer or anything else. Do what works for you.

      1. WellRed*

        To be clear I think you should give Friday July second as your end. Who gets work done on a holiday week in most fields?

        1. Violet*

          I replied to you but in the wrong thread above. Thanks so much for writing a comment to me. :-)

  35. Public Health Worker*

    Is there any way to change the sound that Teams makes when it notifies you? I work in public health and after the last 15 months that noise gives me horrid anxiety. But having an audio notification is helpful to me.

    1. Admin of Sys*

      Yes! Well, maybe – check in your main teams settings under Notifications and see if you can switch Notification Style over to Windows. If you can, that’ll use the Notifications setting from the windows system you’re on. So then, if you go into Control Panel -> Sound and change the ‘Notification’ sound, any alerts in Teams will use that sound. (along with any other Windows Notifications)

    2. Annie*

      I agree! That sound makes me want to vomit. When I hear it I feel like my body goes into some sort of PTSD mode! I keep the sound off on mine now, but I can’t control others (I’m back in the office). Good luck!!

  36. Cooper*

    I realized this morning, regarding the discussion earlier this week (yesterday?) about quitting over WFH policies, that I feel about WFH the same way that I feel about parental leave.
    I prefer coming into the office unless I need to be out for a specific reason, and I’m never having children.
    But having flexible policies on remote work, much like having good parental leave, is a signal to me about how much a company values their employees’ happiness and how much respect they have for them as human beings.

    1. WellRed*

      Yes. My company created lots of pandemic flexibility and I have one coworker who definitely used it and was able adjust as needed several times. Made no difference to me but I totally applauded it.

  37. UnderPressure*

    I’ve been in rounds of interviews *for months*. It hasn’t been all rejections from companies — there have been companies I’ve rejected along the way as well — but I’m exhausted.

    I recently wrapped up another sequence of interviews with various companies (generally I’m required in 4 – 8 interviews and perhaps some industry evaluations). I’ve noticed across the board that after I go through all of these, even as I get really positive feedback along the way, I hear NOTHING after I wrap up my final interviews.

    It’s really defeating. Some of these companies have been super pushy along the way and insisting on hours and hours of interviews ongoing. I politely have to keep explaining to a few that I am working FTE and I work to get everything scheduled in a way that will not impact my current employer and yet gives the companies the time that they need (sometimes I request to break up long interview blocks into hour-long interviews that span a few days). I am also interviewing with several companies at a time. I seem to be doing ok as I keep making it to the final rounds and they are all insistent to keep interviewing me through to the bitter end.

    Yet, inexplicably, I keep getting ghosted at the end. I never hear anything again. Things I do: I write the thank you emails and follow up. I treat every company that I’m interviewing with respect and courtesy. I communicate with transparency.

    I don’t understand why, after making it through to final rounds of interviews, over and over again, I continue to get ghosted. Some of these companies have invested weeks or months of time interviewing me and vice versa. I can’t help but take it personally, but I have no idea what to do…

    1. PollyQ*

      Definitely don’t take it personally. This is 100% them and 0% you, and I’m sure they’re doing this to everyone else who interviewed as well. Based on letters here, it’s weirdly common, despite how rude & inconsiderate it is, and also despite how easy it is to fix. It would take them 5 minutes, max (and probably more like two), to send an form email saying that they’ve hired someone else. (And I don’t mean 5 min per candidate, I mean 5 min total. Hell, use BCC and send 1 email.)

      Unfortunately, I don’t think there is anything you can do, except maybe be a little bit grateful that you’re not working with boors like this?

    2. TK*

      I’ve had the same thing. People are rude and it feels bad. I usually follow up after a few weeks and “check in” to see if they’ve made a decision, even though I know the decision at that point is Not Me. Sometimes they answer. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they wait, like, six weeks and then they answer all of a sudden.

      When they answer the answer is usually that the hiring process took longer than they thought. Reading between the lines, I think they were waiting to make sure their first choice candidate was fully confirmed before they released everyone else, and it took longer to do that than they thought and, in the meantime, they didn’t have good enough communication skills to answer the rest of us when we asked what was up.

      For a while, it made me paranoid. I thought maybe they were getting to the background check and something was going horribly wrong, so that they decided they never wanted to speak to me again. But I honestly think now that people are just inconsiderate. It’s not something you’re doing.

    3. It’s all good*

      Don’t take it personal. They are a lot of jerky companies out there. I got ghosted once after a 5 hour interview. Followed up with a thank you card and later phone calls. NAda

  38. Uncomfortable wannabe manager*

    I’ve been passively looking for a new job for the last couple of months, mostly because I the job have changed into exactly what I don’t want to do. I’ve been doing it but it’s not going to change, so I decided I need to find a new one. I recently had a conversation with my boss about grooming me into a promotion , and taking new responsibilities, which I excited about, and made me rethink the job hunt. However, I’m not liking the new responsibilities because I think they’re bad management: I now have to check if my coworkers (in not yet a supervisor) are logging into the company’s webinars and report to my director if they are present in the webinar without them knowing I’m doing it, or hop into their client calls without prior notice, according to my boss, that’s how I’ll learn about their clients, but I think there are other ways I intend to to this. It all makes me very uncomfortable. I have a few interviews lined up, on top of my already prepared reason to want to leave (the job changing) should I ad that I find my path to the promotion uncomfortable and overall bad management?

    1. Snailing*

      So your promotion is basically “spy on your coworkers”? That would leave a bad taste in my mouth, too. If you can, I’d push back about making this transparent – even if it’s just letting folks know that your new duty is to randomly monitor webinar attendance and randomly audit client meetings. And then keep quietly job searching in the background…

      1. pancakes*

        Me too, and there are much better ways to do this. Build prompts into the webinars, for example, so that participants have to answer a question or two to keep going, or insert a code at some point that they have to confirm at the end.

        The idea that listening in on client calls without notice is a good way to train for client calls seems similarly weird and misguided to me. If the people you’re listening in on (ugh!) aren’t handling their clients well, you might just pick up their bad habits. Listening in isn’t inherently instructive.

      2. The New Wanderer*

        I like the suggestion about making what you’re doing really transparent (while continuing to job hunt because you’re right, this is all bad management), and using that phrasing, “taking role for webinar attendance and auditing client meetings.” The phrasing clearly lets people know what’s up but also makes it sound a little more formal and acceptable than secretly take attendance or lurk on a phone call.

        I worked in an office with an office manager once who sometimes asked us to report on a coworker, and that left a bad taste in my mouth. But it was rare (only two instances in the few months I was there) and specific to suspected violations that the OM needed confirmation of. They didn’t abuse their position by choosing one person to secretly monitor their coworkers and claim that was necessary experience for promotion.

        I also once had a manager who had to note whether people were at their desks around the official start time every day. They didn’t like having to do it but they also didn’t pass the buck on that responsibility because there’s a big difference between having the manager document this about their direct reports vs. asking a peer to do so. If it’s important to the manager, then it’s the manager’s job to do it personally.

    2. Mockingjay*

      Your manager just passed off their duties to you. Red Flag: Monitoring client calls without their knowledge likely violates a slew of state and local privacy regulations. That sets you up as the fall guy. This is not good. Keep looking.

      I wouldn’t bring up your manager personally as a reason for switching jobs. Everyone has managers at one time or another who suck and make you want to leave. Change your focus to the positive things you like about prospective New Job and how your skills and experience allow you to contribute.

      1. pancakes*

        That too! It’s a dodgy request and the justification given for it doesn’t make much sense.

  39. Minta*

    Hi! I am working with a newer team at my job where I’ve worked for many years. We’re all currently remote. Some I’ve worked with in the past, others not.

    I’ve got several people pronouncing my name correctly and some not. It feels awkward because this usually happens in a presentation to a group.

    Example: You’ll hear one person announce, “Now I’ll hand it over to Clair-uh.” Minutes later, someone else will say, “Let me piggyback on what Clahr-uh said earlier.”

    Was thinking of posting a Slack message about how I pronounce my name in our group channel with a light-hearted, helpful, confusion-clearing, PSA tone in an effort to clear it up/give the official word.

    Thoughts or other suggestions? Thank you.

    1. Reba*

      If it is a group that you will be continually with for a while, I would think that a quick message to the actual individuals with the problem would be fine. It can be just what you suggested, light and by-the-way. I feel like that would be more effective/memorable than an @channel message?

    2. Nicki Name*

      My real name is hard to figure out. If it’s being mispronounced in a situation where there are multiple people who are new to it, and I have a chance to speak, I try to correct them quickly and lightly. (E.g. “Now I’ll hand it over to Nee-kee.” “Hi, everyone! It’s actually Nih-kee. Anyway, as you can see on this slide…”)

      If it’s been going on for a while, the Slack announcement sounds fine.

    3. ecnaseener*

      My only suggestion is, if you share the pronunciation in written form, try to include a rhyme rather than just spelling it out. eg “rhymes with bear” or “rhymes with bar”

      I’ve been in one too many online conversations with people trying to explain pronunciations like “I don’t say cla-rah I say clah-raa” “oh that’s funny I say clahr-uh” and I’m like what do any of those sound like???

      1. EH*

        “Rhymes with” or something similar is super helpful to people. I have a pretty unusual first name – Ealasaid – and have used “rhymes with lemonade” since I was little because people will leave off the “d” at the end (“ella-say”). If I’m talking entirely by text, I’ll say “it’s like Ellis Island and lemonade, ellis-ade,” which seems to work well.

    4. Red Panda*

      I have a name that’s difficult to pronounce (both first and last) and I find that correcting people out loud is better than a written correction because those are easier to misunderstand. However, I always worry about correcting people because they can get really defensive and a written correction might shield you from those reactions. So I guess I don’t have any strong opinions, just a lot of experience in similar situations :)

    5. Harold*

      People often pronounce my name like Herald. When I say, “Actually it’s Harold,” they’ll respond, “Yes, that’s what I said: Herald.”

        1. Kimmy Schmidt*

          Yeah, I have no frame of reference for how these could be pronounced differently. Hay-rold? Heh-rold? Hair-rold?

    6. Charlotte Lucas*

      One of my coworkers has an unusual spelling of her first name. For the first several months, she had it spelled in all caps with spaces between in her email signature. I thought incorporating like this was a fun way of driving the point home. (It starts with the same letters of a song, so I always wanted to sing it.)

      Someone else had a problem with some people really severely mispronouncing his name. He was too gracious to say anything, but a different coworker made a sign with the correct pronunciation & put it on his cube.

      1. Minta*

        Ha yeah I’ve had a few close coworkers over the years who were more bothered by the incorrect pronunciations than I was.

  40. Worker Bee*

    I was sexually harassed at a work conference right before COVID. I reported the harasser (a government official who works for a different branch than I do) to the ethics commission and he quietly resigned. He then was hired back by his old branch as a contractor. We’re all encouraged to go to the conference in person this year. He will be there; I don’t want to go, and I don’t think any of the higher-ups who know about the harassment expect me to. But I feel like I’m being denied a networking opportunity, since this is the main conference for people in my industry. Anything constructive I can do besides stew and feel betrayed?

    1. Tbubui*

      Is there a way you can reach out to conference organizers or security? I would think that sexual harassment at a conference means a person should be banned from said conference, no matter who they work for. If you’re not sure who to talk to, maybe you can ask one of the higher-ups in the company who has supported you to help you navigate this.

    2. It happens*

      That is not ok. You should absolutely be the one to go to the conference and he has no business going. A few avenues to pursue – report the behavior to the conference organizers and request that he not be allowed to attend. Get in touch with the ethics commission again and ask if they can prohibit him from attending the conference. Talk to your supervisor about reaching out to the department that hired him as a consultant to keep him from attending.
      If none of these work, you should still attend and make sure that you have a trusted posse that you are within eyesight of at all times. Good luck.

      1. pbnj*

        All these are good advice. Is the ethics commission aware he was rehired as a contractor? They may be thinking, well he resigned, so problem solved, case closed, and be totally unaware. This seems like a shady loophole on the behalf of the old branch. If everyone is aware he was rehired, you should have a discussion with your manager and your ethics officer on what they are doing to manage HIM so you don’t have to interact with him. Not just for the conference, but in general day-to-day work. In no way should you be penalized for his actions.

        1. Worker Bee*

          Sadly, and there is no great way to clarify without outing myself to the few people who know about this, the ethics commission negotiated his resignation with the specific understanding that he was not barred from continuing to practice his craft (ex. resigning as a legislator and becoming a contract lobbyist). I did not consider this as a possibility, so I agreed to drop my complaint in exchange for his agreement to resign, not knowing there was a big-ass asterisk behind the resignation.

          I do think that going to the conference organizers themselves might be my only option. Unfortunately, he wields a lot of power in that arena as well. Probably why he tends to target relative nobodies in the field. (Which is what makes me the most angry — I’m the one who needs to be networking at this conference, not him!)

          1. pieces_of_flair*

            You agreed to drop your complaint in exchange for him no longer working there. Now he is working there. The agreement is off.

    3. why is name required i want to be anonymous*

      Does the conference have its own code of conduct and/or reporting system? (I’m assuming the ethics commission you reported to originally was through your job rather than through the conference.) You might be able to get him barred from the conference.

      Alternately, would it make sense to go back to the ethics commission to let them know that he’s been hired back as a contractor? This seems like such a blatant loophole it’s not even funny.

      This all sucks and I’m sorry.

      1. pbnj*

        I missed your 2nd point before I posted. I agree – the fact that he was rehired as a contractor is unethical AF.

    4. Society still needs to change*

      Completely understand if you don’t want to go. But could there be power in going and holding your head up and matter of fact telling some people to keep that abuser away from you? Not to make a scene or set yourself up for any type of lawsuit, but letting your truth & dignity guide your words. I know this is so hard and absolutely no judgment. It’s just galling that an abuser gets to win this way. He quietly resigned. No public shame for him. Basically got around the rules being hired as a contractor & now gets the benefit of the conference while driving you-the victim away.

    5. Unkempt Flatware*

      I work in heavily male dominated industry. It is always at conferences when I’ve been sexually harassed or treated terribly in other ways by men (handing me their trash, for example). What is it about off site conferences that give these creeps their confidence? Is it really that they are away from home and in a hotel and think they can just pick up the nearest woman? I would second and third the suggestions to reach out to conference leaders. This is bullshit and I can almost guarantee he is hoping for some action at this conference. Now even more so that he is independent.

      1. Ikora Rey*

        I tend to think these men keep a lid on it at work, because we are expected to behave at work, but conferences don’t look and feel like work, so they lose control. Add the abundantly flowing alcohol at many points in the conference and you have the perfect storm of women getting abused in various ways. (Note: no one who isn’t inclined to behave this way would just because they’re at a conference or drunk. It’s no excuse.)

    6. Worker Bee*

      Thank you all for your responses. You’ve helped me feel less isolated/helpless. I’m the youngest in my office by about 10 years and one of only two women, so—even though my coworkers are supportive—it’s easy to second-guess whether I’m overreacting. I really appreciate you all taking the time to reply.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Wait. So you were harassed at a conference by this person? And now you are in the same scenario as before, he is still going to the conference and you want to go.

      Okay, so what I would do is go back to the people who you reported the harassment to. Tell them what is happening here and ask them what can be done. Be sure to point out that this defeats the whole idea of firing the guy. Remember they have been undermined here in their efforts to remedy this problem. They need to know that they are being thwarted in such a manner.

  41. one job and many bosses?*

    Our organization is growing and we may be able to add one new person. There’s four different groups within the org. It’s possible the new position may be funded 25% by each group and that the new person would have to support all four groups.

    Does anyone have experience being in this kind of role or managing them? How well could this work in practice? Can this new person be effective if they’re split in so many ways? I also imagine one group eventually could come to dominate this new role’s time much more than the 25% funding they are responsible for. Even if we all try to make this work fairly, it could happen unintentionally.

    Is there a more effective way to add a new person to an organization, when no single group within the org can use that person full time?

    1. Allypopx*

      What role would this person have any how much work would each department be contributing? EAs for example often support multiple people. Is the amount of work combined an appropriate amount for one person, and will this role have a central supervisor who can help keep that workload balanced?

      It’s definitely doable. But you need to be conscientious.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      If all 4 groups are going to use this person, why aren’t they just putting the slot on corporate overhead, like HR or accounting? No need to play with monopoly money, and then nobody can complain if their work split shifts over time.

    3. Knitting Pandas*

      It can be done but as others have said, you have to be diligent. Hire someone who understands the role and report-to structure and is self directed. Depts have to all agree to the shared schedule, each dept / task is equal in importance. I’ve seen it work best when the support person doesn’t actually report to any of the depts they support, but to another manager, so they can be unbiased and have someone they can go to with issues.

      1. Ama*

        Yes, the only way this will work is if there is a plan in place beforehand to clarify a couple things:
        – Who will be this person’s direct manager (i.e. the person they can go to if there are issues with workflow, and who will handle things like their performance review, tough conversations if there are performance issues, etc.)?

        -If a department needs to reserve a certain block of time where they are guaranteed to have this person’s help (for example if they need them to help run a meeting or do some task that has to be done at a certain time every day), how is that going to be communicated to the other departments so they aren’t expecting the person to be working on their projects at that time?

        -What should this person do if too much is being asked of them at once? Will they be given authority to push back if they have too much on their plate, or should they go to their manager? (This is where most roles like this fail, in my experience — everyone always thinks “oh it’s not going to be a problem, we don’t have that much work” and then when it becomes a problem no one wants to be the person who manages it.)

    4. Jessi*

      terribly! My boss has a set up like this where she reports to three people. none of them seem to think about the fact that she has work given to her by others and they can’t even seem to agree about what success for her role looks like

      1. WellRed*

        We’ve seen more than a few people on this forum being pulled in multiple directions.

    5. AcademiaNut*

      One person needs to be in charge of managing their workload and assigning tasks. The four groups go through that one person when they need stuff done. There has to be careful and detailed tracking of time spent doing tasks, regular check ins, and a manager who has the clout and willingness to go back and tell individual groups that they’ve used up their support for the month (or whatever).

      It’s incredibly easy for the individual groups to vastly underestimate what 25% time means – that’s a bit over one day a week on average, once you factor in vacations and sick leave and so on. The poor employee then gets saddled with the expectation of performing the work of 2-4 employees, and, as the newest and most junior person with multiple bosses, has a really uphill battle bringing it under control, and gets burned out and resentful and/or quits in frustration.

  42. An Ominous Moose*

    Spoke with a recruiter yesterday who contacted me about an open position (I’m not actively looking but figured it couldn’t hurt to get some details since the job initially sounded interesting.) When I asked about remote work/work from home possibilities, I was told that they offered a “few” employees that option at the start of the pandemic, but ultimately, a “few” ruined it for everyone and now everyone is required to be back in the office full-time.

    That tells me they don’t know how to manage, and they’d rather not trust their employees if they don’t have to.

    Did I read that correctly?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Alternate interpretation – they don’t hire well, and a lot of your coworkers will be continually looking to slack off or game the system.

      But the end result for you is the same – don’t take the job.

      1. Snailing*

        I think it’s honestly one in the same – bad hiring points to bad management (they don’t know how to screen for qualities they want) and then addressing slacking off by taking away WFH instead of managing actual behaviors is lazy management (which isn’t that different from bad management).

        We can across this last year too – a coworker was let go because she wasn’t performing well and my boss blamed it on WFH. But everyone else could see it was because she wasn’t managed – she was performing badly before we went WFH and our boss never had a real conversation about what she needed to see. Instead boss complaining out coworker to the rest of us and finally fired her when it got too bad to ignore. Sucks all round :(

    2. Allypopx*

      If the response to a “few” people ruining it is not to implement firmer time management overview/take away the privilege for those people specifically then yes, your read is absolutely correct.

    3. mediamaven*

      Not necessarily, no. Just because work from home didn’t work out doesn’t mean they don’t know how to manage. I’ve had a least five employees take advantage of work from home and it sucks for those who have done well. Not to say processes can’t be improved, but there are plenty of ways that people are stretching the limits of acceptability. I just terminated someone today who admitted to not working or reading emails consistently – she did absolutely nothing during her employment. Work from home only works if process and procedure is strong AND everyone earns the trust. But it’s your decision to find an arrangement that works for you.

      1. RunShaker*

        I see why you would think company doesn’t know how to manage. I would think the same. Why didn’t their manager not speak to ones that were struggling? Why penalize employees that were able to manage their work load well? If an employee isn’t doing their job, then the manager needs to assess the situation instead and work with employee to come up with plan for improvement for employee in question. Something similar is happening in my department. Management, for some reason, will not address performance issues (unless it’s really bad, like final warning) that could easily be resolved with the individual. Management only tells us in group meeting.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      This is collective punishment.
      I remember in grammar school one kid would act out. The teacher could not figure out which one so we all had to write lines. We’d spend our weekends writing 500 times, “I will not act out in class.” omg.

      Collective punishment did not work then and it does not work in adulthood either.

  43. anon for this one*

    Does anyone here have experience leaving the 9-5 corporate drone track for something else? How did you do it? Any regrets? Alternately, has anyone turned down a promotion, and how has that affected your career?

    I think I’m moving from the early career to mid career bracket, my manager is making encouraging noises about putting me on a leadership track, and I don’t know what to do next. I know myself well enough to know I’d have to work *really* hard not to be a terrible manager (not a people person, very rigid, prone to perfectionism, with a heaping scoop of executive dysfunction on top!). I work to pay the bills so I can write in my spare time–I enjoy the day-to-day of my work and collaborating with my team, but career advancement is only important to me insofar as it might help increase my salary or job security.

    1. RagingADHD*

      I started freelancing writing, and after a few years of struggling and making dumb mistakes, I am now making an hourly rate 3x my best “day job” and working fewer hours for more money.

      My regret is not doing it sooner (and the aforesaid dumb mistakes). If you are considering something like freelancing and don’t have a partner who is willing to pool resources and help weather the irregular income, then I’d recommend starting it on the side while you work the 9-5, and build up a significant safety net before making the leap.

  44. SnowWhiteClaw*

    Hi, my partner of 7 years just left me. I need to tell my boss I need time off to find an appropriate homeless shelter. How do I phrase this?

    1. Alex*

      Wow, so sorry you’re going through this. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with what you said here, unless you don’t want to give that level of honesty/detail to your workplace.

      If you want to be more private, you can say that you have a family/personal emergency to deal with and need X days off. A kind/normal person boss won’t ask for tons more details.

      Best of luck to you.

      1. Reba*

        Yes, I think “family emergency” covers it or if more detail is requested, “dealing with unexpected change to my housing arrangement” captures the situation without the painful part.

        Best wishes SnowWhiteClaw and I hope you have good support.

      2. not a doctor*

        Agreed with all of this — but if you are okay with sharing that level of detail, OP, I think you should. Or, at least, use language to make it clear that your situation is very serious, because a ‘family/personal emergency’ covers a very wide range. (Honestly, you could even just say, “I have a very serious personal emergency.”)

        I’m so sorry this has happened to you. Good luck getting a place soon.

      3. Next step up?*

        Alex has mainly covered off everything I would say but couldn’t just read and run. So sorry you’re going through this, SnowWhiteClaw!

    2. Amtelope*

      “I need time off for a family emergency,” if you don’t want to explain what’s going on.

      “Because of a personal situation, I’m having to move out of my home immediately. I’m not sure yet where I’m going to go or how I’m going to pay for a place to stay. Are there any emergency resources available for employees?” if you think there’s some chance your boss or company will be helpful.

      1. Resources*

        I would definitely check into this, a lot of companies have employee assistance funds. You may be able to go directly through HR if you really don’t want to disclose to your direct supervisor.

        Unfortunately homelessness is not a protected characteristic in most states, so if you are at all concerned about adverse action I would play that particular card close to your vest, and just say you’re asking for funds for the transition.

    3. Troutwaxer*

      Do you have any alternatives to a homeless shelter? Maybe you can find someone looking for a roommate or stay with friends/family? If you’ve got a regular salary you can probably find a roommate.

    4. TWW*

      I’d start with, “I need time off to deal with a family emergency.” And if the boss says no, tell them what you told us: “I’m homeless and I need to find a shelter.” Maybe even add: “My salary is insufficient for any housing options,” because that’s probably something your employer should know (or be reminded of).

      Do you have coworkers with similar salaries? How do they manage?

      1. SnowWhiteClaw*

        A lot of my coworkers with similar salaries are married or living with their parents, so I’m assuming their families help with housing costs.

    5. RagingADHD*

      In addition to the advice above, does your company have an EAP that might be able to help? There was a good article here a few weeks ago about all the different types of crisis and support that an EAP can help with.

      I’m so sorry you are dealing with this, and hope you get stabilized very quickly.

      1. SnowWhiteClaw*

        Thanks, that’s a good idea! I should have thought of that but I’m not thinking too clearly right now

      2. Silverose*

        Yes, call your EAP to see if they have emergency housing assistance. Also, if you’re in the US, don’t forget to consider low incoming housing nonprofits in your area. In high cost of living areas, the income that qualifies is significantly higher than in low cost of living areas, and the rents are significantly cheaper than market rates of even studio apartments. I know – I live in one of those areas and can’t even afford a studio on my full-time exempt salary and my wife can’t work due to injury, so we are getting ready to apply for low income housing.

    6. dude, where's my cheese*

      I’m so sorry you’re going through this very stressful experience.

      What to say depends on your relationship with your boss, your comfort level, and how you think they’ll react. You can give as much or as little detail as you want to. Other commenters have suggested everything I would. You’re already dealing with so much right now, don’t stress on this phrasing too much.

      You didn’t ask for advice on this so please ignore if you want. Many places in the US have financial assistance programs to help you stay out of shelter, especially right now during COVID. This could be like a hotel or one time rent and move-in help, or something else. You say youre salaried full time and can’t afford to rent a bedroom, so you might be in a high cost of living area and there probably are some programs of this type. An easy way to find out is to call 2-1-1. I’ll also post a link in a separate reply where you can look up your state and reach out to a specific person who can tell you how to find a shelter and other housing assistance that you need.

  45. Manon*

    My office is set to reopen in September – does anyone have advice on how to negotiate a hybrid WFH/in-office schedule? I think it should be a realistic ask because:
    – I’ve been working remotely since I started this job and have had consistently good feedback from my boss
    – ~30% of our team lives out of state, so anything involving all staff is virtual
    – Our org’s members are located across the US/Canada. Very few (if any) are in same city as our administrative offices, so I would be communicating/meeting with them virtually anyway

    I’m just not sure how to start the conversation. I have a performance review coming up in July, so maybe bringing it up then?

    1. pbnj*

      I’d just say something like “I’d like to talk about the potential of working a hybrid schedule when the office reopens, since the majority of my meetings and collaboration are virtual and I’ve been able to successfully meet all of my objectives working remotely. I was thinking X days in-office makes sense for this role.” You could either bring it up at your performance review, or in your next check in. But definitely don’t put it off too long since some people need time to process decisions. And honestly wouldn’t you know sooner than rather if they are going to say no, so you don’t spend time dwelling about what they might say and you can make decisions about whether you want to keep working there?

  46. Alex*

    Anyone ever pay a career counselor for services and had a good experience? Someone I trust referred me to someone because I’m struggling to take my career in a new direction/the next level, and while I can afford the services, I am not so rich that I can waste money. This is a private practice counselor, not someone affiliated with a university (been there, done that, found it unhelpful). If you used such a service, what did they do for you and what was most helpful?

    1. TK*

      I’ve been to a couple of free career counselors and they never did anything for me. I do know a couple of people who paid out of pocket for executive-level job search coaching (from recruiters) and they seemed to like it, but they were also rich already, so. In their case, the coach was basically helping them identify the skills they needed to beef up to get the roles they wanted and then make a plan as far as how to get the experience.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      One thing that was pointed out to me is that you want to be aware of what pay bracket you want to be working in. Some counselors work in limited pay brackets. For example they might max out at 30k, if you want a job paying more than that they will not be able to help you. (That’s just an example, not a real dollar amount.)

  47. Looking for a weigh in*

    I have a situation I would like help navigating.

    Background: I work in manufacturing and my plant is in a small town where gossip is prolific. I am the only female manager (out of 14 managers) on the manufacturing side of the business and I am 25. (There are 2 other female managers in the plant though, one in quality and one in accounting.)

    The situation: I have a friend who recently left the plant because she got a job offer closer to family, several states away. She was dating a guy who used to work at my plant, but he left the plant before I started here full time. I did know him from back when I interned here, and I was close enough with this couple that my bf and I would go out to dinner with them and go on vacations together. Recently, out of the blue he texted her that he knew she had been sleeping with one of the manufacturing managers, and he was done. She swears it did not happen, but he blocked her on everything, refuses to discuss, the relationship is over. She was able to determine that someone from the plant told her bf that they saw her and the manager getting it on in a car, but she does not know who the informant/liar is.
    My question is, do I warn the manager that someone is saying this? He and I are friendly as far as coworkers go, but it is not a friendship that extends to hanging out outside of the plant. He is in his late 40s, and happily married with kids. He would be pissed if he knew someone was telling others that he was cheating on his wife, but without me knowing who it is I don’t know that telling him would help anything. As the only young woman, I don’t want people to think I am stirring up drama, but at the same time the situation feels icky and I would want someone to tell me if it were me.

      1. pancakes*

        It might fall on any number of people, including the person or people gossiping about it, but I don’t see any good reason it should fall on Looking for a weigh in. I agree with Ali G, stay out of it entirely. If the town is as gossipy as it seems to be, it’ll get to him eventually. It doesn’t need to get to him via someone who reports to him at work.

      1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

        Yeah. You have, at best, third-hand information, regarding 2 people who no longer work there.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      To me this is what sexual harassment looks like- lies that damage people’s reputation. I could be reading this wrong but it sounds like the informant and the falsely accused still work there? I’d have to consider the idea of reporting this gossiping as sexual harassment for the falsely accused person.

  48. Maureen*

    Hi all,
    Any advice on successfully moving jobs internally, once you have secured the offer? I have been in my current team for over 8 years. I know to not go in as a self proclaimed worlds expert’.
    But any advice on how best to settle in and get up to speed quickly with a new team?


    1. ThatGirl*

      It’s honestly pretty similar to changing jobs outside a company, except that you already know a lot of things. If you don’t know your new team members well, set up small group meetings to get to know them. Hopefully your new manager will have onboarding ideas too. I changed jobs internally in 2019 and my new manager basically did everything she would have with an outside hire, minus things that involved getting to know the company/building. I took time to get to know new systems, new coworkers, new workflows. I just had a leg up since there were a lot of things I knew already.

    2. Xavier Desmond*

      Keep in touch with your old team. I’ve moved internally a couple of times and it is such an asset to have contacts in different parts of my company.

  49. gbca*

    I’m curious to get others’ thoughts on whether job levels/titles should be private. At my company we do promotions on an annual basis, and my c-level boss is going to send an email recognizing everyone on his team who was promoted. There was some conversation among his leadership team about whether we should list people’s titles. Some people said that people don’t like others to know their job level (which you can easily figure out from their title, and titles are self-entered in our outlook/slack profiles so not everyone has theirs on display), and HR said the job level is technically considered private information. I think this is really odd; I don’t see a reason your level should be private, and I think it can be demoralizing for those who were promoted to have their title/level be a secret. But I have noticed a trend on LinkedIn where people are starting to list their function more and not their actual title. So maybe I am missing something? Commentariat, what are your thoughts?

    1. Nicotena*

      Privacy only seems to protect the company (so they can discriminate) never the workers. It’s ridiculous to keep titles private. Salaries is one thing, but how do I know who to go to for Senior Account Management if the Manager is a big secret?

      1. gbca*

        I’m in leadership, this really isn’t about the company doing anything nefarious. It was a genuine concern about employees not wanting their levels shared. I agree with you about the transparency making it easier to know who to go to, but I am someone who prefers structure and so I was wondering if there was something I was missing.

        1. gbca*

          Also employees are welcome to share their titles, the company just does not make that information accessible about everyone, so it’s up to the employee if they want to share.

        2. pancakes*

          What is the concern? It’s not self-evident why someone would want to keep their title private.

    2. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      I would prefer that job titles and promotions be public. A promotion is a good thing, and good things should be able to be publicly recognized. It also shows that there is room for growth in the company. Tying into that, making the job titles public shows what the path for growth is. I don’t see what’s gained by hiding your job level.

      That said, given that job titles are not necessarily consistent from one company to the next, I can absolutely see listing an easy to understand job function over a job title on LinkedIn. (Is Llama Groomer III a senior position on a scale of 1-3, a mid level position on a scale of 1-5, or a low level position on a scale of 1-10? Which is more senior, a Coordinator or an Associate? And let’s not even get into places that use quirky titles with no real relationship to the actual job.)

    3. not a doctor*

      It seems kind of insane to me, and something that can easily become counterproductive. For example, I frequently need to email managers in other departments. How could I possibly do that without an org chart?

      1. gbca*

        We do actually have online org charts, so you can see who reports to who anytime, but only titles if the employee chooses to share it. And some people who don’t really care even forget to update when they change departments or get promoted, so the titles on display are not that reliable!

    4. Paris Geller*

      This seems a weird thing to make into an issue. It’s. . . their . . . job title. It’s not their info about their benefits or how many health insurance claims they’ve made the past year or any number of truly private information. I don’t see how a job title is any more private information than their name.

    5. TK*

      It depends. If the point of keeping the titles/levels private is to avoid office politics and have everyone treat each other as equals — and if the job levels mostly just signal that someone got a raise and not that they’re doing totally different work — then I don’t think it’s a terrible idea to keep that quiet. Some places put way too much emphasis on tiny differences between people’s job titles.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      What would happen if everyone knew everyone else’s job title? Would the world implode or something?
      It seems really odd and it seems like a great way to hide pay disparities.

      If they are afraid of people bragging/bullying others then they can, you know, manage those problems as they come up.

      1. gbca*

        As I mentioned above, everyone is free to share their job title in their public profile, and most people do. Apparently people at the more junior levels tend to not want their levels to be a thing out there for everyone to see? I dunno. The context in which it was brought up was definitely oit of concern for employees’ wishes and not some weird corporate privacy thing to hide pay disparities or or anything shady like that. I’m glad to see that I’m not the crazy one to think that tiptoeing around it is pretty silly.

  50. Nicotena*

    I knew I was risking trouble agreeing to take a part time salaried job with a small nonprofit, but it is a good fit for my current needs and I don’t think it’ll be a long-term situation. It is difficult because non of my coworkers have good work-life balance (anything for the MISSION!!) which makes it harder for me to speak up about not working those days or those hours that they want me at this meeting or doing that task. I do my best to be judicious. I know they asked for flexibility when they hired me, so if they need me on, say, a day I don’t work, I’m in theory able to take that time back somewhere else in the week. In the three months since I started there has been at least one meeting on my day off most weeks. It is usually mid-day and usually a zoom, meaning I have to be showered/dressed professionally and at my desk in the middle of the day, which limits my usual day-off activities considerably. I tried calling in instead of zooming but definitely got the sense there was some side-eye to this, because it’s just not what everybody else does (“and who’s this calling in? 303? Oh, right, Nicotena, I forget you always call in to these. Do you need me to resend the slides? Nicotena I know you can’t see my screen right now but it’s XYZ …”

    Is it reasonable to raise this somehow? Everyone else is doing more than me (but for a FT salary plus benefits – I get neither) so it seems like it’s just going to come across as whiny no matter what.

    1. Nicotena*

      Relatedly, if you had an employee that was part time and didn’t work, say, Wednesdays, would you be annoyed that she didn’t check email at all on that day? I feel like the attitude is that you can easily check email on your phone now so what’s the big deal, but – I don’t put email on my phone, and I’m not being paid enough to feel like I need to be “on call” all the time. I work a second job to pay for the bennies and salary I’m lacking, so I’d like to not be available at all on my “day off” except for these pre-planned meetings I agree to. So far my boss and dotted line supervisor are resorting to … texting me.

      1. Siege*

        I would quit over this. Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way: if they want the position to have full-time availability, they need to pay for the position to be full time. Right now, they are stealing your labor from you, and while it’s a gray area absolutely no one would pursue legally, it is probably a violation of the law. So, uh, I have probably made it clear that I would be annoyed that you ARE checking your email on your day off because of something I, your boss, was doing. (If you wanna check your email for your own peace of mind, rock out with your bad self.)

        If the situation is really short-term, as in you’re leaving this role in the next three months, it probably doesn’t make sense to make it a hill to die on, but you could try just saying firmly but cheerfully “Oh, I don’t work today – send it to my email so I see it tomorrow!” If the meeting you’re attending is a regular meeting, could you shift your work days? If it’s just HAPPENSTANCE that it keeps getting scheduled on the day you’re off and you HAVE to be there, try marking your Outlook calendar as unavailable.

        If it’s longer-term, I would still quit. But in seriousness, you may need to have a conversation with your boss that is very explicit that you agreed to X hours per week, you are not able/not willing to continue to give up your day off to a midday meeting, and now the two of you need to work out a better solution, or else you need to be paid more and given benefits because the job is full time.

        But I work for a union and I ran out of effs to give a LONG time ago. I love that my job prizes not working more than 40 hours a week, we have a generous comp-time benefit, and that we start from the position that work is giving labor to someone else for money, not getting money for being a cheerleader for THE MISSION. I think back to my time in non-profits, and I’m just appalled at some of the things my friends are going through now, including being paid for 24 hours a week but working 40+, working 7 days a week for weeks on end, etc. Push back on this nonsense. Don’t let non-profits win.

      2. WFH with Cat*

        If you are working part-time, and paid part-time, you should definitely NOT be on call during other unpaid hours. Also, if you are in the US, they have to pay you for all hours worked if you are an hourly employee. Does not matter if they are non-profit or for-profit, you are an employee not a volunteer.

        I think your first step should be talking to your manager about the hours you agreed to work and the demands that are coming from others to work outside of those hours. And you do need to raise the issue of being paid for extra hours you have worked up to now. Your manager should work with you to push back by clarifying to other managers/teams what your availability is and backing you up when you decline meetings, etc.

        You should also speak to people who book meetings to make sure they know your availability — and you need to learn to decline meetings that are outside of your working hours, unless you have permission from your manager to work additional *paid* hours.

        And, finally, you might want to add your work days/hours to your email signature, and use an Out of Office autoreply that provides an alternate contact person.

        Hope this is helpful.

        1. Nicotena*

          Well, this is “salaried part time” so they are paying me – they’re paying me the same weekly amount bi-monthly, not an hourly rate. It’s kind of weird. I almost wish it was hourly so it would be clearer.

          1. Silverose*

            I seriously doubt any part-time job in the US meets federal guidelines to be an exempt salary position. I agree with others that you need to have a talk with your boss about expectations for your availability and how your boss is going to communicate those expectations to all these other people scheduling meetings. And you also need to talk to your boss about the position being exempt vs non-exempt – as a part-time position, it probably doesn’t meet the federal standards to be exempt which means you should be tracking time like any other hourly employee and getting paid for ALL time worked, not just an assumed salary based on average number of hours but actual number of hours may vary, which is what exempt positions get.

    2. Glomarization, Esq.*

      I mean, I think it would be unreasonable not to raise this? It seems to me that you and your supervisor(s) are due for a check-in about where you are not on the same page about how available they need you to be.

    3. Colette*

      I’m off every second Friday, and if I get a meeting request on the day I’m off, I just decline or suggest another time.

      Are these meetings you really need to attend? I think you need to talk to your manager. I’d say “since I’ve started, I’m finding I’m invited to meetings on my days off most weeks, which means I can’t make other plans on those days. I’m struggling with how to handle this – would it be OK if I declined meetings on those days? I’d of course make myself available for critical meetings.”

      1. Nicotena*

        Yeah I think because I’m new, I erred towards accepting invites because I didn’t know what was important or not, but a lot of them are not at all essential to my role (a few are) which is extra demoralizing. Now that I have some credibility I’d like to start declining them if they’re on my day off. I didn’t want to mark my day off as “unavailable” on my calendar, but I think I’m going to have to.

        1. PollyQ*

          You should definitely mark your day off unavailable, because I bet at least some of your colleagues don’t even realize that they’re trying to schedule on your day off. That alone may take care of a large percentage of the problem.

    4. RagingADHD*

      It’s not whining. It’s rational.

      If they want you available full time, they need to give you FT salary and benefits. And if they want you working on your day off without paying extra, they need to make you exempt.

      If they want you to stay part-time, then you work part-time. Period.

  51. Middle Manager*

    How do you cope with feeling unsupported by upper-level leadership?

    My team just lost our ninth person in 13 months, including two office leadership positions that took 6+ months to be filled. There are currently 10 open positions in my office (not even just my team) but HR is refusing to approve more than one or two at a time for ~political reasons~. My organization doesn’t do merit raise or internal promotions, so there’s not even any reward for my team going above and beyond with our skeleton crew. The president of the organization is apparently refusing any possibility of remote work for any departments. My new director seems to feel like this much staff turnover is inevitable on my team and in this field, so while they are sympathetic, they don’t seem to recognize that this past year has been frankly traumatizing.

    I’ve started job-searching in earnest, but I’m trying to switch out of my current field and feeling like I’m not qualified to do anything else. My current job is definitely secure, but I’m not excited about it anymore.

    1. Student Affairs Sally*

      Since you chimed in on my similar situation, I’ll chime in on yours!

      For me, it’s been helpful to just work on resetting my expectations. When I first started, because of some half-truths and full-blown-lies told during the interview process, I had expectations that my institution was X. When it became clear pretty quickly that’s it’s actually very Y, I felt extremely disappointed and demoralized and frankly bait-and-switched. I still feel that way in some ways, but now I know to not expect leadership to have our backs, or to have a clear vision in mind, or to do anything to stop the petty squabbles that prevent people from being able to effectively work together. Those things are still frustrating, but it rolls off my back much more easily (usually) when I have an expectation that, for example, if I raise a concern with my grandboss, he’s going to use a lot of words that sound like they’re addressing the concern but that actually say nothing that he could conceivably be held accountable to. It also makes it easier for me to set boundaries on my time and the work I’m willing to do, because I know that I can’t singlehandedly “fix” the institution and I know that people here will stomp all over my boundaries if I let them. Basically, I’ve just worked to stop caring about all of the bullshit and focus on the things I actually have control over, do the best I can at those things, and keep my eyes and mind focused on my exit strategy at the same time.

    2. Easily Amused*

      “My organization doesn’t do merit raise or internal promotions” – why would anyone stay? This is the very definition of a dead end job and unfortunately, sounds like a case of your management stinks and is unlikely to change. All you can do is move on. Maybe find some job postings that interest you then make a list of your skills and how they translate to the new field. Best of luck!

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Do you know what you’re going to do with your time? Will you be bored and grumpy without a regular set of things to fill your day with?

    2. NoLongerYoung*

      Think about what you want to retire to, not retire from. Are you retiring because you have a plan for your days, something to look forward to, a passion to pursue? Because you physically or mentally can’t do what you are doing? Having the money saved is not the only criteria…
      I’ve been reading up on and grappling with this, and am well aware that I get bored on long vacations… and part of my intellectual “juice” comes from the very active engagement my brain has and the kudos for my work. I need to plan for a way to replace “that…” or I will be bored.
      I can write more about my current trial time off – to see if I will do some of the things I “thought” I would do. Speaking only for myself, I have great interests and intentions – but they are I “should” (even when I have all the supplies/ classes/ etc.). Not I “can hardly wait and I am already doing this part time … so I can work on this more when I retire.
      I enjoy part of what I do at work, so looking for how to do more of that, set boundaries, and carve out more time for “finding” my passion and building my friends/network of engagement. In the next couple years I want to figure out how to move to consulting or part time so that I can keep some of both.

      1. Retired(but not really)*

        I retired to voluntarily helping a good friend with her business as well as doing some part time paid seasonal work for another person who has since retired completely as well as for a third person that I’m still friends with but not working for any more. The volunteer time is primarily at my discretion but sometimes ends up being quite extensive if I let it. I also have a few hobbies that can take up as much time as I choose to let them.

    3. Nicotena*

      I read Market Watch’s money advice column (I am an advice column junky) and a lot of the questions there are in the “am I able to retire?” vein. They’re focused on the finance piece obviously but occasionally the do range into the emotional side also. I have been an avid reader and I think it will help me prepare for retirement in, oh, 30 years or so …

    4. Purple Jello*

      Yeah, it’s not the financial piece that’s the issue. I’m starting to think more often that I just am tired of this, and there are more days that I don’t want to do it anymore.

      You’re right NoLongerYoung and Alton John’s Evil Twin, that I need to figure out what I’m going to do when I don’t work 40-45 hours a week. I don’t mind having a list and jumping to the next thing if something I start isn’t fulfilling in some way, but I only have some vague ideas of what would be on that list. Guess that’s my next task.

      1. pbnj*

        The author Ernie Zelinski has a technique called a Get a life tree. If you google, you can find some examples or get the book. I tried it for myself, and I found it a worthwhile brainstorming exercise on trying to figure out what I want to do when I retire.

    5. Girasol*

      Take a few weeks before announcing retirement to imagine your retirement day each morning. What would you do today if you were retired? Ask yourself the same thing the next day and the next. What would you say when people ask, “but what do you do all day??” and will you feel good about that answer? Does imaginary retirement start to feel right and positive or does it start to seem like the same old thing every day? If your imaginary retired self seems bored or lacks purpose, what would you do about it? You can start now to research volunteer opportunities, check out local events, consider travel, look into education, or consider part time jobs or entrepreneurships to get some fresh ideas. Once you’ve walked the path in your head for awhile and feel like you’ve found your way, you’ll know it’s time.

      1. Paris geller*

        I think this is good advice.
        I’m no where near retirement, but my dad retired at the beginning of 2019 and one thing that really helped him was he took on a very part-time (1 full day a week and occasionally an additional half-day or full seconded day as needed) job doing what he was already doing. It’s in the organization he worked for before, just a different department, and he’s mentioned before that it helps keep his mind sharp and he enjoys getting to see and socialize with his old coworkers without having to be around them 40 hours a week. He also started volunteering one day a week. Even though his total time commitments each week were never more than 10-15 hours, he really enjoyed having some semblance of structure but still plenty of flexibility to explore other options.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      As others have said know what you will do with your time.

      I found a study years ago that people who retired younger, got sicker younger and died younger. I never found why. However it makes sense to me that having goals is super important. People who don’t have goals-short or longer term- can find it very hard to get up in the morning and get going.

  52. Newbie*

    Hi all! I’m new to the work world and am struggling with a basic situation. How do I ask my boss for a day off? I’m a full-time fellow (one step above intern but still paid hourly, not salaried ) and have a couple of PTO days and “summer half days” as part of my benefits package. I’d like to use one in 3 weeks, am i cutting it too close? how do I ask? How far in advance do you usually ask for 1 day off or a 1 half-day off?? I know it varies by office but would love a ball park estimate!

    1. Newbie#2*

      just realized someone else was using this screenname today sorry about that @ the other Newbie!

    2. Alex*

      This is something you should ask your manager.

      “Manager, how does the office handle requests for days off?” Really normal question, and it varies so much from office to office that any advice here wouldn’t be helpful.

      In general, though, unless there is a very specific policy, IME single days normally need less notice than, say, a two week vacation. And never buy tickets/make unchangeable plans before getting your time approved!

      1. Tara*

        Like this, but as you probably will be requesting the leave from your manager — “I wanted to take a day off on [date]. is there an official process I have to submit this by?”

    3. MMMMMmmmmMMM*

      It can depend if your work has a computer system that you request days off or not. If you have a system, put the request off in, and inform your manager you placed the request.

      If you dont have some sort of request system, I’d just bring it up with your manager saying, “I’d like to take the 5th of August off, does that work with you?”

      You shouldn’t need to justify what you’re doing, and three weeks notice should be more than enough.

    4. Kimmy Schmidt*

      How approachable is your boss? Are they generally reasonable? Do you regularly meet with them? This is a good conversation to have with them! Ask them how they’d like you to request time off and how far in advance it should be. If you have an employee handbook, you might also find some guidelines in there. Or if you have a helpful and trusted coworker, you can ask them.

      For me, I generally aim to let my boss know about a month in advance if I’ll be out for a few days at a time, but for the odd day here or there it’s usually closer to two weeks.

    5. Snailing*

      Agreeing with Alex – ask what the norms are at your particular company. “Is there anything I need to keep in mind for requesting time off – appropriate notice, any limits on how much time taken at once, etc” And then also make sure you know if that time rolls over year to year or if it’s use it lose it, if there are black out days that you’re not allowed to be off for, etc.

      I’d say at most places, asking for 1 day off 3 weeks in advance is totally acceptable, but PTO is so different at every business, so it’s worth just asking up front!

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

      My only suggestion, especially with a 3-week lead time, make sure that in whatever system your org uses for PTO you get a written confirmation not just verbal — an email or a shared Outlook calendar post or payroll system confirmation… something.

    7. Daisy-dog*

      General rule, for a 1-2 days (or half day), you should request that around a week in advance. However, your company may have specific rules (if they release schedules for instance – it should be before the day those are created). Once you are more comfortable, you’ll figure out the company norms. I personally have had jobs in which I was able to ask the day before for a day off and the morning of for a half day. This was possible because I had no scheduled meetings and was able to knock out my work early. For other jobs, this would not work at all.

      For 3 days or more, I would recommend at least 3 weeks in advance. If your company has a busy period or a major deadline, then provide as much notice as possible. Your manager may have legit business reasons to reject it though. Hopefully they can recommend different dates that would work better.

    8. star*

      For what it’s worth, my rule of thumb (non US) is
      1 week notice for 1 day off
      1 month notice for 1 week off
      (scale as appropriate)
      but as a manager I am happy to be more flexible than that whenever I can. And pandemic times make time off hard to plan!

  53. Next step up?*

    Potentially a bait and switch job interview. Vent needed.

    Saw job advert for a teapot manager position which would be a nice step up. Plus it’s fully remote, which would be a nice bonus. So I applied.

    Less than 24 hours, I’m invited to a phone interview, although notice the job title has changed to ‘teapot maker’. That’s not a red flag in itself, as I’m in an industry where job titles can be misleading and there are some very senior ‘teapot makers’ and some relatively junior ‘teapot managers’, so decide to go ahead with it.

    Interview comes around and, oh, turns out it’s not just a case of misleading job titles, they’ve already hired the teapot manager for the job, and the job duties I’m read out indicate somebody who is much more junior than I am now. The job also requires at least a few days a week in the office and the salary they’re looking for is what I was earning two jobs back. Grr!

    I say potentially a bait and switch because it wasn’t like the interviewer said ‘I know we said we were recruiting a teapot manager but that position has been filled so..’, it was just straight into ‘So, here’s what we expect from the role of teapot maker’. I wonder if their IT or HR system has glitched out and they genuinely thought I was applying as a teapot maker. I’m willing to at least give them the benefit of the doubt but still very frustrating! 

    1. Snailing*

      I’d be frustrated too, but I agree it probably was a glitch and I’d bet the interviewer didn’t even know you’d initially applied for the manager position! It sounds more likely than just expecting you to roll with a whole different position (though I know from AAM that crazier things have happened!).

  54. Alexis Rosay*

    There’s a work habit I want to give feedback on, but I’m not sure what it’s called or how to name it and give effective feedback on it.

    The biggest problem I’ve noticed in some (not all!) of the recent college grads I’ve worked with is that they consider an assignment completed if they’ve made an *attempt* to complete it, even if I would not actually consider it completed.

    For example, if I ask Sam to get some specific information, they might send an email asking for the information. Some people inevitably won’t respond to that email. Sam reports back to me that they got some but not all of the information I asked for, without making any attempt to send a follow-up email or call.

    What would you call this? A lack of problem-solving? Have you had success giving feedback on this?

    1. Reba*

      I think lack of problem-solving captures some of it. I would also think that failing to grasp how their work fits into larger processes and the unit’s needs is involved. Hmm that’s not succinct either, is it! Like, they need to understand that the point of the assignment to get information is not the exercise of seeking info (as it would be in a college course assignment?), it’s *having* the information in order to do [next thing].

      Some of this may also have a social or office cultural norms dimension — if the employees are relatively junior, they may need some guidance about when it’s appropriate to keep pushing on other people or departments, or how that’s best done in your company.

      1. Red Panda*

        I think your second paragraph is key, Reba. In my younger life, I got used to assuming that if someone didn’t give me the information I needed, it was because I shouldn’t have asked for it or that they were withholding it for some mysterious business reason. I really appreciated the guidance from fellow employees about how and when to follow up or push back. I hope the employee is receptive to the feedback, Alexis!

      2. Alexis Rosay*

        Yes, that’s a good point. These folks are always really new & junior and they probably feel shy to ‘insist’ to anyone that they respond, so that’s definitely something I could give them guidance on.

    2. Snailing*

      I’ve come across this a lot, not even necessarily just with recent grads, and I think it’s something you need to train/coach them on. Clearly lay out that expectation that following up and getting the rest of the answer is part of completing that task. Absolutely a lack of problem-solving and critical-thinking.

      I’m handling something similar right now – not info gather, but for completing a certain spreadsheet. I’ve been training our ew office admin on how to complete it – it boils down to data entry, but it’s all about insurance which can be confusing if you’re familiar with all the terms. So I’ve been teaching her where to find the documents she needs to enter the info. I kept finding myself frustrated that it seemed like she’s try one place and then give up and tell me she couldn’t find it. So yesterday when we reviewed another one together after her first try, I started asking her where she checked for the info and named exactly what I wanted to see from her – that I wanted her to take a step back and ask herself “The info I wanted isn’t here – where do I think I should check next?”

      I can’t report back on how successful this tactic was yet, but it seemed like she was understanding more versus my previous tries!

      1. Alexis Rosay*

        Good luck! I’m glad to hear this seems like a successful direction, I’ll try it.

    3. Glomarization, Esq.*

      I think recent grads don’t always understand that the work they turn in, though it may be turned in for “review” or “approval,” is not actually supposed to be a first draft. They’re used to a scenario where they turn in a paper or project, but then they get a chance to revise it significantly before they turn it in for their final grade. But most of the time nobody tells them that the work world doesn’t operate this way.

    4. Next step up?*

      Agree with the others that I think it’s a combination of lack of problem solving and not understanding expectations. I KNOW I used to do this as a new-ish worker (I was, quite frankly, still doing it for quite a long time after I could be fairly called a new-ish worker). The thing which eventually made it click was a rather grouchy manager saying something along the lines of, ‘I asked you to deal with instructions 1-5 and you’ve just ignored 3 and 4! If you can’t do it for some reason, you’re supposed to tell me, not just ignore it!’ For some reason, my brain was thinking ‘He’ll notice I haven’t done 3 and 4 but it’s because the solution he suggested isn’t working. He’ll get that’. For some reason, I didn’t think to communicate this at any point!

      Fortunately for my self-esteem, I’ve also noticed people I manage doing this. I also know that grouchy manager was grouchy and their approach, even though it worked, wasn’t ideal. Instead, what I’ve been doing is trying to pre-empt the problem and spell it out explicitly – like, ‘If you can’t find this out the way I’m suggesting, let me know.’.

      It’s frustrating because you get the feeling they should just know but, like others have said, sometimes grasping the big picture (that what this project needs is the information I’m requesting, not a box ticked which says ’emailed client’) is not something that clicks straight away. I’d say this has about a 70% success rate – there’s still been one or two people I’ve had to have ‘a bigger chat’ with but these have usually been people with other performance issues anyway.

    5. JimmyJab*

      I guess I would call it a lack of follow through. In the particular situation you cited, I would speak to Sam and say, I need all the information, what are the next steps you are going to take to obtain it? If the same person continually does things like this, I would have a discussion with them (or a group if it is really several people with the same issue) about following through on projects and lay out really explicit expectations for completing tasks.

      1. Alexis Rosay*

        I like the idea of pro-actively asking them what their next steps will be if the first try doesn’t work. I hope I can help them start to problem-solve rather than bouncing back to me for more directions.

    6. RagingADHD*

      Lack of follow-through. Lack of results.

      They need to learn that following a process is a baseline expectation, not the actual assignment. The assignment is the deliverable. They need to become result-oriented.

    7. MissCoco*

      Lack of follow-through, or perhaps lack of initiative, but maybe a lack of empowerment as well, especially if they’re trying to get information from more senior people.

      I know I needed some coaching as a new employee on how to say “thanks, but also you ignored the second half of the email I just sent you” in a work-appropriate way that got results.

      With a couple supervisees I had, it was very helpful to ask them what their next steps would be when something was missing. Sometimes people needed coaching on what those steps were, and other times they just needed to figure out that the buck stopped with them when it came to that task.

    8. Girasol*

      Results, or lack thereof. Can you specify exactly what constitutes completion of a task at the start, and then say “I can see that you did made a good effort doing this and that, but you haven’t given me what I asked for, which is X. Do you need help from me to accomplish that?” Or “What do you think you should do now in order to accomplish X?” But perhaps steer the conversation away from “I did the best I could” and “Not my fault” so that it’s clear that work is different from school in that there’s no partial credit for showing your work, just results or the lack of them.

    9. Advice*

      It’s not an exact match, but getting familiar with the concept of credible challenge could help Sam to understand the questions and follow up that’s needed sometimes when a full and complete information/reply wasn’t received.

    10. Esmeralda*

      Lack of resourcefulness, persistence, and follow through. Not proactive.

      I have this problem with my first year students (college). For instance, they’ll email a professor but won’t also call or go by the profs office, and won’t follow up when they don’t hear back. Or, they’re having trouble with chemistry for instance, and find a friend to help them occasionally, but won’t also think to go to office hours, contact the TA, use the tutoring center, use Khan Academy, use the extra help sessions…

      I talk through this with my students. It really just doesn’t occur to them. You may have to do this with your reports. Do you have mentoring for your new hires, especially for entry / junior levels?

    11. TK*

      This isn’t just a new grad thing. I’ve worked with people of all ages who take the position “I emailed so-and-so once, and so-and-so never responded, so it’s a mystery for all time.” I don’t get it, but it’s surprisingly common.

      I do think, though, that rather than trying to give it a name and specifically identify what kind of flaw it is, you could just ask questions about the pattern you’re seeing. Like, “I’ve noticed that, when people don’t respond to your first email, you hesitate to follow up. Why is that?” Or something similar, depending on the situation. Or you could try asking how Sam plans to get the missing info, when they report that they only have some of it.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I think this is an age old problem, really. I remember being new to the work force and thinking how do I make this person who is 30 years older than me answer my question.

        One of the ways I got people to respond was to say, “The Boss wanted me to go around and collect up this info…..” I borrowed someone else’s authority in legitimate ways. I was careful not to exaggerate or make it seem like the boss was asking if the boss was not behind the questions, because that could cause other problems later.

        Mostly I found the most difficult people were my own peers in my age group. There would be a nod-nod-nod, “yeah. sure, NSNR!” and then nothing would happen. Because I was the same age as the other person it was assumed I was their “pal” and would over look things such as not passing along correct information and such. My solution to that was to let the cookies crumble as they may.

      2. ronda*

        that is what I was wondering… why is the question what should I call this?

        If you tell them they are not being proactive (or whatever), that will probably just confuse them.

        ask them what they did to get the answer and then what else? and then what else?
        If they don’t come up with the stuff you want them to be doing to get it, tell them what stuff you want them to do.
        Don’t make it a guessing game, ‘specially with people who are new.

  55. Canadian Engineer*

    I’m an early career software engineer, and my local employment agency has asked me to mentor someone trying to get into the tech industry. I’m in Canada, and my mentee has recently moved here from another country (not the USA which I think is pretty culturally similar in this context). Part of the deal is that I should give advice on how to fit into the workplace culture here… I have some ideas, but since I’ve never lived anywhere else, it’s hard to know what I should mention.

    People in the tech industry who aren’t from USA/Canada but work here, what was confusing or surprising to you when you first started?

    1. friendly viper*

      I’ve lived in several countries and am now in the US. This is hard to answer without knowing where your mentee is from. For example, my German friend was moving to the US and got a ‘helpful’ boiler plate letter from his employer saying “In America, it is expected that people wash every day…”. It made him very angry. On the other hand, I guess Americans expect a higher level of hygiene than in some countries, which was probably why that language was there. So for example, to a person from Japan I’d say it’s important to look people in the eye and use first names. To a person from Germany I’d say don’t give too pessimistic answers when given a task (in my experience Germans tend to under-promise and over-deliver), etc….

      1. Canadian Engineer*

        Oh man that letter sounds so condescending! I’m actually not sure exactly where they’re from yet… I think I’ll start by talking more generally about what I’ve experienced and ask about any issues they’re having, that’s probably going to be better than me trying to guess what they need to know anyway. Thanks for those examples, I’ll keep that kind of thing in mind!

    2. ronda*

      my coworker from china might ask me about how somethings are done in the US, but we would also talk some about how things are done in China.

      try to make it a 2 way street and ask them how they might do these things in their country and see if it sounds similar or different to how you see it done in Canada.

      1. Canadian Engineer*

        Thanks, that’s a good idea! Now that I think more about it, this type of thing will probably come up naturally in conversation anyway.

  56. Student Affairs Sally*

    I’m in the process of receiving an (interim) promotion at the organization I’ve been desperately trying to leave pretty much since I started in November. I truly don’t know how to feel about it! I’m excited about the extra responsibilities, opportunities to learn more, and obviously the raise . . . but the institution is still highly dysfunctional, I have to collaborate a lot more with some of the people I find the most difficult to work with, and I’m learning that some of the people I thought I could trust (because people here like to pick sides and are very territorial) are really two-faced. And my workload is approximately doubling, possibly almost tripling (I won’t know for sure until August). I’m trying to frame it in my head as an opportunity that’s going to make it easier for me to leave for something better in a few months, but I’m also kind of panicking that I’ve gotten myself more deeply entrenched at an organization that’s such a bad fit for me.

    All of this to lead to my question – Obviously I have no plans to apply for the full role. Are future employers likely to ask me about that? When I was interviewing for other jobs prior to the promotion, I had to really be intentional about framing my response to “why do you want to leave your employer after only 6 months” so that it sounded more professional than the true answer (“because the place is a dumpster fire”). This promotion is making me feel a little better about sticking it out for at least a full year, but I worry that doing an interim role for a few months and then dropping back to my previous, lower-ranked role will create other questions in hiring manager’s minds. Thoughts?

    1. Middle Manager*

      I am dealing with exactly this! I posted above but my team has lost 9 staff members in 13 months, including both the department director as well as my team’s associate director. I became the interim associate director by default, but I realllllly did not want the position and chose not to apply for the role once it was posted.

      I’m now actively job searching and NOT looking for those upper-level management positions. Honestly I’m debating just leaving the “interim” bit off my resume completely since I don’t want to do a similar role in the future, and since I was technically still holding onto my old role at the same time.

      If your job search will be for positions more aligned with the interim role, could you still use whatever your old response to the question was about leaving your job?

      1. Student Affairs Sally*

        I’m honestly not entirely sure what level of position I’m going to apply for – I am very interested in doing this level of work at a different, better-functioning school, but I’d also be willing to make a more lateral move from my original role if it gets me out of here faster, lol. So whether I include the interim role will depend on that, and also how long I actually end up doing it (they could have a replacement in 2 months or 6 – there’s no way to know, especially post-COVID).

        If I apply for a position that is more aligned with the director role, I almost worry that using the same answer as before would open up even MORE questions – “well why did you accept a promotion if you felt that the culture wasn’t the right fit and you were concerned about the financial situation of the institution?” Our situations are similar and yet different – basically, the director of my area left and I was told “we need you to take on these key areas of her job until we find a replacement, there’s no one else who can do it”, to which I said “I’ll do it for a raise and title bump” – so it was less me “accepting a promotion” and more “demanding to be paid and titled appropriately for the work that I’d have to do anyway”. So maybe I can frame it as “I was already thinking that this place wasn’t a long-term fit for me, but when this situation arose I responded by graciously stepping up and filling a void that needed to be filled to allow for a smooth transition to a new director and my eventual departure”, so it doesn’t seem like I accepted a promotion in bad faith?

        1. OtterB*

          I think you’d be okay to say that you didn’t think the organization was a good fit long term, but in a temporary situation you stepped up to meet the business needs.

          In general, I don’t think moving back to your previous position after an interim position should be held against you. Like leaving a short-term contract position at the end of the contract doesn’t count as job-hopping, leaving an interim position, even to move back to your old position, is normal. You might have on tap some things to say about what you learned from the interim position, which might be that you don’t want that position, or might be that you now understand better what a manager requires from your usual position.

          1. Camelid coordinator*

            I think this sounds right. I work in higher ed and think you could also add something how about the place you are applying to is such a better fit for you because of its mission and special programs. Also, if I saw a student affairs resume with the circumstances you describe—a promotion to an interim position in less than a year and then back to the original job with wanting to leave after not being there long, I’d think there was something wrong with the institution, not the candidate.

  57. Nea*

    Any tips/tricks for sitting in on hiring interviews? My company is hiring people with my skillset* and I’m being asked to vet resumes/sit in on interviews. Only – I know my skillset very well. People skills, not so much. Advice on what to look for? What to raise a quiet flag about?

    *This isn’t a “how do I save my job?” question. We’re spinning up a whole new department.

    1. Snailing*

      I think it depends on what people skills are needed for your (type of) position! It sounds like your role in sitting in is to vet the skillset versus vetting the people skills, but inevitably some people skills are needed. I’d take some time to think about what people skills you heavily lean on in your work (eg. is part of your role gathering info from other people and what skills do you lean on to accomplish that?), and also take time to think about the people you regularly interact with in your work – what people skills do they have that this new role will need to gel with (or counteract!), what people skills do you use with these other internal roles/external clients/etc that you find helpful in getting your work done?

    2. Daisy-dog*

      Ask about your skillset! That’s why you’re there! For instance, ask a software engineer candidate if they have programmed in X system before. If so, what is their experience level? If they had only done it in school, how well did they master it in school? What programming languages do they know? What is their favorite and why? What are past projects that they have done before? What exactly did they do? What was difficult about it? What did they learn?

      The hiring manager and HR can handle the situational questions and culture-fit questions.

    3. LadyByTheLake*

      You are there to delve into their experience in your specialty. For example, if you know that they will need to routinely deal with XYZ problem ask them about their experience with that and to walk you through how they solved it. If they say they don’t have that experience, ask how they would go about tackling XYZ problem. You are there to see if they have the skillset needed/that they claim.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Agree with Daisy-dog and LadyByTheLake! I mentioned this above in the best/worst interview questions post, but the best questions are those that make it clear the interviewers know what to look for in terms of skills for the role, and also indicate how the role is perceived and used within the group or the company.

    4. Policy Wonk*

      Your role in this process is to figure out whether the applicant actually knows their stuff. Where I work we have found that people without technical skills can often put enough info on paper or into a phone screen to convince HR or management that they have the appropriate chops when they don’t. If a question is asked about their experience in glazing teapots, and the answer they provide is either generic or shows a lack of knowledge of glaze you can flag it for the interviewer or ask a follow-up question directly. Or, if you aren’t expected to play that role, in the after-interview discussion offer your opinion that they do or don’t have the skills.

      1. Daisy-dog*

        Yes, Policy Wonk provides a good explanation for the “why” behind your inclusion.

        Another aspect is that you might be less “attached” to the candidate. HR & the hiring manager might have dug through dozens (or hundreds) of applicants to find a few that are worth interviewing. Then, they get cancelations & no-shows. If this candidate shows up on time and can put sentences together, they may be so excited that they want to offer the job on the spot. Your detachment from the process can keep them grounded and recognize knowledge gaps that will cause issues.

  58. Hopeful Data Scientist*

    Hi! I’m interested in working in data science. Can anyone who works as a data scientist and particularly those who made the transition from other roles to data science give advice about how to make the change? I have a bachelors and masters in a social science field and I attended but did not complete a doctoral program (ABD) and I took doctoral level quantitative courses. I’ve been working in banking technology risk for almost 10 years and always had a data analytics function in my job. I’m looking at a degree in mathematics and MS in data science. I would really appreciate any guidance that you’d be willing to share!!

    1. anonymath*

      What do you feel you’d get from a degree in math? Do you want to do it? would it be fun?

      Certainly knowing linear algebra and math and stats quite well makes you a better data scientist. However, a degree in math may or may not prepare you well.

      If you can leverage what you already know/have/do and make a case for how you can move into data sci, that is good. Can you do any data science projects in your current job? Can you make a lateral move in your company? Can you learn the tools of data sci today in your current job (Jupyter notebooks/RStudio, RShiny or Dash or Streamlit, git, SQL, etc)?

      A good MS in DS can really help you network and position yourself. Some of them aren’t great though. Get in touch with graduates if possible and ask about their experiences.

      In the market as I see it today, the hardest step is that first data scientist job. You need to be able to convince someone you can come into their org and deal with their incredibly messy data, janky data infrastructure, and subject matter experts to pull together insights from data science. That’s different from company to company — some are looking for a narrow set of skills that fit into a Jupyter noteboook and others will want you to be able to spin up your own Docker container and stand up an RShiny dashboard that’ll write to a database. Math is important but there are many non-math skills, primarily (to me) being able to listen/explore when the problem is being described so that you can interrogate the assumptions (often incorrect) that are made in phrasing the problem and its possible solutions. Social science might prepare you well for that.

      1. Hopeful Data Scientist*

        Thanks for the feedback. The MS program has math requirements. When I spoke with the community college advisor she realized that based on the pre-reqs I had to take I was just a couple classes short of a degree.

        A lot of the non-technical skills you mention I’ve done in previous roles and it’s why I’m in interested in data science. I enjoy diving into the data to help the business understand what’s going on, solve problems and distill the data and findings into real solutions. I’ve applied to data analytics and data science roles and the feedback is that I need more advanced math and programming skills. I haven’t found that person who is willing to give me a chance. Instead I’m focusing on projects in my current job and beefing up my education.

        1. Hopeful Data Scientist*

          And I really enjoy math classes and find math itself to be fun. I enjoy equations and finding practical applications of math.

    2. Can Can Cannot*

      I haven’t done hands-on data science for a while, but I am a VP of data science and have hired many data scientists. My suggestion is to skip going for the full fledged degree, and instead focus on individual courses and training to augment your existing academic background. I love to hire social science majors as data scientists, assuming they have the quantitative skills. Sociology, economics, psychology, etc. are all good backgrounds for a data scientist. Working with data to understand fundamental social science questions is great experience. So before you go and invest too much time and money into additional degrees, see if you can pivot your resume and background to show off your quantitative skills, and if there is something lacking, try to find courses or workshops that fill any gaps. You might also want to try running your resume by a friendly manager in the field, to get feedback on where they think you might need additional experience.

    3. J.B.*

      I should have the background for data science but couldn’t get hired in that specific area. What do you envision doing in data science? Do you want to model data and make recommendations? Do you want to focus on data visualization and dashboards? If you want to do anything health adjacent then something like an MPH might serve you well, because medical adjacent skills are relevant. If you got into something like the NC State masters in data science (the SAS degree) I would say do that as they give legit jobseeker support.

      With a banking background I would otherwise look into data science roles in banks and do some courses here and there to round out what they are looking for.

  59. Do I Ask?*

    I possibly have a stay interview coming up. I would like to approach the idea of increasing my compensation, but I am hesitant. The scope of my role is increasing and will entail more work from me, but it is very early in the process. I am interested in your thoughts if I should ask at this time.

    My hesitation comes from a few things. I don’t particularly like my job *that much*. I don’t hate it and it’s not burning me out, but it’s no longer what I want to do. This means I may leave this role in the next year. I do not want to indicate this in the stay interview because I am still trying to figure out what my next step is.

    Also, I have not been rewarded with money in the year plus that I have been with this company. I get praise all the time, but it has not translated to financial benefits. I do know about incentives that others have received – part of my job does involve knowing these details. I also know that we are attempting to decrease our costs.

    1. Reba*

      Ask! Absolutely ask. Don’t think about how you’ll be leaving soon, and don’t think about the cost-cutting (no company ever wants to increase their costs, right?). Think about your new responsibilities and what the work is worth. Good luck!

  60. Mollymauk Tealeaf*

    I’m starting a job in a new industry (manufacturing -> tech) as a fully remote employee in a couple of weeks. Does anyone have any suggestions or tips on starting as a remote employee? I’ve only ever worked in offices pre-pandemic we weren’t even allowed to work from home when recovering from surgery.

    1. It'll Be Okay*

      I started my current job mid-pandemic when everyone was remote. I’m not sure I have any advice but I can share how it’s gone so far.
      Training was done on site for a week, and then I continued to be “trained” by doing some work and then it being reviewed by my mentor. And anytime I ran into issues we would do a zoom call to walk me through whatever situation I needed help with.
      Of the ~20 people in my group, I would say I know about 6 of them. We chat on teams and they’ve all been very helpful with any questions I’ve had. The others I know exclusively through being in the same weekly zoom meetings (which are camera-off). We have a couple people with the same name and I regularly have to check whether I need to email John A or John B about X problem. The company has begun talking about an incremental “re-densification” plan for the office and honestly I’m feeling a little stressed about suddenly meeting everyone that I’ve allegedly been working with for months.

    2. Tabby Baltimore*

      This was an “Ask the Readers” question on 22 October 2020, posted under the title “starting a new job when you’re working remotely” Type that title in quotes into the search bar on this site, and you can read a lot of postings offering more advice.

  61. Whose On First?*

    I’m trying to figure out who to resign to when I’m furloughed. My direct supervisor has also been furloughed so I can’t resign to him. His supervisor is also furloughed and the only one above him in the president of the company who is a new person brought on while I was furloughed so I’ve never met them before. There is HR but my company was bought by a bigger company (again during my furlough). They let go of the HR in my company and everyone is supposed to go through the parent company’s HR but I can’t get through to them by phone or email. The only thing I can think of at this point is that my supervisor has a peer who was not directly my supervisor but actually worked with me more than my supervisor and he is still employed and knows me very well. Can I resign to him even if he’s not technically my supervisor?

    1. Reba*

      Oh my glob.

      At the very least, you could ask your contact for advice on how to submit your resignation?

      I mean, I don’t see why you couldn’t resign to him, if there is no one else to get the message!

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Is there a reason you feel you need to do this? Are you still getting benefits of some kind?

      It seems like they’ve done it in a slash-and-burn manner. If and when they ever call you to take you back, you can just say “I got another job”.

      1. Whose On First?*

        I got a letter in the mail this week from the new parent company that they reinstated benefits to everyone because they’re starting to bring people back in waves. So I need to resign to stop the benefits but I’ve not yet been contacted to come back. Also I have a work laptop that I want to return and I want to get all my personal belongs back (I left everything behind because they sent to us home to work remotely and then the furlough came later). So that’s why I want to formally resign.

        1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*


          I’d call the person that you do know, and ask them how to go about doing all the property handoffs, etc. You aren’t resigning “to” them, you’re just relying on their help to get you through to HR.

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

      I don’t think you should have to jump through any hoops to contact them in these circumstances. If you aren’t receiving any benefits while furloughed, they don’t really NEED to know you don’t work for them anymore. If they try to recall you from furlough, let whoever contacts you know at that time I guess.

    4. Wisteria*

      I can’t get through to them by phone or email

      In the email, did you tell them you were resigning? Or did you just ask them to get back to you?

      I would email whatever email you have for HR and also the president of the company saying “I resign, all my management is furloughed, here’s my last day, how do I return the laptop and get my stuff?” I suspect that an “I resign” email will get a faster response.

      Can you physically get into the company premises? I would just go get my stuff, tbh. I would actually do that before I send the email in case I get locked out and there is a song and dance about picking it up.

  62. A Very Depressed Costumer*

    My job (that I’ve been off from since last March) has finally started hiring my department again, but due to downsizing and trying to keep things equitable, they’re doing it through a open job listing. While I’ve actually had a lot of fun re-organizint my resume and updating my portfolio, I am completely stuck on a cover letter. How do you write a cover letter for what is (basically) your current job? The whole idea of a cover letter is to answer “why should I work here?”, but all my (tired, burnt-out, and cynical from the pandemic) brain can think of is “because I have been, and you seemed to like my work for the past five years”! I’m just having a lot of trouble translating the tone from all the cover letters I’m reading, which feel aspirational and even a little dreamy, to what I have, which is concrete and boring.

    1. Colette*

      Focus on explaining why you’re good at the job, and what you could bring to the team going forward.

    2. Cooper*

      How would you explain why you feel like a good fit for the job to me? As in– to someone who is a complete stranger, but who is on nebulously friendly/polite terms with you, how would you go about telling me why you want this job and why you’d be good at it?
      (This is mostly meant as a thought experiment/way to frame your tone, but if you do want to respond, I won’t complain! As a fellow depressed costumer (although by hobby, not by trade), I send you all my good vibes.)

  63. 867-5309*

    My cousin will be retiring from the Army after a 23-year career and looking to transition into a civilian role. I’ve been connecting him to some people in my network for informational interviews and wondered if anyone here went through a similar transition and had any advice. Thanks!

    1. Twisted Lion*

      There is a wealth of resources for people transitioning from military to civilian. The biggest hurdle I notice is navigating resumes although most bases offer resume courses he can attend. I would find some people willing to edit it for them to “demilitarize” for him. I see some federal resumes from prior military and they could just use a few edits. Also for my husband he did have a hard time emotionally with the change. Its kind of a big let down when its over. I found a workbook for him but he’s been bad about completing it LOL. Otherwise, finances are a big thing and making sure everything is done correctly like survivor benefits, life insurance, health insurance etc.

    2. McMurdo*

      (1) Depending on the timeline, he should look into the SkillBridge program, which would let him do an internship/externship with a company for the last ~6 months of his service. In some cases this can take 18 months to 2 years though, if it even gets approved, so it might not be feasible closer to his exit date.
      (2) There are lots of groups on LinkedIn for veterans and companies looking to hire veterans! Search terms like SkillBridge or “transitioning servicemembers” and see what comes up.
      (3) Organizations like 50strong often hold virtual career fairs explicitly for vets — they’re at least a good way to start getting a feel for what companies are actively looking at this demographic.
      Disclaimer: this isn’t from personal experience, just my mom’s own experience and from her consulting in this field :)

    3. Tabby Baltimore*

      Your cousin has probably already checked into this, but the Army does provide transition assistance programs (TAP) for both officer and enlisted ranks. If your cousin is enlisted, s/he should check with the unit’s non-commissioned officer in charge who could probably find out when the next TAP class is being held. If an officer, probably his/her performance rater or reviewer would know, or would know someone to refer your cousin to.

      Another resource is a website called the Resume Place (I’ll put the link in a reply, b/c it will go into moderation) which does often supply free classes on federal resume writing on military bases. Resume Place has also written several books on resume writing, older print editions of which are probably available at the base’s library where your cousin is stationed, or outside the base at the local civilian public library in the city/town where the base is located. Resume Place has written a guide for helping military service persons transition their resumes from a military to a civilian format, but only your cousin can decide whether getting a copy of the veteran federal resume samples is worth the cost.

  64. Mary*

    Does anyone have advice for dealing with a particularly pushy job applicant? This person has emailed and called me (including on my cell) multiple times with what I consider sort of over the top language – “Let’s set up this interview right away.” We’ve interviewed and rejected them for a position earlier this spring and they still haven’t given up on joining the team. Is this more common than I think? Do I just ignore? Give them a short call to get them off my back? Would you give them the advice that their manner is really off-putting? I honestly cannot imagine managing such a pushy person.

    1. Reba*

      Wait, so they are not even in active consideration for a role? It sounds like, even if there are future openings, you wouldn’t hire this person. So can you just reject them with finality and end this?

      1. Mary*

        Oh, totally – I don’t think I’d ever hire them, ever. (I’m probably overthinking this!) I was wondering if it would be a kindness to tell them that they’re hurting themselves with acting like this … or just leave it.

    2. stephistication*

      I vote for letting them know it’s not going to happen. That’ll likely print them to rebuttal but you don’t owe an explanation at that point. Maybe send a rejection note and customize the verbiage.

      One could argue that it’s best to ignore them but they’ll likely keep it up and add to your frustration. I’d want peace knowing I told them what the deal was. One thing to consider, some folks are getting desperate and normally wouldn’t behave that way. Empathy while letting them know to move on is solid IMO.

    3. identifying remarks removed*

      To start with I’d block their number on your cellphone. And send them an email saying there are no roles available. And no more contact after that.

      1. RagingADHD*

        This. If you need a reason, or if you accidentally pick up a call, tell them their behavior is inappropriate.

    4. WFH with Cat*

      I’d email a polite but very clear rejection email, including something like … “I understand that you are eager to join the company, but I am not in a position to assist you further. Going forward, please utilize the company’s online/website application system to look for and apply to any other jobs that may be open in the future.”

      And I’d block their number and reroute their emails to a unique folder (just in case I needed those emails later).

  65. stephistication*

    I work for a manager that I absolutely adore. We work extremely well together, I know exactly what she likes, she is an active advocate for me and I’ve been promoted four times under her tenure and with her advocacy. All is well right?

    I have one issue, her and I both have a strong desire to move into/focus on a particular area of the business. Together, her and I make magic but I want to move into leadership in that space. Although we are supportive of each other, it sometimes feels like competition. Since she’s already considered “leadership” she’s more visible.

    How can I carve a space for myself w/I feeling like a shadow of my boss?

  66. Mel*

    I’ve been feeling really discouraged lately in my job search. I’m early-to-mid-career (about 4-6 years of experience) and looking for administrative jobs (office manager, executive assistant, project/program coordinator etc), mostly but not exclusively in nonprofits. Are these numbers normal?

    Number of total applications: 18
    Number of those that called me in for an interview: 12
    Number of those that gave me a second/third interview: 8
    Number of those where I knew I was in the final round of applicants: 2-3
    Number of offers: 0

    I feel like interviewing for 12 jobs with no offers is abnormal, and the rejection also just weirdly feels more personal after they’ve spoken to you face to face. I know it’s probably just that they had a candidate that they wanted more, but it’s been making me really depressed.

    1. Allypopx*

      That’s absolutely normal. You’re progressing through the process, you’re even a finalist. It just tells me the job market around you is competitive.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      You’re doing amazingly well on that first cutoff — 18 applications yielding 12 first interviews. I think your other numbers look just fine.

      1. Next step up?*

        Agreed. Entirely different industry, but I think when I was changing jobs at a the early-to-mid career point, one job search was more like 18 applications, 2 interviews!

    3. The Prettiest Curse*

      A few years back, I was laid off after 9 years in an admin role at a nonprofit. I think I applied for something like 40 jobs, did around 10 interviews and got 1 offer. So keep plugging away at it. If you are getting interviews and getting down to the final round, you are doing something right!

    4. Fran Fine*

      You’re doing better than normal, you’re just job searching in an incredibly tight job market due to the pandemic. Keep going – you’ll get something soon enough.

    5. Ama*

      The nonprofit job market is tough right now — I don’t know a single org in my sector that didn’t have to layoff some staff last year while it was still unclear what was happening, and the ones that didn’t have enough of a cushion to survive financially laid off huge amounts of often very experienced staff. That means the job market is unbelievably competitive right now and even a very strong candidate (which you must be because you’re getting a ton of interviews) might get edged out because the exact perfect candidate falls into their lap.

      The good news is I’m seeing more and more actual job postings as people get a sense of what next year’s budget will be so the pool of strong candidates will be getting smaller as more people get hired. Hang in there.

    6. Wordybird*

      I would say those are really great numbers, TBH. You’ve been called in to interview 2/3 of the time and been called in for a second and possibly third interview almost half the time.

      Keep doing what you’re doing! You’ll get a job offer sooner than you think if those odds continue.

  67. Strawberry Fields*

    I took the day off for a dental procedure. My boss knew and said it was okay. I put it on our department calendar to notify people well in advance. I’m the only one who does my job- there is no backup, so no one’s workload is impacted.

    Whenever I’m not at work, “Esmeralda”, the department secretary, gives me the cold shoulder and doesn’t talk to me. When I came in the next day, “Esmeralda”, was talking to a coworker. As soon as I walked in, she saw me and stopped talking. She then turned suddenly and walked back to her desk, without saying a word to me. She then proceeded to ignore me for the rest of the day. (She’s the “martyr” type where she works weekends and lets you know about it.)

    It’s ironic because Esmeralda took the whole week off last week, yet no one else is allowed to take time off except her apparently.

    Jim, our assistant manager, was also acting weird. When he came into the office in the morning, he walked right past me without saying anything. He said good morning to Esmeralda though.

    They’re punishing me for taking the day off, I get it, but are people not supposed to take time off? I had a dental procedure done and was literally drooling/couldn’t talk/had gauze in my mouth, so I’m not coming into the office like that. My boss approved the day off, so what is the problem?

    This only happens to me in the office- no one else. What is their deal?

    1. Colette*

      I don’t know what their problem is, but it sounds like it is their problem – as long as your boss acts reasonably, I’d ignore their weird behaviour.

    2. JimmyJab*

      There are many possibilities, all of which I can’t guess – like they could hate people with your first name because they had a coworker with that name who spit in their faces. If you want to address it I’d bring it up next time you notice it – just note you thought (person) seemed potentially upset with you, and ask if something unexpected came up on your day off or if the approved day off wound up causing an issue? If they say, no, no problem, you’re imagining it, I’d say just ignore it. Maybe they’re lying, and they do resent you taking days off, but that is there problem. If one of these people is your superior, then I suppose that isn’t ideal, but presumably you have a record of the approval to take the day off and your boss is just kind of a dick. But, it is normal to take days off. Especially assuming you have PTO. Regardless of PTO, it is still reasonable to take days off.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Their deal is that they can get a rise out of you and nobody else gives a crap about their nonsense. They aren’t “punishing” you unless interacting with them is some kind of excellent reward.

      Which I doubt.

      If their behavior interferes with your ability to do your work, talk to your manager about the fact that you can’t finish the TPS report because Esmerelda refuses to speak with you (or whatever).

    4. Raia*

      Let them react childishly to how a functioning adult behaves. If the behavior impacts your work I’d bring it up to them/your boss, but otherwise ignore and return awkwardness to sender.

  68. SentientAmoeba*

    Frustration: When your Team Lead treats you with condescension and ridicule for not having the same level of institutional knowledge as they do and your actual supervisor is too busy to address it. Actual feedback: Please look at your file and tell me what is missing.
    We’ve been at this for two days and I have customers waiting on this file, but I can’t send it without approval.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Have you just said words to the effect of: “TL, I don’t know. That’s why I’m asking you. I implemented the (procedure, policy, thing I was trained on), but you’re saying I’m missing something. You’re going to have to tell me because I’m never going to guess it.”

      (and obviously, double-check the procedure, policy, etc. before you say this!)

      1. SentientAmoeba*

        Yep. And when I reach out, I usually include whatever resources I’ve used, referenced any similar actions, and provided as much relevant data as possible. I’m just tired of feeling stupid at a job I otherwise enjoy.

        1. Alianora*

          I feel your frustration. Honestly, every time I’ve seen someone act that way, I suspect it was because they were insecure in their role and trying to hide it. Either threatened by a new person, or didn’t know their stuff that well and were trying to pretend otherwise.

          It did help me to mentally reframe it that way, so instead of feeling like I’m dumb (which is what they’re aiming for), I know that it’s not about me, it’s about them.

      2. The New Wanderer*

        I would do this, mark it urgent and emphasize you have customers waiting, and cc the supervisor. They will either stop being too busy to manage this or they will be on the hook for ignoring something that is now impacting customers.

  69. LimeRoos*

    Just need some extra positive vibes, husband is finally applying to jobs outside his current company for a huge raise/level jump because he’s been stuck in limbo for 5 years.

    Not so quick backstory – he’s worked for the same company for the last 10 years – basically worked his way up from floor help to quality engineer. We moved for this job 7 years ago when he was a lab tech, and it was a lateral move so no raise, no help with relo or anything. 1st manager turned out to be horrible, didn’t realize it until after 2 years when the QE spot didn’t happen like he was promised because manager did not help with his development and had no idea how to get him promoted (head desk). That manger left (fired? it was sketch), new manager came in, got husband the necessary other experience, certifications, and visibility, husband knocked the interview for QE out of the park, and this last year started applying for QE2 & Sr QE spots within the company. Had some interviews, no one takes anything he did as a lab tech seriously (and what he did was huge, like, industry impacting huge, I so wish I could share it) so he missed out on two spots. A 3rd opened up back home, which is exciting because Covid made us way more homesick than expected, and we’ve basically decided to figure out how to get back, and this would’ve been perfect. And then a hiring freeze, then re-org, and now his manager is moved to a new position (manager 3 since moving, also very good manager) and a new manager will split his time between two sites (head desk). So husband will have to manage the majority of the day to day stuff and audits and anything physical because the other guy was only asked to come in once a week. Which is super disappointing because he’s been doing that since we got here 7 years ago. As a lab tech he had 28 contractors to manage, because manager 1 didn’t do it and didn’t even know most of their names. So he’s finally set on leaving, and seeing what he’s qualified for on job boards is amazing, manager positions with an almost double salary bump. We’re excited, but he’s really nervous, he wanted his career to be here and it’s not looking like it anymore. So uh yeah, sorry for the long rant, but just good vibes and such :-)

    1. NoLongerYoung*

      Good vibes sent!!
      Know your worth, keep your (his) head up, and keep applying – there is a better future out there.

  70. Temporary Temp*

    I am currently temping for a hospital network in a receptionist-type role. My current assignment, which is my first with this organization, is decreasing staffing so the “Staffing Specialist” that handles our scheduling has been reaching out with information about other temp assignments we could apply to be re-assigned to. I am open to being re-assigned, but something that was instrumental in accepting my current temp position is that it is per diem with a wide variety of shifts available, which allowed me to build a part-time schedule which worked with my other arts industry freelance-based job. All the alternative assignments I’ve been offered so far except one (sadly not in my location) were closer to the typical M-F 9-5 schedule, which doesn’t work for me.

    Do you think it would be worth it to reach out to the Staffing Specialist and say something like “I’m open to being reassigned and appreciate the opportunities you’ve passed along, but they don’t work with my availability, which is [details]. If you ever have any part-time or per diem assignments which would work with my availability, I’d be very interested in knowing more”?

    On one hand, I’d be interested in staying with the organization as a temp or moving into a permanent role with them as long as they could accommodate my schedule, and I am very eager to find out more information about that and this could be a way to start that conversation, though who knows if this Staffing Specialist can give me the information I want. On the other other hand, I would be willing to take a temp job that isn’t my preferred schedule if it’s that or nothing so I have something to tide me over while I aggressively job hunt for something else, and I’m worried expressing a preference like this will hurt my ability to be re-assigned when my current temp position truly comes to an end. What do you think?

    1. RagingADHD*

      Okay, the message there sounds like you would NOT take any of the offered positions at all. Whereas it sounds like you actually would take them if there was nothing else. So I’d re-word it to something like,

      “Thanks for the information about open shifts. Right now, my assignment works well for my schedule so I’d like to keep it as long as possible. If or when other shifts open up where I could build a similar schedule, or if a permanent position with a similar schedule comes up, that would be my first choice.

      Do you have any insight into whether any of these flexible shifts will be open before this assignment ends?”

      Whenever I worked with temp coordinators, it was most useful to just tell them exactly what my priorities were.

  71. Wowza*

    I’m a Federal Civil Servant. I will be allowed to remote-work from anywhere in the mainland US. Where would you choose to live, and why?

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      Jackman, Maine. I’m a cold soul and would love to be able to make day trips to Québec.
      Bellingham, Washington falls into the same category with British Columbia.
      Grand Portage, Minnesota… Paradise, Michigan… you get the pattern.

      Texas and Florida are tax friendly and some parts have temperate weather year-round, but you’ll deal with tropical storms.

    2. JimmyJab*

      I’d choose to live near my loved ones and near the things I enjoy – personally those things are the Ocean, nature, and a place with various seasons, plus, some reasonable proximity to an international airport. For me, this turns out to be New England.

      1. Lunch Ghost*

        Mine are very similar but substitute mountains/lakes for the ocean. Ideally near a city small enough to not feel like a big city but big enough to have interesting restaurants/shows/etc.

  72. yeet me into the sea*

    I’ve never posted in one of these open threads before but I’ve never had a situation to post about so.. here goes? CW for sexual harassment

    I’m an early-career professional in my late 20s. Due to COVID timing, I was only in the office at my current for a couple of months before we all went remote, and it’s a very quiet cube farm, so I didn’t really get to know my coworkers all that well.

    Well, we went out for happy hour the other night and things go a little weird towards the end. I ended up at a table alone with one coworker who I almost never talk to (seems nice enough but our work just doesn’t overlap much). Everyone else was up paying their bill/in the restroom/etc.

    And then he scooted over and kind of groped me. The kind of plausible-deniability groping… hand on shoulder, sliding down to the waist… then the butt…. but the timing of it being as soon as everyone else had left the table and there were no witnesses…

    I feel very uncomfortable and obviously will keep my guard up around him in the future. It’s frustrating that it isn’t to the level which feels reportable (especially since we don’t interact much virtually, and almost never in person; that’s not likely to change). He’s been there 5+ years and is well-liked by everyone; my coworkers love my work but don’t know me super well as a person and I’ve only been there about a year and a half.

    There’s nothing to do about this, right? I should just make a note that it happened (I told my spouse the night it happened and he also agreed it was over the line) but in the scheme of things it’s minor that unless it’s a pattern it’s not worth mentioning, I think.

    I’m only kind of looking for advice, I think. Just pissed that my only time seeing my coworkers in a year ended like this. Support would also be appreciated. Thanks for reading.

    1. balanceofthemis*

      It is 100% worth bringing up! Now, will anyone do anything? Probably not, because it didn’t happen at work. If I’m wrong about that, please tell me, but that’s been my experience. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t report it.

    2. Ginger Baker*

      I would absolutely say something. I can’t imagine how upsetting it must have been, especially in the context of being fairly new and so few opportunities to see your colleagues in person. It’s possible not real action will come out of it, but on the other hand it might just be the final proof needed in a list of other reported “singular” issues. (And as for the note above of it being not being at work, I have personally witnessed actions at an office party get someone let go the next business day – not to say it always happens, but it doesn’t never-happen either…)

      1. pancakes*

        Yes to all this. I want to add there have been a handful of fairly high-profile guys fired for groping coworkers out of the office. Lockhart Steele at Vox, for example.

    3. Shirley Keeldar*

      His hand was on your butt? HIS HAND WAS ON YOUR BUTT????? I don’t know your industry, but unless it’s extremely misogynistic it seems very, very, very reportable to me. The fact that it wasn’t on work premises isn’t relevant. He’s your co-worker and he groped you and you want him to be told never to put his hands on you again, and that’s the very minimum of what should happen to him.

      I’m really sorry he did that to you and that you’re doubting whether you’re entitled to protection. I promise you, it’s not minor, it’s horrible.

    4. JimmyJab*

      I’m sorry this happened to you. I would consider bringing it up with HR if you feel safe doing so. I have experience where several higher ups were physically sexually harrassing women who were then afraid to report upon it, until someone came forward and others felt empowered to do so as well. Please don’t take this as a requirement, you don’t have to raise it. But, if you feel ok doing so, it may be helpful for others.

    5. pancakes*

      I agree with others that it’s worth bringing up. The guy isn’t entirely to one free grope of every coworker. What he did is gross and unacceptable even if it doesn’t become a pattern.

    6. LadyByTheLake*

      As someone who used to be a young woman starting out — I am really sorry this happened to you — it should not have. You should absolutely report this. If there is no formal mechanism at your work, talk to your manager about it, or HR. The fact that it was not during work hours is completely irrelevant — a co-worker at a gathering of co-workers, grabbed your butt, and he scooted over to do it. This wasn’t an accident — it was intentional and at any decent employer is going to be seen as A Big Deal.

    7. theguvnah*

      I am so sorry this happened to you. You are not imagining things and you have done nothing wrong – he purposely waited until you were alone together and he groped you, but as you note he did it with juuuust enough plausible denial. What an absolute jerk.

      You have several options – you could talk to your manager and seek advice or support. You could go to HR and do the same. You could even tell him (via email so it is in writing, or in person though that is hard!) that he violated boundaries and to never do it again.

      You could engage with other similarly- situated peers (women your age) in the company and warn them or see if others have experiences (ie using the unfairly-maligned gossip mill which is actually a real way women protect themselves and warn others).

      You could do none of the above and simply avoid him and protect other women from being alone with him.

    8. Sorry this happened*

      You could call HR and explain what happened. If anyone else has filed a complaint this would add to the paper trail, if not it would start the paper trail. I understand though that you are new and this may not be easy to do. Is there anything you can describe or add that would help? Such as he had clammy hands or smelled of a specific sent etc. This guy is a predator and knew what he was doing.
      Pull anyone new aside and tell them to watch themselves around him that he is not to be trusted one on one. Don’t put it in writing just a quick phone call should do it especially before they go out with the team. I was warned about a few guys at a company and always appreciated it.

    9. RagingADHD*

      If you feel safe reporting, yes it is absolutely valid and reportable.

      This guy knew what he was doing, and I guarantee there are others with cause to complain about him, whether they have followed through or not. Even if this one incident has “plausible deniability,” the pattern might show up across multiple interactions with multiple people.

  73. Dee Dee*

    Has anyone ever sent out “cold call” cover letters with a strong resume? If so what were your results? Is this completely out of touch in today’s hiring climate? I am just seeking opinions and experiences. Just a little more info. I live in a very rural area with a lot of family owned businesses where many of them don’t have websites where you would apply for job openings. (Some do have websites but don’t have job openings/applications included,)

    1. Glomarization, Esq.*

      I have successfully landed a job (law) with cold calling. It really, really depends on the geographical area, the general sort of way that people interact in that area, and the type of work you’re looking for. When I did this, it was in a small-ish city where a lot of jobs are found by word of mouth and who-you-know. And for this type of law work, it was not unusual at all for candidates to reach out with cold calls.

      I do have a colleague or two who found jobs in law by pounding the pavement and handing out resumes to firms. They found it didn’t work well unless they first did a lot of research on the firms and targetted their contacts really well.

      1. Glomarization, Esq.*

        Should have read, I do have a colleague or two in a very large city (as opposed to the smaller jurisdiction where I found my job) who found jobs …

    2. mediamaven*

      As someone in a position to hire I would not be afraid to do that! Not all positions are listed and right now it’s really hard to sift through all of the untargeted and unqualified applications. I almost always interview someone who takes the time to do that. It really helps you to stick out!

  74. BananaBread*

    This site advocates sending thank you notes to people who interview with you. However, does anyone have experience with this in STEM fields? Both my brother and sister in law are in different computer science fields and when they interview people not only do they not get thank you notes but they would find it odd. No one sends me thank you notes and it does not bother me in the least. Additionally, I would have no idea how to find out anyone’s email. In my current job search for jobs at larger companies I never interact directly with the managers or directors, I only interact with HR reps to schedule stuff. Similarly, I have never personally set up an interview and my email is not listed anywhere despite me being a senior member. How do thank you notes change in this situation? It would be strange to ask someone for their work email during an interview just to send a thank you note, especially if they end up not hiring me.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I’m in STEM. I’ve always tried to send thank-you emails after interviews.

      If I don’t get cards or contact info for everybody, then in whatever email I am able to send, I include a line about “enjoyed talking with Wakeen and Fergus about …”.

      And as a hiring manager, I’ve regularly gotten them as well.

    2. STEM person*

      I’m in STEM and I always send thank you emails. If I didn’t have the emails I needed, couldn’t find them on the website, or couldn’t figure them out (like if two of the people are “” the other one will be too), then I would send a note to the HR person saying something like:

      “Hi Karen, Thank you so much for setting up this interview. I really enjoyed getting to talk with Deborah and Jeanine about Company and the Llama Groomer Role. Would you be able to pass on the note below?”

      After interview thank you notes are less about “omg thank you so much i’m so grateful” and more “hey I’m still interested in this job and here’s an easy way to reply to me if you have additional questions for me”

    3. Title*

      I’m in STEM (Bio research) and I have always sent thank you notes. I don’t know if everyone in my field does, but I get the sense that my thank you emails have been well-received and made a favorable impression. As for how I find out email addresses — the interviewers are usually copied on emails coordinating the interview, or their email addresses are often fairly easy to Google and learn, or interviewers often say something like “If you have any questions, here’s my card, please reach out.” And if none of the above, then I would just email my thank you to the person who coordinated the interview with a note to please forward this to so-and-so.

    4. Wisteria*

      What field of STEM might make a difference. I am not in CS or IT, and I send thank yous. I notice that people no longer give out business cards, so I don’t have emails. I have been sending a thank you to the HR rep saying how much I appreciate everyone taking time to talk to me.

  75. balanceofthemis*

    I have a question diversity statements. I know they are fairly common in academia, but I’m starting to see positions in the museum and general non-profit sector asking for them as part of the application process. My question, what is a diversity statement? What should go into one? I’ve seen differing opinions on what one should contain.

    1. cat biscuits*

      In academia, there’s usually a prompt: Tell us how you would support and promote EDI initiatives in this position. if it just says “include a diversity statement,” I’d probably reach out to the hiring manager and ask for clarification because as you note, there’s no agreed-upon universal definition.

    2. Reba*

      This was discussed on a previous open thread — I think just last week — so maybe take a look at that conversation as well.

  76. Alice*

    I feel like I screwed up with my new manager and I didn’t even start my new job yet.

    On Tuesday evening, my new manager emailed me some basic info for my first day next week. They said they’d call me the next day to see if I had any questions. It’s hard for me to take calls at my current job, and I only had one question, so I just e-mailed back.

    They had mentioned the dress code was business casual. I wrote that I’ve been having trouble finding leather dress shoes that fit this past year because they all feel tight around the toes even if I get “wide” width. I asked if I’d be allowed to get plain black sneakers/shoes made of a soft material to wear instead.

    They never responded (and didn’t call me either). Was this inappropriate to ask? I’ve worked with people who wore things like flip flops and leggings in business casual environments, so I thought there might be some flexibility.

    1. searching for a new name*

      as a hiring manager I would have no problem with the question you asked. We are technically jeans but business casual everything else but I see people in tennis shoes all the time, t shirts, hoodies, etc. I think it’s more likely that they got busy or maybe wanted to get some input from others before replying to you!

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      There are a couple of things here. First, you should have told your manager that you couldn’t take calls– it’s very possible they were just planning on chatting. Second… while there’s nothing inherently wrong with your shoe question, next time you ask about something like this, don’t give that much detail. I would go further and say you shouldn’t have asked at all, but it’s done. “Business casual” is the info you got, and while yes, that can mean many things, the expectation is that you aim for appropriate on your first day and adjust accordingly after you see what everyone else is wearing. But I wouldn’t worry too much about it: show up on time on your first day, dress as nicely as you can, take notes and pay attention and you’ll be ok.

      For the record, plain black shoes are usually business casual. You don’t necessarily need “dress shoes”.

      1. Joielle*

        Yeah, I agree with this. It wasn’t *inappropriate* to ask, but it was a little… puzzling? Business casual doesn’t mean leather dress shoes are required, so emailing the manager to say you don’t have leather dress shoes is kind of confusing. It’s the kind of problem that you’d generally be expected to solve on your own in a business environment, without guidance or reassurance from your manager.

        I’m sure whatever shoes you wear will be fine! I get the sense this might be your first office job or you might be a new grad. Just go with the flow, take notes, and pay attention to what other people are doing. You seem like a conscientious person who wants to make a good impression, so you’ll do great!

      2. RagingADHD*

        Agreed about level of detail. If you needed to ask whether any black shoes are ok or do they need to be dress shoes, that’s the kind of thing that would be perfectly fine to ask.

        The extra info about the way shoes feel on your toes is just kinda awkward.

        1. Alianora*

          Yeah, it’s TMI. Not the end of the world, but what’s the boss supposed to do with that information?

          I’m thinking they might have suggested a call because they’re swamped with email and a call would be easier for them.

          Anyway, don’t worry too much about it, OP, I doubt this screwed anything up.

      3. pieces_of_flair*

        The OP is asking about sneaker type shoes, not just plain black shoes. Sneakers would definitely not be appropriate (except on casual Friday) in any business casual office I’ve ever worked at. I think she was fine to ask. Most likely they haven’t responded because they need to run it by HR or something.

        If you don’t hear back, my suggestion would be to wear the most most professional looking (least sneaker-like) shoes you have that are also comfortable. I think this is one of those times when it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission.

    3. Unkempt Flatware*

      No you didn’t do anything wrong and there is likely nothing at all to read into here. I’d let it go. You’ll soon find it was nothing to be concerned about, I’m sure of it. There was no reason not to ask that question and I don’t agree with AvonLady that you gave too much info. You’re doing fine.

    4. Workerbee*

      Sounds like they got busy, but I’d have liked it better if they had at least responded quickly to your email. Keep your eyes open about your manager’s availability and responsiveness your first week to see if this behavior is typical.

      And business casual to me does not mean leather dress shoes. Something that isn’t a blatant sneaker should do until you see what others are wearing.

    5. TWW*

      Check out “Sketchers Work” shoes. I have an all-leather pair that look good in the office and feel like sneakers.

    6. KT*

      Are you male? I’m a female but I feel as though there are plenty of business casual options for shoes and you shouldn’t feel like you need to limit yourself to leather loafers.

  77. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

    My sister’s office is having trouble getting good candidates, and I’m convinced one of the reasons is their job ads. She came to me for help because I’ve done copywriting and various types of professional writing before, but I’m a bit stumped. (I’m going to over-explain because I don’t know what’s important.)

    First, the position has been advertised with the title of “Customer Service,” which I just consider incorrect in the realm of using correct job title jargon. They do perform some customer service, but it’s not a call center or a customer service department. There must be a name for what they do, but I can’t think what it would be.

    Basically, they sell electronic parts (capacitors and such) that go in many types of devices (everything from cars to Christmas lights). Their “customers” are manufacturers who make the actual products. What my sister’s position (the same position that is understaffed and being hired for) does, is (once customers have been secured by Sales) they handle fulfillment. Customers submit their ongoing orders to my sister, through email. She adjusts the parts into internal part numbers, pulls from the inventory system to see if the parts are in stock, and if not, she schedules the factory to produce them. If they are in stock, she partitions that stock for those customers and alerts the warehouses. Either way, she then calculates lead time, adjusts it around other orders if needed (if the customer has ordered late, and they can jump the line without inconveniencing others), and alerts the customer to when they can expect their parts. She is also point of contact for “her” accounts and has full ownership over them, so when customers want updates they email her, and if the factory is behind on production or anything has gone wrong, she has to check up and let customers know, often proactively.

    You can see how there is a lot of customer service in this role, but when the position is advertised as such, they get a lot of people who think it’s a call center, or are prepared to work in a call center. There’s nothing wrong with doing call center customer service work, but a lot of the people who apply and get hired are not prepared for the sort of work that comes with the role. They are not prepared to take full ownership of client accounts, to be constantly checking and rechecking their work and how it interacts with others’ work (the factory, warehouse, and even their peers in the office, since they are all pulling from the same stock and need to keep good, updated records), and to use their time proactively to get through all their customer emails each day and respond to everything promptly. And pretty much universally, even when given months or years, they don’t make any improvement in those areas past a certain point. They are changing the job ad title to “Account Specialist,” but I’m wondering if there is another specific job title jargon term for this kind of work.

    Second point, they have trouble getting people with the Excel proficiency they need. Obviously it’s notoriously hard to get applicants to accurately assess their Office proficiency, but maybe someone has a hint. The position does not do most of their work within their inventory software, instead they pull information out into complex Excel spreadsheets, and then use those to do their checking and scheduling, and then re-input into the software. I don’t know why this is more efficient, but that’s what they do. They use complex webs of formulas, interactions between different spreadsheets, and things like V- and X-lookups, and then they need to be able to critically assess whether it has all worked.

    It’s possible the advertisement is fine and they’ve just had bad luck, or just don’t pay enough or whatever to get the applicants they need, but I want to try to help. How do you advertise or assess for the ability to learn such Excel skills, to critically examine your own work in Excel, and to take top-down ownership of accounts, rather than just being reactive and treating tasks as discrete?

    1. balanceofthemis*

      Sounds like Fulfillment Specialist would be a good title. Part of the issue finding people could very well be pay. As far as Excel skills, maybe be willing to hire people without the skills and be willing to train them. Most people can do basic work in Excel, but for more complex work, you’re going to need to train most applicants, unless they’ve done this kind of work before, in which case, pay will definitely be a factor.

      1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

        That might be a good title.

        One of the reasons I think bad luck is at least one factor (or that they are severely underpaid), is they HAVE been hiring people and trying to teach them the Excel skills. I guess they aren’t very good at assessing the ability to learn though, as there have been some very interesting stories. Like, once you’ve done something in Excel and think you have the information you need, you’re supposed to run another formula and check for errors, or to see if the numbers you get make sense. Their two most recent employees get to that point, and they either a) don’t run the double-check at all, b) run it, get errors, and apparently just shrug and ignore it until someone else notices they never finished the work, c) see the errors and inform their peer who trained them, but don’t do any investigating to see where it went wrong until prompted (and this is after a year of doing the same work every day), or d) get bad numbers back, but don’t do the critical work to notice (like if a customer usually orders 1,000 of a part, and suddenly it looks like they ordered 5 million).

        Which isn’t really Excel skills, but it shows where they get hung up. They don’t have the problem solving skills, or don’t want to implement their problem-solving abilities, to independently figure out what to do in different situations. So they might know a bunch of formulas, but they don’t have the insight to know which one to use? I guess? They don’t have a top-down understanding of what the spreadsheet MEANS when extrapolated into the real world, and therefore don’t know what to do with it.

        Weirdly, they do use a general assessment on applicants that includes lots of problem-solving exercises, which might be something I’d recommend to assess applicants. But I guess they don’t really filter by it.

        1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

          Eesh. Give this other information, why don’t they just spend the money to get better inventory software?

          They are spending lots of extra labor dollars every day to make up for this kludged-up process that’s forced on them by an unwillingness to spend capital dollars on better software.

          That might be way above your sister’s pay grade, but has anybody pointed out that the emperor has no clothes?

          1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

            I have no idea. It sounds incredibly inefficient to me. But I’m not in the weeds, so who knows. She seems perfectly content with working in Excel, and would have great quality of life if they could get just one or two more people who could do it with like any rate of accuracy whatsoever.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      You can quibble over it, and I guess you could defend calling it customer service. But it’s B2B customer service, not B2C.

      So if the people doing the hiring aren’t aware of the fact that vast majority of people who see “customer service” think that means “call center, and gosh I ought to be able to do that”, then they need a 2×4 to a tender part of their anatomy. Changing the title would help, but clearly writing out the job duties in the ad is important too.

      Given the hoops they are going through with Excel, I think using the word “analyst” might attract that skill set.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        vast majority of people who see “customer service” think that means “call center, and gosh I ought to be able to do that”

        And another huge group of qualified people says “call center, hell nah, I’m not applying for that.”

        1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

          This is what I was thinking. By calling it customer service, you’re going to get people who want to still be working in that environment. I think someone who was really good at customer service (and probably who had used intensive tracking software before) would be good at this job, but the kind of person you would want would be someone who was LEAVING customer service to do the kind of work you’re hiring for (more back-end, non-end-user facing, analyst type work). And so calling it customer service is basically warning away literally everyone you would want.

          In fact, my sister (who is the most productive person in this position) only applied in the first place because she was desperate to get out of her shitty retail job right out of college, and was applying to literally everything. She had no interest in a customer service job, but wanted something full-time for now. When she got a call back she didn’t even remember what job it was. They lucked into her, basically–no thanks to their crappy ad.

      1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

        That’s what I said. I just managed to help my sister hammer home to her manager that “customer service,” while rhetorically not inaccurate in definition, is simply not the correct term in the vocabulary of job titles and job duties.

    3. LadyByTheLake*

      I definitely agree that this is a “Fulfillment Specialist” or “Fulfillment Coordinator” or something like that. It is NOT “customer service” as eloquently explained by other commenters. As for Excel — this is exactly the sort of thing that should be the subject of a test as part of the interview process.

    4. pieces_of_flair*

      I agree with Fulfillment Specialist. It sounds like the Excel issues are less about proficiency with the software and more about lack of follow-through? Maybe it would help to create checklists for the processes so people would be less likely to skip steps.

      1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

        They’ve sort of had both problems with different people, and the two problems interact. But basically, yeah, the lack of follow through is the real problem, because it also means they aren’t willing to really apply themselves to learning Excel, AND aren’t willing to follow the procedures to make sure their stuff is correct. There are written procedures and checklists.

    5. Former CSR*

      I did that job. My job title was something different, but everyone called me Customer Service, because that is what I did: provide service to customers.

      (And they are customers. You can call them OEM customers to be specific.)

      If I had to guess, the reason they’re having trouble recruiting and retaining good workers is because it’s a crappy, stressful job. Not only do you have to deal with customers desperate to get parts they need to do their own job, but then you have to turn around and pester your manufacturing schedulers (or any number of other coworkers) to “let you have” the parts you promised your customer. And you have little control over your workload; no matter how busy you are, at any moment another customer can call and make you busier. Prioritizing tasks is also tough because everyone wants their order now, and the longer you put off a task the more work it becomes. And while you’re pulling your hair and gnashing your teeth, you’re also telling your customer you’re so glad they called and it’s your pleasure to serve them!

      (Actually, I found speaking with customers enjoyable and I genuinely liked my regulars. But it is hard to remain cheery when you’re running around like a beheaded chicken.)

      The Excel thing is also something I encountered, and it’s ridiculous. Expecting someone in that role to troubleshoot a “complex web of formulas” is unrealistic. Even if they know how, that shouldn’t be part of the job. If it’s what they have to do to fulfil orders, it indicates the company’s ERP system (or something) is inadequate, and that’s the problem the company needs to solve rather than try to employ CSRs who can work well within a broken system.

      Can you tell how frustrated I am just recalling that time in my career? I do not think the problem can be solved with a a different job title or better written job posting.

      1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

        While this does sound like the same type of role, the priorities sound very different. There is very little phone contact with customers, and while the customers can be needy and disorganized, my sister is free to punt them back to her manager as soon as they cause any trouble. I don’t even mean being belligerent–if they don’t seem to understand what she is asking of them, she is not obliged to work it out herself. Most of her contact with customers is receiving emails with a list or Excel doc attached.

        The priority in this role is truly in the sorting things out between factory, warehouse, and customers. So when you say that that shouldn’t be a part of their job, actually, that’s is the main part of the job, and the “customer service” is the part that is tacked on. That being said, that just shows how crazy it would be to have a full customer service role in addition to the processing, so I have so much sympathy for you in the past! And also, that’s the very problem they have–most people assume the customer service is the important part of the role, and so people who could do the other parts really well don’t apply.

        My sister is a weird person who handles stress differently than me, but my impression is the work itself is not very stressful. Lead times are long, so there’s very little benefit in rushing around. They have more customers than they can serve, because many other manufacturers of these parts stopped selling them to third parties in recent years, so there’s not much pressure to “my pleasure” to the customers. There are sales people and managers to do all the politicking. If they were not understaffed, they would have a reasonable enough workload that they could run out of stuff to do halfway through Friday.

        The main part of the job really is just to figure out what needs to be manufactured, and when. What’s stressful is having incompetent coworkers whose work needs to be checked and monitored constantly to avoid problems in the future (and which need to be addressed early, because lead times are long, and if you get to the point where someone should be receiving their order and you realize it hasn’t been made, it’s a pain). Which, as I said, may be due to not having an advertised pay rate (un-advertised pay includes monthly bonuses for hitting processing quantities that are easy to hit) that is sufficient to draw in qualified workers.

  78. Coenobita*

    It’s performance review season at my job! I have to give peer/360 feedback for six people and write my own self-evaluation.

    I just want to write: “This year sucked. Everyone exceeded expectations because expectations were ‘staying alive and sane and keeping our jobs.’ Gold stars for everyone!”

    More seriously, I am struggling with how to write my own self-eval because I legit dropped the ball on a bunch of things this year and did not meet my goals, and I’m super burned out and feeling very ineffective right now. How is everyone else handling this?

    1. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I usually acknowledge that it has been a challenging time but that I have accomplished A, B, C, etc. If there is a major goal that I didn’t make, I explain what progress has been made and I some cases I do explain why it wasn’t done (usually higher priorities, insufficient staffing, etc.) I’ve been pleasantly surprised that my manager has also focused on what I did and doesn’t mention the stuff I didn’t. Hope it goes well for you!

    2. Evergreen*

      Give yourself time and get into a good headspace before you draft your self eval! When I was burned out/drained I would knock off an hour early, pour a glass of wine, cook a nice meal, and then really give myself time to think about what I did well and what I’ll do better/differently next year.

      For the other 360s I try and draft a quick 5min version of my first thoughts – and refine these a few days later. I love your positive approach, but also what could your team do better/differently next year? I find the more positive and forward looking my outlook the easier it is to give positive and meaningful feedback. Good luck!

  79. Silver Linings From Dreamland*

    I am the writer of #4 in today’s good news post (job searching for 3 years).

    Unfortunately, I still don’t have a start date for my new position yet. ☹

    Earlier this month, I was told by the recruiting agency placing me that the manager at Llamalpaca Company that I’d most likely be starting around the start of their new business year on July 1st (which I somewhat interpreted as July 6th since July 4th is on a Sunday).

    When I got Alison’s email that the post was going up today, I decided to follow up again and now the recruiter says that he spoke to ****** (name of my possible supervisor at Llamalpaca Company, who I presume is not the manager since I actually know him by name) and they’re waiting for a decision to be made which they hope will be by the end of July, which is their EOY.

    I’m actually starting to worry a little bit now, since this isn’t the first time the date has been pushed back and I still don’t know anything. I suppose I did resign a little prematurely (as in I gave my notice literally the day after I got the offer/agreement form from the agency), but as you can imagine, I was just soooo excited. After all, I didn’t hear anything from the agency for 3 months before a call that they were moving closer, so I guess I shouldn’t have assumed that it would be instant. When I found out about the beginning of July start date, I understood as I’ve dealt with business year closings at prior jobs. Now, I’m a little confused since apparently their business year actually ends in July instead of June?

    All my communication with the recruiting agency has been clear with prompt responses, so I really don’t fault them. Every time I’ve reached out to see about the starting date, I heard back the same day. Today, the recruiter apologized again for the continued delay and encouraged me to contact him again at any time if I haven’t heard back and from the tone of the messages, it definitely doesn’t sound like he’s dodging my questions; it’s just Llamalpaca Company moves very slowly with everything.

    Should I be concerned?


    1. PollyQ*

      Yes, I think you should be concerned, and I also think you should “prepare for the worst” and re-open your job search. Sorry, I know that’s not what you want to hear.

  80. August*

    Any advice on managing expectations while job searching? I have a persistent issue where I end up putting SO MUCH on the possibility of a new job. Like, it has to be in a fun new city, with a prestigious organization, and THIS TIME it will be perfect and fun. And if I get multiple rejections in the process, that just means that it’s extra special when I’m finally picked, like I really worked for it. It’s what happened with my current job (in the state’s capital! With a fancy title!) and I hate it two years in