open thread – July 23-24, 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.

{ 1,406 comments… read them below }

  1. BabyKangaroo*

    I’d like to get hiring managers perspectives: What do you look for when assigning an interview project?

    You wouldn’t ask a landscaping company to mow the side yard for free to evaluate their skill. You would be laughed at if you were to ask a lawyer to draft a contract to determine their writing. What you do ask for are references, look at their education, and gauge their portfolio/cover letter.

    “I want to see how well they would work with me.” Call their references.

    “I want to judge their skill set.” Check out their past work examples.

    “I want to know how they tackle a specific problem relevant to my business needs.” Hire them for contract.

    I am not trying to be combative, however prospective employees are getting pickier and pickier with who they work for (see: “The Great Resignation”) So why are companies souring them with assignments when there are readily available avenues to judge character and accomplishments? One caveat here in entry level work, where there may not be relevant references or solid work examples.

    1. misspiggy*

      A lot of roles don’t require a good skillset related to selling yourself in an interview, but do require certain practical skills. It makes sense to get people to demonstrate those skills wherever possible.

      1. misspiggy*

        … and often those skills need to be demonstrated in relation to the job you’re trying to fill, not previous work. Plus a lot of work examples can’t be shared with interviewers due to workplace confidentiality.

        1. BabyKangaroo*

          Is a contract out of the question? Moonlighting? Does your company pay interviewees for time spent on an assignment?

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I answered this more below, but moonlighting is often not feasible due to conflict of interest requirements with a current employer, child care responsibilities in the evenings, etc. (You don’t want to set up a process that only people with certain types of lives can participate in.) You don’t need to pay someone for an hour-long work simulation, just like you wouldn’t pay them for an hour-long interview. But multi-hour simulations/projects are unwarranted and unreasonable (unless they’re paid).

            1. BabyKangaroo*

              Thanks Alison, I did see your reply below. I didn’t write this in my initial comment, but I completely agree one hour is incredibly reasonable.

              I’ve seen assignments that would realistically take 8 hours, maybe more. I’ve foolishly dedicated my entire weekend to an interview project (didn’t get that job, and the startup folded months later).

              1. HA2*

                Yeah, an 8-hour project is absolutely excessive, and also filters out people based on available time rather than anything else.

                Sounds like the startup wasn’t very good at hiring. It’s absolutely true that giving projects has lots of pitfalls. (Then again, it feels sometimes like very very few companies are actually *good* at hiring.)

                1. LabTechNoMore*

                  In my experience, the tech assessment projects take the timeframe BabyKangaroo described – a weekend or more. But to add insult to injury, the interviewers say the project should only take a two hours. So then not only are you wasting your entire weekend, but you’re also feeling deflated for “underperforming”. (e.g. the 300 page technical manual I was given for an assessment I was told would only take an hour. And that manual was only for one of the questions, out of 5 I was assigned.)

      2. BabyKangaroo*

        Why doesn’t past work demonstrate skill set? Perhaps I’m too focused on my industry, where a portfolio complete with case studies is a must, even for a preliminary interview.

        1. mreasy*

          Another example – a friend hiring an editor. You can’t use past work as an example of how good they are at editing, because you have no idea how the original work was submitted before they edited it. So they’d do a short timed edit test where everyone started with the same intentionally erroneous doc, and compare results. Different roles make this necessary.

          1. Junior editor*

            Yep, I would consider this as a standard part of an interview as an editor, for exactly this reason. Also, you have no idea how long it’s taken them to turn that sample around – bit of a problem if you’re hiring somebody for a breaking news desk and it’s taking them hours to get articles into a decent condition.

            The (sort of) reverse is true with reporters as well. Samples will only get you so far because you have no idea how much of it is them being a wonderful reporter and how much of it is them having a very patient editor!

        2. londonedit*

          In my industry (book publishing) there are obviously actual books that I’ve worked on, but there’s nothing I do that would lend itself to going in a portfolio. I don’t design things or write things or put together reports or anything like that. I have in the past been asked to bring examples of favourite books that I’ve worked on to an interview and be ready to talk about them, but the main skill people are looking for when hiring editors is good attention to detail/editorial skills, so it’s extremely common to have an editorial test as part of an interview. Depending on the level of the job it could be a short proofread or copy-editing task, or it might involve writing some cover copy, or for a commissioning role it might involve coming up with ideas for books you’d like to publish.

          1. Siege*

            I have been tempted to post the before-and-after of The Book I Edited Seven Times And Had A Nervous Breakdown Over, but doing so would be a different kind of problem, since it would be naming the author (who massively deserves shame but I’m not at the level I can give it to him yet) publicly and calling him out as a bad writer. He IS, but it would raise questions for employers how I would treat other bad writers, or even unpolished writers, and about my professionalism generally. Not everything can be a portfolio piece.

        3. Ask a Manager* Post author

          For one thing, because you don’t know how much input other people might have had into the finished product.

          A colleague of mine always says you wouldn’t expect a football coach to hire a player without seeing them throw the ball. You need to see people in action to know how they really perform (because work samples could be heavily edited, references could be heavily coached or be referencing experience with the person in an environment with very different needs or a different bar, etc.). Asking someone to invest an hour of time demonstrating their skills isn’t unreasonable and can save you a ton of time dealing with a bad hire later. (Asking someone to invest multiple hours without pay is not reasonable, however.) If I had a choice between being only able to interview or see work simulations, I’d pick the latter — it tells you the most important stuff.

          1. Filosofickle*

            What I’m finding is more companies are trying to hew to the hour as a guideline, but the work doesn’t really fit that time. My work is heavy on analysis and strategy, all of which needs understanding of the client context. You can slice out a piece of that — say, synthesizing research — but that’s not going to show a lot.

            Recently I was given an assignment for a communications role at a technology company to edit two blog posts. One highly technical, one not. On the face of it, editing a blog post isn’t that time consuming. But do to it, I had to familiarize myself with their blog content and style (they didn’t provide a guide), do some legwork to understand the technologies being discussed, then edit. They were in rough shape so there was a lot of restructuring to do and they were missing information. The recruiter told me to keep it at an hour, and write down what I’d do if I had more time. Later, the hiring manager told me she had no idea we were being told to do it in an hour, she expected this to take far more than that. I appreciated hearing I wasn’t off base or super slow.

            I get the need for testing, I am just questioning for some jobs how meaningful a one hour assignment can be. When I was hiring a freelance strategist / writer for a tech project, I needed to evaluate a lot deeper so my solution was to pay for their time.

            1. Mimi*

              For an entry-level helpdesk position, an hour can be EXTREMELY meaningful. Most helpdesk techs, even if they have directly relevant experience, can’t necessarily pull out past tickets as a portfolio, but seeing how multiple candidates answer the same basic tickets, deal with obtuse or deliberately confusing tickets, etc, can say a lot about how someone might perform in the actual job. It also gives a sense of the quality of writing someone produces when they have 5-10 minutes to write a paragraph or two, which is more job-realistic than looking at polished finished work.

              1. Filosofickle*

                Yes, I see how it can be super meaningful for many roles. I just have yet to see a true one-hour test for my field that feels more than minimally useful (or isn’t actually a one-hour task). Perhaps they have not tried hard enough to design one.

                The teaching example below feels on target for what I mean. If you truly need to see how an instructor develops and delivers a class, that’s going to take longer than an hour. (Maybe a really short class, like prep and deliver a 10-minute lesson?) How do you evaluate complex skills like curricula development without exploiting candidates unreasonably?

                1. HA2*

                  Yeah, that seems absolutely right.

                  Coming up with a good short test is easy in some fields and for some positions, hard but doable with some work in other fields and positions, and impossible for others.

                2. LabTechNoMore*

                  Yes! And on top of these assessments taking well beyond the timeframe the interviewers claim, no one seems to acknowledge the cumulative impact of having multiple interviews assign multiple tests, all of which take 8+ hours. Tech interviews are intense and always seem to happen in cycles, so I’ll typically have 3-4 assessments on my plate at once.

            2. MissDisplaced*

              I’ve done a lot of testing and projects over the years. I think 1-2 hours is reasonable to ascertain a candidate as a skills test.

              I’m just against companies that expect a big project that could take a full day or two to complete. Early in my career I used to do so, but honestly it often felt like they were trying to get free work.

        4. Oxford Comma*

          I’m in academia so I know it’s weird, but when we hire a librarian whose job will include teaching, just seeing a list of classes and workshops they’ve taught tells me nothing other than that they’ve done it. Having the applicants prep and deliver a class shows us if actually do know what they’re doing and if they’re good at it.

          1. Recruited Recruiter*

            My wife is in public education, and for every position that she’s received an offer for, she has had to “mock teach” a class (where they give her a topic a few days ahead, and she teaches a lesson on it that they watch) or do another sort of skills test, such as grading an example paper, etc.

            1. Humble Schoolmarm*

              My area doesn’t have this requirement, but I think it’s very useful. Most of my colleagues are wonderful teachers, but I can name a few who certainly looked great on paper and in interviews, but really struggle to explain things in a way students understand.

              1. Alexis Rosay*

                Yes. There are so many people who can speak edubabble but can’t teach—and vice versa.

                Or, some people are okay teachers but their style does not align with what we’re looking for.

                Lastly, I hire a lot of non-native speakers. Many of them struggle to describe their teaching style compellingly in English, but can demonstrate a very good lesson.

            2. Cascadia*

              Yup, I work at a private school and every faculty member who is a finalist has to do two “mock classes” with a real classroom of students where they are observed. I believe we ask for two because it allows for nervousness to come out in the first one a bit, and accounts for different groups of kids who may respond differently. Our interview day is jam-packed, but we do manage to get it all in to one day. It’s pretty common in education to be asked to do mock lessons or what not – otherwise how would you know if they are a decent teacher? Especially because references often are colleagues or supervisors who don’t have a ton of context of how someone is in a classroom.

          2. Artemesia*

            This. Teaching, editing and counseling are examples of things you have to see in action to know if they can do what they say they can do. When hiring faculty we always required them to teach a class; it was very useful in making a decision about hiring especially for non-tenure track teachers. (we hired ‘practice faculty’ i.e. full time, full benefit faculty with heavier teaching loads than research oriented tenured faculty).

            In hiring someone in a counseling type profession I would want to observe them at least in a simulated meeting with a client; plenty of people can tell you what they ‘would do’ but be dismal at doing it.

            1. Anonymous healthcare person*

              I am a therapist and I have never seen or heard of being asked to simulate a counseling session as part of an interview process. The standard resume, interview, references is the process. Fwiw.

        5. Cthulhu's Librarian*

          it may demonstrate general skills, or the skills specific to that prior work, but that may not be relevant to the skills I need in the person I am hiring. It also doesn’t allow me to evaluate how able to use those skills you are.

          As an example, if I’m hiring someone to analyze data and work with a database, I want to know that your skills are with my database software, and that you won’t be thrown off by the the specific language and construction of my databases. The report from your previous work experience might have been the product of months worth of work, and my place may be more fast paced, and unable to wait that long on turn arounds – A set of quick exercises will let me see if you have the skills and ready command of them to complete your work quickly, and may let me identify specific pitfalls that I need to train you on, if there were… unique or questionable… choices made during my databases construction.

    2. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

      We were hiring for a front end developer who would use a lot of java so we assigned a very short java query to all of our candidates. It is very easy to google up code, so we were testing that the candidate actually knew the basics of java well enough to code it on the spot. This was a five minute exercise.

      1. Anhaga*

        We do this for our digital accessibility hires–they write us a short, basic webpage with a few required items (image, contact form) to demonstrate that they are comfortable with semantic HTML and have the wherewithal to look through the resources we link to incorporate basic accessibility supports. It has been a really excellent tool for weeding out folks who won’t do well in the job and it should only take about an hour for candidates with the background we ask for.

    3. mreasy*

      I had a designer role requiring a fast pace for certain work. So I set up an hourlong design test – only for our two finalists – and judged the product. If I had relied on their portfolio, I wouldn’t have been able to see what they could do with the limited time that the role will sometimes have for this type of work.

      1. BabyKangaroo*

        One hour for two finalists is completely reasonable. I think this is a great reply!

        1. mreasy*

          I have definitely seen people asking for projects that would take a day or more and I agree that that is outlandish and should not be done.

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

        Conversely to that: I was hiring for an entry-level design position that was mostly production work and very little creativity (at that level) so portfolios were nice but didn’t tell me how well they knew the software. We had a 10 minute very basic screening test for all interviewees. It was very helpful to screen out those that listed software they really had no knowledge of, and those that thought the basic test was beneath them.

        The real key when having a screening test is that it really is a test, and not a way to get free work from an applicant. Obviously nothing about our test was a real project.

        1. mreasy*

          Good point to add – I specified in the test document that none of the work produced would be used. One candidate said thank you for mentioning that as they’d had the opposite happen in the past.

    4. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Thought processes. This is for assignments during the interview, not take-home stuff. I wouldn’t assign a take-home assignment.

      “We need to connect thing A to thing B, and then some users get feature C (but only in the summer) and others don’t. How would you set that up?”

      What I’m looking to hear is “Well, you could connect A to B using technologies X or Y. Which one I choose depends on which is more important, speed or security. If you do it with X, you need to install yadda yadda and then yadda yadda…. Then for feature C, I’d have a flag on the user table and then do etc.”

    5. Colette*

      Let’s talk about Excel. My version of intermediate Excel skills might not cover the skills needed for the job. So a quick test can determine if you know how to use vlookup or pivot tables, for example.

      Hiring people on contract isn’t a good solution – someone who is already employed probably isn’t going to leave for a month-long contract – and the overhead of having someone come in on contract is pretty high (you need a computer/desk/accounts/payroll/etc.).

      1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

        I agree about contract – I have a strong career and would NEVER leave for a job that wasn’t full time and permanent. Contract work is standard in some industries but unheard of in most.

      2. CanadianCMA*

        YES, YES, YES, excel tests are a MUST. I hire for accounting based jobs (not accountants necessarily) and when I need strong excel skills I have to test for it. What you think is intermediate and what I think is intermediate are often very different.

        I will say this though, the excel test not only needs to be short (30-45 minutes in my opinion) but it also needs to be well thought out. I’ve given both good and bad tests – if everyone does poorly, it’s a bad test and not much help.

        1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

          Thank you, thank you, thank you. I’m so sick of “hire for personality, train for skills.” My last manager made knee-jerk hires because the applicant charmed her in the interviews, then you’d put them at their desk and have to train them on computer and knowledge skills they should have brought with them to qualify for the job.

      3. Sandman*

        My gosh, yes. At my last interview, the interviewer asked, “And you know how to use Excel and stuff like that?” Um… yes? I think? Could we define what that means to you, please?

    6. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I hire for roles that require a high degree of attention to detail and critical thinking skills (especially troubleshooting/problem solving) but there wouldn’t be any sort of physical past work example they could point me to, and I can’t afford to hire them for a contract period and invest my time in them just to find out they don’t actually have this skillset they claimed to have. By the time the “contract period” is over, I may have lost all the other qualified candidates in my pool. An assignment that should take a qualified candidate no more than an hour to complete that showcases their attention to detail and how they’d address roadblocks, helps me weed out candidates who do not have the skills to the degree that the role requires.

      1. Hiring Manager*

        Exactly. I use an assignment in order to see, really tangibly, their process and approach to a particular task that is part of the job. One where a past work example is a finished product, and I’m actually interested in the PROCESS they use to get started and to problem-solve on the way to that product. Because there are a few ways to get to a solution, some are more effective than others, and it’s much more accurate to see it play out than to have them tell me with vague language.

        I keep the task constrained. I am very clear that they shouldn’t put more than an hour or so into it, and it’s not about how far they get, just to see their approach. And I’m clear that it’s from something we already did in the past – so I’m not trying to get free work out of them. Then we talk about it in the interview, and I get much more insight into their problem-solving abilities and tactics when it’s concrete.

        I just went through this process. It’s absolutely one of my most useful tools in figuring out who will be excellent and who will struggle.

    7. Drtheliz*

      I interviewed a year or so back for a scientific journal. They gave me three recent submissions, gave me fifteen minutes to read through and asked me what I made of them. One was a crank who had written a rant on why he was right and Einstein was wrong (and not a scientific paper). It could be rejected by the journal board without going to peer review. One was pretty marginal in terms of who would reject it, it was an undergrad who thought she’d solved the Llama Incompatibility Problem. She hadn’t, but as an editorial board one doesn’t have the authority to say for certain so it had to be sent out. The third had a lot of copy editing work to do but looked like sound science, and was to be passed to peer review.

      The whole thing took less than half an hour, and was as much a look at how I solved problems as a skill check – they wanted me to talk through why I’d come to the conclusions I had. (I also found it quite fun, which I think is relevant – if the core job duties are tedious, this is maybe not the job for you!)

    8. Audiophile*

      I don’t mind interview tests or projects, within reason: a short writing test, editing test, are totally fine. But, I recently withdrew my application after getting an assignment for a writing test and then days later being told there was an additional component they’d forgotten to mention, a recorded video interview. Part of it was the company’s disorganization, but I’m not thrilled with the recent move to video interviews. I don’t mind if I’m going to speaking to an interviewer and they want to record the interview but have no desire to have a one-way “interview.” Maybe my stance would change if it was a company I was itching to work for.

      1. allathian*

        Ugh. I’m a translator and most of us are on the introverted side of the spectrum. Most good candidates for this sort of job who actually have a choice would probably nope right out of interviewing that way. We have trouble enough as it is to attract good candidates for open positions.

    9. New Mom*

      When I’ve done hiring for my department, I need people that are very good with Google Sheets, so I’ve given a vague assignment that asks them to find 10-20 data points and then organize it for me. This has been really helpful for me for sussing out who is at the starting level I need. It also aligns to the turnaround time of our actual work, whereas with a past work example, it would be hard to know how long they worked on it or if they had any help.

    10. I should really pick a name*

      “‘I want to judge their skill set.” Check out their past work examples.”

      I’ve never had work examples that it would be okay to show to other companies.

      1. Recruited Recruiter*

        I’m right there with you. Every work sample I’ve ever had is confidential or company property.

      2. LizB*

        Yeah, I don’t think this is anywhere near universally available. Plenty of jobs don’t create concrete deliverables, and plenty more can’t share past work for confidentiality reasons.

        1. allathian*

          Yup, this. Most of the stuff we produce for the public is proofread by another translator, and much of the stuff that’s for internal use only and isn’t proofread because there’s not enough time to proofread everything can’t be shared.

    11. cubone*

      Anecdotal, but in my experience, interview assignments seemed to always be about assessing a very particular skill that is lacking/weaker on the existing team.

      For example:
      -I had to do a writing assignment for a job a few years ago. I was given multiple fake customer surveys and had to write an email summarizing the feedback to a project committee. When I got the job, I discovered the project lead I worked closely with had terrible writing skills and my boss specifically mentioned my assignment as being what solidified the decision to hire me. A more relevant test based on the % of actual work I did should’ve assessed my verbal, not written communication skills (presentation, etc.)

      -a friend had to read a report and summarize it, in her second language. The job posting/most work was in English, with the second language “preferred”. But no one on the team was a native speaker of the second language, so it mattered more to them that they assessed that language vs. the one she’d primarily be working in.

      -another friend was applying for a small non profit ED role. The assignment was more or less writing a budget for them (yes, it was a red flag, lol). In the interviews, it was very clear that they had a very messy budget/poor accounting practices, and focused way more on this than leadership, advocacy, other typical ED tasks (the tasks that were highlighted way, way more in the posting).

      1. cubone*

        I realize this doesn’t really answer the question of what do hiring managers look for in an assignment – since as a hiring manager, I’ve never asked for them for all the reasons listed by you! But these experiences and a few other examples always make me think this might be at play in quite a few assignment requests.

    12. meyer lemon*

      I’m not a hiring manager, but as a writer and editor, I prefer to have a chance to complete a brief writing or editing exercise. For one thing, the sample often gives me a sense of the kind of work the job will involve. For another, I’m better at writing and editing than I am at interviewing, so it gives me a better shot at doing well in the competition.

      That being said, I think anything that requires more than an hour of the candidate’s time is usually unreasonable and probably a sign that the employer is either disorganized or inconsiderate (or both).

      1. pieces_of_flair*

        Yes, I think it’s important to note that using some kind of skills test in hiring decisions is one way to reduce bias as well as generally improve outcomes. I had to do a brief assignment during the interview for my current position and it is what got me hired. My coworker who was on the hiring committee told me I was the only candidate that got the assignment right. She used this to advocate for me over the candidate another committee member preferred for reasons of “personality fit.” I am fat, shy, and socially awkward and do not necessarily come across well in interviews. The assignment gave me a more objective opportunity to show I was the right candidate. I imagine this would also be the case for minority candidates who might otherwise be judged less competent or passed over for vague reasons such as “culture fit” that are really just subconscious (or maybe conscious) discrimination.

        But yeah, it really has to be brief!

    13. Caboose*

      This makes some sense in programming, where there’s a million and a half arbitrary projects that can demonstrate your abilities. For many fields, though, it doesn’t make a lick of sense.

    14. RagingADHD*

      I’m a ghostwriter, and my current gig requires work on a standardized sample because ghostwriters by definition aren’t given credit for their work in any kind of verifiable way. Some named authors will mention a gw obliquely in the acknowledgements, but not all do.

      And the flip side is that any applicant could copy paste a chapter from any Kindle sample on the internet and claim they ghostwrote it.

    15. Amtelope*

      We hire a lot of people laterally from K-12 teaching, but this isn’t a teaching job. I need a very specific kind of writing sample, which doesn’t have to be perfect, but needs to show the ability to write to the kind of specifications you’ll receive in the job. I can’t hire people who are new to the job on contract — our contract positions are for time-limited projects with tight time frames and rarely allow for training. So we ask for a test assignment, and try to keep it brief.

    16. Observer*

      So why are companies souring them with assignments when there are readily available avenues to judge character and accomplishments?

      Some of your suggested avenues don’t work anywhere near as well as you seem to thing they do.

      Don’t get me wrong – some employers are totally stupid in their approach to this stuff. But short and targeted assignments really can be useful to get important information.

    17. AnotherLibrarian*

      I think you’re assuming the resumes and work examples can actually show the work you need someone to do, and I think think they do. A resume, no matter how well written, won’t show me if you can teach a class, for example. I need to see you in front of humans presenting information. I don’t need to see you for more than 20 minutes, but I need to see it. So, I don’t think it’s an unreasonable request to ask someone who needs to preform work that can’t be assessed from a portfolio/resume to do some of that work for you. It shouldn’t take more than an hour of their time to prep and shouldn’t be unrelated to the job, but otherwise, I’m taking your word that you can use Excel, teach a class, or summarize complex statistical information quickly and effectively.

    18. sara*

      We do a short skills assessment for javascript developers. We put a max time of two hours on it, but I tested it and it took me closer to 40 minutes. Before adding this assessment to our process, we’d have to rely on github or other portfolios, and really only people who have time for side projects really have code that they can share externally. Or people right out of school might have recent school projects. So we realized if we wanted to see some code and wanted to have a more open hiring process, we’d have to do an assessment of some kind (and didn’t want to subject prospective coworkers to a live coding exercise). They’re asked to do this task before a final fit interview, so we’ll have already done a phone screen and a technical interview.

      The questions might seem basic for an intermediate level person, but we also realized that if a developer felt they were above doing a quick assessment, then they’re not the right fit for the team anyways… Plus there’s ways to stand-out or show off more advanced skills in these tasks if they find them too easy.

      1. LabTechNoMore*

        They’re asked to do this task before a final fit interview, so we’ll have already done a phone screen and a technical interview.

        If I’m reading this correctly, you’re saying you give them a 2 hour takehome technical assessment in addition to a technical interview? I see this a lot in tech hiring – having a pre-technical interview assessment – but I don’t understand the through process behind it. Doing both a technical takehome assessment and a technical interview seems unnecessarily difficult (at least from my perspective as an interviewee).

    19. Alexander Graham Yell*

      We do it because we want to assess their analytical skills in multiple contexts – so they’re given an excel test where they have to analyze blinded data and an article to read and summarize. It takes no more than an hour and is a quick screening tool before we move them forward with manager/peer interviews. We don’t drop candidates who aren’t perfect (if we can follow their logic but they missed a step or used an okay formula when a great one is available that’s fine!) but if they skip one part entirely or have no clue what they’re doing we won’t be able to rely on them to hit the ground walking (not running, but also not needing their hand held).

    20. Agnes*

      The flip side is that any time anyone suggests cutting down the stack of resumes using education, degree, years of experience, internships, volunteer experience, etc., there’s a group here that will point out these correlate with privilege and keep out less privileged (which it does, but privilege buys you useful as well as irrelevant things.) Skills tests allow people to be judged directly on what they can do.
      The chance that a job applicant will be able to produce anything the company will find useful enough to steal is low.

      1. Observer*

        iThe flip side is that any time anyone suggests cutting down the stack of resumes using education, degree, years of experience, internships, volunteer experience, etc., there’s a group here that will point out these correlate with privilege and keep out less privileged/i

        The problem is that is screens for privilege and not for the things that privilege CAN buy.

        Say I’m looking for a top notch tech person. I could limit myself to Stanford and MIT graduates. But not only does that exclude all the great technologists who went to less prestigious colleges, it ALSO does not guarantee that I’m going to get great candidates.

        The bottom line is that if a qualification happens to screen for privilege but is ALSO actually an effective way to asses your candidates, that’s not something to reject out of hand. But when the qualification doesn’t actually do much to help you assess a candidate’s fit, why would you do that?

    21. LQ*

      I’ll be not combative back.

      I don’t want to hire someone with zero skills. But I do believe in – and my organization relies extremely heavily on – promotion from within. This means either you already do the work in your current role or you show promise for something. Otherwise no one should ever be promoted or learn anything new right? Either you have the skill and have references. Or you don’t and you shouldn’t get hired. I hate that.

      I don’t think that makes sense. I think giving people small projects to test and see can you pick this thing up? Can you work with less direction than in the other role? How do you do when something unexpected pops up? Are you meticulous or do you make wild jumps? If I give you 5 minutes of training one something, can you repeat the task? If I give you 5 minutes of training can you figure out the next thing? Can you follow a process exactly as it was written? Do you make up your own process to get to the end goal?

      I also think that interviews as the be-all-end all with references and work samples (which….I know with absolutely certainty that there are at least 3 people out there with my work product in their “past work samples”) isn’t as perfect as you make it sound.

      I’d rather a test every time. Not a 10 hour one. But 1 hour if I’m a finalist? Maybe up to 4 for a senior level role…I want to prove it, and I want you to prove it.

    22. EngineerMom*

      Engineer here.

      It’s pretty common in my industry, especially at the entry level, to be expected to do a sort of demo of how you would work through a problem.

      Typically, the interviewer presents a scenario, and the person being interviewed talks through how they would approach solving the problem. Occasionally, it’s an actual test (thought that’s a lot less common, even at entry-level interviews). More often, it’s similar to an oral exam.

      Usually, it’s not about evaluating really specific, nitpicky facts (though the bad interviewers do this sometimes), it’s more about evaluating someone’s problem-solving process, comfort with the material/topic in general, and ability to ask questions, clarify requirements, etc.

      Once you’re beyond entry-level positions, though, this becomes a LOT less common, since you have proof of your abilities in your work history, but if you are transferring between industries or major engineering fields (design to manufacturing work, for example), you might still be asked to talk through scenarios.

    23. Shree*

      We recently hired for a role where a key skill was typing up dictated letters. Hard to assess how well someone does that without a real-time test. Not a long one – I think it took about 15 minutes, and was done along with the interview – but critical.

    24. learnedthehardway*

      For senior level roles, sometimes of the selection processes require intensive projects from finalist candidates. These are usually structured to put the person through a number of performance criteria that provide evidence of everything from ability to analyse complex information, to ability to develop strategies and project plans, ability to apply industry knowledge to a business problem, financial analysis skills, etc. etc. The take home assignment is usually accompanied by a live presentation to the hiring committee, because the roles will require presentations to senior executive teams or boards. These roles also usually require psychometric testing as well. It’s intense.

      It’s a LOT of work, but if the role has the potential to make a significant contribution to the success (or failure) of the business, then it makes sense to require the work assignment.

    25. HA2*

      Feels like one answer is because “it’s really hard to tell whether someone knows what they’re doing”. Sometimes, it seems like the only way to know is to have them do it.

      In the field in which I’m in “Check out their past work examples” doesn’t really work because the actual work products are proprietary and so can’t be shared – so the best I could do in an interview is ask them to describe past work examples, which is not the same thing as seeing them. Or ask them to do work in the interview – but the extra pressure of “do this while the interviewer is watching” is likely to select more for ability to do work under pressure rather than just ability to do work in a normal setting. So “do a short project” is a replacement for “see their past work”.

      It does make much more sense for entry level and near-entry-level positions, where you can give someone a problem that should take an hour or two to solve and see how they do. Once someone’s doing higher level work, it’s much harder to come up with a good example project, since the higher-level work naturally involves NOT dealing with well-posed well-formed problems.

    26. NorthOfTheWall.*

      I’ve had to hire several library technicians to do cataloguing…all the fiddly stuff that goes into the back end of the library catalog that is then transformed into what y’all see when you search. People need to know what they’re doing and have a good eye for detail.

      So we test them. Last time, the test was to assign a rough call number to a couple of books (fiction and nonfiction), write up a basic record for a popular book (I think I chose Harry Potter), and look through another record and mark the mistakes. For someone who is relatively experienced, it can be done well in an hour. I’m not looking for perfection on the test, just seeing if they know how to find mistakes, how to do the basics of the cataloguing and have a basic knowledge of our call number scheme. The finalists each got an hour to do it. None of them were perfect, but the results did give me a good sense of how they’d do in the job,

    27. I want to go outside*

      When I recruited a junior in house lawyer for a private wealth management firm I needed to know that they had a solid grounding in contract and trust law, could think on their feet, could confidently explain their advice to strong characters who were not lawyers.

      I took a real situation that my (promoted) junior lawyer had dealt with, sent the relevant regulatory rule with a promise that general law plus that rule was all they needed to answer.

      I asked two candidates who were level on paper to meet with my junior lawyer and one of the less easy to deal with portfolio managers and advise them.

      One candidate came out streets ahead, and also got a realistic idea of the kind of personality that they would have to deal with.

    28. Stitching Away*

      I wasn’t a hiring manager, but I graded these projects for my team’s prospective hires. We hired for text-based high-touch customer service, essentially. The assignment should take around an hour. The position was one step above entry level.

      What I looked for essentially, was did the person have skills we didn’t have time to teach, and did they have skills that demonstrated that they could learn what we expected to need to teach.

      So what did I look for? Did they have basic google-based research and critical thinking skills. Could they prioritize? Were they skilled at parsing language to figure out what was being asked (and no, there were not trick questions)? And was their response to a hypothetical ticket empathetic, or did it at least show signs of it?

      You may not be trying to be combative, but your assumption that receiving one of these assignments automatically sours everyone, regardless of person or the assignment, says a lot.

  2. Furloughed Ghost*

    I posted a few weeks ago about retrieving my stuff from my office of my old job after a pandemic furlough and if it would be okay to leave cards behind for my coworkers. I got a lot of positive comments here so I did that. Wrote up like 20 cards wishing everyone well, included my phone number and personal email address, and with HRs approval left them on the desks of my coworkers since no one was actually in the office. It’s now been three weeks and I’m kinda surprised I haven’t gotten a single response by phone or email. I know some are still furloughed and haven’t returned but I do know a few who are back in the office and should have seen their cards by now. I can’t deny a little disappointment in the lack of response. I really loved working there and had great relationships with my coworkers, and to see it fizzle out without a peep from anyone is very disheartening. I also left a voicemail for my supervisor, who I knew was still furloughed and was looking for work when I last spoke to him, and never got a response.

    I need a reality check because part of me is tempted to message people on LinkedIn or something like that but really I need to leave it alone, right? Just let it go even if I never hear a word back? I know this isn’t a case of HR or someone saying ‘you’re not allowed to talk to people who left’ (our HR was very hands off) and I know the cards didn’t disappear (I left some who had locked doors with a trusted coworker who I do text with and she gave them to their people). So then it’s just everyone is choosing not to answer and I need to let it go no matter how much it hurts.

    I know I’m taking it way to personally but I had some truly awful jobs with people I hate who treated me horribly. The job I was furloughed from was the exact opposite of those; I was not overworked, I was treated with respect, and everyone had a kind word even in the worst of circumstances. So this ending to a job I really loved it hard to swallow.

    1. OneTwoThree*

      I feel for you. I don’t think everyone is intentionally ghosting you. It could be a number of reasons they are not reaching out.
      -They feel awkward they have a position while you don’t.
      -It could be how you left your contact info. Did you ask them to reach out with their contact info? They may be waiting until they have a reason to contact you (a reference in the future).
      -They are still preoccupied with COVID-related items.

      1. Fran Fine*

        I’m leaning heavily on points 1 and 3 being the reasons. People are just caught up in their own stuff these days – I wouldn’t take it personally.

    2. have we met?*

      I’m sorry; your kindness seems like it was met with apathy and that’s gotta hurt.

      I would maybe send LinkedIn connection requests to those you want to stay in touch with professionally. That’s an easy “accept” click for them, and not something requiring effort and small talk like a direct call/text.

      Remember they are dealing with their own emotional fallout from the furlough. And then let it go if you can.

    3. Person from the Resume*

      Reality check: People just don’t know what to say at times and in those cases sometime don’t say anything. There’s not even really a standard boilerplate phrase like “sorry for your loss” for death if family a member when someone loses a job.

      You may yet still hear from people; you may not. Try not to take it personally if work friends don’t know how to respond and never follow up.

    4. Artemesia*

      I think you have to leave it alone and I would be disappointed too. Most of them probably haven’t been seen yet. But ALL of them. I know if I got a card like this, I would shoot the person an email or text. It is of course possible that some busy body decided to collect and discard them for some reason — but does seem far fetched. Perhaps if you are in contact with any of them in the future ask — but I would leave it alone now.

      1. JustaTech*

        To be brutally honest to myself, if I got one of these I would read it, think “oh how sweet, I should say something”, and then not be able to think of anything to say, and worry about intruding with a text, and think “oh, I should give Furloughed Ghost some space, I don’t want to make them feel bad” and then … I’d probably forget, because I forget everything I tell myself to do.

        And then in three months I’d find the card again, realize I hadn’t written, feel terrible and … still not write. Hopefully most people don’t react like this, but I know it’s happened to me more than once.

    5. LadyByTheLake*

      It would not occur to me to respond to a card like that — an eternal loop of thank yous for thank yous might ensue. Emails are different, because I can shoot back something like “I liked working with you too, good luck!” But a card — I would like it, think “oh, how sweet/kind/thoughtful” and note for myself to get in touch with you in a few weeks once you were settled in whatever is next. In fact, I just had a colleague leave last Friday and she sent around her new contact info, but (1) I have no reason to contact her yet, and (2) I assume that she’s in transition and even if I had a need to contact her, I wouldn’t at this time. But I really liked her and miss her and want to keep in touch long term.

      1. Cj*

        I, too, would probably look at the card as sort of a thank you if it said anything like “thanks for helping make this a great place to work, and I’ve enjoyed working with your”. I would not thank somebody for a thank you note, and wouldn’t reach out to them unless I had a reason too.

    6. Malarkey01*

      I wouldn’t take it personally, it’s just sort of the nature of work relationships especially if you’d be furloughed for awhile. I’m sure they smiled and thought something like Oh I loved working with Ghost, I’m so sad to see she’s gone. I should send her a quick email to wish her well. Then the realities of work (and even more so if there’s less people doing more work now) got in the way and they were rushed to do a bunch of tasks and just didn’t get around to a note.

    7. Renee Remains the Same*

      As a social awkward person, I can tell you that I might feel a little conflicted about how to form a response. Since you left a card, your coworkers would have to initiate an email or phone call or text. As they’re working and you’re not, they may feel a little discomfort with how to begin.

      But, I hear you… it’s not terribly difficult to write a note to say, “I got your card, I loved working with you too! Hope you’re doing well.” But for people who overthink social interactions, it feels very sensitive.

    8. Teapot Repair Technician*

      I confess I would probably be one of those non-responders if I got your card. Maybe I’d enter your contact info into my phone. But I don’t generally feel the need to respond to cards or farewell messages from coworkers.

    9. animaniactoo*

      Yes, unfortunately, this is something you’ll need to let go. It does hurt, but it sometimes happens that people are friendly in a work context – and especially right now they might not have a lot of headspace for adding additional connections in a non-work context.

      This has the additional aspect of being an entire group – so in a way you’re seeing it as a group. But really it is each person individually, and many of them probably but the card in a drawer and thought “oh that’s nice/sweet” and figured they’ll call/e-mail in a couple of days/next week… and then ended up busy with other stuff and have forgotten they meant to get back to it.

      Sometime post-pandemic or further down the line, if there’s someone in particular you’d like to talk to or catch up with, it wouldn’t be out of line to message them on linkedin, but right now it’s all too new.

    10. Callisto*

      My reality of being the person who does reach out:

      First guy texted me three times over a few months, each time only to pump me for information about his department and whether he was being replaced. When I was unable to answer since I’m not in that loop, he faded out.

      Second guy responded to “Hi Aaron, hope you’re well! How’s the new job?” with “UGH exactly the same” and nothing else.

    11. STG*

      I likely wouldn’t have replied unless we were close coworkers. I’d have appreciated the card and probably thought it was nice but it likely would have ended there. Did you give the cards with the purpose of receiving positive reinforcement?

      I think you should leave it alone. If a coworker left a card on my desk saying it was nice working with you and then approached me because I didn’t email or contact them, I’d find it a bit off-putting. Now if I saw them in the hall at work, I’d absolutely say Hey, thanks for the card but that’s not quite the situation here.

      1. londonedit*

        I agree. If it was someone I’d worked particularly closely with, or been particularly friendly with, then I probably would reply, but otherwise I’d think ‘oh, that’s nice’ and probably put the card in a drawer just in case I needed the contact info at any point.

    12. Red Swedish Fish*

      Were you friends outside of the office, did they invite you to their homes for dinners, birthday parties, barbeques (not work related)? If not then you are expecting too much, you were work friends and now you don’t work there. The cards were very nice, but it would be odd for them to contact you if you didn’t have a relationship outside of work. You are taking this the wrong way.

    13. Middle School Teacher*

      Honestly if I got back to work and found a random card on my desk I would find it a bit weird and I wouldn’t know how to respond. I think you need to let this go.

        1. RussianInTexas*

          But if you have just a work relationship, even a warm one, the card of this sort IS random.

          1. RagingADHD*

            I think it’s both. It was a nice thing to do, nothing wrong with it, but a little random. As in, out of the ordinary.

            And as such, there’s not really an established social pattern for how or whether to respond.

            People do a lot of stuff on autopilot, in a way. And if something goes “off script, ” they just don’t respond at all.

    14. T. Boone Pickens*

      I sympathize with you Ghost and I know it’s hard not to take this personally. However, I come down in the camp of this is just ‘a thing that happens’ regarding work relationships. In an OldJob I worked with two other individuals building a new territory from scratch. It was the 3 of us in it together for almost 7 years and we became incredibly close during that time (attending each others weddings, social outings as a group with each others SOs, etc.) Our team broke apart about 3 years ago and we all went our separate ways. I can honestly count on one hand how many times I’ve spoken to each person since our team broke up. And these are colleagues I spent 50+ hours a week with for almost a decade. Rightly or wrongly, I think this is just something that happens with work relationships when the common bond (the job) disappears and there is nothing there to tether you together any more.

      1. HA2*

        It seems like those bonds have to be explicitly kept up by *someone* if they are to persist past work-breakup.

        The default is for the work-friendship to end when the work-partnership ends. If one of those three people took the initiative and, for a few months post-breakup, took the initiative and set up completely non-work gatherings, not talking about work, maybe it wouldn’t have been hard to convert the work friendship to a non-work friendship. But that process is not the default, and we don’t have nice social scripts for it, so unless someone pushes for it it doesn’t happen.

    15. Sparkles McFadden*

      You did a nice thing and the lack of response doesn’t mean anything negative about you. Let it go. You may hear from someone later on.

      People don’t often know how to act when someone gets let go. Most people don’t handle that well and prefer to just let things be. They feel awkward or guilty that they still have a job, and they are also afraid they’ll lose their own positions. This is especially true in these weird times.

      When I was laid off, I just sort of disappeared because anyone I wanted to keep in touch with already had my contact information.

      When I received a note like yours, I’d take down the contact information and maybe send mine along but that only happened maybe 10% of the time. It’s just part of the nature of work relationships.

    16. RussianInTexas*

      Honestly? I don’t know if I would reached out to the person who left a card and is no longer there. I wouldn’t even think I was expected to reach out. You are now a former coworker, the most what is a possible LinkedIn connection. In my whole life, most colleagues are “out of sight out of mind” situation.
      *Unless the person is a former coworker AND is also a friend.

    17. RagingADHD*

      Leave it alone.

      I’ve had plenty of jobs where I got along just fine with my coworkers and left on good terms. They all had my contact info.

      I maybe heard back socially from two people, ever.

      That’s normal. Unless you actively pursued a personal relationship completely outside of the job, work relationships are tied to the job. When it’s over, it’s over.

      1. RagingADHD*

        And vice versa – it would never occur to me to call 99% of my work buddies after I left.

        1. JustaTech*

          Yup. I have one coworker I text on her birthday (because we share a birthday) and that’s pretty much it. I’ve lost two immediate coworkers in the past year and I’ve had a little bit of contact with the one who was laid off (mostly initiated by her) and some from the coworker who quit (all initiated by her, which is part of why I wasn’t sad to see her go, because she didn’t understand the difference between “friend” and “work friend”).

          In my mind, this is what LinkedIn is for.

    18. Firecat*

      Try to remember that people are overwhelmed right now. It’s hard to keep touch with former co-workers in the before times, but the pandemic made things weird.

      I left a job in 2020, and everyone wanted to go out for drinks etc. as soon as it was safe and now that we are all vaccinated before Delta was surgong every text for a meetup was met with crickets.

      But then I reminded myselft that I was only barely able to handle meeting up with family and going out to a restaurant twice one weekend before I was feeling overwhelmed. It’s just a hard time for everyone and with so much catching up needed it’s understandable that folks only have so much energy and former coworkers are low on the priority list.

    19. Pocket Mouse*

      I think it’s unlikely you’ll get direct responses to your cards except from people you have existing relationships outside the workplace. In addition to what others have said, remember that some folks may be seeing them for the first time weeks or months after you wrote them, and recipients may be hesitant to reply specifically to the notes out of sensitivity (not wanting to bring an unpleasant occurrence back to the forefront of your mind).

      However! You did a kind thing that most of the recipients surely appreciate in some way, and will include in the body of knowledge they have about you, which can influence them to reach out to you with opportunities, speak more kindly or highly of you as a colleague to others, and/or be receptive and supportive when you reach out to them for networking purposes. Even if these situations never come to pass, you made someone’s day brighter during what is surely a difficult time, and that’s worthwhile on its own. Never underestimate the power of a kind note.

      1. Anon today*

        I agree with this completely. If I got a card like this, I would probably think it was a very nice thing, maybe make a note of your contact info, and tuck it away somewhere. I’m probably more likely than most to respond in some way, but in this kind of situation it would be 50-50 for me at best. But it would definitely affect how I perceive you as a person in a positive way, and I do think that’s worth something for a lot of reasons.

        1. No-Name McGee*

          I agree with both of the above responses. You did a good thing. Let that bring you a smile.

    20. Dark Macadamia*

      I didn’t see your previous post but based on your description here I thought it was like a “random act of kindness” type gesture until you said you were disappointed no one has replied. Like if I left a card in everyone’s desk it would be to make them feel good, not with the expectation of a response.

      That said, I would also be hurt that no one replied if I had left contact info! But if I got a card like this I would probably plan to send you an email, forget and remember several times, and then feel awkward that so much time had passed, so try not to assume it’s an intentional snub or they didn’t appreciate it. People are busy and forgetful and especially now might not have a lot of emotional energy for maintaining contact even if they really like you.

    21. Momma Bear*

      I sent out a “hey, nice working with you/here’s my contact info” email when I left my old job and maybe one person actually kept in contact. The sad truth is that often they are situational friends vs friend friends. Try not to take it personally. Connect on LinkedIn if you want for your professional network, but that may be all the relationship they are up for.

    22. Emma Dilemma*

      I’m reading this more like the “bye I’m leaving, here’s my details” goodbye email. Nobody actually immediately contacts the person on reading that.

      I’m sure the cards were a lovely thing to receive though.

    23. I'm just here for the cats*

      I understand how you are feeling. One thing you should try and remember is that this is probably has nothing to do with you. People get so wrapped up in their own lives that they just forget if something (or someone) is not in front of them daily. They probably saw the card, thought “how sweet. I’m totally going to message them later” and then went on with their lives.

      And who knows, they may just be overwhelmed themselves, especially if they are the ones furloughed too.

      Try not to take it personally.

    24. Mari*

      I live in Japan and at my company leaving cards like this is when you leave is the norm. But it’s seen more as a way to say goodbye and thank the people you worked with; there isn’t a very strong expectation that people will get in touch, or at least not right away, and especially if you weren’t close. When I receive cards like this I appreciate them and think it’s a nice gesture, but I have only emailed one person – and that was a year later. So if you could reframe your thinking to this was meant to be a nice thank you and goodbye to your coworkers, I think you would feel better. Also, if you want to keep in touch with specific people, reach out to them.

    25. allathian*

      I’m sorry. In my experience at least, the overwhelming majority of all work relationships are very situational and when you’re no longer working with someone, they just tend to disappear. Even if you had great coworkers, unless you were friends rather than simply work friends, you’re probably expecting too much from them. Were they actual friends rather than just situational work friends? As in, did you ever spend time together when you weren’t working and when it wasn’t a company sponsored event?

      I’m sure most people appreciated the gesture of the card, but many probably didn’t feel like it needed a response. It was a thank you card more than anything else, and those normally don’t require responses. Someone may reach out at a later date to network professionally with you. You could try contacting them on LinkedIn, but not yet. Give it a few more months and get in touch then. That said, many people don’t check their profiles very often, so it could be a bit of a hit and miss there, too.

      I hope you find another great job with great coworkers really soon.

    26. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      When I got laid off from Job A after four years, the only person I ever heard from again was the director, and we are still casual friends decades later. When I left Job B almost 10 years ago, I joined Facebook and that’s how I’ve stayed in contact with several people from that place. I’ve very, very occasionally sent or received a text or email, but some of us stay in touch daily through FB, others pop up weekly or so, and some less often. I’ve actually developed closer friendships with some ex-coworkers in the years since I’ve been gone. pre-Covid, we’d periodically get together in person, and we’re thinking of trying that again if everyone is willing and vaccinated. Individual correspondence can be a pain, but FB is a good way to stay in touch. I’ve only dropped a handful of inactive people over the years.

  3. Well, the Dogs*

    Open door policies: If someone states they have an open door policy, but then has their door closed with the window papered over 95% of the time, is it still an open door policy? Is the shut door (which I think any reasonable person would assume requires a knock, not just opening the door to get access to the person) still consistent with the concept even though it’s not literal?

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      I think you’re taking “open door” too literally. It doesn’t mean “my door is always open,” it means “there are no gatekeepers and you can come talk to me at any time.” Even if you have to knock.

      1. Environmental Compliance*


        My door is always closed because the outside is loud as heck. I often have the blinds partially down because I have maintenance techs running in and out constantly, and the traffic distracts me. I also have a little sign on my door showing if I’m in a meeting or available, though.

        (and this may be a personal peeve of mine, but generally it’s more polite IMO to knock and announce yourself even if the door is open, rather than coming right in and talking immediately.)

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          (and this may be a personal peeve of mine, but generally it’s more polite IMO to knock and announce yourself even if the door is open, rather than coming right in and talking immediately.)


          1. Unkempt Flatware*

            except if you’re my one frustrating coworker who insists on knocking on your door even while making direct eye contact with you.

      2. mreasy*

        Yep, one of the benefits of having an office is being able to close the door against noise. It shouldn’t be a symbolic “stay away.”

      3. Artemesia*

        you never walk into someone’s office even if the door is open without knocking and getting their attention first. Whether the person behind paper and closed door is truly open to walk ins is something you find out by knocking and then judging their reaction to being interrupted. And if they seem put off, you ask when a good time to drop by is or do they prefer a text or email first or to set an appointment?

        In my experience ‘my door is always open’ is in the same jar with ‘come see us some time’ and ‘we must do lunch.’

      4. EngineerMom*


        One of my favorite managers had an office that just didn’t have a window, and we were located in a loud manufacturing area, so literally leaving the door open wasn’t practical.

        But whenever you knocked, he’d always say “come on in!” or “Just a minute”, and then literally open the door a minute later once he’d had a chance to pause what he was doing.

        When he really did need privacy, he just put a red magnet on the door to indicate that he was not to be disturbed (like during 1:1 meetings, private phone conversations, etc.). He was really clear about this, and would take the magnet down as soon as he was done with whatever required privacy, so we knew to take the alert seriously.

    2. ThatGirl*

      I would assume they were not being literal, but meant that they are (almost) always happy to talk. A knock is only polite. I’ve rarely seen “open door policy” mean that their door was literally open all of the time.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      If you’re asking for yourself, and whether it’s ok to keep your door shut, tell people explicitly that they can IM/call/knock any time– that is still consistent with an “open door policy.”

      If you’re asking because your manager’s door is always shut, then assume you should IM or call or email first. Still consistent with the policy– just means they prefer quiet for whatever reason.

    4. Anonymous Koala*

      If you office has slack or teams, you can also use it to check whether the door is ‘open’ or not. My boss has an open door policy, and when I started I would send her a quick ‘hey, can I come talk to you for a minute?” if her door was shut. Now that I know her better, I have a better sense of when it’s okay to knock at the closed door, but it was helpful at first. YMMV

    5. MissCoco*

      To me “open door policy” basically means “Don’t consider the status of my door when you are trying to get in touch.”
      Depending on the person and the office, some people just prefer a closed door for whatever reason, but still want people to feel free to get in touch with them.

      Even if someone does keep their office door open, I often still do a little knock on the door frame before a greeting, unless their desk faces the door.

      1. ecnaseener*

        This. The idea behind an open door policy is to be a symbolic stand-in for a literal physical open door.

    6. Purple Cat*

      Totally depends on the person. Obviously, the phrase is symbolic and not literal. But, what have they communicated about “interrupting them” when the door is closed? Can you always knock? Should you send an IM first to see if they’re available? It’s more about being responsive to anything, not physically keeping the door open, BUT people might feel shut out of being able to initiate a conversation if the door is always physically shut.

    7. Ann Perkins*

      While the phrase itself is symbolic, I do find colleagues less approachable if they almost always have their door shut.

    8. Double A*

      Maybe think of it as an “I will open my door (anytime you’d like to talk)” policy. Or a “just knock!” policy.

    9. Malarkey01*

      I use open door policy to mean I’m open to discussion and to feel comfortable bringing me ideas, problems, general issues and there isn’t a formal process you need to go through before you bring me something or gas keepers- it’s saying I’m approachable and value bottom up communication.
      It doesn’t mean that all interruptions are okay and that I’ll always be able to drop whatever I’m doing to talk this minute.

    10. Robin Ellacott*

      Yes, I often close my door for noise/distraction control, but I have a sign on the door saying “please come in” and try to remember to put up a note when I am in a phone meeting or similar. I don’t think the door being closed means “no entry”.

      That said, I do appreciate people knocking as they open it or otherwise signalling “is now a good time?” before they launch into their question/problem.

    11. Moths*

      I agree with a few of the others that I find someone who leaves their door shut 95% of the time to be less approachable than if they have it open as much as possible. I understand closing it for meetings and noise issues, but in general if someone has their door shut, I’m less likely to knock on it. That could be due to the culture at my office where people do tend to have their doors open most of the time, so for the few people that keep them closed, the impression given is that they don’t want to be disturbed. However, I would take it to mean that if I wanted to meet with them, I’d need to get something scheduled on their calendar rather than just popping by. But I wouldn’t take it to mean they don’t want to talk at all.

    12. Seeking Second Childhood*

      This is something you need to ask the human with a closed-door. It can be as simple as being on a very noisy hallway or having a bad HVAC system.
      I’ve worked for people who welcome work-related interruptions but couldn’t concentrate because their door opened onto a call center’s break area. And I’ve known rooms where the office temperature swings wildly if the door is kept open.

    13. Girasol*

      I was taught that an open door policy indicates that it’s okay to skip in the chain of command. (In some companies it’s considered inappropriate to speak to one’s boss’s boss unless spoken to.) If I think my boss or the organization is doing something wrong, I can drop by to talk to the boss’s boss if his door is physically open, signalling that he doesn’t mind being interrupted. If it’s closed I can make an appointment. That’s still considered open door policy, because with closed door policy, I would not be permitted to initiate a conversation with him at all. I was told to take an important manager’s time very seriously, so I had better be sure it’s important, and in most cases, I had better have taken my concerns to my own boss first.

  4. MMMMMmmmmMMM*

    So, now that things are kinda getting back to normal at the office, and I were to bring in treats, what are peoples favorites?

    1. Collie*

      Pre-packaged stuff is especially nice right now, I think. Even though data suggests COVID doesn’t travel through food, I’m still a little extra cautious about food these days. Mini bags of popcorn, fruit snacks, individually wrapped chocolate (like Lindt), granola bars — all good stuff.

      1. Gail Davidson-Durst*

        I agree, anything that assures me that my cow-orkers haven’t shared their germs all over it would be my preference!

      2. Policy Wonk*

        + 1 Entenmenns has a good selection of individually packaged things from coffee cake to brownies.

      3. Teapot Repair Technician*

        I agree too. Even if COVID went extinct today, I’m permanently in the habit being extra cautious about germs. I haven’t been sick in over a year, and I’d like to continue that streak, even if it means continuing to avoid food that might have been touched by someone.

      4. Lucy P*

        Ditto. Brought in individually wrapped candy today. Did cupcakes for birthdays so it didn’t require too much of a hands-on experience.

      5. allathian*

        Indeed. Even if Covid doesn’t travel through food, plenty of other diseases do, like norovirus, campylobacter, salmonella, staph, clostridium. I’d like to avoid those, thanks!

    2. My cat is prettier than me*

      You can’t go wrong with chocolate chip cookies. I’m also a sucker for high quality cheese.

    3. Warrant Officer Georgiana Breakspear-Goldfinch*

      I have never brought in brownies and not been hailed as a savior. Someone always needs chocolate.

    4. ThatGirl*

      I brought in homemade blueberry muffins the other day and they were a hit. Cookies and brownies usually go over well, or donuts/donut holes.

    5. Jasmine*

      Do you have a freezer in your staff room? If so, a variety pack of ice lollies (popsicles/icy poles) is my go to for summer treats. A little bit fun, no chance of going stale if they don’t get eaten immediately, and always welcome if it’s hot where you are!

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

        I like the way you think, but unless you’re going for top shelf Vodka, I think you’ll need to supply a mixer.

    6. Caboose*

      There’s a muffin place about five minutes from my new job, and I’m a big fan! I’m not huge on donuts, but a variety of big gorgeous muffins? Yes please.
      I also really like bagels, but the amount of preparation required is annoying. And I am always overthinking how much cream cheese is acceptable!
      We also sometimes have breakfast burritos brought in from a local company, and that’s always a big hit.

    7. Sparkles McFadden*

      I always brought in the individually wrapped Twizzlers bucket. It was very popular. Also Hershey’s Kisses in the candy dish!

    8. Pharmgirl*

      We have a lot of icecream in our freezer now for the summer (individual treats). Muffins or cookies or brownies are always a hit.

    9. Robin Ellacott*

      I’m always amused by the “plague of locusts” response to treats in my office.

      Individual bags of chips go down big here. As so peanut butter cups. I also always buy freezies (both “good” fruit ones and cheapo drugstore ones – I think the cheap childhood ones are more popular!) for the office in the summer and leave them in the freezers.

      A few times during COVID I made seasonal cookies and packaged them in ziploc bags of 2 cookies each, and those went startlingly quickly – I was thinking some people wouldn’t want homemade food even if sealed, but it wasn’t an issue here.

    10. AnotherLibrarian*

      I have brought in homemade cookies and cake and both went over well. Though I do work with college students, so they will eat pretty much anything I bring them happily. They just like the break from cafeteria food.

    11. Donkey Hotey*

      A halfway between “pandemic” and “pre-packaged” is either to bring tongs or take the time to individually wrap them in baggies. Helps reduce touched surfaces (and helps portion control the more… enthusiastic participants).

    12. Distracted Librarian*

      I’m a sucker for almost any homemade baked goods–brownies, cookies, breads… yum. I see others below have a different take, but I don’t worry about COVID on surfaces, because evidence suggests that’s a minimal concern, so bring on the homemade treats!

      1. MMMMMmmmmMMM*

        Yeah, I’m less concerned about COVID on surfaces since I’m in the Bio Department at a University that has over 75% vaccination rate (arguably around 99% in the department, because… biologists), so I’m thinking cookies or brownies.

    13. EngineerMom*

      Pre-packaged iced cookies.
      Donuts with a bunch of napkins for people to grab their own individually.
      Pre-packaged bags of mixed nuts

  5. Sunflower*

    JobSeekers – are you finding that the ball is in your court(vs employers) moreso than before? We are hiring a position and HR is urging us to move quickly because candidates are getting picked up left and right. I’m dipping my toe back in the interviewing pool and hoping it’s better than it was in Feb 2020(the last time I was searching)

    1. have we met?*

      I’m sitting here with no degree and recruiters are contacting *me* for positions that are listed as requiring a bachelor’s.

      Similar boat to yours – I was getting some traction in February 2020 (lots of listings stating “degree or equivalent experience”), then COVID. So I’m making the most of it now. Best of luck to you!

    2. Callisto*

      Nope, I’m still hearing crickets. In a few cases a hiring manager reached out to set up a call, then ghosted after I replied favorably. It’s like job negging.

      1. RB*

        Yep! Me too. Keep hearing about the great resignation and I’m ready to move on after 10 years with my company. Made it to a final interview, then… crickets. Talked to another in-house recruiter who LOVED my background and saw me in a few positions at their org…. crickets.

    3. MMM*

      In the past 2 weeks or so, it’s like a switch was flipped and suddenly I have almost 10 interview requests. I didn’t make any dramatic change to my resume/cover letters or application strategy, so it has taken me by surprise. I don’t have any offers yet, but it’s certainly a nice change from the empty void

      1. Arila*

        Two weeks ago when the quarter/half turned over and everyone came back from vacation? Good to know things are ramping up!!

    4. Audiophile*

      I definitely feel like I’m getting more hits later, especially from recruiters. I just updated my LinkedIn profile so that the random recruiters were at least presenting positions that would be a better fit for my interests. It also seems like I’m getting more interview requests for jobs I’m actually applying for, which is a nice change.

      Good luck!

    5. Recruited Recruiter*

      I’ve noticed this as well. Coming into my current job 3 weeks ago, I turned down several offers due to not liking their org. culture or seeing issues at interviews. I have also gotten two job offers and a couple interview requests since starting at new job.

      1. Fran Fine*

        I just started my new job three weeks ago as well (an internal promotion), and I received an interview request for today from a company I was actually pretty into. And not only did they want to interview me, they wanted to talk to me about coming in at a senior level – I applied to a specialist position because even though I have years of experience, it’s in unrelated areas, so I didn’t think I could do the senior role.

        Sadly, I had to turn them down. If only they had gotten back to me three-four weeks ago when I applied!

    6. voluptuousfire*

      It varies week to week. I’ve had some weeks where I had multiple emails on LinkedIn from recruiters about roles and I heard from a handful of jobs I had applied for. Other weeks it’s crickets.

    7. Teapot Repair Technician*

      I applied for several jobs in summer 2020, with no response.

      In March 2021 I decided to try again. Picked the most attractive job post and applied on a Friday, got a call back on Monday, scheduled phone interview on Wednesday, then a week of silence followed by a call the next Wednesday to schedule an in-person interview on Friday. They emailed me as I was driving home offering more than I had asked for.

      The whole process was 2 weeks from application to offer, which is superfast in my experience.

    8. Hiring Mgr*

      I’n trying to hire and in my field (tech sales), the ball is absolutely in the employees court now.. I’ve had positions unfilled for months, the only way we could finally get a couple of people in was to give them a signing bonus, which is unheard of

    9. Chauncy Gardener*

      I’m in tech and we have folks accept an offer, then rescind to accept another! The recruiters are saying this is super common now

    10. Lisa*

      Not seeking FTE work—my consulting practice is having it’s best year ever—but I am being pursued more by recruiters in the past few weeks than usually happens in a year. I think it really is a sellers’ market for job seekers. Depends on the role and industry of course.

  6. LTL*

    I suspect I already know the answer to this but I’ll ask all the same.

    I received a job offer. I’ve been unemployed for some time now and can’t afford to turn it down. The work itself seems great, but the team’s core hours are 9 to 7, with occasional overtime on top of that, and the commute for me would be at least 1.5 hours each way. Instead of negotiating salary, or even PTO, could I say that I think it’s an excellent opportunity, but I was wondering if I could work 45 hours a week, instead of 50 (doing 8 to 5 instead of 9 to 7)? Or maybe if I could even do 40 hours (8 to 4)? If the chances of them agreeing to this are slim to none, which I suspect may be the case since I’ve never heard of anyone negotiating hours, I’d rather negotiate salary. So I thought I’d get opinions from the AAM community before reaching back out to them.

    For context, the pay they’ve offered is at the bottom of their salary range and is also the minimum I’d expect given the field and location. The PTO they offered is fairly good for the US.

    1. Colette*

      Is it truly 9 – 7 5 days a week? If you’re non-exempt, that would put them in overtime territory every single week.

      Have you asked what those core hours mean?

      If everyone really works 10 hours a day, I don’t think you will have much luck negotiating that.

      1. LTL*

        It’s an exempt position. I spoke to someone on the team and from our conversation, it definitely sounded like they were in the office every day from 9 to 7 at least.

        1. Purple Cat*

          If it’s an exempt position, and they’ve already told you to expect to work 9-7, I don’t think there’s anything to negotiate on the hours. The expectation is your workload is going to be that heavy. So salary is the only thing left.

      2. Clisby*

        Agreed, that sounds strange. I worked for years at a company where core hours were 9-3. The “official” times were: come in any time between 7 and 9; core hours are 9-3; take 30-90 minutes at lunch; work 8 hours outside of your lunch. I put “official” in quotes, because once your manager knew how you worked, it wasn’t unusual to have people coming in at 5:30 a.m. and leaving at 2; or coming in at 10 a.m. and leaving 7 p.m., or whatever.

    2. CatCat*

      Instead of trying to change the hours, which seems like a pretty hard sell, could you negotiate for telework for all or part of time week? Not sure if that’s possible with the type of work you do, but if it is, it could be a great benefit as you’d reclaim 3 hours of your day.

      1. LTL*

        It seems like a fairly traditional company. I suspect WFH would be a very hard sell. I suppose I could potentially say “any chance we can do XYZ hours or WFH?” and give them the option.

        1. Emilia Bedelia*

          I think negotiating hours would be a bigger challenge than negotiating WFH. If you try to negotiate hours, they’re going to think “Who is going to do that extra 5-10 hours of work/week?”. I would think you can try to negotiate start/end time, WFH and/or salary, but not how much time you’re actually working in a week.

    3. Callisto*

      Negotiate the money. They’ll tell you what you want to hear regarding hours, and then it will creep up again anyway over your time working there. Subtle glances, passive-aggressive comments, then outright demands. With the money, it’s tangible and you see it on the page.

      1. Dino*

        And negotiate for enough money so you can afford to pay for conveniences. Things like grocery delivery or meal prep subscriptions, a cleaning company every few weeks, laundry service, pick your most time-consuming chores and pay to not have to do them. It will give you more hours back in your day to make up for the commute.

        And look at having an exit plan/career trajectory mapped out that gets you into a more sustainable schedule sooner rather than later. Good luck!

    4. Toucan Flies*

      Are core hours truly working from 9-7? We have core hours from 9-3, but that just means you have to be in the office from 9-3 and you can work from home the rest of the time.

      Did you clarify that you’d be working daily from 9-7? I’d also just ask if you want to work from 8-5. It seems like you’re missing a step here by not asking them what they can do :)

    5. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      If they are asking you to work over 40 hours the salary should reflect that. If you get an offer ask what the salary is based on (40 or 50 hours) and compare that to the average for your field which is a median based on 40 hours.

    6. Anonymous Koala*

      Those are looong official hours. Plenty of people I know work those hours, but usually because their work doesn’t fit into 40 hours, not because their boss wants butts in seats for 10+ hours a day. Is this is the norm for your industry?

      If it’s reasonable, I might start by trying to ask for work from home or a hybrid set up if that’s doable for you. You’ll skip the commute and maybe be able to shave off a couple of hours here and there in a way that’s less noticeable than it would be in the office.

      Asking to work reduced hours isn’t unreasonable, but if you’re even a little junior I would worry about the message it sends to your management. If they’re asking for these long hours they must feel it’s necessary or feel it shows a level of investment in the team, and you don’t want anyone to think you’re not invested right from the beginning.

      1. LTL*

        I’m not sure if it’s the norm for the llama grooming industry or if it’s this specific company (which is quite large and well established).

        But in my specific field (let’s say accounting as an example of a field which operates across different industries), it’s not the norm.

        From what I can tell of the company, they don’t seem to like telework.

        1. Anonymous Koala*

          Honestly I would take it as a red flag if a company mandated 10-hour work days without a logical explanation. If you like the job otherwise and can deal with the long days, it could be fine, but I’d be on the lookout for other signs that they don’t prioritize work life balance or employee mental health.
          I do think it’s totally reasonable to ask about the long days, and whether that’s a norm in the llama grooming industry or there’s a special reason for it here, especially since you work in a cross-disciplinary field. And their answer might help you decide how to spend your negotiating capital.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              Is there any chance you misunderstood and this is four 10-hour days?
              I still wouldn’t have the stamina to do it with 3 hours on the road per day–that leaves you only 9 hours/day for hygiene, food, and sleep. Hoping I misunderstood you and it’s 1.5 hours round trip?

              1. Your Local Password Resetter*

                They said 1.5 hours each way, so probably not.
                And that does sound very rough, especially on top of the 10 hour (plus overtime) workday.

                Speaking of, did they explain how often you need to pull overtime? Because this sounds like a company that would be just fine with making people pull 12 hour days every other day.

          1. Renee Remains the Same*

            Came here to say this… I initially thought that they meant people worked between 9-7, meaning an 8 hour stretch during those times. So 9-5 or 11-7. But if they’ve told you that people work from 9 all the way through to 7, thats a red flag.

            They may grant your request to work from 8-4:30, but if you’re salaried, the possibility that you will end up working past those hours is pretty likely and it may become an unwritten expectation, no matter what you end up negotiating.

          2. Cascadia*

            Yes, definitely a red-flag. There’s certain industries that are known for long hours/days (big law, medicine) but I wouldn’t want to work anywhere that expected 10 hours of butts in seats 5-days a week. Can you imagine what overtime then looks like? I think you need to go back and have a frank conversation with them where you really clarify what the expectations are regarding how long people are in the office. Perhaps they have a weird way of defining “core” hours.

    7. WellRed*

      I know you can’t afford to turn down the job but I honestly think you should between the hours which are ridiculous and the commute. It doesn’t seem sustainable.

      1. Siege*

        Or keep your job search going. This sounds like a company (between the hours, the telework limitation, the low salary) that is easy in, easy out since that’s so far out of the scope of reasonable expectations. This sounds like a company that understaffs/can’t retain staff and underpays, so it’s either in financial trouble or management’s expectations and groupthink are bananacrackers.

        1. LTL*

          I think I will do this if I take the job, but I imagine it would also be difficult to take time off for new interviews as a new employee.

          Perhaps it could work if the team dynamic allows for the occasional two hour lunch.

    8. Blackcat*

      I’d be really concerned about this. 13 hours a day away from home, minimum, 5 days a week, is A LOT. That doesn’t leave much time at all for any “life stuff” during the week. I’d frankly be concerned about the health impacts of that.
      Not sure I know what to do, but if I were you, I’d keep applying places and try to make this job as temporary as possible…

      1. RagingADHD*

        A lot of this depends on your life circumstances, too. When I was young, single, and healthy, and lived in a studio apartment, a 13 hour day was NBD, and I’d go out after work a couple nights a week.

        Now, I wouldn’t even consider it because I have a house, a family, and chronic health issues.

        1. LTL*

          I’m young, single, physically healthy, and living with parents who will happily take care of everything at home. But I also know what my mental health low points are like and the thought of potentially triggering that does scare me.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’d 100% rather have a strong of temp jobs. The more I think about this, the more I’m starting to cringe at the energy drain.

    9. Teapot Repair Technician*

      Yikes, I *want* to believe they’re using some unconventional definition of the term “core hours”. Like they mean you should answer the phone and respond to emails during those hours.

      If they actually expect you to be in the office from 9–7 every day, I would only accept that job if I could negotiate a salary sufficient to cover the cost renting a nearby pied-à-terre. I couldn’t physically survive a job that had me arriving home at 8:30 pm only to leave again at 7:30 am.

    10. Cj*

      That’s 50 hour/week at the office, but not 50 hours of work with a lunch break, unless lunch is paid and you are counting that? Are they telling you that would would actually be working 50 hours/week? If so, and their core hours are 9 – 7, you might be expected to be at the office longer.

    11. I'm just here for the cats*

      what is your comute like and what is the work like? Is it something you could do remotely.

      If your commute is on public transit could you do work on the way. so say 9-7 is the hours. You get there at 9 but leave at 5 and work on the way to and the way home.

      If the commute is long because you’re stuck in traffic during rush hour could you maybe negotiate your starting or ending times. Come in earlier or end later?

    12. learnedthehardway*

      I’d focus on negotiating salary, PTO, and working from home at least a couple days per week (in fact, ask for 3 days per week, and see if they’ll bite). That is more likely to succeed.

      If they work that much as standard hours, at least they are honest. Also, they’re going to want someone committed to the workload. I’d decide whether you were willing to do the workload, and if not, decline the offer, because the expectation is not going to change, whether or not they agree to reduce the hours – even if they do, you’d be out of step with the rest of the team, and that’s going to cause resentment and make your manager think you’re performing poorly, even if you are abiding by a lower agreed number of hours.

      On the other hand, if it’s feasible to work from home, you can get a lot of your life back that way. You could also agree to be in the office X numbers of hours per day and do some of the work from home at night / on weekends. Not ultimately ideal from a work/life balance perspective, but as long as the work is getting done, they might not mind, and it would be evident from your communications/entries into whatever tech they use, that you’re working the right amount of time.

      (Written as I take a break from work on a Friday evening at 11 PM at night….)

  7. anon36*

    My company is forcing everyone to have “growth conversations” with their managers – basically about our career progression and what we want to do. Long story short, I hate my team and the work we do (forced into it after a reorg) and have been trying to leave for almost a year now. I don’t want to pretend to my manager that I love it here and that my future is in this line of work, but I also don’t want to be too honest and potentially get on his bad side. I’ve talked to him about my unhappiness before but he’s clueless and hasn’t made any changes. What’s the best strategy here?

    1. anon36*

      I should add, the reason I don’t want to pretend to be happy is because he will start assigning me a lot of busy work that will only make me more miserable. He’s an awful manager who thinks this is the way to keep the team engaged.

    2. Ayla K*

      Can you focus on one specific thing you want to grow in, rather than trying to have a big picture conversation? Like, say you want to work on your presentation skills and you’d value the opportunity to present a low-stakes project to your team and then get feedback on your style and tone so you can improve.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        This, or cross divisional training. “I’d love to work more with (a team I hope to jump to) if possible.”

        1. Sparkles McFadden*

          Yes, find a way to work with other teams/departments and you might collaborate your way into another job.

    3. Mayflower*

      Can you make it all about what you want? Paid training for a specific skill, and if that’s not in the budget, dedicated time during the workday to work on that skill.

      To determine what that skill would be, do some right-to-left planning: look at job postings for where you want to be, identify the common themes, then identify any gaps in your experience that may be preventing you from getting those jobs.

    4. Teapot Repair Technician*

      I had a job that I didn’t like much where I spent 80% of my time cleaning llama hooves (which I hated) and 20% combing llama hair (which I enjoyed).

      My strategy was to tell my boss that my career goal was to do only llama combing and no hoof cleaning, which was true, and ultimately what happed when I got a job at a different company.

    5. Lisa*

      This is a good situation to be outcome oriented and back up from there. What do you want to achieve, what could your boss do that would actually help with that, what can you say to your boss in your “growth conversation” that would cause that to happen. It is fair game to be a little disingenuous here. Maybe in order to be better situated for new jobs you want to add something to your work portfolio, or have a higher profile. So—just as an example—you can say to your boss, “As part of my career growth I would like to do more content marketing, could I get added to the team of people who publish on our blog” Then you publish content under your byline that highlights your expertise, promote that content on your social media and reference it on your resume. Your boss doesn’t have to know your real reason.

  8. straws*

    Our company is working on our “back to offices” planning. My question is that if we lean more heavily toward remote work, would this not create a concern around future hires being required to have available workspace in their homes? We’ve been actively improving our hiring practices to be more inclusive and accessible, and this seems like a really quick way to eliminate a chunk of the hiring pool. How do remote companies handle this potential for discrimination?

    Additionally, our offices are small and we’re not in a position to pay for extra space unless absolutely necessary. So maintaining a full workspace for every employee just in case they want to be in isn’t going to fly with our higher ups in finance/budgeting.

    1. mreasy*

      We’re doing floating desks if you’re planning to be in the office fewer than 4 days/week, but anyone who wants to be there FT gets a dedicated space. Is this an option? Agreed that remote only can be tough for folks with certain living situations.

      1. straws*

        Maybe. That’s partly what I’m trying to figure out, and it definitely sounds like something we’ll need to do in some way. We were fairly packed in before the pandemic. Perfectly acceptable pre-pandemic, but certainly not for the current world we live in. So that reduces the space we have. At some point I need to find out the details of what everyone needs or prefers, but I want to make sure that the options I present to them are realistic.

      2. Windchime*

        This is what our office is doing, too. If a person plans to work in the office 3 or more days per week, then they can get an assigned desk. Anyone else who is planning to just come in occasionally will have to use a “hotel” desk and will need to reserve it ahead of time. People will have the option of working full time from home, full time in the office, or anything in between.

    2. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

      Remote work can be optional. Some folks want to be back in offices. Those folks get a dedicated workspace. Everyone else gets to hot desk. New hires can have the same set of options – remote, flex or in office. If they don’t have a suitable home office space, they can work from the office.

      1. straws*

        Thanks, yes I agree with this. Our limited office space may be a concern, but it will come down to what people actually want. So perhaps I’m overthinking too early on.

    3. DG*

      Hoteling is becoming the norm in a lot of companies trying to figure this out – i.e., all or a portion of the workspace is open and up-for-grabs for whoever’s in the office. This brings its own set of challenges (i.e., not being able to keep items at your workspace overnight, competition to get seats on days when the office is full).

      Ultimately I think the best move is to promote an environment where everyone’s able to make the most of the workspace they have and won’t face judgment for it. Don’t insist people be on camera if it’s not necessary, provide a stipend for reliable internet access, etc. My spouse’s workplace is going fully remote in some teams and is insisting every remote employee have a separate home office with a door that can close (and can submit a photo to prove it), which is wild to me – what if someone lives in a studio apartment? What if they share a workspace with a partner or roommate? What if the strongest wifi signal just happens to be in the living room or kitchen?

      1. straws*

        Yes, exactly – these are some of the questions I’m asking. We’ll likely not be fully remote on most of our teams, just due to the nature of our work and finding that certain types of collaboration aren’t as productive remotely. However, a hybrid environment does still require reasonable space at home to work. I feel that we’ve been lucky so far that everyone we have on board and have hired are capable of finding suitable workspace at home. For myself, I wouldn’t be able to have a home office with a door! I have a desk in the kid’s play area (they aren’t home during work hours… anymore… thankfully) and I mostly work from my kitchen. And I’m near the top of the food chain at our company. So I can’t even imagine making this a requirement/expectation for entry level employees. Thank you for your feedback though, this is very helpful to hear!

        1. Fran Fine*

          My spouse’s workplace is going fully remote in some teams and is insisting every remote employee have a separate home office with a door that can close (and can submit a photo to prove it), which is wild to me – what if someone lives in a studio apartment?

          Yeah, definitely don’t do this, especially if your employees aren’t dealing with other people’s personally identifiable information. I’ve been working from my studio apartment full time for over two years now, and it’s been just fine. Do I wish I had an actual desk and didn’t need to set up my equipment on my dining room table every day? Sure. But I manage, and I wouldn’t want to go into anyone’s office for any reason.

      2. Windchime*

        Yeah, this seems nuts to me, too. We’ve been working from home since March 2020, and I have seen a lot of guest bedrooms, kid’s bedrooms, unfinished basements, kitchens, etc. People are setting up where it’s convenient and nobody thinks a thing about it, as far as I can tell. As long as the camera works correctly and there is nothing offensive in the background, it’s all good.

    4. Slipping The Leash*

      Based on my coworkers’ thoughts on returning to the office, I suspect you might be looking at this backward. Future hires will look at remote work as benefit, not a problem.

      1. straws*

        It will be a benefit for many, sure, but only if they actually have a reasonable location to work from at their home. Not everyone has that luxury. I’ve already looked at things very heavily from the side of remote as a benefit, but I want to make sure I’m looking at it from both sides to make a truly informed decision.

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

        Certain workers will, but it will be one more barrier to other workers who don’t have access to or can’t afford high-speed internet options, space for work from home, or travel expenses with short notice. My org has rewritten the WFH policy to include some pretty high technology standards for WFH, they aren’t paying for any internet/phone or increase in utility bills, if you have a power outage or your internet goes down, or your connection is bad — you either come in or use PTO, and WFH can be yanked at any time at their discretion, so workers who move away beware.

        1. Siege*

          Then there’s the transit issues – let’s say I have an internet outage at home but my partner has the car and I can’t actually feasibly get to my worksite in less than an hour and a half by public transit and that’s if everything goes right (it’s 25 minutes by car). It’s a barrier to younger, urban-resident workers who have declines in overall car ownership. Obviously this does not apply if the workplace is at or near a transit hub. We actually had a staffer who’d gotten a driver’s license to work at my org (she’s 33, so not new to the workforce, has a doctorate, just didn’t want to drive) quit when it looked like remote work was going to end because it’s such a huge pain to get to the office from her place. It wasn’t the only reason but it was a factor.

          I think the best you can do (and are doing) is think it through as WFH is a benefit to the employees, here are the needs for it to be a real benefit, and WFO is a benefit to the employee, here are the needs for it to be a real benefit. One thing you might do is consider what alternate locations could work. Would your company be open to a small stipend for coworking space? If they are able to reduce their overall costs by having workers remote, that might help.

          And of course the other part of it is all you can do is lay out the expectations of the different kinds of work. If your office is horrified that I’ve been working at the kitchen table for the last year and a half, I live in a four-room apartment (and one of those rooms is the bathroom) and have two doors, but I also have no kids and don’t eat formal meals by myself, so my idea of a reasonable workspace is different from someone with kids. You might want to set up a sheet of needs/wants for work (must be able to attend meetings remotely with good bandwidth or something) and walk through that with new hires so they can make the right choice for them.

          1. AcademiaNut*

            That strikes me as a good balance. Set out reasonable requirements, and the options, and let the employees decide what works for them.

            A fast enough internet connection, a generally quiet place to have telecons and full time childcare, for example, are reasonable requirements. If WFH when your kid is sick or on snow days, spell out the parameters of that. If you have confidential information, or people on call with clients (or both), the requirements for office space and may be stricter (neutral background, room with a closing door, locked cabinet for files).

            Some other things to consider – equipment allocation. Do you provide two office setups for hybrid employees, or prioritize one (ie, mostly WFH get a computer and equipment stipend for home, but hotdesk for the office, or their own cubicle and setup at work, but they manage most of the home stuff on their own. Meetings – if you’ve got meetings where some people are in the meeting room, and others are Zooming in, you need a setup that facilitates that, or the remote people will get left out. For hybrid employees, is it on a set schedule, or flexible, how many days a week in each place, and are they expected to come in for particular events (meetings, etc). Do you allow full time remote work with employees who physically can’t come in? What are your policies when someone can’t work due to something on their end (can they flex hours, take PTO).

        2. Anon today*

          Yeah, and this will be different in different places, too. A couple people on my husband’s team worked in the office throughout the pandemic even when nobody else was allowed in the office because they live in rural areas with no high-speed internet access. You don’t have to go far out of town in our area to get to a place like that.

    5. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      My office has a 50% rule. If you’re going to be remote for more than 50% of the pay period, you don’t get a dedicated desk. The less than 50% in office group then works together to determine who is going to be in when to best allocate the remaining desks that are not being used by the over 50% team.

      1. straws*

        50% seems like it could be doable for us. Do you know if they simply communicate via email or chat or is there a scheduling system set up?

        1. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

          There was a department wide spreadsheet that went out (super awesome technology I know! but it did serve its purpose) that had everyone mark what days they planned on coming in to the office should they get their optimum schedule (they wanted to be fair on who got full time remote, etc, so you had to put in a request). Then they just grouped by team and/or days of the week for the cubes. So the cube next to mine has Jack on Monday, Jill on Tuesday, Frank on Wednesday, no one on Thursday, and Jack on Friday. It’s written on a small whiteboard on the cube wall too so that people who came in for an emergent meeting would know that no one would be sitting there on Thursday, thus they could use it as an open cube. So far its worked well.

    6. Malarkey01*

      Hot desking as others have said and before CoVid we could pay for employees that needed to rent a desk at one of the companies that do workspace rentals if there was a need for a remote person to have office space (this was normally for someone who needed it only temporarily as most generally worked out of their home- someone had a fire in their apartment building and needed a more traditional workspace until he could get back into his apartment, someone else had an ailing mother in law move in and needed to be out of the home during the workday sort of stuff).

    7. CurrentlyBill*

      Supporting remote work makes your organization more accessible, not less. It opens up a lot more opportunities for disabled folks.

      You mentioned concerns about discrimination against folks who don’t have a dedicated work space. That’s not a protected class. Driving more remote work means your are less likely to be descriminating against the disabled

      1. mreasy*

        But requiring WFH (rather than simply offering it) means anyone who prefers to WFO will self-select out. This means potentially missing out on good candidates, including those whose economic and/or family situation makes WFH not feasible. Legality aside, equity would require thinking of an accommodating solution like the OP wants to.

        1. Stitching Away*

          Companies don’t have a right to any employee they desire. The company just doesn’t get that candidate, which is you know, what happens when they are unwilling to lay down the money to be competitive for employees.

          You’re also misunderstanding what equitable means. You’re using it to mean everyone should be able to park in a handicapped parking spot, regardless of whether or not they have a disability. That’s simply not how it works.

    8. Teapot Repair Technician*

      I can’t work from home because my apartment is too small (plus the AC and internet are unreliable).

      For me, the best solution would be to receive a stipend to cover either a co-working space or a larger apartment. That would probably be something like $300–600/month.

    9. StellaBella*

      GitLab used to, and may still, provide each new hire $2000 to set up each enployee’s home office space as they are and always have been fully remote. Allows people to get all supplies they need but does leave the question if you are in a tiny studio, you may not have room for a desk, chair, monitor etc.

    10. Rana*

      I love that you’re thinking about this, but I do think that you may be overthinking slightly, in that different people will have to select out in either case. It is a privilege to have enough space in your home to work from home, but it can also be a privilege to either live close enough to the office to be able to commute or to have the time/resources to commute from farther away. This is not a new question, and I don’t think it’s clear that which of WFH or WFO is more difficult for the types of people you are concerned about discriminating against.

      Offering some flexibility would definitely help either way. If you can support some amount of WFH and WFO for all employees, that would be awesome. And you should certainly purchase on the company’s dime anything they would have gotten in the office (computer, monitor/mouse/keyboard, chair, desk, maybe printer, some way to receive phone calls to a company number, phone/internet stipend to offset some of the cost – basically you should think about the savings of not having an office as only being the real estate piece and continue to budget for utilities and equipment). And be as lax on office space requirements as you can be – there may be some legitimate need for privacy or security but don’t impose anything that isn’t absolutely critical for that particular role.

      But if the company decides to go with a primarily WFH workplace, that’s not (in my mind) any more inherently discriminatory than a company deciding to go primarily WFO. And as PP pointed out, in many cases WFH is more doable for those with less privilege.

      1. Cascadia*

        Yup, agree here. It’s great to think about stipends or what else your company can offer, and I think flexibility is key. But the most important thing is that your company is upfront in the job description and the interview process about what is and is not expected/available so that people can self select whether or not this is a good job for them. I personally hate WFH and would not apply to a job that had any. There are other people out there looking for full-time WFH. And some people want a hybrid. You’re going to lose out on good candidates no matter what you do because everyone has different preferences, in addition to different access. Best thing you can do is be clear and up front about the expectations so that no one feels like they have wasted their time in applying/interviewing.

    11. Hillary*

      We’re thinking a lot about how we set entry-level people up for success. A lot of ours have space constraints that make WFH challenging (roommates + WFH = in your bedroom all the time), plus learning by osmosis is a huge part of many entry-level jobs.

      In my head, entry level means we must have a desk for them. 3+ years of experience means give them the choice but be ready to find a permanent desk. Remember the people who manage entry level also need desks because they’ll be coming in. Most of our folks who are choosing permanent WFH are experienced professionals who work independently and also have long commutes.

      I think you can support future employees’ choices by keeping a little flexibility in your real estate plans. Cubes that can move slightly closer if necessary, that kind of thing.

    12. Lisa*

      I think if you truly give people options they will self-select to what works best for them. Someone who lives in a studio apartment with a WFH spouse is not likely to opt into remote unless they have a concern such as being immunocompromised. And then make it clear you will facilitate the arrangement. It would be completely reasonable to calculate the cost savings of a fully or partially remote employee and offer them that amount as a stipend for upgrading their tech, chair, internet… adding a room divider if they need one to partition their space. And continue providing flexibility to those who need it for the duration. Some kids have health concerns that mean they can’t go back to in-person learning yet. *Millions* of people survived COVID with long-term effects. The more you can be supportive and flexible and empathetic and meet people where they are at, the better your recruitment results are likely to be.

  9. Gail Davidson-Durst*

    I turned down two growth opportunities – how do I navigate a third possibility?

    In the past two years, my boss and grandboss have set up a couple chances for me to try on a role that could lead to a promotion and a management position. The first one was just a terrible fit and I spent over a year trying to shed some of the obnoxious responsibilities that came with it.

    This year I took charge of our summer intern, and while I like him and I think I did OK, I just really hated being a “manager” – I realized I do a ton of caretaking at home and when I go to work I like to just focus and use my brain and not worry about overseeing others!

    Now I think I want to grow in the technical direction and become an expert individual contributor.

    Any tips on how to get past my two “failures to launch” and move in the direction I want?

    1. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

      Are your bosses people who you can have frank conversations with? If so, I’d frame it as “when I did x, while it wasn’t ultimately a good fit, I learned x, y and z. When I did L, I learned M, N, and P. Based on these learnings I would like to try A because of b and c, and hope to accomplish d and e.” Focus on what you learned from those other opportunities and how they’ve influenced your decision to go in this other direction.

    2. Chilipepper Attitude*

      Do you mean “get past them” internally or with your boss and grandboss?
      I think either way, focus on what you learned from these experiences.
      This is what we mean when we say life is a journey, not a destination.

      You can just talk to your boss and grandboss what your goals are! If they have some sense that there has been a failure to launch, you can rephrase it as a learning experience and that you have a much clearer sense of the direction you want to go in.

      1. Gail Davidson-Durst*

        Ooh, that first question is excellent! I had been thinking externally, but you made me realize I needed to sort it out internally as well!

    3. BeenThere, Done That*

      Honesty is the best policy in this case.

      If you don’t feel your strengths or interests align with being a manager, you need to explain that clearly to your boss and grandboss.

      I get it, I honestly do, because I’ve been a manager, didn’t enjoy it, and am now clear that management is not something I am willing to do. It’s not a lack of ambition to find yourself not wanting control over or responsibility for others.

      You can find other ways to be ambitious that don’t require you to be in permanent control of the lives of others. New projects, new ideas, anything you can think of might be more than enough “ambition” to satisfy your superiors.

      Management needs to realise that not everybody wants their jobs. Especially if it is something you have tried and not found to be a good fit.

    4. Arila*

      I dunno, these sort of trial assignments seem like actually a really good strategy to make sure someone will succeed in a future role before promoting them up to failure. Just because they weren’t a long term fit didn’t mean you didn’t do well in them (despite not liking them) or that the discovery that you actually want to go in a different direction indicates a failure. If you have regular meetings where you could bring up your long term goals (or schedule a special one if not), I would ask that the next “higher level” assignment be more towards your IC goal.

    5. Sylvie*

      I wouldn’t view these as failures. You’ve determined there are things that you aren’t looking for in a future professional role and it’s helping you to narrow the scope. I agree with other posters that you frame those experiences as lessons learned and use that to pivot the conversation with your leadership to functions you are interested in developing. In my experience it was a lot more helpful figuring out what I didn’t want to do as I grew professionally.

    6. Gail Davidson-Durst*

      Thanks y’all! It’s really helpful to frame this (for myself as well as my bosses) as learning experiences, where I determined specific things that led me to think Possibility 3 is a really good fit for me.

      I’m lucky that there are at least two official bands above me for individual contributors, so I’m not locked out of advancement if I don’t want to be a manger!

  10. have we met?*

    Need advice on job interview clothes! I plan to ask about the dress code beforehand (and dress a step up if possible), but I’d love to not have to buy anything. Here are some details:

    – Female presenting
    – US Midwest
    – Educational non-profit, not academia
    – Assistant/individual contributor where some creativity is part of the role


    1. the cat's ass*

      good luck on the interview! My go to is blazer, white shirt, black trou or skirt, and a REALLY snazzy scarf. Hope that helps!

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      If you don’t want to buy anything, I think it would be helpful if you could offer up some items you already have in your closet, or outfits you were considering. Otherwise we’ll just be offering you generic advice that might not be helpful to you if you don’t already own that piece of clothing.

      Is this your first interview and you’re not sure where to start, or have you interviewed in the past and not felt good in your outfits, or you’ve interviewed for places vastly different from where you’re interviewing now and don’t think what you’ve worn in the past would work?

      1. have we met?*

        Basically, do I need to buy a blazer or suit? Or will a nice black cardigan with non-jean work slacks suffice? I think a black blazer could help polish up some of the things in my closet. My suits no longer fit (pandemic-related snacking).

        I had one in-person interview during the pandemic and felt overdressed. What’s expected these days for a role at this level?

        1. Siege*

          To me a cardigan sounds underdressed, but it depends on the knit; if it’s slouchy and your shirt shows through that’s a no to me. I would agree that you need a blazer or other nice jacket that adds a tailored note, but it depends on the bottom, too.

          I’m on the west coast with no idea what the Midwest’s fashion sensibilities are, though. I am education-adjacent! We tend to be more casual.

        2. A Simple Narwhal*

          I don’t think you need to buy a full suit – I’ve found that either a blazer or nice (button-up) cardigan can touch up every outfit, though I usually pair it with a pencil skirt and blouse or a nice dress (especially in the summer when it feels too hot for pants, but I also personally feel more dressy in a skirt/dress). I also like that you can get blazers in soft comfortable fabrics that still look very professional without being uncomfortable (which I’ve found a lot of suit jackets to be). But you can potentially skip the blazer completely if it’s really hot out and just go for a nice blouse or a dress.

          Overall I don’t think it’s a problem to feel overdressed in an interview, it’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed.

        3. Observer*

          As @Siege says, a slouchy type cardigan would be under-dressed. If it looks like part of a sweatsuit or a hoodie without the hood, I’d say to casual. If it’s structured and a nice material, it should be fine, especially if you have a nice shirt or blouse. Also, accessories.

    3. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

      I’ve always gone with a black or grey blazer with coordinating trousers or skirt + jewel toned blouse. I wear black flats (because I am already tall and F heels!). Alternatively, you can go with a professional dress + blazer. Neutral makeup, hair clean and brushed.

    4. Chilipepper Attitude*

      I don’t recommend asking about the dress code beforehand. But do ask someone who plays any kind of mentor role for you or who knows your field what the expected interview clothes might be.

      I think you cannot go wrong with a suit or suit-like outfit but in some fields, a full on suit is a must, in others, it would not be. So you need to know the field more than the specific dress code for a place where you are interviewing.

      I think educational non-profit would expect to see a suit-type jacket for an interview with a simple top and professional pants or skirt. the cat’s ass gave a good suggestion but simple narwhal is right that we would need to know what you have to help adjust for that.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Seconding this: don’t ask about dress code prior to interviewing! If you’re unsure, stick with something dressy and subdued, like a sheath dress or dress slacks/skirt and a nice blouse. But don’t ask your interviewer.

      2. have we met?*

        Interesting! I read an article that recommended asking. I was planning to ask the person coordinating the interviews (she also did the screening phone interview) and not the hiring interviewer.

        Sounds like a jacket will be needed, and maybe some nicer pants/skirt too. Shopping this weekend.

    5. Alex*

      Educational non-profit? Nice slacks, nice top, accessories, and some smart shoes should do it. I don’t think you need a blazer. A professional-looking dress that is well accessorized would also be fine.

    6. MissCoco*

      The outfit I’ve gotten both my jobs in, and wore to my top choice grad school interview: a pencil skirt, and a button up shirt in a small but fun print.

      Depending on the weather, and how dressy the situation is, I can add tights, a blazer, and jewelry or go more casual by rolling up the shirtsleeves and wearing oxfords instead of flats. I also wear light makeup and make sure my hair is glued down with some hairspray.

      I think the reason this outfit works so well is that I feel like a put together version of myself, but it still feels very “me.” A mix of traditionally feminine and menswear items, a bit of fun and color, and very practical.

    7. Long Furby*

      Female presenting, Midwest, Academic Non-Creative here. My go-to is always a neutral sheath dress (I like only having one piece and not having to coordinate a top and bottom, but that’s just me) and a blazer. I have three blazers, a burnt orange one, a teal one, and a black one. Depending on the setting, I might add a little flair with the colored blazer, but for the most careful look, I go grey dress black blazer.

      When I sat on hiring committees with an art curator, she often had patterned or more creatively cut blazers and statement jewelry. I think her creative role gave her some more expected leeway in freedom of expression than my technical role. It was always fun to see what she’d wear!

    8. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      Female presenting, US East Coast, government contractor, I normally go with a pant suit with a ‘shell’ top under the jacket, and low heels or loafer dress shoes.

    9. Autotune you out*

      I recommend joining your local Buy Nothing group. Mine is very active, and would have lots of people happy to give or lend out a blazer or whatever needed outfit item you’re looking for.

  11. ThatGirl*

    Here’s a random question: Does your office/company do a lot of swag? What are some of your favorites?

    Turns out my new job does a lot of “stuff” for our sales reps to give out, and then the office folks often end up with the extras. So far I’ve gotten a really nice tall tumbler with a straw, a squat Yeti tumbler with a sippy lid, a wine set (corkscrew, foil cutter, pour spout, stopper) and a set of spice mixes. It’s kind of random, but honestly it’s nice stuff!

    (Oh, I also got a business card holder, which amuses me, because I feel like most people don’t have business cards anymore?)

    1. Ann Perkins*

      My company does a lot of swag too. Tumblers are popular but I’ve also seen pens, visors, wine glasses, and tote bags as popular items.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        Legit question: Why are tote bags popular? I don’t use them for much; I have several backpacks I use when needing to carry a bag. They just gather up space.

        Similar and less useful those string backpack bags that come with swag from a charity race. They collect the swag and your race number in the bag and hand it to you but I’m left with a bag that I can’t recycle but don;t use because the two real backpacks I own are better quality.

        Not a coffee drinker here so mugs are not useful to me (I have more mugs than I need), but quality water bottles are good and that yeti drink bottle sounds amazing.

        1. londonedit*

          Where I live there’s a small charge for carrier bags in the shops, so a lot of people have a stash of reusable bags to take to the supermarket with them. Tote bags are popular for that. I guess from the company’s point of view, they’re also pretty cheap and easy to produce, and the majority of people could probably find a use for an extra shopping bag.

        2. Kimmy Schmidt*

          I use tote bags more for storage than carrying. For example, I have a tote bag filled with craft supplies, one with cross stich projects, and one with nail polish. Sometimes I can just grab the whole bag and go, like if I’m having a crafting night at a friend’s house. I also use them for straight storage – tights, makeup bags, smaller purses, electrical cords.

          1. often trapped under a cat*

            This is a True Fact. I have so many and use them all. Small ones that live in my backpack for when I realize I need to stop at CVS or the greengrocer. Taller, sturdier ones that I use for my regular grocery shopping. Horizontal ones that are perfect for slinging over one shoulder while making a Target run or hitting the greenmarket. Really tough ones for lugging tools around. Big ones with zippers that hold enough stuff for an overnight trip. Clear plastic ones for the beach. One that is just the right size to take to a museum: holds the map (when paper maps were a thing), a bottle of water (or two), my distance-vision glasses so I can read labels, sometimes a snack, and whatever I’ll be reading on the subway.

        3. Long Furby*

          It’s a running joke in librarianship that we all have a tote bag full of conference tote bags somewhere in our basements. I know I do!

          1. Sandan Librarian*

            I also have one of those. It fills my conference suitcase and my cat sleeps on the lot of it so that I can always spot my luggage: it’s the bag covered in cat fur!

        4. Dark Macadamia*

          Yeah I dislike tote bags, they’re usually not a great size/shape for groceries and I don’t have anything else I would use them for! I actually do like the little drawstring backpacks for when I’m doing something like going to the pool or taking a walk, when all I need to carry is keys/phone but I don’t have pockets on my outfit.

        5. Koala dreams*

          Grocery shopping, laundry, separating things in your travel case… Basically the same as other bags. String bags are for sports or swimming, mostly, but you can put anything in them. Yarn, for example.

          If you don’t need the bags, check if the local second hand shop needs bags for customers. My local second hand shops usually do.

        6. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Home: Groceries and multiple concurrent craft projects.
          Work-related: easily transportable project organization for partial WFH with non-electronic records & materials. And schlepping my laptop accessories around so I don’t have to buy a laptop case.

        7. Disco Janet*

          For the same reason backpacks aren’t popular! Sounds like you just prefer backpacks. I feel like backpacks give me a younger appearance (which isn’t something I want as a young-ish high school teacher.)

          1. allathian*

            Depends on the backpack. I need the weight of anything I carry to be evenly distributed to avoid back pain. I can’t even tolerate a crossbody purse anymore, even if it only contains my cellphone, public transit ticket, a packet of tissues, a couple masks, and my keys. When I got my current laptop from work, they asked if I wanted a laptop case or a backpack to go with it, and I picked the backpack. There are also very stylish luxury brand backpacks available, although I guess they’re probably out of a teacher’s price range.

    2. Jasmine*

      All my favourite pens have been branded swag – a nice ballpoint with a rubberised grip is my current go-to. Very smooth.

      1. DiscoTechie*

        This – I have been put off by companies putting out crappy writing utensils. You can not send terrible squeaky cheap mechanical pencils to engineers and expect me to spec out your product. On the other hand, I have a pen from a pipe manufacturer that I use a lot that is a quality pen.

        1. HBJ*

          Lol, my dad used to say the same thing. He’d get catalogs for all the branded stuff he could order, and he’d roll his eyes because it was all crappy.

      2. Lizy*

        I think I still have some pens from 2-3 jobs ago/8+ years ago. We had them in a jar for clients and I swear we had to replace them daily.

    3. Callisto*

      North Face fleece with breast-pocket-embroidered logos. I love stuff like that because if you ever leave on a bad note, you can use a seam ripper and still have a great jacket sans logo.

    4. Ginger Baker*

      Folks definitely have business cards still, though I am sure it is industry dependent – I had a whole stack of them for my boss back in the office and definitely used them!

      My fave is the Yeti cups because they are SUPER useful. Though I’ve also unexpectedly found use for a large gym-ish bag I didn’t plan to use (it has become a truly excellent hospital go-bag, which given my elderly mother has been in fairly heavy rotation). I have several tshirts but they are a mixed bag, some are suuuuper comfy but others are meh. Oh! I do use also some umbrellas (partly because I am terrible at keeping track of mine) and a beach towel that is in heavy use for normal towel usage but in a nice large size.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I’ve just never even been offered business cards as part of my job (meaning, had someone ask if I wanted them ordered for myself) – but then, I’m not in a public-facing role or one where I have to interact with outside vendors/clients at all. Probably our sales reps do have business cards and they’re probably the ones who got those first. Just struck me as kind of funny, like, what am I supposed to do with this?

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          I’ve definitely gotten business cards at conferences, etc.

          Depending on the size & design, you can use the holder for paperclips, sticky notes, holding a photo, etc. If it’s the kind that closes (not clear if it’s to put on your desk or in your bag), you can use it as a pill box or to hold other small items.

          1. ThatGirl*

            It’s a small metal closeable case with the company logo on it – pretty nice, actually, just don’t have much use for it. I don’t really use paperclips at work. I appreciate the suggestions, though :)

      1. often trapped under a cat*

        I’ve gotten a couple of multi-tools or toolkits over the years and unfortunately many of them are not particularly sturdy, which is too bad, because a small toolkit can be really useful.

    5. Justme, The OG*

      We do a lot of swag, but I work in higher education. Lots of pens and notepads but some nicer coffee tumblers and laptop sleeves.

    6. Colette*

      I got a cubicle blanket at a former employer. (That’s not what it was officially called, but it was a really soft blanket that was square, and perfect for using while seated.)

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        My favorite too–it was called a stadium blanket, but it became a defense against the cold air that blasted out of the vent over my desk all year round. (And it was one I wouldn’t mind leaving behind if caught in another layoff.)

    7. AndersonDarling*

      I’m overloaded with tumblers, I just had to donate a load to Goodwill. Same with sports bottles.
      My favorite swags are good quality reusable shopping bags, little spray bottles of hand sanitizer, and my absolute favorite was a little personal fan that spritzed water. I live in a hot climate.
      I also like umbrellas, but I only need one. And I know people that go gaga over stickers and patches.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I have a LOT of tumblers, that’s true – but the Yeti one I got is so nice! I should donate the less-nice ones.

        The fan sounds nice :)

    8. CleGuardians*

      My company doesn’t do much swag, but I go to a lot of conferences and my favorite weird swag item is a rubber circle used to open jars. It’s super random but I use it a couple of times a month, much more than my branded stress balls/pens/etc.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Ha, I have a few of those my dad has given me (he used to go to a lot of conferences) and they ARE very handy.

      2. Thursdaysgeek*

        One Memorial Day we visiting the graveyard, and the staff was handing out swag. Weird. But I really like my “Pizza Cutter of Death.”

      3. Ginger Baker*

        Apparently those are called a “rubber husband” – a fact my sister giggles over all the time and – after getting our household some – we too use them ALL the time!

      1. ThatGirl*

        I got one of those too! It actually threw me off at first ’cause I thought it was a dry erase marker, and then I uncapped it.

    9. Bagpuss*

      My org. doesn’t do a lot but we get stuff from outside organisations from time to time.
      Things I’ve liked getting:
      – umbrella (it’s useful to have spares, and to have one that I can lend without worrying too much if it doesn’t come back!)
      – Good quality bags – I don’t much like the really thin cotton ones, but I’ve had a few that are more sturdy, with a proper gusset, and wider handles, and they are useful.
      – notepads and fancy post-its. I like notebooks generally , and having branded ones that are a decent quality is nice for use at work. And sometimes it’s useful to have a selection of difference colours and sizes of post-its
      – food. A while back I had (In a slightly random bag of stuff from one of our suppliers) a mini tin with some little chocolate chop cookies – I particularly liked that they had their own tin, as I could keep it in my drawer and eat them over the course of a few days without them going soft or getting crumbs in the drawer!) One of our departments got sent jelly beans a while back which were very popular .

      I’m not very interested in mugs or cups but a good quality insulated flask/water bottle would be nice.

      I’ve never had a business card holder although I do have, and carry, business cards!

      1. Bagpuss*

        Oh yes, and last summer when some of the restrictions in my country were relaxed, I got a ‘back to the office’ bag which included a little bottle of hand sanitizer on chain so you could clip it to a pocket or bag to have with you, and some phone/keyboard wipes , which was handy. They also sent some mini packets of seed to grow your own herbs, which was stranger…

        1. Lizy*

          Oooohhh I saw a group do a really unique one – they were launching a new branch/section and had little “samples” of meat seasoning (like a seasoning mix for chicken or whatever), related to their specific city’s cuisine.

    10. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Back in the late 90s & early 2000s, logo denim shirts were all the rage for some reason. Got a half-dozen from partners and vendors.

      Those were some of the best shirts I’ve ever owned. Really good quality, heavy duty. I still wear some of those shirts 20 years later. Clothing swag back then was so much better than it is now.

      The only things we give out now are tumblers and coffee mugs.

    11. Zephy*

      OldJob was all about the swag, they did a lot of community outreach and had lots of corporate sponsors for events, so our swag closet was usually about 50/50 stuff branded with our logo vs stuff branded with a sponsor’s logo. By the time I left that job I had a coffee cup, tumbler with straw, so many tee shirts, phone holder shaped like a cat, pen shaped like a dog, pen shaped like a cat, pocket screwdriver with multiple interchangeable heads, air-vent-mounted phone holder, pocketbac hand sanitizer (pre-COVID, even!), paw-print-shaped scratch pad, doggie poop bag dispenser with leash clip, and two tote bags, one of which I still use as a gym bag/weekender, it’s nice and roomy and it zips shut. They would raffle off leftover swag/random donations they weren’t sure what else to do with at the quarterly staff meetings; the raffle was a way to get people to come and stay the whole time, since they did the drawing at the end. At one of these I won a Walgreens-branded Herbert Hoover bobblehead. Walgreens was not the employer nor had we partnered with them for anything, so no, I don’t know why they had it, but President Hoover still sits on my kitchen windowsill, bobbling away.

    12. Bee Happy (they/them)*

      I got a very nice backpack (that held a bunch of other swag) during the holiday season and honestly that backpack was my favorite part! It’s more professional-looking than the one I’ve been using for school and it has a lot of pockets. I’ve also gotten some very nice notebooks (faux-leather with pen loops), but since I already had a couple and I go through notebooks slowly I gave them away to people they were well-received with.

    13. New Mom*

      My favorite expensive swag have been sweatshirts, and my favorite cheaper end are big mugs (NOT the small coffee cups, who uses those??) and swag cookies. We had sugar cookies with the company logo and chocolates with the company logo and they were such a hit.

    14. Stuffs*

      “Wine sippy cups” were the most popular item we’ve ever given out.
      I love receiving lip blam.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        We once got a set of “small tumblers.” I had new employees at the time & they asked, “Why is the company handing out Scotch glasses? Are they trying to tell us something?” (Answer: Yes, but they are clueless.)

        They were nice glasses, & I still use mine.

    15. Nicki Name*

      I still use an extra-tall mug that I got two jobs ago.

      When I was last working for a big company, it would hold periodic internal events where different departments were giving out swag. A couple of them had found some vendor that would print logos on sugar cookies– I loved those!

    16. Can't Sit Still*

      I can see a tumbler, 2 water bottles and 2 notebooks from my kitchen table. I’ve also received coffee mugs (ceramic and those blue tin ones), jackets, t-shirts, swim goggles, dry bags, pens (with and without a stylus), mints, sticky notes, hats, wine, a backpack, and a rolling laptop bag.

    17. Recruited Recruiter*

      I live in a hot and dry part of the US. I’m on office staff here, but 82 % of our staff work outside through the worst of the heat. We have company branded evaporative cooling neck wraps. I have never seen swag used so much.

      1. Lizy*

        GENIUS. If I knew the marketing people in my company, I’d totally tell them about this. (We’re really spread out, and I started just before COVID, so I’ve met a handful of people out of the 500+ employees.)

      2. Working for the weekend*

        I got cooling neck wraps from somewhere once and I had zero use for them, threw them in a basket in the hall closet and promptly forgot about them. Following summer, I was cleaning out said hall closet, trying to make room for my daughter’s softball gear (she’s a catcher so we have a LOT of stuff) and came across those towels. She was ecstatic and immediately took them and stuffed them in her bags. Keeps her cool when crouching behind the plate on those hot and humid Midwest summer nights!

        I had a little tape measure on a keychain with my company’s logo on it. I had it for 6 years and it just broke and I nearly cried. Super useful for measuring items in store.

        Other than that, I like solid double wall stainless steel tumblers or coffee mugs (Yeti or off brand, I don’t care as long as it’s good!), golf umbrellas and device chargers/power banks. Anything I can stash away in different cars or give to my tween kids so they won’t steal my stuff. :)

    18. Mayflower*

      I have a great one for you! We do is a $25 Tis Best plastic gift card with our company logo on it. The recipient logs on to their website ( to choose a charity for the $25 to go to. They have a wide selection of charities so everyone can find a cause they care about. It’s especially great for us as our clients are social workers, doctors and nurses, and they are (duly) squeamish about getting gifts that would benefit them personally.

    19. voluptuousfire*

      My old company was more about tshirts and hoodies, so I have a few really good quality hoodies that are awesome in the winter. Two of the tshirts are womens tshirts which are actually cut normally vs. that really slim fit a lot of womens tees are cut. As a plus sized woman, being able to wear a women’s XL that fits vs. a men’s M-XL that might not is great. Too bad they have some bleach stains on them. :(

    20. RC Rascal*

      You are talking to the Queen of Swag! I used to design and order the stuff we gave to customers/sales reps as give aways. Here were the popular ones:

      1) Sunglasses with brightly colored earpieces and company logo; the design was sort of like the old Wayfarers. They only cost a few dollars each and were WILDLY POPULAR.

      2) Consumable items such as lip balm and breath mints with company logo. We also had a hand sanitizer with a carabiner clip that was super popular (pre pandemic).

      3) GIANT lined hooded poncho (think of the kind of thing you might wear to an outdoor football game in inclement weather). They gave them to the guys in the warehouses who are typically large; they used them to unload trucks in the rain.

      (Also–people in sales still go through a lot of business cards. )

    21. Lyudie*

      Seems like now and then we get gift packs of swag, and the occasional item left over from an event or dug out of a storage closet. Mostly pens, a couple of travel mugs (one tastes so horribly of plastic even after washing I won’t use it), mouse pads. I did get a pashmina in the company color at one time, I don’t remember offhand if it was logoed. I think my favorite was actually the mouse pads though, I prefer ones with a harder surface and those seem to be harder to find.

    22. MapleHill*

      I’ve been trying to think of swag to order for interns (many of whom work outdoors) and there are some great suggestions here!

    23. Teapot Repair Technician*

      I could never justify the cost of buying a Yeti cup, but since receiving a company-branded one, I never want to use any other type of travel mug. Yetis are way easier to clean.

      Polo shirts are also nice–makes it easy to conform to the office dress code.

      Company T-shirts, OTOH, go to Goodwill. (The exception being if my employer made one that said, “Team Building Exercise 99”)

      1. JustaTech*

        I sewed a quilt of just a fraction of my husband’s work T-shirts. They stopped with the shirts during COVID, but I’m sure they’ll ramp up again soon and I’ll be able to make another quilt.

    24. Summer Smile*

      I’m a teacher. I’m not certain I would call it “swag.” However, I usually get a free school t-shirt each school year, a free year book, and various presents from students, parents, and the PTO. The most popular gift by far: I have received (not kidding) 60+ mugs, Yeti and Tervis tumblers.

    25. Robin Ellacott*

      I never need another travel mug, fleece top, coffee mug, or flat tote bag in my life, but I like getting the type of things that make you think “great, a spare for my car / emergency kit” like flashlight, multi-tool, folding umbrella, travel pillow/blanket, power bank, etc.. I also once got a good olive oil and balsamic set, complete with dipping bowl, but that’s a very me thing.

      I always thought a set of packing cubes or other travel accessory would be a great swag item. They’re really useful, not everyone has them already, and you wouldn’t care if there was a logo emblazoned on them.

      My favourite was actually notebooks, which didn’t seem exciting at first but had really good quality, smooth paper and I ended up loving them.

    26. often trapped under a cat*

      I once got a branded duffel bag that was a good size for weekend trips and had useful pockets, including at least one that was waterproof. Used it till it fell apart.

      Lots of people have mentioned some of the better things–in the sense that I have actually used them–I’ve received over the years.

      Some others:

      lanyard/badge holder–some of these have been good, some, not so good. I’m using one now that I got at an industry conference a few years ago; the ribbon is small and soft and comfortable even on sweaty days and it’s not so heavy that it makes my neck hurt. And the length is good, because my badge doesn’t hang at breast height.

      eyeglass cleaning cloth (can also be used to clean phone screen)

      small folding umbrella (also got a very expensive umbrella once which lasted 10 years)

      small flashlight

      sewing kit (everyone got them, not just the women)(the case was branded)


      One year my then-boss gave everyone a toaster oven.

    27. STG*

      I work in government so there’s no swag. That being said, my partner works in a pretty large company and he is always coming home with different branded gear.

      I think he has at least 20-30 t-shirts that were all branded gear given to him. He’s been there less than two years.

    28. Lizy*

      My favorite still is a mini-office kit. It had mini-mini post-it notes (think half the size of mini-post-its), a mini hole punch, a mini stapler (and staples), paper clips, mini-tape… I think a couple of other things, but I can’t remember. An office-supplies geek’s dream.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        I got one of these as a kid and now my son (7) has it. It wasn’t swag, just a random school supply thing, but he is entranced. It has (all mini) scissors, stapler, tape measure, retractable razor, tape, 4″ ruler, and a tiny compartment to hold staples and paperclips.

    29. Tuckerman*

      Some highlights: Temporal artery thermometer (that arrived the day my daughter spiked a high fever), a sturdy bottle opener, ceramic mug, small first aid kit.

    30. Lizy*

      Wine set/case story:

      Now that I’m actually reading the comment and not the first line (ha!) – OldJob did a wine set once, too, for a set of VIPs. It was in a nice mahogany case and not terribly expensive, but cost more than your standard cheapo-swag. It was incredibly popular, but not something that we opted to do again. The vast majority of our event attendees had to fly to attend, and had just a carry-on for luggage. Many people wanted to take it, but opted not to, because they figured it would be confiscated at security. Many who did take it later reported it was confiscated at security. We ended up mailing a lot of them after the fact.

    31. JustaTech*

      One year for Christmas we all got branded rechargeable battery packs, the kind you can plug into the wall to change and then charge your phone off of. A useful gift! (Unlike the ball full of sand “desk toy” that shows the company logo when you flip it one way and a project logo on the other side and generally just sheds superfine sand all over your desk.)

    32. Juneybug*

      My favorite swag was a phone power bank (that was already charged!!). I was able to snag three of them (conference folks were ok with it). Use them all the time!!
      Other favorites –
      Lip balm
      Picture frame
      Stress ball or squishy toys
      Good quality pens
      Mini flashlights
      Wind up toys
      Highlighters in various colors
      Mini tool sets
      When I worked for the state, I use to pick up extra swag to bring back to my co-workers who were unable to attend. Most vendors are cool if you ask if you can take extra swag back to your co-workers. Then laid the surplus on an office table and let the praise roll in for thinking of them. :)

    33. Almost Academic*

      Yep, we have swag giveaways probably around… once a month or so? Usually they connect with different theme months that are being celebrated. Lots of jackets / t-shits / hats / water bottles are typical. My personal favorites were an “Asian cooking” basket with ingredients sourced from local AAPI-owned businesses (sent out for AAPI heritage month) and a cute branded mini speaker that looks like a robot from a partner giveaway.

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

      We used to do a lot of swag but mostly stopped about 3 years ago. USB drives — tons of those in all shapes and sizes; squeezy stress toys in ALL the shapes; drinkware (pint glasses, mugs, tumblers), throw blankets; reusable bags; eyeglass kits (microfiber cloth, tiny screwdriver with tiny screws); tiny first aid kits (mostly bandaids and little single use ointment packs); cheap headphones; badge reels; pen/flashlight/stylus combo; and lots of useless “paperweight” type things that have messages/dates etched into them.

    35. Chauncy Gardener*

      Backpacks, messengers bags, sleek down vests, beanbag type cell phone holders and decent ball point pens have been super popular. And logoed polos too

    36. That One Person*

      One of my favorite little ‘swag’ items mum ever came home with was a fly swatter gun. Essentially it was just a dart that had a plastic web to squash bugs, and would be held on this spring-loaded body. Pull the trigger and it shoots off…for however long the string is/was (I may still have it? might’ve been one of my funnier grabs when we moved since anything the movers took never made it to the house). This way you don’t lose the dart, but you can get them pesky fliers. I don’t recall offhand though if it was for her company or someone else at a conference, but definitely been one of the more unique items.

    37. Lunch Ghost*

      My dad’s company has/had stress balls shaped like their products (think large machinery), which I loved as a kid and still think are awesome.

      I know someone who got a pen that looked like a syringe when interviewing for PA schools. Obviously field-specific but it went over great with healthcare workers!

      Pens are my overall favorite if they’re decently durable and write well. I like the MaxGlide a lot, and the Incline Stylus is my favorite ballpoint ever. I’ve also gotten a Yeti tumblr, and some shirts and a jacket (we got our choice of clothing).

    38. Hillary*

      I’m given a lot of swag thanks to the nature of my job. The things I keep:
      – good cooler bags
      – portable phone chargers. I go through a ton because I left them in airplane seatbacks in the before times
      – those colorful plastic sunglasses RC Rascal* mentioned – I have at least three pairs around the house

      The most random one I’ve received was branded hot sauce. Next up is the branded snow globe.

      If the industry has a specific thing those can be great. Many folks in logistics collect branded model trucks and airplanes as an example.

      I have a huge binder of business cards that I still use regularly. I went through 250+ in the first 18 months on my job and I don’t talk to customers.

    39. The New Wanderer*

      My favorite and most used swag has been:
      Golf umbrella
      Fleece vest
      Retractable badge holder
      High quality pint glasses
      Stadium blanket
      Oversized rain jacket lined with fleece
      Insulated lunch bag
      Sturdy, collapsible grocery bag
      Large ceramic coffee mugs
      Themed calendar

    40. Stunt Apple Breeder*

      My favorite swag has been zippered padfolios with little calculators, notepad, and pen inside. I have two from different organizations. Other useful stuff includes a bucket hat with neck flap (I do a lot of work in the field in the summer), a screwdriver set, a pen shaped like an Eppendorf micropipette, and a power bank.

      I have not gotten but would love to get a long-sleeved shirt with UV protection (instead of T shirts or polos), safety/sunglasses (I have a DeWalt pair I wear all the time but need to replace), or a set of company branded masks.

    41. nym*

      Team tote bag! but the GOOD ones, heavy canvas with double-stitched handles. I got a bunch about 15 years ago and then we went to the cheap ones. The cheap ones died in only a few years, but even my good ones are failing at last.

      I never need another mug, tumbler, or water bottle. The little mini-flashlights, screwdriver sets, eyeglasses kits, etc, always find a home in the purse or the car. Also, good pens. I think the key is to make it high-quality stuff at whatever price point you are looking for.

  12. Ann Perkins*

    Did I screw up with this recruiter? I work at something of a franchise of a larger company but my role has lots of interaction with HQ and I’m trying to get a job there working fulltime remote. I applied for a perfect job for me, that was tagged as remote, and got an email from the recruiter asking for a phone call and time availability, but also letting me know this position would eventually be located at HQ.

    I emailed back that I would love to have a call, and though I’m unfortunately not open to relocating, I’d love to get further insight on what to look for with remote work for HQ and how I may fit in working there. It’s been a couple days but I got no response to that and noticed that on the portal my application now says “withdrew”.

    Did I go about this the wrong way by going ahead and mentioning that I’m not open to relocating? I figured it would be rude to not include that in my reply since she mentioned it first for me. I’m not sure if I should go ahead and try to follow up again or just wait for another suitable opportunity and try again later.

    1. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

      Yeah, I’d say that you’re probably out of the running. If a requirement of the job is “located at HQ” and you aren’t willing to meet that requirement, they’re not going to move forward with you.

    2. Anonymous Koala*

      I don’t think you screwed up, but I think it’s clear from the recruiter’s non-response and the ‘withdrew’ message that the role you applied for wasn’t actually remote, it was just ‘remote for now’. That recruiter was rude, though.

      1. Just me*

        This. Ideally, the recruiter would have closed the loop (‘Sorry but this job would require you to eventually relocate to HQ. Since you’ve indicated that’s not something you want to do, I’m going to withdraw you application. Sorry for any misunderstanding.’) so, if anything, I considering it more them doing something wrong than you!

    3. New Mom*

      You didn’t screw up at all. You told them something that was a deal breaker for you, and that may not work with this specific company. But now they know for future jobs.

    4. voluptuousfire*

      I’m very surprised the recruiter didn’t at least reach out to close things out. The “withdrew” status is very passive aggressive. You may have lost out, but you didn’t do anything wrong. The recruiter did.

      1. Cj*

        Why is it passive-aggressive? If you say something is a deal breaker for you, what else would you call it?

        1. Stitching Away*

          Because the recruiter didn’t communicate with them in any way. They only found out by checking the application status.

    5. animaniactoo*

      You didn’t screw up. The thing is that the recruiter was reaching out about a specific role with specific requirements. You indicated (correctly) that you would not be able to fulfill one of the requirements. They, correctly, took that as a withdrawal for that specific role.

      It would be great if they were up for a touchbase about what other roles might be available for remote work at HQ in future, but you put the request out there and they didn’t pick it up. That’s not a screw up, it’s just something that didn’t pan out.

      At this point, I would wait for another suitable opportunity and try again then.

      1. RagingADHD*

        I agree. Everything here worked the way it was supposed to. HR clarified that the role was not actually permanent remote and you replied that therefore, you couldn’t pursue it.

        This wasn’t a negotiation. It was just clarification.

        They probably haven’t responded with info about remote jobs because they aren’t hiring for any.

        1. Ann Perkins*

          Part of my confusion and frustration is that about 1/3 of the open job listings are tagged as remote. Even pre-covid they had employees here and there who were fulltime WFH even though it’s not the company norm.

          1. RagingADHD*

            Then I’d assume they are all similar to this – temporarily remote, or they want local people who could come in if asked.

            There are a lot of companies who are willing to allow some employees to WFH, but aren’t willing to build it into the job description or hire for long distance remote.

          2. tamarack and fireweed*

            Yeah, I think it’s at least a little uncouth and abrupt, if not rude. The company hires on fully remote positions. You’re interested in a fully remote position. So even if *this* position is not destined to be for you, a good recruiter would I think make sure to remain on a “oh, well, not this time, but let’s stay in touch” terms with you.

          3. Stitching Away*

            It’s driving me up a wall how inconsistently jobs are marked as remote! I found a bunch the other day on linkedin marked remote that were shipboard positions for a cruise line.

            I mean, ok, you’ll be remote, but that’s not what that filter means!

    6. A Ladrona*

      Seems to me you did nothing wrong and if anything the recruiter should have been more professional. For what it’s worth, I’m seeing a lot of “Fully Remote” postings that aren’t (one even mentioned lifting 25 pounds and I wondered if I was supposed to do that in my living room!). So something to be mindful of or maybe even confirm early on, to avoid confusion and wasting your time. But the recruiter should have had more class (but sadly it’s almost more common than people behaving professionally).

  13. Mental Lentil*

    Poll regarding rejecting job applicants:

    As a job applicant, if you get rejected for a job, how do you feel about hearing “We’ll keep your resume on file…”? Is this a good thing for you? Or do you just view it as boilerplate language?

    And if you’re a hiring manager, have you ever interviewed (or re-interviewed) or hired someone whose resume you’ve kept on file?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I’ve never found a situation in which an employer said they would keep a résumé on file and then later reached out to me or anyone I know with “Hey, you applied for this position before, and we now have something good for you.” Résumés change years later anyway, so the applicant would have to resubmit the revised version. I would leave it out of any boilerplate rejection.

      Likewise, when I’ve been on the hiring side, I’ve never “kept a résumé on file” and then called someone back for another position.

      1. sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

        Actually, I did have an employer keep my resume on file and reach out a year later. Mind you, this was in the mid-90s and it hasn’t happened since. I was quite pleased to go and try again for a job.

        In 2010, I had a departing manager show me his files that he had tidied up before leaving, including a folder full of kept resumes, because they were good candidates but not hired. His replacement promptly tossed them (citing they were getting old).

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          Does an employer need to tell you “We’ll keep your résumé on file,” though? They could have not said that and then reached out to you a year later anyway.

          1. sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

            True. It’s been so long I’m not sure they said “We’ll keep it…”

            Whenever I heard that line it was usually followed by a time period, usually six months.

      2. Anonymous Koala*

        This actually did happen to me – I was passed over by one hiring manager but got invited to interview for roles with two other teams a few months later. I didn’t do the interviews (I had accepted something else) but it was nice to know they thought I was a good fit, and I felt really good about the experience, like they valued my time and didn’t want to waste it by making me jump the same initial HR hoops again.

      3. Mayflower*

        My husband did get called back a year after another candidate was chosen over him for a job. So it does happen.

      4. GrooveBat*

        I have most definitely reached out to people whose resumes were “on file” when a more appropriate job came up.

      5. Here we go again*

        I actually did but it was more me rejecting their offer because they wouldn’t work with the schedule I wanted. They asked if they could reach out in a couple months when the opened new locations, I said yes because I knew I was going to loose my job soon but still had other doors open to me. They reached out and still wasn’t what I wanted.

      6. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        The best two jobs I had, I was not the first choice. For whatever reason, the person’s hired did not stay long, the second choice was no longer available, so I got the jobs. I have no idea if something longer than a month or so would have called for a new round of applicants, though. I do remember department heads occasionally mentioning past candidates for open positions, but I don’t know if they reached out or the person applied again on their own.

    2. Beancat*

      Applicant side: I take it as boilerplate language. It’s nice if they actually do it, but I don’t place expectations on them doing so.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Yep, I take it as boilerplate language. If the recruiter actually means it, then they give me their direct email and tell me to contact them if there is another job that interests me.

      2. Elle Woods*

        Same. I take it as a “thanks, but no thanks” kind of thing and don’t expect to hear from them in the future.

        1. Fran Fine*

          I thought this as well until a now-former employer contacted me seven months after ghosting me after I submitted a writing sample and had an initial HR screen. I had applied for a trainee position, but so did 200+ others, and by the time I had sent all my materials in, the hiring manager was overwhelmed with other interviews and decided to close the window on other applicants for that round. Another trainee round was beginning at the end of the year, though, so she had HR reach back out to me to see if I was still interested. I was, I interviewed with the full hiring panel, and I got the job.

          I also applied to a job a little over two years ago, but they were resistant to full time WFH, so I went with my current company since the role they advertised was permanently WFH to begin with. Well, that company just reached out to me couple months ago to see if I wanted to interview for a similar role. I said no because they’re still resistant to WFH, and I’m not leaving my cushy remote job to go back to anyone’s office, especially not during a pandemic.

          So it does occasionally happen.

    3. Alldogsarepuppies*

      I presume my resume will be put in a file somewhere but never looked at so its “technically true” but meaningless.

    4. Rusty Shackelford*

      I actually had the HR department of my at-the-time employer pull my resume out of their files because they were looking for someone with certain skills. But otherwise, this just reminds me of an old Saturday Night Live skit where people took that statement and other banal pleasantries seriously. “He doesn’t want to go out with me, but he likes me as a friend!” “Oh, that’s awesome – once you start hanging out as friends, he’s bound to fall in love with you!” Etc.

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      My resume was once passed around a company by the head recruiter. Him, I believed when he said he was keeping my resume on file. From a hiring manager, it only works if it’s really sincere: “We really liked you and we hope we can reach out if there are other opportunities.” I’ve been interviewed, rejected, and referred elsewhere by hiring managers (I got started in my current career that way) so it does happen, but it takes effort.

    6. Artemesia*

      It is utterly meaningless boilerplate. If you want to work at that company keep an eye out for other postings and apply again — even if you are perfect they will not be looking at ‘resumes on file.’ The exception would be if they kept in touch in some way — I know someone who was invited to the Holiday party and was offered a part time contract for a project — she was eventually hired full time rose to COO and was there long after the person they hired originally instead of her had left. But unless there is some action like ‘call us next week as we may have another opportunity’. or some such, the phrase not only means nothing — it isn’t true — they won’t keep your resume on file.

    7. CatCat*

      I take it as meaningless boilerplate. I mean, if they reach out in the future, great, but that is pretty rare and I don’t county on it. I’ve only had it happen once. A few months after a rejection, an employer I had interviewed with contacted me to encourage me to apply for another opening. But by then, I had moved on and was soon to start a job elsewhere.

    8. Littorally*

      I really have no opinion on it, as a job applicant. I assume they tell that to everyone as a softener, but I don’t feel like I’m being mocked or otherwise strung along with it. Just, oh, that’s letting me down a little easy.

    9. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      As a job applicant, if you get rejected for a job, how do you feel about hearing “We’ll keep your resume on file…”? Is this a good thing for you? Or do you just view it as boilerplate language?

      Pure fluff and politeness.

    10. OtterB*

      I would say it’s mostly boilerplate. But, once some years ago I was the project leader for a team that was hiring. We ended up with two strong candidates, split hairs, and hired one. A few months later we had another opening, went back to the other candidate, and hired him too. I have no idea if our rejection letter said we would keep his resume on file.

      1. Lyudie*

        I had something similar to this, it came down to me and someone else. They hired the other person, but a year later they had another opening and called me in for another interview and I got the job. I wouldn’t put a lot of stock into it but sometimes things do come of it.

    11. Double A*

      I take it as meaningless boilerplate, but I also take it as the employer saying you submitted a solid application that they actually took a look at. I don’t know if they actually differentiate responses, but I like to think truly terrible applications don’t get the softening language.

    12. Recruited Recruiter*

      This year, I have had a certain employer tell me that they’d keep my resume on file, and I wish they hadn’t. They have contacted me for 4 positions since the one they turned me down for, and are not taking “I have accepted another position and am happy with it” for an answer.

      When I was recruiting for my previous employer, that was boilerplate language we used for everyone who wasn’t a bad applicant, but we hired a better candidate for a position. We ghosted the bad candidates. If a candidate had an especially bad interview, we used different language – “thank you for your time, we have decided to pursue another candidate.” Essentially, we used that as a “feel free to apply again” message.

      1. Recruited Recruiter*

        Hit submit early.

        I used this sincerely and meant it on two candidates who were fabulous, but we hired an equally fabulous candidate before we managed to schedule interviews. Both of them, I actually contacted when a comparable position opened up. Both had also already accepted another job.

    13. Msnotmrs*

      I kind of always thought it was BS until recently, when a recruiter actually CC’d a couple of people and said they were actively looking for other opportunities for me. We’ll see if anything actually comes of it, though. Every other time, I’ve always assumed it’s boilerplate.

    14. Caboose*

      I assume that it’s a general nicety and that I will never hear from them again, especially if I didn’t interview at all. If I did have an interview that went sort-of-okay, but wasn’t good enough to get the job, then I might have higher hopes, but for the most part, it’s just one of those little boilerplate condolences to soften the blow of rejection.

    15. Anonymous Hippo*

      100% would think that was boilerplate. Now, if they said something like, we may have something coming up in a few months that might be good for you, so I’ll keep your file and reach out to you when we know more, that might be something (although you’d still view it the same as any other application, don’t hang your hopes on it) but at least you’d know they thought you’d be worthy hiring in some role.

    16. Wisteria*

      As an applicant, I assume it’s a pro-forma response. If they do come back and ask me to apply to something else, great. I don’t discount the possibility. But I don’t sit around checking my inbox for an email, either.

    17. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      Hearing “we’ll keep your resume on file” is meaningless boilerplate and I have no feelings about it. However, hearing directly from the hiring manager that they appreciated meeting me and will keep me in mind for future opportunities is always nice. I actually just got an email from a HM who I was a final candidate with a couple months ago letting me know about a new position. My husband actually got his job when the HM for a different position that he didn’t get called him back to ask him to apply. So it does happen!

    18. Mannheim Steamroller*

      I got that reply in the late 1990s when I applied for an Assistant Llama Groomer job. They kept me on file for a few months and offered me Assistant Alpaca Groomer. Worked out wonderfully.

    19. Alexis Rosay*

      I got my first ‘real’ job because someone kept my resume on file and reached out to invite me to apply when they had a more appropriate opening! However rare, it definitely can happen.

      As a hiring manager, I have personally kept people’s resumes on file and reached out to them about other work, but it rarely works out as they’ve usually moved on to something else.

    20. RagingADHD*

      I mean, it’s not bad, but I’ve never paid any attention to it. It’s just polite noise.

      If I see a listing for another job I want there, I’m going to re-apply anyway. I can count on one hand the number of people I’ve heard of being hired “out of the drawer,” and that’s only when they got to final interviews the first time, or had incredibly specialized skills.

    21. Hiring Manager*

      I was just hiring for a position, and one of my first steps was to review the resumes I got when I was last hiring for this type of position maybe 2 or 3 years ago. I didn’t contact everyone, but I did contact one or two strong candidates and invite them to apply, if still interested. I also did seriously keep people’s resumes on file as potential contractors if we had freelance opportunities that fit with their skillset in the interim, and I would use that list.

      And I didn’t include that boilerplate in rejections for anyone where I really didn’t mean it / think they were qualified. Just one data point for you that it’s not always a fluff statement!

    22. NoLongerYoung*

      I did have success with having the recruiter contact me from PossibleNewCompany (big and old line) about PossibleNewJob3, after I made it to the last round of PossibleNewJob1 & 2, and did not get selected. I’ve been in their system crawling along for about 5 months.
      I keep my search active though, and apply online for the VERY specific ones I’m interested in, and follow Allison’s advice (Targeted cover letter, and actually making sure my resume uses the correct key words for the position I’m applying for… I have a broad history).
      As it turns out, I hope to be in the Friday good news soon – but not for this specific company.

    23. tamarack and fireweed*

      How I feel as an applicant: I guard myself from reading anything more than boilerplate into it. Though I *have* recently (three times!) been rejected & received feedback how I was a strong candidate. And in each case I could see why they took the other person over me, even when I think I could have done a very good job in two out of the three times. (In the third case the feedback was “your application was very strong, but we really were specifically looking for someone with a background in sub-sub-discipline X” [which is close enough to mine for me to be confident to learn it quickly, but have no experience in as of now].) And in fact for one of the jobs that rejected me the team had a second position open with dual reporting to my current boss and the manager of the other team, for which the selected candidate didn’t accept the offer. So they re-jiggered the job description, and are giving the part of the project that overlaps with my skillset to me. (Externally funded research – all positions are temporary, but this is basically a contract extension for me.)

      When I recruited in the private industry, we have on occasion dipped back into recently interviewed candidates. It could easily happen that we had two strong candidates & went with one (eg. the one who also spoke French in addition to their tech background), and then suddenly a month or two later we have an urgent need to fill a position that the second-place finisher of the last round suddenly looks like a good fit (e.g. they had Spanish as an additional language and we just won a large Spanish client). Usually it didn’t quite come to an official rejection – with delays and waiting to reject until the winner is actually just about in their seat, to the candidates it looked more like “we figured out we could hire two after all”.

      1. tamarack and fireweed*

        (I just realize – the cases I’m thinking of are the ones where the second-place finisher is someone as extremely appealing except for one particular key skill where there was another candidate that had the edge. As in “I would have loved to get X on my team, but we need someone who can use the Panasonic Teapot Painter Robot A-364, and Y is already fully trained up on that – and otherwise seems like a perfectly adequate employee. So we’ll offer it to Y, sigh.”

    24. fhqwhgads*

      It depends. If someone says it and sounds sincere (and in fact is sincere), it’s a good thing. I wouldn’t automatically assume it’s boilerplate, but if it’s said in a way that seems boilerplate, I would take it with a grain of salt.
      If you’re asking because you’re deciding whether to say it, only say it if you actually mean it. If you’re concerned people will assume you don’t actually mean it, that’s not really something you can control.
      My team has definitely encouraged someone to reapply who wasn’t the best candidate for what they applied for but was a better fit for a slightly different position that didn’t open up until later.

    25. Lisa*

      It could mean that literally their recruiting system keeps resumes on file by default if they don’t stamp you Do Not Hire. I was trying to hire a tricky role and HR specifically asked me to look through the database of past applicants to see if there was anyone (there wasn’t) and then later they reached out to me with a candidate who had been rejected by another department but was a better fit for my role. I hired him and it worked out very well. In that case it was right away, but could theoretically have been some time after his first application.

    26. learnedthehardway*

      I just did this the other day – the person wasn’t a fit for one role, but was a fit for another one. It does happen.

    27. HA2*

      As a job applicant, I’d just treat it as boilerplate. I’d interpret it as “we’re rejecting you now, but we’re not blackballing you”. I’ve never had a call back from someplace that “kept my resume on file”, and nor would I really expect one.

      Boilerplate does have a reason, though, and that’s seems like fine thing to communicate – “you weren’t the best applicant this time, but please feel free to apply again in the future to other positions here if there’s a good fit.”

    28. allathian*

      My manager hired one person for a permanent position. A couple weeks later, a fixed-term position opened up, and my manager was able to reach out to the second finalist to the first job and ask if they were interested in working for us. If it had been another permanent position, it’s possible that my employer would have had to post the job again. This person was so great that my manager didn’t want to lose them and was able to create a permanent position for them so they’d stay with us.

    29. SummerBreeze*

      I got my dream job a full year after I’d interviewed for a different role at the company. HR told me they truly did keep me on file and called me when this role opened. Spent 14 years there!

  14. Sabine*

    I just started a new job and am really struggling to engage in meetings because everything is remote. I thought my zoom fatigue would reset after a week off from my old job but I can feel myself tuning out even as I try to focus and take notes. I have a lot to absorb and want to make a good first impression–does anyone who has done remote onboarding have tips on what helped them have a successful first month on the job?

    1. Anonymous Koala*

      Cameras help! And finding a formal or informal peer mentor if it’s feasible for your role/org (you can ask your boss for help with this). I find that if I have someone to ask questions of/digest the meeting with later, I focus more on the initial meeting, especially with the really big overwhelming ones.

      That said, sometimes it’s best to do what you can in the meeting, and use the slides or recordings (if they offer them) to refresh your notes later when you can go at your own pace.

    2. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      Echoing the above. I have onboarded a few new employees remotely and making sure they are connecting with team members as well as me has been key. Ask you manager about who the best person is to answer questions on some key areas (institutional memory, project work, client relationships etc.) and set up phone calls with those people. Having them fill in the blanks on the stuff that is working knowledge for everyone else will help with meetings that are already a cognitive overload just by virtue of your being new.

    3. Lisa*

      Not exactly this situation but as a consultant I started working remotely last year with a team that included someone I knew well but hadn’t *worked* with in almost ten years, and several other people I had never met at all. I was also not used to doing a lot of video calls. Some things that helped me were setting up my video situation so that I felt comfortable and confident on camera, having 1:1 calls, both video and audio-only, with some of my team members, and using Teams and WhatsApp chat to carry on conversations between meetings to build rapport. I also went overboard on note-taking early on, and used dual displays so I could have a video call up on one screen and type notes on the other.

  15. Beancat*

    I’ve asked for a lot of thoughts lately, so I thought I would update! I had my review this week, and despite my horrendous nerves about everything I actually received a very generous raise!! I also got a solid answer about the future of our business and know where things are going for the foreseeable future. I feel a lot better after a stressful last few weeks :)

  16. Joy*

    I am starting a new job soon and I want to be incredibly organized, unlike I’ve been in the last few years of my current job. What systems or web-based apps do you use to keep your to-do lists, notes, and contacts organized? I need to absolutely knock this next job out of the park, and I’m so excited to start back at zero emails and an empty to-do list. But it will accelerate quickly, so your simple tips for staying on top of everything will be greatly appreciated.

    1. mreasy*

      I have had success with Asana, but now I use Trello and prefer it. I am also ruthless about putting EVERYTHING in my calendar which is always with me, either phone or computer.

      1. Elle Woods*

        I second Trello. I’m more of a paper person myself but Trello is the one exception to that. It really helps me manage projects.

    2. Gail Davidson-Durst*

      For work, I capture using OneNote – it’s unfussy and cloud-based so I know stuff is SAVED. It’s also easy to mark something with a “to do” checkbox. So I have all my meeting notes, ideas, and task captures where I can refer back if needed. Then once a week I do a “clear to neutral” where I plug all the to-dos into Asana, schedule some corresponding focus blocks/work sessions on my calendar for the next week, and set myself up for the next week. One nice thing is to put links, attachments, and notes in the Asana task so you have everything you need to start substantive work right there.

      For personal life, Remember The Milk is my external memory storage. To-dos, recurring chores, notes of things to discuss with my therapist, lists of gift ideas for me and family members, lists of movies and shows I want to check out, etc. Anything I want to remember someday gets logged, dated (if relevant), and tagged appropriately.

      For both sides of my life, I try to tidy email daily and clear to zero weekly, and I don’t use folders. If it needs action, I put it in my to-do tool, and if it’s garbage or reference, it goes into my “done” folder where I can search for it by keyword if needed.

      1. Anonymous Koala*

        I second OneNote! I love how it automatically saves, timestamps, and captures urls. I have a notebook for meetings where I keep notes from every meeting or phone call I’m in, and I use those notes to write update emails to my boss and make to do lists.
        I also really like Trello for repeating projects or large tasks that have clear steps – I make a board with lists for all the steps in the project, then advance cards through the lists as I complete steps. It’s really satisfying and enables me to bulk-work on the same task for many projects at a time.

      2. A Simple Narwhal*

        Adding my vote for onenote. I use it for a lot of things, but I also keep a notebook just for my to-do list. I have three lists on the page – Working On Today, Waiting on Someone Else, Things for the Future. Things I’m working on go in the first list, projects I’ve done my part on and need someone else’s input go in the second, things I need/want to work on but aren’t a priority for today go in the third. Once something is completely finished I cross it out (slash-through font). Each day I duplicate the previous day’s page, update the date, delete all the the slashed out items, and then I’ve got my to-do list! I collapse each day’s page under a month page so it everything looks neat and doesn’t take up too much space.

        OneNote has a lot of great features but does require some setup on your part, but once you’ve got it down it’s really great.

      3. Flower necklace*

        OneNote is great! I like taking notes by hand, so I have a Rocketbook that syncs with mine. Any time I need to reference something from a meeting, I can pull it up in a second on my phone. I also keep my personal notes on it, like notes from doctor’s visits, crochet patterns, recipes, my grocery list. Everything. It’s all on hand for easy reference.

    3. CatCat*

      I use a whiteboard kanban style. I have the following 5 columns:
      – To do (these are things I haven’t started yet)
      – Today (things I am working on today)
      – In Progress (things I have started, but am not working on today)
      – Waiting (things I have started, but I am waiting on someone else before I can progress)
      – Done (completed items, I make a log of these every month and then clear the column)

      I also have a small square at the bottom with “Travel” to remind me of any upcoming meetings or events I need to travel for (haven’t used that space in 18 months!)

      I use small sticky notes to write what the projects are and then move them around on the white board so I have a constant big picture of where everything is.

      I make a daily checklist of things to get done that day based on where things are on the whiteboard. So if “Project X” is in the “Today” column, I write down tasks on my checklist that I need to work on for Project X.

      This system has really helped keep me well organized. There are online resources that will let you create this type of board, but having the physical whiteboard works best for me.

    4. SurlyGirl*

      Second Trello using CatCat’s kanban style. My columns are nearly identical to theirs.

    5. Policy Wonk*

      In addition to on-line tools, I still keep an old-school notebook with a list of “must-do today” items. (In addition to work, this can include personal things like pick up the dry cleaning or hit the grocery store for that forgotten item.) I rely on the electronic reminders to keep me on track, but the notebook is a handy, at-a-glance reality check and has saved me more than once.

    6. Diatryma*

      I’m the opposite of a lot of people; I need to see things to remember them. I have a lot of success with post-its for individual cases that can be moved to different parts of a board (in one case, a sheet of paper on the bottom of an inch-deep drawer/slide-out tray) as necessary. I’ve also made flip-cards for tasks that have multiple steps.

    7. Cookie D'oh*

      I use the Sticky Notes app on my computer for my to do list. My list is often changing and sometimes I need to track technical details, so it’s easier for me to type than write it down on a piece of paper. For notes, I use OneNote.

      I have tons of folders to keep my email organized. I have a “Waiting for Response” folder to keep track of messages where I need to follow up with a response from someone.

      We use Teams and I communicate a lot more through chat now. If I have action item come out of a chat, I make sure to immediately put it on my to do list so I don’t lose it.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I like using the tasks & tracking embedded in the office email system, combined with a desktop blotter-calendar for hard deadlines, and a paper notebook for project notes.

    9. Distracted Librarian*

      I use Outlook for task management, because I’m in it so much for email and calendaring, so my tasks will be in my face. I use OneNote for notetaking. It integrates with Outlook for meeting notes, which I find really useful.

  17. Tech and remote*

    Anyone in tech hear anything about how top tech companies digging in and demanding on-site work is shaking out? Are they still sticking with that, even amidst delta variant concerns? Will they ever become more flexible, overall? Is it affecting hiring?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      My company has always said we’d go back but be more hybrid (going in only 1-3 times a week), and they haven’t wavered in that—just kept pushing back the when-we-go-back date.

      1. FAANG*

        I’m at one of the FAANG companies, and it is the same — sticking to the hybrid model, just pushing back the go-back date. No impact on hiring that I am aware of.

    2. HA2*

      My company pushed back reopening plans. It’s clear that the timeline for returning to the office is very flexible and they’ll keep pushing it out as long as they need to – but also seems just as clear that they intend for everyone to return to the office eventually, and are not planning on supporting fully remote work outside of special cases.

  18. Interesting Charity Schema*

    One of my company’s vendors sent an email detailing their charity efforts, and the logistics of the mechanism gave me pause. It doesn’t impact me in any way, but was curious about how the AAM commentors viewed it too.

    Basically, for every dollar they pay in salary to a white man, they put 25 cents towards their charity program. I’m wondering how they keep from introducing bias in their hiring practices.

    For example, hiring a white man actually costs 1.25 times what it would cost to hire someone outside that demographic, which might tip the scale away from hiring them, or put them first to go in the event of a layoff. Conversely, hiring more white men means more money goes to the charity effort (yay for charity [and maybe tax breaks?]) so it might actually enforce the preference towards white men in hiring.

    I’m not well-versed in laws surrounding protected classes or best practices in charity, but I’d be interested in opinions of those that are, in addition to general reactions.

    1. have we met?*

      General reaction – whaaaaaaat?

      Are they making real efforts to hire from a more diverse pool or just throwing money at a problem so they don’t have to try to solve it? Is this an odd way of making “amends”? And is the charity related to remedying race- or gender bias? I am not a white man, but I think I would feel just as weird about this if I were.

      1. Fran Fine*

        Are they making real efforts to hire from a more diverse pool or just throwing money at a problem so they don’t have to try to solve it?

        More likely the latter.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      I don’t know how exactly it all shakes out, but donations are tax deductible and I’ve been told that anything donated is pretty much directly saved in taxes. So donating the money isn’t really a burden to the organization because it balances out in the end.

      1. Jasmine*

        So all they’re really doing is paying money to a charity instead of the government (via taxes) for every white man on payroll? Sounds like someone well-intentioned has misunderstood the assignment.

        1. Ikora Rey*

          Trust me when I say to you that their financial advisors did not misunderstand this at all.

          1. Observer*

            I would hope not. Which is why I’m pretty sure that they didn’t do it to divert money from taxes. Because the one who seems to have misunderstood is @AndersonDarling informant.

      2. Mayflower*

        That’s not true! When something is tax-deductible, tax savings is significantly less than the entire donation.

        Example: you earn $200 and your tax rate is 30%. If you do not have any charitable donations, you will pay $60 in taxes [30% of $200] so you’d be left with $140. If you donate $100 to charity, you will pay $30 in taxes [30% of $200 – $100] so you’d be left with $70.

      3. Observer*

        I’ve been told that anything donated is pretty much directly saved in taxes

        That’s actually highly unlikely. And there is always a cost to doing stuff like this, so it can actually be a burden.

      4. Dancing Otter*

        Corporate tax rate would have to be 100% (which of course it isn’t) for any deduction to result in a dollar-for-dollar savings.
        I don’t know what their ultimate rationale may be, but this is definitely costing them real money, not just moving it around the income statement.

    3. Dust Bunny*


      I’m with have we met? This sounds like throwing money at a problem instead of solving it.

    4. Littorally*

      That is really bizarre. If they want to make a charity donation just make the gd charity donation and don’t be weird about it.

    5. StressedButOkay*

      That is such a convoluted “solution” to the wage gap issue…just pay everyone the same based on skill, etc,! The company clearly knows there’s a problem with the pay scale (in general and what they’re paying) but instead of fixing it internally, they’re jumping through hoops to try to look like they’re fixing it AND getting a tax break at the same time.

      1. Mayflower*

        Tax savings from charitable deductions are significantly less than the donation amount!

        Lately, I am seeing a lot of outrage online re. charitable donations – specifically how they are self-serving to the individual/company because they are tax-deductible – and it really sticks in my craw. With all the bad in the world, do we really need to heap criticism on the generosity of individuals and corporations who choose to voluntarily give away the money that they could easily keep?

    6. Bagpuss*

      That seems weird. I mean, if they are worried about inequality I’d want to know what they’ve done to ensure that their POC and female employees are being properly remunerated , and that if they are making donations to charities geared towards under-privaledged groups why link it so specifically to their white male workforce ?

    7. The New Wanderer*

      That sounds very poorly thought out. The charity effort should be separate from any DEI effort the company makes. This weird setup comes across as punitive, needlessly confusing, and probably won’t have the halo effect they expect. What’s wrong with straight up increasing corporate sponsorship of HBCU programs, funding charities assisting indigenous populations, and so on?

    8. PNW Labrat*

      Plus do the charities they are supporting have anything to do with supporting education/employment of minority groups or are even somewhat related to minority groups?

    9. learnedthehardway*

      This is a fascinating idea – I work with some companies that are focusing on diversity, and the challenge is to ensure there is a diverse slate of candidates in hiring decisions, without going too far to the side of not considering good candidates simply because they aren’t diverse. One of my clients ties some executive compensation to achieving diversity goals, and this isn’t always perfectly aligned with business needs (ie. some managers with hire a less qualified candidate than ideal simply to maintain their bonuses) or good performance management (eg. if there simply are no qualified, diverse candidates in a geography, is it fair to downgrade a hiring manager’s performance in comparison to another hiring manager whose geography is well supplied with qualified, diverse candidates?)

      Using a cost multiplier for non-diverse hires would still put the decision in the hiring manager’s hands, but – as long as they have to pay for the cost of hiring out of their departmental budget – they would have to be satisfied that the cost is merited by the value the employee will bring to the department. And presumably the cost would not come out of the hired candidate’s salary, because the salary would have to be competitive enough to attract them.

      Honestly – I’m going to suggest it to one of my clients. They’re making their hiring managers do business cases for why they can’t hire diverse candidates right now, and it’s time consuming and risks losing both diverse and non-diverse candidates, introducing decision making by people who don’t understand the department needs, and generally making the process inefficient.

      1. learnedthehardway*

        ETA – this idea depends on the hiring manager’s budget being affected, and not being able to claim any tax deduction / repayment.

    10. HA2*

      That sounds really weird, but doesn’t necessarily affect hiring as long as the budgets aren’t common. If there’s a marketing department that just contributes X amount of money to charities based on the demographics of their workforce, that’s not going to influence a hiring manager’s own budget. A bit gimmicky. I’d be worried that it means they don’t really know what they’re doing with respect to inclusion/diversity in their company and are trying to throw money at something visible to affect perceptions.

  19. GirllGoesAbroad*

    Update here- I posted last week about an extended trip I had proposed to my employer to Germany as I was traveling there a lot for work. I posted because my employer didn’t want to cover any expenses(my request was rightly misunderstood) and I wasn’t sure how to approach it.

    Just this week, my company has decided to push back our return to office (originally was scheduled for Mid-Sept) so I told my boss this wasn’t the best time and maybe we could re-visit in the Spring(fingers crossed things are under control by then). Given the back and forth, I didn’t see anyway the firm would be willing to cover expenses with the unpredictableness and thought I’d have a much better shot(and the experience being better overall) once things are back to normal.

    That being said, thank you so much to everyone who gave advice. I have the script I wrote out(but didn’t need to use) saved in my folder and 100% plan on using it when I re-approach with my boss at a later date.

    1. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Thanks for the update and glad it has worked out for now! It was a very interesting thread last week.

    2. New Mom*

      Thanks for the update! And fingers crossed you can go to Germany later and they will pay for it. Remember, you should not be paying for a work trip just because you are going somewhere you want to go.

    3. Double A*

      Thanks for the update! When you revisit it in Spring hopefully you can take what you learned this time and clarify the business expenses and hopefully they’ll pay for it!

  20. McMurdo*

    Office supply question: I have a medical issue that means the only painkiller I can take is Tylenol. I realized the other day when I had a headache that the admin assistant usually orders Aleve and Advil. Is it reasonable to ask if Tylenol could be added/swapped in on the next order? Or is this the kind of thing I should bring myself?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      If there’s an expectation that OTC pain meds are available to everyone, then yes, you can ask for Tylenol to be included. But if you’re asking the admin if she has anything and she only offers those two, you should bring your own.

      I would err on bringing my own anyway, to be honest. I’ve only been in one office that had a random bottle of Advil around– usually this is stuff that’s not provided.

      1. McMurdo*

        There are single-serve packets in the breakroom! This is the first job I’ve had where anything like that was provided.

        1. MissCoco*

          Well that’s a nifty perk!
          I think you can definitely ask that Tylenol be swapped in for one of the others then. There are plenty of medical conditions or other medications that contraindicate NSAID use, not to mention people who just find acetaminophen more effective for certain types of pain.

          Who knows if it’ll be feasible, but I can’t see any harm in making a courteous request.

        2. Irish girl*

          I would go that this is reasonable. Pregnant women can only take Tylenol which would a good reason to include it. Don’t want to discriminate against them. : )

    2. Beancat*

      I don’t think that’s an unreasonable ask considering that your medical issue isn’t uncommon, but I also generally bring in my own medication because I have felt like I couldn’t ask at the places I’ve worked in the past. I buy travel bottles and then refill them at home.

    3. Mental Lentil*

      This is a completely reasonable request. Tylenol is a completely different compound than the other two, and they are not entirely interchangeable. I try to have both available in our office.

    4. A Simple Narwhal*

      I don’t think it can hurt to ask if they could add Tylenol as an option! But also maybe keep a bottle in your desk just so you know you’re always covered.

    5. Nuthinbutcarrots*

      Either way would be acceptable I think! If you have a good company culture your coworkers won’t mind stocking something so small and simple to keep you from being in pain!

    6. mediamaven*

      I would just bring your own. The Advil is a nice to have but it’s ultimately not your employers responsibility to provide a painkiller to meet everyone’s needs. Presumably you have some so just bring it in.

      1. Observer*

        I don’t get this. If the employer is open to ordering, why not ASK? The company obviously wants to do something helpful. This is a very simple and inexpensive way to be even more helpful.

    7. Cookie D'oh*

      I’ve never been in an office where medication was available so I’ve kept my own at my desk. I keep Aleve in my purse at all times, so I have that, but I also kept a bottle in my desk drawer along with Tums and some bandages

    8. Yellow*

      I order supplies for my office, and typically only order Advil. I would have no issue ordering Tylenol as well, if someone asked. Frankly, I think tylenol is worthless, so never even considered ordering it before, but now that you brought this up, I’ll add some to my next order!

      1. James*

        The two medications attack pain in different ways. So certain pains respond better to one, others to the other. My wife and I keep both on hand.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Incidentally at the time I got covid vaccine #2, I was told to avoid painkillers, but a low dose of Tylenol if I had a strong reaction. So if vaccination is still ongoing in your area, there’s that to think about.

      3. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        Some people have conditions that make Tylenol their only option. I’m in that category, and Tylenol is not nearly as effective as NSAIDs, but it’s slightly better than nothing.

        1. Stitching Away*

          There are a not insignificant number of people who are flat out allergic to NSAIDs, for example, plus anyone with a history of ulcers cannot have them.

          Wow do I miss NSAIDs…

    9. Girasol*

      Buy a giant economy bottle and tell the team that anyone who wants can come get some. A bottle of pain killers is better than a candy jar improving workplace relationships.

    10. Observer*

      Is it reasonable to ask if Tylenol could be added/swapped in on the next order?

      If they are doing basic painkillers, of course they should have Tylenol there. I do better with Advil, so I wouldn’t want to SWAP it, but I see no reason why the two items are mutually exclusive in terms of ordering.

    11. Choggy*

      Yes, we have a nice medicine box that covers all the various OTC meds, if they offer this, then they can probably extend it a bit to others. Though what ultimately happens is that the meds expire if not used, and perhaps not replaced in a timely manner. I tend to bring my own so I know it’s always available.

    12. James*

      I do both. I get migraines, so I carry pain meds in my laptop bag, and a group of us requested our favorite brand be kept in the medical supplies. This is one of those things where a support group really is useful; it’s one thing for someone to say “I want X”, it’s another thing entirely to have a group come up and say “We all have X issue, let’s make Y medication available”.

  21. AvonLady Barksdale*

    PSA: please proofread and test your OOO messages. Make sure you spell your colleagues’ names correctly. Your colleagues and contacts will thank you!

    1. Policy Wonk*

      And make sure they will actually be available when you are out. I hate getting a loop of OOO messages that circle around a group of people who are ALL out!

    2. Cookie D'oh*

      I always send an email to myself to make sure the OOO message looks good. I use the same template and just change the dates, and I’ve caught some date errors before. Like Thursday July 23rd instead of Friday July 23rd.

    3. Granny Smith apple*

      My fave typo in an OOO message was ‘thank you for your massage.’ So yes, proofreading is great advice.

    4. Lunch Ghost*

      And don’t post them until you’re reasonably close to actually being out of office. (Somewhat different meaning of “office”, but I emailed a local politician recently for work and got back an OOO that she didn’t seek another term and will be leaving office as of… a date nearly two months from now.)

  22. sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

    Let’s talk about fonts. Have you ever worked with people who just will not work with certain fonts? Do they cite issues like headaches or eye issues, or even needing an accommodation?

    I had a manager ask me to change the font of my template to “accommodate” another manager who, according to Manager 1, would cringe and refuse to work with the materials if they were in the wrong font.

    When it was presented like this, I said No especially since Manager 2 doesn’t own the material (he’s in another location) and once his contribution was done, he would no longer be looking at it. And since I was training new people using our template, I explained I wasn’t changing my template for external contributor.

    My director later told me that Manager 1’s description was a very poor choice of words and explained that indeed, Manager 2 gets headaches if the font is non-serif and has to insist that materials be in a serif font. (Which was confusing as our materials are mostly in a serif font!). This was apparently not a case of Georgia Pro vs Times New Roman as a preference but truly a health matter.

    I’ve never heard of this. But hey, I don’t know everything! Is this common at all?

    1. Allypopx*

      That’s really interesting to me. I’ve only ever heard it the other way around – that sans serif fonts can be easier for people prone to migraines or with reading difficultes.

      1. sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

        My husband jumped to my defense when I shared this tale with him and he immediately Google Fu’d just what you said, the other way around.

        But if the Manager 2 says he’s suffering, I can’t say “that’s not what the evidence says on Google!”

        1. Observer*

          No, you can’t. Some googling is often not going to give you the whole story.

          @MechanicalPencil gives a good explanation of why it works that way for some people.

      2. Louisa*

        I’ve also only encountered it the other way (sans serif being easier than serif) but it seems to be common-ish among people with migraines or vision troubles. I can read serif fine most of the time but if I’m fatigued and in low light sans serif seems much less likely to cause a headache, much as larger print stuff is less tiring.

      3. MechanicalPencil*

        That feels backwards to me. I have chronic migraines, and a serif font is much, much easier for me. Also, I invert my colors as often as possible — black/dark grey background with white text.

        You don’t really read the letters so much as recognize the shapes of the letters, and serif fonts make it easier for your brain to do that. At least according to a prof I had many years ago.

    2. LadyByTheLake*

      I genuinely cannot read certain standard fonts (they tend to “swim” on me). If something is given to me in Word, I just switch it to a font I can read. But if I can’t do that, yes, I insist that they be put into a different font so that I can read them and opine.

      1. often trapped under a cat*

        I also will generally switch the font myself if I can. If it’s a .pdf, I’m out of luck, though I will sometimes ask if there is a .doc file I could have instead.

        It’s partially a font preference and partially a layout preference–if I have to quickly read and make notes on something, I want to make it as comfortable to read as possible. Don’t ask me to read 10,000 words of double-spaced, too-wide-margin, really skinny Arial!

    3. have we met?*

      Yes – some fonts don’t “translate” well to screens, so they absolutely can cause headaches and the like for those who are sensitive. And some are just harder to read.

      And some fonts are perceived as unprofessional, which is a whole other issue, but a real one.

      1. sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

        No Comic Sans here! LOL We use Times New Roman for all body text and Segoe UI for titles. That’s it. I agree some are hard to read. But with the hundreds of times we’ve run our materials (they are workshops) in this font combo, and knowing how human beings to complain about the smallest thing, we’ve had no feedback on the font choice, except from this Manager.

        He prefers Garamond and his emails are in that (and in purple).

        1. The Librarian*

          Comic Sans is actually a dyslexia-friendly font, so please be nice if you come across it!

          1. sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

            I secretly still like that font, honestly…so I will be nice, happily. ;)

            1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

              I use it for personal things because it’s so easy on the eyes, especially in a softer color like brown.

            2. Windchime*

              I secretly like that font, too; at least, I don’t hate it as much as is popular to do right now. I don’t ever use it in my own documents because I understand that a lot of people hate it, but I don’t object to it.

          2. Font Science Time*

            That’s actually a myth. Comic Sans was designed to look cartoony, nothing more. Research hasn’t shown any particular benefit to Comic Sans or other sans serif fonts, although different people do definitely have a preference. What actually helps dyslexic people read is larger letters and wider spaces between letters and words. Comic Sans doesn’t really have an advantage there. You can make any font more dyslexia friendly by increasing the font spacing. (In Word, on the Home tab > Font > Advanced, select the “Spacing” drop down menu and select “Expanded”.) There is a font developed specifically to help dyslexics, called Dyslexie, but research has shown the benefit to be fairly minimal, although an individual might have more benefit than average, so it’s worth trying.

            tl;dr – Comic Sans isn’t really any more dyslexic friendly than any other sans serif fonts, which are only minimally helpful. Even fonts designed to be helpful generally aren’t.

              1. Teacher Lady*

                Here’s another one that points out that “gains” from spacing adjustments have been limited to reading speed and aren’t specific to readers with dyslexia:

                Of course, if people feel more comfortable and successful with certain reasonable font adjustments, go for it! But also, young people with reading problems need reading instruction that meets their needs (fully fund special education!), and workplaces should offer access to meaningful accommodations for those who need them (like speech to text or text to speech).

            1. Observer*

              Comic Sans was designed to look cartoony, nothing more.

              So? That doesn’t change the fact that may people actually do find it easier to read. That’s not a myth.

              1. Teacher Lady*

                Right, but it shifts it from “this is an essential accommodation that we must default to for people with reading disabilities” to “this is an accommodation that may help some people but may be insufficient for others.” If using Comic Sans is replacing offering speech to text or text to speech because it’s “good enough,” that’s a problem. If people are able to do what they need to do in Comic Sans, great!

          3. Homophone Hattie*

            Yes. It also can be good for people who are not very familiar with the Roman alphabet.

          1. sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

            Yes. Purple and in Garamond and frankly, I find that harder to read than mine in the default Calibri 11 pt.

            But I never tell anyone what to use in their emails (unless there was a corporate policy about it, and there isn’t).

            1. Windchime*

              I notice that one of my colleagues is using the “stationary” in Outlook. Colored font and some kind of textured backgound….it makes me shudder.

        2. Type Nerd*

          Graphic designer here, the differences between Times New Roman and Garamond are honestly pretty small, not enough for one to give you a headache and the other not.

          But honestly I’ve heard more people say they find serifs hard to read on screens, especially at small sizes, than sans serifs.

    4. Callisto*

      I’ve always worked with corporate style guides, so personal preferences are not allowed. I’ve heard of certain fonts being designed for people with dyslexia or reading disabilities, but nothing about headaches.

      1. sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

        Someone recently told me that black on white titles (in PowerPoint) were very difficult for her dyslexic son. This was a new fact for me and at odds with our template as we chose black on white as supposedly easiest to read than having titles in colours matching the logo colour scheme.

        We originally had different instructions for the facilitators in three different colours until we realized that perhaps this would not work for colour-blind facilitators. We consulted with a colour blind person, even. So, main text is now in black and specific instructions in green only, which makes for a cleaner looking document.

        1. Blarghle Blarghle*

          The black on white thing holds if you’re using true black (like, Hex #000000). The contrast is so high it can cause trouble on screen. If you’ve got some wiggle in your palette, a softer black can be easier to read. It still *feels* black, but it’s just a slightly lower contrast that the eye can accept a little better.

          1. sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

            Oh, that’s interesting. I’ve never checked the Hex # on it, it’s just the default colour that PowerPoint (Microsoft) offers. I’ve got plenty of wiggle – I manage the template.

            I might reach out to that coworker with the dyslexic son and see if he’s willing test it for us.

            1. Blarghle Blarghle*

              At my current company, we use RGB 75,79,84, and at my last company I think it was 88 across the board. Offering for starting points in case it’s helpful.
              (I LOVE this stuff!)

      2. Bagpuss*

        They could easily be linked – if a font is hard for you to read then the extra focus and strain of doing so could easily trigger a headache, similarly if the font ‘swims’ .

        That said, if ne person needs something which doesn’t fit with the ‘house style’ then it may be easier for them to change the font themselves to enable them to read it, particularly if the document is going to need to be in the ‘normal’ font when it is finalized / published.

    5. londonedit*

      Working in publishing people have a LOT of opinions about fonts, colours etc – mainly to do with book covers but also sometimes to do with the typefaces used in the actual pages of the book. I don’t think I’ve had a job where there hasn’t been an ‘Oh god, don’t even bother presenting those covers in the editorial meeting – Tabitha can’t stand sans serif fonts’ or ‘Fergus hates yellow, remember to tell the designer not to send in any cover designs with yellow backgrounds’. But that’s just the personal preferences of (usually) higher-up people in editorial, marketing or sales, I’ve never encountered anyone who had a medical problem with certain typefaces.

    6. cmcinnyc*

      I have a coworker who is having vision problems and has switched all her fonts. It’s a real thing!

      1. often trapped under a cat*

        During a stretch where I could not afford to get new glasses, I made fonts increasingly larger on my screens so that I could continue to do my work.

    7. Wisteria*

      I would have rolled my eyes and changed the font anyway bc seriously, are you going to die if you use a different font? This is a case of It’s Better To Get Along Than To Die On This Hill

      1. sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

        No, not gonna die. If it had been Manager 2’s document and outside of our National program, I would have changed it for him and said nothing and rolled my eyes at my desk.

        But this is the National Template in a National Document and I’m training new people. I made it clear that it is hard to train people if five different managers have five different font preferences plus the preferences of contributors. We’re not graphic designers with “customers.” We design workshops; and the design for ease of facilitation should be the same. There’s a template for a reason: ease of work, simplicity and consistency and it makes it that much easier for new people to parachute in and start working. Manager 1 is flighty as hell and the templates are there to keep her on track as much as anyone else who is organized (and it doesn’t always work – the flightiness is deep with this one and it’s a constant battle).

        1. ecnaseener*

          But it sounds like there *aren’t* five different managers with five different preferences. There’s one manager who’s experiencing genuine discomfort, and no other manager is arguing against it.

    8. Donkey Hotey*

      The only way that typefaces give me a headache are the people with Strong Opinions about them.

      1. sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

        Since it was originally presented to me in such a way that I thought Manager 2 was being a Diva, I felt the same.

    9. Chauncy Gardener*

      I worked with one person who was severely dyslexic and could read things best in a certain font. I would put it in that font if she needed to work on it and then before I sent it out (like if it was going to the whole company or something) I’d put it into the ‘corporate’ font. And I’m exec level and she was entry level and I just think that type of accommodation is not a big deal

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        All exec level people should think the way you do. Actually, people at every level should.

    10. Your Local Password Resetter*

      Definitely a thing, thouugh no idea how common it is.
      I’d change the font for manager 2 since it’s a health issue, and change it back once you get it back from them.

  23. International Tumbleweed*

    I had a casual “coffee chat” with my boss the other week. She started the call with “How’re you? You look so young and beautiful.” This really isn’t a big deal, but it kind of rubbed me the wrong way. Is this a normal thing to say to your direct report or am I being overly sensitive? We’re both women and I am definitely the kind of person to not think you should be commenting on people’s appearance in the work place.

    1. Mental Lentil*

      Well, the opposite of this would be “I’m good. How are you? You look so old and worn out.”

      Since that comment wouldn’t be appropriate, I don’t think her initial comment is either.

      But I am also a person who is terrible at giving complements and has had to work really hard over the years to get good at them. It may just be that she flubbed the opener.

    2. Dittany*

      Noooooo, that is not normal. On the other hand, it might have just been an attempt at “You look great!” that came out a bit weirdly.

      Has she made inappropriate comments before?

      1. International Tumbleweed*

        English isn’t her first language so maybe it is more of language barrier thing. She is otherwise pretty complementary of my work, which I appreciate. She has made similar comments in the past, but we don’t meet super often one-on-one and we are all still working remotely. I just worry that as a young women I will not be taken seriously and these comments contribute to my worry. I’m not really sure what I can do about it though.

        1. Chauncy Gardener*

          That makes a big difference. I’ve worked with lots of folks from Europe and the stuff that comes out of their mouths sometimes is really different from the norms in the US (not like it’s all perfect here, ahem). Like really pressing a fellow employee (when we’re out to dinner) to explain why he’s not drinking alcohol (really!), commenting on weight gains, REALLY bad racial, sexual and anti-Semitic comments. I could go on…. It could be it was the country of origin, I’m not sure. But it was pretty across the board, no matter who came over

      2. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

        Especially since English is not her first language I would really cut her some slack. It may even be a culture thing that comments like that are acceptable in her culture. I know some people will say that this isn’t appropriate but she may have just been making the general “you look great” comment. I would think it was intended as a compliment.

    3. JanetM*

      I would be horrified if my manager told me I looked “young and beautiful.” That seems utterly out of line to me (not to mention objectively wrong in my case!).

      I will comment on appearance in a more general way — “I really like that scarf,” for example, or “Did you get new glasses?”

    4. Joy*

      If this were a one time comment, I would let it slide. Perhaps she was feeling kind of low or down on herself, and seeing your fresh face just made her blurt out something slightly inappropriate. If she herself were feeling young and beautiful, she probably wouldn’t have said that to you.

    5. New Mom*

      In the U.S. that would be a very weird thing to say to a direct report. I lived and worked in Asia for years and it was very common for people to make comments like that, and I never really got comfortable with it. I’m only using the international experience I had because of your username in case you are working in a country that is not your home country.

      1. International Tumbleweed*

        I’m Canadian, working in Canada, so international but not too different. My boss isn’t asian either. She is from europe, but I’m not exactly sure where.

    6. Double A*

      It’s a bit of a weird comment but if it’s a one off I’d let it go. Or maybe have a response ready for next time, like:

      “Thanks! The portrait I have of myself in the attic looks like hell, though.”

    7. RagingADHD*

      It’s weird, but not DEFCON-10 wierd. Given the other context you mentioned in replies, I wouldn’t think it’s worth making an issue about.

  24. Two Chairs, One to Go*

    Update on my search: I made good progress interviewing for 1 role but didn’t make it to the final interview. I am really bummed out. I am waiting to hear back on another opportunity before I dive back in.

  25. My cat is prettier than me*

    This happened years ago, but I’ve been dying to hear other people’s thoughts. It’s kind of long, sorry.
    My first job was at a fast-casual restaurant where I ran food, bussed tables, and worked the register. I was a minor at the time, and in my state minors cannot work more than six hours without a break. One day I reached the six hour mark without a break. About fifteen minutes after, I inquired about a break. They said my shift was over and I could go home.
    I spoke with the manager the next day, and he said that it was my fault because I came in an hour early. I later spoke with the district manager who asked to speak with my mother as I was a minor. The next time I went to work, the assistant manager chastised me for getting my mother involved. I was too timid to tell him that the DM was the one who asked to speak to her.
    Am I crazy in thinking this was ridiculous?

    1. Dasein9*

      It was ridiculous.

      If you’re like me, you’ve re-lived that experience with an entirely new script many times. And hey, if that helps us to know what to say in similar future situations, well and good. But your reading of the situation is accurate.

      1. My cat is prettier than me*

        I did end up quitting shortly after. They pulled all kinds of shady stuff.
        For example, shifts didn’t have end times. The schedule would only show what time you started. The manager
        told us not to make plans on days we worked because we would never know when we were going to leave. One time I called in because I was feeling weak after getting blood drawn, they told me to bring them a doctor’s note THAT DAY. I did it then, but now I would tell them exactly where to put that note.

    2. Oxford Comma*

      You are not crazy on either front. I don’t have food service experience and it’s been decades since I worked supermarket/retail jobs, but this was the kind of crap they would pull all the time.

    3. Malarkey01*

      The DM was really weird for asking to speak to your mother. Minor or not that has nothing to do with discussing your work with management.
      I will say whenever I worked minimum wage jobs with strict break requirements it was drilled into me that I was responsible for speaking up if I was about to hit a limit. As a supervisor I always tried to stay on top of scheduling the breaks and making sure everyone took them since they have a domino affect on coverage if someone doesn’t take their break right on time, but with 20+ people running around and rush times looking up to realize 7 people didn’t take their break when they were suppose to and you’re about to hit limit was the stuff of migraines.

    4. Purple Penguin*

      You’re not crazy at all. I also worked in food service as a teen and into my early 20s and experienced so much ridiculousness, including illegal and borderline illegal actions. Then I just bent to the will of management because I’d been taught to work hard and “keep my head down” but now I would walk away. That said, because of those ridiculous experiences, I now fight for and am in solidarity with worker’s rights and advocating for others. Maybe you’ll find this to be true too?

    5. allathian*

      This was ridiculous. I worked in retail and in food service as a teen and young adult. I guess I lucked out, because I always had a manager or more experienced employee tell me to take a break. I almost never had to ask for one.

  26. Nicotena*

    This week’s question about quitting for creative pursuits has made me wonder: how many of us have actually made a full time living on a creative pursuit like writing, art, or crafting? Is it a true full time career that covers your insurance, retirement savings, etc? (versus, the “side hustle” model where you make some extra money doing it but not enough to live on, which seems common in my circle, or you pair it with teaching). What percent of your time do you spend doing the actual creative work versus the marketing or business side?

    1. Zephy*

      Not me but my best friend and her partner do art full-time, mostly funded via Patreon, although she has some contract projects that are ongoing. They’re not 100% independent yet — they get help from family for some things, housing being a big one — but they’ve been able to build some savings and are making moves in that direction.

      1. Nicotene*

        It does seem like patreon and other crowd-funding type sites (Ko-fi, kickstarter, gofundme) may have created a potential model for funding that didn’t used to exist! It seems to work quite well for the writing world for folks who are Very Online and might be considered influences via Substack newsletters. This is potentially filling the gap that used to be filled by paid short stories and opinion articles, which I think are harder to come by.

    2. Lizy*

      I spend my full-time paycheck on my creative pursuits… I’m not sure that’s how that’s supposed to work, though… lol

      1. Chris too*

        This is over 80 years ago, but a famous and commercially successful artist was the father of one of the teens in my mum’s circle – my mum said in retrospect how it was kind of funny that his job was not really considered as anything much different from the jobs of the other dads.

    3. RagingADHD*

      I made a living for a short time working in theater, but not enough to cover a standard full-time set of benefits.

      Now I write freelance, and could certainly make enough to cover a FT bennies package. But my spouse has good bennies, so I work a bit less and do more of the kid/house stuff.

      TBH, I’m not sure if my health would hold up to a FT schedule anymore. But the work & money are there if I could.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Oh, and I get most of my work through an agency, so that’s 90% billable and maybe 10% admin.

        For my own novels, I cycle through writing and marketing. Maybe 60% creative, 40% selling?

    4. TaxLady*

      My brother is a full time artist, he travels extensively to art fairs to sell his work and has an online store. He struggled for many years though to get to this point, living on his wife’s salary from a traditional job, but now he is the primary earner. I also work in theater/film and only a handful of people I know manage to earn enough only from performing, the vast vast majority have another income stream, even if it’s related like teaching voice lessons or dance classes. But if you manage to break in to the top echelon by getting on Broadway, that tends to open the doors you need to stay there, with related work like film or doing well paid concerts.

      1. RagingADHD*

        For the Broadway chorus performers, musicians, and technicians I used to know, if they got into a long-running show, it was just like any regular middle-class union job.

    5. AcademiaNut*

      I have one friend who got a position in a stable theatre company. That came after years of working full time pay the bills jobs and acting on the side, and did require moving countries.

    6. SummerBreeze*

      My husband is a full time writer and has been for many many years. His income is wildly uneven — as high as mid 6 figures some years, but mostly 100-150k. It’s primarily book money, some conference/event money, and on the good years it’s Hollywood money (Several of his books have been optioned).

    7. Retired(but not really)*

      My good friend’s candle business of 30+ years has been quite successful. It has gone through a variety of changes over the years. Initially it was just her and sometimes her husband doing craft shows and such and working out of her home. It evolved into both wholesale and retail at various times. The focus currently is on retail primarily at Renaissance Festivals and online with a few minor wholesale accounts still active. It has occupied her time more or less 24/7 (mentally). It is definitely not something for the faint of heart to contemplate. Lots of anxiety about the economy at numerous points for sure. And conversations about I may just have to go get a job as a greeter at you know where. Lol. But yes it can be done!

  27. Escaped a Work Cult*

    Has anyone had luck on getting a micromanaging boss out of micromanaging? I’m experience staff shortages because of this behavior.

    1. Allypopx*

      Where are you in relation to the boss on the hierarchy, and do they have a boss you could speak to since there’s a real business impact on the behavior?

      1. Escaped a Work Cult*

        He is the owner to the company, I’m the right hand. It’s a conversation I’ve had a couple of times especially with his request on removing himself from the day to day work.

        1. Nicotene*

          I’ve managed to elbow a supervisor completely out of one element of my work, but only because I don’t think they were super interested in it and it wasn’t high profile (basically they were willing to let it fail). Only by keeping them out of it *entirely* was I able to do this, and there was always the chance it would pop up in something they did care about and they’d be back up my @** about it. This was someone who would have liked to dictate all my emails midcareer (and did it to others too, so it wasn’t even personal).

    2. Slipping The Leash*

      Yes but it literally took years. Eventually the combination of A) me being able to predict what she would want done in nearly any situation, B) my willingness to ask her right away if I was unsure of A, and C) her getting super busy with other responsibilities and the roof not caving in on us made her back off.

      1. Escaped a Work Cult*

        Oh I’m definitely at the same place. Basically trying to show the roof isn’t caving in so he can really dive into his extra work.

  28. Cowgirlinhiding*

    I am a manager at the job I work at. I am thinking of getting a part-time job just to get some bills paid down. How do I let people know I just want to work part-time 20 hour weeks at an entry level job (without stress) and not get turned down because I have manager level background?

    1. Chilipepper Attitude*

      I think if you just apply to part time jobs, there won’t be an issue. You can also leave off your management level job. In interviews, just focus on what you do like about the job and the hours.

      1. Nicotene*

        I think it depends; a lot of part time hirers want more flexibility; they don’t want to be told you can’t pick up random extra shifts or be available on short notice because you have another job. They may put up with it, or it may be totally fine, or they may pick someone else if they need that flexibility. That’s why things like driving uber where you can in theory set your own hours (NOT saying anything good about uber, just that this the perception) are popular for side hustles. My PT role required that I agree they would come “first” in priority, which was a little annoying.

    2. Maybe Bri*

      Depending on what you mean by entry level, I think the biggest concern is pay. Most places hiring part time workers are going to be worried that they can’t pay you what you’re actually worth. I used to hire for retail and that would have been the thing to jump out at me.

  29. Environmental Compliance*

    I have a friend whose workplace is bringing them back into the office after WFH for the majority of COVID. They have been asked to come in 3 days a week.

    Friend told us that they are planning on telling their boss that they have childcare the other two days when they’d be WFH (they do not and do not plan on getting it) and that they need to leave at the latest at 3:30PM the days they have to be in to pick up their child from childcare (of which they do not have, and said they don’t need to do, they just don’t want to be there). They have specifically said it’s not anything to do with COVID, they just like being at home (don’t have to wear real pants, accessibility of snacks, and they aren’t working a full day’s worth of work).

    Another friend and I tried to tell them that is a bad idea, but out of curiosity’s sake…. managers, if you had an employee doing this and found out, what would happen?

    1. Allypopx*

      Fire them. That’s not an employee I’d be able to trust going forward.

      To be clear: If they came to me proactively to discuss these preferences (maybe framed it a little differently) I’d be open to a conversation. Everything except for the “not working a full day” is generally fine and if an employee is just generally more comfortable at home there can be benefits to that. But the lying and sneaking around would be an instant death to the professional relationship.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        That was my take as well. We asked them why they wouldn’t just….talk to their manager and discuss options, but apparently “it’s not worth it”. If that wasn’t the statement I got whenever Friend brought up seemingly-easily-solved-by-discussion problems at previous workplaces, I think I would be a bit more sympathetic. Really it seems as though they just don’t want to interact with supervision.

        I did tell them that they were going to get fired at some point if all they’re doing is playing Solitaire all day, and the response was “who’s going to know?”. *facepalm*

        1. Allypopx*

          Yeah that’s either someone who karma is going to catchup with or someone who lucked into a position where they’ll fly under the radar – I don’t think anything you say is going to make a difference unfortunately.

      2. Elle Woods*

        Exactly. If this were framed more as a conversation–an honest one–it would be a different thing. But coming to me with a pack full of lies and demands? Not cool. I would not be able to trust that employee whatsoever.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      So their kids are young enough that they have to claim they have childcare, and yet they’re comfortable leaving them home alone? Never mind what I’d think as a manager – as a parent, I’m appalled.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        It’s a friend I’m planning on distancing from for a lot of reasons. The general attitude…..creeps into other areas, as well.

        I’m *slightly* concerned that if/when they get fired because of this or something similar, they’ll come to me and ask for help getting into my workplace. It’s dissimilar enough that I don’t think they’d attempt it, but who knows. That conversation would likely decimate the friendship (which again I’m not against, but I’d rather it not implode, just a gentle eventual distancing).

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          “I’ll sure let you know if I see an opening that fits your skills!*”

          *If we have an opening for a lying liar who lies, I’ll call you.

          1. JelloStapler*

            ^ this. “I don’t think you would enjoy the oversight and expectations in our work culture”. (i.e. they expect you to work and will call you out for not doing so).

        2. tangerineRose*

          Distancing sounds like a good idea to me. This friend doesn’t sound trustworthy.

          1. Environmental Compliance*

            We used to be quite good friends too, so I’m a bit sad at where it’s ended up. But Friend has really, really changed over the years. The person they’ve become is just…not the type I would like to be around – always negative, blaming everyone around them, a very heightened sense of entitlement, and very draining.

    3. Alex*

      That totally flies where I work. I have a coworker who explicitly worked one day a week to save on childcare, and supposedly works 7-3 to accommodate care needs. (But…he totally doesn’t and everyone knows he does nothing on the day he was out. Not that he did all that much anyway…)

    4. mediamaven*

      I would fire them. This is exactly why WFH won’t stick long term and everyone will have to be punished for some bad apples. We’ve been dealing with all kinds of stuff like this and it’s becoming untenable.

      1. Windchime*

        It’s so confusing to me that people say they are WFH but don’t do anything. Don’t these people have deliverables? If I wasn’t online and promptly responding to coworkers’ IMs and producing my deliverables, I’d get canned (and rightly so). What kinds of jobs do people have where they can just do nothing and nobody notices? If that’s the case, why does their job even exist?

    5. Teapot Repair Technician*

      How old are the kids? I wouldn’t have any qualms about working from home without childcare for kids 10 or over. Especially during the school year when they’d only be home after 3:00.

      The question about leaving at 3:30 depends on when they arrive in the morning and what the office’s core hours are. At my workplace it’s rare for meetings to run past 4:00, so leaving at 3:30 wouldn’t be a problem so long as you were a little flexible for the occasional late meeting.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        Baby. Spouse is “babysitting” (their wording, not mine), but as it stands for the past few months, Friend has been taking care of the child while they have been WFH and prefers it to keep going in that manner. When Friend has to go back in, Spouse will take over for parenting. Friend does not need to get back so that Spouse can go to work.

        Friend starts between 8-9 and didn’t want to shift hours, just leave earlier. *shrug*

        1. Teapot Repair Technician*

          I don’t see a problem with telling your employer you have childcare when you do in fact have childcare in the form of the child’s other parent.

          Coming in at 8-9 and leaving at 3:30 (and lying about the reason) is a much worse offence.

          1. Environmental Compliance*

            That’s fair. Mostly Friend has been saying childcare in that they need to go pick up said child and needs add’l time for that, not that child is at home already – this is for the days they would go into the office.

            WFH days Spouse is not assisting. Friend is taking care of child themselves.

    6. JelloStapler*

      I’d be pissed if someone was claiming a hardship that many people DO have to get out of work they should be doing. They might keep others from being able to do it when they ACTUALLY need it.

    7. Monica Gellar*

      This is such a bad look, and proves to orgs exactly why employees cant be trusted to wfh. Her boss knows that she is being unproductive. They might tolerate it during a transition period, but anything more is risking her job.

      Not to mention, there are others that have legitimate issues wont get the level of support they need.

  30. StarHunter*

    I was retired for a while and for reasons needed to return to full time work (rent, health insurance). After applying for numerous jobs I was fortunate to be rehired back by a company I used to work for but am underemployed. I still would like to find a position inline with my previous experience (manager at a nonprofit). I am over 60 so I am thinking this might have something to do with the lack of responses. I can’t even get a rejection letter. (I have Alison’s materials and revamped the resume & cover letters.) Has anyone had any luck getting hired after 60? I used to think nonprofits valued age & experience but maybe it’s still too competitive out there still? Especially for remote jobs? Ideas? Thanks!

    1. irene adler*

      I’m finding that in the last year+, rejection letters are no longer issued. That would include whether I was contacted about the position, actually interviewed for the position or received no contact whatsoever from the employer.
      I think employers are concentrating on the likely candidates and nothing more.

      Also, age discrimination is real. So that might be a factor in whether you are selected for interviewing.
      My take: age & experience = cost more to hire & train = no thanks.

      I’m in my 50’s.

    2. Alex*

      I work at a nonprofit and they routinely lay off people in their 60s while at the same time hire people in their 20s.

      I’m sorry–age discrimination sucks, but is very very real.

  31. Lizabeth*

    How do you “politely” tell a coworker (I’m not their manager and their manager isn’t doing their job plus it’s the company’s owner) that I’m not here or paid accordingly to make sure she does her job? This coworker drops balls on a regular basis, including misspelling designer’s names, proofing stuff and misses things that are wrong, which have gotten printed that way. IF someone else makes a mistake they are all over it and CC’ing everyone, asking how can this happen blah, blah, blah. All I can do is make sure that all the parties concerned are CC’d on a clarification email. BUT I’m tired of having to do followup and there’s no repercussions on their end for not doing their job right to begin with. This isn’t a newbie thing – they’ve been doing the job for years and does know what’s expected of them – it’s not rocket science by any means. I am looking around at other jobs but there almost “always” going to be someone like this no matter what.

    1. Bagpuss*

      I’m not sure you can tell her upfront, I think all you can do is stop helping her, nd if she then tries to blame you respond (cc-ing her manager if needed) to say that it wasn’t your project / role and that perhaps she need s to check more carefully before sending stuff out / to print.

      IF you have input because you are on the same projects, can you return stuff to her ? (either before you do your part , to say “This doesn’t look ready for me to do X, can you send it back once you have reviewed and corrected the spelling errors and proof-read the document?” or afterwards “I have done X, I presume that you will now fix your spelling errors and proof read the document before circulating it , let me know of any of those changes mean anything I’ve done needs to be updated.”

      In either case, if she then asks you to tell her what the problems are, or to fix them for her, you can explain that it is not your job and you don’t have time.

      If you don’t have direct input I would be inclined to simply let her fail.

    2. animaniactoo*

      It’s probably not something you can do as a big picture conversation, but you can one-note them on everything they are trying to pass off as your responsibility.

      “I will check with my manager, but as far as I am aware, this is not something I am supposed to be responsible for.”
      “I have checked with my manager, this is not something that I am supposed to be doing and might actually get in trouble for doing when it’s not my role.”

      Note: You are not saying whose responsibility it IS. Just that it is not yours and you are making sure that you have a clear understanding of your job duties with your chain of command.

  32. Go Bucks*

    Let me vent on something here and ask a question.

    A friend works for a huge multi-national company with branches worldwide. He was assigned to travel to Europe for training. He is a low level manager and was not too excited about two weeks on the road, but whatever. Of course, since he is salaried, the company has him flying out on Saturday and arriving Sunday, so he can work a full week here and then be there for training on Monday. Same with the trip back, ensuring he is traveling on his time and not the company’s. Then, to save a few bucks, on both the outbound and return trips, after departing from our regional airport, he has a ten hour layover at the hub airport, before departing for Europe. Total travel time = 26 hours. Since the transatlantic flight is 9 hours, I suggested that he look it up, and sure enough, the Employee Handbook says flights over 6 hours should be booked in Business Class. When he bought it up, they just flat out refused. He showed them the Handbook, and they just said NO. I told him to bring up his bad back (well documented) and ask for an accommodation under ADA, and again they said no, pointing out the last time he was promoted, he signed a job description stating travel was a requirement of the position. No matter he also signed for the receipt of the Employee Handbook authorizing hm to fly Business Class. Of course, when the Corporate elite make the same trip, they are sure to fly midweek in First Class.
    This is a company that obviously cares so very little for its own employees. They even were going to make him take PTO if he went to get the required COVID test during work hours. At the Corporate Level things may be different, these decisions are all made locally, through the local management, HR and local facility budget. At the very least, having him sit at an airport on a 10 hour layover, on his Saturday, so they can save $200 on airfare is unconscionable. This company has also reached out to me about a position there. How do I tell them I would never work for a company that puts so little value on employees without putting my friend’s career in hot water?

    1. Colette*

      Depending on the training, traveling on the weekend may not be ridiculous (e.g. it’s a M-F training). And the layover sounds terrible, assuming there is another flight with reasonable transfer times for $200 more. But all y ou need to say is “I’m not interested, thanks for thinking of me.”

    2. cmcinnyc*

      It’s not your job, so how are you going to “put my friend’s career in hot water?”

      I had to push back against our CFO *constantly* on this stuff. (“No, I am not leaving her in the Istanbul airport for 16 hours between flights.” “No, I will not book a flight from NY to Chicago that is 9 hours including a layover in Dallas. They’re flying direct.” “No, 48 hours travel time between NY and London is not standard, and it’s not happening.”) But it’s up to your friend to to push back, not you.

      1. Windchime*

        I once had an admin assistant book me on a flight from Seattle to Madison, WI with like 4 plane changes, including places like Portland and Chicago. Thankfully, several of the legs were on a cheapo airline which cancelled the flight so I was able to rebook with just a couple of layovers (which was typical). I think she saved something like $70 but it would have taken me like 16 hours to get home. Crazy.

    3. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      I don’t think your friend would appreciate you turning down a job offer with the information he told you likely to vent to someone on the outside. That would put him in hot water. If you really want to go this route, check with your friend first, otherwise just say no and move on.

      Honestly though, I don’t see this as an isolated to this company thing. A lot of companies for the working level have weekend travel and try to penny-pinch flights. I had a hard time once with my organization trying to explain that a $100 direct flight (2hrs) was a better deal than a $75 flight that was a connection, two 2hr flights with an 8hr layover. And normally the corporate/exec levels are always treated better because they are higher up. Though he should check to see if the flight time is considered working hours, it is for us, which can help push back on the layover time, or at least get him comp leave time.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah. For us, travel time doesn’t count as working hours, but it does count for per diem. Which depending on the location can be as much as $200 per day. This is a fixed sum, a traveling entry-level employee gets the same per diem as an executive.

        The company’s also really shortsighted, because a well-rested employee will perform better. I wouldn’t be opposed to travel during the weekend to be on-site for training on Monday morning, but I definitely wouldn’t be okay with 16-hour layovers at an airport.

    4. Koala dreams*

      You can decline without giving reasons. Or you can give bland reasons like valuing work/life balance.

    5. Teapot Repair Technician*

      To answer your question, “Thanks for the offer, but I’m not seeking employment at this time.”

      As far as the travel arrangements go, they seem normal to me. A 10-hour layover for international travel isn’t crazy, and is preferable to a short layover that leaves little margin for delays. I’ve never worked for a company that flew regular employees business class; it sucks that they’re not honoring what they wrote in the handbook, but the handbook is not a contract.

      Weekend travel is also normal in my experience, though as an exempt employee I can typically get away with “working from home” on the Friday before or the Monday after.

    6. Juneybug*

      Since I am not sure who said no for his business class upgrade, has he talked to his manager about this? HR? Finance (travel reimbursement)?

    7. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      Please tell your friend to fight as much for this. My job has a rule that only managers of certain level and up are eligible for business class. Every time my boss has to travel to the US office he has to endure a long haul flight in economy, although they cover visa or passport related costs.

    8. Eden*

      You can’t. You can’t upbraid them without breaking your friend’s confidence, which you shouldn’t do.

  33. Freelance knitter*

    Hello! Currently I work as a freelance sweater knitter (not my real job). One of my clients has steadily sent me work and has been vocal about how pleased they are with the end results. My contact has hinted that they might consider hiring me part-time. I think I’d like this steady income as a supplement to my freelance income. I’d like to work for this particular client while maintaining my freelance business. (Because of my spouse’s job, I don’t need health insurance.) My question is, how do I make the pitch to hire me part-time? What should I say? Thanks!

    1. animaniactoo*

      Feed it back through the contact that you’ve thought about the suggestion, let them know you’re interested in doing it, and ask them what the next steps should be.

    2. Girasol*

      What’s in it for your client? A lot of companies use contract labor because it’s cheap, there aren’t any direct benefits costs, and if there’s a lull in the demand, contractors can just be dropped unceremoniously. What can you offer to offset those advantages if they hired you? Lower costs? Quicker service? Clearer communication resulting in sweaters that better meet their needs?

    3. Windchime*

      I would suggest it. I was employed full-time for several years as a full-time yarn spinner (wouldn’t that be great!??) and then decided I wanted to retire. I did tell them I could work 20 hours a week; they said no. Once my retirement date drew near, however, they were able to work it out and I now happily spin yarn half-time (with benefits!). I don’t know how long it will last but I’m digging it.

      tl/dr: Ask! If they want you and can make it work, it could be great for everyone!

  34. AL*

    My company shut down at my location and required me to relocate halfway across the country to a different site. I accepted this reluctantly since I was unable to find an equivalent job in the area or in other locations I’d rather live. Just a month after I moved to the new state (at my company’s expense), I received an offer for a job I’d previously interviewed for, with considerably higher pay, more career progression opportunity, and in a far more desirable location for me. I would have accepted this offer immediately if I hadn’t just relocated for my current company. Will it harm my reputation if I take the new job so soon after relocating?

    1. Colette*

      Did you sign anything saying you’d stay for a specific period of time after relocating? Is there a financial penalty for quitting?

      It’ll harm your reputation with your current company, yes. That might be a chance you’re willing to take, though.

    2. have we met?*

      Did the company stipulate any payback of moving costs? If not, this sounds like one of those “Sorry, this just fell into my lap” situations.

      1. AL*

        The paperwork mentioned you don’t have to pay expenses back when the move is at the company’s request. It feels a little icky, but at the same time, I have no idea how much the move cost.

        1. Can Can Cannot*

          Take the job. Your currently employer knows they created a lot of turmoil as a result of the closure. People leaving to take a new jobs is a natural consequence of the turmoil they created. Don’t feel bad. Especially since the new job has so much going for it.

          Hopefully this new move won’t cause you too many problems. Will you be moving back to your previous location, or someplace completely new?

          1. AL*

            I would be moving back to a different location, but one I have lived in previously and have friends there. I really want to take the job, but I feel super guilty about the timing of it and the fact that they paid for the relocation (I guess they saved a ton of money by closing the site and sending the work elsewhere, but still…). I would almost want to offer to pay the relocation expenses back, but I don’t know how much it cost and corporate moves can be at really inflated prices.

            1. Can Can Cannot*

              Don’t feel guilty about it. These things happen when companies force employees to take a relocation they don’t want to do. You shouldn’t feel any obligation to stay in a job that treated you poorly and you don’t want any more.

              DO NOT offer to repay the relocation, and even if they ask you to do this, remind them that the paperwork they provided explicitly said that you would not need to repay. This is a normal cost of doing business, and is a cost that the company knew beforehand that they might need to absorb. These costs are not yours to bear.

              It sounds like the new opportunity will be a positive move for you. Take it, and good luck!

    3. Thursdaysgeek*

      Also, did they pay for your relocation? (Even if they did, I’d probably take the job you want – with more pay, you should hopefully be able to pay back those relocation costs.)

    4. Purple Cat*

      It’s definitely not a good look, and you’ll likely have to pay your company back the relocation expenses.
      But, how tightly knit is your industry? And overall, how much better is the new company? You do need to focus on the real current impacts on your life and not necessarily dwell on potential future blowback (within reason, of course).

    5. WellRed*

      Take the new job. Awkward? Yes but they’ll get over it. The new one sounds so much better it’s worth the risk. And really, when a company makes people relocate or other undesirable things, well, some employees are going to look elsewhere.

    6. animaniactoo*

      Possibly, but the question is – do you think that the reputation hit would be significant enough to damage you down the line if you go through with the new job?

      If you’re not generally known for being flaky and doing stuff like this, doing it once is a lot more likely to have people thinking there must be some reasonable explanation behind it that they just don’t know.

  35. Flaxseed*

    I work with “Sansa” and while she is very knowledgeable and a hard worker, she has become more and more aggressive. Other coworkers and managers have noticed this as well and actually brought it up to the boss. I don’t know if boss will actually talk to her or not about it. Sansa started snapping at people when they asked her a work question, she is hot/cold with me (one day she won’t even say “good morning”/she’ll talk to everyone *except* me, the next day she talks to me), she’s been slamming cabinet drawers and said it was because “the manager in the other department was talking/socializing too much”.) Sansa also has to be overly involved with *everything*. She’ll interrupt conversations, ask people where they’re going, she has to be involved with stuff that has *nothing to do with her*!

    A coworker told me that the boss will send out the job descriptions of the department, but I don’t think that that will do much or solve anything.

    Has anyone experienced this? What did you do?

    1. Artemesia*

      Her manager needs to deal with this firmly. Sending out mass emails or job descriptions is beyond stupid. We all know that people who need to get a message never thing such things relate to them. Her manager needs to let her know that being pleasant and approachable is job behavior and required and that she is not authorized to meddle in the work of others. If you have any way to influence her manager on this, go for it. Otherwise as a peer you are stuck.

      Another example that every problem at work is always bad management.

      1. Flaxseed*

        It’s ironic because if *I* were acting like that, the boss would be talking to me directly/I would get in trouble. I don’t know if my boss is afraid of Sansa or what… I get yelled at for things that I don’t even do!

    2. Chilipepper Attitude*

      I also have a coworker who feels like managers are managing AT her and takes things personally. In her case, she is taking over tasks and running herself ragged and irritating her coworkers.

      We really are not managed well, things slip through the cracks, managers don’t seem to be able to see past tomorrow or plan well at all, etc. But, they also don’t seem to care when things go awry. So most of us just shrug and do the best we can.

      This coworker, however, just cannot let it go. It is not really my role to say anything and she is not driving me crazy bc she is mostly at another location.

      But insight into why she does this would be helpful.

      1. Chilipepper Attitude*

        That was not clear, when I say she seems to feel managers are managing AT her, I mean, she seems to think their managing poorly is done AT her.

    3. Gipsy Danger*

      I don’t really get what sending out job descriptions is supposed to accomplish? Unless Sansa’s specifically states “don’t snap at people or slam doors?”

      1. Bagpuss*

        I assume to point out to her that answering the type of questions people are asking her is part of her job? And that the things she expects to be involved in are not part of her job.

        But I agree that a mass mail is unlikely to solve anything , and that her manager needs to sit down with her and explicitly tell her that she needs to do her job, which includes providing that kind of information when asked, and that she attitude needs to change and be professional.

      2. Environmental Compliance*

        My spouse once had their job description sent to them by a coworker *not anywhere in their reporting chain, mind you*. Coworker was attempting to argue that Spouse needed to do something (pretty unrelated to their job, but related to Coworker’s duties) because of the “and other duties as assigned”.

        It was apparently very entertaining to see Spouse’s manager respond to that email.

    4. Juneybug*

      Could you call her out on her bad behavior with calmness on your part? For example, next time she slams a drawer, could you calmly say “Sansa, please do not slam the drawer as it’s quite loud.”
      “Sansa, please let Susie finish her comments” when she interrupts.
      “Sansa, why do you need to know that information?” when she asks about things outside of her lane.

  36. Constance Lloyd*

    I’m interviewing for a management position. If hired, I would spend the first several months on the job being trained by the folks I’ll eventually manage. Any tips to strike a balance between being a good trainee without blurring the lines and becoming too familiar to morph into an effective manager role? It’s very early so I’m not counting on anything, just trying to be prepared.

    1. Distractinator*

      Even if the “lecture” portion of the training would be very similar whether the trainee is eventually intended to be in a support role, or technical do-er role, or managing a team of the people doing the work, it will help if the discussions around the training are about the management perspective. Not just “here’s how to do this task right” but then “ok, I can see how that works, what do you find the most difficult? Do different people like/hate different aspects of hte task or is it pretty universal? What would make this task flow better? How does this result get passed to the next group?” You want to be a good student, but when you try to learn things that aren’t standard part of the “how to” curriculum that will reinforce that you’re not in the student role forever

  37. Former Adjunct*

    Thank you letters when you’re being funneled through an on-site talent specialist? I had a really great interview (so it seemed to me), but when I’m supposed to hear back from the talent specialist who is organizing, and I don’t have contact info for anyone else, I’m a bit confused. Do I reach out to him and say, hey, I had a really great chat, I’d like to send thank yous, or do I just leave it?

    This seems to be the process for the job interviews I’m having, where the talent specialists are going through Jobvite emails themselves, so it’s even more confusing? Anyone else?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      If you get the feeling that they don’t want anyone contacting the interviewers directly, then I include a line in my thank-you note to the recruiter or talent specialist that says “It was nice to meet Regina and Fergus” and if there’s any individualized comment for a particular person, mention that too.

  38. Dobermom*

    How open should I be with my current supervisor about interviewing internally? My company does not have policies in place making it mandatory to tell your supervisor before doing so. I’ve had two interviews for internal roles outside my department. As a courtesy, I told my boss that I had applied. I haven’t filled him in on how the interviews have gone, yet.

    I am really hoping to land one of the roles I interviewed for. The interview went well, and I have the support of several people on our exec team in my favor.

    My company’s focus on diversity/inclusion has really taken off since our new CEO took over. My current department is a bit of a boys’ club holdover from the old days, and I want to get out of this environment. The roles would also use more of my creative skills, which would be good for my career, anyway.

    So… Do I need to tell my boss that I interviewed? Or was telling him I applied enough for now? I’m not really concerned about being held back or told I can’t move on to a new role – when I told him I had applied, he said he understood why I was looking for something that better fit my skill set.

    1. Littorally*

      I would leave it at telling your boss you applied. Presumably, if the interviewers are interested in you, they’ve probably reached out to him anyway to talk about it — that has always been my internal-hiring experience. Often it is before the interview, even! A good boss will talk you up (if they can honestly do so) and help to move you along. It’s very different from leaving for another company.

    2. animaniactoo*

      You don’t need to keep him updated on every step of the application/interview process. He knows you applied, and that’s enough until there’s something more to tell that actually impacts him… like “I was selected for the position, how do you want to handle my transition to the new dept/role?”

    3. The Dude Abides*

      You owe your boss nothing.

      I thought I had a really good relationship with my old boss, and we both knew our unit was a dumpster fire.

      What I didn’t expect was for him to head for the exit within six months of starting. I had no idea he was looking for the door until he put in notice earlier this month. OTOH, my old boss told me he had a hunch I was looking because I got turned down for a pay/title bump.

  39. Not a Manager?*

    Has anyone moved from a management position back to an individual contributor position with success?

    Background: I have been a manager for many years before taking on an individual contributor position at my current company. After a year and a half, I was asked to lead my group (aka my coworkers now report to me)

    Problem: I have been in my management position for a year and am overwhelmed by it. I work 10-12 hour days and over weekends, think about work even when I’m not working, and am stressed all the time. My management is supportive, I’ve had some responsibilities removed to help, and they tell me I am doing well. But my health is declining due to my stress as is my relationship with my significant other.

    I worry that asking to move back into an individual contributor position will reflect badly on me. Has anyone taken what seems like a demotion with success?

    1. RC Rascal*

      I’ve never see this happen successfully at the same company/same business unit. I have seen it happen successfully in the same company if the IC position is at a different and larger/more prestigious business unit. In this context it was spun as a promotion, i.e. Jane is going from being the Marketing Manager at little bitty Widget Division to the Content Marketing Specialist at giant profitable Teapots Division.

    2. Sparkles McFadden*

      This hard to do unless you are changing companies and/or fields, and even that presents a problem. It mostly has to do with salary expectations.

      I had a very frank discussion with an HR person about this when I was considering an in-house candidate for a lower level position in a different area of the business. The HR rep basically said that any time they let someone take a step down, the person ends up being unhappy or making unreasonable demands regarding salary and oversight, and the person ends up leaving. She gave specific examples and had stats. I was very surprised. The HR rep said “They think they want to take a step down but what they really want is to do the lower level job with the salary and the perks of the higher level job, so they’re always disappointed and they become a problem for their manager.”

      So unless you’re giving up your management job in a small company for the opportunity to move to be an individual contributor in a bigger, more prestigious place, hiring managers will likely be wary.

    3. The New Wanderer*

      I’ve had several colleagues do this successfully, but all except one switched groups or companies in the process. I don’t know if they had to in order to make it happen, or if it was just easier. I don’t think they were ever seen as demotions either, but we have a technical career path that allows non-managers to reach levels comparable to management levels (e.g. regular contributors report to first level mgrs, senior contributors report directly to second level, exec contributors report directly to third level).

      The exception went from a senior management position to a high level individual contributor due to a situation similar to what you describe (stress from the job compounded by external stress and health concerns). It wasn’t seen as a demotion because he basically moved sideways into a technical role at about the same level.

      Another colleague was a manager for a while, left the company to work elsewhere as an individual contributor, and then came back as an individual contributor about 5 years later.

      A third colleague took a manager role for about a year, hated it, and did an internal transfer to be an individual contributor in a different division.

    4. Smitten By Juneau*

      I did this successfully many years ago. Not only was I not particularly liking the supervisory role, I wasn’t very good at it. My manager and I decided together to move me back to being an individual contributor, and we were able to work this into a reorg in which the staff that reported to me transitioned to reporting to a parallel supervisor. In reality, we no longer needed two supervisors (we created two positions a few years prior in order to get a handle on a department that was a train wreck after couple years of being a “self-directed work team”) so it made sense overall. Let the supervisor that was at supervision do that, and let me go back to doing work I excelled at.

      I’m still with that department 20 years later, by the way.

  40. Eye roll*

    My husband regularly brings home employee agreements they have all suddenly been asked to sign at work for me to review. And every time, I’m left wondering if the company is evilish or just stupid, because contracts are a big part of their business. Last night’s review involved me saying things like, “It’s normal to ask you to reimburse for unintentional personal purchases on the company card. It’s not really reasonable for them to ask you to reimburse authorized purchases that ended up also having a personal use, like a company lunch with leftovers.” “It’s reasonable to ask to be reimbursed if they pay you for a PTO day you didn’t actually have. It’s not reasonable to ask you to reimburse them for the day you weren’t working if you don’t have PTO and they don’t pay you for it.” “It’s reasonable for them to ask you to reimburse unusual personal use of company property, like tons of long-distance calls or a 100-page fax. It’s not reasonable for them to ask you to reimburse them for company calls on the company phone, or company faxes on the company fax.” This kind of crazy happens every time, and every time, he tells his co-workers my thoughts and goes to his boss and they end up with a new contract/agreement.

    So, my question is, are the unreasonable asks most likely attempts to get something extra if they can, or absolute stupid? (Because, for other reasons, if I found out Lex Luthor owned this company, I would be unsurprised, so I do wonder.) Are other companies actually pulling off this level of milking employees?

    1. Allypopx*

      Either motivation could be true, that really depends on who is writing these policies (like the individual person not just their role) so it’s hard to speculate. I’ve had companies suggest some b*tsh*t stuff that legitimately made sense to them for one reason or another.

      That said, BLESS YOU for reviewing these and helping him shut them down. That’s just awful. LEFTOVERS??

      1. WFH with Cat*

        Yeah, the pay-us-back-because-you-had-leftovers had my head spinning.

        But paying the company that didn’t pay you for a day you didn’t work because you didn’t work it … I can’t even.

    2. animaniactoo*

      Yes, there are companies that are pulling this level of milking employees. Is your husband working for one of them vs somebody who has been promoted to an HR role they’re not suited for and has a general cluelessness about whether the ways they’re trying to save the company money are reasonable? Totally unknown.

  41. Dittany*

    This happened years ago, but I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts.

    A few jobs ago, I was working in a manufacturing plant, and was paired with a woman who was re-entering the workplace after being a stay-at-home mom for 25 years. I asked her if it had been hard getting used to our shift’s 6am start time, and she laughed and said it was – especially since she had to wake up even earlier in order to make her husband’s lunch. I asked what her husband did, and he apparently worked at home, with no set schedule. I didn’t think it would be appropriate to give her my true thoughts on the matter (i.e., “Wow, that’s not fair at all. Is there a reason why your husband can’t make his own damn lunch instead of forcing you to get even less sleep?”) so I just let it go.

    How would you all have responded?

    1. Artemesia*

      I am not as nice as you, I would have laughed and said ‘You do WHAT? He can’t get up and make himself a sandwich?’ But then I have a partnership marriage and have had for nearly 50 years. I am always astounded that people put up with doing all the emotional labor at home, most or all of the household and child management and work full time with little or no participation by their partner. I have been at parties where a man says ‘I’d like pie’ and his wife halfway across the room jumps up and go gets him pie and serves him.

      1. Clisby*

        I do not think I could have resisted saying, “You … what?”

        Granted, it’s none of my business how couples handle their marriage, but this is on the level of “I have to get up early to pick out my husband’s work clothes for the day.”

    2. ThatGirl*

      I probably would have laughed and said “wow, you’re nicer than me, my husband can make his own dang sandwich and he doesn’t even work from home” – but I think it’s fine to let it go, too.

    3. Sunflower*

      Just what you had done. It’s extremely unlikely you would have responded with that and her response would be ‘wow really? I hadn’t considered that’. I highly doubt your comment would have enlightened her into an option she didn’t know existed. It’s none of my business how people want to live their personal lives and there are a lot of people out there who would happily do this- it’s really not your place to judge. Also…do you know what time she goes to sleep? Maybe she wakes up at 5am and then goes to sleep at 7 while her husband works from 12pm-8pm and the opposing schedules work out for them with the kids.

    4. Chilipepper Attitude*

      I think I might have said, oh wow, what kind of disability does he have? and then, so sorry, that was none of my business.

      More seriously, I would have said something about my dad never learned to cook either. don’t know how my mom put up with that.

    5. QueenJaneApproximately*

      I wouldn’t have said anything. There are all kinds of little favors spouses do for each other. If she didn’t want to do it then she wouldn’t. What’s unfair about it? Maybe he does something in the evening that she doesn’t want to do, so she gets time at home to relax.

      1. Golden*

        That was my thought. I’d gladly prepare all of my husband’s meals if it meant he would do all of the laundry and grocery acquisition.

      2. Msnotmrs*

        +1. I go to bed really early and my husband usually walks the dog really late, like sometimes 8 or 9 pm. Beings that I wake up at 5:30 to go to work, it is a kindness on my part to return the favor, like taking the dog out in the a.m., making the coffee, etc.

      3. Lizy*

        Yep – this. For any meal we have, I make a plate for my husband, and I take it out to him. Every time. It’s just something I enjoy doing for him.

      4. The Other Dawn*

        I agree. I don’t see anything strange about it. People sometimes, I would hope, do nice things for their spouse/partner.

    6. Glomarization, Esq.*

      I dunno, different couples have different ways to arrange household chores. I’m sure I do a lot of things around the house for Mr. Glomarization, or leave things for Mr. Glomarization to do for me, that don’t make me look particularly liberated. A wife making her husband’s lunch for him is only a single data point about how they order their lives.

      1. Just me*

        This. You’d be ill-advised to make a judgement call from one data point. I mean, how would you have reacted if you’d told her that seemed a bit old fashioned and she responded with, ‘Well, he’s been rushing around doing the school run this morning and was up doing the laundry late last night so I figured the least I could do was make him a sandwich while I was making my own’.

    7. Anon for This*

      I wouldn’t have said anything about it.

      My spouse and I have a deal where I cook, they do dishes. So I make lunches, spouse cleans up. In your colleagues case it could be old-fashioned sexism, or it could be a negotiated split of the chores. You don’t know, and shouldn’t assume.

      1. Malarkey01*

        I can honestly say one of the things that probably saved my marriage was both of us going through the household, pet, and kid related chores and dividing them up and sticking to it. We both now know and appreciate exactly what each other does and feel like it’s an equitable split- before that he had no idea ALLLLL the mental and actual labor that went into arranging the kids school, appointments, and activities and I had no clue that our outdoor landscaping didn’t just magically look so awesome but involved a ton of work).

        So yeah some of it might sound weird to an outsider who doesn’t know how everything is split but for us it’s a really equitable and happy arrangement.

    8. Pocket Mouse*

      I might express surprise, maybe or maybe not allowing it to be interpreted as asking for an explanation, e.g. “He doesn’t figure out lunch on his own?” And either look at her quizzically or follow with “Huh…” and turn back to work.

    9. Dark Macadamia*

      I wouldn’t say anything but I might not be able to prevent my face from saying some things

    10. Donkey Hotey*

      It’s a toss-up.
      To actually answer your question: I wouldn’t have said anything about it.
      Yes, I’d like to think that her lunch-making is balanced by him doing something for her. However, I deal with enough folks of earlier generations who do that sort of stuff because it is Expected and What the Wife Does ™. It drives me up the wall, but at the end of the day, it’s nunna my business.

    11. JelloStapler*

      If I had the talent of raising one eyebrow, I would apply it here. Otherwise, just nod and “Interesting”.

    12. animaniactoo*

      “Can I ask why it’s your job to make his lunch for him?” if I said anything at all.

      Vaguely possible it’s some agreed division of duties that was reasonable vs “all housework is the woman’s job” kind of thing. My question would be part curiosity, part an attempt to prompt her to think about if it was the latter situation.

      Of course, I would also be asking why she got up earlier to make it instead of making it the night before… but that’s a separate question… that should probably not be asked either unless I had more of a relationship with her.

      I might indicate that such a division of labor was not something I would agree to, but I would be expressing a personal opinion about what *I* was willing to do, not what *she* should do or be willing to do.

    13. RagingADHD*

      If you actually think he’s literally “forcing” her to make his lunch, then you should follow the advice on this site about pointimg coworkers to domestic violence resources.

      I seriously doubt that’s the case. In your position I’d MMOB about the way people who have been married 25+ years choose to show love for each other.

      She’s doing a little nice thing for him because she wants to.

    14. It's a fish, Al*

      I think you did the right thing, just letting it go. Who knows how he made her life easier.

      That being said, I am reminded about when I had my well dug. I was a day out from moving across the country, dealing with two small children, and the digger operator came in at noon, sat down in my kitchen (which was filled with boxes and newspapers for packing) and said, “just a sandwich will be great, thanks”. He was serious. There are people out there to whom the concept of dealing with their own food is completely foreign.

      1. Wisteria*

        the digger operator came in at noon, sat down in my kitchen (which was filled with boxes and newspapers for packing) and said, “just a sandwich will be great, thanks”.


        Did you reply with, “A sandwich sounds great, pick one up for me while you are out.”?

    15. allathian*

      She’d been a homemaker for 25 years and had probably been doing most or all of the household chores, except possibly those involving power tools, for all of that time. I would probably not be able to resist saying something like “I sure hope your husband has dinner waiting for you when you get home.”

  42. MMM*

    So I consistently, repeatedly, frustratingly, get passed over for candidates with more experience. I hate it, but I understand it, because I’m trying to move into a new field, and even for entry level jobs, there are candidates with more experience or internships or skills.

    Yesterday, I had a 2nd round interview and at one point the interviewer stopped to clarify for me that this was truly an entry level role. She said something like it sounded like I had a lot of experience and she wanted to be very clear about the role. Maybe I’ve just gotten very good at selling myself? Not misrepresenting anything, but spinning how my unrelated jobs have provided me with transferable skills that would apply.

    If I were to make it to the next/final round, would it be worth revisiting? I would lose my mind if I didn’t get the job because they thought I was overqualified, when I literally miss out on every other job for being underqualified. I was thinking maybe just a general question like “are there any other concerns about my background or fit that I could address for you?”

    1. Chilipepper Attitude*

      I think you could ask, last time you had concerns about the fact that this is an entry level role, do you still have those concerns? And be prepared to talk about why you want the role, you are moving into a new field, etc.

      Maybe others have more to say about what your answer could look like?

  43. Gipsy Danger*

    I could use some advice and encouragement. I was laid off at the beginning of April due to COVID related funding cuts, and was able to get a temporary (6 months) job in the same field at the end of June. I was told when I was hired that they expect at least some of the temporary jobs (they hired for a bunch) will transition to permanent in the new year. I am determined to keep this job. I really like the department I’ve been assigned to, and while I don’t get benefits now (as I’m temporary), the benefits here are great (I live in Canada, so health insurance isn’t an issue, but this job has all the extended benefits, four weeks holidays to start, plus a great pension and short and long term disability, which will become relevant in a moment). I have been on the job 4 weeks, and things are going really well, I’m getting great feedback.

    I have struggled my whole life with chronic insomnia and am having one of the worst flares of my life right now. My psychiatrist just prescribed 4 different medications, if that puts it in perspective. I have been struggling through it, getting to work on time etc., but this week has been incredibly challenging and I was 10 minutes late to work today. When my new boss saw me I guess I looked pretty rough and she asked why I didn’t call in sick and I said because I am new and want to do well here, and because I am temporary I don’t get paid sick days (I can afford to take the day unpaid) and don’t want to be off sick within my first month! She was lovely and said that it would not affect my employment, that no one would judge me, etc., but I can’t help feeling like I don’t want to be the person who was sick so early on, plus, I have no idea if/when the insomnia is going to abate so may feel even worse in the next week or two.

    Any advice good readers?

    1. Colette*

      I’d take her at her word that it’s OK to call in sick if you need to. (I called in sick 3 weeks into my time with my current employer; I didn’t want to, but I really needed to.)

    2. Artemesia*

      You are seeing a doc so you probably have all the advice on sleep but I have a serious issue with insomnia and occasionally it flares up to pathological levels. CBT programs for sleep are the only thing that got me past it. They are hell for about 2 weeks to implement, but it changed my life. None of the drugs in my experience work well over time — and I have half a dozen too. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy retrains your relationship to bed and sleep and it does have a good track record. When mine was at its worst I had great sympathy for Michael Jackson who died because he required anesthesia to sleep.

      1. Gipsy Danger*

        I have definitely tried it all from the normal (sleep test, sleep specialist, sleep psychologist, sleep restriction, ALL the drugs), to the more out-there (TCM, acupuncture, CBD/THC), to the old wives tales (have a bath before bed! drink warm milk! etc). I also have excellent sleep hygiene.

        1. Pool Lounger*

          Just wanted to say I’m with you. I have a sleep disorder. No amount of cbd, sleep hygiene, etc does anything. Even hardcore drugs that knock most people out flat don’t make me sleepy. Trust people with insomnia, we know about all the tips and tricks. We’ve tried them all before.

    3. I'm just here for the cats*

      Oh that is rough. I can understand your thought and it was lovely that your boss said it would affect your employment. But it can affect how others see you, which is really stupid.

      I think you did everything right. If it really affects you I would recommend talking with your boss, explaining that you really love it here and are really interested in becoming pernament. And if you need a day explain that you are having a reaction to a new medication and you might need a day.
      Good luck, it sounds like you have a lovely boss.

    4. Environmental Compliance*

      I don’t have any good advice, but lots of internet hugs.

      I once started a job and immediately got a very rough flu-ish bug that knocked me out for 4 days. I had actually attempted to drive to work (as I didn’t want to miss my second day at work) and had to pull over on an interstate exit to puke. Of course, when I puke, I cry, and then was woefully calling my brand new boss to tell him I was needing a sick day or maybe more and that I was so sorry for everything.

      Boss tried really hard not to chuckle at me, told me to go home, it will be totally fine, here’s his cell, send a text if I need anything. Came back the next week and he stopped by to ask how I was doing and reassured that everything was good on the work side. The only comment I got from anyone was a “we heard you were sick! how are you doing?”.

      It may feel like everyone will notice and that you’ll be *that person*, but the majority of the time you won’t be.

  44. Fuzzy Alligator*

    Has anyone resigned just as their new boss starts? I will likely be running into that situation in the next few weeks – as I accepted a contingent offer this week and my new boss is set to start Monday. Would you go to your boss’ boss instead?

    1. I'm just here for the cats*

      I’ve never had this happen, but I think HR if you have one would be a good start. Is there a gap between when your old boss left and your new boss starts? If so is there anyone who is helping out in the interm. Maybe from a differnet department? Otherwise the boss’s boss would be ok I think.

      1. Sunflower*

        Yes- give notice to them but maybe I would expect to go through transition plans with my bosses boss heading. But definitely give notice to your direct boss.

  45. I'm just here for the cats*

    Would love to get people’s perspective on using more inclusive language without gender bias. My go to saving for a bunch of people is guys. As in “Have a good night, guys”. We have some nonbinary people and I am trying to be more thoughtful when speaking. I do better in written communication because my go-to is all “hello all, here is the meeting agenda”. (This stems from using a chat room in a previous job where if you wanted the chat to go to everyone you had to type @all. Otherwise, it would never alert people. “@all the website for product X is down. Be aware of call increases”).
    I am trying to make a conscious effort, can anyone help with wording. Folks is a bit hard for me, because where I grew up folks was used as a term for your parents. As in “Tell your folks I said hi”. Any suggestions?

    Similarly, how about non-gendered terms for getting someone’s attention. I work at the front desk for our office and I might need to get someone’s attention, but I don’t know their name, or for confidentiality, I may not want to use their name. If I was working with kids I would say hey buddy, or hey kiddo, but these are college-aged people and kiddo sounds weird for someone who is maybe less than 10 years younger than me. I don’t want to resort to miss or sir, as that sounds a bit to formal, and again gendered.

    And suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    1. londonedit*

      For the first situations I’d just use ‘everyone’ or ‘all’ – ‘Morning all!’ ‘Have a good weekend, everyone!’

      For the second situation I’d probably go with ‘Excuse me’ and a little wave to catch the person’s attention. Or if I was going over to someone’s desk to ask something and I wasn’t sure of/didn’t want to use their name, I’d probably just say ‘Hello!’ if ‘Excuse me’ would feel too formal.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      For getting someone’s attention, there’s nothing wrong with “excuse me”, or “may I help you”, or even “hi” or “hey”. Add hand motions if you need to.

    3. Jasmine*

      I’ve been using “everyone”, “gang”, “all”, “y’all” or “peeps” as a collective noun quite a lot recently (also trying to avoid guys) and it’s been going down well. And to get someone’s attention it’s “hi there!”, which works for people of any age.

    4. Mental Lentil*

      I like “everyone” or “all”:

      “Have a good night, everyone.”
      “Have a good night, all.”

      Of course, I do from time to time just revert to “comrades” which works well in most cases.

    5. I'm just here for the cats*

      For clarification I work at a university in the couseling department. There might be times where I haven’t checked someone in yet so I don’t have their name, but I need them to do something (like put a maks on) or I might not want to use their name but I need them to come up to my desk for some reason, (paperwork or something).

      1. Wordnerd*

        “Folks” as exclusively meaning parents might be regional, but where I am, our Campus Climate department uses it pretty regularly as a non-gendered alternative. Speaking of which, if you’re on a university campus, there is likely an LGBTQ+ or Gender/Sexuality resource office you could get some advice from!

        1. I'm just here for the cats*

          Yes, one of the counselors is connected with this office. I will probably talk with them. But they are out until right before classes start. And we usually have some all staff training mid fall that often has to do with diversity and inclusion.

        2. Squirrel Nutkin*

          Seconding on both counts!

          If you want to be super-sure that people of all genders/no gender perceive that you’re explicitly including them, I’ve seen some younger people in LGBTQIAA+ spaces recently use “Folx” with an “x” when they write to underline that inclusion.

          (I know “folks” is already gender neutral, but I guess the “x” says that it’s not accidentally gender neutral but gender neutral on purpose.)

          1. I'm just here for the cats*

            I’ve seen that too, and have always wondered why the x. That makes sense. Thanks for your help!

      2. sagc*

        I don’t think I’ve ever used “hey, lady!” or “hey, dude!” to get a stranger’s attention; can you explain further why you can’t just say “Excuse me, can you put your mask on”? Or is this situations where you’re using a last name + Mr/Ms?

        1. Ya Girl*

          I think OP usually defaults to “excuse me, sir” or “ma’am” and is looking for replacement terms. Personally I’d just go with “Excuse me!”

          1. Mental Lentil*

            Could OP do something like “Person with the blue sweater…would you mind putting your mask on?” Could that work/be acceptable?

    6. Chilipepper Attitude*

      I somehow did not grow up using gendered terms in situations like this. I seem to get by very easily by saying things like excuse me or morning all. Is your concern that you are trying to find a way to be polite? Or just trying to break a habit?

      If I needed someone to come up to my desk, I’d say, “excuse me, I have some more paperwork for you.”
      If they don’t hear me the first time, I just repeat myself. “Hello, I do need to go over this with you.”

    7. MissCoco*

      I’m also not a huge fan of “folks,” my go-to is “everyone.” It works quite well in most group greeting type situations, and feels much more natural to me than “people” or “all”
      I’ve also gotten in the habit of nicknaming teams/groups as I’ve phased out “guys” so I might say “see ya, students!” Or “good morning research team”

      For getting someone’s attention, I find it pretty much has to be a very directed “excuse me,” with lots of eye contact so the person knows they are who I’m speaking to.

      1. Mental Lentil*

        I don’t mind “folks” personally, but I realize that it does tend to have regional variations in meaning like cats mentioned, and so try to avoid it. “Everyone” is always nice and inclusive.

    8. Jonah*

      I was about to say ‘folks’ but then I read further… If this would be genuine for you, would ‘y’all’ work? I’m in the south so that’s what I always use but I understand that might not work. Beyond that, you might just have to use no term at all, or maybe “have a good night everybody”.

      I have nothing for individual people, and struggle with this myself. I use sir and ma’am but if anyone has any alternatives I’d like to hear them.

      1. sagc*

        I think this is a very regional thing. I’ve never referred to someone as “sir” or “ma’am” in my professional life; generally, if I need to get someone’s attention, it’ll just be “Excuse me”. What are the scenarios where people are using “sir” and “ma’am”? I’m honestly really curious.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Where I live (also US South), sir/ma’am are the mainstream terms servicepeople use to address customers, or strangers who need to get each other’s attention in public.

          “Ma’am? Ma’am, you dropped this money over here.”

          Calling out “Excuse me” to get someone’s attention would be widely considered to be rude and pushy here, because you are not addressing the individual as a person.

          I have no idea how this local norm might adapt to be gender-neutral. Maybe, “Excuse me, friend,” but then you sound like Andy Griffith or a kindergarten teacher.

          1. I'm just here for the cats*

            “Friend” is an interesting piece. Might have to think on that. Maybe pal?

              1. allathian*

                Yeah, and at least for me, pal sounds almost as gendered as guy/s. Apart from pen pals, I’ve never heard of it applied to women or girls.

                In the 1770s, pal referred to a partner (in crime). It comes from the English Romani word pal or phal, meaning brother, probably a derivation of the Sanskrit brhata, meaning brother.

                Google “etymology of pal” for more info. Mashedradish has a post on this, but I won’t include a link because it’ll get stuck in moderation.

              2. I'm just here for the cats*

                I wish we had smiley faces on this site because that made me laugh. Just thought of a bugs bunny cartoon where he was pretending to be a gangster.

        2. I'm just here for the cats*

          Thanks for your suggestions.
          I am in upper midwest, grew up in Minnesota. Folks is usually used to refer to your parents like what I mentioned above. I also have a long history with customer service rolls, where we were often required to use sir or miss, or ma’am.

          Just saying excuse me, seems rude to me. Especially since the people I am working with may be in a vulnerable state (a student who just experienced a trauma). I would be the first person they have contact with and I do not want them to get the impression that they are not welcome. I know a lot of this has to do with tone too.

          I do sometimes revert to dear, or hun (I’m cis female), but I understand that can be problematic too, and does seem a bit too familiar.

          1. Nightengale*

            If I were a college student who may have experienced a trauma, I would 1000% prefer “excuse me” to “dear” or “hun.” From a staff worker I did not know, those would say to me infantilization or overintimacy, and the opposite of welcomed. (It’s been decades and I’m still pretty upset about college health services calling me “dearie”)

            “Excuse me” is really fine. Without the Miss/Ma’am/Sir.

    9. Donkey Hotey*

      I’ve seen “folks” used in some professional settings. It can mean more than just “parents.”
      That said, I quibble over using “guys.” I understand that in parts of the US, guys is seen as gender neutral when it’s really not. My standard suggestion is to go to a sports bar on game day and suggest that the jersey wearing fans watching the game like to have sex with guys.
      But to the point: folks, all, y’all, all-y’all (yes, there is a difference there), everyone, people.
      As to getting someone’s attention: Beyond “excuse me” or “hello there”, I have been surprised to discover that “Hey friend” works well. (More gender neutral than buddy or pal.)

    10. I'm just here for the cats*

      Thank you everyone for your suggestions. They are really appreciated.

      I know we have some diversity and inclusion trainings coming up soon, so I might be able to get more ideas soon.

      I do like the idea of “friend” as in “hello friend, can you come to the desk for a moment.” Pal might work too.
      It reminds me of a professor I had who would great the class and say “Hi Guys, Gals, and non-binary pals”. I don’t think I could pull that off.

      English is just so complex and I wish there were more friendly, nongendered ways to address a stranger that seems kind.

      1. Wisteria*

        I wouldn’t address anyone as pal. Maybe I watch too many classic movies, but that form of address used to used as a sort of veiled threat. The way your professor used it might be ok, as long as nb folks are good with being included that way. I wouldn’t say, “Hello, pal,” though.

      2. ecnaseener*

        I would be pretty weirded out by a stranger calling me “friend.” I’d think they were gearing up to proselytize at me. (But I’m not from the Midwest so maybe it’s more common there.)

  46. SurlyGirl*

    I’m having trouble revamping my resume using Alison’s advice of “accomplishments” not “job description”. The concept totally makes sense to me, but I’m having trouble thinking about what constituents an accomplishment. A lot of my job isn’t easily quantifiable (ex increased data input by 300%) and most things I would think to put down aren’t me taking initiative, they’re completing the task my boss assigned me. Does that count as an accomplishment even if what I accomplished was the expectation?

    1. Colette*

      I like to start each point by using a verb – for example, instead of “responsible for mail delivery”, I’d say “delivered mail” and then try to quantify it, if I could – e.g. “delivered mail to an average of 200 households per day”. Sometimes you can’t quantify it! But that’s how I start.

      1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

        Yep. And then you can qualify the “just did things my boss told me to” by indicating that you didn’t cause problems.

        “Delivered mail to an average of 200 households per day with no customer service complaints.”

    2. Not a Real Giraffe*

      Can you talk about your output in terms of frequency or speed? (Completed 95% of all [routine assignments] within [impressive timeframe]) or similar? Or talk about your low error rate in completing tasks?

    3. Distractinator*

      Absolutely! Those common examples bug me too, because they’re often coming across as bragging about to what degree the employee exceeded standard metrics/expectations, and I’ve never actually had a job with quantified metrics like that.
      As you’re prepping to write those resume bullets, write down a few things in notes so you can harvest your favorite phrases. What did your boss expect from the role definition? What did you do better than other people (past/present) at the job? Imagine your boss answering the magic interview question of what separates an average vs exceptional person in this role, and think about times/ways you exceeded that minimum. If your boss or coworkers were ever particularly pleased with something you did, what was it and why? If you quit tomorrow, your manager/coworker would say “gosh, we’ll really miss your ___ and I don’t know how we’ll handle ___ without you. The next [role] will really need to ___ to meet your standards”. Are there things you’re doing for your role now that aren’t part of how you initially accepted it, and did you grow your skills to meet a need, or grow the need based on your skills? If you had to write notes to help the next person do your job well, what would they include (and what of that content is worth claiming as special expertise developed by you)?
      Then when it comes to quantifying, it’s useful to give specific numbers just to ballpark what scale you’re talking about, you don’t have to be bragging about how many customers you worked with, it’s simply context for what you really did because things vary so much from place to place – does your workplace tend toward teams of 2-3 or 15-20? do projects tend to last 6 months or 6 years? does a role with one customer or a dozen? did you present a report monthly or annually?

  47. Mystic*

    Question. What do you define as recently? My family defines it as in the past 2 yrs, so I just want to double check. (I have sent something in, but I don’t want to ask for others thoughts/assistance if it is coming up/in the queue.)

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Oh, that depends so much on context. Is this for putting things in a cover letter or resume? “I recently got certified as a Llama Groomer” could be a year or two, I guess, but I’d just be specific about the date. Or is this just to answer a job requirement of “recent experience in whatever”?

      1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

        And I realized I totally missed the point of your question. I need more coffee…

    2. ThatGirl*

      Alison generally says give it a month or so; she occasionally answers questions that are older than that, but understands if people don’t want to wait beyond that.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I ask that you wait at least a few weeks.

      My response time really varies — sometimes it’s really fast (within a couple of days) and sometimes it can take quite a few months, since my backlog is large and I don’t answer in the order things are received. But I know it’s not reasonable to ask you to wait longer than a few weeks, especially when a response isn’t guaranteed. (Also, if you want, you can always email me and ask if I have yours in the “about to definitely answer” queue, and I can let you know.)

      1. Mystic*

        Thanks! I sent back in 2020, but since that was still when everything was going wonky, I wanted to check.

    4. Mystic*

      Ok, I got my answer, so now I will throw the actual question out.

      In June 2019, I started a new state government job, doing something I love. While I’ve worked multiple retail jobs before, this is my first Real Professional Career.

      Around Christmas/New Year, there was a lot of Overtime going around. I took the max I could, not only because I needed the extra money, but I also wanted to get into the good graces of my bosses and show I was dependable and would go above and beyond.

      It meant I went from working 40 hours a week to 50 hours a week, and I did it almost all month. I got sick about the same time (not really related to the overtime.)

      I’ve tried to set myself as being dependable, hard-working, all that stuff. I regularly help out with other people’s work, and will even assist with our seniors work if needed: if we have people out, the senior will do some of the work, and if the senior is out, I’ll do the work. In the past 4 years of working (in retail and professional), I’ve said no to one boss once. I’ve gone to work sick (not contagious, it went deeper).

      They offer overtime relatively regularly right now. We’re allowed to choose how much overtime.

      So. How do I politely decline it without it going against my dependable/professional image? I feel bad saying no, because I’m also one of the better ones working here.

      1. WorkLifeBalance*

        You should post this question as its own thread so people can see it and respond. Also, you can be dependable and professional without always saying yes to everything. Work shouldn’t be your everything, and people aren’t going to look down on your for saying no. If they are that may be a sign of a toxic environment.

      2. animaniactoo*

        Just say “Oh, I’m sorry, I’m not able to put in more time this week”. and leave it there. You need no reasons. Just a quick reply on turning it down (if you actually even need to turn it down vs simply not signing up for it).

        Dependable & professional – your image will remain in good stead as long as you’re not showing up late/taking excessive breaks/or other unprofessional *on the clock* behavior.

      3. ecnaseener*

        I’m wondering if your idea of dependable/professional has been colored by your retail experience — are you used to “dependable” being code for “having no scheduling constraints whatsoever, happy to pick up as many shifts as possible” ?

        In most jobs (and I’m guessing in your new job) you can be dependable by doing what you say you’re going to do — you don’t have to do the absolute most possible.

      1. animaniactoo*

        Apparently it helps to refresh the page before answering… lol. Glad to see my answer matches up with the actual timeframe.

  48. Mimmy*

    I’m thinking of applying for a part-time job that is more in line with my career goals than my current position with a state-run voc rehab center, which is also part-time. There are a couple of issues I have though: 1) I am WAY overqualified in terms of education and 2) the pay is lower than what I make now. (actually, I’m overqualified for my current job too! Long story)

    I am currently working on a masters degree related to the field I’m interested in (higher education) and expect to finish this coming Spring, after which I will be seeking full-time employment. My rationale for applying for this one part-time job are: 1) to get more hands-on experience in this new field and 2) I want to stay part-time while I’m still in school so that I don’t get overwhelmed.

    I should mention that the Masters degree offers internship opportunities but it is not required. I do plan to go this route in the spring if I don’t find a PT job before the fall.

    Any advice or swift, gentle kicks in the rear are appreciated!

    1. animaniactoo*

      Well… questions…

      Can you afford the lower pay? Is the pay commensurate with what the position actually is?

      Will the hands-on experience reallytranslate to better/sooner job opportunities/salary? Or is this just your through process, that it might? If the latter, you should definitely do some research on that.

    2. J.B.*

      Part time jobs are pretty normal for people in school, so I would think go for it, with your explanation of getting practical experience.

  49. NeedVirtualGameIdeasForWork....Please*

    Months and months ago there was a thread where a bunch of you all talked about virtual escape rooms/scavenger hunts, etc… and I took one look at that thread and went to my boss…. several weeks later I had created a virtual escape room and we did it during a team meeting – and it seemed like people REALLY loved it.

    So… I was talking to my boss and we were talking about doing another one, but I’m a bit stumped. I am NOT a librarian, but my interests tend towards what a stereotypical librarian goes for (reading, cats, gardening, etc…) and I struggled really hard last time to come up with hints and stuff that would appeal to a wide range of people. (Like, I used a Football jersey number for one clue… etc…). Does anyone have any fun, work-appropriate suggestions? :D

    Other work-appropriate virtual game ideas are welcomed too…. It’s a team of about 50; but we will likely break up into small groups.

    1. Colette*

      I do virtual escape rooms for fundraiser ( I assume you’re using a google form? You could do pictures where they have to find things (e.g. your clue is spiders, bats, gnomes, and you have a picture where they have to find how many of them are hidden to get to the next clue). You can do custom jigsaw puzzles from a picture with a message in it. You can use a code or a pigpen cipher or something that requires them to decode, rather than knowing information.

      I’d suggest picking a setting (e.g. carnival, farm, ocean) and basing your clues on escaping that setting.

      1. NeedVirtualGameIdeasForWork....Please*

        Colette – I hadn’t thought about finding things IN the image. Awesome. Last time I made it a virtual office – but all of the clues were trivia based-ish. This definitely helps. I also need to go check out your link! :)

        1. Colette*

          There’s also the puzzles like this:
          apple + apple = 8
          apple + pear = 11
          pear + banana = 8

          And then your clue is apple pear banana.

        2. Colette*

          Feel free to email me via the address on the page and I can give you access to some of the puzzles.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      This sounds like a good opportunity to recruit someone onto your game planning committee – someone who is interested in completely different things and has a different set of trivial knowledge to pull from.

      1. NeedVirtualGameIdeasForWork....Please*

        I wish! Our team is sooooo slammed right now. This will be management’s way of giving them an hour break. That’s why I figured I’d ask strangers for random ideas :D I’ll be working on this during the weekend, myself, it’s not even something I have time for with all my other duties (but seriously, I had SO much fun with the last one, that it was a stress relief for me and because *I* created it (and not during work hours; I shared it with my friends). I’m just… stumped right now.

    3. Almost Academic*

      Puzzled pint is a similar flavor of puzzles to what you find in escape rooms. They keep an archive of previous month’s puzzles on their website – you could look into that and see if any would work for what you want to plan? Huge variety of themes across different months.

  50. Fabulous*

    How do you know you’re in the “right” profession? I’ve definitely stumbled into my current role, but I know I’ve definitely found my niche. I do things that excite me and that I’m good at, but there are also some aspects of my role that I’m not so keen on.

    I don’t get to do a ton of project development (I just get other people’s projects to work on) and I’ve found that, since our most recent reorganization, I don’t have as much autonomy in my role as I once did – there’s now a lot of “we’ve always done it this way so it’s obviously best” type of pushback, and it’s really demoralizing. Also, now that I have a counterpart, Jane, I’ve come to realize where my strengths and weaknesses lie a bit more (compared to Jane) and I’m not sure that I’m a total fit for my “new” role. Say, our job entails ABCXYZ. I’m great at ABC, but feeling stifled on it. Jane is great at XYZ, but she’s close to retirement age, and I need a lot of development in this area.

    Should I suck it up and work on my XYZ skills to eventually replace Jane when she retires in 1-2 years, or should I start looking at other positions that focus solely on ABC?

    1. animaniactoo*

      There are always going to be parts of your job that you’re not too keen on… the question is… do you outright hate XYZ stuff and would be unhappy to incorporate more of that into your job?

      If so, then yes, you should probably look for other positions that focus solely on ABC… with one caveat. It may be useful to stay where you are now in order to get more experience/a close-up look at XYZ, because it can make you stronger at ABC if you have a better view of XYZ.

  51. Middle Manager*

    I think I may be burnt out past the point of no return in my job. I know everything was a dumpster fire in 2020, but even so, our understaffing and general dysfunction buckled under the immense workload increase of COVID beyond what I see in other organizations around us. I can care anymore, find myself taking too many breaks in the day bc I can’t deal, working absurdly late to make up the time and ending up working over my hours then, being angry at every little thing, on and on.

    Is there anything I can do to come back from this or does there come a point you just have to admit defeat and move on? I love the work I do, it’s truly a passion for me, but the conditions under which we’ve been asked to do it for 18 months have just become unbearable.

    1. Damn it, Hardison!*

      For me, my moment of clarity came when I realized that even if some of the things that were problematic changed, I was just done with my workplace. They could have offered me a title bump and a raise and I still wouldn’t want to stay there. With the COVID disruptions I think it’s harder to figure out what’s normal in the workplace, but maybe you can think about what you expect to change or not and whether your satisfaction in the job hinges on whether or not those changes will make it better.

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      Why not look around and see what else is out there? You aren’t immediately committing to leave just by job hunting, but it gives you the chance to see if there’s something better out there.

      I know how hard it can be to leave a job that used to be amazing, but no longer is. I’ve been there, and I stayed at a job far longer than I should have because I kept hoping that if I just tried hard enough things would be ok again. Instead I worked myself literally sick, dry-heaved from stress every morning, cried constantly, all while pulling 14 hour days and being told it wasn’t enough. I don’t know what your background is, but I had been raised to think that if you worked/tried hard enough everything would always work out, so if something wasn’t working out it meant you weren’t working/trying hard enough. I know now (with the benefit of hindsight and therapy) that that mentality is ridiculous. You can do everything right and still not win. Quitting a job doesn’t mean admitting defeat – it means doing what’s best for yourself. Recognizing a bad situation and removing yourself from it is not failure.

      You can mourn what used to be, but it’s ok to move on! And it most certainly would not be “admitting defeat” – it’s admitting you deserve better.

    3. ferrina*

      Is anything changing? The conditions you describe are absolutely unsustainable and require things that are way outside your control. So can you see those changes being made? Not just talked about or vaguely promised, but actually made?

      You ask if you can come back from this, and you might be able to, but without real change at your organization, you’ll just end up in the same place again.

      A Simple Narwhal said it well- quitting a job isn’t “admitting defeat”. It’s reclaiming yourself. You do not need to sacrifice yourself for this organization. There are so many other ways that you can pursue a passion and/or make a difference that won’t require this same horrible circumstance. It may take some time to find your next position, so save your strength and take breaks. It’s okay to do the bare minimum while you work on your exit!
      Good luck!

    4. Middle Manager #2*

      Wow I came here to post almost exactly this, with almost exactly the same username.

      I’ve been at my job for 7 years, but the past 18 months have seen unprecedented staff turnover (we just had 4 people leave within the last month) and the extra work has mostly all fallen on me because I was the only person left in any semblance of a leadership role. We finally have new management and I truly do think there are great plans in the works for the future, but…I’m tired. My position would play a pivotal role in all of these future plans and I just don’t have the enthusiasm or the energy.

      Have you been thinking about quitting without anything else lined up? That’s where I am, and I never expected to feel that way about this job.

      1. Middle Manager*

        Hey Middle Manager #2! So sorry you are in a similar spot. I have totally considered just quitting, but I’m in the pretty rare position of having a job with a pension. I’m just about a year out from it vesting, so feel like that is strong incentive to try to hang in. But I will definitely be on an aggressive job hunt in six months or so when that vesting date is coming up.

        Hoping things get better for both of us soon!

  52. Switzerland!*

    The vast majority of my team is in Switzerland, including my boss. I am FINALLY going to meet them next month!

    We will probably be going hiking for a team bonding activity. Swiss culture is conservative, and dress is historically conservative (blazer optional, but keep one handy kind of culture from what I’ve heard. The US office is slight more casual).

    My athletic shorts reveal about half of my thigh. What do I bring to go hiking with my boss and his boss? Are my normal shorts ok? Are leggings ok? I’m the only female so I can’t ask anybody else. Help!

    1. Cyclist*

      If you have the budget, there are some very comfortable lightweight loose fitting hiking pants out there (REI Co-Op, prAna, Columbia, and such) that might make you feel comfortable. I have no insight to Swiss hiking norms, but I come into work in tight-fitting biking clothes and change into professional suits, so my boss has seen me in lycra and it hasn’t been an issue.

    2. PeanutButter* ta daa! They are also very nice because if your hike has significant elevation change the temp can change rapidly! I’ve started a hike at 80F and within an hour was in the upper 30s because of cold weather coming down the mountain while I was going up. I usually wear compression shorts or capris underneath them to combat chafing.

    3. PeanutButter*

      Look for “convertible hiking pants” on REI’s (or any outdoor company’s) website. They have zip off lower legs, which can be very nice when hiking mountainous terrain, as the weather can change abruptly.

    4. Purple Penguin*

      For alpine hiking, I’d wear something that covers your legs. You don’t want to be bitten by critters or scratched by some thorny plant. Hiking pants would be your best best or more conservative leggings (think black rather than bright designs).

    5. Emma2*

      I would tend towards long hiking trousers – if I was choosing between shorts and leggings, I would go with the leggings. Depending on where you are hiking, shorts are not ideal (they don’t protect your legs from scratches, ticks, etc).
      I work in Europe, but any hiking I do is totally unconnected to work (and typically in the UK or Ireland). For what it is worth, I would not feel comfortable wearing shorts that revealed half my thigh on a hike here if it was work connected – I don’t know how much of this is personal and how much is ingrained cultural norms. To be fair, I also would not hike in shorts away from work because I don’t think they are as sensible as hiking trousers. I have been trying to think and don’t believe I typically see other women wearing shorts while hiking (the exception might be sometimes seeing older women in longer, looser utility-style shorts).

    6. Donkey Hotey*

      Another alternative would be the convertible hiking pants that zip off into shorts.
      That way, if you show up and they’re in shorts, you can be in shorts too. Otherwise, pants.

    7. Dark Macadamia*

      I usually hike in athletic leggings and would wear them for a work hike too, but if you’d be buying something regardless you might want to choose the less fitted type of pants others are describing. I wouldn’t hike in shorts regardless of who I’m with because I prefer more coverage from plants/bugs/my own thighs lol

    8. Anonymous Hippo*

      Maybe I’m thinking of hiking in more rural settings, but I’d not want to wear short pants in the woods for a lot more reasons than modestly. I’d worry about bugs and scratches. Light weight wicking hiking pants are great.

    9. RagingADHD*

      Not sure how close Swiss culture (and weather) is to German, but when we went hiking with our friends in Germany, they all wore jeans or long cargo-type pants with proper hiking socks and boots. On top, they generally layered a long-sleeve button shirt over a tee or tank.

      They aren’t super-conservative in terms of modesty, but they take hiking very seriously and dress for utility.

    10. ronda*

      since it is presumably a different climate than you are in, ask based on that rather than “dress-code” type of question.
      ~ what type of clothing would a woman need for the type of hike you are planning?

  53. Frustrated Consultant*

    What is a good way to push back on a project that you find unethical? For context: I’m in a leadership role at a consultancy. I’m happy to work in the majority of industries, however our BD team has been pitching a client that does something that I find unethical/morally reprehensible (something along the lines of puppy sales). What is a good way to push back on this client?

    For more context: we’re pretty successful in our sales efforts and are not hurting for clients or revenue at this point.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      If you can find an example of a company that got caught up in a client’s bad press, you could use that as an example. “I’m concerned we could be harmed by association, just like Random Consulting was when that whole Sucracorp thing blew up.” However, if the client’s business isn’t close to universally reprehensible (lots of people are just fine with puppy sales) you may be fighting a losing battle.

    2. Policy Wonk.*

      Do you not want to work on it yourself, or do you not want the consultancy to take it on?

      If the first, just make that clear – that if the BD team lands the client, you will not be working on it. At all. (That may be enough to lead to the second, if your partners are like-minded.)

      If the second, you need to say that now, but if your partners don’t have the same concerns you may find yourself looking for a new gig.

  54. GigglyPuff*

    Question about EAP. I’ve never used one but the post a while ago talking about EAPs got me thinking maybe they could help.

    I’ve been diagnosed with ADHD since I was a teenager, so 15ish years but beyond medication (which I’m not on anymore) and a few accommodations at school, never received any kind of support for it, and I’m finding it really impacts my personal life in a way that’s becoming harmful to another chronic illness. I’d like to start seeing a therapist who specializes in ADHD, especially one who understands executive dysfunction. But Google hasn’t helped at all when trying to find one near me. I’ve had bad luck at my current medication maintenance medical practice and someone who claimed to specialize in ADHD didn’t even know what executive dysfunction was.

    Would an EAP be able to help find a therapist who specialized in adult ADHD? Even narrow it down to a female therapist? TIA

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Some EAPs will offer that level of detail. At a minimum, they ought to get you a list of therapists who are seeing new clients, are nearby, etc. You don’t have anything to lose by giving them a call.

    2. Bon voyage*

      This sounds like something an EAP could do! Some insurance providers also have a similar service (mine has a phone line for this sort of matching patients with providers based on criteria like this, ymmv).

    3. Decidedly Me*

      Probably, but from a current search myself with a service through my insurance, they said that was one of the harder specialties to find a match for.

    4. cmcinnyc*

      I called our EAP during COVID specifically looking for someone specializing in stress relief. I got paired with some random guy, a traditional therapist. I have zero interest in traditional therapy. My sense was that the intake people aren’t really trained or qualified to sort through exactly what you need and pair it with what they’ve got. It was more like my name got fed in to the system and the next person with availability took it. Not worthless, but close.

    5. PeanutButter*

      I used my health insurance’s “Behavioral Health Helpline” to find one for an initial diagnosis. It still took about 6 months from my first call to getting on meds (since I had to be diagnosed by a psychologist before getting a psych referral from my GP to get medication). But they at least had a list for me start calling.

    6. Dino*

      Just two weeks ago I called our EAP to ask for help finding a therapist specializing in a specific (yet unfortunately common) traumatic experience. The person who answered said I’d get whomever she could find. Not helpful. So YMMV depending on which EAP your company uses.

    7. Wisteria*

      Maybe, maybe not. My experience with looking for a therapist experienced with adult women on the spectrum was similar to cmcinnyc’s. In fact, I’m pretty sure they picked the top person from an alphabetized list. It’s worth a shot, but definitely look through the people your insurance has in network yourself, too.

    8. CatCat*

      I think this is something an EAP could do. I used an EAP for the first time this and they were so helpful in connecting me with a therapist. Do it!

    9. Momma Bear*

      You still have to do your research because many EAPs will just give you a list based loosely on your criteria but nothing about how good they are/reviews. BUT they may help you uncover someone you might not have otherwise found. EAPs also generally give you a few sessions to get started so you can check out someone “for free”. However, you’ll want to confirm before getting too deep that they otherwise take your insurance. Psychology Today may be a good resource, too.

    10. J.B.*

      I have never had much luck with EAPs. Finding a therapist can always be tricky, even more so finding someone in network. Unfortunately your best bet is normally to collect recommendations from your primary, referral sites, and then call one by one.

  55. OyHiOh*

    I was on the receiving end of a really effective networking technique this week and wanted to share. The person I was talking with expressed sincere interest in the thing I wanted to share with them, then said we should meet for coffee to talk about it more. “We shouldn’t look up in two weeks and realize we haven’t gotten together yet. Tell you what, the person who makes the first contact gets treated by the other.” I emailed this person on Monday morning while clearing through my weekend email list and so, I’m the one getting coffee paid for later today.

    I have filed the “first to contact gets treated” away in my repertoire of ways to develop meaningful connections. As with most techniques, it’s not perfect and there are plenty of situations where it wouldn’t be appropriate.

  56. anonforthis*

    Has anyone lost interest in career advancement during the pandemic? I like my current job, but I realize now that my main aim for working is towards retirement. I don’t care anymore about working towards a prestigious role or company. It’s actually kind of a relief not having to worry about things like networking or making “connections” or too much about what my boss thinks of me. Of course, I will have to worry about these things to a certain extent to continue working until I retire.

    1. Chilipepper Attitude*

      My workplace is not managed all that well, including favoritism about promotions, but the pay is fine.
      Instead of worrying about navigating it all, I just decided I’m here for the money till I retire.

      Now I really feel, not my monkeys, not my circus and I just ignore all the crap and thinking about navigating anything, I’m just here for me (and the patrons). Its so much nicer!

    2. Overeducated*

      Sort of. I don’t think it’s for life, but I definitely still feel like I’m just treading water and trying to keep my head above the surface, and I don’t have the capacity to think about longer term goals or ambitious projects. Just working for the sake of paying the bills and keeping health insurance right now. This is absolutely related to the fact that I haven’t had full time childcare/school for my children for 16 months.

    3. Malarkey01*

      Same, but I’m not sure if it’s temporary or permanent. Soooo many areas of my life right feel like “this thing now is fine but I don’t have the mental energy or desire to do more”. I’m sort of goal-ed out which I think is partly pandemic languishing, partly reassessing what I like and don’t, and partly I need time to recover from this still ongoing here dumpster fire so no need to stress.

      I did do the thing where you put a bean for every month until retirement into a glass thing- it’s actually shocking how much smaller the pile is than expected.

    4. Donkey Hotey*

      For me, it was the triple-threat of pandemic, plus turning 50, plus realizing that the job I have, while not thrilling by any measure) will basica