open thread – July 30-31, 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.

{ 966 comments… read them below }

  1. Now In the Job*

    How do you know when it’s time to move jobs?

    I’ve been at my position for 2 years come October. I love it, love my team, am getting great experience and really solidifying my skillset. I *can* tell the position has limited opportunity for growth, so planned on leaving in about 3ish years. I’d be fully vested in my 401K by then, 10 years out of professional school, and have super solid experience that I’m hoping to parlay into a similar industry.

    But the one company I’ve always wanted to work for opened up a role for a position that basically described me. So I applied. And I have my second interview next week. And I’m not altogether sure whether I should even leave??

    How do I know when it’s time?

    ((And sidebar, anybody who speaks Japanese for business–it’s on my resume, it’s a US-entity of a Japanese company and the hiring manager is business proficient. Should I be prepared to use it in an interview? Would I be expected to use keigo?))

    ((double sidebar, is it a bad idea to do a video interview from your (closed door) office?))

    1. TheCultureisStrong*

      1) I did the same thing 5-years ago, when a job opened up at a fantastic company. Basically, your exact situation, I regret nothing.
      2) Yes, always be prepared to talk/discuss/use the skills you list on your resume
      3) Bad idea, what if someone knocks?

      1. Now In the Job*

        re 3, I have a lot of video/phone meetings on a regular basis that are confidential, so if I’m on a call and someone comes by my office, they wouldn’t knock. They’d either email or come by later. I did the phone interview with the door closed with the recruiter, but it definitely felt weird.

        1. TheCultureisStrong*

          Eh, I say go for it. My personal experience has been that people just don’t respect closed doors. Even when I was pumping in office, with a BIG sign. people still tried to open the door.

          1. Bossy Magoo*

            I had the pumping walk-in too. I was visiting another office and found an available room (this was back in 2001 before there were pumping-space requirements) but it didn’t have a lock. I taped a big sign that said PUMPING. DO NOT DISTURB. I’m assuming people might not have known what pumping meant, but geez, doesn’t everyone know what do not disturb means? Anyway, I was mid-pump sesh when a VP man in his mid-50’s opened the door to come in. WTAF? He was more embarrassed than I. I was just mostly frustrated and pissed off.

            1. TheCultureisStrong*

              Yeh, this was my personal, private office. Thankfully pumping has come a long way and I had one of those totally hands free ones, so aside from looking like Dolly Parton, it was very modest.

              which was probably what led to the confusion, since I would just be typing away at my desk.

      2. MissDisplaced*

        It’s generally a bad idea to do video interviews while at work or on company equipment. ‘Eyes & Ears’ are everywhere.

        I’d try to take off that day, leave early or something for a “doctor” appointment.

    2. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

      Yes, it is a bad idea to interview while at your other job, even if your office door is closed. Go to your car or find another place to be. It is entirely too easy to be overheard or interrupted while at work.

      As for knowing when it’s time to leave – there isn’t always a clear signal. It can be as simple as “This new opportunity is more exciting than my current work.” It can be as unclear as “I like the people and the work, but I am not gaining anything new and am becoming bored.” It rarely hurts to be open to new opportunities even if you weren’t ready to look right then.

      1. Mike*

        Employers replace employees all the time; it’s easy to think you’re letting them down, but you’re likely not irreplaceable, and if you are, that’s a problem for your employer. Quitting is hard but it gets easier each time you do it.

      2. Andjazzy*

        I’m a little conflicted. I took a lateral move at another company after my boss at my old job of 5 years threatened to put me on a PIP.

        I did a lot of work looking into the new job, including talking to coworkers that used to work there. Most of them said they loved it.

        What they did not mention was that during covid they laid off thousands of staff and are trying to streamline all of their operations to be more competitive. Now that their business is back up they’re hiring like crazy and they’re incredibly behind.

        Since I started 3 months ago 7 or 8 people in aware of have quit. Everyone on my team is complaining about the strain and many of them report working way into the night.

        I was contacted by another company that is expanding into my state and is interested in my expertise in my state’s laws. Would it make me look like a horrible job hopper if I left after a couple months?

        1. I'm that guy*

          No, you wouldn’t look like a job hopper and some would argue that you can leave that job off of your resume if you were only there for a couple of months.

    3. The Other Evil HR Lady*

      Two years at a job looks okay on a resume because you have a solid reason for wanting to move on to another job – that the right position opened up at another company and that you are looking for upward mobility that your current job won’t be able to give you. That’s unless… you have a bunch of 2-year stints all over your resume. Assuming that’s not the case, two to three years at a particular position is fine.

      You’ll know it’s time when the right position presents itself, like this one might.

      I don’t speak Japanese, but I am fully bilingual in another language. IF I’m interviewing for a bilingual position, I fully expect to speak/read/write my other language for that employer. It behooves them to test me. But if it’s not a position that specifies you must be bilingual, or it’s a “nice to have” option, I wouldn’t sweat it.

      And… it’s a terrible idea to interview from your current office – unless you’re referring to an office in your home. Otherwise, no. You will be subject to someone listening in, or a work emergency happening, or a fire drill…. you get the gist.

      1. Now In the Job*

        Thanks for the note on the language piece. Language wasn’t even remarked on in the requisition, although the hiring manager IS business proficient and had made a comment to the recruiter about falling out of practice. It put me on alert that he might decide to practice with me!

        I realize it sounds like I am claiming proficiency I don’t have–it’s not true, I’ve been taking classes for years and can comfortably speak it, but am largely perplexed by the fact that I *can* understand the language. I’ve never gotten this far in language study before, and it’s been a lifelong goal, so to be able to tell that I’m in the process of achieving it is mindblowing, haha. :)

        Particularly I’d appreciate a Japanese speaker’s thought on the keigo piece. I can use teneigo very comfortably, and while I’ve looked at keigo and can identify it when I hear it, I haven’t buckled into studying/practicing it. So there are limited phrases I can pull out of a hat and I don’t know all the conjugations.

        1. Nihongo ga dekiru*

          If you are just intermediate, you can get by with teineigo, but if your level is advanced or you come across as being advanced, people will expect you to use keigo. If you’re going to be working in Japanese, you should definitely master it. But there is also a lot of leeway for non-native speakers, particularly if you aren’t Asian (unfortunately).

          1. Nihongo ga dekiru*

            But definitely be able to greet people, introduce yourself, and wrap up a meeting using keigo, use your memorized phrases, and use teineigo for the rest. That should be enough for a while.

            1. Now In the Job*

              Yes, just hit intermediate/completed N4 within the last month. 本当にありがとうございました。外人ですが。。。The goal is certainly to get there….I just thought I had another three years! XD

              初めて目にかかります and と申します and でございます annnnnnnd. I think it’s a weekend of studying for me. :)

              1. Nihongo ga dekiru*

                Oh you’re all good then! N2 is where you should start being able to use it and that’s even borderline. I’m N1 and I would hear from someone if I don’t use it, but it’s hard for me since I use keigo so rarely. But I don’t even use Japanese at work anymore, so it’s just getting rustier.

                1. Naan Bread*

                  私の出番が来た!I’ve worked in Japan for close to 5 years. Like Nihongo ga dekiru said, as a language learner you get a lot of leeway from native speakers so if you can use desu/masu consistently you’ll be showing a good level of skill.
                  I hardly ever use keigo in daily life, other than some set phrases in key scenes (self intro, exchanging business cards, excusing myself from a meeting, etc). A quick way to brush up would be to look up some videos of specific situations. But the interviewer is also a learner? so I don’t think you need to worry about being perfect.

    4. Teapot Repair Technician*

      Every good job I’ve ever had has resulted from a position opening when I wasn’t job-seeking and me applying on a whim, because “why not?” The right time to move is when there’s a better job on offer.

    5. Constance Lloyd*

      You and I are in nearly identical positions re: time out of school and time at current company. I love everything about where I work but the pay and lack of opportunities for advancement. I’m looking, but I’m being picky! I can’t give a precise answer as to how you know it’s time to leave, but here is my current approach.

      In interviews with the hiring manager, I focus my questions on the aspects of my job I love. Everything from company culture, to flexibility, whatever I love. If their policies are too opposite in these regards, I know that no matter how much I enjoy the company or my tasks, I’ll be unhappy with the job. I also pay extra attention to how the hiring manager interacts with me. My current manager is excellent at respecting her reports and trusting our judgment, and I’m not willing to give that up.

      If I find a place that checks those boxes and offers the right pay/benefits package, I’m jumping at it! Until then, I can afford to stay put. I don’t know if this answers your question (sans sidebars) sufficiently, but if receive an offer which genuinely excites you, I don’t think wondering if now is the ~perfect~ time to leave should stop you from accepting!

      1. Now In the Job*

        I like this! Thanks a ton. It also reminds me that, when I came to this job, the manager I was moving under offered to have me interview her other direct report before I accepted the job to get a better idea about her leadership and management style. I might want to ask for the same thing with this guy.

        1. Constance Lloyd*

          Oh that would be fantastic! I had one interview where the final round was with the business owner and the one person who would be my colleague. It was great, she and I got to ask each other a lot of questions about our respective work styles and I felt like I got a really great feel for the job itself and the org as a whole. Then I turned down the offer because it turned out to be a 25% pay cut- go figure!

    6. Artemesia*

      Never let a great opportunity go by for some rigid rule you set for yourself (assuming you feel you would be good in the role — it would be different if you felt unprepared at this point).

      1. Not So NewReader*


        Setting rules for oneself can be very limiting and in some cases damaging.

        My favorite rule of thumb is to know what I am going toward. This means don’t run to anything to escape something else. But don’t take something because it flatters you as that is not a strong enough reason. Actually be able to articulate what you are going toward such as, “This new place offers me a chance to develop x, y and z which I prefer to be doing.” I like to think of it as, “How do I describe this move to someone whose opinion I value?”

        If you said you needed three years at the current role in order to qualify for special certification that would advance your career- then my answer MIGHT be different. There’s lots of variables but it all goes back to “know what you are doing and have a solid reason(s) for doing it.”

    7. Hillary*

      You’ll know if you find yourself excited about the new job as you interview. :-)

      I agree with the others, it’s not a good idea to do an interview from the office. there’s too much risk.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yes, you need to collect up more facts before deciding. Make one decision at a time, the current decision is just to do the interview.

        It concerns me that you might be using the company computer/wifi for your interview. TPTB can get upset over using company resources for personal gain/use. Where I work, they can trace every single key stroke I make.

    8. Ozzie*

      I wasn’t sure if I had written the top half of this comment – so at the very least, you’re not alone! I think it’s always worth applying to a position that interests you (I also just applied for one, though it would be a huge shift in career), and explore where it goes. Generally the largest concern is looking a little flighty, but after 2 years, I’m not so certain that’s a concern. You’ve clearly stuck around this long, and already can tell that it has limited growth opportunities. Even if you’re not unhappy tho, those are flag to at least look around, before it becomes a dire situation.

    9. Anyfizz*

      As someone that used to work with Japanese people (clients and internal stakeholders), if they are testing your language proficiency at all, then keigo would be highly recommended or required. Depending on how traditional the company is, you can slide into normal polite speak, but I would recommend showing that you can use and understand stock phrases if necessary. Though I’m thinking that if this person just wanted to practice, I wouldn’t worry about it at all.

    10. tamarack and fireweed*

      As my MIL says, it never (*) hurts to talk to people. And if you get an offer you get to reflect on it, and then make a decision. My decision-making process for things like this is: Carefully, and repeatedly, weigh every aspect of it, and then just do what my gut tells me. Dunno if it would work for us but it’s served me fine.

      Sidebar 1: yes. If I was on the interviewing side I would not just start talking in the language, and I would probably actually tell the interviewee beforehand, but some aren’t as considerate. If it’s a business-relevant skill that’s on your resume, you might get tested on it.

      Sidebar 2: It somewhat depends on the field (I’m on a temporary contract in academia, and it’s understood & accepted that people like me might do this) but in a typical private corporation I’d only do this if a) I really really can ensure privacy and b) I have no good alternative. Good employers are going to accommodate an employed candidate by offering to interview in the evening or over lunchbreak if you can take an extended one. With video calling these days I wouldn’t interview in my car – it’s not a work/thinking space for me and I don’t think it looks great. But I might select a quiet outdoors area. If all else fails, there are services like hotel rooms by the hour (plug it into a search engine!) – it’s not just for socially stigmatized activities. I know of people who use it to get a break during a day of in-town activities or while they kids attend an afternoon activity, writers who work away from home and the like.

      (*) … well, almost never

    11. MissDisplaced*

      The time to jump jobs is the time you’ve found a BETTER job!

      Seriously. I’m a strategic job jumper.
      You don’t have to even hate your current job.
      Sometimes it’s about money, sometimes commute, sometimes it’s “fit,” or function. Sometimes you just outgrow a job or want something undefined that makes work interesting again.

      I’ve been working a long time now, and only once in that time did I make a truly bad jump, and that was due to a lying, controlling hiring manager.

    12. acat*

      Re: Japanese
      About the usage of Keigo: Yes, you absolutely need it to use Japanese in a business setting. There’s just no way around it. Maybe brush up on it if you are rusty.
      If I saw Japanese on someone’s resume I would definitely be curious and test it in an interview setting. I guess, it wouldn’t be the most important thing if they are hiring a foreigner but I would be interested.

      My advise would be to give details on your skills (JLPT, oral/writing skills, etc.). Also, what exactly does “business proficient” mean regarding the hiring manager? N2?

    13. Garlic Knot*

      For the Japanese part if your question, 1) yes it’s best if you can show your proficiency at the interview if requested; 2) it will be to your advantage if you are able to parse keigo, i.e. understand what you are being told and react appropriately, but nobody is going to die if you stick to polite desu/masu when speaking yourself.

    14. Blueberry Spice Pancake*

      頑張って! I think you should take the job if the company continues to be a good fit, the pay is good, and you like the people and the work.

  2. Furloughed Ghost*

    I posted last week about resigning from my job, leaving cards on the desks of my coworkers when I went to get my things, and feeling bummed that no one had reached out to me. Thank you everyone for the dose of reality, I really did need it.

    It’s true that I did not have an ‘outside of work’ relationship with anyone I worked with. I guess I just figured in the whole big group, I’d hear back from one or two people. That even the managers who I worked closely with, who were very generous with Christmas gifts and even gave me $100 cash when I went on an international vacation, didn’t say anything was a letdown. But you all are right to not take it personally, because I would also probably not reach out if I found a goodbye card on my desk. So thank you everyone for gently but firmly telling me that I was taking the silence too personally and need to let it go. I’m going to do just that.

    1. Luna*

      I would take that to heart too, Furloughed Ghost…I know I would. I’m glad our group was able to look at it more realistically. If it would help, maybe picture them reading your card, smiling at what they read, and wishing you well.

    2. Let me be dark and twisty*

      I didn’t see the comments last week but I wanted to let you know that I did this too, when I left. I’d been with the company for ten years (they hired me straight out of college) but I left cards for the people I worked closely with in the mindset more as “thank you” cards rather than “goodbye” and made a specific point in each one to thank the person for something I learned from them. I didn’t expect anyone to reach out so I was pleasantly surprised when a few did.

      Perhaps if you’re still in need of a perspective shift, could you think about it that way? You don’t send a thank you for a thank you, so it’s okay not to get a thank you for a goodbye.

  3. Tuckerman*

    How have your jobs responded to the new CDC guidelines? I haven’t heard anything from mine yet. No doubt they’re trying to figure it out.

    1. Now In the Job*

      We were informed, not when the new CDC guidelines came out, but when new mandates started coming down. We have a few offices in areas that are “high transmission” areas, but so far as I can tell, nothing had been decided on how to handle that. Over 90% of our employees ARE vaccinated, but with the news about Delta…. .who knows?

    2. I See Real People*

      In the last few days, all but two healthcare systems in Dallas-Fort Worth are now requiring the COVID vaccination to continue to work.

      1. Whynot*

        As a person living in Fort Worth, I’m very happy to hear that (and hope the other two get their act together quickly, our numbers are rising fast and our Governor isn’t going to do a damn thing about it.)

        1. DarkSide*

          I’m also in DFW, and we were recently acquired by a company in Florida who are all back in the office. CEO is urging us to as well, but I flat out told my boss no. Not right now. Hopefully not ever, not fully anyway. I have a kiddo in school and just waiting for another shutdown. effing Abbott.

          1. ampersand*

            I am so curious to hear what that conversation was like! When I told my boss no I was told I’d be written up if I don’t return. Also in texas, and I think the governor is trying to kill us.

    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      Our plan is still complete return to the office after Labor Day, but I’m waiting to see if that’s rolled back. (There will be some WFH flexibility, but it’s very dependent on division.)

      1. Liz*

        This is my company too; although we are back on a limited basis; aka one or two days a week, with “normal” planned for after labor day, and some WFH as well, also dependent on each group. But i’m fully expecting things to change given what’s going on at the moment.

    4. ThatGirl*

      Have not heard anything yet. Our office is still at only 30-50% capacity on any given day, though that’s not being formally tracked anymore. And we had an all-HQ town hall meeting yesterday with about 300 mostly unmasked people and no mention of delta. But our county just went into the orange “substantial risk” column so it seems like it’s just a matter of time before they at a minimum reinstate masks. I hope?

      1. SlimeKnight*

        I work in local government. We reopened fully to the public in June but still require everyone and (employees and clients) to wear masks. Right now there has been no change, and due to the politics in the area, I don’t see any change coming. Certainly no vaccine mandate or even incentive.

        1. the cat's ass*

          We’re all vaxxed and masked (health care) but there has been some pushback from patients. Nope, sorry, you mask or it’s a remote appointment where I’ll be judging you.

          1. Windchime*

            This is smart. My coworker and his wife are both fully vaccinated and they, along with their two toddler daughters, all ended up getting sick and testing positive. They caught it from friends (also fully vaccinated) who came through town and stopped for a quick visit. The friends didn’t know they had been exposed until after the visit; the friends also got sick.

            I think this variant is a very catchy one and I’m back to wearing a mask, even though it’s optional in my area of the country right now. I’m honestly expecting another shutdown.

    5. H*

      Ours sent out a mass email and message on their app and was like “90% of us our vaxxed so nothing is changing”

    6. saffie_girl*

      I work in a virus hot spot. We are all back in masks in the office, a second survey has been sent out asking (anonymously) vaccination status, and we got an e-mail stating the vaccines are not *yet* being required of staff. For eligible staff, we are on a hybrid WFH schedule (3 in office, 2 WFH), but nothing official on that being adjusted.

    7. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      They’re a little slow – apparently unaware that everyone has to mask up now- because obviously the unvaxxed like spreading disease. I’m a little uncomfortable with diseases and have been avoiding the office.

    8. Dangerous Tacos*

      I work for our state’s health department (not as a healthcare professional, in an office). Nothing has changed. Our governor is very focused on getting business and tourism back to normal, and is basically pretending the pandemic doesn’t exist. It is a free-for-all around here.

    9. Cheesecake2.0*

      I work in a county where we are officially a hotspot. Haven’t heard anything yet. I asked in a meeting yesterday and was told they were deciding what to do still about masking requirements and it might take them a while to decide. We have until Sept 30th to get vaccinated though (or show religious/medical exemption paperwork).
      Also all employees are required to be back in the office first thing next Monday, no exceptions, to put in our 40 hours. And there’s already been 2 outbreaks last week among the people who volunteered to come back early, which was only a small portion of the overall staff.
      Great situation, I am so excited to be back next week (sarcasm, in case it isn’t clear)

    10. Anonononononymous*

      My governor is requiring folks who work in my agency to have proof of vaccination or be tested once a week. And I am THRILLED.

      I’m dying to see whether my anti-vax idiot cow-irker will choose the vaccine over having a swab shoved up her nose on a weekly basis.

      1. Ozzie*

        I wish this would extend to all workers, I’m a little dubious of returning to my workplace, despite being personally vaccinated. I’m glad you’ll have that extra layer of protection!!

    11. The Dude Abides*

      I work in state gov’t. Word came down this morning, masks are now required in-office again. Everyone back in the office by 9/5. If you need time to make adjustments for dependents, you have until 9/30.

      The union is still negotiating with regards to remote work. Vaccines have not been mandated, nothing on whether they will be.

    12. PostalMixup*

      My employer reinstated a universal mask mandate at our site about two hours before the city did, which was a few days before the CDC guidance came out. Today they made the universal mask mandate policy country-wide. But my company is very COVID cautious.

    13. PJS*

      I work for local government in Texas. The Texas governor has made it illegal for a government to require masks. So my employer is “strongly encouraging” masks since they can’t require it. I’m 99.9% sure they would be requiring it if they could.

    14. Anonymous Hippo*

      They never actually enforced the original rules, so I expect nothing at all to happen. I plan to go back to masking.

      Didn’t make it any harder that once I got vaccinated and stopped masking I got a cold within 3 weeks, after not having been sick since the first lockdown.

      1. mreasy*

        Even before Delta started looming, though, they are requiring proof of vaccination (period) to return to the office.

    15. madge*

      I work for an academic medical center and masks are required when social distancing isn’t possible. The exception is if you’re in a “stable group” such as your lab or office suite (which is absurd; there are at least two unvaccinated individuals a few feet from me). No one is allowed to go back to remote work even if they have family members who can’t get vaccinated. Vaccinations are not required for employees, even patient-facing ones. There will be drawings for prizes among any employee who submits a photo of their vaxx record.
      My state’s Delta rates are so bad, we’re now featured regularly on CNN. Fortunately(?), one of the stories was about residents sneaking vaccinations so they don’t catch grief from their circle. Awesome. We’re a very liberal town and school whose top administration does whatever our Republican governor wants. I’m not sure how this will play out but we are having a terrible time recruiting people right now and are receiving a fraction of the applications we used to.

      1. PostalMixup*

        I hadn’t heard the “stable group” exception, that’s ridiculous (I can deduce who you work for, since I also live in the state). At least you have the highest vaccination rate in the state? Though that doesn’t help when you have unmasked anti-vaxxers sitting nearby. Our AG is all pissy about our city-wide mask mandate. It’s frustrating.

        1. madge*

          Hello, neighbor! I bet I can guess your city. I’d like to give the health director a hug after the treatment received at the council meeting. Yes, we’re at a whopping 49.9% now…good grief.

          The “stable group” comment was in an internal email this week. It makes no sense that lab/officemates receive that designation although I suppose some researchers *do* practically live at their lab. Definitely frustrating and definitely par for the course lately!

          1. PostalMixup*

            Oh man, that was ugly. Fortunately, I live and work in the City, not the County, and our population seems to generally be more COVID cautious. It’s very interesting to see the way opinions about masking breaks down by city vs suburb in the mommy groups. And don’t even get me started about some of the other, farther out counties in the metro area…they can keep their fancy suburban public schools, at least our underfunded city district requires masking.

            Labs are family, right? You’re basically a household! There were definitely labs like that in my grad school days, and I don’t miss it. Good luck, and stay healthy!

    16. mousey*

      I am a little peeved at the higher-ups at my work. I work as an admin for a student affairs department at a state university. Everything is “Back to Normal”. They are not requiring masks anywhere on campus, including classrooms. Classes are back to full capacity too. They took down the plexiglass that was by my desk, without consulting anyone and we have no choice in the matter.
      You can wear a mask but some people are really brass about if they see you with a mask. Even getting into your face and asking if you’re vaccinated or not.

      My direct supervisors and all of my teammates are really great and my supervisor has tried as much as they can to push back. But we are all worried what will happen when 10000 students come back to campus next month. I’m actually disappointed with my work because they were so great in the beginning. Everyone worked to get student’s what they needed to go remote in March 2020, had mostly online classes and reduced class sizes for in-person classes. Put up so many signs and such for social distancing. Even after out state lifted mask mandates the school had it in place for months afterwards. But now everyone wants to go back to normal and is jumping the gun with everything.

      1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

        Currently our school is doing “good” with requiring unvaccinated staff and students to mask, but we are going back to full capacity, in-person every day. I’m worried what this will look like when school starts. I’m sitting at registration right now, and very few parents and students are masking, even though they are supposed to if unvaccinated, and our state is at about 50%. Hopefully this is just to make registration not a huge fight, and during the year it will be enforced.

        Last year we had about 1/3 totally virtual, and the remaining were in two groups, Group 1 attending Monday and Thursday, Group 2 Tuesday and Friday, and they switched off Wednesdays, which allowed us to maintain distancing. This was essentially a disaster academically, but we didn’t have any major breakouts (at my school–elsewhere in the district, they did).

        1. Jyn’Leeviyah the Red*

          It’s similar at my school — but we (any/all school personnel) aren’t allowed to ask if students have been vaccinated, so I’ll be curious to see if it ends up just being a free-for-all or if all students will need to mask.

      2. SyFyGeek*

        We only have half that number of students coming back in 4 weeks, but yep, plexi gone, desks jammed back in the classrooms, and Faculty have been told they cannot ask if a student has or has not been vaccinated. Because “it’s back to normal”.

    17. often trapped under a cat*

      I suspect my employer is both trying to figure out what to do now and waiting to see if local government (we’re in NYC) will reinstate the mask mandate.

      They have already decided to require vaccination in order to be in the office when we reopen fully in the fall (if? we reopen fully in the fall). In our current workspace, vaccinated employees are allowed to take off their masks and desks are six feet apart. I have been not wearing my mask at my desk but wearing it whenever I move around the office, even if I’m just going a few feet away. Whatever announcements are made in the next few days, I think I’m going to go back to wearing a mask full time, sigh. I had COVID (a very mild case thankfully) and don’t want it again (I was sick for a month).

      1. often trapped under a cat*

        btw when I say vaccination is required, that means fully vaccinated, out of the waiting period, and physical proof submitted to HR.

        1. Liz*

          My company required that as well, for those who didn’t want to wear a mask IN the office, but as I mentioned above, i fully expect that the change

    18. OTGW*

      We have to work in person (library) and we’re requiring masks again. We might also do hourly cleans again. I am gonna miss having the option to go maskless (don’t @ me) but it’s definitely for the best.

    19. Seashells*

      We received word this morning that we are going back to mask wearing (even fully vaccinated staff) and all COVID protocols are back in place.

    20. Beth*

      Horribly. The most entitled guy in the chain of command was in a tearing hurry to stop wearing his mask, and now he’s shooting down any attempt to re-open the subject. We’re in one of the country’s hottest Delta zones and we have unvaccinated staff who are much lower in the hierarchy than he is, but he’s apparently been off drinking Kool-aid.

      I am NOT having a great day.

    21. Liz*

      Nothing yet; at the beginning of the month, it was announced we’d start going back to the office, gradually, beginning last week. And had webinars on policies, procedures, etc. BUT that was before all the news about how contagious the Delta variant is, and the change in CDC recommendations. So I wouldn’t be surprised if this will be addressed in the very near future, esp. since I am in an area where cases are rising, etc. although NOT in a low vaccinated area.

    22. Three Seagrass*

      We go back to the office on Monday (which was decided months ago) and just got a stern email this morning that said:
      1. If you aren’t vaccinated, get vaccinated!!!…but we aren’t requiring you to.
      2. If you aren’t vaccinated, you must wear a mask!!!…but no mention of who is enforcing this, how people know who is vaccinated or not.
      3. You can wear a mask even if you are vaccinated :)
      4. Large groups can’t use conference rooms, they must still meet over zoom….and we are going back to the office why?
      FYI, my entire state is a hotspot. Has been pretty much the entire pandemic.

    23. KAT*

      Shockingly my company (a law firm) announced that masks would be required again after our governor announced a mask requirement for government buildings. They’ve definitely been in the middle with regards to Covid requirements, so the proactive stance is encouraging.

    24. Flower necklace*

      The big district to our north just announced that they’re going to do universal masking next school year, so I would be very surprised if we didn’t end up with a similar policy. That’s great, because trying to determine whether or not a student can wear a mask based on vaccination status would be a nightmare with teenagers. Better to have the same policy for everyone.

    25. Annony*

      Mine did. They reinstated universal masking for all locations in areas of high transmission and kept recommendations the same for all other areas.

    26. UnhappyCardinal*

      St. Louis City: my company is following the city mask mandate. Work from home is not permitted except as a medical accommodation: all staff have been back in the office 100% since July 5 even though 50% of positions can do all or part of work from home.
      Office morale is quite poor–so, it’s dangerous enough to need to wear masks all day, but not dangerous enough to let us work from the safety of our homes? It helps that I know my immediate cubicle farm workers are all vaccinated.

    27. Justme, The OG*

      I work in Higher Ed and we’re barred from requiring masks or vaccines and also lowering the amount of quarantine space. So basically, we’re not.

      1. Windchime*

        It’s weird how it is so different in different places. I work in higher-ed (adjacent) and all of our students are required to show proof of vaccination before returning to in-person class this fall.

    28. Kiwiii*

      we’re requiring masks for everyone in common areas and when in closed spaces with others; i wish there was a little nuance (i share a not-tiny office with someone, but we’re both vaccinated and hermit-y/don’t really have social lives outside of work and so are probably fine to not mask together), but I also understand that when you start making some exceptions people push for more, so.

      Most of my team is only in the office 2-3 days/week anyway.

    29. A Poster Has No Name*

      So far, they’re not. We have a lot of sites all over the world, and so it’s been up to site leaders to determine return to office plans.

      My location opened up for hybrid at the beginning of this month. Cases have just started to rise in the state in the last couple of weeks and so I imagine (knowing how they’ve handled things thus far) our site leaders are monitoring numbers to see about next steps. With people in 2-3 days a week, for the most part, and not all teams requiring people to be in person at all, the place isn’t terribly crowded (except in the cafeteria, as they only have one caf open and it’s the smaller one, so even with reduced staff it still gets pretty crowded at noon). Personally, I’m keeping an eye on numbers and will probably start masking again within the next week or two. Pretty much nobody is masked at the office now, though that may change, and they may require them (or send us back to remote).

    30. Concerned Academic Librarian*

      Our region is hurtling back into the high category and so far it’s still “BACK TO NORMAL.”

      I hate this place.

    31. Hell Job Escapee*

      I work for a county government in a state where our governor is….very hostile to mask mandates. However, the county I work for is solidly blue and the county leaders reinstated mask requirements for everyone, vaccinated or not. They also stated all employees must be fully vaccinated by September 30th (unless you have an exemption.) They also said that unvaccinated employees MAY be subject to weekly testing, but they haven’t come out and stated that they are going to do that.

      I’m frankly glad. This is my first week here and some of my coworkers in my department went maskless before the new policy change and I had no way of knowing if they were vaccinated or not.

    32. pieces_of_flair*

      I work at a state university. They are requiring us to come back to the office 3 or 4 days a week starting next week. However, they are also mandating vaccines for faculty/staff and students, and requiring masks unless we are in a private office with the door shut.

    33. Ugh*

      Our safety guy said that something will be coming down, but nothings been said yet. We live in a high transmission area and folks are wandering around the office with no masks on and they just moved a bunch of people to and back in the office.

    34. Barking Mad in the US*

      I work in an industry that is regulated by the US Dept of Transportation (although we are an independent agency within our stae) and am on the Executive Team. Just saw an email to our lawyers about clarifying the language about making sure each employee has been vaccinated, how to determine a mask mandate, and any incentives. Knew it was coming because we have yokels in our state who think it’s all a hoax. ::sigh::

    35. LizB*

      We’re still fully remote for everyone who can be (three of us have job duties that require physical presence), masked up in the office, and have been planning a hybrid setup to start in October… that planning is continuing, although who knows how things will shift. Even if the plan gets implemented exactly as it currently is, we’d have maximum 11 people in the office on any given day, still fully masked for the foreseeable future, for at least a month before we started allowing more people to check out in-office workspace. No word on requiring vaccinations – we’d be allowed to from a legal standpoint because of the work we do, but idk if our parent org will go that route.

    36. Applesauced*

      I work for a large multi-national company with offices all over the US and world – only vaccinated employees and visitors allowed in the offices (you had to show your card to HR for proof), you check in and out, and now offices in areas with red and orange (high and significant)
      levels of transmission added masks back.

    37. JustaTech*

      So far all we’ve had is another survey asking people 1) what site do you work at, 2) are you fully/partially/ unvaccinated and 3) if unvaccinated, will you vaccinate.

      My immediate site is pretty small and everyone’s vaccinated (though I don’t know for sure about the guy who just started). We are getting another new person who will sit across from me who has said she will start masked, so I figure for politeness’ sake I’ll go back to masking.

      Two of our locations have very high vaccination rates (self reported, but requiring you to tell the exact vaccination dates, so maybe verifiable-ish?), but of course our biggest site has a pretty low vaccination rate. (Luckily most people at that site already have to wear masks for work reasons, which is why we haven’t had any on-site transmission (yet).)

    38. Junimo the Hutt*

      If you’re vaccinated, masks are currently being recommended but not mandated. Company has set up a self-reporting system for that, so unvaccinated must social distance and wear masks. They’re sending me and other desk jockeys home on a partial or full WFH basis again. I work in a hotspot but the company that owns us does not. We have about 40% of the staff wearing masks all the time.

    39. Aggretsuko*

      My county put a mask mandate back up for all indoors and my work quickly followed. Beyond that, nothing yet. I’m just waiting to see if they cancel in-person return in September at this point. I sure as heck don’t want to open the office to the general public for walk-ins, but I doubt we get to make that decision.

    40. anonymath*

      Somewhat surprisingly, perhaps, to me, we got an email that said effective immediately anyone who can work at home can go back to working at home (our warehouse workers can’t) and anyone in a substantial- or high-spread area needs to wear a mask in the office regardless of vaccination status.

      Pretty decent response in my opinion!

      Employees asked in a “town hall” if there would be vaccination incentives. The CEO was like “you get 4 hours PTO to get your vaccine, and also I’d think the benefits would be self-evident” he was trying really hard not to roll his eyes or say outright “your benefit is not dying, dumba&&”

    41. OtterB*

      Not much change for us, but that’s because we’ve been doing well anyway. We had an in-office meeting yesterday and today (first time for more than a handful of people to be in) and were required to mask, although we are all (I am pretty sure) vaccinated. We’ll probably be trickling back in and I expect there to be more work-from-home than there used to be, although we’ve always been flexible.

    42. Anonymous to Avoid Detection*

      How has my office responded to current CDC guidelines? Hahaha! My office has NEVER done much in the way of Covid precautions since March, 2020. It’s viewed as a hoax in Idaho. Luckily, I was able to finagle WFH out of them or I’d be unemployed.

    43. Mimmy*

      Nothing here either (state government-run program). In fact, we’re continuing forward with the next phase of my state’s “return to work” process (not sure if it’s all state workers or just my specific state department). Beginning next week, employees must work at the office two days a week. My program is exempt because we’re still virtual, and the in-office computers are not equipped for remote programming. When at the offices, masking is required except when it isn’t practical, e.g., eating, and when reasonable accommodations are needed for a disability.

      There are plans for my program to return to in-person programming (with limitations I think) in mid-September, and that still appears to be on track, but I wouldn’t be surprised if concerned are raised as I think some counties in my state have high transmission rates.

    44. HM MM*

      NYC: We must be vaccinated to be in the office. Proof must be sent to HR. We must be back in person by Sept, and if we haven’t provided proof of vaccine to HR then we don’t have a job. Our General Counsel said he researched the matter thoroughly and that as long as this a 100% consistent requirement (barring some sort of documented medical exception) across all employees that we are legally in the clear to require this. I’m just repeating what I was told, buy he’s a generally competent/risk conservative person – so I don’t think he’d ok this stance if he weren’t 100% sure we were in the clear to do it. Also several other very large, big name firms in our industry/area are going with similar requirements – vaccines required, including proof of vaccine.

      We do not have to wear masks or social distance in the office (because every must be vaccinated to be there). No word on that being changed or our Sept return date being changed yet, but we’ll see.

    45. Anax*

      Bay Area here, and very little has changed. They weren’t going to ask about vaccination status, but CAL-OSHA guidelines require it apparently, so now California employees will be getting a survey.

      About 10% of folks were allowed to return to the office a couple months ago, if their jobs were much easier in-person. Masks required, health affidavit required each day working in the office, little cards in cubes to note if they’ve been used so they can be sanitized, all that; I don’t think any of the COVID measures had really been reduced, except that they went from maybe 3-5% of usual office capacity to about 10%. (The initial folks were those who absolutely could not do their job from home, like “whoever has to come in and check the mail”, or rare cases where they didn’t have wifi at home or something.)

      They were targeting another wave (“phase two”) for late summer, but that’s been indefinitely delayed. Not much difference for my team – we’re desk jockeys, so all of us are planning to be completely or mostly WFH permanently. (Not least because commuting in the Bay is awful.)

      One of my partners works a similar desk job, and also has no changes; they already weren’t even considering returning to the office until 2022. The other works retail, and the store will now need to take down its giant sign saying that masks aren’t required for vaccinated people, but that’s about it. We really never opened back up here, so it’s not much change.

    46. Workerbee*

      Considering my workplace yanked everyone back to the office LAST May, as in 2020, as in after the state edict to work from home in March was overturned, and just this week, a colleague actually said, “Now that the pandemic is over…”

      …I am sure they will continue to know better than any ol CDC. Sigh.

    47. NerdyLibraryclerk*

      I work in a public library, and we’ve been back to quasi-normal for a while – branches open, some in-person programming, study rooms, etc. Though we have stations where patrons can get wipes for the computers, and the staff desks still have sneeze guards.

      With the Delta variant rising in our county, we’ve gone back to requiring masks for staff (even though we’re all – or nearly all – vaccinated). We can’t really require anything from the public without mandates from the government, though. And, while we’re not in Texas, we are somewhere that’s apparently gotten tired of the whole thing and is now adopting the “no, really, it’s over, tourism!” approach. *sigh* I mean, things could be a lot worse. But they could also be a lot better.

    48. tamarack and fireweed*

      Our last communication (return to campus being imminent while COVID/the Delta variant are on the up) was I thought a little waffly. But then today I read a blog post style text from one of our senior leadership that reminded me that they conducted a survey over the summer about our COVID policies and specifically on what the community thought of requiring vaccination, and the result was split 50-50 down the middle. The blog post correctly pointed out that if you have a situation like that and you choose a path that’s the average between extremes, your plan will be disliked by everyone. So I guess even though I thought the leadership was steering a pretty good course up to now, they are currently a little stumped.

      In principle we are now supposed to get an ok from our unit leader and file a WFH plan if we want to continue to work from home, but my supervisor is absolutely ok with everyone following the course that enables each of us to continue the work according to our own judgement (some having worked from the office 100%, some from home, some in-between). Oh, and email just came in while I was typing that the face-mask policy indoors (except inside private offices with door shut) is back in effect in locations with a transmission level of ‘substantial’ or ‘high’.

    49. CatMintCat*

      I’m not in the USA but we seem to be dealing with the opposite – over-regulation. I live in a community (remote inland Australia) that hasn’t seen a case of Covid since April 2020. However, because Sydney is having a surge of Delta cases, masks are mandated. We are 650 miles from Sydney, but the State government refuses to acknowledge that things just might be different in the bush.

    50. MuseumNerd*

      I work in a public facing museum job in a major Delta hotspot. We’re back to limiting capacity and requiring masking in the building. It’s been a little rough to transition back but we’ve gotten much less pushback than I expected.

    51. All Monkeys are French*

      No word yet on any changes at my workplace. We all work in person, and since mid-June the only ones wearing masks have been the one or two unvaccinated people, and those with regular public contact. We are, however, in a high transmission area, so I plan to wear a mask on Monday whether it’s required or not. It will be interesting to see if anyone else wears one.

  4. UX Writing*

    I’m a technical writer who is considering pivoting to UX writing.

    Anyone with experience in both, can you share your thoughts? Likes/dislikes, difficulties, any advice?

    My motivations are: working with more/newer tech, increased salary, and better chances at fully-remote positions.

    1. hamsterpants*

      No advice, just that this seems very cool! I didn’t even know it was a thing! (Going off of Google, UX writing = user interface writing)

    2. HereKittyKitty*

      I have a marketing role that is quickly being absorbed into the UX field, so I have a few thoughts. UX is pretty hot right now and there’s a lot of competition for these roles. The field is very much about collaboration and cross-functional teams, so anytime you can demonstrate working with others, especially with IT, will be a bonus. Additionally, try to frame your experience as very user-focused- it most likely already is, but be sure to highlight how the work you do has a specific customer in mind, how you consider the audience when writing, and how much you value clear, effective writing.

      One thing that’s a bit annoying with the UX field is that it’s very “tool heavy” and they tend to want people with experience with specific software and if you haven’t worked in UX before, you probably don’t have experience with that software. And it’s also not software you can just try on your own without training unless you’re prepared to drop some bucks. With UX writing, it may not be as big of a concern as with UX design (which is what I’m working to transition to) but if you have the opportunity to work with Figma or Sketch, even just play around a bit, do it.

      One difficulty in the field is that as workplaces are adopting UX teams (some building them from scratch) you might run into a lot of “unicorn” postings: ie they call it UX Writing but it’s also UX Research, UX Design and like blog writer for good measure. In the interviews, I would try and probe the expectations so there aren’t any surprises later on.

      Overall I really like this field though and am excited my role is starting to be considered UX- it has lead to a lot of salary bumps! It is a very “thinking” field where you’re really working through problems and considering solutions. It’s a lot of trial and error, which can be exciting! The name of the game is “iteration” and being okay with failing and trying again is central to UX.

      1. Shrek*

        Thanks for outlining your experience! I’m a graphic designer who’s worked on one big UX/UI website overhaul for my current company, and fell in love with the discipline. I’m hoping to pivot in the next couple of years to a more UX design focused position.

        I signed up for the UX Google course. That may help you, UX Writing, to learn more about this career while you look for new roles! It’s expected to take 6 months or so, at 10 hours a week. It does cost a little bit of money but you can get scholarships or audit the course and then pay for the certificate. I don’t know exactly how it all works but it looks like it could be a great crash course. I know I won’t be guaranteed a job, or that companies will even care I took the course, but it seems like a really interesting course that will give me the language to talk about it.

        Good luck!

        1. HereKittyKitty*

          Shrek I’ve considered doing that course just for “funzies” and to see if I can get anything out of it- I mean it won’t hurt and I have read some positive feedback about the course from experienced UXers, so I think that’s a great plan. I actually signed up for some community college courses in web design as well- they start next month.

    3. Lisa*

      I haven’t *done* both but I’ve worked with both skillsets as an internal/external client (not yet as a direct manager although it could happen). If I were working with a UX writer who I knew had more of a tech writer background here are some of the things I would be concerned or ask about.

      – Does she understand the difference between verbiage to help people learn vs. verbiage to help people ACT?
      – Will her UX writing be too verbose? Can she pivot from more-is-more wordcount in tech writing to less-is-more wordcount in UX writing?
      – Is she comfy with the difference between the words we “should” use vs. the words they “do” use. Tech writing is often more about “this is what we call it” while UX writing is more about “this is what you call it” (this exact same tension exists between marketing messaging and SEO btw).

      And just in general this is a pretty abrupt shift! UX writing is very tight, you’ll wonder where all the words went. Be prepared for a big transition. Good luck!

  5. Coding*

    Is there a definitive “legit” source for learning Javascript or Python? I’d heard a lot of names (Khan, Udemy, Coursera, etc.) but what do employers respect most?

    1. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      Projects in your GitHub that demonstrate proficiency in the given language. So no matter where you learn it (I like, don’t stop there — contribute to an open-source project and/or create some stuff.

      1. Kes*

        This. If you’re going the self-taught route you need to provide evidence that you have absorbed and are able to apply the concepts you’ve learned, through a profile and in the interview.

      2. Warrant Officer Georgiana Breakspear-Goldfinch*

        Yep. Learning is nice. A project where I, as someone trying to hire a technically-competent person, can see how you write code when you’re not in a learning environment, weighs significantly more in my evaluation.

        Take the course and then build something. Open source is great, but even a fun personal project where you make a functional thing is good.

      1. Minerva*

        Expect to do a written and possibly a whiteboard interview showing the skills. Basically, expect to have to prove it. GitHub projects are fine but really unless they’re significant they’re like school projects.

        If you have a college / university / work background in STEM field you don’t need to justify where you learned it. You are expected to learn languages on your own as your career progresses so whatever works is fine.

    2. Beka Cooper*

      I don’t know about what employers think of it, but I just finished a JavaScript course on Skillcrush, part of their Front End Development track, and I really thought it did a great job of not only teaching me the concepts, but also having me practice with projects and practice exercises that can immediately be applied to a real project. The course I took is in beta, and I think they did a really great job of starting out with more specific instructions and “copy the examples” kinds of practice, and then gradually fading back to instructions that let me be more independent in figuring out what to do. They also have a good Git/Github course as part of that track, so I was able to put all of my class projects on Github as I went.

      They also have a Python add-on course, but I haven’t taken it so I can’t comment on its quality. However, overall I’ve found their Slack channel and instructor support way more helpful than I thought I would…I’m usually a lurker on online communities, but the Slack is full of really supportive classmates, and the instructors answer everything pretty quickly.

    3. SnapCrackleStop*

      I agree with Rav and Thin Mints. I’d recommend looking for a project with tutorials that is in an area of interest and then putting your project on GitHub, GitLab, etc.

      I’ve done python projects with birding (bird watching) data! There’s something out there for everyone.

    4. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      Another vote for find the source that works for you. It’ll be the same compiler/interpreter no matter whom you learn from.

    5. LTL*

      Certificates mean nothing. The names you list are great places to learn but not something to put on a resume. I’d recommend a Github. You can showcase your own code on there.

      Python and Javascript also have official documentation but those are used more as reference materials than for learning.

      Also! My personal favorite for beginner learning is freecodecamp.

    6. devtoo*

      Totally agree that you should learn with whatever course works best for you (I personally liked CodeAcademy the most when I was just starting out–super clean interface and great for gradually learning language fundamentals. And Udemy for more advanced concepts) but all the employers I’ve had don’t care at all about online courses. They care about actual code you’ve written & demonstrating skill competence, so personal projects or open source contributions are what will really matter in your application materials

    7. TechWorker*

      +1 that when I’m interviewing I really don’t care how you learned it (I guess it’s sort of equivalent to being like ‘what textbook did you use to learn maths’ – there are good and bad ones but using a good textbook doesn’t mean you can do maths or vice versa :p). I have a sort of moral objection to the expectation that everyone’s going to have the free time required to put an interesting personal project on GitHub… but if you have no experience there may not be many other options! It’s true that doing a project with an actual aim is likely to teach you much more than doing some exercises will, but finding a project that is both achieveable and actually has some substantial problems in it is a fine balance – I’m sure there’s lots of ideas on google though.

      Other suggestions – as you do the project make a lot of notes – what problems are you hitting, how do you resolve them? What decisions did you have to make and would you do it differently in hindsight? And – comment your code and write some documentation! There’s no point showing a personal project to an interviewer if the code is unreadable or they can’t even tell what you were trying to do. Finally, if the project is something a user can easily test (Eg, a game hosted online, or a website) – make sure it ‘works’ and the ‘right’ version is accessible on GitHub. Interviewers may well check and if it falls over immediately (which I’ve had a few times…) it’s not the best first impression.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        The comments and documentation are a good point – these are very important skills. Also unit tests.

        If you’re new to programming altogether, going through the exercises in a course is the first step, and you’re going to have to be in that stage for a while before you’re useful in an open source project. If you’re an experienced programmer picking up a new language, or you have high level skills in some other area that you want to implement via coding (like statistics), you can hit the ground running a lot sooner (I ended up releasing my “learn python” project for other people to use). A personal project shows your own skills on a project, from start to finish, contributing to open source projects hows how you work in an existing project, and is a useful tool for improving coding style.

        Oh, and it’s not a course, but making good use of Stack Exchange to solve problems is incredibly useful.

    8. David*

      +1 to what other people are saying: for computer programming, good employers will generally care about your demonstrated ability to write good code. Introductory courses like Khan Academy, Udemy, Coursera, etc. do not necessarily demonstrate that level of proficiency. If I were interviewing someone for a software development job and they had Khan/Udemy/Coursera on their resume, honestly I might not even notice. It’d be like, say, someone applying to work as a reporter mentioning that they were on their high school yearbook committee, or someone applying for a teaching job mentioning their babysitting experience: it’s not unrelated, it’s just that it doesn’t matter because they need so much more beyond that to actually show that they’re qualified.

      I will say, though, I’m writing from the perspective of someone who works at a dedicated software company, where the expected experience for an entry-level programming job is the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree in computer science from a pretty good university. An online course like the ones you mentioned probably gets you about 5% of the way there. However, other employers set their own standards, and it’s very possible you could find a job opportunity where you don’t need that much experience, maybe at a small business that’s less tech-focused.

      As other people have said, writing your own programs and posting them online, e.g. on GitHub, is a much better way to demonstrate your ability than anything you might get from Coursera or the like. When I’m interviewing someone who lists personal projects on their resume, I might actually look at those and ask about them during the interview. The best possible situation is if you create some program that really captures your interest, for two reasons: first and most importantly, that gives you motivation to go out and look up new techniques to expand your knowledge, and second, it helps you do better in a technical interview if you have some programming project that you’re really excited to discuss with the interviewer.

  6. One foot out the door*

    Does anyone have any advice for resigning from your job while you’re covering someone’s duties who’s on maternity leave?

    Two weeks ago my boss asked if I could take on some of my coworker’s tasks for the next couple months as she’s on maternity leave. I agreed, but just this week I received a job offer. I’ve been applying for a few months now and this new job is right in line with what I want to do long-term, so I’ve already accepted the offer and plan to put in my two weeks on Monday.

    I know it’s crappy to leave while I’m taking on additional work, but are there ways to soften the blow? This is a small family-run company, so sometimes these things are taken very personally! I should also mention I’m going to have to relocate for the new job, so giving more than a two weeks notice may be hard to swing.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      I think this is their problem more than yours–you can’t help it if they take things personally.

    2. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      They wouldn’t hesitate to give you two weeks’ notice (or less!) if it suited their needs. I would give your two weeks, do your best to leave things in decent shape, and move on without a qualm. If you still HAVE a qualm, you might offer to do a little consulting for them after you leave (be sure to set a competitive rate for that, you’re doing them a favor).

    3. CatCat*

      I think you can acknowledge the tough timing. Something like, “I know the timing is not ideal since we’re down one person right now, but I am putting in my two weeks notice. I’ve accepted a great opportunity and must relocate for it. But I’ve appreciated my time here and am committed to helping make the next two weeks as smooth as possible. I can wrap up X and Y in the next two weeks and am hoping we can meet to determine the best way to transition A, B, and C to someone else.”

      If they take it personally, well, not sure there’s much you can do about that. Being kind and professional is all you can do.

    4. cabbagepants*

      With difficult conversations, less is more! Resist the temptation to over-explain, over-apologize, or over-promise. When I resigned during a very busy time at work, I used the following phrasing.

      I know that the timing is not great, but I want to let you know that I was recently offered a job at another company that I couldn’t pass up. After a lot of thought I’ve decided to accept it, and so my last day at [current job] will be [date].

      1. Don’t put metal in the science oven*

        Yes. Less is more. You’re not going to change your mind, and the more words, the greater chance of saying something they’ll interpret badly – especially if they’re already looking through a lens of being disappointed. You can also say the same thing a couple of different ways to avoid answering questions or giving out info you don’t want to – like what company you’ll be working for. They’ll probably ask you point blank where you’re going. You can repeat that it’s just a great opportunity. Don’t say you’re sorry more than once either. Just thank them and be cordially politely matter of fact.

    5. Zephy*

      This is as good a time as any to deploy Alison’s tried-and-true “opportunity fell into my lap I couldn’t pass up” language. “I know the timing isn’t ideal” is also a good phrase. But ultimately, if they take it personally that’s on them.

    6. Transient Hamster*

      I’ve been working long enough that I’ve adopted the attitude of “you don’t owe your employer anything extra” after seeing how so many employers treat their employees when it comes time to end their employment. I understand your feelings about the situation but you do have to think of yourself first. I would definitely acknowledge the situation and the hardship it will cause them, but keep the focus on how you wish the timing could have been better but this opportunity came up and it’s too good to pass up. Good luck with your resignation and the new job!

    7. MissDisplaced*

      It’s really their problem to deal with.
      That said, give as much notice as you can. It’s all you can do really. Present the situation as a wonderful opportunity for you to move to another city you’ve always wanted to move to.

      Really, the post Pandemic job landscape will see a LOT of reshuffling of the workforce. This shouldn’t come as a complete surprise to anyone reading the news.

  7. ThatGirl*

    Started at a new company in January, and wow, realizing just how different it is from my last job. In a good way – but sometimes it feels like it might be too much! My last company talked a big game about professional development, but there wasn’t really a lot of it, and you had to be proactive and do most of the legwork yourself or ask your manager for help. Here, they’re constantly pushing things on us – I have a long list of webinars I need to watch, there are lunch and learns, my manager has asked me several times if I’m interested in any professional development classes (online or in person) from a local college, we had to fill out a whole thing in our HRIS system about our skills so the higher-ups can do 5-year planning… on top of our long list of regular everyday sorts of work.

    And it’s great to know that these opportunities are available, and I appreciate that the company doesn’t want to see us stagnate. But man, I’m still learning this job! I don’t have long-term ambitions for myself right now beyond “be really good at the job I currently have”. It’s just a little head-spinning at times!

    1. cubone*

      I wonder if it would help to map out a PD plan, but with the first few steps being…. “figure out PD goals”, you know? Like basically tell your manager how exciting and appreciative you are for these opportunities and that you want to discuss and understand the possible pathways for you to grow here, so you can determine what PD you need. Maybe ask your manager if there’s a few people at the company they would suggest you chat with to understand different “growth” opportunities? From my experience managing people and leading training/development programs, “research what options there are” is absolutely a normal first step before “sign up for classes”!

      (I say all of this with the caveat that it does sound like this PD culture is a bit… pushy. It’s hard to tell for sure, but the “long list of things on top of everyday tasks” is a bit of a flag to me. If webinars, lunch and learns, etc. are required, then they ARE part of your everyday tasks and your boss needs to help you prioritize your workload in accordance with ALL the required tasks)

      1. ThatGirl*

        To be clear/fair, my personal goals for the year are largely focused on learning the job.

        But as a department, we’re all being asked to take on additional courses by our director, and there are DEI courses everyone is required to take (I support this part, to be clear) AND my manager keeps asking me if there’s more I want to do. The lunch and learns and similar things are not required, but they are strongly encouraged.

        I guess I should start by being clear with my manager that I don’t really want to explore further classes until I feel more confident in the role overall?!

        1. Snailing*

          I think it can really depend on what your manager is expecting you to get out of these extra classes though. Maybe they just want you to be exposed to some extra stuff so you know what’s coming later as you grow there.

          I moved industries 2 years ago and it ended p being really helpful that I was learning trial-by-fire style for the first couple of months – I just jumped on any and all calls and webinars that were sent my way and even though I didn’t act on most of it and didn’t even retain some of it (stuff that was over my head), it helped show me just how many avenues there were for me to take down the line once I got more comfortable in my core job.

        2. cubone*

          ahh, that makes sense. I think ultimately what I was trying to get at is instead of saying it like “I don’t want to do classes until I’m confident in the role”, frame the being confident in the role AS part of the PD plan! Like if you were to make an actual written down development plan, it would be:
          1. gain confidence in the role (eg. be able to do xyz tasks without support)
          2. determine skills/area for development (through step 1/convos with manager)
          3. identify 2-3 courses as possible PD
          4. select appropriate course through convo with manager

          Add a timeline and that 4 step plan could reasonable take 3-4 months

        3. Not So NewReader*

          Where possible, take classes that are appropriate for the level you are at now. This is what I have done at my job. So new job I took the Finances I course they were offering- that intro course matched me as new employee. I went on to take other courses and years passed. A few years out, I grabbed the Finances II course they were offering.

          One thing that I’d like to point out is that if there is a Q and A session at the end, this can get very interesting. You can get to see where you fit in by listening to the kinds of questions other people ask. Some are surprisingly basic and some are out beyond me. The latter is especially useful, so at least I know when I encounter X subscript 2 situation with an added Y variable condition, I know I have to seek help because this calls for special handling. Sometimes just knowing when to ask for help is super important.

  8. LTL*

    I’m currently unemployed and I had one job prior to this. I reached out to my old manager (Topanga), my manager’s manager (Amy), and a coworker (Cory) to reaffirm that they’d be willing to act as references for me. The latter two agreed with enthusiasm. Topanga hasn’t responded. When I worked there she said I was a great employee and as I was leaving, she said I can list her as a reference any time.

    I can think of two reasons why she may have become upset with me since then. During my exit interview, I was positive about both Topanga and Amy but I did mention that the promotion Topanga promised me never materialized. A few months later, I reached out to Topanga to say hello, she was pleasant and asked if we could get on a call to discuss an opportunity. We did and she offered me my old position back on a temporary basis, potentially part time. She said she wanted to ask me before telling Amy and Amy’s boss about the idea. The details were very up in the air but I said I’d be interested, depending on the arrangement. This was a mistake on my end. I really should have said “let me think about it” instead of “yes, depending on the details.” This was on Friday. On Monday, I messaged her saying that I thought about it over the weekend and as much as I appreciated the offer, I didn’t think it would work for me at that time and wished them luck in filling the position. Topanga didn’t reply. This happened over 6 months ago.

    I believe that she’s upset about the exit interview and was nice when I reached out because she wanted something from me, or she’s upset that I turned her down the potential job offer after saying I may come back.

    If Topanga won’t be a reference, I could potentially ask another coworker (in which case my reference list would have one grandboss and two coworkers). I could also ask Amy’s boss for a reference (he definitely knew me well, though the idea of asking someone so high up is very intimidating lol).

    However, I was wondering if there are any steps I should take with Topanga. Should I give employers a heads up about her providing a potentially negative reference when I’m not listing her down as one? Will the lack of former managers in my reference list look bad, considering that I’ve only had one previous job and am listing someone higher on the chain of command? I also have my past performance reviews which were positive.

    (On an unrelated note, update from last week’s post: I turned down the job offer.)

    1. Soup of the Day*

      I don’t think you did anything wrong with Topanga! Saying “yes, depending on the details” is not an unequivocal “yes.” It’s very normal to reconsider something like this, especially since it wasn’t even a formal offer and it may never have materialized at all. The fact that she reached out to you about it would indicate to me that she’s not sore about your exit interview and would have welcomed the chance to work with you again. It would be seriously strange for her to give you a negative reference over that – what would she even say? You’ve done nothing outside of the norm.

      It sounds like you have enough references to just not list her and that should be fine. Giving employers a heads up would make it look like there’s drama where there isn’t any. If they ask specifically why you didn’t list your manager, you can say you’ve had a hard time getting in touch with her since leaving your job (this is true! she did not respond to your request to list her as a reference) and didn’t feel comfortable listing her without her explicit okay. The fact that you have other enthusiastic references should be enough for most jobs unless your field is specialized in some way. Best of luck!!

    2. Ashley*

      Is there anyone outside the organization you could ask? Did you work with others in your role? Or do you have a significant solid, responsible, dependable volunteer position where skills translate? I am never a big fan of asking references that aren’t responsive though sometimes they are just busy for a spell and come back as being willing in a month.

    3. WellRed*

      Leave topanaga off references for now. Not sure companies want multiple refs from the same company anyhow, especially in the same line of command.

      1. LTL*

        The issue is that I’ve only worked at one company before. I’ve dabbled in volunteering but not the extent that I could ask anyone for a reference. I can’t even remember the names of the people I volunteered with.

        I started a more long term volunteering position with a proper reporting structure but it’s just begun this month.

    4. DrunkAtAWedding*

      I want to know who the heck Amy is and why she isn’t Shawn or Angela. :o

      I have no advice, that question just made my brain squeak and INSIST on trying to get an answer.

        1. Patty Mayonnaise*

          I liked Amy, it makes sense that your boss’s boss would be from the older generation :)

      1. LabTechNoMore*

        Haha This is my question too!

        More to your point though, also consider the timeline here – how many days has it been since you reached out to Topanaga? It’s possible she’s just on vacation or otherwise unavailable. If you don’t hear back from her at all (as in, a month from now), then I agree with the others that she’s no longer on the reference list next time this comes up.

        That said, I need to emphasize that you didn’t actually do anything wrong here. You aren’t required to take a job just because it’s offered to you, and you kept her looped in within a reasonable timeframe. Same goes with leaving a job because you didn’t get a promotion.

    5. Mimi*

      I would be more inclined to guess that Topanga is busy than that she hates you, based on this info. She clearly thought positively in the past. Quite possibly she saw your question and thought, “Oh, LTL, great to hear from her, I should sit down later and write something nice!” and then didn’t get around to it.

      1. Aggretsuko*

        Yeah, Topanga could just be flaky for all we know. Doesn’t sound like she hated you before this.

        That said, I wouldn’t rely on a flaky person for a reference.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Agreed. If Topanga is usually even-keeled then I would figure that some incidental happened, interrupted her train of thought and she flaked.

        Going the opposite way what is she going to say about you that is that nasty? “OP turned down work with me!” Uh, this happens all the time, people turn down job offers for many reasons. She’s going to look like the odd one here if she has a reaction to a pretty normal thing.

        1. LTL*

          People who have a gripe find a way, they know that being completely upfront will work against them. My concern was something more like “she agreed to come back but reneged on our deal” (she has a tendency to exaggerate things to her benefit).

      3. LTL*

        I have wondered about this. It’s possible that she’s busy but reference asks normally have to be completed right away so I thought it was strange she hasn’t responded in so long. It’s possible she may have forgotten.

        It’s hard for me to peg down her personality to be honest. On one hand, maybe I’m overreacting? On the other, her being upset about this and then feeling that I’ve done her wrong doesn’t seem…. completely impossible. What I’m imagining may have happened is she went back and she really gunned for me, perhaps over-emphasizing my enthusiasm, and then have to shuffle back to everyone the next week and say that I wasn’t actually interested (she has a tendency to exaggerate things to her benefit).

        She does think I’m a good employee so I’m sure that even if I wanted to go back now, she would take me. Our team was always desperate when hiring. But providing a good reference doesn’t really benefit her if she thinks I’ve done something wrong.

        I suppose I’ll keep in mind the possibility that she’s not upset with me, but leave her be for reference purposes. Thank you!

  9. Should i apply?*

    Have you ever received a job offer, and the salary / benefits are significantly lower than expected and it influenced the way you perceived the job?

    I just got an offer for a role that I was excited about, but the salary is 5k below the range I gave them, and the PTO sucks. I think it really colored how I view the role, and I don’t even want to try to negotiate to see if we can come in alignment.

    1. Callisto*

      Definitely. Dishonesty and low-balling is a bad precedent to set; it shows that I can’t trust the company. I remove myself from consideration in these cases.

    2. Two Chairs, One to Go*

      Not an offer, but I interviewed for a role that I thought would be growth for me, but the max salary was less than what I make now. They also talked about how great their benefits were but I would have paid slightly more for health insurance with their package, plus they didn’t even mention PTO. I never heard back from the recruiter but that was probably for the best!

    3. Dust Bunny*

      It seems only natural that getting a weak-sauce offer would affect how you see the job since it says a lot about the employer, no?

    4. Firecat*

      Yes and I’ve walked away. If it were just salary or just pto I would negotiate, but when both are leaving that comes across like a company that undervalues employees.

    5. PX*

      I’ve been through this. The salary was fine but the benefits were extremely average and some were definitely on the low end of what I expected. I took the job for various reasons, but like you say, its absolutely changed my attitude from being a job I was excited about to one where I went in thinking about how to get the most out of it and then leverage it for a better position in future.

    6. CatCat*

      Yes. My expectations and their laughably poor offer (salary WAY lower than I would have expected, and no benefits for a YEAR) immediately threw ice cold water on my view of the job. I didn’t even have to think about it when I was on the phone with them and they made the offer. I immediately declined. They then pushed me to ask for something higher and I just declined again saying we were so far apart that it would not be productive. This experience is why I won’t interview for jobs without knowing the pay range and basic benefit eligibility info.

      1. datamuse*

        My employer doesn’t post salary ranges and it drives me nuts. I know good candidates are deciding not to apply based on that.

    7. Andrea McDuck*

      Absolutely. I got an offer once that would have allowed me to specialize in a field I love working for an organization that I love. The salary offer was $10K more than what I made, but the lousy benefits package would have made it a $5K pay cut. Nope, sorry!

    8. It all started with a goat*

      I interviewed for a job where initial research indicated unlimited PTO. I was taken aback when the offer came in with just two weeks. The recruiter said he thought I was a strong enough candidate that if I asked for more, they would give it to me without question. I dithered a bit, but the salary was actually more than what I expected so I ended up taking the offer without requesting a change.

      Later, I found out that of their two offices, one had unlimited PTO and for some reason the other offered stock options instead. They did eventually combine the two, so now everyone was offered stock and everyone has unlimited PTO. I ended up vested a bit sooner than I would have been had I been attached to the other office, but it definitely did make me pause before accepting (and re-research everything to try to figure out what else I’d missed).

    9. Ashley*

      I think this says a lot about the company. I was grateful my final interview they offered me the job and I could ask detailed benefit questions and we could talk about things like PTO before I named a number. (And then sat there without saying anything which was a little painful but they did say they would talk and get back to me and they met my number.) It was nice to be able to ask details about 401k matches, time off, and other benefits before naming a number.

    10. MissDisplaced*

      Yes, and I bow out if they’re not open to negotiations. But some places EXPECT you to negotiate further, so I’d try that first. “I was really hoping your offer would be X. Can we get to that?”

      It’s rather like buying a used car where you say “I’m sorry but we’re too far apart on price (salary) and can’t seem to meet somewhere we both agree on.”

  10. H*

    Confession- I go to the pool to go swimming during 1 work day per week while WFH. That is the only day I am not required to cover out phone line the phone day because another coworker is assigned to it. So I have been going to an afternoon swim and am away for like 2 hours in the afternoon. I take my work phone and am still connected but I feel super guilty. Just had to confess here. I will miss WFH. Our company is forcing us back in. Meanwhile each quarter our volumes have increased!

    1. yeah same*

      No one has their crap together at my first job so they barely notice I’m using most of the time at my day job to do freelance work and look for a better job. I’ve been here almost a year and it’s sending my career backwards, so it’s best to get off the sinking ship now while I can still talk about impressive stuff from my prepandemic job.

    2. Anonymous Hippo*

      First off if you are getting all your work done I think you are good.

      But even if we want to be technical, a lot of bullshitting goes on in the office that doesn’t at home, and I think a person more than makes up for the difference. I have people in my office for HOURS each day when I’m in the office that I don’t actually need to talk to, so that time saved more than covers taking a quick workout.

      1. H*

        These comments are making me feel so much better! And PS when I took a vacation day this past Monday my colleague who was supposedly covering our warmline let all calls go to VM because I got a bunch of emails from the voicemail forwarding service we use from that day so I can only wonder what they were up to on my day off as well but then they logged the calls like they came in the following day!

        1. Miss Ames*

          Your message made me smile. I think it’s the “human-ness” of it….my team is still remote and I kind of wonder about one person, since they didn’t turn on their video I thought they might be “at the pool” the other day when a Zoom meeting was called with very little notice….but as others are saying, as long as the work is getting done, this is not the time to worry about it, especially if you are not the person’s manager. Thanks again for giving me a smile today!

          1. H*

            HAHA thanks! I do get my work done but summer is our “slow” time and I know my boss takes liberties for family obligations because she has kids so she drives them to swim lessons and other stuff and is flexible with her time.

    3. dry erase aficionado*

      Are you salaried? If so, I would waste no emotional energy feeling guilty about this.

      1. H*

        Yes, I am! I work on a consultation warm line and 3.5 days of the week I cover the warmline and triage the calls and consults, etc but the 1.5 days are for “other tasks”

    4. foolofgrace*

      As the others say, as long as you’re getting your work done, skip the guilt. I used to WFH on Fridays (they took it away from everyone last week) and didn’t feel the slightest bit guilty about shoehorning in a manicure every 2nd or 3rd week. My boss didn’t care, I was only AWOL for 2 hours or so.

    5. pjm*

      I had a very demanding job for 30 plus years that I worked very hard at. I was hard working, devoted and worked way too many hours. I no longer work there and looking back now, I wish I had done more of this type of thing! When I was working it seems like the most important thing there is, but now when I look back I realize how meaningless it all was. As long as you get your work done and you’re not dumping your responsibilities off on someone else, you’re fine! Just don’t get caught!

      1. H*

        RIGHT?!? Sometimes there is a lot of pointless stuff going on and it is very irritating lol

    6. L. Ron Jeremy*

      Of course they are forcing you to return to the office, eithout anyone to manage while everone is working remotely, managers now see how superfluous their positions are in the business world. with no one to control and influence to work late at night.

      Giod for you on taking your time out during the day.

    7. MissDisplaced*

      Yes as most noted this is (sometimes) the benefit of being a salaried employee. Salary means you can rearrange lunches and start/stop times as long as you get your total weekly hours or complete all of your work. It sounds like you’ve fit this into your schedule without issue so no guilt!

  11. Dino*

    For those who work in-office and have a communal dishwasher: how often do you empty it when it’s done or run a load?

    I use a coffee cup everyday. I feel bad walking past the dishwasher when a load is done, but I don’t use plates/bowls/silverware like other people do. My rule: if I’ve already emptied or ran a load once this week, I can walk past it without guilt. But I want to know if that’s reasonable.

    1. Paige*

      That’s what I do. I feel like once a week is completely reasonable in an office of 10-20 people, especially when it only runs maybe twice a week.

    2. Rain in Spain*

      I would just bring my own coffee cup and handwash it. But I’ve never had a dishwasher at work.

    3. often trapped under a cat*

      Only Facilities staff are allowed to run or empty the dishwasher in my workplace; other staff have been told No Touching and there are signs to that effect on the dishwashers!

      Apparently there have been issues in the past with people using too much soap, causing flooding, and other problems.

      I’ve always just washed my own cups and glasses.

    4. Teapot Repair Technician*

      After 25 years of working in offices with dishwashers, it has never occurred to me to put my own coffee mug in there. It takes 10 seconds to wash in the sink.

      I always assumed the dishwasher was for the company-owned cups and glasses used at meetings and for visitors.

      1. Dino*

        We have communal cups, mugs, plates available to us. So nice to not have to bring my own or worry about someone swiping it! Because of COVID we aren’t handwashing anymore, otherwise that’d be my preference!

    5. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      If I’m waiting 3 minutes for my lunch to heat in the microwave, that’s enough time to empty the dishwasher.

      The CEO of my first company really impressed me once. I was a pretty junior employee, but working in a guest office on the executive floor because I needed to be handy to the finance department. I went into the kitchen to get a cup of coffee, and the CEO had just started a fresh pot. While he was waiting, he soaped up a sponge and was cleaning the faucet and spigots on the sink, and then wiping down the counter. He ran a business with 1000 employees, but he wasn’t going to let the kitchen be messy because he was too good to get his hands wet.

      1. often trapped under a cat*

        That’s really nice. A few decades ago I was nearly fired on my first day on a job when a man I had never met before asked me to get him a cup of coffee. I said no, explaining that I didn’t know where the coffee was.

        Turned out that the man was the company president and he wanted my boss to let me go immediately because I was “insubordinate.”

        She refused, thankfully.

      2. Delta Delta*

        I worked somewhere where we didn’t have a dishwasher but we did have a dish drying rack. It was pretty common that people would put their washed dishes in the rack to dry and walk away. I figured out the Keurig took 47 seconds to make a cup of coffee, and that I could put away all the dishes in the rack while I waited. Nobody else ever did that and I wasn’t sure why, since there was literally nothing else to do while waiting for the coffee to finish brewing.

      3. Mickey Q*

        I caught the company president plunging the break room sink with the same plunger from the bathroom. I never used the break room again.

    6. T. Boone Pickens*

      In a similar vein I share a community kitchen where we need to provide our own dish soap/paper towels and we have a fridge where we can stock beverages. I felt like I was using a lot of soap relative to my other suite mates so I just ended up buying a few containers of dish soap, a 12 pk of paper towels and a couple cases of bottled water and figured I’d done my share for the year. I felt an inordinate amount of relief for what is honestly a really trivial matter!

    7. Bilateralrope*

      The policy at the place I work is that we rinse our dishes and put them in a specific place. When the cleaners come in at night, they handle the dishwashers.

    8. karou*

      In the Before Times, if I was already taking something out of the dishwasher I’d unload the whole thing if I had time and was not on my way to a meeting or leaving for the day. My office was fairly large and an admin would usually do it, so I would only upload the dishwasher about one a month. The cleaning staff or admin ran it every night.

    9. Librarian of SHIELD*

      One of my former jobs had a dishwasher, and we dealt with it by having a schedule. We had two people assigned to kitchen duty each week, and those were the people who ran and emptied the dishwasher and wiped down countertops at the end of the day. If you were going on vacation when it was your week on kitchen duty, you had to trade weeks with somebody else just like any other job duty.

    10. A Girl Named Fred*

      In my last workplace, staff were expected to put any dishes they used into the dishwasher after using them and then the Office Manager would run the dishwasher before they left for the day. In the morning, the first person in the office would empty it (this usually ended up being one of the Finance team or a different person who was an early bird.)

      My rule: if I’m in the kitchen with a few spare minutes and the dishwasher’s done, I’ll unload it because that’s what decent people do to help take care of communal spaces.

      I understand feeling like you don’t use enough dishes to help with it multiple times, especially if it only runs once or twice a week, but I think the assertion that a coffee cup is different from plates/bowls/silverware is a bit of a stretch. If someone only ever uses one plate and one fork a day, like your one coffee cup a day, does that mean they don’t have to help with the dishwasher either? Who has to help then, if everyone only ever uses one dish a day? Just food for thought (if you pardon the pun lol) and I imagine this would change from office to office depending on the culture/facilities rules/etc.

      1. Dino*

        Most people prep their food here, meaning cutting boards, knives, baking tray for the toaster oven, mixing bowls, etc. compared to one cup. I always bring my food prepped and in my own dish I bring home to clean, hence why I think it’s a. Smidge different. But yes, good food for thought!

      2. TechWorker*

        Ours is similar to this. What did actually help a lot is getting a stick on thing for the front you can rotate that marks it as clean, dirty or running. What helped more was getting two dishwashers lol, that gives quite a lot of leeway for it being emptied by multiple people if need be (the expectation is definitely that you load as you go rather than leaving dirty things on the side).

    11. Liz*

      I just do it if I happen to notice it and am not busy. Maybe once every 1 or 2 weeks? Often I end up doing it while I’m waiting for the kettle to boil as I will have gone in there looking for everyone’s personal mugs, so if they’re sitting in there freshy washed I’ll put the other bits away while the kettle boils or the tea brews.

      Running it, I tend to wind up doing it if I’m the one closing the office down and tidying away the cups from the desks, although that’s not often because I’m part time and finish at 4.

  12. (Not) Dr. Anonymous*

    Small stakes but awkward question: how do I tell people I’m not a doctor? I work in a somewhat formal environment (local government) where a sizable minority of people strongly prefer to be addressed as Ms./Mr./Dr. Lastname. I prefer to be called by my first name as do most people under 50 that I work with, but I’ve accepted sometimes calling people and being called by last names is just a quirk of my environment.

    I do healthcare adjacent work (epidemiology, but not COVID-related), but I am neither an MD or PhD. At least twice a month, I get emails addressed to Dr. Lastname. Last week, I briefly presented on a webinar to over 200 people, and someone thanked “Dr. Lastname” in the chat after I finished. What is the least awkward way to address these types of situations?

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Just say, thanks, but it’s Mr./Ms./whatever you prefer. Short and sweet.

      I work with a lot of both MDs and PhDs and always default to “Dr.” when addressing new researchers. I’ve been wrong a few times but nobody has ever been insulted–they just say, Oh, it’s [other thing].

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I just ignore them for bread-and-butter statements like that.

      They are defaulting to Dr. because it’s better to call everyone, including non-PhDs and non-MDs, “doctor” than it is to risk calling a PhD “mister” by mistake.

      I had a paper published while I was working on my master’s degree, and the correspondence with the scientific journal was always address to “Dr. Brown”. I just shrugged and went on with my day. I never stated or implied that I held a PhD or a faculty position.

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      Honestly, for something as minor as thanking you in the chat, I wouldn’t correct them. If you do need to correct someone, or they’re going to introduce you, you could say “Actually, it’s just Jane, thanks.”

    4. Paige*

      Like someone else said, just a quick “oh, it’s Ms/Mr.”–most people in these situations default to “Dr” because it’s the easiest way to avoid accidentally pissing someone off who does have the degree.

    5. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      If its a one time conversation you could just overlook it, if you will be having multiple conversations I would laugh and say something like, “oh I’m not a doctor, you can just call me Mike” and smile.

    6. have we met?*

      For situations like Zoom calls/webinars where you can have a name visible, maybe include the honorific: “Ms. Jane Anonymous”.

    7. Blackcat*

      I would list whatever degrees you have in your email signature (and sign off with your first name above the official signature), then let it go.

      So your emails would end with


      Anony Mous, B.S., MPH (or whatever)

      1. (Not) Dr. Anonymous*

        That is already my exact email signature, down to the degree! But I still get a lot of Dr. Lastname emails. I wonder if contributing to this is people are afraid of misgendering me and Dr. is gender neutral? My first name is one that many have not come across before, although if you Googled it all the results would be female. I also have my pronouns in my signature and a photo in my email that is definitely read as female. I would not be offended if someone accidentally called me Mr. Lastname in an email, but I understand how this could be fraught for others who do regularly deal with being misgendered. I am at least glad that the default for women where I am tends to be “Ms.” as opposed to “Miss” or “Mrs.”

    8. Annony*

      I think it depends on context. For presentations, you can put your actual credentials on the opening slide. So you could have Jane Brown, MS or whatever the equivalent would be for your actual degree. I think you can ignore one off comments in the chat. In person, you can casually correct them the first time they make the mistake “Actually, I have a masters, not a doctorate.” If a vendor does it in an email, I would probably ignore it.

    9. foolofgrace*

      I wouldn’t bother to correct them unless it was someone you interact with frequently.

    10. HannahS*

      Smile warmly, respond to what they said, correct them, move the conversation forward.

      “Thank you for your question/coming to this meeting/lovely to see you again, too. I’m one of the epidemiologists; please call me Blennifer. I’d suggest moving forward with XYZ plan/I’ll send you that email shortly/take care.”

      Happened a ton when I was a medical student.
      “Thanks, I’m actually one of the medical students on the team. Let me ask, about that headache…”

    11. (Not) Dr. Anonymous*

      Thank you everyone for humoring me. I know I’m 100% overthinking this. I think what is making it weird to me is I strongly prefer to be called by my first name over Ms. Lastname, although I won’t push back if others insist on calling me Ms. Lastname. If I say, “please, call me Firstname!” that does nothing to dispel that I am not a doctor, but I never voluntarily introduce myself as Ms. Lastname. I also have no issue casually saying I’m not a doctor in person, but it feels odd in writing for some reason? As I said, most people use first names where I work, but a sizable minority (between 1/4 and 1/3 probably) use last names.

      1. JessicaTate*

        I’m also a Masters-holder in a field where it’s common for someone in my position to hold a PhD. So, this happens to me all the time too. And I also prefer to just be called by my first name, regardless. I’ve always framed it as the writer/speaker who doesn’t know for sure is erring on the side of generous assumption, because they wouldn’t want to offend me if I was a doctor.

        So, if it’s someone I’m not likely to interact with regularly. I let it go. It was a sign of respect/politeness, and not correcting them is my return of respect/politeness, because it doesn’t matter.

        Now, I don’t have any co-workers who doggedly want to call me by my last name. But if it’s someone that I want to set the record straight — I’d still keep it breezy in writing, at the end of my reply after I wrote whatever was needed: “Oh, and please just call me FirstName. (And I’m actually not an MD, but I get that all the time working in this field.) Thanks, [email sig].”

        If I don’t need to reply to this person, then it doesn’t matter if they once had a passing notion that I might be a doctor.

      2. Pam Adams*

        “Not a doctor, just Pam” is my usual go-to. I usually get it from undergraduate students, especially since I’m older. (It was even more fun when I was the returning student, with 20 years on most of my classmates)

    12. tamarack and fireweed*

      One of the experts in our research team isn’t a PhD though often assumed to be (he developed his expertise in applied agency research). And on the job I had before I enrolled in graduate school was an externally funded research staff position but people assumed I was a postdoc. From this, my advice is: Correct always, and make it quick and low key. “Quick correction before we continue, I’m not Dr. Lastname. Mr / Ms Lastname is fine, or simply Firstname”.

      I didn’t bother to correct some form letters from editors or conference staff, when I would rarely communicate with the same person. If I could I would check my profile in their system – maybe it defaults to Dr.

  13. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    I’m pretty anxious about my inability to guess what I should say. Like I say too much- like I told my boss that I went to the ER but mainly they said I should drink less caffeine and have a healthier diet. Now I’m worried I’ll have to navigate a bunch of diet culture stuff. And even worse the higher ups had a focus group and I’m worried I was too honest about how being in the office is annoying ( I absorb the stress of others and have to do more work). It’s like my mind goes blank and I just can’t think of what Im “supposed ” to say.

    1. Paige*

      If you’re not sure what to say, just don’t say anything? Let others do the talking, and listen to what they’re saying instead of worrying about what you’re going to need to say. Sometimes if you just listen, you can find something to agree with, and then it’s easy to say “I agree with So-and-so’s take on X-problem.”

    2. The Other Evil HR Lady*

      You’re like me! Or I’m like you! Anyway… I learned to default to silence. I think you feel like you need to fill the silence with *something* or explain something because you feel guilty (like your trip to the ER for what appears to be “nothing,” even though you were scared enough to go to the ER, so it was NOT “nothing”). So, practice defaulting to silence. I won’t pretend it’s easy – it’s taken me years, and I still mess up with some people. Let your mind go blank and embrace it. You’ll probably come up with something good later – or not, who knows? But then your anxiety will lessen because you won’t have said anything you might regret. If someone asks you point blank to give your opinion, and your mind is a blank, then be honest and say, “I have nothing right now, but I’m sure I’ll think of something and let you know later.” Don’t guess what you should say.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Yea my issue is that yes I know the answer- but it’s not always ” politically correct” lol. I also can’t play social deduction games. I might not say ” yes I’m a spy” but you gotta manipulate and I’m kinda straight forward. Lol.

    3. cabbagepants*

      I have a huge amount of empathy. I think I over-talk, too.
      I feel like I have started to do a little better by doing the following:
      1) Identifying specific subjects where I generally overtalk, such as office gossip, health issues, and my family’s drama
      2) Trying to stop speaking one sentence earlier. I don’t measure anything, just, if I have said something already and I am feeling like I should add a final comment, I don’t say the final comment.
      3) For a particularly unusual or difficult subject — like a trip to the ER — I decide in advance what I am going to say and not say more than that.
      4) If I feel like I’ve said too much — leave it! Don’t go back and address the over-talking. That is continuing the over-talking! Exceptions are rare.

      It’s a work in progress for sure.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        That’s true with the ER convo I wanted to convey I AM OK AND CAN WORK ( but I might go to the dr again sooner than planned) but it came out really weird.

        1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

          I don’t usually have trouble with over-talking, but when I do it is for this reason–wanting to explain my entire understanding of something. In addition to what others have said, know that it’s okay to just tell people what they need to know for now. So instead of trying to predict what MIGHT happen with your health, it’s okay to say that you’re okay now. If you need to go to the doctor later, no one will judge you and say, “But she said she was fine?!”

          You also don’t need to explain why you’re asking something, unless it’s needed to answer the question. I tend to send emails like “I was looking through the data and most of the entries are like this, but then I saw this one was slightly different and it reminded me of last time, so…” I’m learning that I can just say “Is this correct, or is it a typo? Just checking.” And when they reply, I can just say thanks.

    4. Littorally*

      So, try training yourself to default to a moment of silence before answering anything. This is something that takes practice! Some people are wired so that, if they are asked a question, they will respond with the correct answer automatically, before such filtering thoughts as “is this an appropriate question for the asker to be asking?” and “should I deflect this/how can I deflect this?” come into play.

      Behavior is the same as a muscle — you have to train it! You can ask friends to practice this with you — have them occasionally ask you questions that are irrelevant to the conversation, or are some other way signaled to be ‘this is practice’ as opposed to genuine conversation, so that you can practice not giving the Rather Too Honest answer. You will get better at it with time.

      1. Joielle*

        Totally agree with this! My boss often compliments me for being diplomatic and always knowing the right thing to say (it comes up a lot because our office has a lot of… politics), but I wasn’t always good at it. What works for me is ALWAYS taking a moment to think before speaking. Even for little things. It feels awkward when you’re not used to it, but the silence is not as long as you think it is. You just need to take a beat and think – why is this person asking this question, what information do they actually need, and how much should I say in response. Err on the side of being vague. You want to seem *thoughtful* – i.e. the kind of person who doesn’t have knee-jerk reactions. It seems like a boring trait but I’ve found it to be really helpful in my professional life!

        Like for example – when you told your boss you were in the ER, I might have said something like “I wanted to let you know that I won’t be in today. I have some health problems flaring up, but I should be feeling a lot better by tomorrow. I may need to see a doctor again later this week but I’ll keep you in the loop.”

        Did the boss specifically need to know you were in the ER, or just that you were not feeling well and would be out for some period of time? That’s the kind of question you should practice asking yourself.

        95% of the time, I find that it’s best to describe things blandly so as not to cause alarm. You can always go back later and say “It turns out that it’s a bigger problem than I thought.” It’s harder to walk back a statement in the other direction if you’ve already overshared. Plus, then, the 5% of the time that something really is a huge deal, people will take you seriously because they know you are normally very measured, so if you say something is a problem, they listen.

  14. Princess Orange*

    This is from a client’s perspective (forgive me if this isn’t the right thread!):

    I was a client at a business the other day and overheard a very personal phone conversation the receptionist was having. I was sitting directly in her line of vision, so she had to know I could hear. The conversation involved the death of her daughter and some issues with taxes surrounding it. As a client, should I have acknowledged I heard with a “so sorry for your loss,” or was it best to simply ignore it? I left the room while she was still on the phone, but had to speak with her later. I didn’t bring it up, because wow personal! But since I could obviously hear her talk about her, did I come across as callous?

    1. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      I think you’re OK not to mention it — you don’t know her — but if you do, keep it very short.

    2. MeTwoToo*

      I think you’re fine. With it so easy to overhear personal conversations these days I feel like it’s polite to employ a little ‘selective social deafness’.

    3. RagingADHD*

      No, you did right.

      Sometimes in society, the illusion of privacy is a gift we give each other.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      My husband’s work took him into offices daily.
      It was pretty normal to overhear a LOT of stuff. I mean heavy, sad stuff.

      Over all he ignored the personal conversations, like he did not even hear them. He never had any problems using this method. It became his go-to way of handling things.

  15. Not a Real Giraffe*

    Looking for recommendations on interview exercises for administrative assistant roles.

    We have a really bad track record so far in hiring the right people for these roles, and I think adding some kind of short interview exercise would help us weed through people who say they have the skills we need, versus those who actually have them.

    Essentially, I’d like something that helps me get a sense of their attention to detail, how they would go about organizing data (like, compiling a list of local hotel pricing for employees traveling to different sites), etc. Several of the last people we’ve hired seem to provide us with the absolute barest minimum of work product and we’re looking for people who are more thorough, thoughtful, and anticipatory.

    What have you all used during the interview process that you’ve found helps identify the right administrative hire?

    1. OyHiOh*

      I think something like hotel pricing at multiple sites would make a very good exercise. I’m an admin and sometimes wish I would get more exercises in interviews – let me really show you where and how I shine.

      Whatever you settle on, make sure there’s a clearly stated time limit – explain the parameters of the exercise, what you’re looking at and for in evaluating the exercise, here’s 20 minutes on our computer to demonstrate.

      1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

        Sit them down in front of a computer, with a web browser and a spreadsheet open, and say “OK, we’re sending a bunch of people to Peoria and we need a list of hotels, in different price ranges, organized by how close they are to downtown.”

        And then don’t hover over their shoulder!!!

        1. foolofgrace*

          I wouldn’t know which ones were close to downtown. If it was in the same city I lived in I’d have a better chance, but not a different city entirely.

          1. Not a Real Giraffe*

            actually, I love the idea of making it a city you don’t know — there are problem-solving skills involved in this role and for something like this, you’d hope an admin would google “downtown Peoria” and do some sleuthing and troubleshooting from there. One of the major problems we’ve had with our recent hires is a lack of initiative in trying to solve a problem before asking for help, or a lack of understanding what resources exist (despite being told about them) that can solve a problem faster than involving another coworker.

            1. Ginger Baker*

              I have a whole story about the [kind but very not sugar-coated, “you need to do better”] lecture I once gave a friend who came to me to complain and commiserate about how her boss had not given her the information needed to do her job, only to be told in no uncertain terms by me that she absolutely could have solved this issue with the information she was given, I could google this on my phone in the cafe while talking to her, and that the entire point of her job is she should be able to solve most [basic level] problems on her own without significant hand-holding. (Lovely Readers, she took my advice to heart and went on to incorporate “wait, is there a way I can solve this myself?” as a pause-and-think question before automatically Asking The Boss and/or giving up, and I remain consistently proud of her work ethic now!)

              1. Rey*

                Thank you for the “wait, is there a way I can solve this myself?”! I wouldn’t have thought of it as a distinct step, but training my new employees to include this step and asking them “what did you consider to solve this yourself?” will help teach them initiative instead of assuming they can’t be trained better.

          2. WellRed*

            That’s kind of the point if the exercise. You would research that and most will tell you how far they are from convention ctr or whatever.

          3. Librarian of SHIELD*

            Yeah, I’d recommend changing “organized by how close they are to downtown” to “sorted by their distance from the convention center/our Peoria office/other specific location.”

          4. ratatatcat*

            Isn’t that the point though? To see if people are able to find that info and present it? Like you can look hotels up on a map and chart out which ones are close to downtown, or use a style tool, or there are probably other more/less efficient ways; all of that would be useful for the employer to evaluate since those are potentially the sort of things you’d need to do for this job.

        2. Can't Sit Still*

          This is a great request, because I am itching to answer this question! And I have so many clarifying questions to ask!

      2. Yes_no_maybe*

        OMG. I worked as an admin assistant while at university. We had to book a fair bit of travel for the bosses and one of my colleagues managed to book the hotel “Paris” in a random city in our country instead of the a hotel in Paris-Orly… Exercises like that would have sparred me a lot of laughter (and trouble shooting) with that particular colleague.

    2. Ginger Baker*

      I don’t know if it was ultimately effective for them (the company went with the other candidate for Team Fit reasons – something the Admin Manager thought was the wrong decision [she told me so and took me out for coffee] and I saw a year later the position was open again…BUT I DIGRESS) the best interview question I ever had as an admin was from two other admins at the company who had me walk through with them what I would do to resolve a specific sticky situation (one that I could tell had definitely happened before, ha!).

      In this case it was something like “You got a call that you need to urgently schedule a flight to India for Sunday morning, for your executive to visit a client, and immediate after calling you she was on a flight and unreachable. When you try to book the flight, you find out the executive’s credit card declines [as the cost is near 10k]. What do you do?” They listened to my reasoning out options and occasionally stepped in to add a comment (“yes, there is a company card, good question, but the limit for that is 5k…what’s your next step?”) It was basically the admin equivalent of asking a coder to work out a programming problem on a board with you and I thought it was absolutely brilliant. You could definitely use some similar questions to get a feel for how comfortable they are with excel, what kind of research tools they reach for, etc.

        1. Ginger Baker*

          LOL! I said I would first talk to the travel agency and find out if we have a corporate card on file (this is when I heard the note about the 5k limit on that). I then said I would reach out to whoever was the boss of the Executive and if they were unreachable, I would escalate to the Director of Administration (or equivalent role) [to get an override on the corporate card limit or another option as available].

          1. Ginger Baker*

            (Basically the answer at a large enough company is SOMEONE can authorize payment, you just have to keep going up the chain until you reach that person.)

    3. Storm in a teacup*

      I’ve done similar before where I had interviewees conduct an exercise in excel (simple data entry and formatting); prioritisation tasks and pulling together a complicated departmental timetable. For all of these I’ve realised having the task clearly laid out an giving it to them after the main interview worked best. For the prioritisation question (I work in healthcare) we write down the 5-6 different variables we want them to rank and hand it to them when asking this question. It means they’re not worried about remembering what I’d told them and we could make it a more complex priortisation task. I got a couple of current staff at that same level to test out the questions / tasks when I first developed them too so they could give me feedback on it. It’s always been really valuable

    4. Ginger Baker*

      FYI Rey posted a similar question below, so you may find good info in the responses there as well.

    5. Me*

      Depending on role, we’ve had them do things like:
      -given a situation write a memo or letter
      -proofread a document (fascinatingly we’ve had to rule out people who ADDED errors)
      -do basic calculations
      -give basic instruction on modifying a spreadsheet

    6. Can't Sit Still*

      Use a couple of scenarios where you have had issues in the past. I, for one, have had enough “experienced” users of Outlook be unable to send a meeting invitation.

      Start with the basics: open Word, Excel, Outlook (or whatever your company’s equivalent software is), the browser your company uses, etc. Then move on to actually creating and formatting a document, a spreadsheet, a presentation, sending an email and/or a meeting invitation.

      Then move on to real-life scenarios that have been failure points in the past. Like travel arrangements and so on. Your ideal candidates will ask clarifying questions about your requests, instead of saying OK and getting started. (Make sure you make it clear that it’s OK to ask questions, though.) As an EA, when I’m making travel arrangements for a new person or team, I have tons of questions that I ask before starting, e.g. preferred airport/train station, preferred airlines and hotels, car service vs. Uber vs. taxi, any dietary requirements, trip length and timing (we always arrive the afternoon before a morning meeting or we always take the red-eye), Fergus needs a hotel with a gym/pool/concierge floor, etc.

      Sorry, I haven’t been able to book travel since December 2019 and I miss it! And with everything virtual this year, too, it’s going to be a long time before I get to do it again.

      1. aiya*

        ^^I really want to emphasize on the question-asking part as well. It’s the sign of a good EA if they’re able to ask good clarifying questions. If they don’t ask any questions and just make the travel arrangements on auto-pilot like a computer program, that’s the kind of EA you’d want to avoid. Although this part might be trainable at the entry level.

    7. aiya*

      I’ve done several exercises like this as part of a hiring process!! It really stressed me out the first time I had to complete one of these assessments, but I later found them to be really great “previews” into the type of skills and tasks that the job entailed. Just be sure to present an exercise that is very similar to the type of tasks that would be done on the job.

      A couple of examples:
      – For a personal assistant job, I was asked to help schedule an executive’s week. I was provided a calendar with some existing meetings, and then I was asked help schedule new appointments for that week. They gave me several parameters: For example, the executive’s driver was also shared with another company employee, so I had to work around not only the executive’s schedule but also the driver’s schedule. Or the executive preferred to block certain hours for personal family time, so I had to work around that.
      – For an office admin job, I was asked to help organize and sort a spreadsheet. They gave me a large spreadsheet with made-up data, and I was tasked to find things like # of participants, and which participants were within this certain age range + also had a household income of $X.
      – The same office admin job had me draft up one email to guests about an upcoming event + one social media post highlighting a past event that the company did. The company provided all the info I needed regarding the events, and I tried my best to look up examples of similar writings on their website to mimic the tone and voice. This part was definitely a bit more time-consuming, as I’m not a fast writer.
      – For another job that had a big QA/proofreading component, I was presented with a client-facing email that had errors deliberately inserted, and I was given 15 minutes to spot the mistakes. (Didn’t have to fix them, just had to verbally tell the interviewers which parts were wrong)
      – A friend of mine applied to a job that required her to help clients book and plan out their travel plans. For this job, they asked her to provide a list of available flights within X budget and during a certain time period.

      On average, most of these exercises took about 30 mins. They were also all take-home assignments, which I preferred, because having someone hover over my shoulder in an office is very uncomfortable. If you needed to time an applicant while they do this from home, you can set up a time with them beforehand and say “We’ll email you the assignment tomorrow at 10AM. Please complete and email the completed assignment to us by 10:30AM” or whatever time you need.

      Another note is that, depending on what kind of applicant you’re looking for or which level you’re hiring at (entry vs. senior), you might want to make a note about being able to ask questions. When I first entered the workforce and started doing these assessments, I was really shy and oblivious to the fact that you can ask the interviewers follow up questions prior to actually completing the tasks. I was really used to the way assignments were presented in school, where the instructor lays out all of the requirements ahead of time, and all you have to do is follow the given parameters/rubric. In the working world, you may not be given all the parameters and you’re very much expected to ask follow up questions (better to ask questions than to do it wrong). Of course, this may be part of the test if you’re looking for an applicant who naturally has that kind of initiative and knows to ask questions, or you may be looking at what sorts of questions they’re asking. But if it’s an entry level position, I’d let the applicants know that they’re free to ask questions about the assignment prior to completing it.

    8. Not a Real Giraffe*

      Thank you to everyone who has provided me with ideas! These are really good and have been SUPER helpful, both on their own and for jogging my brain for other things that might work for our particular environment. (And keep ’em coming! I just wanted to say thank you before I left my computer for the day!)

    9. Lisa*

      One of the best tips I’ve gotten is to make the application/pre-interview process itself a screening. For example, I knew someone who hired a lot of overseas remote workers and had to narrow down from a huge grab-bag of applicants. She had a set of initial questions and she numbered them and asked the applicant to answer the questions in order. If they didn’t respond to all the questions, in order, she cut them from the pool. Didn’t matter if it was their English or their ability to follow directions.

      Can you include questions or instructions in your application process that they will have to read and follow? Maybe provide a document in a specific format or identify a coffee shop to meet at that matches a set of criteria.

    10. IWannaBeKate*

      Years ago I was hiring an office manager for a small (about 50 employee) business. I asked our top 5 candidates this question: The CEO has a favorite brand & style of pen. On a busy afternoon, the exec assistant comes to you and says, “Help! CEO needs a pen. I thought I had more but I’m all out.” How would you, as office manager, respond?
      Candidate One said “I’d tell her it’s just a pen, chill out.” (Wrong answer!)
      Candidates Two through Four all said something along the lines of “I’d run out to Staples…I’d send an intern out with petty cash…I’d ask around to see if anyone could help.” (Okay, that’s making an effort to solve the problem)
      Candidate Five said “If the CEO cares enough to know the brand and style of her favorite pen, and I manage the office supply orders, then it’s my job to keep a back-up stash of those pens in my office for moments like this.” (Candidate Five – You’re Hired!)

    11. Lilith*

      For an entry-level/second-job admin assistant role, we asked them to create and fill out a spreadsheet with staff costs (travel, hotels, food) for attending an event. I think we used photocopies of real documentation (with the personal details blocked out) and the applicant had to pick out the relevant information from things like Person A’s expense report, Person B’s email, Person C’s handful of receipts, etc. Second part of the assignment was to draft an email requesting any missing information from these Persons.

      I think we gave 45 minutes to complete all of this – having worked out it would take an experienced Admin about 20 minutes. We also gave extra points for noticing things like when VAT was included or not, or when one hotel bill was for 2 days longer than the event and noting that as a question to ask.

      We initially thought this would be too basic, and the person who got the job did finish it in plenty of time. However, we also found that some of the applicants’ skills were far behind what their CVs said they could do, and we wouldn’t have picked that up without a test – I remember a couple had literally never used Excel before.

  16. Perfectly Cromulent*

    Would anyone be willing to share resources regarding where to go to get feedback on application materials? I’ve had many friends look over my materials and either tell me they look good or give me minor feedback, but I think I need a serious overhaul as I’m not getting much traction when applying despite a solid amount of experience.

    I’m willing to pay, but don’t know how to determine what will be worthwhile. I work in higher education if that helps, but I’m looking to possibly move outside of that field, which may be part of the problem with my materials.

    1. Gem*

      Reach out to the writing center at a university and see if anyone is looking to make some extra cash. They can help you assess whether you are telling your story in a compelling way and can also offer proofing. I used to do this for folks and always enjoyed it.

    2. Two Chairs, One to Go*

      Find a career coach. Look for someone who is reputable – most good ones will do some sort of short, free consult. You can ask questions during that convo, ask for references, etc. Coaching isn’t regulated but there are certifications out there. I’d look at track record and their area of expertise. You should find coaches who have helped people transition out of higher ed.

    3. PX*

      If you’re looking outside your field, try and see if you can apply via recruiters – and get feedback from them. Not all will do it, and some will just say “its fine” if its good enough – but if you’re lucky, you’ll fine one or two who would be willing to give you feedback.

    4. ObserverCN*

      Some churches have career groups or classes — they may be able to help, even if you don’t go to a particular church.

    5. Distractinator*

      It’s really tough to get the right person – if they don’t know you at all, it’s hard to comment on your materials, they have no idea if this is expressing your strengths or not, so you’ll just get generic commentary. If they know you well, the personal relationship gets in the way of providing criticism, so you’ll just get supportive commentary. The best type of advice would come from someone familiar with the field you’re headed into who can take some time to sit down and talk through your resume, you can give a verbal description of what your job was and discuss if those bullet points are making the right presentation of that skill; with that time commitment, expect to be paying this person.

      1. Perfectly Cromulent*

        Thanks for this! You’re captured what has been my stumbling point. I’m honestly very willing to pay someone, but was feeling at a bit of a loss as to who to even reach out to for this type of work. Some of the other comments have given me a few valuable paths to explore, so fingers crossed I can find the right person. I appreciate the thoughtful comment.

  17. Amber Rose*

    I can’t leave my job. I just can’t. Husband is temporary right now covering a mat leave for a year and a half, and even if that weren’t the case they’re all looking at 3% pay cuts and strikes. I don’t even know what I wanna DO. I don’t… honestly like what I do now all that much. It was all right but Covid made it very not right for so long I don’t know how to be OK with it again. Our province has a notoriously shitty job market too, like worse than anywhere else. I have looked but it’s bad.

    But… my ex-boss is leaving. She’s on vacation this month but let me know her plan is to give notice while away. She and the other “old guard” have noticed the way management is pushing them out and they’ll all be leaving pretty soon. In their place, the people who I can’t respect are lined up. Basically, a misogynist and a Mean Girl.

    I’m just simmering in a constant, low level buzz of tension and anxiety about the future and I don’t know what to do. I feel too overwhelmed to do anything.

    Can’t I just win the lottery and retire. :(

    1. H*

      So sorry. I feel for you. I am the only one working my household due to several factors right now. I carry the benefits, salary, etc and I am exhausted. My husband is enrolling in a cerifcate program to make himself more marketable and I hope it helps because I need a break too! Or the lottery!

      1. Miss Ames*

        My sympathies to you, I can relate so much – your line below summed it up perfectly:

        “It was all right but Covid made it very not right for so long I don’t know how to be OK with it again.”

        Two more months and I am leaving. All I can say is, I’ll be fortunate if I can get back to feeling like I am a normal human being after I am out.

    2. ferrina*

      So many hugs! You sound (very understandably) exhausted! Any way that you can treat yourself to a long vacation/extreme spa day/escape to a cabin in the woods? Just something to take care of yourself for a few days and physically remove yourself from the stress.

      I know when I feel like this, the thought of planning for a several day escape is overwhelming, but it is so, so necessary. Just not doing anything for a few days can be like hitting the “Update and Restart” button on your brain, and I found that a couple weeks after my Me days, I have a lot more clarity on my next steps.

      Good luck, and much love to you!

    3. Kes*

      That is frustrating.
      Couple of things I would do:
      – Make sure to connect with the people you do respect as they’re leaving and tell them how much you enjoyed working with them, to strengthen the relationships. Hopefully if they need to hire at their new job you might come to mind
      – Take some time to think about what aspects of the work (not the work environment, but the actual work) you do and don’t like, and try to figure out what kind of work you would want to do. Since you aren’t planning to leave, but would if the situation changed, might as well use the time to plan a bit towards the future of where you actually do want to go and then figure out if there’s anything you can do in the meantime to at least start working towards that

      1. Reba*

        For the coworkers who are leaving, I’d be even more direct! “Enjoyed working with you,” true but not saying anything about the future
        “I’d love it if you would let me know if you come across any opportunities you think I would be a good fit for! It’s been great working together.”

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yep. And adding tell your boss that if she hears of anything in her circles would she please let you know.
          The beauty of asking her is that you do not have to explain everything you have here. She already has a fair idea and she might be one of your better advocates.

    4. Beth*

      Start working on an exit plan. It will take you an extended time to implement, but you’ll be working towards your exit in the meanwhile.

      Planning a strategy can often slip through the cracks in the wall of I Can’t Do Anything, because it both is and is not Doing a Thing (if that makes sense).

    5. Lisa*

      Been there and sending hugs.

      I literally was buying Powerball tickets twice a week and there was this piece of vacant acreage with a view for sale that I drove by on my commute and in my head I had it bought, designed and built into my dream home. (Spoiler: I did not win the lottery, I do not live there).

      I can’t predict your future but I can tell you that after just gritting my teeth through years of feeling stuck and trapped, things started to work out for me, sometimes magically.

      If I were back where I was, where you are now… I would actually probably do less at work. I would do just enough at work to be reasonably successful by their standards. I would find any excuse (volunteer, site hustle, content creation) to build my portfolio and re-channel any surplus energy there. I would get creative in ways to make my real life a little easier (my oldest kid getting his drivers license was a Game Changer).

      Hopefully your husband is a good one, I had to fire mine. But do not let him sleep on your dreams. If you’re simmering and buzzing he needs to share that burden. Fair is fair.

      You can get through this phase with brighter times ahead. I promise.

  18. Gem*

    I just resigned from a leadership role on a committee because the co-chair was bullying me. I am proud of myself for employing my AAM skillset, being consistently collaborative with a “how do we resolve this” approach, and never verbalizing assumptions about the co-chair’s motives (that she’s insecure or threatened) but instead just stating the effect (that I feel hurt and disempowered). What a relief to be free. I credit this community for helping me state my boundaries and replace them!

  19. Jessen*

    Recycling this from a later post on the “how to look more polished at work” thread:

    It seems like shoulder tailoring is one thing that really isn’t viable for most people. Does anyone know any good options for formal clothing for people with narrow shoulders and a large bust? Especially things like jackets or business style dresses. A lot of curvy brands don’t really seem to cater to the interview suit level of formality. Personally I’m also petite and wear a women’s XS usually, which adds another complication – a lot of curve friendly clothing doesn’t seem to come down to the smaller sizes.

    1. LDN Layabout*

      How do you look in shift dresses? In my mind a ‘good’ one in a more formal material/colour is basically the equivalent of a men’s suit if you style it correctly.

      1. LDN Layabout*

        Also if you’re hard to fit, I’d recommend trying out eshakti, just for being able to customise. Not viable for all clothing but definitely for a few interview pieces/small work capsule wardrobe.

        1. Paige*

          Seconding eshakti–the ability to get someone customized to my exact size is worth every penny. They have some really nice work quality jackets and blouses, and often have sales if you’re buying 2 or 3 pieces at a time.

          1. Jessen*

            Does eshakti have just, like, normal stuff though? Like if I just want a blazer in plain black or gray, no frills, no ruffles, no patterns or florals, just PLAIN. That’s always been my issue with them, their stuff tends to just have too much going on. Right now the only blazer I can find on their site is hawaiian print; you can’t get it in a solid neutral. I’ve heard them recommended a lot and looked at them several times but always had trouble finding just basics.

            1. LDN Layabout*

              Blazers no, jackets yes. But ymmv I haven’t seen blazers that work on a larger bust unless they’re either the more boxy ‘loose’ style, which makes them less formal, or they’re properly tailored from a an actual tailor.

    2. Tbubui*

      I have fairly narrow shoulders and a large bust. If I don’t wear structured clothes at work I tend to look sloppy because of the way things drape. (Which of course makes shopping hard because boxy styles seem to be in right now.) One thing I’ve found helpful is to seek out highly structured blazers, especially those with a little bit of padding at the shoulders (not 80s style though!). It adds a bit of polish and balances out my form.

      Structured blazers are really hard to find, especially in summer, though. Not sure where you are, but in Canada we have Cleo, which has fairly curve-friendly petite clothing. The Bay can be expensive, but if you shop sales you can also find some very nice blazers for cheap. I’m in a relatively small Canadian city, so I’m not sure what the American equivalents would be. Maybe someone else can chime in?

      I don’t wear dresses, so I can’t help you there unfortunately!

    3. TotesMaGoats*

      I bought several soft blazers (no buttons) in several colors on amazon in the past couple years. I don’t know the brand. I’m petite but large bust. Usually wear a large. They are perfect for taking a casual shell/tank/blouse and dressing it up just a bit. Switch out flat sandals for heels, it’s been a game changer. Plus it’s nice to have something to put on in cold conference rooms.

    4. HannahS*

      When you say not viable, I’m not sure what you mean–do you mean cost-wise? I missed that other thread. Others will have good recommendations of specific shops, but it’s worth actually researching what shoulder tailoring costs in your area for a basic blazer, and comparing that to the cost of buying one from a specialty company.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        I suspect the problem is that taking in the shoulder of a blazer is difficult to do, compared to other alterations. So you need a highly skilled tailor, and it’s expensive – rebuilding a structured piece of clothing with a lining can be as much work as making it in the first place.

        That’s an idea, though – for something like a plain black blazer, it might be worth having one made to order. Expensive, but if it’s well done and of good materials, it can last for years.

        1. Jessen*

          Part of the problem is it’ll last for however many years you don’t gain or lose any weight. It is a good idea, but I’m reluctant to shell out a huge amount of money on a garment that has a high probability of not fitting soon.

    5. The teapots are on fire*

      If you can find a blazer with princess seams that go up into the shoulder seam, any decent tailor should be able to narrow the shoulders for you.

    6. Queer Manager*

      Now I will preface this with the fact that I have wide shoulders for a woman & large bust. But I am quite short! Something I have found very helpful is buying blouses that fit my chest which are always way to big and then pairing them with a nice pair of slacks or pencil skirt and tucking it in. If the blouse is bulky when tucked I add a belt. I don’t know how formal you need to get but for more business side of business casual, you can go with an open cardigan that fits your shoulders but won’t close over your bust. Or there are open blazer styles that you can fit to your shoulders and it doesn’t look unpolished to leave it open. Or, if you can get away with it, forgo the jacket and go for a formal blouse that has ruffles around the shoulders or neckline to distract from any fitting issues. I have found that I can get away with a slightly less business formal outfit if I pair it with nice shoes and am polished in other regards. Nails look good, hair is smooth, make-up looks good and minimal, etc.

    7. Lisa*

      So, I used to be a semi-pro level seamstress and have dabbled in tailoring a smidge. I am also 5’2″ and have ranged between sizes 4-16, and am on the curvy/busty side of things.

      In general, fashion for short+curvy isn’t just a fit problem, we aren’t getting designed for, and haven’t since the 1950’s. Dresses are our friends. But not all dresses. Shirt dresses and wrap dresses will gape wrong and trapeze cuts just turn into tents. Depending on your shape, fit-and-flare or sheath can work. Watch the neckline. A dress in the right cut made out of a business-class fabric (like a rayon knit in a polished print or dark solid) can be great. If you feel you need a jacket of some kind, get one with a straight/draped opening, not a blazer-style front or a crew-neck, as those will do a weird boob-framing. Also, they got a bad wrap for being overdone, but moderate shoulder padding is a normal part of a suit jacket and if your shoulders are narrow or sloped, adding a little bit of a pad to a jacket can make a world of difference.

    8. LL*

      I recommend trying out Bravissimo (a full bust brand from the UK). They used to offer more clothing options, but they have at least one blazer now. I can’t put a link, but google bravissimo and see what they have! If you have narrow shoulders and a large bust, specialty clothing in your friend. It starts at a US size 4, but if the shoulders and bust fit, you could always get the waist, etc, tailored.

    9. None The Wiser*

      Try M.M. LaFleur “jardigans”.

      The brand can be somewhat pricey, but perhaps you can invest in a couple of pieces that you can mix and match with the rest of your wardrobe.

  20. ChemAnon*

    We are having our first in person meeting with our team (we are all remote next week) and most of us are vaxxed… except for 1 woman. She is an anti-vaxxer, “covid is a hoax” type person.

    I don’t feel the most comfortable being in a room with her, but I don’t know how much I am overreacting. I have travelled to see customers, but to me knowing someone isn’t vaxxed is different from knowing someone potentially isn’t vaxxed (dumb, I know).

    I don’t know how much of a stink, if any, I should make. This would be the first time meeting my teammates – I’ve been here a little under a year. It is also a more conservative company (/industry…), so I don’t want to make it look like I’m not a team player. Plus, I know logically I don’t have much risk to me being vaccinated. It’s…. it’s just knowing I am putting myself at risk going. You know?

    1. Rey*

      I’m experiencing this right now with two of my coworkers and I’m really struggling with how much I’m second-guessing myself. What policy, if any, does your company have in place right now about vaxxed vs. unvaxxed, mask-wearing, and work from home? If they don’t require it, then it feels like they have already decided that they aren’t willing to take a stand about vaccines and I wouldn’t want to say anything because of being a team player like you said. At this point, it honestly feels like the people who got vaxxed care more about the health of unvaxxed, which is just an unfair weight to carry.

      1. ChemAnon*

        We are all work from home/ remote – not a covid thing, just a job type thing (sales). Company has been requiring approvals from customers to go out and visit customers, so they are taking it seriously. Non vaxxed people have to wear masks.

        I feel like they would be accommodating but I am still the newest person on the mostly conservative team, so I am concerned.

        “At this point, it honestly feels like the people who got vaxxed care more about the health of unvaxxed, which is just an unfair weight to carry.”

        This is PERFECTLY put.

      2. AcademiaNut*

        “At this point, it honestly feels like the people who got vaxxed care more about the health of unvaxxed, which is just an unfair weight to carry”

        Honestly, at this point I don’t care all that much about the health of the people who are stubbornly refusing to get vaccinated. What I *do* care about is the sensible people they’re going to infect – the ones who legitimately can’t get the vaccine (immune compromised, children, etc) and the breakthrough infections, the people who have to deal with their crap when trying to enforce basic health precautions, and the people who work in health care, mortuary services and so on, who have to work themselves exhausted to clean up the mess they create.

      1. ChemAnon*

        I probably will. It’ll still make me a little bit of a pariah… (conservative company like I said), but worth it imo.

        1. Beth*

          Being a little bit of a pariah is better than being a little bit of a Covid statistic. And the more we go back to masking, the more we normalize it.

      2. have we met?*

        Agree. I’d wear a mask to this meeting. If someone asks, say, “I understand some of my co-workers haven’t been able to get the vaccine yet, so I’m just trying to be a team player.”

        1. Rey*

          This is great wording! I couldn’t come up with anything that wasn’t passive-aggressive, which I know I shouldn’t do it at work. Thanks for helping me out!

      3. Neosmom*

        My workstation is in a reception area. So, my response to visitors questioning why I (vaccinated) wear a mask is, “Oh, just an abundance of caution. Could you sign in …”

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      If you’re vaccinated and have been around people whose status you don’t know (clients, cashiers, random strangers) then you’re not worried about the risk she poses – you’re upset about her attitude. Completely valid, but not something you should act on.

      1. ChemAnon*

        That is very fair and what I was concerned about.

        It’s so annoying – I don’t need to hear that sh*t at 9 in the morning before i even finished my first coffee. -.-

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          I do think you can push back a little on the talk about it! I wouldn’t get into a debate but just gently declining to rehash her same arguments again and firmly asking her not to comment when you wear a mask/use hand sanitizer/etc

      2. mreasy*

        There’s a difference between a short interaction inside a store with people who are wearing masks than being in a small conference room for an hour or so, though. I hear you, but it is riskier with longer exposure.

    3. CatPerson*

      I will not be in a room with someone who is not vaccinated. I am more cautious than many, but I really, really, really do not want to get COVID.

    4. ferrina*

      Oh man, I would not be comfortable being in a room with her. I would definitely flag it for someone- “Hey, this person is a potential health risk, and if I am one of the few vaccinated that gets Covid, I don’t want to be out for a week even for non-hospitalizing symptoms.” And who knows about the long Covid affect on the vaccinated folks that get Covid? That’s without going in to the unknown variants (note: not data that I know of that the known variants are more contagious/severe for vaccinated folks)
      If I were forced to be in a room with her, yeah, I’d take ALL the precautions. I don’t care if she’s offended- her cavalier attitude towards my/everyone’s health offends me! It’s not hard to wear a mask just as a nod to a colleague. If I have a germaphobe colleague who doesn’t like when people touch their stuff, I don’t touch their stuff. I may not share their beliefs, but it’s an easy way to show respect and care for another human being.
      /end rant/

    5. LNLN*

      The Delta variant is so contagious and does cause serious illness so I am back to wearing a mask when I am around other people. Even vaccinated people can have the Delta variant and pass the virus to others. Wear a mask!

      1. Bossy Magoo*

        This. I’m back to wearing a mask too. I just addressed it head-on when I joined a group of vaccinated, unmasked people. I said, “I’m back to wearing a mask. I’m terrified of getting this Delta variant.” No one batted an eye, but then again none of them are anti-vax/COVID-hoaxers either.

    6. Middle School Teacher*

      Honestly if it were me I would sit quite far away from her. And if anyone asks, just say “I’m just being careful” and smile. Don’t make a stink.

  21. PX*

    Anyone ever accepted a job they were very on the fence about that turned out okay? The initial application process and interviews were fine, but the negotiation of the offer phase has left me with the impression that at the very least, the HR person is more concerned with protecting the company than showing any kind of flexibility to candidates.

    The actual job itself is something that will hopefully build my CV in good ways, and the person who would be my manager seems fine, but I get the impression some of the senior leaders and HR have some tendencies that will need careful handling…

    1. Hotdog not dog*

      Yes! I was very ambivalent…I needed a job, as my prior contract was up, but I expected it to be something I would stick out for a year or so as a resume booster. I ended up loving it, excelling at the work, and being promoted about a year later. It changed the entire direction of my career. One of the things I was not crazy about was the manager, who was not a very effective communicator. She ended up moving on and I ended up in her role! If you had asked me a few years prior where I thought I would be, that wouldn’t even have been a guess!

      1. PX*

        Oooh yay for positive outcomes! I had to journal it out yesterday and realised my bad habit of assuming things might be clouding my judgement a bit here (they didnt budge on X therefore that means they must be terrible) so fingers crossed I also have a positive experience like you did!

    2. Hillary*

      I had to be talked into one role by my recruiter (I was doing contract work at the time). I ended up going permanent at the company and staying five years.

      Senior leaders and HR are there to protect the company – recruiting is often disconnected from how they treat employees.

    3. Cookies for Breakfast*

      My first job at my current workplace was like that. I was early enough in my career that I had never heard of the specific job title, but the recruiter who sent me had very nearly placed me for a different role, which was client-facing project management, and said this one would be similar. The environment had mild “family” vibes that made me cringe a little, and I got shortchanged on my entry salary, but I was leaving a terrible environment and would have accepted anything. My first six months were rough (everyone seemed to be best friends and I was the outcast! My two teammates who had seemed so welcoming kept ignoring me…I later found they were having an affair!), but I stuck it out because I was enjoying my projects, and it was a good reminder that keeping work and personal life separate actually suits me better than the alternative. I’ve been at that company for quite some time now, and the culture has changed for the better over the years. I’ve been promoted a few times and got regular pay rises. The benefits are very hard to get elsewhere. Even though I’ve been wanting to leave for the past year, when I think of my old self who was on the fence during the interview process, I can definitely say it turned out okay :)

      I saw you mentioned a “bad habit of assuming things” in a comment below, and can definitely relate. I also read here that sometimes orange flags with HR people end up mattering less, because day to day contact with them is not so frequent in most roles. I’m not at all surprised that a company will try and protect itself at the negotiation stage. I would probably focus on what you know about your manager, the team you’d be working on, and whether you can get a sense that this is an environment where you’ll be set up for success doing the work you hope will build your CV. Good luck and congratulations!

    4. Llama Wrangler*

      I think I have an experience that would qualify as that. I was getting laid off and only had one offer on the table – it was a pay cut (but still within the range of what I would expect for my field/experience/city), the company had AWFUL reviews on glassdoor, and there were a few weird things about the hiring process. Similar to your situation, the interviews were fine, the role seemed interesting, and it was a good step for me.

      At the point I was offered the position, I had a long conversation with the hiring manager (who I had good rapport with at that point), and asked them a lot of questions about organizational culture, including about the glassdoor reviews specifically. What she said was reassuring, and turned out to be mostly accurate – there was previous very poor leadership that current leadership was in the process of turning around. A big thing that worked out for me that I couldn’t have foreseen was that the hiring manager ended up being my line manager, which was not the plan when I accepted the role but made for a better experience than I think I would have had if the line manager who was slated to manage me had stuck with it.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      HR works for the company’s interests not the employees. This may come across as the rep speaking clearly and directly, “We offer X but we do not offer Y.” I can’t tell what HR did exactly by what you have here, but if she is telling you what the boundaries are up front that is good information to know. She is actually helping you understand what you are walking into. And that is the most fair thing to do.

      If you have a good boss, who has your back then you will probably be okay. We all need a boss who explains what is expected of us as employees and what the work quality standards are so we can remain employed.

      You are having some yellow flags here, I get it. I also know that I am not there and do not see all the details of what is going on. It could be that you do actually need to turn down the offer. Or it could be that the careful handling that you are concerned about is actually fairly normal in your arena.

      I guess that in the end, I would ask myself, “I see problem x and y here. Is there enough that is right that I am willing to work with x and y to get other things that are to my advantage?”

    6. PX*

      Thanks for the feedback everyone! Some really good points, and I think overall, the pros outweigh the cons in my particular situation – so I think its just going to be a case of going in and focusing on doing the best job I can. As some of you have said, being mindful that this HR experience is (hopefully!) not going to be representative of my working experience is probably the best thing at this point.

  22. Name Goes Here*

    Two questions:
    1) How do you know when your boss is playing favorites with someone else? and
    2) How do you know when conflicts w/ vision for your work or project means it’s time to walk away?

    Working through an experience like this myself. Curious if y’all have picked up on dynamics like this in your own experience and what it looked or felt like.

    1. H*

      I need to follow the answers here because I think I am in this situation. I started a job during the pandemic and someone else who is a favorite of my boss has been there since 2018 but I have more experience in the field and my boss and I have the same credentials. However, she treats this other employee like she has the same credentials and experiences with clients which she hasn’t and obviously trusts her a lot more and assigns her to other projects. They have inside jokes and text a lot. Another coworker who has been there longer has also mentioned that this employee and another one are favorites so I know I am not the only one. I am trying to find peace with not being recognized for what I can do and my strengths but I feel like my skills are being wasted…it took them a long time to fill my role too. I guess for me it just feels demoralizing and I hate that feeling and in return it makes me want to coast when I usually am a go-getter.

      1. H*

        Right now, I am basically staying in my job for the benefits and salary. I work for the state so I get a lot of days and pretty decent benefits and even when in the office (only 1 day a week right now thought being forced to return!) my boss is now in a building half a mile away. I also know there is a shortage of people with my education and credentials so while I might not be getting accolades right now I would likely need to do something egregious to be fired and I consult/prn on some weekends and evenings which keeps things fresh too.

    2. ferrina*

      Item 1–Yes! My Old Boss played favorites. There were two of us in similar roles, and I was not the favorite.

      This played out through constant criticism on my work, both to my face and behind my back. OB gave me way more responsibilities than she gave Favorite, but I also got way less support. When it was time to talk about staffing or resources, Favorite always had enough, but I had half as much as I needed. At one point Favorite had one person twiddling their thumbs on stand-by for a couple weeks while I had two people doing the work of 4. When I told OB that the workload was unsustainable, she told me I was bad at project management (without actually offering any advice or suggestions on how to adjust the work. I consulted with multiple project managers- they were all shocked at how well I’d balanced everything and how much I was doing).
      tldr: Favorite had less work, more support, and OB talked up Favorite to all the higher-ups.

      That situation ended when Favorite and I both put our names in for a promotion. Favorite got it, despite not having the appropriate experience level. When Favorite got to his new job, he struggled- HARD. I ended up having to teach him how to do his (higher-level) job and being assigned a lot of responsibilities that were supposed to be his (no raise, of course). I leveraged my successes doing HIS job into a better job at a different company that pays me 15% than what he’s getting. And now he’s stuck doing all the responsibilities that he had to offload to me.

  23. LDN Layabout*

    Applying to multiple jobs at the same organisation, is there anything to look out for? Basically it’s the same ‘job’ but different focus to each one, totally different teams etc.

    There won’t be a cover letter, but I will need to do some essay questions/a suitability statement and while some of it will be different, can I reuse the overarching sections dealing with why I want to work for that org/why I’m passionate about the sector itself or should I subtly change them since…I am literally applying to multiple jobs in the same org.

    (Multiple as in ‘few’ vs. ‘several’, I’m not application bombing them)

    1. PollyQ*

      If the letters are going to different hiring managers, I think it’s OK to reuse applicable snippets. I’d try to minimize it though, if possible.

  24. Let me be dark and twisty*

    I need a sanity check. I support the administrator of my office. My position is more chief of staff than executive assistant, though the role isn’t very fleshed out (we were just starting to define my position when COVID hit and I became sort of a “do anything to keep the agency afloat” person till everything stabilized). My boss, the administrator, has a deputy. All the department heads report to him, except for me. I report directly to the administrator, just like the deputy does. I have no authority over or responsibility to the department heads or the deputy. But the deputy uses me to babysit the department heads. He expects me to keep tabs on the department heads and to tell him if they’ve submitted their weekly reports and any other deliverables he assigns.

    This bugs the crud out of me because I don’t feel it’s my responsibility to make sure that the department heads deliver their work to the deputy on time. That’s part of the deputy’s duties as their managing supervisor. Is this a legitimate grievance to have and address or do I just need to suck it up and deal with it?

    1. Dust Bunny*

      I’m not sure if you have the standing, but I’d just tell him to take it up with the department heads directly–you don’t have the authority or the time.

    2. The Dude Abides*

      If the deputy communicates this over email, I’d respond back cc’ing the adminstrator. If it’s done verbally, I’d send an email asking for clarification, and cc’ing the administrator.

    3. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      I would ask the administrator “To what extent is Dan Deputy empowered to assign me work? How should I prioritize those projects against the ones you give me?”

    4. Rusty Shackelford*

      So the deputy is assigning work to you, even though he’s not your manager? If so, I think it might be okay to say “sorry, I don’t know if Cersei submitted her TPS report; you’ll need to check with her.” And/or ask your administrator if this is how you should be spending your time and effort. Well, not in those words. ;-)

    5. CLC*

      I’ve been in your exact situation before and I have a serious word of caution for you. If you’re getting executive assistant pay DO NOT take on chief of staff responsibilities without obtaining a raise first. You will be wildly underpaid before you know it. Trust me. When I was in your shoes, after nearly a year of the additional responsibilities, I had to say “the market value for the work I’m doing does not match my pay, if I’m to continue I’ll need a 60% pay increase to match my salary to the market value of the work I’m currently doing.” “Or, I’ll go back to only doing what I was originally hired for at my current compensation.” (Really didn’t mind if they decided to fire me at that point). Cut to another year later and I’m a relatively well paid executive assistant vs a ridiculously low paid chief of staff. My company even tried to hire someone to do what I had been doing for almost a year and even now, 1 year since I gave my ultimatum, they still can’t find anyone to take on those responsibilities for what they’re willing to pay. Shocker. Point is, never assume a raise is coming. If they can get chief of staff work out of you for executive assistant pay they’re going to. Know the market value of what you agree to take on.

      1. Let me be dark and twisty*

        I appreciate this! But the opposite is what’s happening – I was hired into the chief of staff position at chief of staff pay.

        I assumed executive assistant duties for a couple of months when our actual EA resigned, until the administrator decided she didn’t want one because there wasn’t enough work for her. So I dropped those EA duties and the boss sent an email out saying “We will not be backfilling the EA. Let me be dark and twisty should not be your POC for general questions or tasks anymore. See me if you have questions.” Everyone stopped treating me as the EA after that announcement except for the deputy. And any time I try to broach this with the deputy, he brings up how busy he is with back-to-back meetings and “thanks for keeping me on track!” Which was (and continues to be) a ginormous load of ick.

        1. ecnaseener*

          Can you use that? Say to the deputy that this is an EA task and the boss said you weren’t supposed to do those anymore?

        2. CLC*

          Ah I see! Very glad to hear it’s not the other way around. If I were you I’d move to being very direct with the deputy. Whenever he asks you to do something I’d make it very clear your day is already full with your own duties. If it were me I would say something along the lines of: “I have a full schedule and can’t take on any additional responsibilities outside of my own position (don’t caveat this with anything at the end- don’t say “today” don’t say “right now”, keep it firm). My assisting you was only a temporary solution. If you feel you need X done and won’t have time to do so please speak to (insert supervisor) directly.” Of course you’ll want to keep a breezy tone, but stay firm in your resolve. Good luck!

        3. Mockingjay*

          Don’t accept, redirect.

          “Actually, this is handled by Fred; I’ve forwarded this to him.”
          “Sorry, on deadline for big boss, can’t stop now!”
          “Didn’t see your email in time; hope you got it sorted” (days later)
          “I don’t handle that; not sure who does.”

          Don’t JADE – Justify, Argue, Defend, Explain. Just bat it away like a pesky fly.

          Your issue is one that I have as well. I’m in a technical support role but the only word people see is “support.” I’ve got one guy that I’ve been playing task ping-pong with for 3 years. (I’d say he’s an optimist because he keeps trying to foist work on me when previous attempts have failed, but he’s the laziest, most pessimistic curmudgeon I’ve ever worked with. I used to get irritated by the exchanges, now I find them entertaining. “Let’s see how long this email string will get, lol.”)

        4. Sara without an H*

          This helps. I think maybe it’s time for a conversation with your boss, along the lines of “Deputy keeps asking me to take on some EA work and it’s starting to eat up significant time. How would you like me to handle that going forward?”

          Make it your boss’s problem and see what happens.

    6. Storm in a teacup*

      I would check with the administrator if this is a part of your duties as it might be. I’m the past Alison has suggested quantifying the impact it has on you to do your own work and I think this is a valuable thing to do.

  25. Rey*

    We are currently hiring for a data entry clerk who would enter budget information into a specialized software system. Our job ad described that applicants should have experience learning new software and proven attention to detail. Now that we’re scheduling interviews, we’re unsure how to test these skills. With the previous clerk, we showed her the program when she came for the interview, but she didn’t have to enter anything herself and after she was hired, she made many mistakes that impacted our annual reports. How should we conduct this part of the interviews this time to really understand how comfortable they will be learning new software and accurately entering the budget details?

    1. Ginger Baker*

      Not A Real Giraffe posted a similar question above, I left one reply there (though in your case I think the other comment re actual computer exercises is great!)

    2. irene adler*

      “Tell me about a time when you made an error or mistake that adversely affected a coworker. ” See how they address the adverse affect on coworker part of their narrative. Be prepared to asked follow-up questions on this aspect to determine their awareness level for how their work affects others.
      “Tell me about a time when you had to learn a new software for work.” Ask if they continued to use the new software or whether they reverted back to prior software. See if you can gage their attitude towards this task (“whew, I was so glad not to have to use that new software after a while” or “once I caught on, I appreciated the value it added to my work tasks”)

    3. Kes*

      Can you maybe mock up an excel spreadsheet to simulate something along the lines of a simplified part of your application and give them a fake set of data to enter?

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        This. And, as a bonus, include an aspect that tests whether they’re registering the numbers as they enter them and comparing them to existing knowledge of rules or patterns as a background process in their brain. As someone who has this skill, I’d suggest adding in a ‘mistake’ or two to see if they catch it. For example, we expect Value A will always be a positive number, Value B should be between 20 and 100, Value C is a dollar amount that always ends in .50 or .00. Maybe 1 or 2 values in a set of 50 to enter break these rules, and another violates validation you haven’t told them about. What does the candidate do next—how do they investigate the error, how do they describe it to you, do they check in about what should be done in cases like that?

        1. foolofgrace*

          This seems kind of unfair to the applicant. They want to do a good job and just like you don’t point out errors in a company’s website in your interview, they would most likely not want to rock the boat in this exercise. Unless you told them in advance that there “might” be a couple of errors and they shouldn’t let that throw them.

          1. Pocket Mouse*

            Sure, although it’s probably more effective (and realistic) to give background about the task with something like “In this scenario, you’re the first person to review the entries” and “just like when you’re in a job, let me know if you run into any issues”. I wouldn’t say “keep an eye out for errors” because the goal here is specifically to see who will/can do that as a second nature.

    4. ferrina*

      Reference checks will help, too. Definitely probe in to accuracy and attention to detail during the reference check.

    5. Sunshine_IN*

      At my job, new hires for certain positions complete an hour long skills demo (MS Access and Excel) as part of their interview. Those programs are specifically listed in the job posting, along with the skills demo. Some of the skills demo is simple “change the column heading” and some of it is difficult “calculate x revenue over y months”. The database demo has the user create a new customer, assign an order to them, create an invoice, etc. Nothing complicated, but it does weed out those without attention to detail or those who are inflating their abilities. We use it for multiple positions and haven’t updated it in years.

  26. Lizzy*

    Any advice on finding a position that’s fully remote? I have an illness that makes it difficult to be in an office, but unfortunately my employer can’t let me work from home or give me flex time due to the nature of our jobs. Everything I’ve found on Indeed isn’t actually remote.

    1. madge*

      I’m running into that issue, too, with Indeed. I hope others have some suggestions. I visit the careers site for every remote employer I can find after googling articles about it. Still, not much luck.

    2. LTL*

      YMMV depending on your field but LinkedIn is more reliable for finding remote jobs than Indeed in my experience. Idealist also clearly designates remote vs temporarily remote if you’re open to nonprofits.

      Could you ask your network for any field-specific job boards? I suspect those are also more likely to have reliable filters.

  27. Biobabe*

    I’m interested in archives and even considering getting a MLIS next year. Due to this realization and other factors, I decided to quit my biologist/lab technician job of 5 years. This week an archives assistant job opened up that I really wanna try my luck at. Anyone have advice on how to tailor my resume/cover letter, or have general advice on how to pivot?

    1. Kimmy Schmidt*

      When I was an archives assistant, a lot of my job was data entry (cataloging each folder and box and piece of memorabilia). You might be able to draw data entry parallels from your lab technician job. It also involved a fair bit of writing, so I would try to use some writing projects as accomplishments. Archives job

      Is the archives at a university or part of a corporation? Be sure to research not only the archives but the bigger institution. See if you can find any digitized items online and read through some of them. Double check all application requirements. If it’s at a university, you may need a CV or writing sample.

      Good luck!

    2. AnArchivist*

      I’m in a director-level position and hire for these kinds of jobs routinely, and I’m always able to get someone with some kind of experience. The market is oversaturated, and I know many highly qualified candidates who can’t get permanent, ft positions. I don’t recommend an MLIS unless you can get someone else to pay for it. It’s bad out there, and the pandemic has made it even worse.

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        “It’s bad out there…”

        Totally. Please make sure you have a good sense of what’s available before quitting. Not only is the market oversaturated, I gather a lot of it is underpaid and another lot of it is available as short-term/contingent rather than full-time permanent. Lots of folks are either cobbling jobs together or job searching basically constantly.

      2. dear liza dear liza*

        Agreed, archives is heavily saturated. I work on the public services side of an academic library and when we have openings, we regularly get a lot of applications from people with archives interests or strong archives backgrounds, with a note that they are trying to pivot to something with more stability and openings.

      3. life moves fast*

        I agree with this; as an archivist who really loves her job, I say don’t pivot to archives. It’s a VERY over-saturated field. If you are A. okay with moving every year or even every six months due to contracts and term positions ending, B. don’t care where you live, C. don’t want kids, and D. don’t want stability, then go into archives. Most entry level jobs are term positions, it is very hard to get a permanent full time job, and when you do find one….they most likely will not pay you what you would expect to be making with a masters degree of any kind. My girlfriend is an engineer with a bachelors, and makes more than double what I do.

        I love being an archivist, my day to day work is great. I am mentally stimulated, I work in technical services so I don’t have to deal with the public, and I have great coworkers. I am lucky (SO damn lucky) to have found a permanent, full time position in the city I want to live in….but I’m in the minority there. None of my coworkers want to live in this city. It took me 8 years of traveling and cobbling together jobs, stressing about where/when I’d get my next job, if it would pay enough, if it would offer benefits…the list goes on, and it really affects your quality of life.

        If you’re ok with those things OP….then look into becoming an archivist. But I can’t in good conscience let posts like this go by without telling people how damn hard it is to end up in a stable place as an archivist.

    3. AnotherLibrarian*

      Oh, I have so many thoughts here… While I agree that the market is over-saturated, I also find that people aren’t willing to move for jobs. Unlike AnArchivist, I rarely hire people with experience, because those people won’t move. You want to work in this field? Be willing to move.

      Anyway to answer your actual question, I have hired for three archives positions in the last 18 months and will be hiring for one in the next few months. Here is some of the advice I wish I could have given people who, frankly, did themselves a disservice with their cover-letters and resumes. Without knowing the type of archives assistant work, it’s hard to give specific advice, but here’s a few general things.

      1. Convince me you want this specific job. Not just a job in the field, but the job I am hiring for. If the job is public services, tell me about how you like helping people find information. If the job is mostly processing (aka arranging and describing collections) show me how much you like highly detailed data entry and organizing often messy files. I want to know you want the work, not just any work in a archive. (And even if you do just want any work in an archive, make me think you want this specific work.)

      2. Show me how your current work (whatever it is) might make you good at the work I am hiring for. Think about where there is overlap. I wish people who had retail experience would realize how much it applies to public services work in archives or how managing a warehouse overlaps with the work I do managing a massive temp controlled room full of boxes.

      3. Please don’t sent me a CV, unless the position explicitly asks for one. A resume should be 2 pages or less. A cover letter should be one page. I got 80 applicants for one position. If your documents are like 9 pages, you’re already annoying me and I haven’t even started reading them yet. Same thing for layout and formatting- keep it simple, please. If I can’t find the info on the page in less than 30 seconds, than I might miss that you have a required skill or training.

    4. Grits McGee*

      Do you have any on-the-job experience with archives? Before quitting your existing job (and ABSOLUTELY before you enroll in a MLIS program), get some in-depth volunteer or internship experience and talk to as many people working in the field as possible. This is tricky right now is that so many places are limiting the number of on-site staff due to COVID.

      Also- what appeals to you about the archives field? The field has a lot of different aspects, and that is really going to affect what kinds of education and experience you need.

      Unfortunately, unless you are in an unusually uncompetitive market, it’s very unlikely that you will get hired for an archives assistant job with no archives experience.

  28. AnonymooseToday*

    I got an interview with my profession’s ultimate employer! Like the place everyone talks about working when they first start out. I’m really excited because it’s a step up and exactly the job I’ve been applying to for years all over the country, and this one is only a state away. Also I think the benefits would be good (really hoping) since that’s why I’ve turned down other positions before.

    But I’m nervous, it is a project management type role, but say I’ve only worked with ceramic teapots and this is entirely about clay teapots. I’ve only tangentially been involved with these formats before. From the outside though this does look entirely like a project management role and don’t need to know very specific technical info, there’s other people for that, but I’ve been working as a specific knowledge person (on other types of teapots just lacking hand’s on experience with clay), so it’s making me nervous to have to prove I do know what I’m talking about as a whole without over referencing my lack of hard core clay teapot specialty.

    1. Let me be dark and twisty*

      You’ll be fine! You’ve got this!

      The thing to remember about project management roles (regardless of industry!) is usually what matters most is cost (budget), scope (requirements), and time (schedule) and how to manage risks to deliver on time, on budget, and within scope. If you speak the PM lingo, clay teapot specialty probably won’t come up. But definitely have a scenario in mind of a time when you had to quickly learn something totally new if they ask you to speak about teapot knowledge. For instance if they ask you to tell you about clay teapots, you can say something like “I don’t know much about clay teapot specialties, but I’m a very fast learner and I’ll be able to pick it up after a week. At my last job, I was given a project on llama grooming but my background is in emu grooming so as part of my preparation while the scope (or requirements) was still being defined, I read/watched/learned as much as I could about llama grooming and after a week, I was able to lead the requirements-gathering brainstorm sessions and we finished requirements-gathering two days ahead of schedule. I’m going to bring that same focus to your company to learn about clay teapots and anything else I’ll be working on.”

    2. The Other Evil HR Lady*

      I guess remember that you’ll be interviewing the company too. The questions you have are good questions to bring up during your interview, if the hiring manager doesn’t bring it up first. They should tell you more about the role and you should ask how much of the role is hands-on-clay, and how much is project management. In this instance, I would ask what a typical day should look like. If you’re at the wheel with the clay, you’ll know this is probably not a good fit for you. But if you’re directing the team, well… there’s your answer. Good luck!

  29. madge*

    I’m sure you’re right that they’re working on it; Delta has moved so swiftly and people are trying to avoid 2020 part two.
    I work for an academic medical center and masks are required when social distancing isn’t possible. The exception is if you’re in a “stable group” such as your lab or office suite (which is absurd; there are at least two unvaccinated individuals a few feet from me). No one is allowed to go back to remote work even if they have family members who can’t get vaccinated. Vaccinations are not required for employees, even patient-facing ones. There will be drawings for prizes among any employee who submits a photo of their vaxx record.
    My state’s Delta rates are so bad, we’re now featured regularly on CNN. Fortunately(?), one of the stories was about residents sneaking vaccinations so they don’t catch grief from their circle. Awesome. We’re a very liberal town and school whose top administration does whatever our Republican governor wants. I’m not sure how this will play out but we are having a terrible time recruiting people right now and are receiving a fraction of the applications we used to.

  30. StressyMessy*

    How have people developed strategies for handling mental health difficulties while at work, or strategized a conversation with their manager? Not like in a day to day, but more overall strategy, particularly in high stress fields. I am working with a therapist, but am struggling about how to bring anything up with my manager. She has repeatedly said she is a strong supporter of people doing what they need to do, but by her actions is also very “do as I say not as I do” which makes me feel like there are unspoken or subconscious considerations I need to be wary of when bringing any of this up.

    I don’t think taking more mental health days is the answer, also, because if I don’t have a sustainable strategy for the time I’m in work mental health days feel like just a delay or a distraction.

    1. ferrina*

      How is your manager with other needs? Does she question your sick time, or encourage you to take it? Has she given co-workers grief for taking time when a pet died, or did she tell them to clock out, she’ll handle their work today? I’m one of those people that is bad at taking care of myself, but VERY protective of my team. (A big reason why I now take sick days is to set a good example for my team!)

      If she’s good overall, I’d go in with a list of concrete things you want from her. “I’ll need to take a week off” or “I may need to adjust my schedule for impromptu health appointments. I’ll keep my calendar updated, of course.” is really helpful to know. Or “I am really struggling with the Crumpets Account and it’s adversely affecting my mental health. Is there a way I can be moved off that account?” These are all things that I, as a manager, can do something about (maybe not right away, but I can help make it happen). “I am struggling and don’t know what to do” is tough for me, because I’m not a mental health professional and I don’t know what you should do either! If you don’t really know what you need right now (and it sounds like you don’t), you can say “I’m experimenting with different strategies to see what helps me rebalance. This week I’m going to try taking a 15-minute walk three times a day, and if that helps, I’ll keep doing it! If it doesn’t help, I’ll try something else. This experiementing shouldn’t affect my productivity, but you may see odd blocks on my calendar while I figure out what I need to do to take care of myself.”

      If she’s been unreliable- I’d be careful. Maybe “I’ve developed a health condition that requires me to XYZ to stay healthy.” Again, be clear on the action item that you need. Even if it’s “Next week you may see my schedule look a little different. I’m trying out a new productivity strategy to see if it works for me. If it doesn’t, obviously I won’t continue to do it.”

      Good luck!

      1. StressyMessy*

        Thank you! That wording around “experimenting with different strategies” is such a good idea – definitely going to use that! I think she is somewhere in between – but that different strategies is gold, and I think will really help walk the line. Thank you again!

    2. Joielle*

      An article that gets recommended a lot is from the Captain Awkward blog, called “How to tighten up your game at work when you’re depressed.” If I post a link this will go to moderation, but it should be the first result if you google it. I have also struggled with mental health at work and found it to be helpful!

  31. A Fish*

    Any quick and dirty tips for dealing with imposter syndrome at a new job?

    I am about to start a new position in one of the most prestigious organisations in my field. It’s the sort of place that when you mention it, people say it’s a career maker and talk about how good all the people there are, or how arrogant. It’s a promotion, with a significant pay rise. And I’ve managed to get the promotion much quicker than most people, who would typically need to have worked in the field for at least several more years to get to that level. I’m not really sure how I managed it. People with significantly more impressive qualifications and work history have struggled.

    Without trying to be down on myself, I can’t imagine that I’m going to measure up in any regard. And I’m going to be managing several people (first time for me), at least one of whom sounds significantly more experienced than me. Experience isn’t everything, but it’s important.

    Obviously I need to work out longer term strategies and underlying issues with someone who has professional training. But in the short term, does anyone have any nice tricks that have helped them to get through? Not easy solutions (although I’ll take those too!), just some ideas to try take the pressure off until I can get professional help.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      As far as managing somebody with more experience than you, don’t think of it as a pure hierarchy.

      Everybody has a different mix of abilities and aptitudes. And a different set of career goals and work preferences.

      That person with more experience doesn’t want to bother with the monthly Llama Risk Management meeting; they just want to pay attention to the breeding program. And if they were in the meeting, the upper management knows that they wouldn’t be able to resist hijacking it to talk about other stuff. You, on the other hand, only know a little bit about llama DNA, but you know how to keep your mouth shut in meetings when you need to, as well as a bunch of other stuff.

    2. Gelie Fish*

      Fellow imposter syndrome sufferer here – so this is what I’m telling myself as I start a new job in a week. First, remember they hired you. They believe you can do the job. If you had references, they also believe you can do the job. Trust them.. Second, what you don’t know you can figure out. Part of my issue is feeling like I should know everything already – but nobody knows everything, especially when in a new position. Between training, contacts, and google you can learn what you don’t know. Third, it is the unknowns, challenges, and uncomfortable of life where we grow and learn and surprise ourselves. You’ve Got This!

    3. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw*

      What helps me is not necessarily comparing myself to the best person I can think of, but the most incompetent and stupid person I can think of who has still managed to be successful in my field. Every day I think about how Michael Cohen and Sidney Powell and Lin Wood managed to get through law school, pass the bar, and practice for years and years before revealing their incompetence on a national stage. I practice alongside other lawyers who are just godawful at being lawyers but still win cases. I went to law school with some incredibly ignorant people who still went on to prestigious jobs for reasons other than their stunning intellectual prowess.

      I am 100% certain that there are people like this in every field. Every doctor knows someone who manages to practice medicine despite barely passing their boards; every writer knows someone who got past the slush pile despite their work being unreadably bad; every architect wonders how Rafael Viñoly can get away with TWO buildings that create heat rays strong enough to melt cars.

      Basically, I think to myself that if any of those other lawyers are capable of being successful despite being awful at their jobs, why should I beat myself up? They don’t! They just nonchalantly keep doing their jobs without a care! What’s stopping me from being successful if these idiots can be, too? Why should I feel like I’m an imposter who snuck in unauthorized when here they are walking through the front door of life?

      tl;dr: Picture the stupidest, least competent person in your field, and then remind yourself that if they can do well despite being The Worst at their job, then you can, too.

    4. EngineerBall*

      Sounds like you’re a high performer and probably haven’t had much experience with failure so you’re setting yourself an unreasonably high standard. You need to regain some perspective on what the business expects of you when you start.

      I find setting myself a minimum standard is helpful for regaining perspective. So, ask yourself what failure actually looks like for this role. What are the qualities of an awful manager? (I’m sure Alison’s archives can give you some good examples) What happens to a poorly performing employee? How long does it take to go on a PIP? When you can answer these questions you have a baseline to compare yourself to.

      From the sounds of it you won’t have anything to worry about. They’re probably eager to have you because they think you have some excellent qualities you can bring to the business but still have more growth to do and therefore won’t get bored with the role. They’re counting on you to not be perfect, so don’t try to be.

    5. Queer Manager*

      Managing people for the first time is tough. But clearly you are up to the task since you’ve been given the opportunity and at a quicker pace than most!
      The best advice I can give you is to utilize any tools possible like AAM & be willing to adapt to different personalities. In my experience people who are good at their jobs don’t mind training or explaining things to new managers. I’m fact it’s a great way to build relationships! You’ve got this!

      If you can, find someone who has been in a similar situation and understands your job to vent to. That will save your sanity. As for easy for easy tricks, talk to the people you are going to manage, they know the job better than you. Approach everyone will the mentality that they have something to teach you. Be honest (witching reason) about where your skills stand. The most important part of managing is allowing your people to shine.

    6. A Fish*

      I just wanted to say thanks to each of you who replied. Your posts have helped me to frame my thinking and I appreciate the useful tips.

  32. Curious Canadian*

    Our night cleaners run the dishwasher and empty it. Maybe that’s an option for your office?

  33. have we met?*

    Update on my interview wardrobe question from last week:

    Short version: Readers, I bought the jacket, lol.

    Long version: My in-person interview got moved to Zoom, enjoyed my conversations with HR and the hiring manager. Got a very nice email the next day telling me I was not moving forward. :(

    Jacket details: Liz Claiborne Career one-button in black, JCPenney, $21 on sale.

    At least I got some interview practice and a decent jacket ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    1. Sara without an H*

      Interview practice is always helpful and a good jacket is never a mistake.

      Good luck in the future!

  34. Transient Hamster*

    For those in the US, how do you deal with job changes that reset your PTO count? It seems like it’s normal for people to change jobs periodically, so how do you handle having to revert to 5-10 PTO days as a new employee at each job? I’ve seen mention on this site of negotiating more PTO at the job offer stage, but I’ve never encountered a company where that’s an option. Their PTO policies are all set in stone and exceptions can’t be made.

    I’m struggling with my new job as I only have 10 PTO days this year and next year (that includes vaca/sick/personal time) and will cap out at 15 days/yr after that. I’ll admit I’m feeling a little dismayed that I’ve been working for over two decades but that counts for nothing since I’m new at this particular company. I don’t even have enough PTO to visit my immediate family that’s flung all over the country, let alone take an actual vacation or a personal day off to decompress. I have to choose between seeing my family for Christmas or taking a trip to celebrate my 40th birthday this year as taking unpaid time off isn’t an option at this company. Honestly, I don’t think even 15 days will be enough for me to be content in the long run, but the thought of job searching and resetting that PTO clock is upsetting. How do you all deal?

    1. No Tribble At All*

      I don’t know, but I’m commented on this to see what people say. I’ve never successfully negotiated a benefit upwards.

      10 days PTO is terrible though!!

    2. should i apply?*

      I feel your pain, I have been there with a new job causing me to have fewer vacation days and also trying and failing to negotiating it due to “company policy”. I am actually about to turn down an offer partially because the PTO offered is so low.

      My only suggestion is if there are companies in your area / industry that are known for more generous benefits, try targeting them. It sucks :(

    3. J.B.*

      Our system is insane. That is all.

      I think sometimes people can negotiate directly with their bosses, basically “check email a couple of times and take Friday off”. But it’s ludicrous.

    4. Nea*

      I negotiate it on the basis that I might be new to this company but I have X years experience with this field and expect to have that counted as part of my “been here x, get y PTO hours.” There’s only one company I worked with that said “No, you’re new and we’re treating you like new and you’re losing weeks and weeks of leave” – and then they were surprised when I jumped ship as SOON as I found a company willing to take my experience seriously. A company that during the hiring process was told point blank that the reason I was looking to take my skills elsewhere specifically because I had been stripped of leave.

      This is very much a Your Mileage May Vary thing, but that’s what has worked for me. (Also, if there are small companies doing the work you do, it’s my experience that they are more flexible on things like this in order to snag experienced employees.)

      1. Transient Hamster*

        That’s a great tactic, thank you! I hope to try it somewhere that actually does offer some flexibility. My thinking was along the same lines, that I’m bringing years of experience and that should be taken into consideration for everything from salary to PTO.

        1. ferrina*

          I second this. When I moved to my new company, they automatically started me at the higher tier of PTO because of my years of experience in the field. It’s definitely something that can be on the table during negotiations

        2. Nea*

          Bingo! If they’re willing to pay a Sr. Llama groomer’s salary, then you should get the other perks of senior-level experience as well.

    5. The New Wanderer*

      I haven’t been able to negotiate PTO at previous jobs, but I’m hoping to with my current pending offer. I was actually advised to do so by the hiring manager and several colleagues who work there, so it sounds like it’s possible. I would be going from 17 days vacation to 10 (sick leave stays the same) and no front-loading of vacation time. This is the first time I’m facing a big drop like that so I’m extra motivated to get some kind of compromise.

      Hopefully I’ll have a success story to share, but in the meantime I think it’s silly that if salary can be dependent on years of experience that you’re bringing to the job, why not vacation too? I know the company-side arguments for rewarding people who stay for multiple years by increasing the days at various milestones, but if they stop being able to attract senior people in the first place because we hate going back to entry-level PTO, then what?

    6. Teapot Repair Technician*

      PTO being unnegotiable and unpaid leave not being an option would be a deal-breaker for me. I’d assume they’d be inflexible in other ways as well.

      1. Transient Hamster*

        Oh, your assumption would definitely be spot on in this case. Nothing unmanageable that would be a deal breaker on its own, but everything from not being allowed to even glance at our cell phones while on the clock to a strict no work from home policy. If a family member has an emergency and needs to reach us, we are instructed to have them call the main number. As for no working from home, there are several positions that could be done from home but even during the pandemic they didn’t budge. One employee who had worked for the company 20 years quit because of intermittent childcare issues that caused him to use up all of his PTO. Once that ran out, he resigned.

      2. WellRed*

        Yes ,especially when what they offer is so paltry. It’s one thing to start if with day 15 days when you are used to 30 or 25 but 10 is useless and a bit insulting.

    7. ThatGirl*

      When I switched jobs in 2017, getting extra PTO was the easiest part – they asked what my prior job had offered and then basically matched it. My current company has the same amount for new people, so I didn’t ask for more.

      But rest assured that there ARE companies out there that offer 15 days to start, or even more (it was actually 18 two jobs ago, but that did include sick time). And negotiating for it CAN be done.

    8. fhqwhgads*

      I always ask “I currently have 20 vacations days, and have for quite some time, can you match that?” even if I had reason to believe the policies were set in stone or they don’t like negotiating PTO, I ask that. It’s rarely going to be a deal breaker on their end, and since it might be a deal-breaker on mine, I don’t see any downside.
      I’ve also been on the hiring side with a CEO who believed “no it’s a reward for loyalty to the company” and tried to impress upon him that no, people with 10, 15, whatever years experience are not going to accept cutting their vacation time in half. Even if the salary is considered “good considering market rate” if the PTO is crap, it’s not.
      In terms of dealing with it if it were truly a no-go, I’d do the math. Does the pay offset that enough? Is their timeline for building it back up enough? Do I think I’d have that much a better quality of life there than where I am to wait out however long it takes to get back up? If the salary is only great if the vacation (or total PTO) is matched, then I’d probably want more if they didn’t match. Etc. Then go from there. But I’d seriously consider turning down a job that had zero wiggle room on matching either the PTO or coming up in pay because of it, especially if they know it’s been nearly 10 years since I last was provided only 2 weeks vacation per year.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        I should clarify when I said “deal-breaker on their end” I mean they’re not going to pull the offer because I asked. They may say “no” to the request, which is fine and then I’d still be mulling it over. But there’s no harm to ME for asking. And if they would pull an offer over me asking, I don’t want to work there. It’s a normal thing to ask.

    9. mreasy*

      I’ve successfully asked to be started at the second or third “tier” level of PTO when starting a new job. Especially if you aren’t negotiating up the salary – but even if you are – asking to match your current PTO or just asking for what you want is not uncommon.

    10. Ann Furthermore*

      This is the only thing I don’t like about my current job. Everyone gets 13 vacation days per year, and that’s it. It is really frustrating sometimes. On the other hand, sick time is pretty much unlimited, and nobody hovers over your shoulder or cares what hours you work. Plus it’s all remote, so the flexibility is great. And, if you get your hours in early, nobody cares if you pack it in early. Quite often I’ll work 9 hours Monday thru Thursday, and then I can wrap it up at noon on Friday and nobody raises an eyebrow. Same with vacation time. If I’m taking Thursday and Friday off, but work a couple long days and get 32 hours by Wednesday night, I can take 2 days off but only have to use 8 hours of vacation time. It’s a tradeoff. Overall it’s a great company and I really love the people I work with.

  35. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw*

    I’m having some deep thinky thoughts about my job and life trajectory and I’d like some outside perspectives on it.

    So, I moved states (NH to NY) specifically to take the job I have now in legal aid. I love my job and my work, and I also love the environment I’m in and the coworkers I have. After being here for over two years, I’ve gotten to know the incredibly insular local bar and have already gained a reputation in my area and with the local courts. I have gained a lot of experience, but there are still things that I need to learn how to do. If I was told that I absolutely could not leave my job for any reason, I wouldn’t mind (at this point – of course there’s a possibility that things could change over time). I am not a huge fan of the extremely rural area we live in for various reasons, but there are benefits, like an incredibly low COL and being within driving distance of big cities.

    My fiance moved here over a year ago to live with me. He has not been able to find a job in his line of work (statistics), partly because he lacks other skills that make him more marketable (he’s not a computer programmer or into machine learning) but partly because our area is so rural that there just aren’t jobs in his field here at all. He’s looked at remote work but those jobs are highly competitive right now for obvious reasons. There is a strong possibility that if we were to move to Massachusetts, where I am also barred, he’d have more success finding jobs just because there are more STEM jobs there in general than out here in the boonies. We’d also be closer to friends and family who stayed in New England and in a more familiar area (part of my problem with living where I do now is culture shock).

    I have absolutely zero intention of moving out of legal aid as a field, and I know from job searching in MA that legal jobs are highly competitive and have lower buying power (I was offered the same salary in NY as I was in MA, even though the COL here is a third of MA’s). I’d also have the issue of leaving a job that I genuinely love with people who I know well for something new and different that could be worse, or better, than what I have now. Also, currently I’m the only one with a job: moving would mean going from one guaranteed job to two potential jobs that may or may not pan out.

    If it was just me, I’d absolutely stay here. But two people on one salary is hard, especially when it’s a legal aid salary. I’m not sure if I should try to stick it out here and be a “lifer,” stick it out for another couple of years until I think I’ve learned as much as I can and then leave, or start looking for jobs now before putting down roots here and before my fiance has too big of a gap in his work history.

    I’m not necessarily looking for specific advice so much as an outside perspective: are there other options I’m not considering? Are there benefits to staying or leaving that I haven’t thought of? Is there anything that jumps out as the wildly better option that I’m just not seeing?

    1. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      Can your fiance take some programming/machine learning classes? I mean, whether or not you stay in NY, he’s going to need a job, and why not be better prepared?

    2. Soup of the Day*

      I would just gently encourage you to consider your fiance’s feelings in all of this. He has already made the decision you’re struggling with – he (presumably) left a job to move to an area where finding jobs would be much harder in order to live with you. I’m sure his job search struggle is hard on him, although of course there’s no guarantee that either of you will be able to find a job if you do choose to move – finding a job is always a bit of a gamble. But you’ve left out his thoughts and feelings in your list of pros and cons. Does he badly want to move? Is he okay with continuing to find remote jobs? If you stay, does he have a plan for making himself a more competitive candidate in your area? You seem to think that staying will mean that your fiance just won’t end up finding a job from your line about leaving before he has too big of a gap in his work history. Does he feel the same way, and is he okay with that?

      I would also say that although you love your job, there’s no guarantee that you would be able to stay there even if you didn’t move. Sometimes companies downsize or people are let go for reasons beyond their control. Would you be happy staying in this area for a long time without this job to keep you there? Or would you really prefer to live in MA for most reasons outside of work? It sounds like your job is truly a gem, but it’s not impossible to find a job with people you love no matter where you end up living. And hopefully you would wait to move until one or both of you had a new job lined up, so you can scope out different workplace cultures without feeling desperate.

      This is tough! It’s tough to leave a job you love. I hope you can get it figured out!

    3. HannahS*

      I think you can actually eliminate “Stick it out here and be a lifer” because committing to staying in this place that you’ve lived in for two years (and don’t really like that much) isn’t necessary; I don’t see a benefit to making that commitment. If you re-frame the question to “should we stay here for the next few years,” then the conversation centres around:

      1) What you want for your career? Sounds like you want to stay in legal aid. Great!
      2) What does your fiance want for his career? He picked a field but now lives in a place where he can’t get a job. Does he want to stay in his field, or branch into something else? How long is too long of a resume gap? Is there a possibility of relocating closer to one of the big cities where you both can commute to work?
      3) Financially, where do the two of you stand, and where do you see yourselves going? If you move to MA, will you find yourself in a similar position financially? Better? Worse? How important is it to you to be in a certain income bracket?

      The other option that you may not have considered is that the two of you can decide to conduct your job search remotely. I really don’t think leaving one job and moving to a city where neither of you has a job is a good idea! If you decide to move, it may be that you’ll agree not to take steps to move until one of you has a job.

    4. WellRed*

      Well you say living in rural NY is cheaper than the Boston metro area, but is it really? Not if it means living on one salary due to lack of work. I also agree with others who encourage boyfriend to think about how to position himself for the future.

    5. Nutella Toasty but not in Boston*

      Have you thought about your fiance moving in with friends/family in MA to look for jobs and build up a savings cushion once a job is secured for your eventual move to MA to join fiance? Both my spouse and I come from an academic background where splitting the household for months to years isn’t unusual. It certainly isn’t ideal but not having a career can make people miserable.

    6. CatCat*

      My bf then fiance lived apart for two years because of jobs. It was not easy, but it was doable. So something like that may be an option to consider.

  36. Sae*

    I’m casually job searching in a field that regularly asks for short exercises as part of the hiring process, sometimes in addition to samples I’m willing to provide. In my field (tech), they’re usually short specs from existing products. I understand why companies do this, but I’ve been getting a lot of callbacks so these short exercises have been adding up! Any advice on juggling them all?

  37. Lisa*

    How do I ask my supervisor at a temp job if my position is likely to be made permanent?

    I am currently working a temp job (direct through employer, not a temp agency). It is slated to last a few months. My living situation suddenly needs to change sooner than later, but I know nobody is going to rent or sell to me while I don’t have a permanent job. When I started this job, my supervisor made a comment that she hoped they’d keep this role with me in it permanently. I just don’t know how to broach this with her. I just want to know if she has heard anything about if it will or when she *might* know by. Otherwise I need to start looking for a permanent job right away because I can’t wait a few more months to find out once the term is over.

    1. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      I would find a moment when she isn’t obviously stressed or distracted and ask her the question: “Have you heard anything about the possibility of making this job permanent? I’d like to stay if I can — I’m really enjoying the work.” Don’t mention your living situation — this is about whether the business needs you and can afford to keep you.

      AT THE SAME TIME, start looking as hard as you can. Better to have two possibilities than none.

    2. Lisa*

      People often make a lot of assumptions about temp workers, often wrong. Either you love being a temp but they assume you are looking for temp-to-hire, or… the reverse. So, just bring it up. And don’t worry about it being “too late” it’s fine to say “Now that I’ve worked here for a bit I think this could be a really great place to pursue a full-time job. Is my current role like to become a permanent FTE opening anytime soon?” And if they say no, then you might ask if there are similar FTE roles they think you might be considered for. Worst case scenario (if they don’t suck) is that the answer is No, but they are pleased that you like it there enough to ask.

  38. Mrs. Bialosky*

    Any suggestions for training options?

    I’m a bookkeeper for a small local business, and a direct report to The Big Boss. Because of the increasing demands on her schedule, I’m being tasked with more and more of the benefits administration. I don’t have much background in this area, and know just enough to realize how badly I could screw things up.

    Does anyone have suggestions for resources? We’re small, with a limited budget, but I could probably swing some funds for training if I can justify it.

    Thanks for any thoughts!

    1. AnonPi*

      That might depend on what kind of training you’re interested in setting, or if you’re looking for a variety. I know LinkedIn training has been pretty popular, as it offers a variety, just not sure what the cost would be. Same with Coursera.

      1. Mrs. Bialosky*

        I’m not even 100% sure about what would be the most useful! Right now I run payroll, and just got tasked with anything that runs through our payroll processor, which is mostly insurance benefits and time off.

        I’m looking at the LinkedIn offerings, and its nice to hear they’re useful! I didn’t know about Coursera, will check that out as well.


        1. mreasy*

          Your payroll processor may have some video resources about how to use their platform to process. I had to do all this for the first time at my last job, and ADP made it tough to screw up.

          1. Mrs. Bialosky*

            I know how to do the mechanics of adding things, but I don’t know how to evaluate if what I’m doing is correct or not (if that makes sense!) I will go back and take another look through their videos, though, just to make sure I’m on track there.


    2. NoNaME*

      Check the local Chamber of Commerce. Ours does a monthly HR Lunch/workshop on all things HR and Benefits. I have attended many and learned quite a lot. These also put you in contact with other businesses who offer training and consulting.

    3. Enneagram*

      I’d responded with a link (so the comment is in moderation), but search for International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans. They offer certificate programs (which may be MORE than what you need), but also a wealth of webinars, courses, etc. Go to the CEBS part of their website – there will be both courses and continuing education; I think the latter will be up your alley and I think it’s probably priced for your needs.

  39. Clarke*

    Removed — this appears to be fake and designed to agitate people, since you’ve recently made other posts stating the exact opposite. Please don’t abuse people’s good will here. – Alison

  40. StressyMessy*

    How have folks strategized conversations around mental health with their manager, particularly in high stress jobs?

    My manager has said several she’s very supportive of folks experiencing mental health issues, but from her actions is often a “do as I say not as I do” kind of person (and I mean has literally said that before when it comes to things like checking email after hours…). So, I worry that saying something might lead to subconscious assumptions or judgements on her end, or a patronizing approach of saying “do this” when it’s not what I need (I don’t need more mental health days, for instance, what I need is a more sustainable strategy for the days I am working, to avoid doing a roller coaster of burning out, “resting” while worrying about work on a day off, rinse and repeat).

    Anyone have any advice? It would be so, so appreciated.

    1. LTL*

      Do you need to bring up mental health at all? What if you just presented your requests? If you feel like you need to give a reason, perhaps “I feel it will help me sustain a high level of productivity” or “I feel it will help me avoid burn out in the long term.”

      1. EmKay*

        I agree, leave mental health out of it entirely. Make it about productivity and efficience.

        1. StressyMessy*

          Thanks both. Definitely something to think about. I am worried about my concerns not being taken as seriously, because I haven’t had issues with this before and I worry it will be a like “we’ll be flexible and take it a situation at a time” kind of response. But, maybe I can think about ways to frame this so it gets to the same issues while being about productivity and sustainability long term.

  41. Age of the Geek, Baby*

    We’re getting an intern next week!

    Background: we’ve all been remote since the pandemic and now trying to work one day in the office. Expectations are to be in the office at least one day a week – except the intern won’t learn much that way, so the hope is to be in more often.

    I work in print journalism. What are something I should know about interns and help them get some experience (she’s only going to be around for a week). I am very happy since I always thought internships were a great way to get a foot in the door.

    1. often trapped under a cat*

      My place actually built something of a curriculum for interns at one point. They broke it down by department and kindof by process. We’re in book publishing, so the curriculum was structured by the journey of a book from submission to being on sale. People from the different departments, usually at or just above entry-level, were asked to speak to the intern(s), sort of like a mini-lecture but not very formal–they’d take them out for tea or something–and to give the intern a task if possible, with a deadline, and give feedback on the task. Generally the intern went to one “class” a week in addition to performing regular intern duties. All the “teachers” were volunteers–no one was forced to participate. And we tried to make sure that every intern had a more senior member of staff to go to with any questions (again, volunteers).

      We haven’t had interns for a while because of COVID but I think this method worked well from what I could see.

    2. WellRed*

      I work in print journalism. Ages ago, at a newsweekly, I had a high schooler job shadow me for a day. I took her with me to do some courthouse lookups, introduced her to a local policitian we ran into (he gave her his card ;), brought her to a photo shoot and interview for a story package. In other words, I made it a very active and varied day. She loved it.

    3. Lisa*

      If she’s only there for a week it’s more of a jobsite tour than a proper internship. It’s good to focus on her getting some experience vs. her actually being able to do helpful work since she wouldn’t have time to properly onboard. I would say just let her shadow people who explain what they are doing and why. Try to make it teachable, ask her thought-provoking questions e.g. “why do you think we do it this way?”

  42. Juliet sans Romeo*

    Going anon for this one.

    I have major feelings for my boss. We are both single and sometimes I think he might feel the same… he confides in me. He has commented that he’s surprised he’s been comfortable telling me things that he doesn’t usually share with others. But we are also both in very senior, visible roles within our very large organization and I just, don’t know if I should say something. And how I would say something.

    I am doing everything I can to push away how I feel – dating, exercising, talking through it with my therapist. I’ve read all of Alison’s blogs on the topic and those adjacent, read numerous other online articles, imagined him doing gross, rude things… but my heart hurts almost every day. (Fortunately my general disposition is fun and affectionate so I’m able to mask “special” feelings by treating everyone the same.) Sometimes, he will call me by a nickname that has previously only been used by my closest family and oldest friends, and I swear my heart breaks because I cannot tell him that it is an intimate nickname without blushing and confessing.

    This is a fantastic job and I can’t imagine working anywhere else, and there is room for us to not be in one another’s reporting structure. (It’s likely I will be promoted to his level within the year.)

    I just… if he doesn’t reciprocate then I can move on but I’m stuck in the pattern of feelings.

    Do I keep tamping down or tell him how I feel and let the chips fall where they may?

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      My strong advice is to keep tamping it down unless or until one of you no longer works there at all. Unfortunately in my direct experience and what I’ve observed over 20 years in the workplace is, it is the woman who comes out of a workplace romance looking less professional and with her career advancement affected.

    2. Bobina*

      Why is your boss confiding in you? That sounds kind of dodgy to me to be honest – they are in the position of power and should be extra careful about how they behave to subordinates. So quite frankly, this is at the very least unprofessional and definitely inappropriate on their part.

      Focus on being super professional, keep all personal talk to a minimum, spend as little time with them as you can, and if you feel the same way when you are no longer in their reporting line – you can bring it up once. If you dont think you can wait that long, carefully consider the consequences of what happens if it goes wrong (your reputation going down the drain because #sexism and/or you being forced out of your job) and whether or not it would be worth it.

    3. Actual Vampire*

      You don’t need to tell him it’s an intimate nickname! Just tell him you don’t like being called that (…the “at work” can be implied).

    4. Me*

      Don’t do anything so long as you report to him. Just don’t.

      You’re describing the classic ways romance offices happen – it feels special to you – but it’s not unique. It’s happened a million times before. You spend a lot of time together. There’s trust and communication built into the relationship. Remember that you only know work him. You know nothing of how he behaves outside of work.

      If/when you move into another position, proceed with caution. Personally I’ve seen enough work relationship flame out to have a personal policy of never s***ing where I eat as the saying goes.

    5. WellRed*

      No no no. Please don’t say anything. Maybe he feels the same way, but far too often I think women read too much into these things. “Guy is friendly or warm, he must like me.” Sorry to sound harsh but you sound a little past the harmless crush. Especially the nickname thing. It’s not unusual to get called a personal nickname completely by random coincidence. No “heartbreak” and blushing confessions needed here. If he does feel the same way, what happens then? You quit? Seriously, cool it way down.

    6. Sloan Kittering*

      If you think you might be at the same level within the year, definitely hold out and re-evaluate when/if that happens – it makes a big difference! See if he still seems just as dreamy and interested when he’s not your boss (from both sides). If it’s meant to be, it’ll keep!

    7. Alianora*

      I was once in a staff position at a university and had great chemistry with one of the instructors, both professionally and personally. He wasn’t my boss, but there was a definite power differential.

      I just decided to enjoy the crush. I stopped trying to tell myself not to like him, but I also resolved that I wasn’t going to make a move because it would have been unprofessional. Making that decision made everything easier.

  43. Actual Vampire*

    Would you think it was weird if you applied to a job via email and got a response via text message?

    My boss told me she just texted 4 candidates to schedule an interview and is surprised that none have responded yet. She’s wondering if they are applying just to make it look like they’re job-searching so they can get unemployment. I think it’s much more likely they are weirded out by being texted (or they’re just busy!)

    What do you think?

    1. LTL*

      I’d reply back if I was desperate or maybe curious, but I’d definitely consider it unprofessional.

    2. Let me be dark and twisty*

      Yes. I would find it super weird that someone’s texting me out of the blue about an interview. Honestly, I’d think it was a wrong number and ignore it because I’d expect those discussions to happen over email or phone calls.
      The only instance I can see myself responding to a text about scheduling an interview is if we’d previously discussed it (over email or phone or in person) and it was a last-minute change.

    3. AnonPi*

      Depending how their phone is set up, they may not even get the text (eg block messages from numbers not in your contact list). They should definitely get an email.

    4. Kimmy Schmidt*

      Unless it was a very clear and well-worded text message, I’d probably think it was a scam.

    5. Actual Vampire*

      Ok, follow-up question… what’s a good way to tell my boss she’s being unprofessional?

      (I have access to her texts on my computer, so I snuck a peek. Yikes. I’m assuming she was using voice-to-text…)

      1. Let me be dark and twisty*

        Since she wondered why no one responded to her messages, I’d use that as your opening. Tell her that because a lot of people are used to getting spam and junk texts, it’s common practice not to respond to texts from anyone you don’t know personally. Suggest sending them an email to coordinate times instead and leave texting for when they’re on the job.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Yes, this. Tell her that in fact, a lot of people have texts from unknown numbers filtered out and won’t even see them.

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            Yes, I was going to suggest telling her the same thing. I wouldn’t ever respond to an interview request by text, feels like a scam.

      2. ecnaseener*

        You could show her Alison’s response to a letter about it! I’ll post the link in a reply, but it’s titled “is it weird to text a job applicant for your first contact with them?” from March 2021

        1. ecnaseener*

          Looking at it again, it has the extra issue of the texts naming the parent company instead of the company that actually advertised the opening – but it still has good talking points on texting in general.

      3. fueled by coffee*

        You could also possibly mention that they might not be seeing the texts if they provided a landline as their contact number, so a phone call or email would be a more courteous way of contacting them anyway! I know lots of people who have both a landline and a cell phone and only use the landline for business purposes.

    6. Two Chairs, One to Go*

      Why not also email them and see who responds?

      I’m in camp “weirded out.” There’s a lot of scams out there right now. Companies have an email domain that’s trusted and 1 main number so how would candidates know it’s real? I’d worry that was someone phishing for info or it might go to my spam texts and I wouldn’t see it.

    7. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I wouldn’t be weirded out. But businesses have business phone lines and business email accounts for a reason, it’s a little premature to jump to a personal method of contact. I would much rather prefer an email response that provides the cell number so it doesn’t come out of the blue.

      1) It would be nice if employers would list in the ad that “we will contact you by text message from a number in the XYZ area code to schedule a phone screen.”

      2) The text message better have been explicit. “Hi Wakeen, this is Jane Warblesworth at Acme Teapots. We got your application for the junior kiln operator position, and would like to schedule a phone screen. This is my personal cell number. Can we talk on ….?”. Not “Wakeen, Jane. 4pm 2morrow?”

    8. Warrant Officer Georgiana Breakspear-Goldfinch*

      Incredibly weird, especially if it’s a white-collar job. Maybe retail/food service texts as a norm these days? But still weird.

      1. C*

        In retail, at least where I am, we text as means of cummunicating among the team. All application-related communication is via email or phone calls.

  44. AvonLady Barksdale*

    Anyone else having trouble getting family to understand that “work from home” doesn’t always mean “work from anywhere”? My insistence that I cannot be away from my home office all the time (unless I’m on PTO, of course) often gets met with blank stares and weird questions.

    I had a family emergency out of town this weekend and stayed for the early part of the week. I shuffled some things around and took some meetings from the hospital, then had to take part of a work day to drive several hours to get home because commute traffic between the two cities is terrible and I don’t drive well at dusk. It’s a somewhat quiet week and I could do that, but it came with too many distractions, I had to reshuffle things with clients and colleagues (they were very kind but it’s not something I want to make a habit of), and I very much prefer my WFH setup with my good internet and my second monitor and all of my notes.

    Most of them no longer work. One person said I should lie and tell them all I go to an office. That same person asked me to answer her phone for her while she took a shower– during one of my meetings.

    I cannot win.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      I think you just need to repeat it multiple times. WFH can mean different things to different people. (I could do much of my work from locations other than my home, but hospitals are inherently distracting.) Is your family trying to get you to come back when you can’t?

      The person who wanted you to answer her phone is ridiculous. That’s what email is for.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        They would prefer that I’m there way more than I can be. The emergency situation is over, thank goodness, but there’s a lot of, “Can’t you come up and take care of X and Y?” Nope. Can’t. It’s one of those situations where my help is a nice-to-have rather than a must-have, and it’s being treated as something I “should” be doing.

        I would also like to be there more, but I live several states away and I work full-time. So I do what I can, but I get a lot of “Why can’t you do X?” Just frustrating.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          That stinks. And I think women still often get more of this kind of pressure.

          Is there any way to offer help that doesn’t require your physical presence? I know someone who offered to help navigate the government benefit system when they were too far away to do more.

        2. Applebee*

          I don’t have the emergency or caregiver responsibilities that you do, thank goodness, but I have also experienced many of my older/retired family members just not understanding what WFH means. They just cannot incorporate that information, seemingly, and assume that if I’m physically at home I’m “off.” I wish I had solutions to offer, but alas I can only commiserate!

          1. JustaTech*

            Yes this! In the early days of the pandemic my in-laws (small business owners) were constantly asking my husband and I why we hadn’t done the puzzles they’d sent us. “We’re working full time” just didn’t seem to compute. At the same time they kept insisting that they couldn’t keep letting their sales folks work from home (not that they would be able to make physical sales calls anyway) because “they’re not working”. “How do you know they’re not working?” “They’re at home!”

            Working from home means you aren’t commuting, and maybe you can accept a package or move the laundry from the washer to the dryer, it doesn’t mean you can pop out for a two hour lunch or take the kids to the zoo.

            1. AvonLady Barksdale*

              Exactly! When my schedule allows, I take my laptop to a coffee shop. Or I might set up a loaf of bread to rise. But that’s when my schedule allows, and it doesn’t mean I’m always available, even for them to talk to me.

          2. ratatatcat*

            Yes I have seen exactly this! My mother works from home and the extended family seems to think this is the equivalent of being sort of a dilettante do-nothing with a nice hobby or something.

    2. RagingADHD*

      Stop explaining. You tried. It didn’t work. They aren’t going to get it, because they don’t want to.

      Just start saying no to stuff.

      1. Lisa*

        Yes this. They don’t have to understand. You just have to work.

        “I’m taking a shower, please answer my phone.”
        “Sorry, I can’t do that, I’m working.”
        “But you’re home!”
        “Yes, I am physically at home. I am also working. I’m not available to do other things until I’m done with work this evening. I will not be answering your phone.”

        And then just… don’t. Sometimes you have to use harsh boundaries. Ages ago when I was still married, I sometimes could work from home but I had to take conference calls, and my ex couldn’t wrap his head around it and would just wander into my home office to talk about random things. So I installed a locking knob on the door. He would still rattle the knob, or knock on the door, but eventually he got the point. Sort of.

        But just, worry less about whether they understand and focus on what you need to do to protect your ability to work. Locks and blocks!

    3. fueled by coffee*

      I find that with people who refuse to understand this, blaming this on your boss/company policy helps them to at least accept it:

      “Sorry, my boss is really adamant about people not multi-tasking while we’re on the clock, even when working from home, so I can’t answer your phone/run your errands/etc. They’ve been really strict about this.”
      “When I’m in a meeting where confidential information might come up, it’s really important that nobody at my office thinks that someone outside the company can overhear, and I don’t want to lie about where I am working from.”

      Now the problem is the strict rules at your workplace which are out of your control.

      I also wonder whether the real issue is that your family had an emergency recently, and they’re now extra anxious about having family/helpers/etc. nearby – that is, it’s not about not understanding why you can’t WFH from out of town, but wanting (or depending on their ages and the nature of the emergency, needing?) assistance from family and pretending that *you’re* the one being difficult. Obviously, this isn’t fair to you, but I wonder if you could make a gesture like ordering a meal to be delivered to them, asking one of their local neighbors if they would be able to take phone messages while your relatives are otherwise occupied, setting up a regular phone/zoom call to discuss logistics etc., to make it clear that the issue really is just an inability to work from out of town.

  45. New Supervisor?*

    Any suggestions for proposing a promotion for myself that would basically create a new job in my next review cycle? How our company is currently structured would, I believe, benefit from this opening (or I wouldn’t propose it). Basically without the role, or something similar, one person is responsible for supervising 50 people on their own, which I think is way too many for just one supervisor. Honestly, even if it goes to someone else, I’d rather it exist.

  46. RainbowTribble*

    What is the best way to ask your boss to be a reference? I’m applying for an internal position that will be opening up soon (a coworker is getting promoted) and don’t know if I should ask via email or try to get a meeting on our schedule? She already knows I was interested in the job.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I don’t know that you even need to ask. For internal promotions, it’s pretty much assumed that your current boss will be contacted, whether you want them to or not.

      1. EmKay*

        RainbowTribble would still want to give their boss a head’s up, out of professional courtesy.

        I suggest and informal chat, no need to make a big deal out of it :)

    2. Distractinator*

      An email would be fine – “Boss, you know I’m interested in X job, just wanted to let you know (just did X with application process). I think that means someone will contact you for a reference. We can tag up and discuss if you’re free, would Tuesday work?” That way it’s not a mysterious “we need to talk” meeting invite.

  47. EmKay*

    Say your employer wants to give everyone a gift, valued at 50$. What would you like to receive?

    Caveat: It must be deliverable virtually (digitally).

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Cash goes with everything.

      And you won’t waste administrative time & money finding something and arranging for it to be sent. A simple email to your accountant and/or payroll provider that says “Everybody gets a $50 bonus next pay period” and you’re done.

    2. Dr. Doll*

      We had a wonderful time with SnackMagic. Everyone got $45 to spend and you could choose what you wanted. It was then fun to talk in a zoom meeting about what everyone chose.

    3. Mrs. Bialosky*

      A digital GC to a general retailer like Amazon or Target that has something for everyone might work?

      1. Teapot Repair Technician*

        Agreed. For me an Amazon gift card is equivalent to money–I’ll scan it straight into my phone exactly like depositing a check.

        Target or Starbucks cards are bit of a pain in the neck but will eventually get used.

        Just about any other gift (whether a card or a thing) would be unwanted clutter.

    4. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      Me personally? I would like it if I could somehow recieve free books or a restaurant meal

    5. Tuesday*

      My first thought was to say cash or an easy-to-use gift card, but really, I would probably just use it to buy laundry detergent or something boring like that. So now I’m thinking Dr. Doll has a better idea – it sounds much more fun, and it would be more memorable.

    6. Alexis Rosay*

      I’d like to receive a gift card to a restaurant or cafe in my area. If I get an Amazon gift card I just end up spending it on necessities–I appreciate gift cards that allow me to splurge a little.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Also, some people have real objections to Amazon.

        Is there a way to give cards for local food or retail businesses? Something fun but that also shows you’re thinking of the community. (In my city, there’s even a local restaurant delivery service, without the issues that plague the national ones.)

    7. Donkey Hotey*

      Depending where you are, I would suggest a gift certificate type thing but to a *local* business or restaurant, rather than Amazon.

    8. Captain Raymond Holt*

      Maybe give people a few options between different digital gift cards – give an option for Amazon, Starbucks, Target, local place, etc. Some people may not live locally, some people (like myself) may not shop on Amazon for ethical reasons – a few options would give people the opportunity to get something they’d actually use.

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

      Almost everyone can use a gift card (even if it’s utility to them is that they can re-gift it to someone else!)

      My suggestion would be to offer a choice of 3-4 gift cards such as Amazon, the grocery store, a local activity or leisure centre, etc.

    10. JustaTech*

      We got digital Mastercard gift cards for Christmas last year and aside from everyone assuming they were a phishing scam (we’ve gotten a bit paranoid) I think they went over well.

      Just be sure to tell folks how long the card is good for, I know there are weird restrictions on that for credit-card gift cards.

    11. Queer Manager*

      If you can get people gift cards to local to them restaurants, then people can choose takeout or wait to go out to eat. Also it helps restaurants that are suffering do to the big C!

    12. RosyGlasses*

      HR hat here: Avoid cash and be careful with gift cards. Anything more than $25 becomes taxable “income” to the employee.

  48. OTGW*

    I might be jumping to gun on my situation but: how do you navigate starting two jobs at relatively the same time? At Job A, there’s a PT position in another department that the manager wanted me to apply to, which I will. I think there’s a good chance I can get it.

    However, I’m also trying to leave Job B cause I hate it. I mean, it could be months more before I get another PT job and by then, I would have no qualms negotiating a schedule between them. But if I start at 2 new places at relatively the same time, there’s not much wiggle room for me to say “Day X isn’t going to work, but I can do Day Y or Day Z” etc.

    Tl;dr: how do you negotiate two PT schedules when you’re new to both jobs?

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      I did this. I was pretty mercenary in that the job that pays more got first crack at my time/schedule and the other job has to take the dregs, because I could live on one if I had to, but I can’t live on the other. The hourly rate made it pretty clear to me. If they were two exactly equal salaries I guess I’d prioritize the one that was more interesting or leading me in the direction I wanted my career to go in – I don’t think it’s easy to have two equal jobs personally.

  49. Gelie Fish*

    I’m starting a new job in a week. It is a new position and a smaller govt jurisdiction and will be managing two experienced employees. Any suggestions of what you wish a new manager would do or not do at the start?

    1. AnonPi*

      From an employee side, learn what your employees *do* and not just superficially. We have a manager that understands the high level concept of what we do, but doesn’t really understand how it works or how much time it takes. This causes issues because they’ll try to implement changes that won’t work, or will affect another part of our work. They’re often under the impression we’re not that busy because surely our work can’t take that long to do, which is very frustrating, especially when they try to dump more work on us when we’re stressed as it is. Then I’d ask if there are things they need help with – are their things they need to do their job well? Is there some process in place that is hindering them and could it be revised? etc. And conversely, what is working well for them that they’d like to keep doing.

    2. Me*

      Observe. Learn. DO not just jump in and making changes or starting new projects.. For the love of god when you do start doing things, ask your employees if they have any knowledge/history on said thing as one of the first things you do.

      Our newest boss is trying very hard but keeps doing things wrong, missing/misunderstanding key pieces, and wanting to change things that there’s an actual factual reason for the way they are.

      1. Kara*

        Yeah this. My best experience with a new manager was the one who listened and asked questions and didn’t just jump in.

    3. Alianora*

      I suppose this is a general management thing, not just for new managers, but give positive and specific feedback.

      My current manager is sort of a “no news is good news” manager when it comes to me, and this is her first time managing. Her other direct reports all do the same job function as her, while I’m in a completely different role that she’s never done. And I think I get much less specific feedback because of that. The best I can get is a “keep doing what you’re doing.” I’m pretty self-motivated and self-assured, so our dynamic usually works fine for me. And I think she can tell that I don’t need as much hand-holding as some of my coworkers. But still, it’s so much nicer when someone will tell me, “Hey, you did really well on X project, I liked the way you did Y,” instead of a generic, “everything is good.”

      At the beginning, I didn’t even get “everything is good,” from her and I had to specifically ask her, “Could you give me more frequent feedback on my work?” I know I’m good, both because my work speaks for itself and my grandboss and other managers at her level do give me great feedback. But it’s still a bit demoralizing to see my coworkers praised by their managers when my manager gives off strong, “Alianora is adequate” vibes.

    4. RosyGlasses*

      I would read “The First 90 Days”. It’s set up for leadership or any level really but has some exceptional tips for stepping into a new role or new position with management responsibilities.

  50. Franchise or Self-Employed*

    Has anyone ever started up a franchise in financial services? What was your experience? I have a friend in my circle who has tried a couple of franchises and seems to have some measure of success, despite my initial feeling that he was getting scammed – he only sold the first one because he got bored with it, and the second one folded during the pandemic, but he recently started a third one related to the financial sector that he is raving about – basically matching people up with funding sources for their own business. The funny thing is, he has no experience in this area – I’m the one in our group who has worked in a similar area for several years. For a variety of reasons, I’m thinking about leaving my job and starting my own consulting business, but I am tempted by what I see him doing. I have the savings to buy into a franchise, and I think my knowledge and follow-through is superior to this guy’s – he apparently makes enough to get by (his wife has a steady income and benefits), but I think I would be more disciplined about putting in the effort/time and thus could make more of a success at it. Or does it make more sense just to go into business for myself as I’d always planned and forgo the built-in marketing advantage of a franchise?

    1. RC Rascal*

      As a former financial services professional, be very, very careful here. Financial services is a heavily regulated industry. (Banking, brokerage, insurance, etc.) I have a hard time believing there is a legitimate financial services company where you can buy a franchise without obtaining some sort of licensure, employment as an agent of a larger parent company, or being accepted by a governing body of some sort (in the case of a self regulating industry).

      1. Franchise or Self-Employed*

        Thanks for the reply. I’m a CPA with a few years of experience, but a few things happened at my job this week that made me want to accelerate my long-term plan of developing my own consulting business. It just coincided with this guy blasting us all to like his business page on social media. I was really just wondering if there’s any advantage to doing a franchise (I.e., Liberty Tax) for the name recognition, versus my own path, but I think I can stick it out for a little bit longer until I can do it on my own and really focus on the services I want to provide.

  51. acmx*

    Another WFH set up question! What have you found to make WFH easier or more organized etc?

    I tried searching since it’s been asked a couple of times before but no real luck. I now have a spare room that can be my home office. I’ve got a sit/stand desk coming and finally bought the bungee chair I’ve been too cheap to buy (it’s almost low enough for my feet to be flat on the floor).

    1. EmKay*

      Excellent lighting. My eyes have been much happier now that I have an additional table lamp to use when I need it.

      A good speaker set-up, or a good set of gaming headphones with a mic.

      1. acmx*

        Yea! Lighting is a must. Especially as I age :/
        I should be ok audio wise. I live alone and have earbuds when sound quality is down. I don’t have many meetings.

    2. LDN Layabout*

      Buy what you need to make the space Nice, for you.

      For some people it’s plants, for others it’s a little electrical tea set, or a collection of stress balls etc. It’s really easy to focus on function and forget that part of what will help with wfh is making the space feel good.

      1. acmx*

        I’m positioning my desk in front of one window. Maybe one day I will have a nice flower garden to look at. And indoor plants is good idea.

        I have plans to get another rug once I get the work desk in.

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Cable management. I’ve got a laptop with a spare monitor. Sometimes I have another laptop, and I need to run video cables between the two. And sometimes there’s an external hard drive that needs to be connected, or a dedicated Ethernet cable if WiFi doesn’t have enough bandwidth.

      Having a disciplined way to manage all those cables so I’m not forgetting to plug things in, or having a tangled mess of spaghetti when I need to pack stuff into a bag, etc. makes a huge difference for me. Leaves room on my desk for a notepad or an external mouse, no risk of me tripping over something, etc.

      It took a couple iterations for me to figure out an optimal arrangement, but it was worth it.

      1. acmx*

        Agree. This is something I’ll have to figure out once the desk is in. I need to set up a 2nd monitor. Pretty sure my old AIO can be used as one.

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

      Enough storage (shelves, cabinets or whatever suits) so that you can keep the work area clear without a lot of ‘stuff’ in your peripheral vision/perception.

      Decent lighting – a good overhead light and a couple of lamps etc.

      A small box next to me with all the “bits and pieces” I need specifically for work (headset, authentication dongle thing, calculator etc).

      My partner has a mini fridge in his home office area with a few (non alcoholic!) fizzy things, healthy snacks etc.

      1. acmx*

        Someone might be trading a short bookcase that I hope will suit this need. I’m definitely worried about too much stuff laying around.

    5. WellRed*

      I miss having a bulletin board for certain editorial calendars, work trip mementos, etc.

      1. acmx*

        I have a bulletin + white board that I think would be good in the office. Previously, it was by the front door but the office will be a better location this time.

    6. Cookies For Breakfast*

      To me, even just getting the spare room was a game changer. Before moving house, I could only work in the living room where we also ate and spent all our downtime. Zero separation between work and home life – I was there ALL the time. My workload became unmanageable during the pandemic, and my partner’s decreased. I’m not proud of it, but some days I’d be so consumed with stress, I’d resent that he could spend nearly the whole day sat behind me playing videogames.

      Now, I have a dedicated room to work, and only ever sit there if I’m working. I don’t even use my laptop in my downtime any longer. During the day, it’s so much easier to focus when I’m truly on my own and the everything else is behind a closed door. And at last, both my partner and I have privacy. He’ll never have to overhear one of my calls again!

      1. acmx*

        Yeah I was in a rather full one bedroom apartment and then later add a folding table for work (I have field work and administrative work). I’m super happy I’m back in my house.
        Honestly, I’d be probably resentful he didn’t sometimes GTFO. Go to your room! Haha

        My personal computer will be set up on a separate desk.

  52. Caboose*

    What’s the best way of asking about workload at an interview?
    I applied for a job and have a phone screen coming up, so I took a look at the Glassdoor reviews for the place. Several people mentioned a high workload as a negative thing. But I know that Glassdoor skews towards sour grapes, and also, I am bored out of my gourd most of the time at work! There’s simply not enough to be done on my current project– not just for me, but for the other people in my department, who frequently wander over to just sort of look over my shoulder and kind of help out. (This is, incidentally, my least favorite way to work.)
    What’s the best way of asking about these reviews that will convey to the interviewer that I’m really hoping that the workload *will* be higher?

    1. ecnaseener*

      “What does a typical day look like” might get you the info you’re looking for…and then if not, maybe something like “My last job was pretty slow-paced with a lot of downtime, and that didn’t work well for me. Is this the type of role where I’ll always have something useful to do?”

    2. linger*

      Departing staff complaining of “high workload” could well mean “constantly stressed and rapidly approaching burnout”. So be careful you ask, not just about typical workload, but also about how predictable the workload is, and how urgent the tasks are perceived as being. So start with, “What does a typical day in this position look like?” and “What qualities are needed for success in this role?” but listen for, and then probe more directly about, e.g. “ability to prioritise tasks” (more likely high-stress) vs. “willingness to assist others” (more likely to have downtime).

  53. @ Cookies For Breakfast*

    Hi! We talked a few months (!) ago now about job searching for Product Manager roles. I’ve gotten an offer (although see my comment above, feeling quite dubious about it) and thought I’d summarise some of what I found coming up in interviews:
    – Prioritisation of features/requests: how do you decide what to work on next, particularly with multiple stakeholders and conflicting demands
    – Go to market: this depends a bit on the type of product, but I often had questions around developing/supporting go to market strategies
    – Project/stakeholder management: how do you make sure things stay on track (this one came up a lot for a role which was in a consultancy, so think this was more relevant there but in theory shouldnt really be that much of an issue)
    – Discovery: how do you make sure you know your users and what they want/need/what the actual problem you are trying to solve is.

    I also had one recruiter be very honest that lots of companies want to see sustained (ie 3-4 years) PM experience before they will hire you even if you have transferable skills (annoying, but good to know I guess), as well as the emphasis on crafting a really good CV and making sure your ‘story’ comes across in it (ie stressing anything relevant to PM tasks if your job title doesnt match).

    If you want to talk more I’d be happy to share (via email or here).


    1. Cookies for Breakfast*

      Thank you! This is so helpful and interesting. The 3-4 years’ experience point definitely matches what most job adverts say openly, and I find that, even in those that don’t, it’s fairly easy to spot when they want someone at that level.

      I had two interviews for what would have been a role way out of my comfort zone (didn’t get it, no surprise), and it included a take-home assignment I found very challenging – it was about presenting an idea for a brand new revenue stream. I felt it was made for someone who either had a lot of commercial acumen, or a lot of experience in that specific industry. It was interesting to create but I was aware, all along, of how naive my approach would likely sound (the interviewers, if they noticed it, were very nice about it). It all just reminded me that PM positions can be very different depending on where you work, and this was a very different business from the tech company I’m at.

      I’m at a very weird stage in my job search now. There was major upheaval in my team this week (commented about it below) and I got offered my choice of one of two new roles. One is for a Technical Product Manager, and I’m probably closer to that in mindset and work style to a commercial, end-to-end lifecycle PM…but also very much in need of upskilling (which I made very clear I want to discuss). Knowing what my workplace is like, I’ll have to try and work out what a good Technical PM role looks like in the world out there, so I can make sure what they propose will actually match the title!

  54. Dr. Doll*

    Seeking advice on what’s the fair thing to do here: I need to shift a particular responsibility away from one member of my team to someone else. I have two potential someones. It’s *possible* that this responsibility could be parlayed into a small raise, at least a year away if at all given our glacial approach to raises. Both potential someones would likely do a decent job.

    How to approach…?

    1. AnonPi*

      I would ask both if they feel like they can take it on with their current work, or are interested in taking it on first. You might find that one of them doesn’t feel like they can, or they’re not interested, which could help with making the decision.

  55. Pandemic Pumpernickel Princess*

    T minus 1 hour til the first interview of my postgrad job hunt, and WHEW has it been a morning! My cat needed to go to the emergency clinic, and I had to call the ASPCA poison control hotline and get my partner to leave work so I could leave the clinic to come home and shower…and I’m finally just sitting down to lunch now! I feel good about this interview going in, luckily, and it’s nice to have something to take my mind off worrying about the cat. Lesson of the morning=do your interview prep WAY ahead of time. At least this one is virtual and I already have my outfit picked out. If I remember/have time, I’ll update the thread with how the interview went! Cross your fingers for me and my cat!

    1. Pandemic Pumpernickel Princess*

      Happy update so far: the interview went well and the cat is home with nothing abnormal showing up on the bloodwork or X-ray. My hope is that he just got into something yucky, got it out of his system, and will be fine…so I’ll be monitoring him all evening. As for the interview, I asked great questions (that the interviewer was impressed by!) and was told I represented myself, my strengths, and my goals clearly, wahoo! I’m still on the fence how I feel about the org as a whole, but overall the interview was a good experience. Thanks for the support y’all!

  56. working mom*

    I would just like to say how unfair I think it is that crappy employers/bosses put the employee’s lives in turmoil when they make bad decisions or act inappropriately. I am tired of uprooting my life from what would otherwise be a good job/company because of somebody acting stupid without thinking of all the consequences and the effects on their people.

  57. General Organa*

    Hi! I’m about to do a final round interview for a role that I am really excited about. The job description says starting salary: 95K, but I have more (and directly related) experience than the posting asks for. Does it sound reasonable to say something like, “I was hoping for more like 110K, would that be doable for you?” (I recognize this is counting my chickens and I am genuinely trying to remember and make peace with the fact that this might not work out, but they’ve been moving fast and I don’t want to get caught off guard).

    Relatedly, while the job description names a city, I have been assured throughout the process that they are open to making a remote hire and that about half the team telecommuted even before COVID. If this works out, how should I get assurance that I can be remote? Is getting it stated in the offer letter enough, or is there something more I should be thinking about (this is in the US)? Thank you!

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      I would probably say “because of my X years of experience, I was looking for more like $100K,” because I’d feel compelled to say I deserve more money rather than I want more money. But I don’t know if that matters to anyone but me.

  58. AnonPi*

    Had an interview that went pretty well yesterday, *loved* the person that would be my boss she was so awesome! But I don’t have the specific technical expertise they were hoping for (teapot design generalist, instead of teapot spout/flow design), but have everything else and then some, so she was up front about not being sure what direction they’ll go in. I’m cautiously optimistic due to that, and the fact that through inside info their target pay is what I already make, when I don’t want to switch jobs without a pay increase (especially since they offer half the vacation I currently get – not a deal breaker as I don’t need that much but I do want to be compensated for it in exchange). The last interviews are today, and I’m supposed to find out by next Friday if I have an offer.

    I can stick it out in my current job for something else, but it’s becoming increasingly demoralizing, frustrating, and exhausting. I just thought I’d have something better by now, and have even had 3 offers in the last two years but not one of them would pay more than I currently make (and all had more responsibility, less benefits, etc). I’ve done extra certifications, even finished a masters degree, take on extra work to have better accomplishments to list on my resume, all to better position myself but it feels like none of it matters.

  59. eons*

    Random thought by an employee: Instead of referring to us as “his staff”, my boss refers to all of us at the office as “the team”. And it makes such a difference!

    1. Rayray*

      I like that kind of language too. Shows that he doesn’t see himself as so superior to everyone and he’s in it with you as a team.

    2. BellaDiva*

      I am a paralegal and “my” lawyer refers to me as “his colleague, BellaDiva”.

  60. Anonymous for This One*

    I got a promotion almost 2 years ago (right before COVID) and it was one my boss essentially begged me to take because he needed a warm trustworthy body in the role. But readers, I dislike the role (and most of my staff) quite a bit – it’s not my specialty field, there’s many institutional barriers, COVID has doubled our workload and made my staff less efficient, etc. etc. Some days I can barely stop myself from bluntly saying “I HATE THIS” to boss, when I really should be identifying X, Y, and Z issues that might be within the realm of possibility to change. (I also am slightly underpaid in my industry given my role, but everyone at my organization is too, including boss.) My husband says I should calm down a little and wait until we’re totally re-officed in September to determine what really needs fixing and if it’s possible. In the meantime, I’m starting to apply for just OK jobs that come through, which will be a problem if I’m a finalist for one – risking a frying pan/fire situation. Any advice to grit teeth and power through for a few months, or how to have a calm interim discussion with boss that at least lays groundwork for “hey, you sold me a bill of goods on this job and I want out or change”?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Have you talked to your boss about this at all? You should have been having regular meetings about this since day one. It’s not too late to start those. This is not a meeting about “in Q3, my department hit 95% on goal A and had only 3 non-compliance complaints.” This is about you. Even if you leave, he’s going to need to know what the challenges, issues, etc. you faced over the last 18 months so he can do a better job hiring your replacement.

    2. Soup of the Day*

      I think it’s worth applying for jobs, but don’t waste your energy on ones it sounds like you’re not even that excited about. Applying for jobs is work and interviewing is work, and for your own sake you should reserve that work for jobs you really feel like you enjoy. Taking a job purely out of desperation is likely to land you in a similar position, but maybe looking a little more for ones you would love to take can give you enough hope of getting out of your situation that you can hang in there until September.

      That said, I don’t think you necessarily have to wait until you’re back in the office to come to your boss with real issues that need fixing! Alison has a lot of suggestions for how to raise concerns without coming off as argumentative or critical. Think about which problems are COVID-related and which are built into the job itself and focus on the latter – hopefully the former will sort itself out eventually. Maybe your boss can’t or won’t do anything to make things better for you, but at least then you’ll know for a fact that you need to get out of there.

    3. Koala dreams*

      You can say something now, and your boss deserves to hear about the problems. If you feel it’s the wrong time (?) to argue for yourself, you can at least bring up the general issues like overworked staff and institutional barriers. You can also ask about which tasks should be prioritized and which can wait.

      Keep on job searching. It can take a long time to get a good offer, so it’s good to start early.

      Also, make sure to have some fun time in your life too, even if it’s just 10 minutes a day.

  61. Well I don't know*

    I work at a temp agency where I my reputation got damaged due to a mishandled harassment report (that I later found out was never investigated) and while my lead knew that there were things people were assuming, he refused to stand up for me or help me clear things up. I can’t do it myself because both my client company and agency have given me the cold shoulder.

    Is it wrong of me to be upset that my lead just g constantly asks me why it matters?

    1. AnonPi*

      No, your manager is in the wrong here, part of their job is to support their staff. And to be obtuse about why it matters is just icing on the cake. Its a horrible position to be placed in, and it doesn’t sound like it will improve. I hope you’re looking for work elsewhere, and I’m sorry you’re having to deal with it in the first place.

      I had something somewhat similar happen when a coworker kept hitting on me and making inappropriate remarks, that almost escalated to physical except I made it clear he would not be getting his hand back if it landed on me. He decided the mature thing to do was tell everyone I was a lesbian (I’m in a superconservative state). No one really said anything since they knew he could be an ass, but I was given the side eye and treated more coolly after that. Since I was a subcontractor nothing was done – I wasn’t an employee, so their HR wouldn’t do anything (knowing what I know now, pretty sure they wouldn’t have done anything if I had been an employee). And my contracting company said I could of course leave, but they had no other work lined up. Sucky position to be in :(

  62. Rayray*

    I started a new job at a new company a year ago. I applied because I was desperate not necessarily because I was super interested in the job. It’s a good company and I was hoping to maybe find a different role eventually. True company policy is that you be in your current role for 6 months before transferring but I decided I’d stick it out and pursue options after a year.

    A few months ago I was offered a sideways move with a small raise to help rebuild a team. I accepted because of the money and because I knew if I said no, it could be used against me if sought out approval for transfer later.

    I just don’t love my new position. It’s fine, but not something I’ll want long term. I don’t mesh well with my team and it’s just a frustrating job overall.

    How bad would it be if I tried to transfer later? So much of my move was about rebuilding this team and management really pulled for me to get a raise with the move and even a small annual raise when everyone else got one too.

    1. Graciosa*

      It sounds like you’re assuming you’re stuck long term – you’re not.

      You were asked to help rebuild the team, which is a great scope because it has a natural ending point. Do the work you were asked to do – rebuild the team (hiring, improved processes / metrics, whatever) and groom your successor. Then you go to your boss and say how much you enjoyed the rebuilding and would like to move on to a new challenge now that you’re confident the team is in a good place and [successor] is poised to improve it even further.

      Rebuilding doesn’t mean perfect – it means you fixed the foundation and are leaving it in good shape.

      People who like challenges like this (or people smart enough to succeed at them even if not fans) are very valuable to a company, and it’s perfectly normal for them to conquer a challenge and move on.

      Transferring later without doing more than serving as a placeholder would be unimpressive. Rebuilding the team and moving on (or maybe up?) would be great for your reputation.

      1. linger*

        Though note that might see you transferred into a similar “change agent” role in different teams. If you’re fine with that, great. But if that’s what you don’t like about the role, then yes, still complete it as best you can before moving on, but then make sure you’re going to a different role.

  63. No Tribble At All*

    Advice on dealing with a smothering, condescending coworker?

    One of the team leads at my new job is one of the more annoying people I’ve ever met, but not even in a mean way. She is extremely diligent and hardworking to an extreme; she doesn’t eat lunch because she’s so “caught up in work” (it is not that engrossing…) She volunteers the team for extra work (oh it’s 4:45 pm? We’re happy to help!!1!1!) She’s incredibly nit-picky and harps on every tiny detail.

    While these can be useful traits….I’ve been doing this for 5 years, I don’t need to be reminded that “the most important thing we do every day is to make X!” If she sees you look at your phone for 10 seconds, she jumps at you with “has anyone explained X to you yet?” And starts right at you. I. Need. A. Break.

    She’s also very wordy and has a lot of filler in her sentences, so everything she says sounds like “just wanted to let you know, in case anyone hasn’t explained it to you yet, it’s really important that we do X, because, you know, it could be really bad if Y, and we wouldn’t want that, because the most important thing we do is X!” When I’ve worked with people like this before, I deadass ignore 50% of what they say, but she notices if I do that.

    Last time we really worked together, I did get her to back off after a bit when I said I prefer to read something myself and then come with questions, rather than have it narrated to me. But I eventually snapped at her last week (I got up from my desk, she asked if I’d finished X yet when I’d earlier told her I’d let her know when I was done, I said i was going to the bathroom if that’s allowed). When I only have to interact with her occasionally over a day, Im polite, but Im afraid of our next Training!1!!1 Week!!1!1! together. Any advice?

    I literally don’t feel comfortable saying I need a break because she keeps stressing how she just wants to !!help!! me learn!!!! So I’d have to admit (1) I don’t want to learn or (2) I am weak and need a break from all the learning…

    1. No Tribble At All*

      Another thing that really bothers me: she doesn’t chat, will interrupt other people who are chatting about not-work to talk about non-urgent-work if it’s longer than ~30 seconds. Idk, I want to be friendly with the people I’m around 40 hours a week? And if she tries to chat, it’s always while criticizing someone else. “You did X way better than Joe, I don’t like how he does X, he said he was distracted by stuff at home but someone should train him better” when Joe isn’t there. So she’s a snake who doesn’t keep things private.

    2. LuckySophia*

      Uggh…she sounds exhausting! If she is so hyper-motivated to be “helpful”…can you play to that urge of hers by letting her know that people have different learning styles. (Some people learn best through hearing instructions; other people learn best by reading/absorbing written instructions.) Let her know that it’s “Most Helpful” to you to read/absorb info first, then follow up with questions. And every time she starts the verbal barrage, remind her…”It would really help me if you can let me study this only own first.”

      1. JustaTech*

        Yes, to this! Would Chatty respond well if you said “Chatty, it is really important for me to have quiet so that I can digest the things I am learning. That means that I need X (amount of time) between finishing reading/completing a task and talking to you about the next task.”

        She sounds completely exhausting and I don’t have any better suggestions.

    3. Mockingjay*

      I started to write how you could respond to Chatty to shut her down, but she’s the team lead. I’m assuming that she manages the work tasks, but doesn’t supervise you or the other team members.

      In this case, I would bring it up with your boss – possibly as a group. But first figure out what kind of resolution you want. Pick the battle and solve the worst problem or two. For instance, make it about efficiency – instead of Chatty distributing tasks, is there a system you can use (and cut her out entirely) – “more efficient, status at a glance!” (Heck, a whiteboard would work.) Or suggest a rotation – “can we all be cross-trained in task assignment? Gives us flexibility to keep going when someone is on travel or leave.” Then you only have to suffer Chatty occasionally.

      As your post demonstrates, you’re not going to change her behavior, so address work factors instead. Good luck!

      (And sit far, far away in the class.)

    4. WellRed*

      I’m sorry, what is it you think are useful traits? The martyrdom? The nitpicking?. The volunteering of OTHERS’ time? Physical distance. Avoid eye contact.

    5. Invisible Fish*

      Keep on snapping at her!! Okay, not really …. but there are bound to be ways to set boundaries with her. Maybe refuse to engage in foolishness? Or ask her why she thinks you need so much smothering? See if she can verbalize her reasons for her behavior, and maybe you can use that info to decide how to set up boundaries?

    6. Workerbee*

      Does she really do any actual work, I wonder, or just talk about it like she does? Some of what you said matches so exactly with a former boss who was great at derailing doing actual work while seeming to be So Busy.

  64. Sombrilla*

    Has anyone recently taken the GMAT? My husband has just successfully negotiated with his boss for tuition contribution and wants to do an executive style MBA in 22/23.
    We have 2 small children and he works long hours so time is like gold dust but obviously we will make it work and find the time for him.
    There is so much advice online but it seems like most people are trying to sell a book or course or something so I thought I would ask the wise commentariat here. We live in a non major city in Europe so the in person course options are very limited but other than that he is pretty open to any and all suggestions. Thanks in advance!

    1. Anonymous Koala*

      My husband hasn’t taken the gmat yet but he’s studying for it. We’re in a similar position (family stuff, limited time) so he just bought a book online and has been going through it. I would suggest finding a book with lots of practice tests and trying to help your husband carve out time to do the tests start to finish as often as possible – none of the content is hard, exactly, but the questions are worded in a specific way so you need to get use to the format they’re in, and you need to build your stamina so you can answer them even when your brain is fried from looking at similar questions for the last two hours.

    2. MissGirl*

      I found a great book that came with electronic tests. However, the point may be moot. Most executive programs don’t require it.

    3. Hillary*

      My experience is almost 15 years old, but I haven’t heard they changed the format.

      The thing that helped me the most on the GMAT was reviewing high school algebra and geometry. I bought used textbooks for a couple bucks on amazon and worked through them both. The math didn’t get more challenging than that. I also used a test prep book (maybe Kaplan?) to get used to the question format. In general it reminded me a lot of the 1990s SAT, more about logic and vocabulary than actual knowledge. If he was a good test taker in school those skills will come back quickly, if not more practice is worth it.

    4. NoLongerYoung*

      First, make sure he even needs it. (there’s a trend to not require it, depends on the program).

      If he does… my advice might help (old version of test but doubt it changed). I ran out of time and didn’t answer one question on the verbal, otherwise got a perfect score.

      I did most of the advice already given. I was several years out (and had tested out of any math in college), so I actually took algebra to prepare for a pre-requisite calculus class – and took that, too.
      Simultaneously, I took one weekend math prep class, and learned there are about 8 classic style of word problems… they just use different scenarios. (the train one, for example).

      I did over-prepare- I did every test sample exam they sold (and all the electronic Kaplan material). Literally, by the time I took the exam, my brain was analyzing the type of math problem and laying out the equation, while I was reading the question. And then re-reading to make sure trick wording.

      So the electronic/ online studying does help. (But I did very well on the SAT and ACT as well – test taking is a skill set I somehow got. Anything athletic – not).

  65. Fabulous*

    Does anyone here work for UPS/FedEx or have their CDL license? My husband has been contemplating changing career from law enforcement to something in carrier freight management and I’m interested to hear your experience.

    1. Hillary*

      I’m a logistics manager – I’m happy to chat. I’m marguerida on instagram if you want to DM me.

      I’ll also swing back later tonight to answer any questions.

  66. Not a Morning Person*

    Any advice for dealing with a coworker who insists on peppering me with questions in the morning, when I show up *before* work hours to make some coffee and get setup and read some emails? Its nothing like ‘how was your weekend” but more like “when was this llama groomed?” IShe knows Im not a morning person, thus the reason I come in early, to give myself some time to get some caffeine and get moving and ready for the day. My boss is the same way and has the same rule. No questions for 30 minutes so she can drink coffee and get set up. Without fail this coworker will just blitz me with questions she could easily answer herself by logging into her own email, reading whats on her desk, or even waiting 15 minutes. Nothing in our are of llama grooming is “urgent” that requires her level of excitability as most of our staff come in an hour later. I have repeatedly told her to give me space and I will let her know when Im ready but she will just YELL at me from the office across from mine. Any tips? I dont have a door to shut sadly because I would if it was an option. My boss is sympathetic but she said that is just how this coworker is.

    I know this is silly but its supremely annoying and I just need an Alison script to get her to back off, especially when I’m not even on the clock yet.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Train her out of it. If you answer her demands right away, she’ll keep making them.

      Instead, emphasize your slowness. Answer “I don’t know, my brain isn’t switched on yet” and “I wrote status reports before I left last night.”

      Do not give in to her demands until the 30 minutes have run by.

      1. Cabin Fever*

        Agreed. I’m the most morningest of morning people, and your coworker’s behavior would drive me up the wall. I know you asked for a script, but I’d skip that entirely; just greet her in the morning, and when she asks her first question, tell her it’s going to have to wait until you’re set up for the day. Then ignore any repeated requests until your “on” time. Once you’re ready, you can send her an email asking if she was able to locate everything she needed. But I would avoid spoken interactions with her as much as possible given that’s she’s asking you for information she can look up herself – this way you’re not making it any easier for her to use you as a resource than it would be for her to do the work herself.

      2. irene adler*

        Agree- keep the verbal interaction with her to a minimum.

        If it were me, “check your email” would be my response each and every time there was a question.

        (It’s a pet peeve of mine when folks don’t bother to check their emails when they first arrive to work and subsequently hit me with questions that are all answered in the email. To top it off, we don’t have much in the way of emails at this company. So there’s no “can’t find it” to excuse this. )

      3. Not a Morning Person*

        Shes damned persistent. When I say I dont know she just comes closer (ugh) or yells louder because she thinks I cant hear her. My grand boss sits next to me so I feel like an ass if I don’t address it but youre right. I need to ignore her antics

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Oh, she sounds awful. But her behavior isn’t going to stop if you continue to reward her. You’ve got to shut it down completely. And since the grand boss sits next to you (I assume this is her grand boss too?) you can point out that she’s the one failing, not you.

          “Oh, wow, I don’t know off the top of my head. You should check your email.”
          “Couldn’t tell you right at this minute, but I’m pretty sure it was emailed to you. Have you not looked at your email yet?”
          “Give me a few minutes to get back to you. Or check your desk, it’s probably there.”
          “I don’t know right now, but come see me after you read your email, because I bet it’s in there.”

        2. WellRed*

          I wouldn’t say anything other than “I’m not actually here yet.” Put on repeat.

          1. Emma2*

            I think this is the strategy I would adopt also. I would come up with a single response that is short and does not open debate, and just repeat it. I would go for a warm/friendly tone the first time in a morning, but then go for bland/perfunctory each time I needed to repeat it. I think my line might be : “Sorry I won’t be able to help you until 9/ As I said, I won’t be able to help you until 9”.
            Even saying “check your email” can invite a conversation – do you know when the email was sent, do you have it in your email, could you forward it to her, she can’t find it so could you summarise it, etc. I might add something to the effect of “Could you please give me some space until then? / I need you to give me some space until then” if necessary. Again, I would pick one line and stick with it.
            You want to be boring, avoid giving her a response that feeds her need for entertainment or interaction, and don’t invite or engage in debate or discussion.

    2. No Tribble At All*

      Can you put headphones on when she starts shouting? Or tell her no questions until 9am? Or feed her to Gator Loki so she’ll stop bothering you?

      1. Admin of Sys*

        Seconding the headphones, but I’d put them on before entry. It sounds like they’re ignoring direct commentary and any other ambient signals, so I’d say get a set of headphones or earbuds and then pretend you can’t hear her. If she comes over to ask why you’re ignoring her questions, look surprised, take off the headphones, and say “I’ve mentioned before that I come in early to give myself some setup time, and part of that is listening to (music/audiobooks/whatever). I’m not going to be focusing on anything other than my own things until 8a. Please come back then. In the mean time, the answer may be in email, so please check there first.” and then put back on the headphones and go back to whatever. Then at your declared start time, take the earphones off. If she hovers, waiting, do your best to pretend she doesn’t exist and refuse interruptions. Hopefully, she’ll eventually learn to assume that you’re not going to respond.
        Another option is to start blocking the time off on your calendar? Sometimes people respect that more than other options. The first 30 minutes of your day is clearly marked as a busy / heads down appointment to focus, and she should please respect your calendar.

        1. Not a Morning Person*

          Hmmm…. We normally dont wear headphones at work and I suspect she will just ask me what Im listening to. We cant have phones at work and they block streaming music on our network lol. But i will try lolllll

    3. Disco Janet*

      “My shift starts at 9(or whenever). Ask me about it then. Still waiting for the caffeine to kick in.”

      Last sentence is optional but may help her understand you’re just tired and don’t feel like talking.

    4. Caboose*

      Is purchasing an oversized coffee mug with the classic “Don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee” catchphrase printed on it an option? :P

    5. PollyQ*

      1. Have the general discussion with her some time when she’s not doing this: “Jane, when I first come in, I’m still waking up and getting set for the day. Please give me 15 minutes [or give an actual time] and then I’ll be happy to help you.” And then stick to it. When she pesters you anyway (and she will), remind her that you’re not going to be available until X:00, and do not answer her question. If she yells, ignore her.

      2. Are you using “on the clock” figuratively, or are you paid hourly? If you’re non-exempt, things like getting set up & reading emails should be paid time.

      1. Not a Morning Person*

        Not hourly but we have set hours we are limited to each week. Wwell.. by emails I mean read the news and askamanager lol.

        Everyone is right, I need to be more firm. Its just hard when Im so damn tired. I have chronic fatigue so its a struggle. Its why my boss is ok with me needing more time in the morning

    6. ecnaseener*

      As others have suggested, it sounds like all you can do is repeat your boundary at her every time she asks. Maybe open with a complete sentence, but then switch to something short you can just repeat ad nauseam…”pretend I’m not here,” “no questions until 9,” “I’m not working yet”

    7. Koala dreams*

      I’d recommend brightly coloured ear protection from a hardware store, in addition to having a conversation with her when she isn’t yelling.

    8. Queer Manager*

      Are you senior to her at all? My last job I managed a hotel and came to work at 6am. My night shift guy would always launch into convo the second I entered the building. I was able to put a hand up and say “not until I get my coffee”, he would flutter around but not talk to me until I had a few sips of coffee. If it’s a casual coworker relationship this could work as well. Start it with a jokey comment about how much you need coffee/need time to get in the right headspace.
      I suggest being breezy and casual while still firm. So if you walk in the door and your coworker starts talking say something like “Wow, I need to get situated for this. Give me a minute” or “ I need to be more awake for this! Let me grab a coffee and then you can tell me all about it.” Or “[coworker] I’ve got a few things to do, let’s meet in 20 minutes once everything is done so we can talk about this before everyone else gets in”

      1. The teapots are on fire*

        I love this. And feel VERY FREE to quiently say, “Jane, please don’t yell,” every single time she raises her voice. It’s just flat-out rude to yell and you’re doing everyone in the office a favor by making that clear.

  67. Anon For This*

    The dreaded corporate fitness program!!

    Confession, I actually like our fitness program. I used to do track & field in high school and college but dropped it when I started working due to lack of time. But a few months ago I joined this new company and they are amazing, they offer flexible time so I thought it was the perfect opportunity. The fitness program is not a huge deal, there is no pressure to join, but it was mentioned during orientation and I thought it would be a nice motivation.

    How it works: people log their “activity time” through the portal and at the end of each quarter there are prizes for reaching bronze /silver/gold objectives, as well as a prize for everyone if we collectively reach a team goal. The prizes are nothing huge, for example last quarter we got a cap with our logo and for the team prize they hired a coach for weekly online workout classes. Mostly I’m in it because I enjoy the camaraderie and we have a pretty varied group, from almost-professional athletes to people who just started working out.

    My problem however is that for this quarter they changed the requirements from “X minutes every week” to “X miles every week”… And the requirements are, to put it plainly, impossible to reach. I’m currently training for a 10k so I do a fair bit of running, and I still can’t reach the minimum distance for most days.

    When this quarters challenge was announced, some of us reached out to the organisers to share our concerns, but we were told (quite sharply) that they knew what they were doing and the goal was perfectly doable. Now we’re getting to the end of July and only 3 people (out of a few hundred who signed up) are on track to complete the LOWEST level of challenge…

    I don’t care about winning a t-shirt or a new water bottle, but I’m concerned that many people are seeing this impossible challenge and feeling discouraged, many people already dropped out. Should we maybe as a group go back to the organisers and ask them to rethink the challenge? Suggestions?

    1. Caboose*

      I would definitely go back and ask them to rethink! You’ve got hard numbers for how utterly impossible this is for people. Maybe you could try the angle that it’s most important to incentivize fitness for the most sedentary people, who aren’t going to be able to meet those goals and are likely to be discouraged?

      1. Anon For This*

        Thank you, this is very helpful! It feels obvious in hindsight but our original chat with the organisers (through our slack channels) didn’t address this at all. Mostly it was a few of the very active people who complained, and they framed it as “this is impossible for me to do” and the answer they received was “why don’t you first try and see before complaining”. So it makes sense to ask them to rethink since we have data for July now, and especially to highlight the people who already dropped out and how discouraging the numbers are. Fingers crossed!

    2. Elle Woods*

      I’d absolutely be discouraged by the change from minutes per week to miles per week in large part because I like to vary my activities. Per the CDC, people should aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week. Obviously, what that looks like can vary widely: it might be training for a 10K like you are doing, or it might be walking (indoors or outdoors), swimming, biking (stationary or trail), rowing (machine or on the water), yoga, fitness classes, etc. A person could do a high-intensity fitness class but not get many miles.

      Hopefully those in change will see the error of their ways after a quarter in which there are a lot of people dropping out or only completing the minimum challenge. If they don’t, definitely go back and ask them to rethink how it is organized.

      1. Anon For This*

        You’ve hit the nail on the head. The original requirement was something like 20 minutes/day to reach bronze tier, which is close to the CDC guidance, and it meant anyone could easily participate regardless of their activities. We already shared concerns about people not being able to participate if they did yoga or weight lifting, they told us they would address this, but it’s been a month already. So I don’t really trust them to spontaneously come around.

        (And, again, I’m training for a 10k and still can’t reach the target. It’s waaay unrealistic.)

    3. PollyQ*

      I agree that it’s definitely something worth pushing back on. You might want to wait a week and see what happens. There’s a decent chance that the organizers will look at those same achievement & dropout numbers you are and reconsider on their own.

    4. Geek5508*

      I wonder if a different person or team is running it now, hence the change from “no pressure” to unrealistic goals.
      Definitely go as a group, either to the organizers, or their boss, if they don’t listen. Sounds like the whole spirit of the exercise initiative has changed

    5. Can't Sit Still*

      Changing the requirement to miles is definitely discriminatory, although I’m not sure if it’s illegally discriminatory.

      Since I use mobility aids, if our fitness challenges changed from minutes to miles, I’d stop participating completely and I’d be incredibly frustrated and upset. We have team challenges, and with minutes per week, I can participate on the same level as the rest of the team. No one cares if my minutes are from walking, Jane’s are from swimming, while Fergus is training for an Ironman. That’s always been the benefit – it allows everyone to participate at their own level and speed.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        One of our past programs used “step counts” as the metric but there were conversions for almost any activity you can think of to convert that activity to steps so it could be tallied.

        Unless this is an option – converting non-mileage activities to “miles” – it’s a bad move. Worse if the “miles” requirement is so high that someone couldn’t meet it even when in any kind of rigorous training program. TBH, people absolutely *should* drop out if the bar is set ridiculously high. If so few people are able to participate compared to previous years, that should be readily apparent to whoever makes the decisions about what programs to use. If there’s anyone above the organizers, that’s who I would approach about this.

        1. Anon For This*

          I don’t believe it counts as illegal discrimination, as they offer accommodations on request. It’s still a very crappy decision, and it’s threatening to sink a very successful program.

          I don’t know if there is an option to convert “activity” to “miles”. We were told that the organisers would look into it but I haven’t followed this conversation closely, since all I do is run anyway. Unfortunately I’m not sure of who exactly is in charge of the program (I’ve joined recently and we’re all remote, so not much networking) but I will look into it!

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My aging joints would thank you. Running is out for me, and a frozen shoulder* limits the distance I can do on bike or in the pool.
      (*Fun fact about a frozen shoulder: you’ve got a good chance of it recurring on the other side for no obvious reason. I was warned, and here I am.)

    7. JustaTech*

      Here’s another reason why “miles per week” isn’t a useful goal: in any given amount of time a person could do X miles swimming, Y miles running, Z miles skating and Q miles biking.
      So “miles” doesn’t meaningfully capture the effort a person puts in, which is obviously discouraging for the people who aren’t biking.

      If an organizer is fixated on “miles” then maybe they could offer a multiplier for the different sports to normalize to biking miles? (Though that doesn’t help folks doing non-distance exercise like yoga or weight lifting or climbing.)

      It’s very weird that they made this change.

  68. Anonymous Koala*

    How do you push back (or maybe, do you push back) on people who are above you in company hierarchy but not in your department?

    I work in a highly cross-disciplinary industry that has a bit of a rigid culture in the sense that each field (llama grooming, llama makeup, llama fashion, etc) is supposed to stay in their lane when making suggestions but also work together to find a complete ‘look’ for the client. Recently my counterpart in the llama makeup side, “Arya” has gotten a new boss, “Sansa.” Sansa takes a much more conservative approach than the other llama makeup artists. Sometimes Sansa tries to reach into other areas, like telling me to make the llama grooming super conservative to match what she wants Arya to do on the makeup side. As someone junior to Sansa in the hierarchy and in a different field, I don’t feel like I can directly push back when Sansa’s taking a line I don’t agree with on a project. And I also can’t let the client get a poor product or a product that’s not cohesive. I have a great relationship with Arya, and her visions for projects usually match mine, but Arya’s very nervous around Sansa so I hesitate to ask her to push back. My boss pushed back on Sansa directly himself once (at my request), but he wasn’t successful at talking her around either. He’s talked about kicking things up to Sansa’s boss but hasn’t done it yet. I also don’t want to involve him every time because (1) I’m supposed to be doing these projects with Arya myself (2) my boss can be a bit difficult to pin down and asking him to intervene on everything will slow me down a lot and (3) my boss has a really hands off approach that I works for me, and I’m concerned that asking him to tussle with Sansa on every issue will jeopardize our relationship. Is there anything I can do or say that might help things, given the dynamics in this situation? Our clients are external and are not involved with any of this until they get a finished product.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      Rather than going to your boss every time, ask for a global ruling. “You’ve told me to do a modern style of grooming, but Sansa keeps telling me to do a conservative style, and she’s instructing Arya to do conservative makeup. This means the llamas aren’t cohesive. When this happens, do you want me to follow Sansa’s instructions, or do you want me to do what you told me to do?” And then let him deal with whatever comes of that.

      1. Anonymous Koala*

        That’s a good suggestion, thanks! I’ve been hesitant to take this approach because every product is so different – but Sansa definitely has a more conservative line in everything, so maybe I could get a global ruling and kind of tailor things from there.

  69. JH*

    Any advice on switching fields? I’ve worked in non-profit fundraising, mainly events/peer-2-peer, for a long time. But I’m looking to make a change and swing over to for-profit work. There are a lot of big consulting firms in the area but I don’t really know where to start in terms of what to apply for. Especially because the lingo is so different!

    1. ferrina*

      Start by listing your skills and accomplishments. What are you good at? What do you have a proven track record of doing? Look for jobs that require you to do something similar. Some skills can transfer universally- a good project manager may specialize in a certain type of project, but still be amazing at a different type of project. I know a technical writer who turned in to a compliance manager then in to a disaster preparedness manager (for-profit>non-profit>govt). I know a membership director who turned into an IT project manager (non-profit>for-profit). Honing in on an exact title comes with time, so start with the descriptions (note: I’m in an industry where the titling is wildly inconsistent, so it’s really important to stick with the description).

      Next, learn the industry’s needs. What are they reading? What conferences do they go to? What are they posting about on their website? These are all really helpful.

      Ask questions to folks in the industry. If you’ve got friends or relatives that you can ask, great! Use them! Are there any former colleagues you know who are now in the industry? Even if you haven’t spoken to them in a long time, they might love to chat with you! Informational interviews with friends of friends are great, and you can always post your random questions on the AAM open thread :)

  70. anonymous government manager*

    In my time as a manager I’ve been fortunate enough that any employee of mine that left was either moving far away enough they needed a new job, returning to school or going somewhere else because it would be a promotion/higher title. I’ve always known in advance they were looking to leave and it was on good terms. I’ve never had to fire anyone or had anyone leave on bad terms. I acknowledge I’ve been spoiled in this regard.

    Currently I work for the government (I don’t want to say what location/level of government but I’m a civil servant). It has been announced that as of November 1 we are returning to the office full time, no exceptions, no more remote work. This decision comes from the top. I’m not unionized but my employees are and their union was involved in the decision making process. As the lowest tier of manager I have no say in this. It comes from the top of the chain and was endorsed by the union.

    I understand some employees don’t want to return and want a fully remote job. But I’ve run into an issue now where I’m being asked for references from employees who quit on the spot after the announcement or without giving much notice (as per their collective agreement). I’ve never had to deal with something like this before. Anytime I’ve had to give references it’s been for good employees on good terms. If an employee left after giving proper notice I’d have no trouble with the reference situation but I admit I’m stuck here.

    What should I do about being asked for references by my former employees who either quit on the spot or didn’t give much notice? I’m getting reference requests now as they all need to find new jobs. Do I bring it up at all when giving the reference? Any input would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Graciosa*

      I think that if they’re quitting without notice now (in July) because of a requirement in November, the lack of notice would definitely impact my perception of their professionalism.

      I would be more sympathetic if someone found out about the requirement on October 31 and refused to report on November 1st for safety reasons – but I’m not seeing why they can’t give proper notice at this point in time.

      I would be honest about it in giving references (“Chris did great work on X, Y, and Z … demonstrated skill in … etc. I was a little surprised that Chris failed to provide two weeks notice and quit on the spot when advised that everyone would need to return to the office three months later, but perhaps it was an aberration due to the unusual situation we’ve found ourselves in.”) and let people know what kind of reference you would be giving.

      I’d probably be saying something to the employee at the time of receiving notice (or lack thereof). You’re quitting without notice because of a requirement three months away? That’s your choice, but it is the kind of thing that would impact my assessment of your professionalism and yes, I would feel obligated to share that if asked for a reference.

    2. idwtpaun*

      It irks me that employers see quitting without notice as something that should negatively impact the reference they give. Quitting is pretty much the only real power an employee has in this relationship and employers still want to assert their dominance by punishing them for exercising that power.

      1. ferrina*

        eh, it depends on why they quit. If it’s over something like “I didn’t get the cubicle I wanted”- well, that’s kind of how it works, and quitting with no notice is a big over-reaction.
        But when it’s something like “I refused to jeopardize my health/safety and the health/safety of others…”, yeah, that’s worth making a stand for.

        1. Calliope*

          They’re being asked to return November 1, though. Nobody’s health and safety is being currently jeopardized and it might actually never come to pass. Unless something else is going on, this is weird.

          1. ferrina*

            Meh, I’m willing to give some grace on this. It’s been an awful year for a lot of people, and this could be the last straw. A global pandemic seems to be a once-in-a-century event, so it’s unlikely to happen again.

            It sort of reminds me of something from the AAM archives- the spectacular exit of the professional who had been demoted in a nepotistic power play, then quit in the exact same way that his company had notified him of his demotion.

            1. Kitty*

              Ok but they’re quitting wout notice 3 months before they’re required to come back to work on site. I’d say something about that bc it speaks to their critical reasoning skills.

    3. ferrina*

      If they are otherwise a good employee, give them a good reference.

      This is a highly unusual scenario that no one has dealt with before. This is their health and safety. They aren’t quitting because they didn’t get the stapler they wanted; their quitting because their employer has shown that they are not willing to work with individuals to ensure that everyone is safe during an unprecedented time. That’s pretty major.
      Could they have given more notice? Yes, absolutely. That would be nice. But I’m inclined to give them a pass- they sound like they are under a tremendous amount of stress and part of the quitting was to make a statement to the employer.

      I wouldn’t bring it up on a call- if anything, maybe something like “After our employer made the decision to bring all employees back to in-person in November and was clear that there was no room for flexibility base on anyone’s circumstance, I actually had a lot of employees leave. Great Employee was one of them.” Make sure to describe the policy- plenty of people will hear that and immediately understand.

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        I like this- it shows that it wasn’t just the one employee, and gives context for why they’re not currently employed (in case that matters to the prospective employer). I’d even tack on something like “I was sorry to lose them, but understand that the policy change and how it came to be was a major concern for many of our staff.”

        You can be honest without tanking their chances, and also flag for hiring managers that they should be considerate when developing their own policies.

    4. CatCat*

      I think you can provide a positive reference of their work while also being honest about the quitting without notice. Just give the folks asking if you will be a reference a heads up: “Jake, you did good work when you were here and I can speak to that and am happy to do so. However, in full candor, I would also have to note that you quit without providing two weeks notice. Is there anything I should know about why you did that so I have more context?”

      At that point, the employee can decide if they even want to use you as a reference since they know the deal, and they would have the chance to explain to you if there might have been something more going on than not wanting to return to the office in 3 months.

  71. Mobius 1*

    What do people think about this question in job interviews (if you have determined that the position being filled is not a newly created one): “What is the unicorn thing you’re afraid you won’t be able to replace about the person leaving?”

    1. No Tribble At All*

      Oooh I like it! I wouldn’t say “unicorn” just because not every person/job has a unicorn trait about it? Also if someone doesn’t know the expression it could throw them. But definitely something like “what trait are you most worried about finding again?”

    2. Fabulous*

      I really like the question, but not the wording. Get rid of “unicorn” and just say “What’s one thing…”

    3. Me*

      I dislike the phrasing immensely.

      Do not like cutesy phrases or buzzwords. You have zero idea if someone is going to understand what you mean by “unicorn” things.

      Honestly I don’t like the question at all. The questions I ask in an interview are designed to determine if you the interviewer have the skills I need for the job. If the person previously in the job had a special skill I wanted, then I would be asking about it.

      Not to mention there a lot of people who have left jobs that, while nothing they did was fireable, they weren’t great employees.

      1. Me*

        I would phrase it along the lines of, “What is the single-most important skill you are looking for the person in this position to have.” That will get you an answer whether or not the person in the previous position was a putz. Otherwise you very well may be faces with an answer of “oh, i can’t think of anything that person did beyond what we’ve already talked about” and that kind of answer gives you no information and nothing to build on.

    4. Alexis Rosay*

      I’m not a fan. What if the person leaving was fired? Or what if the person was filling in temporarily and will be your coworker? You’re asking them to provide very specific information about an employee which doesn’t leave a good taste in my mouth.

      I’ve seen questions like “What makes people in this role great rather than good” suggested, which seems more appropriate.

      1. Mobius 1*

        Oh I only ask this question after determining why the previous person left. If it was bad, I default to Alison’s magic question about what’s one thing that separates good from great in this job.

        1. Me*

          We do not disclose if someone was fired. Nor do we disclose if the person was a mediocre employee we all did a happy dance the day they left.

          And frankly if you are interviewing someplace and they tell you the person was fired or was awful etc etc, that’s a red flag for the company.

        2. ecnaseener*

          The question would really only work if you know for a fact that the previous person was really excellent. Plenty of people are pretty good at their jobs but no unicorn — if you’re replacing one of them, you won’t hear anything *bad* about them but there won’t be an answer to this question.

    5. irene adler*

      How about: what is the one thing the prior employee did that you liked best-that you would like to see continue with your new hire? This can be a skill or a task.

    6. ferrina*

      No, this feels off to me too. If it’s a unicorn trait, are you suggesting you could replicate it? The whole thing with unicorns is that they are so rare that I’m not expecting to find another one, and it’s a bit presumptuous to think that you are a shape-shifting unicorn who can fill the shoes of any other unicorn.

      When I’m hire to replace, I’m not looking for a 1-to-1 copy. Usually company needs have changed or are changing, and I’m looking for something different. The last person was a unicorn, but now I really need a griffin.

      I think it’s much more helpful to ask something like “What made Last Person so good at their job that you’re hoping the next person will carry forward?”

    7. Kara*

      No as you’re asking for info about an actual person. Ask what traits someone needs to do well in the role.

  72. Humble Schoolmarm*

    I’m wondering how the teachers out there are feeling about all of the WFH debate. When I was teaching online I enjoyed the same things as others have mentioned (no commute, lunch walks) plus some teacher specific things (more bathroom breaks and virtually no class management issues). On the other hand, the kids didn’t learn nearly as well. I’m really struggling with how to balance liking the lower stress of WFH with the available opportunities and wanting to be an effective teacher.

    1. Disco Janet*

      As comfortable as I am with technology, I vastly prefer in person. Teaching and motivating is just so much easier in person. To me, not having to worry about class management in terms of behavior isn’t worth how much reduced engagement I experienced with my online classes.

      I had a unique situation where I was teaching the same class both in person and online – like two of my class periods were online, and the rest were in person. I used the same lessons for each class (with modifications to make them work online, of course) and my in person students were far more likely to show greater learning and improvement. It was also much easier to form connections with them (which of course affects their engagement and learning as well). I was trying my best with the online students, but other than the highly motivated students, it was a huge struggle for them to stay on task.

      A pandemic is a totally different situation of course, but in normal circumstances where it is generally safe to be in the classroom, I think it would be a disservice to most students if they were to still be in online learning.

    2. Anon Teacher*

      I teach special education, and for nearly all my students, the return to in-person instruction was welcomed and essential. I found it easier to do the teaching part of my job in-person, and the instruction in my case was more effective. However, I had some students who remained virtual, and of course I had paperwork, planning, and meetings. For those aspects of my job, it was much easier to be at home. When I was required to be in the building, I was delivering virtual instruction from my room that is shared with 2 other people so we were usually teaching at the same time (headphones are our friend), a file closet, a random classroom I had to borrow from another teacher during their planning time (and thus disrupting them), a sensory room for students, etc. I was much more effective during virtual instruction when I was at home. Meetings, planning, and paperwork were also easier because I was free from interruptions, and I had my own, consistent space (sitting in a room with a desk, instead of standing in a file room with my laptop perched on a file cabinet that is nearly as tall as I am or finding another random spot).

      I love my students and want to be able to teach them in a classroom (safely) where we can have discussions and problem solve together, but as a teacher, I have responsibilities beyond face-to-face instruction. I would really like to have a hybrid situation where we could do in-person instruction for a few hours a day, but have the option to work from home for the students who choose to remain virtual, as well as for meetings and non-instructional aspects of our job. Also, teacher work days all need to be virtual/work from home. Other than setting up my classroom, or getting materials/tech support, I have never been at a training that could not have been held virtually. For this hybrid idea to work, though, people would have to acknowledge that teaching requires much more than standing in front of students & delivering instruction, and that most teachers require at least a couple hours per day of non-teaching time to get their jobs done (and more if you’re in special education).

      1. peasblossom*

        This is so perfectly put! I’m in higher ed so a different beast, but the pros of being in person far outweigh the cons for teaching. Everything else though has been hugely improved by being virtual. Education (and I know it’s worse for say public primary or secondary) can be so exhaustingly bureaucratic. The freedom to deal with that bureaucracy while at home was huge.

    3. Flower necklace*

      I actually like working in person and feel fortunate to be in a career where working remotely isn’t really an option. I find teaching energizing, and I really missed being able to do hands-on activities last year. I also like being able to chat with my coworkers face-to-face (virtual communication just isn’t the same). But I also know that I’m lucky to have a great group of coworkers and a short commute.

      I’ll admit that I didn’t miss the behavioral issues, though, and it was nice to take a break from the constant battle over cell phones. I’m not looking forward to that next year.

    4. tra la la*

      I’m a librarian who teaches and I am ready to go back to face-to-face teaching. I’m glad that I was able to shift my instruction online, but it was much harder to engage the students (I do a lot of hands-on work with students) and the faculty I worked with reported the same thing.

      Overall I guess I’d prefer a hybrid model — right now I’m in the library 4 days a week and at home 1 day. I’ve missed having colleagues to work out ideas with. At the same time, I’m in a state that is not doing well with vaccinations and the state university system is being prevented from requiring vaccinations or even masks.

      I do think the work-from-home debate is way more complicated for instructors than it might be for more standard office jobs. I find the whole debate pretty exhausting, to be honest, because it doesn’t really fit what my job involves.

    5. Middle School Teacher*

      I completely agree with you. Being able to sleep in, wear jeans, drink enough water and go to the bathroom often were amazing. But the kids suffered, the quality of my teaching suffered. We were also flopping back and both between sometimes in class, sometimes online, some kids were always online, and that was hard for everyone. I’m in a province where the rules around covid have been vastly loosened recently so I am anxious about going back, not because I’m worried about my health (a lot of my kids are vaccinated and so am I) but because I feel like numbers will skyrocket and we will all flip back and forth between in school and online again. But I really want to go back to teaching in person. It’s just better all around.

    6. CatMintCat*

      We were only remote for six weeks last year and I hated it more than I have ever hated just about anything. I didn’t become a teacher to spend my days sitting at a computer, and I have never felt so ineffective as a teacher in my whole career. Half my class didn’t bother to even log in and couldn’t be contacted and, of the ones that did show up, half of those were submitting “work” in Mum’s handwriting.

      We are looking down the barrel of having to do it again, due to our criminally incompetent State Premier, and I am eying off my leave options if that happens. The thought of doing it for a year would send me scuttling into retirement.

  73. Uncomfortable Question*

    Weird situation. I live in a red state. I work for a company that is primarily in commercial and industrial construction. Our client asked us to sponsor a conference-type event for their customers, which came with a presentation opportunity. We were excited to do that. When we went to register team members, they had to state if they were or would be fully vaccinated by the event and would have to show proof. The event is in a deep red southern state. I’ve talked to the organizers one-on-one multiple times. No one ever mentioned this. The industry and location did not make me think this would be the case. We’re organizing a trip to a huge show in Los Angeles, and they don’t require that.

    I don’t care. They can require what they want to require, but I had to work with our team to finalize attendees and the speaker, and then had to go back and tell them this requirement. I don’t want to know their vaccination status or make it awkward. My manager originally wanted me to go, but she wasn’t in the meeting where the decisions were made, and I’m not going. Which is good because I’d have to out myself as unvaccinated, when we have no other company requirement to share that and I work fully from home. I don’t want to get into medical discussions (or political ones) with my coworkers, and was happy to work somewhere that did not have invasive policies. Anyway, I wish our client would have shared that information upfront. It’s kind of a big deal.

    1. Bobina*

      Ooh. Is it a requirement from the actual client or for example something thats coming from the venue?

      I suspect for the next year(s) this might be an issue – so perhaps worth keeping in mind it might be something that needs to be asked pre-emptively when discussing events (in the same way one might ask about allergies or dietary restrictions if planning a meal) because I suspect there will be tons of changing rules around this by state/event/venue.

      1. Uncomfortable Question*

        It’s from the client. It’s at a facility they own, and there are no local requirements.

        Yeah, it will be on my radar for other events. We’ve been monitoring things as so many events have been canceled, and there are lots of mask rules in flux, but this is the first I’ve seen this in the new world.

    2. Fabulous*

      Is it actually a requirement? they had to state if they were or would be fully vaccinated by the event and would have to show proof. That doesn’t necessarily say to me that they need to be vaccinated, they just have to disclose whether they are, and if so, show proof.

      If it is in fact required, it’s kinda crappy they didn’t specify that, but it’s 100% an understandable requirement, and they probably figured it’d be a common sense requirement too. It’s risky to have hundreds of people gathered in a pandemic in and of itself, let alone hundreds of unvaccinated people.

      1. Uncomfortable Question*

        They are required to be vaccinated. It’s clear in the statement — “must be fully vaccinated”.

        It’s a smaller gathering, less than 80 people. Again, I don’t mind them requiring it, but it should have been mentioned before we ponied up the hefty sponsorship fee. Now the tide is shifting back to masks, but when this was in discussions a few weeks ago, the norm would have been show the vaccine card or wear a mask, but actually mandating the vaccine seems like overkill for a private business and attendees who don’t work for them.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          It would have been nice if they had mentioned it, but it’s not overkill– they’re also a business and doing what they think is best. They’re hosting so they get to set certain parameters.

          If it’s an issue to attend in person, talk to them about virtual presentation opportunities (most conferences can set that up) and yes, tell them it’s because you can’t meet their vaccination requirements.

        2. Me*

          “actually mandating the vaccine seems like overkill for a private business and attendees who don’t work for them.”
          Unfortunately that your opinion and the company’s opinion is different.

          If this is important to your company, then it something that should be asked about in advance as private company’s are making and enforcing their own requirements.

          Is your stance as representative of the company that you want this disclosed upfront as it would change your company’s sponsorship or is it just your personal dislike?

        3. Rusty Shackelford*

          actually mandating the vaccine seems like overkill for a private business and attendees who don’t work for them.

          Unless they’re responding to attendees who *want* to be assured everyone there will be vaccinated.

        4. WellRed*

          Maybe they don’t want to expose their employees to people traveling in for this event. That’s their right. My boss went on her first business trip two weeks ago. She wound up exposed to Someone who caught Covid while there. Also, you may WFH, but you also travel for work. (I do think they should offer refunds).

        5. Blackcat*

          “actually mandating the vaccine seems like overkill for a private business and attendees who don’t work for them.”
          I know of a few mid-sized conferences that have a vax requirement. It’s because enough people said they wouldn’t go if there wasn’t one. I do agree they should have told you before your org paid, but the requirement itself doesn’t surprise me.

    3. OneTwoThree*

      When you go back to the team, you can explain the requirement and ask everyone to confirm if they are still available. You could suggest other non-vaccine-related outs as examples. That would give them some comfort knowing that you don’t care or want to know their vaccine status.

      I’ve recently learned participants will be required to show proof of vaccination. This puts me in an awkward position, as I (along with our company) would rather not know your vaccination status (or your reasons for your choices). If you no longer meet the requirements, aren’t interested in attending, or have a schedule conflict I understand. Please reply to this email with only “yes” or “no” if you are still able/ interested in attending.

    4. automaticdoor*

      Something no one else has yet said (surprising for AAM readers!): if you’re concerned about “outing” yourself as unvaccinated for future events, maybe you should get a vaccine? Just a thought…

    5. RagingADHD*

      I live in a deep red state with a low vaccination rate, and I’m not sure how you missed this news, but cases are spiking. Hospitalizations are spiking. Deaths are spiking.

      Those who believe the virus is real, don’t want to die or kill anyone, and are therefore vaccinated, are now being forced to double down on precautions to protect ourselves.

      Because the antivaxxers are once again an active threat, thanks to the Delta variant.

      Your client most likely didn’t have this requirement when you started planning, and that’s why they didn’t disclose it. It’s new, because sh*t is getting bad down here.

      Your client is not the problem. The unvaxxed majority who are incubating a more deadly variant are the problem. And as long as large numbers of people insist on making themselves voluntary carriers of a life-threatening illness, you should consider all plans and requirements to be in flux.

      It’s awkward? You’re uncomfortable? You poor, poor thing.

      Yes, it is a very big deal.

    6. Massive Dynamic*

      I don’t get what your beef is? The client probably had to make a quick decision based on new info re: cases spiking in the red states. Pandemic’s still happening after all. But it doesn’t even affect you as you’re not going.

      With the unfortunate way that cases are rising in LA, there could be a strict vax requirement for your California trip too. Disneyland just announced yesterday that everyone needs to mask it up indoors again because of rising cases.

    7. Blackcat*

      “We’re organizing a trip to a huge show in Los Angeles, and they don’t require that.”
      TBH, I could see LA county banning large indoor gatherings again or requiring proof of vaccination for attendance at large indoor venues. And that might come on suddenly.

    8. fhqwhgads*

      The trend I’m seeing with venues is moving more and more toward requiring this. So I’d say you/your company should be prepared for the requirements of this event to be required at many more in the next year. Not just business events. There has been enough spread at gathering spaces, a lot of private businesses may be about to start requiring vaccination and proof for indoor entry. Choosing to remain unvaccinated for reasons other than medical necessity, if you’re in a country that has supply of vaccines, is about to exclude you from lots of stuff.

    9. SummerBreeze*

      Your audacity in being mad about this, my god.

      It’s a global pandemic. Sorry if that caused an extra hour of work for you.

  74. Ow! my spine*

    Background: I have two chronic medical conditions that cause pain in my foot and back, based on previous experience jobs where I have to stand/walk all shift, every shift are no-go’s for me because of this pain. These medical conditions are diagnosed and I could get a doctors note regarding them if needed for something like ADA accommodations.

    I am currently temping for a hospital system and expect my current assignment to end in the coming weeks. I’m sometimes emailed information about open future assignments, but frequently the job descriptions are frustratingly vague, including not giving information about the physical requirements of the job. Because of this, I expect to have to ask clarifying questions about the physical requirements of different positions before I accept a new assignment to try to avoid something that will require all day walking/standing.

    My question is, should I divulge *anything* about my medical issues when asking these questions? I would prefer not to tell my employer about my medical issues, but I’m concerned that in the past asking the temp agency employees for information about specific assignments resulted in getting brushed off or just plain bad/incorrect info because they don’t know the day-to-day realities of each job assignment. So my thought if maybe making my concerns about a *medical issue* rather than a preference might help get me be taken seriously so I can get in contact with someone who actually knows the reality of the assignment, but maybe I’m totally off base. I’m just really worried about unknowingly getting assigned something really physical and causing issues with the temp agency if I have to quit the job before the assignment is complete because my body can’t handle it.

  75. Enneagram*

    LinkedIn Recommendations:
    I know these are pointless/meaningless, but a former boss asked me to write her one. She was a good boss, and this means something to her.
    1 – How long does this need to be?
    2 – How many skills/qualities should I highlight?
    3 – Is it weird that I’m an employee evaluating a manager?

    1. Red*

      1. As long as you want but a good length is about a standard paragraph. (intro, fact, supporting statement, fact, supporting statement, close)
      2. As many as you want, but I would highlight only one or two personally.
      3. A little, but it’s mitigated a bit as they’re a former boss.

      I used to work for former boss as a teapot writer from 2015-2016. Boss was always very supportive, for example when I was uncertain how to complete a task she was able to help me reframe my problem. I also think she was very organized, which helped me stay on task and complete my own projects. I believe any one would love to work for former boss!

  76. foolofgrace*

    I’ve been a tech writer for 20+ years, then got a permanent state job working with files, and now having hit the ceiling, I’m going after state admin asst. jobs. I would like to convey in my cover letters that one can be retrained in how to book meetings etc. (I’m rusty as heck on Outlook meetings) but you can’t really train someone to write cogently, create reports, etc., and that my tech writing skills would be beneficial as an AA. Any suggestions? TIA.

    1. ferrina*

      I’d focus on your strengths- clear writing, attention to detail, ability to work under pressure/tight deadlines, etc. They’ll connect the dots to their own needs.

      Don’t say “Anyone can be trained on how to book meetings.” That’s a little deragatory to the jobs (implication: a monkey could do it!) and it can also be discordant with the actual challenges of the job. I worked for an organization where Outlook was the easy part, but you were a miracle worker if you could get three VPs in the same room at the same time (the EA that could consistently do that was HIGHLY VALUED).

    2. PollyQ*

      I’m not sure that technical writing skills are beneficial to an AA, though. IME, they do very little writing of anything longer than an email memo. Sure, they need to be able to do that clearly, but in that role, it’s pretty much the same skill as being able to converse clearly. An employer might also worry that you’d get bored in an AA role, or would be better suited to long-term projects rather than keeping track of a million short-term things at once, which is common for AAs.

      A better strategy might be to take an online course in how to use Outlook/Office, so that you can point to that, rather than excusing a lack of skill.

    3. RagingADHD*

      If you want to focus on transferrable skills, people-focused soft skills and multitasking in busy/chaotic environments are much more important to being an admin assistant than writing any kind of in-depth reports.

      As far as scheduling meetings, the skill of negotiating times with multiple stakeholders who are all busy and/or want to feel like they are the most important, is a lot more essential than using Outlook invitations.

  77. AnonymEsq*

    New manager here. Do you send around an agenda in advance if one-on-ones with your reports?

    1. cubone*

      It depends on your preference and theirs, IMO. As a manager, I like to at least make sure a section of the agenda is “issues/challenges” (what is hard right now, what are you struggling with, etc.). I also want most of the 1:1 to be “their” time to be with me, but usually I will start with “here’s any update on my end” or info I need to communicate to them (sometimes I will forward an info update and say “we can discuss in our 1:1” kinda thing). But I also like to ask my direct reports what they like in a 1:1. Do they want a specific set agenda for each one? This can be really helpful for some people’s styles, or for newer employees (or for employees who are struggling).

      Another style is like a kanban discussion – what’s completed, what’s ongoing, what hasn’t started, what is delayed.

    2. Alexis Rosay*

      I’ve never sent an agenda, but I think it’s a good idea to be clear on your purpose for checking in: is it to assess their progress on their projects? Is it to gauge their workload and level of burnout? Is it to consolidate and answer as many questions as possible at once? Etc.

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I have a standing agenda for those. Accomplishments, challenges, team/project issues, company issues, professional development.

    4. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      There should definitely be some kind of agenda. My current boss has the individual employee write the agenda according to a fairly standard template (update on certain key metrics, update on ongoing projects, anything else) and then adds their own items to it as needed. If there’s something big to discuss my boss will give me a heads’ up ahead of time so I can be prepared.

      1. Unkempt Flatware*

        Yes. Some sort of way they can expect what to discuss. My previous boss would “summon” me by adding appointments to my calendar that were called “discussion” and there was no proper invitation. She didn’t even know what I was doing that day(s). Don’t be that person. She was disrespectful of my time and work style.

    5. Red*

      My current manager does not and it gives my anxiety like no tomorrow every time she requests a one-on-one. If for nothing else, I would make an agenda just to ease your reports possible anxieties.

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        Oh no. Talk to her! It’s very likely she has a mental outline for what she wants to cover together, ask her about it- there are probably things you can expect to discuss every time (e.g. project updates, decisions from leadership) and some things you’ll discuss occasionally (e.g. professional development). You can build your own ‘agenda’ from there, even if it’s for your own preparation rather than to share.

        To answer AnonymEsq’s question, in my workplace it’s usually the direct report who generates the agenda. Again, we communicate about the components that we’d like to be on there, but after the general, flexible template is set, it’s up to the report.

    6. jenny*

      Yes, otherwise how are they supposed to prepare for the meeting, know what you want to talk about, and allow you to prepare for things they want to talk about??

    7. MissBliss*

      I send an agenda to my boss with updates, things I need her input on, etc. She either makes edits or she adds her own items once the meeting has started. But I am a manager reporting to a director, so it could be different with more entry-level staff. However, when I was an entry level staff person, I was always the one bringing my to-do list to my boss to discuss my items and get her feedback. I tended to need more from her than she needed from me.

    8. AnonPi*

      Mine does not, but they’re pretty predictable, generally going over work I’m doing and the current status/are there any issues. If there’s some new task they’ll ask if I have the bandwidth to take it on and we’ll discuss the requirements for it if I do.

      Maybe twice during the year we’ll spend a few minutes about what’s on my performance plan, if I’m on track for those items, does it need to be changed etc. Typically in our group meeting they’ll tell us to expect that in our next one on ones. Otherwise that’s it.

      So in my case no agenda really necessary. I would say if you need to talk more in depth about a project, if you don’t do a formal agenda at least give them a heads up that you want to talk about a, b, c on project X so they can prepare ahead of time.

    9. Anonymous for This One*

      No I do not. I have six direct reports and each one has a different style and approach to one-on-ones. One of them (the one who likes and needs structure the most) prepares an agenda for us to go over, although it is mostly project updates/need direction, with scheduling matters at the end. I have so much to do already, I would never take the lead on preparing an agenda – I simply jot down a list for each person with what I want to talk to them about, and it usually comes up anyway on their end.

    10. CatCat*

      Ask your reports what they would prefer. I would prefer it, but I admit to not having much experience with 1:1s. The only manager I had that tried to implement them scheduled one with me with no clarity on the meeting’s purpose, and then asked me what I wanted to discuss and said this was “your time.” And I said that I didn’t know, I didn’t scheduled the meeting or know its purpose so hadn’t thought about it. And that was my first and last 1:1.

    11. Hiring Mgr*

      In my case it depends – if you mean regularly recurring weekly 1-1s, then no, because they’re the same pattern each week so everyone knows the format already.

      If you mean random 1-1s outside the recurring where you need to meet for a specific reason then yes absolutely

    12. Kara*

      I don’t understand why you would write the agenda? I write the agenda for 1:1s with my manager as I know what I need to discuss.

      Or do you mean a template?

    13. Imprudence*

      I send *my* boss an agenda for our 121s. It is basically the headings from my job description, and then any notes about progress / problems that I want to raise with him. I keep it one note and add to it during the week, anytime I think of things I need to ask him (because of his job, it is not practical to interrupt him through the day). I send it to him the night before our 121.

      He has a different system to collect the things he wants to raise with me, and I never know what they will be. But for the sort of things they are ( find out about this, chase up that), it’s not important.

      I take the view that I gave the most knowledge about what I am doing, so it is down to me to do it. Also, he has plenty of other things to do.

      1. It happens*

        Not to offend, but that is the answer. If you, the manager have any specific issues you want to address, then send them ahead of time, but the report is responsible for bringing issues to the manager’s attention. Same as the manager should with their manager. Assuming that each manager’s job is to remove obstacles from the way of their reports. And the manager should tell the report that this is the expectation and the agenda should be delivered 24 hours in advance of the 1:1…

    14. Llama Wrangler*

      I have a template (google doc or Asana), with set sections (I think based on the management center’s template). I populate my sections at least an hour in advance of the meeting and ask my direct reports to do the same – depending on the day, we might not have a lot of time to review in advance but at least that way we can each take a couple of minutes at the beginning of the meeting to review what the other person has.

    15. RosyGlasses*

      Yes – I use a template from LifeLabs Learning after a training I did with them (can’t recommend them enough). They fill out the agenda and then we walk through it together. I’ll post the link in a reply.

    16. fhqwhgads*

      No. It’s a standing format. Report gives brief update on what the focus has been this week, any blockers. Manager gives update on anything from Leadership the report might need to know (or follows up to questions from previous week if they couldn’t be answered sooner). Plus or minus small talk/how’s your household/see any good movies sort of thing.

  78. I'd forget my head if it weren't attached*

    How do I gracefully and in a work appropriate way apologize for forgetting something? I have newly diagnosed ADHD, and when I forget something, it’s less like it’s temporarily misplaced and more like it ceases to exist. I would prefer not to share this diagnosis with my workplace; I’m a private person and it hasn’t impacted my work enough that I would need accommodations. I mostly forget things that are minor enough to not hurt things, but I feel make me look a little disorganized. I do my best with notes/reminders but it is inevitable that I will forget something. Any tips to better apologize than “it must have slipped my mind”?

  79. Employee at Possible Scam LLC*

    How do you know if you’re working for a scam/fake company?

    I got an offer after a long period of employment and jumped to accept. I know I should have done more research, but I didn’t Google it until after taking the offer. The suggested Google searches were asking if it was a real company, and I got a bunch of Reddit threads about the company being a scam. I was a little hesitant to start, but I really need the money, and so far things seem legit, but I’m still a little haunted by the idea that I’m working for scammers. Any advice?

    1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      Do NOT put any of your own money into it. Don’t purchase equipment up front, don’t deposit a check and then “reimburse” the employer, don’t provide your bank details. Honestly, if there are that many posts about it being a scam, it probably is. I wouldn’t feel comfortable giving my sensitive information to this organization, which means I couldn’t work there – you’ll have to fill out various forms asking for SSN, bank account, etc.

  80. OfInfiniteSpace*

    Hi! I have a question about name-dropping in a cover letter: I am applying to a position at a organization where someone I worked with in graduate school now works (I was a student, she was on staff – we worked closely on several occasions but she’s not quite a mentor-figure). She is in a different department than the one I’m looking to be hired by, but she said she would put in a good word for me and suggested I drop her name in the cover letter.

    Any suggestion on how to do that gracefully?

    1. Graciosa*

      “I was thrilled to see this opportunity at [Org] because of [Reasons not related to Reference]. After speaking with [Reference] about [Org / subgroup / team], I’m even more excited [because of New Reason / Reference’s enthusiastic report about Culture or Project / whatever].”

      That’s not terribly graceful with all the inserts, but hopefully it will give you an idea –

    2. Disco Janet*

      Have a bit in the letter that says something like, “I have heard great things about your organization from X, who is a *insert job position here* in your Y department and worked with me at Z University.”

    3. Llama Wrangler*

      If the application process allows it, I’ll leave it out of my cover letter and put it elsewhere – either in an email if they ask for materials to be emailed, or in the “referral source” section of the application if they have it.

  81. The Dude Abides*

    Ramen becoming a new in-joke around here sparked me to ask – anyone have any interesting ways to make ramen healthier/more palatable?

    Right now, I use chicken flavor ramen as my “snack” and occasional lunch since I like something warm (the entire building is an icebox), and it’s budget-friendly. My office just got a mini-fridge that is already full, and I’m trying to avoid eating out 2-3 days per week, since the only options nearby are hamburger row or $10 for a sandwich.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Can you squeeze a bag of frozen mixed veggies into the freezer, and throw a handful in every time you make it?

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          You can also buy individually vacuum-sealed packages of veggies (like fruit cups, but with peas) that can be stored at room temperature.

    2. Donkey Hotey*

      In addition to ABET’s suggestion, I will ditch the flavor packet and add a small tin or vac-pack of chicken or tuna, too. (protein plus no fridge space)

    3. Kimmy Schmidt*

      Not sure which of these will work with your fridge space, but some toppings include sriracha, boiled eggs, green onions, peanuts, canned chicken, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and various veggies. I don’t think you would need to refrigerate avocado, potatoes, sweet potatoes, peppers, or squash.

    4. CindyLouWho*

      I say get better Ramen!

      Costco has had several excellent varieties, if that is an option. Or so to an Asian grocery store, if there is one in your area.

    5. LDN Layabout*

      With no freezer space available, go with vegetables which are good canned. Sweetcorn is my favourite for ramen.

    6. Admin of Sys*

      Does it need to be shelf stable? I use plain ramen noodles as a pasta base for pretty much everything because i like them better than most gluten free pasta options. So I throw chicken stock and vegetables at it, or cheese and tomatoes and sausage, or black beans and tomatoes and peppers (though with that I 50/50 skip the ramen).
      But if you need something more ‘instant’ you could switch things up a bit by getting plain noodles and then some of the instant sauce and veggie mixes they sell – like tastybite packs and such.

    7. Overeducated*

      Vegetables to throw into the hot water: spinach, sauerkraut, green onions, cooked mushrooms.
      Creaminess: a poached egg, a couple tablespoons of sour cream or plain yogurt.
      Spices: black pepper, curry powder, or sumac and red pepper.

    8. PollyQ*

      Healthier: Use only 1/2 of the packet to cut back on sodium.
      Flavor: Add a splash of vinegar, sesame oil, and/or chili oil, all of which can be kept at room temp.

    9. Free Meerkats*

      Tom Yum Paste adds more flavor with a small addition than anything I’ve found. Downside, it needs to be refrigerated after opened.

      And I second the ‘get better ramen’ comment. I go to the local Korean grocery and the selection is vast. Different flavors, different noodles, different levels of spice – Korean mild can be too much for some people, Korean hot will hurt if you’re not acclimated. I currently have about 6 different flavors in a drawer.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      This is a regular for my family. A box of lo-so chicken or beef stock will cut the salt intake. If you have an Asian market near you, look for bulk ramen without flavor packets.
      Anything that goes into pho or egg drop soup is a tasty addition. Green onions, cilantro, basil, sliced bits of last night’s supper. TVP (texturized vegetable protein) is a shelf stable thing well sometimes add when we make thick noodles not soup.
      And it’s also pasta at heart, so western flavors work too.

    11. Koala dreams*

      My favourite budget friendly easy food is frozen mixed vegetables. You can thaw them in a bag/lunch box and then microwave them just before you eat. Add oil or spices if you want. If you add hot water and vermicelli you’ll have a vegetable soup.

    12. retired*

      Hiking food. Ramen is used; lots of freeze dried additions. Get a dehydrator and do it yourself.

  82. COVID blues*

    I manage a team that has been remote all of COVID. We were slated to return to the office next week (it has been planned for quite a while), but this morning our area just announced a new partial shutdown due to high community transmission and low vaccination rates. My team is all vaccinated, but not everyone in the office is, and we are still being required to return next week. We will need to be fully masked at all times. I’m trying to push back, especially since we have members who require ADA accommodations that are difficult with COVID restrictions. Does anyone have any thoughts on what else I can do?

    1. Girasol*

      Can you take your ADA concerns to HR and ask for options? Seems like that should be their problem, and having to solve it might make them rethink the issue for everyone’s sakes.

  83. Red*

    If anyone can help with this: How do I take an in-person process and make it remote? Specifically, I need to move our company’s AP process to remote work. I can’t really find an answer through google and I don’t want to set anyone up for failure. Here’s what I’ve already identified, but I’ve never worked remotely, so help identifying anything I’m missing would be great:
    1. A specific email to funnel all communications
    2. Monthly statements from all vendors to track all incoming documents
    3. Contact Information for all vendors up-to-date and accessible
    4. Inform all vendors all communication must be by email
    5. Digitize POs

    Am I missing anything major??

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Get a virtual fax service. You can try to force vendors to use email, but I guarantee you there will be one or two recalcitrants who want to fax you stuff.

    2. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Other things – sometimes you do need to call a vendor, or the vendor needs to call. Figure out how you want that to work while remote. Email is not always appropriate.

      A lot of what you’re going to run into is going to take time and patient redirection, along with consequences for not following the new process. ALL emails must go through the centralized email – and people will email the specific individuals anyway. You need to correct that, from the start.

      Many vendors are going digital anyway. If you can get invoices/statements electronically, do so. Otherwise, someone has to scan in the paper. Hopefully you can get the receiver to scan everything in, but if your AP staff need scanners don’t quibble, just get them. If the scan isn’t legible, it needs to be rescanned. You may have to train others in the organization.

      Your PO process should be converted to 100% computer based. Reqs input on the computer, approved on the computer, etc. If you have software that can do this, use it. If not, seriously consider getting something that will. You may need to adjust your process however. Don’t keep doing something just because that’s how its always been done. At the same time, don’t reject everything you’ve done in the past because there may be a good reason. You need to think critically.

      Switching payments to ACH as much as possible may assist. And also could be cheaper, depending on the fee structures.

      Expect problems and learning pains. This is a big transition. Do not penalize your people for the inevitable issues. When things come up, think through what’s going on. Remember that changing the process doesn’t happen in a vacuum – it will impact other areas, other processes. If you’re big enough to have internal audit and they’re decent, they can help you think through all this stuff. Or someone with process & control training. It’s a different way of thinking and it can help anticipate issues (if done properly).

      You’re going to want to keep close tabs on things for a while until you know you’ve got the bugs worked out. Not just your usual metrics either. Comparing the number of checks, amounts paid (in total and by vendor), etc can help you id if something isn’t getting through for payment. Think about the things that are the odd-ball processes now, make sure they’re accounted for. IE, if credit card statements are handled differently, then make sure you think them through in the new process. It might be helpful to pull reports of payments made, vendors paid, etc and actively write down HOW they are currently paid (who processes the payment, etc). That can help you id processes that need to be adjusted.

      Source: am an auditor. I’ve seen all sorts of processes break.

      1. Red*

        Thank you for this really thoughtful and detailed response! Our company just merged with another and they’ve put me in charge of putting together the process of moving AP to our facility (but still being the other company’s ap) however all of the physical purchases and stuff are going to the other facility and I am like *pikachu face*, essentially whomever gets saddled with their AP will be working remotely for the other company that merged with us.

        I especially loved the ideas for metrics to track how to ensure the new processes are working effectively! I’ve written highlights of everything so I can incorporate it into an effective transition process! Thank you again!

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Plan how you’re going to organize the electronic documentation. Build your filing structure. Establish naming conventions so you don’t have Sam over here filing llamasrus_po_073021 in a folder named “Purchase Orders” and Pat over there filing 20210730-po-dancingllamasinc in the “POs 2021” folder. Lock down your storage structure so Fergus McFumblefingers can’t accidentally drag the whole Purchase Orders folder into the RFPs folder by accident and Sally Sillyhead can’t second guess the structure and create six thousand new folders that complicate things and confuse people – limit who can create and delete folders. (Fergus is my particular bugaboo :-P at one point I had a batch script that would back up a certain couple of files to my computer every night because at least once a week Fergus would either delete the folder they were supposed to be in or drag it into one of the fifty other folders on the drive, ostensibly by accident but who really knows. :-P )

    4. Hillary*

      Digitize receiving records, especially if you don’t have an ERP. It can be as simple as a log:

      PO 12345 received 7/30/21 in full
      PO 12346 received 7/30/21 short 10 pcs item ABCD

      Depending on your system you may need a digital PO reconciliation process or workflow.

      I’d do weekly statements with your major vendors if any of them have the ability to shut you down. Monthly will work once you’re stable.

      Finally, tell them (and the relationship owners) what you’re doing and why. Switching from check to ACH is a great carrot to make them sympathetic and helpful during the transition.

      1. Red*

        This is a good idea. I wasn’t sure how we were going to handle receiving records and this sounds like a good solution. Thank you!

  84. Disco Janet*

    I’ve been part of a hiring committee this week. It’s my first time doing this, and I feel like I’m losing my mind. My bosses are SUCH jerks and I’m so glad I have super minimal contact with them. Things like making snarky comments about a nonbinary candidate. Other things too, but I’m trying to not make this too identifiable. I was raging internally. And also annoyed that they made it clear that were looking for the best candidate they can get for the lowest salary (we have a healthy budget – their priorities are just very skewed so it’s all about funneling as much towards athletic events as they can), etc.

    It was so frustrating. I pushed back as much as I felt I could, which wasn’t much because I don’t have tenure, meaning I can be let go without cause despite having a union, and a colleague who works in another building was let go this year – they didn’t say why, but we all knew it was basically political.

    I’m feeling really lousy that I couldn’t make more of a difference for some of these candidates. Honestly, none of the ones they were snarking on were particularly strong fits for the role, so that made it trickier – but the comments being made were just not okay and super disheartening. One the one hand, it makes me want to quit. On the other hand, if everyone who disagreed with my bosses (well, two of the three – there’s one good person boss!) quit, that would be awful for the vulnerable population we’re working with. Ugh.

    1. LTL*

      Don’t stay for the sake of protecting the vulnerable population. It sounds like the best thing for that population would be for the organization to have a reputation for toxicity (so they know to avoid it) or for the organization’s toxicity to cause it to implode from the inside (so they can no longer work with the population). It doesn’t sound like you’re in a position to fix the culture.

      1. Disco Janet*

        It is literally impossible for it to implode. I was trying to be vague for anonymity, but realized I posted about my job anyways on another comment here, so eh. I’m a teacher. The community the school is located in quite red and cares not one bit about this. But I would like to do better by their children, who are by and large great kids. And the kids who are from minority groups really need teachers who support them, especially living in this community.

    2. Flower necklace*

      You can always hope for turnover, I suppose. When I started (also a teacher, working with a vulnerable population), I wasn’t a fan of my bosses. Then there was turnover at the top and things got better. Leadership makes a huge difference at a school.

      1. Disco Janet*

        This is what I’m hoping for. I’m told told that our last principal and superintendent were significantly worse (like, my coworkers who have been around longer refer to it as “the dark ages” – yikes!)

  85. Jenessa*

    Like many others, my team has gone through major changes over the past year. One person on my team has been visibily struggling with a lot of these changes, which have left him with an arguably more difficult manager to work with and a much larger workload. Our work doesn’t overlap at all, so the only thing I’ve been able to do is show support. After he vented to me about some very valid frustrations a while back, I empathized and told him that he could talk to me anytime.

    Well…he’s taken me up on that offer. Over the past couple of months, he’s been complaining more and more openly to me about increasingly petty things. Several of his vents have included snide comments about staff members sitting only a few feet away from us. I was extremely uncomfortable with this, but couldn’t remove myself from the situation since he came directly to my desk to talk to me and kept going even when I turned my body away from him and focused on my computer screen. I try to give fairly noncommittal answers, but I’ll probably need to work with some of the people he was criticizing soon and am worried that they might now have a negative image of me by association. Last week, when he was showing some uncharacteristic anger at minor tasks and I truly could not think of anything else to say in response, I asked him point blank if he was okay. I was again just wanting to show support, but this did not go over well. He walked away from me and hasn’t spoken to me since except to say good morning and goodbye.

    It feels awkward, but I have to admit that it’s also been kind of a relief not to worry about being pulled into inappropriate conversations in the office. I think it will be easy enough to repair our relationship by talking to him, but how can I do this while maintaining some boundaries? He and I need to have a good working relationship, but I really, really don’t want to open myself back up to Trash Talk Hour again. I know I’ve probably made him sound bad, but he’s a highly valued team member and he never acted like this before.

    1. ferrina*

      Do you want a relationship with him right now? He sounds, well, not good to be around. I hear that he’s going through a hard time, but you’ve been more than supportive. He sounds like he’s been slowly escalating. I get that he’s going through a hard time, but that doesn’t give him license to be an insensitive jerk. You can be in pain and still be sensitive to other people. You can be out of spoons without resorting to a knife.

      All you did was ask him if he’s okay. He waaay over-reacted. It’s on him to come back to you if he wants this relationship repaired. If you go out of your way to repair it, that will likely be interpreted as an apology and a tacit acceptance that you are okay with his behavior. It’s not a good foundation for boundaries, and he’ll keep pushing them as long as you keep making repairs.

      Just be polite and professional, say a friendly “Good morning,” but don’t put more energy in to this. When he’s ready to drop his grudge, he’ll respond, but it’s not on you to nurse his feelings.

  86. Trippychick*

    My 16 year old daughter just started her first retail/fast food job. She’s working 6-7 hour shifts and isn’t getting a break at all, even though the handbook states they get a 15 minute break if they work 6 or more hours. She says that she can take a break but they’re really busy and no one else is taking one. I think it’s really important for her physical/mental health to have a break where she can sit down for a minute and eat a snack. There’s at least 20 employees per shift. I’ve never worked retail/fast food, so any tips on what she can say to get a break but still seem like a team player? (And really, so all the staff can get a break.) I’ve already told her Ask A Manager would not approve!

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      I also don’t approve, but this is common in food service, especially fast food. Is it a chain or a franchise, because that affects who she can bring it up with.

      Also, check your state’s child labor laws. Since she’s under 18, they could be in violation.

      1. The Rural Juror*

        I think it would be a violation. I remember having a retail job at 16-17 and HAVING to stop and take those breaks, even if I was slammed. Our managers would cover for us to be sure we took those mandated 15, 30, or hour breaks (depending on the length of our shift). I know food service is a little different, but it sounds like management needs to make some adjustments so they stop violating the law.

    2. Red*

      What state are you in? I’m pretty sure at 6 or more hours she gets a 30 minute unpaid lunch! But also the company is required to provide a break and she’s obligated to take it otherwise they’re getting set up for a lawsuit down the line. Does she have a manager she could bring this up with? “Hi Manager! I just wanted to check in with you about a practice I noticed. Many employees, myself included, frequently skip our breaks because we’re busy and feel obligated to keep working. Is there a way to ensure we’re all getting our scheduled breaks? I feel this would help overall employee productivity.” Or something similar.

      1. AnonPi*

        Exactly! We had one group where I work get in trouble because they used that as a bragging point (willing to work through lunch) and they were all reprimanded. Notice went out to everyone to remind us that once we got to the 6 hour mark we were required to take 30 mins no ifs ands or butts. And in our state a 15 min break would be required too (2 of them if she worked 8 hours).

    3. Me*

      It’s common, and illegal.

      That said at 16 it’s a fine line of letting them handle their stuff and stepping in. Mine is 20 so I’ve definitely been there. My inclination is I would encourage her to report the lack of break to the appropriate authorities and I would encourage her to insist on her breaks, but the fact is if you push it, she probably won’t do it and will just say she is taking breaks to shut mom/dad up :)

    4. OyHiOh*

      So there are strict rules about 16/17 year old student employees. Limits on number of hours a day, number of hours a week, how late they can work on school nights vs weekends, and breaks. Your daughter should speak to a manager. She should remind the manager that she’s a 16 year old employee (they forget, honest, they really do) and go in armed with the relevant information printed from your state’s department of labor. If that conversation doesn’t fix the problem, she should file a complaint with the state department of labor. That move won’t win her friends, but the rules for high school age students are in place for reasons and if she doesn’t resolve this now, and intends to keep the job when school starts, it will get worse.

    5. Disco Janet*

      There is nothing she can to fix this AND still seem like a team player. This is unfortunately not uncommon (I hear about it all the time from my teen students), and other AAM commenters have given good advice on how to tackle it. But you’re basically asking “how can I get this unreasonable person to behave reasonably, AND get them to be happy that I’m insisting they change?” You probably can’t have both. I’d suggest she talk to some coworkers and see if others want a change too – strength in numbers and all that.

    6. aseyssel*

      Basically, I think she’ll have to ask for a break. She should pick a good time for a break, when there’s a lull in business but there is still adequate coverage, then lock her cash drawer, remove her headset if she’s wearing one, find someone who can cover her break, and go to the shift manager, floor manager, or whoever is running the floor. “Is now a good time for my break?” “Can I take my break? Rohnda is covering the window.” Most likely, I think they’ll say OK, that it’s not a good time and send her later. There’s a chance it won’t go well, since she’s not noticing other people taking their breaks. I sure as heck have run into a lot of shift leaders who thought things like asking for their break instead of waiting for it were challenges to their authority, but there are also plenty of parts of the day when you legitimately can’t take a break. Really, it should be the job of whoever is running the shift to make sure all the breaks are given, AND the job of whoever is scheduling to make sure there is coverage for everyone to get their breaks, but forgetting (or “forgetting”) to give out breaks is really common, especially if the shift manager hasn’t been given guidance or developed the judgement yet. She might have to decide whether it’s worth it to her to approach the GM (or equivalent), but since it sounds like it’s an oversight because it’s not part of the daily routine, I think she should start with just asking.

  87. Donkey Hotey*

    OK, I just had to share. Posting for popcorn and sympathy.

    I work at a teapot manufacturing facility. I document the teapots, and also keep track of the camera which both myself and the teapot makers use to document their pots. The fine folks I work with have lovely personalities and are very capable at their jobs and yet they can easily be stumped by such cutting-edge technology as a 20 year old digital camera. I am getting ready to take my first big vacation this fall (out of the office for a whole week – yes, I know). I decided to write up a quick troubleshooting guide to prevent the headache of returning to find no photos taken. Quick little four page thing, with pictures. If this happens, do this. If that happens, do that. Printed it and put it in the drawer with the camera in an envelope reading “Is something wrong with the camera? Read this.”

    By chance, I had a stomach bug of some sort and was out on Wednesday this week. I return to work on Thursday and before I reach my desk, I have three people tell me that something is wrong with the camera. I check it. It’s fine. I ask each of them what they thought was wrong with the camera. They said they didn’t experience a problem, but were told by Fergus (their supervisor) that there was a problem with the camera. I go to Fergus.
    Me: Hey, I hear there’s something wrong with the camera. What’s up?
    Fergus: I don’t know. I just saw the note in the drawer that there was something wrong.
    Me: The note that asks, “Is something wrong with the camera, question mark”?
    Fergus: Yeah, that one.
    Me: So, your takeaway was that the camera was broken?
    Fergus: Yes.

    Tech writers, take note: In most circumstances, if there is a problem with reading comprehension, your first approach should be there is something wrong with your writing. This is not one of those circumstances.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Hah!!! Either Fergus must be used to reading and hearing lots of passive-aggressive statements, or he has no idea how punctuation works.

    2. PollyQ*

      Sorry, but I’m kinda Team Fergus here. “Camera FAQ” or “Camera Troubleshooting” would’ve been a better title, IMO.

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      To be fair, I can see Fergus thinking someone else experienced a problem and left that note for you meaning “can you check on the camera?” … but the fact that he, what, announced it to everyone? talked about it so much that multiple people heard and thought there was a serious issue? and not a single person actually tried to figure out the problem is quite something.

    4. Girasol*

      Sending sympathy your way and throwing a popcorn at you. If you’ve done a good troubleshooting instruction set, how about a bounty for anyone who can find a flaw in it? That is, anyone who can demonstrate that they have followed the instructions as written and still the camera fails, gets a chocolate bar. You might get more people to actually read the instructions in hope of proving them wrong.

    5. Workerbee*

      Your statement seemed clear to me. The “Read this” at the end should have clarified things even for the people who skipped over the question mark and meaning of the first part. And, you know, actually read the guide and therefore known it was for troubleshooting.

  88. Nervous New Grad*

    Suggestions for how to chat with coworkers about a sibling who is a professional athlete?
    For context, I am definitely the youngest person on my team. My coworkers are mostly all parents and have large families and so family is a popular topic of conversation whenever there is small talk. My sister is training full time to be a professional athlete, and I checked with her and she does not want me to mention her career to my coworkers (understandably so, she’s been working towards this profession most of her life and no longer tells most people she plans to go pro because it’s really tragic the amount of BS a kid/teenager takes from other people who have so much as seen the sport on TV and feel like they need to comment on her likelihood of success). It hasn’t come up at all yet and I don’t talk about my family much at work, but I just want to have some scripts preemptively in my back pocket in case it does come up. So just to be prepared, I’m just wondering if anyone has any good suggestions for moving the conversation along without getting into too much detail?

    1. Me*

      I wouldn’t even worry about it. Even among pro athletes very few are super well known.

      Should it happen, a simple, oh, yes to me she’s just my sister, will work as a response to just about anything. So anyway how is blah change the topic. If they push an, I don’t want to discuss my personal like at work on repeat should do it.

      1. Disco Janet*

        It’s doesn’t sound like she is a pro yet, just training to be one. So it doesn’t seem like name recognition would be a concern at all. More like if people ask what the sister does and she says she’s training as a XYZ athlete, that the person will make comments about how hard that is and how she might not make it.

        Honestly though OP, this sounds like a non-issue to me. Not many people are asking their coworkers about their sibling’s careers – well, unless you talk about your sibling a bunch at work.

        I can see it getting weird if you’re talking about her and someone asks, and you just…refuse to answer because she doesn’t want you to mention it? Just say she’s a student. She’s in training, so…kinda true.

        1. Nervous New Grad*

          Yes, exactly this. I probably should’ve clarified name recognition isn’t a problem, she’s still training and was just starting to play some pro events before COVID halted all of them. As a more “entry level” athlete the problem is more that people are very annoying about making comparisons with the famous ones/impatiently asking if she’s making money yet or going to play more pro events without knowing any of the context about how the pro events actually work, especially with the pandemic/insinuating that she won’t make it if she doesn’t win big soon/etc. so she understandably just avoids those conversations as much as possible and I try to support her as much as possible.

          And thanks for the reassurance, you’re right that it probably is a non-issue. I just wanted to be prepared in case it ever did come up since family is a pretty popular conversation topic in my workplace, and if it did come up I don’t think I could easily give a different answer on the spot haha.

          1. PollyQ*

            If you’re ever asked what her work is, “She’s working on some personal projects right now” might be a good answer, and if anyone follows up, I think you’re fine to say, “She’s a private person, so I’m not going to go into details.”

          2. Hiring Mgr*

            Ask your sister.. you said she’s the one who doesn’t want you to mention it so she can also provide the cover story :)

            1. Nervous New Grad*

              I did, she suggested just saying she’s a student and didn’t seem interested in coming up with anything beyond that, and that seems to be a popular suggestion so if anyone does ask I’ll probably roll with that :) I just wanted to see what other alternative suggestions people had in case I found anything I thought would work really well in conversation

              1. fhqwhgads*

                I don’t even know if any of my coworkers have siblings, let alone what the siblings do, so you probably don’t need more in your back pocket than what you’ve already got.

    2. ferrina*

      “Yes, my sister is a professional athlete. It definitely makes sibling competitions really unfair.”

      for dodging the subject:
      “She lives in City. She does several things, but it’s kind of complicated and honestly I don’t fully understand it. But what about you? Tell me more about your Awesome Sibling!”
      If they push:
      “Yeah, I don’t think I could do it justice with my explanation. Let’s talk about [different subject]”

    3. Ginger Baker*

      I can probably count on both hands the number of times I have mentioned my sister at work, and she *lives with me* and was the primary caregiver of my children for years. You can absolutely just not volunteer information about [any number of topics] and no one will ever notice or care, especially if you either a) ask them follow-up questions about things they mentioned or b) just have other topics you are happy to talk about (The Magic Of Excel, how and why everyone should use Outlook rules, “ummmm did you realize X walks around the office barefoot, that’s…weird right?”, and discussions about the coffee machine have all been topics I can and have gone on about at length, along with any number of specific work discussions).