open thread – July 9-10, 2021

It’s the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about (that includes school). If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please do not repost it here, as it may be in my queue to answer.

{ 1,129 comments… read them below }

  1. Potential Podcaster*

    Hi all. I have a slightly legal question for people who are employed in a specific field but also do projects, outside of your employer, in that field. I work in a very niche part of education, let’s say I’m a student athlete admissions expert for prestigious colleges and I’m employed by an employer that does work with college admissions. My employer only works with very specific students, but my knowledge-base could benefit many students and people working with students outside of our population. Let’s say for my job I only work with soccer and basketball athletes but from my experience I have an in-depth knowledge of dozens of other sports and their admission processes, but that information is just sitting in my head being unused.

    I’m part of multiple professional development organizations and member networks and there are regularly questions that come up from admissions professionals that I’m able to support with due to my expertise. There seems to be a need in my field and I’ve been wanting to either start a newsletter or a podcast to share information and resources.

    I don’t want to do this newsletter or podcast as a representative of my employer, I want to do it on my own. This isn’t something that I’m doing with the intention of making money, just something I have wanted to do for a while but would not turn down the opportunity to make money on it (on the very slim chance that would happen).

    I know that I can’t use any company resources to do this, like my company computer or work on it during company time but are there other things I need to consider? I’m not planning on mentioning my employer by name, but a lot of the connections that I’ve made and people I will ask to be sources or guests are people I work with, have worked with or met through a work event.

    Is this something I need to ask permission to do? I’d love to hear advice from others who have done this.

    1. May Flowers*

      I’m not a lawyer, but I am also in an education-related field. One of my colleagues did something similar to what you are describing. We work in one specific subject area (say, athletics). She also has a lot of expertise in a different subject area (say, math). So, she started her own blog about math and did not reference anything about our employer or her other work. Somehow our employer discovered it anyway and they were very irate. Evidently she was supposed to disclose to our employer anything she posts on educational topics/forums where she uses her name, since the work we do is “business-that-supports K-12 school districts” and it is important for customer-facing employees to manage their image/reputations accordingly. She was required to remove her blog. It turned out to be part of the fine print in our contracts. So, having seen a friend go through that experience, I’d say you probably would be safest by running your idea by your manager before heading out to begin, or reading your contract very, very carefully.

      1. Potential Podcaster*

        Thanks for sharing, this is a worry. Did your friend ever restart her blog?

        1. Former Child*

          I’m wondering if you have to use your name or could you be “anonymous”?
          If your contract bans it does it specify it even if you aren’t named?
          And would you be willing to do it anonymously? You could own up to it if you left your job, if you later wanted to.

    2. Zephy*

      It’s probably worth taking a quick look through your employee handbook to see if there’s anything in there about moonlighting, use of proprietary information, etc. Do you get the sense that your manager would probably shut it down or otherwise cause problems for you if you were to mention wanting to start a podcast about your industry?

      1. Potential Podcaster*

        I’m not sure if they would shut it down, I guess that’s what I’m afraid of? Or that they would only allow me to do it as a project for my employer which would take the creative control away from me which is a big part of me wanting to do it. I’d also like this to be mine instead of my employer’s.

        1. Anononon*

          Is there a reason why you can’t discuss this with them before doing it? Following the “better to beg forgiveness than ask permission” saying seems like it could be pretty risky in this scenario.

          1. Potential Podcaster*

            Based on everything that people have said, I’m now going to ask HR/boss permission first. I think I just got ahead of myself and got really excited and have mapped out topics and sources and if the powers that be say no, I’ll be pretty disappointed.

    3. TPS reporter*

      My organization has specific policies around this that do require you to have permission if the activity is related to your work. It’s not like say you’re a data analyst and your blog is about carpentry. Most companies do care about you working even on your own time in something related as a potential conflict of interest/commitment. You should be able to find something in your policies and I do recommend talking to HR or your manager in advance.

    4. Another Michael*

      I work in higher educations as well, and have to be honest that the example you’ve used is making this hard to evaluate. Admissions and athletics are very sensitive, especially in light of the Rick Singer/Operation Varsity Blues situation. If your real-life work is similarly sensitive it might be something that causes more problems than it’s worth.

      That being said I have a colleague with a work related podcast and it doesn’t seem to have been an issue for her. I’d use your knowledge of your employer as a gauge. If they found your podcast as a surprise after the fact how would they react? Would that reaction have been mitigated if you’d given them a heads up? And, as mentioned about, is the topic one that’s going to be sensitive and need particular nuance?

      1. Potential Podcaster*

        I came up with the college athlete example late last night and did not realize I was basically writing Rick Singer’s job! Yikes. That was not intentional. I guess the lesson learned is try not to come up with comparable job analogies when you are falling asleep? I was just trying to pick something that was similar enough and niche enough that people could give accurate advice without outing myself.

        1. Another Michael*

          Yes! There’s so much in education that could be sensitive – admissions, development, etc. – so I couldn’t help but wonder if there was some type of correlation. Glad to hear that’s not the case!

    5. Brave Little Roaster*

      Hmmm I’m interested in something like this, too. It’s pretty normal in my industry for people to do this kind of thing as freelancers, but I don’t see it as much from people with FT jobs unless they are the business owner. My company definitely does not have any contract or written policy against doing something like this. Do you know any colleagues outside of your employer who have done this sort of thing and could give you their thoughts?

      1. Potential Podcaster*

        I have a former colleague who did something similar with their own niche topic but ran into issues of ownership because they had used their work issued computer to do the work, and had done some of the work during company time. I’m planning on talking with them about this as well before I do anything.

    6. Pop*

      Did you have to sign some sort of conflict of interest policy when you were hired, or is there one in your employee handbook? We have one, and part of it is requiring any outside related work to be disclosed to my employer. The theory is that is within their right to say no, that’s not okay, but I highly doubt my organization would do so. I would absolutely not do this without checking with your boss first.

    7. Kimmy Schmidt*

      Higher Ed is real weird with stuff like this. I bet it will end up being fine, but check with your Employee Handbook and supervisor first. At my institution, we have to fill out a conflict of interest form to disclose external activities. Most employees can still create other projects, we just have to let the appropriate, official channels know.

    8. Anonya*

      Do you have to disclose any conflicts of interest? That’s pretty standard in my corner of higher ed, so I would proceed with caution before pursuing it.

    9. Eeyore's Missing Tail*

      Definitely check. When I was in my agriculture at a land-grant institution about a decade ago, many field techs and even some professors ran consulting businesses on the side. I remember that they had to be super careful making sure they they followed the rules, one being that they couldn’t conduct business in our state.

    10. Lily Rowan*

      My friend who works in higher ed and has a podcast says to talk to your supervisor and/or the college’s marketing department, since even if you’re not doing it on work time/mentioning your affiliation these days it would take 0.37 seconds for a listener to figure out where you work. If you’ve got a podcast about your needlepoint hobby or whatever then they don’t need to know.

    11. I'm just here for the cats*

      I would check with HR. I know at my university certain positions are required to disclose any other work (I,e your a math professor but you tutor high school kids on the side). But that might just be because we are a state university too.

  2. Software Catch-22*

    Job searching has made me realize that my company is seriously behind the times, and I need to update my software skills. I’ve done trainings on my own time, but the types of software I’m expected to know (version control, PLM, etc.) require company data to function. There’s only so much I can play around with, without having access to real-world scenarios.

    I’m stuck. I need a job to get this experience, and experience to get these jobs. I’ve applied for entry-level jobs that are higher-tech than my old-fashioned company, but I’m sure seeing an applicant with 15+ years experience raises a red flag. Unsurprisingly, I never hear back.

    Has anyone broken out of this Catch-22?

    1. Watry*

      I have not (and I find it the most annoying part of job-hunting, honestly) but are you acknowledging the experience disconnect in your cover letter?

    2. Warrant Officer Georgiana Breakspear-Goldfinch*

      Version control you can absolutely learn on your own with out company data, unless I’m seriously misunderstanding what you mean. Which vcs do you need? There are a ton of git tutorials out there.

      1. Software Catch-22*

        ACAD and equivalents, for use with mechanical and electrical drawings. Lots of physical product IP involved, thus not an open source type of thing.

        1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

          Are there any local college courses on the software and use of it you could take? A lot of time text book publishers and college courses have access to valid data sets for courses that will be using proprietary software like that, specifically so they can get actual experience with it.

          Might not even need to take/audit the course, if you’re a strong enough self-learner; a lot of the college texts include access to the practice data via a license key, so you might be able to just buy a copy of the text book from somewhere, and get access that way.

          1. I'm just here for the cats*

            I second this. My university has professional development and extended learning online courses that cover a wide variety of topics. They partner with Education 2 Go (Ed2Go) to offer these courses. I’m not familiar with what you’re looking for but check ed2go out to see if they have anything.

            When I needed to learn Access and other database skills to create a database for work I took courses through my library which also partners with Ed2Go. The courses had real data and information to use.

        2. Lucy P*

          Have you tried Linkedin learning? They have lots of courses including AutoCAD. The library system for our county has an agreement with them which allows free access. This might be available in your area too.

          Just out of curiosity, how different are the versions in the features? We use CAD too. Our versions are old enough that they pre-date the mandated subscription model.

      1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

        Yup. A contributor role on some open source projects can go a long way towards helping you to practice the skills needed, and also give you something to showcase as an accomplishment, if your field is one where those are valued.

    3. Emilia Bedelia*

      What kind of roles are you looking for? Are you in an administrator role where you’re expected to be a system expert, or are you in a different role where you use the software as part of your job, but it isn’t your main focus? If you are not in a “system expert”-type role, 15+ years experience is probably not “entry level” – if you have any experience in using and learning software systems, you should be able to leverage that. Even if you have worked in a paper system, the concept of document control/management is pretty transferable. I work in an industry that uses these kinds of software, and it’s pretty much expected that anyone new will have to learn how we do things – but if you’ve used Agile, you can probably figure out Windchill, and vice versa.

      Any company that’s using PLM/doc management software will have its own procedures and processes that you’ll have to learn, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re “entry level”. Have you tried applying to higher level positions?

    4. Gaia*

      Have you checked out data . gov?

      There are massive and quite varied data sets there that you may be able to use to imitate company data. I used it to learn several software programs that require “real world” data to truly master.

      1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

        … I never knew about this resource. That’s really interesting, and a super useful resource that I’m going to now flag for my colleagues. Thanks!

        1. Gaia*

          You’re welcome. It has some really random and obscure data sets and it is all available for free use.

        1. Gaia*

          More people should know about it. It is amazing the data that is available out there!

        2. Carla*

          Yes I used it a lot in grad school, when you had to find some random test data set or the other!

    5. user1835*

      Youtube tutorials.

      In some cases there are trial versions and you can get data/ projects online too.

      I don’t know much about PLM and similar, but the situation you describe is very common. Here in Europe I faced it after graduating when I wanted to learn SAP and then Cloud technologies. Anything related to architecture, ETL is also an example of the problem you describe: very difficult to learn out of corporate context.

    6. Lisa*

      Depending on the software involved… you might be able to find a nonprofit that could benefit from using the software, and if they don’t have it/can’t afford it, a lot of software companies give their product (along with tutorials) to nonprofits for free. If you partner with the non-profit, you tell them you will help them get the license and do the implementation, but they will understand that you are learning as you go. It’s helpful to go with a smaller, less-bureaucratic nonprofit. The labor law loophole (in the US) where nonprofits are allowed to let you work for free can open up all kinds of opportunities to volun-train if you find the right org to partner with. I did this mid-career to grow skills and my college-age daughter is doing it now to create “unpaid” internships without having to pay college tuition. It will take some legwork and networking to find the right fit, so it’s not a sure thing, but worth a try.

  3. Bookerbeth*

    I’m curious as to the line of how much FMLA can protect your job. I’m not involved in this situation but I’ve been hearing details from my boss and wanted to hear other thoughts.

    An employee, Alan, has FMLA for a long-term medical issue that has him out of work unexpectedly about once a week, with only a few hours notice that he’ll be out. He has medical documentation for all this so, though the last minute absences put a strain on his coworkers, they can generally get by with the work and just have to deal with it. The issue is that Alan has recently been asking for more responsibility and a potential promotion. There are a few other reasons why Alan’s manager does not want to give into his requests, but chief among them is his unexpected leave. We work in academics so it’s not just a meeting that can be easily rescheduled; Alan wants to be responsible for classes with schedules that are set in stone. They can’t have a substitute dedicated solely to him for his frequent FMLA leave. But Alan has started saying that it’s discrimination against his FMLA status, maybe even ADA discrimination, to not promote him and now HR is probably going to step in.

    So I guess my question is, where is the line drawn between helping someone FMLA/ADA protection to succeed in their job versus what the job requires to function?

    1. Reba*

      At least where the ADA is concerned, there is no firm line but rather the “interactive process” in which both sides negotiate and try to reach compromises. I think the university would have grounds to say that frequently cancelling classes at last minute is incompatible with core job functions. A possible compromise that comes to mind is that Alan would only be assigned to co-teach courses, where the other faculty member could cover absences, and ideally get to skip some days of their own to balance. Or maybe like an advanced TA. But then again the number of co-taught courses that one department could support is likely limited, so that may not be a reasonable accommodation (it’s not reasonable for a department to create courses they don’t need, or hire a TA they otherwise wouldn’t so that one faculty member can have them).

      It’s not necessarily a bad thing to have HR involved in this.

      The AAUP has a guide to FMLA for university faculty that could be a good reference.

      1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

        Alternatively – a lot of schools have been offering online/asynchronous courses. Could Alan be able to teach those courses? Where his intermittent absences would be much less or possibly no issue.

      2. BRR*

        Yeah I’m curious if the “interactive process” has taken place at all. I’m sure there is some precedent if class schedules are considered an essential function.

    2. Snailing*

      From my understanding, FMLA helps protect your job at the same level as you had before you went on the leave. This could be different with intermittent leave, but I believe the employer’s only real duty is to not demote him for this leave, but it doesn’t necessarily have any bearing on promotion.

      1. Observer*

        They cannot penalize him at all for taking FMLA leave. This situation is a bit different because actual predictable presence is a bona-fide requirement of the job. But, if that were not the case, then they could not turn him down just because of the absences.

    3. Eva*

      Yikes! Not and HR person, but I did have to go out of work on FMLA for two months and then used the remainder, much like Alan, except it was scheduled weekly in 4 hour increments for PT and chemotherapy. That being said, I always looked at FMLA as a perk, not a protection of any kind. It’s something I was entitled to during a major life event that took me out of work for a while, and I really appreciated it.

      And yes, cancer is a disability under the ADA, but my understanding is that the ADA affords me the right to ask for special accommodation BUT it does not require my company to provide me with anything that causes them financial hardship nor does it state that I do not have to follow the same rules as everyone else in my job position. For instance, in the year that I was ill and needed FMLA I worked for a company that gave raises according to a meritocracy. All of my teammates who covered for me got raises. Because of my attendance record, a consideration in a meritocracy, I did not. (not because of cancer, let’s be clear about that) Now, I did receive special accommodation of a modified work schedule during recovery and my understanding is that, if I was not going to be able to come back to a 40 hour work week (attendance being a job requirement) the ADA would not protect me from being fired. I don’t think that’s how that works. I think if your boss says “You have cancer so I’m firing you.” the ADA needs to be involved, but if you aren’t doing the job at the level required, you’re on your own.

      And a promotion to boot? Oh, Alan. I don’t think so, buddy.

      I’m sure there’s an HR professional out there who will correct me if I’m wrong – but I don’t think I am. I think the ADA & FMLA made it possible for me to get back on my feet, it did NOT entitle me to anything beyond that.

      1. Anononon*

        FMLA is certainly a protection (for those who qualify it). I view a perk as something that employers offer but aren’t required to do so. FMLA is a federal law that qualifying employers are required to follow. Generally speaking, one shouldn’t feel any special appreciation that their company is following the law.

        1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

          Yeah, I’ve worked places that tried to claim that contributing to our Social Security was a benefit there. Sheesh. It’s not a benefit if it’s government mandated.

      2. Observer*

        I worked for a company that gave raises according to a meritocracy. All of my teammates who covered for me got raises. Because of my attendance record, a consideration in a meritocracy, I did not.

        That’s almost certainly illegal. They cannot penalize you for taking FMLA protected leave, and therefore they cannot hold your absences against you.

        You may look at FMLA as a perk, but it is most definitely not the intent. It is explicitly intended as a protection for people dealing with illness etc.

        1. Brownie*

          Several years ago I got dropped from Exceeds Expectations to Meets Expectations on an annual performance review due to intermittent FMLA absences. I wish at the time I’d known that was illegal as it meant I didn’t get any merit increase in my salary that year because I was only Meets. Since then I’ve heard from others that the same thing happened to them, not just at my company, but several others, so it seems to not be common knowledge that FMLA absences can’t be factored into performance reviews.

          1. MeritCOL*

            Is your merit on top of COL or is that the only raise you get? I hate when you don’t get even a COL raise even if you meet expectations.

          2. Observer*

            so it seems to not be common knowledge that FMLA absences can’t be factored into performance reviews.

            A lot of companies are ignorant. And others bank on the ignorance of their staff. But, no, that’s not legal.

        2. Pickled Limes*

          Observer is right. The protections written into the FMLA prevent employers from considering FMLA covered absences when they’re determining how well you did or did not do at your job.

          I was on FMLA earlier this year, and the timing of my leave meant that I missed a specific project that was supposed to be a big part of how my performance for the year would be evaluated. But since it was FMLA covered leave, my boss couldn’t just say “Pickled Limes didn’t do her assigned project so she doesn’t meet expectations this year.” They had to trade my project with one of my coworkers and evaluate me on the project I was actually present to perform.

          If you’re out for the full 12 weeks covered by FMLA, for evaluation purposes, those 12 weeks of absence do not exist and can have no bearing on how you are compensated for your work.

      3. Not quite*

        it does not require my company to provide me with anything that causes them financial hardship nor does it state that I do not have to follow the same rules as everyone else in my job position.

        Your understanding of the ADA is incorrect, I’m not sure what it would even due if employers could avoid all accommodations that cost money or impacted rules. Employers are protected against *undue* hardship, not any and all hardship, and rule changes could easily be part of someone’s reasonable accommodation. (For example, many cashier positions have rules against sitting during one’s shift, but if someone had a disability that rendered them unable to stand, allowing them to sit would be a reasonable accommodation.)

      4. I don’t post often*

        A “perk”? Umm. No. It’s federal law. FMLA ensures that your manager can’t say “you have poor attendance because you have cancer so I’m firing you.” Assuming you have complied with federal law.

    4. Anonymous healthcare person*

      I am in Canada so this may not be helpful. But not promoting someone because of a disability in Canada is worth checking into as a potential human rights violation. Tldr, this person should cover their bases by talking to an employment lawyer, if they are being denied a promotion because of a disability. Academics here are also often unionized, so the union is a good resource. In Canada we also have provincial human rights offices that are free to talk to about issues such as these.

    5. JustTellMe*

      Intermittent FMLA leave can be really tricky. Unlike the ADA, FMLA does not take into account whether or not the leave impedes the person’s ability to complete their job’s essential functions. As long as the employee/employer are covered under FMLA and the reason is FMLA qualifying, then the employee can take that leave and cannot be terminated, disciplined, or otherwise retaliated against for taking leave. They aren’t invincible though – an employee can still be disciplined or fired for misconduct or poor performance unrelated to the FMLA leave. Regarding the promotion, if the employee is qualified then it would be considered retaliatory if the employer factored his need for FMLA leave into their decision to not promote. As hard as it is, the employer would just need to figure out ways to account for his unexpected absences until his FMLA leave runs out, or the reason for leave no longer exists. After FMLA leave is done, if the condition qualifies as a disability, then intermittent leave could be considered a reasonable accommodation as long as the employee was still able to complete his essential job functions.

      1. LavaLamp*

        This. Having been lectured by an HR person about how inconvenient my intermittent FMLA was. . . I may have responded by accidentally on purpose sharing my medical information with her to make her feel bad. People don’t handle this situation well a lot of the time. Some do, but in my experience most don’t. . It sucks. I hated constantly having someone new in HR trying to prove themselves by trying to fiddle with my approved leave thinking they were catching me out for lying or something.

        1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

          It’s shocking how many HR people don’t understand FMLA. The HR person where I worked, when it was first implemented, acted like it was a threat. But he did the same with FLSA, so I guess “threat” was his go-to way of explaining anything government-mandated. He got particularly nasty regarding me seeing a workman’s comp doctor when I fell once.

    6. ToS*

      FMLA is for Leave. ADA Coordinators, or possibly the EEO office on campus can sort out the accommodation process or connect to the employee disability process. First – he must request the promotion/other work (not just talk about it) It’s fair to ask all qualified candidates How They Will Do An Adequate Job. See what his plan is. You may talk about instructional attendance/reliability policies as instructional continuity is related to academic integrity of the course via the department.

    7. allathian*

      From my understanding of the ADA at least, it only requires the employer to make reasonable accommodations, and not necessarily the accommodations requested by the employer. I honestly don’t see Alan’s requests as reasonable. But does your institution have asyncronous classes he could be responsible for?

  4. Kimmy Schmidt*

    Where do you keep your “hit by a bus” plan? I’ve been creating documentation about what my job does and where to ask questions, but I don’t know where that document should live so people can actually find it. In my org, this would be a very weird thing to keep on a shared drive or dropbox, but if I print it out I’m worried I’ll never update it again.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      My department literally has both a physical file drawer and a shared-drive file with stuff like this. We just had to make it A Thing and insist that people update/add to them as necessary so they’re not locked onto one person’s computer (although IT could get in if needed, but shared drive is easier).

      Do you have a drawer or file cabinet where you could keep an IN CASE OF EMERGENCY folder, that people might find it without too much looking?

    2. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Fixed things like the master decryption keys (I have one!) are kept, along with root passwords/codes to the security systems etc. in a locked safe in a location near the network security team.

      Everything ‘softer’ – I.e. stuff I know that isn’t passwords and changes a lot is kept on a OneNote document on my personal share on the network drive. That way, if something does happen to me the IT team can assign access to my account to someone else to get it.

    3. animaniactoo*

      Mine resides in bits and pieces all over our server, within the folders of the areas they pertain to. With links e-mailed to my co-workers.

      I refer to it more as my “making sure that everybody has this info if they need it”, which is more about the idea that I might take a vacation or have too much other work to do and somebody can sub in for me in those situations.

    4. A Simple Narwhal*

      My team has a shared OneNote notebook where we document all our processes. It’s a great way to make sure that no one person has all the knowledge on how to do something, it also makes a great reference for people in training to refer to.

      It sounds like this might not be an option for your company, maybe just keep it on your desktop and/or let your boss know that it exists just in case.

      …The cynical part of my brain is worried though that a bad boss might feel freer to get rid of you someday if they knew you had full documentation of how to do your job…maybe just keep the file on your desktop…

    5. DataGirl*

      Most orgs I have worked at have a shared drive where everyone has their own folder- most people don’t go into each other’s folders but they would have access in case of an emergency. I’d probably create a subfolder in there to store all those docs. In one org we had a ‘cross training’ folder on the Shared Drive where everyone put those kinds of documentations so we all knew where to go.

      1. Bex*

        This is how my team does it. The Managing Director and her EA/department admin have access to everyone’s folder. The other senior director and I have access the the MDs folder.

    6. TPS reporter*

      I’m in favor of transparency for many reasons- turnover, consistency, clarity. Everything I do from a process perspective is documented in our team wiki or Teams platform. Lots of people did think I was weird for doing it to start- like am I planning my exit?- but now they get it, love it and have copied it for their own roles.

    7. Generic Name*

      I’m a project manager, and I keep all my project notes on the company server in their respective files. I keep my general PM notes on the server in my “personal” folder that anyone has access to. Basically I don’t keep notes or information in a place that I’m the only one that has access to.

    8. Mockingjay*

      Put a reminder on your calendar for quarterly or semiannual updates, or whatever makes sense.

      It’s absolutely the thing to be kept on a share drive. I’ve found that people tend to resist using a share drive for its intended purpose because they feel proprietary about their work. But a how to/who does it document should be fine. It’s a central location you can point everyone to.

    9. chai latte*

      In my former job (where I ended up basically being hit by a bus, in that I had to quit with very short notice due to family circumstances and I was basically the only person who had any information about the entire account I managed) I kept all the info in the shared Google Drive. Policies, procedures, style guides (all of which I had authored, since there was nothing when I was hired!).

      When I did have to quit unexpectedly, I was very very glad that I was able to say “hi I’m sorry I’m leaving with no notice but all the info is in the shared Drive”

    10. 867-5309*

      I am surprised that your organization does not want these things on a shared drive. I keep everything on SharePoint, within the functional areas I manage. So for example, I have a contracts folder because I realized no one was saving vendor contracts and NDAs so my team puts all of those in that folder. Then I have a folder for “Strategy and Planning” and here is where I place process documents, alternatively, you could create an Operations folder.

      PS. Fun note – I now call it the “win the lottery plan” because it’s more positive and makes people laugh. “I have an operations manual in case I win the lottery because I’m not coming back.”

      1. Kimmy Schmidt*

        “Win the lottery plan” is actually what I titled mine too!

        It’s not necessarily that they don’t want it on a shared drive, it’s more like… we don’t use a shared drive. Not well, and not consistently. Even if I did put it there, I’m afraid no one would think to check it. No one else that I know of has any kind of documentation like this. I work in higher ed and we can be a bit behind the curve on stuff like this.

          1. Cranky Lady*

            I’m stealing this. I use “hit by a bus” for coworkers and “win the lottery” for clients or when “hit by a bus” is inappropriate. “Abducted by aliens” applies to all situations.

        1. Pocket Mouse*

          Maybe put it on the shared drive, and a physical note on your desk saying ‘if needed for coverage, refer to workflows and additional documentation at [path]’?

      2. Gaia*

        Yes! I always disliked “hit by a bus” because it is so negative and sad. I also use “win the lottery” because it is far more happy and people still get the point.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          When I’m feeling cheerful, I have been using a different phrase that I ran across on this site: “hit by the lottery bus. ”
          When I’m not, it’s “if I wake up with no sense of smell.”

      3. quill*

        It’s certainly more upbeat than the “when I get laid off” documentation that I’ve had to make for every contract job…

    11. The Crowening*

      I implemented a “references” section on our shared drive at my previous job. We managed a lot of processes so it was a good place to store those, and then whenever someone was going out on leave, or retiring, they put all their relevant and “just in case this comes up” docs in a folder under their name. Worked fine and was really easy to pull up reference documents and update them whenever we found out a process had changed.

    12. Joie de Vivre*

      I have my personal “hit by a bus” plan on my computer and a printed copy in a binder where my family can find it. If I update the plan, I print out a new copy. I don’t need to update it very often, so printing after each update it workable.
      I’ve also had my husband review the plan to make sure it is clear to him.

    13. Sled Dog Mama*

      My work “hit by a bus plan” is in the front of my policies and procedures binder. I update it once a year as part of our annual (legally required policy review). This one is pretty generic and but includes all the info that someone familiar with the office would need
      I also have a second binder that I call the “My job for dummies” Binder. That one has far more detailed step by step info on exactly how I do my job and begins with a step by step guide as to what to do if I become incapacitated. (I have some regulatory authority and am legally obligated to do a few a things by the state due to my position so my plan has to include who to notify and how to notify them that X person is taking over because I’m incapacitated.) I read through this and update once a quarter.
      This is one of the things that I find is better to keep as a hard copy, unless you know your department/company is really computer savvy and everyone would think to look on the shared drive or sharepoint.

    14. EH*

      My department uses an internal Confluence wiki to document our procedures because there are so many finicky details and phrasing snippets. It works pretty well, if any one of us wins the lottery and quits or something, the departmental wiki pages will be unaffected. Our tasks are all tracked in an internal ticketing system, too, so it’d be easy to see what the person was doing and pick up where they left off.

    15. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Is there no standard operating procedure policy at your company? For us, eh department is required to have their core procedures written out, and the whole thing is numbered and maintained by the QA Department.
      If there is nothing like this, call it pandemic preparedness and discuss it with your boss.

      1. Personal Best In Consecutive Days Lived*

        My “hit by a bus” plan is called [job title] SOP because I also refer to it if I forget something. I wrote this document based on everything it was important not to forget.
        If I actually get run over by a cement mixer IT will have to get it off my work computer though.

    16. Who Plays Backgammon?*

      I first of all didn’t tell anyone it existed. I stored it in an old directory from my previous job that none of my current colleagues ever accessed. I gave the file an obscure title that said nothing about what it was (say, “Fergus Gift List” as opposed to “Lama Sweater Design Procedures and Manual”). I kept a paper copy in the very back of my file drawer in a folder also labeled obscurely (“Cleaning Schedule”).

      I work in a place with people who hoard information so no one can do their job (yeah, real snarky). My boss was always making noises like she didn’t want me there, but I was the only one who could design lama sweaters so she needed me. So I was protecting myself.

  5. Private Online Portfolio*

    I’m looking for suggestions of sites to maintain a private online portfolio. I want something that will require the person viewing it to have specific credentials (perhaps just the precise URL, a password would be less ideal but still acceptable). I don’t want it to be indexed/searchable with a browser. I don’t want the content to be downloadable, only viewable.

    Anyone have this?

    1. Actual Vampire*

      My memory is that Squarespace offers all of these functions. (I’ve never personally had a squarespace site, but have helped manage one for my employer.)

    2. Montresaur*

      I used this on my Squarespace site when I was applying for jobs with multiple portfolios. I had permission from some clients to post my work for projects in development limbo as long as it wasn’t on any of my searchable / publicly accessible pages. So if I wanted prospective employers to see that work I just added a hyperlink to the page on my resume and boom! Super easy, everyone’s happy.

    3. Eden*

      Anything on the internet that is viewable is also downloadable for someone who is determined enough. Not sure how big of a problem it is for you, maybe you just don’t want it to be super easy, but it’ll always be possible.

    4. 867-5309*

      I host my portfolio on Squarespace and it is password protected.

      But, I think most of the dedicated online portfolio sites give you this option.

    5. Mental Lentil*

      A precise URL will not guarantee that it will not be indexed by a search engine. Good search engines will honor that request, but bad ones will not.

      Also, as Eden said, if it is viewable, it is downloadable. I use to do freelance web development work, and I had clients who disabled right click, which makes it difficult (but not impossible) for me to do my work. When I asked them to disable it, they said they didn’t want anyone to steal their work. If they didn’t disable it, I would disable it, and then charge more for the extra trouble occasioned.

      I mean, if nothing else, they can always just take a screenshot.

    6. Personal Best In Consecutive Days Lived*

      We had this exact problem at work and I recommend an FTP site. We went with SharePoint in the end, which could work for you too.

  6. Data Interview Help :o*

    Hi! I’m hoping anyone with report writing/data management experience could help me with some interview prep? It’s finally a chance for me to step up and I’m unbelievably nervous!
    I’ll probably be quizzed on topics about the collation, alayzying and validation of data and manipualting data sets as well as quality assurance. I’m probably overthinking but like to prepare for the worst so any hints, tips or possible questions would be appreciated!!

    1. LTL*

      Make sure you have a structured approach for any “how would you analyze/validate this data” questions. It might help to think through how you would go through validation if you received a random dataset. What are some initial checks you would do? Would you have any clarifying questions? Checks for text data vs numerical vs date?

      1. AndersonDarling*

        I’ve bombed on these open ended questions because I didn’t realize what was really being asked. I would effectively answer the question at a summary level, but the interviewer is really wanting to see your step by step process to make sure you know what you are doing. Give lots of details and talk about challenges faced while working through problems. It’s not just answering a question, it’s about proving that you know what you are doing.

    2. Hillary*

      More broadly – how do you work with your customers? How do you validate you understand the customer’s requirements? How do you implement best practices to give them what they actually want instead of what they think they want?

      One thing a lot of our analysts struggle with is presenting the same data to different levels of the org. A VP is going to want a very different view than a sourcing manager, and the line manager will want a third view. Getting into their heads is a huge differentiator.

    3. user1835*

      Your question is quite general. Report writing/ data management/ manipulating data can mean a lot.

      As other point out, a structured approach is important.

      I would also google interview experiences at the company (sometimes the simpliest solutions are the best).

  7. Quirky Employee*

    Is it possible to coach a direct report to be more intuitive, read the room, and be quick to think of solutions/think outside the box/apply previous knowledge to situations (instead of thinking so black and white)?

    I manage this individual and out of all the people I’ve managed over the last 8 years, he’s the most challenging. It’s not that he’s a bad employee or does bad work, he’s just so literal and cannot infer anything unless he’s told exactly what to do. And there’s no flexibility, his work style is “you do x in 3 days, then y in 4 days, then z in 5 days” and very process oriented and if anything is remotely different or strays from the norm, he just doesn’t know what to do. All the people at his level are expected to manage their own work, it’s not a position where a lot of oversight is needed.

    Age/new graduate is not a factor either, he’s in his late-thirties. He’s been in this position for 2 years. You might be saying to yourself, “it sounds like he’s not a good fit for the job.” No, no he’s definitely not, but he’s loyal and works hard, which is why I’ve kept him on.

    Is this man coachable? I’ve really just come to accept that he’s not, and continue to work with him in the way that I have been.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      From someone in her mid-40s who is not naturally good at any of this, but has improved with age/experience/desire to not let it hold her back so much: Maybe, leaning toward no.

      How interested does he seem in changing? There is almost certainly a limit to how much he can improve on this, but the odds are slightly better if he recognizes that it’s a problem and is proactive about fixing it than they are if he’s going through the motions because you told him to, but not driving it on his own.

      1. Quirky Employee*

        He’s always open to improving or changing, and when I’ve given him this feedback before, he says he will work on it but nothing really changes. I honestly don’t think he realizes that he’s doing it, or not doing what I’m asking.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          I think there is often a disconnect between wanting to change, or at least wanting the benefits that could come with having changed, and internalizing the need to change and the processes necessary to do so. I sounds like he vaguely wants the former but hasn’t at all grasped the latter.

          I assume you’ve pointed out to him that he’s been open before but that nothing has stuck? What solutions has he proposed for that (because he’s not going to get it if he doesn’t help generate solutions)?

        2. Mimi*

          One thing you could try is pointing out specific examples where this is a problem, and explaining what you did/would have done. It won’t be a magic solution, but “be more intuitive” isn’t really actionable feedback, whereas “I looked for documentation in X, considered similar system Y, and then googled ‘thingum'” is a template that could perhaps be applied to similar situations.

          1. Clogerati*

            This is the approach I take with my reports. The ones who have needed this type of coaching have always been entry-level so they’re a little more enthusiastic about learning and developing these skills, but it’s been very effective. One of my favorite things to do, when I have time, is to bring the report in question over when I have a situation that demands “reading the grey” and asking them what they would do and then showing them what I am going to do (or did) and walking them through my thought process. I’ve also seen them struggle with something and stepped in to say “This is how I am going to handle this and xyz is the thought process that led me to this and abc is the tool I used to inform this decision.” I also make sure to present things that go along with reading the room (e.g. this client has previously told me “123” which means they most likely will prefer we do 456 for them) as the tools that they are for the job. I think people who struggle with intuitiveness and “reading the room” have a hard time seeing these skills as just as useful and productive roadmaps to solutions as a flow chart or a clear step-by-step guide. Once you present these soft skills as a key component to reaching a solution it reframes what you can learn through these skills as valuable and necessary information.

        3. JustTellMe*

          Maybe have him start writing SMART goals with specific details on what he is going to do and when in order to improve on certain skills. For instance, “The next time I run into an unexpected problem, I will brainstorm 5 different potential solutions / ways this was handled in the past / potential paths forward. If I need assistance moving forward I will take these 5 ideas and discuss with my supervisor to determine the best choice.” I don’t know, something that you can come up with that will be measurable for him, and have specific dates when you will check in with him on it (1 month check ins, etc) and if improvement is not happening, perhaps modifying the goal.

          1. Lana Kane*

            This is a good idea. He can be open to change but he is going to need some tools. SMART goals can be a good roadmap. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound)

            1. Quirky Employee*

              I like this as well! And also the what-if scenarios. Sometimes he’ll call me with an issue, we’ll discuss a solution, then call me back 10 minutes later bc said solution didn’t work out for x reason (and then sometimes 2 or more calls after that… you get the picture).

          2. Budgie Buddy*

            THIS. Smart goals are useful in any situation, but in this case the employee’s problem is that he gets confused without specific instruction. No matter how many times OP tells him to “read the room” or “be more intuitive” he’s not going to have the faintest clue what the heck he needs to be doing.

            Being told “yeahh you’re slowing everyone down, but I can’t really specify what exactly you need to do/not do going forward” could undermine even a very gumption-y employee. Which this guy ain’t.

            TLDR: work with his need for/willingness to follow specific orders. Not against it.

      2. DataScientist*

        I have had 2 people on my team like this and I do not believe this is coachable. Most of that is because using examples to explain how to think through a problem normally leads to change only if that exact example presents itself again. Anything outside of the parameters that have been discussed is a totally new issue and thus must be discussed again.
        One person we were able to transfer into a more data focused role and that seems to work well – until they have to work with people and interpret what they are requesting into action. The other realized they were not a good fit and moved on to a different role on their own.

    2. introverted af*

      How good at he at asking for what he needs? If he could get to a point where he was managing his own need for direction (i.e. not just floundering and waiting for you to tell him what to do, but proactively asking for direction and also keeping good notes on past direction to use moving forward) would he be able to stay? Is that something you could shift him towards, or would that not actually fix the problem?

    3. I should really pick a name*

      Is there another role in your office where his approach would be more appropriate?

      1. Quirky Employee*

        I’m sure there is, probably not in the department we work in. It would honestly probably be a step-down from the level he’s at now, unfortunately. I’ve discussed it with my manager before and ultimately decided to work with him since loyalty and hard work do go a long way (and I can’t afford to lose an employee right now)

    4. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I’m not that literal/structured, but I have had a learning curve of my own in this area. The person has to realize that this mindset is holding them back, want to learn and grow, and actively work on learning and growing. Given he’s in his late 30s, it would argue to me that either 1 or 2 is not in place. That’s not something you can fix.

      Good that he’s loyal and hard working, but there is still a limit to how much time you can devote to managing him without other things suffering. Just keep that in mind.

      1. Quirky Employee*

        Totally all true! I’m leaning towards what you mentioned towards the end, just doing what I can and accepting that there’s not much I can really do unless I want to invest a ton of time into it.

    5. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      First, is this person on the spectrum? If so you want to be very concrete in learning to read social cues. If not then the problem is problem solving and critical thinking. In these situations if there are problems that come up I like to ask the person first “what do you think we should do” and let them try to problem solve it first. If they are unable to or come to the wrong conclusion then lead them down the path to the right answer. With repetition this will build their confidence to do so independently.

      1. Quirky Employee*

        He might be, but nothing has been brought up on his side and of course I would never say anything. In either case, I’ve definitely been direct on what I need for him to do and ask him to come up with solutions on his own before presenting them to me. He will do it a couple of times then goes back to his old ways. Wah. Lol.

        1. Hillary*

          You may need to hold him accountable there – don’t let him go back to his old ways. It’ll be painful for you, but if you know he has the capacity it’s worth it. It takes a long time to break habits.

          Alison’s “this is what we talked about” line is perfect here. If he demonstrates he can’t take direction in the long term it’s a fit issue.

        2. Quinalla*

          So he can do it but just forgets/doesn’t want to/slips into old habits?

          I’d just use something like “Let me stop you there, we’ve talked about this, you need to come up with solutions on your own then come to me.”

          It is hard to transition from a job where you are just told what to do an deviating is even punished to a job where you are expected to have more autonomy. But this sounds more like a break habit problem than a he can’t do it problem to me which will take time to deal with, but the coaching part is easy, if annoying and repetitive!

      2. I should really pick a name*

        While this isn’t a letter, I think the “Don’t armchair-diagnose others” rule still applies.
        Generally, the goal is to try not to assume some level of neurodiversity just because someone is exhibiting a negative behaviour.

        1. Former Child*

          Can you see the irony in your comment? You’re saying “Don’t be intuitive” when you talk about someone whose problem is he avoids being intuitive.


          Talking to him about “What does your gut tell you?” and “Gut feelings” might reach him. Does he ever have a “gut feeling”? Most people do. Help him by encouraging him to use gut feelings more often, to at least know what it feels like to HAVE a gut feeling.

          “What’s your gut feeling on how long it’ll take to do X or Y?” is something he can probably answer, w/his gut, instead of doing the math.

        2. English, not American*

          Anastasia’s comment wasn’t armchair diagnosing, though. They asked a question, then provided different advice based on the two possible answers. Pretty standard advice-giving with no assumption of any diagnosis.

    6. Less Bread More Taxes*

      I second Dust Bunny – is he interested in improving?

      In terms of actual coaching (I’m not sure if you’re asking about this, but as a neurodivergent person who also likes to be told exactly what to do), have you tried giving him a list of questions to ask himself in order to be more intuitive? For example, questions/tasks like “If I hand over this project to the hardware team today, what problems will they run into when they run the X command?” or “Who is the end-user of this project and what are their goals? If they try to achieve each of those goals, what problems might they have that I need to come up with solutions for?”

    7. TiffIf*

      In my experience–the mental flexibility and critical thinking skills you are describing are very difficult to teach. I have a direct report who seems to have similar difficulties. Its like he wants explicit steps for handling every contingency which is not possible and he doesn’t seem to be able to recognize when something he learned to solve problem X could be adapted to wider applicability and helps solve Y. It is incredibly frustrating. I haven’t found an effective way to coach for those skills.

      1. Quirky Employee*

        It is indeed very frustrating! My patience has never been tested so hard as a manager :P

    8. animaniactoo*

      Question: How concrete about what you want to be seeing vs what you are seeing?

      Like… have you broken down the small steps of logical pathway for getting from A to B that probably feel instinctive to you?

      Have you said “When something like X happens, I need you to stop. Create a new plan… and it’s fine if you want to run it by me for “will this work”… and then execute the new plan.” or

      “When X happens, I need you to think about the possibilities of what happens if Y or Z and then work on choosing the option that gives us the result is more likely to be effective/successful/etc.”

      or other stuff like that?

      It sounds like he needs very specific direction about how to handle change, while your focus is on him figuring out how to handle change when he only works well when he is given specific direction. If he is so process oriented, he probably needs a verification loop closure where he can (at least while he builds up confidence about this if he is able to) make sure that he has understood and/or created a good plan to execute on his own.

      1. Quirky Employee*

        I like all of these! I’ve tried similar things but not exact, I will definitely give them a try :)

        1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

          Would doing a flowchart be better for the employee than a list? “If/then” is Flowchart 101.

      2. Pocket Mouse*

        Along the same lines, if you can create a set of if/thens, it may help! For example: If you get assigned a new project, assess its priority level. If it has a greater priority than the next time on the agenda, do X (and so forth).

    9. LC*

      Something that I’ve done (not while managing, usually when training a peer) is to answer questions with questions. This has had varying levels of success, but with some people, it did help.

      This is for in-the-moment stuff, not theoretical future stuff, so he has to at least get to the point where he recognizes that he needs help. He says a thing came up and he doesn’t know what to do, you ask what step he got stuck on (even the act of explaining what he doesn’t know can help him, the whole rubber duck debugging thing). He says this part is different than normal, you ask what else does it remind you of (assuming that there is a comparable thing). He asks how to get from point A to point C, you says it’s similar to the thingie we did last week, what was the first step there/where did you find that info/etc. (connecting it something he does know).

      With some people, it frustrated them more than it helped them, so if that’s the case here, it’s probably not worth it. But it has helped me with some people.

      Him: This
      You: Okay, what step is tripping you up

      1. LC*

        Lol ignore the last part, I started typing my thoughts in a different format and then changed my mind but forgot to delete the thing I started.

        Oh, and also, this might require a little more hand holding in the short term, but if it helps, it can waaay decrease it in the long term.

    10. AndersonDarling*

      In my experience, either the individual doesn’t have the confidence to make independent decisions, or they are just task oriented. In the first case, you can work with the individual to help them understand what decisions they can make on their own and that you will back up their interpretation of the situation. But when someone is task oriented, then the just do what they are told and there isn’t any growth beyond that.

    11. Wisteria*

      Is it possible to coach a direct report to be more intuitive, read the room, and be quick to think of solutions/think outside the box/apply previous knowledge to situations (instead of thinking so black and white)?

      Is this man coachable?

      Those are two different questions. All skills are coachable, but just like not everyone will be Flo Jo, not everyone will be Steve Jobs.

      There is another question that you can ask, which is “Am I the right coach to develop this particular employee?” How willing are you to acknowledge that part of the lack of coaching success is on you?

    12. Firecat*

      I have a coworker like this and they are brilliant for audit and compliance work. The literal – this is they way no flexibility – type thinkers.

    13. Not So NewReader*

      I had to break this out to really see what this is:

      1) to be more intuitive, read the room,
      2) and be quick to think of solutions/
      3) think outside the box/
      4) apply previous knowledge to situations (instead of thinking so black and white)

      1) “Intuition” and being able to read the room, can develop in part from interactions with others. If this person always has their head down and is working away, it’s going to be a few more years before this develops if ever.

      2) Some people are just not quick thinking. They are smart, they read a lot, they do good work but quick thinking is just not something on their list. Additionally, there are people who believe that being quick thinking is NOT an admirable skill. They sincerely believe that quickly developed answers cause more problems than they solve. In this case the motivation to develop quick thinking would be low to none. I had a family member like this. The family member married someone who thinks very fast. It did not go well as each ended up losing respect for the other as one was “too slow and too encumbered” and the other was “too fast and not well thought out.” The two different approaches caused frequent clashes. Both sincerely believed the other should change because “clearly the other person is causing problems by using the approach they use.”

      3) Think outside the box. This is another one of those skills that if a person believes thinking outside the box brings about poor results each and every time, then this person is just not going to do work at this skill.

      4)Applying previous knowledge. Some people just cannot pull knowledge from one place and readily apply it in a new place. I do think that they can be shown how to do this through repeated examples of how to do it. Since we do this at home all the time and it is a life skill, I think you can tap “at home” examples to show as parallels to “at work” examples.

      Of everything you said this one concerns me the most, “And there’s no flexibility, his work style is “you do x in 3 days, then y in 4 days, then z in 5 days” and very process oriented and if anything is remotely different or strays from the norm, he just doesn’t know what to do.”
      This means you can’t put him on work where his inflexibility is going to hurt the group effort.
      But on the good news side, he can do a lot of things that need to be done on a regular basis. In this area he might keep the group humming along because people can be freed up to do different things. He’s happy, they’re happy, everyone wins.

      As long as you are okay with this, then I’d say just keep going as you are. Make sure though, that you are not throwing work on to other people because “it is too hard to get Bob to do these things”.

      1. Quirky Employee*

        Thank you for the response! I completely agree. Thankfully, all the work is split evenly so no one has extra work to do.

    14. Koala dreams*

      People can change, it’s a question of A: do they want to change? and B: how much time and effort is changing worth?

      Flexibility and intuition are big things that are part of your personality, it’ll take a lot of effort to change.

      I also think you need to re-assess your definition of good work. If managing your own work is part of the role, then not doing that at all isn’t “good work”.

    15. Cat Tree*

      Oh wow, I have no advice but just commiseration. I’m not a direct manager but I’m an SME for a certain process and act as a sort of informal mentor to junior colleagues. I have one coworker who is exactly like Alan. She just doesn’t apply knowledge of one situation to a similar but slightly different situation. This type of critical thinking is crucial to get promoted in our industry, but I don’t know how to help her.

      1. Quirky Employee*

        It’s definitely challenging from a manager aspect, there is no upward mobility for him since he lacks a lot of essential skills. The next step up would be to manage a team, and I don’t know at what point he would even be remotely ready for that.

      2. Dust Bunny*

        Some of us are just not suited to jobs that require it. I am especially bad at it in math situations, so the solution to that was for me not to do jobs that are math-based. Maybe I could have overcome it enough to get by but it would have been a constant struggle to achieve even mediocre results.

    16. RagingADHD*

      I don’t have specific exercises, but I know that mental flexibility (considering multiple options) and metacognition (being aware of your own thought processes) are executive functions/skills. And as such, they can be learned and developed. Reading the room is related to emotional intelligence, another skill that can be developed. So can resourcefulness.

      Maybe using those terms when you search for coaching tools might help you find some ideas.

      1. allathian*

        Can they really be learned and developed? To some extent, probably, but I honestly doubt it’s worth it in Alan’s case. For one thing, he would need to be genuinely motivated to change, and it doesn’t sound like he is. He may see the rigidity and inflexibility as innate parts of his personality, and most people resist when they’re asked to change something that they consider a core part of their personality.

        He sounds utterly unsuitable to his job. One way to find out would be to put him on a PIP and tell him that a bunch of things need to change, or he’s putting his job in jeopardy. Even if the department can’t really afford to lose him, the OP needs to consider how much time they can afford to use for coaching Alan before it truly starts impacting the effectiveness of the rest of the team.

        I honestly think Alan is a lost cause and it would be better for him and for the team if he could get a transfer to a more process-oriented job with less room for autonomy, and for someone else to take over Alan’s job.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Yes, executive skills are by definition a developmental trait, and they can be learned and strengthened by both children and adults. An adult isn’t going to make a complete transformation, but they can certainly improve and/or find ways to achieve the desired result.

          But of course, the person must want to do that work for themselves, and believe it’s possible.

          Whether or not Alan will engage with that process, I can’t know. Neither can you.

          I’m glad the OP thinks it’s worth trying a bit more, because fatalism and writing people off without trying doesn’t make for a good manager.

    17. Seeking Second Childhood*

      One minor thought about the “x in 3 days” portion– would the project msnagenebt concept of ‘time on task” help at all?

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

      It’s probably not a popular opinion, but I’ve concluded (through experience) that some people are just fundamentally uncoachable/’incompatible’ at certain skills. The intuition you mention is a good example but also things like attention to detail, thinking through consequences, ‘political’ (in the sense of workplace politics) awareness, etc.

      It’s frustrating as I’ve had people assume that (e.g.) the reason Jake isn’t able to pay attention to the detail of even a simple request is because I haven’t explained it properly or drawn attention to what’s important… No, he does know what was being asked but admitted “yeah I screwed up and didn’t notice that” etc.

      Can he be moved into another position where those skills aren’t so necessary? Perhaps into a different (another manager’s) team?

  8. Tired*

    How do you decide when to loop your manager in when you’re having vague not-yet-diagnosed health problems?

    I’ve been having a lot of fatigue, poor concentration, insomnia, depression, etc. My doc has a couple of ideas but no firm diagnosis yet – I have another appointment next week. I’ve also been looking for a therapist but it’s tough right now. My productivity is slumping, but also don’t have anything firm to talk to my manager about yet. I can’t even really tell how much is physical health and how much is mental health, in terms of telling someone else what’s going on. How have others handled this kind of thing?

    1. Siege*

      It depends on your manager and your role. If you’re the only person doing your job, and your manager would appreciate it/otherwise alter their behaviour and expectations to know that something is up, you could approach them now and just say that you’re aware that things have been different with you, you’re working with a doctor to get a diagnosis, and then lay out expectations for that process. If all the potential diagnoses are time-consuming (ie, surgery and recovery or long-term therapy, or whatever) you MIGHT want to mention that now, but it makes just as much sense to wait till you have a diagnosis. If you are not the only person doing your role or your manager goes with the flow more, you might want to just stick with the first two and keep it casual.

      I was diagnosed a couple years ago with heart failure and I immediately looped in my boss because I was told I would need a valve replacement within three months. I am the only person in my organization who does my job, and there is no cross-training to get people to take over more than minor parts of it if need be. She appreciated the heads up – she is pretty process-oriented, though she can be quite flexible in a given situation. Then I had a cardiac arrest in a meeting and everything we’d planned went out the window while I recovered from that and some subsequent issues caused by it. I’ve put up with the periodic comments that my heart failure isn’t as severe as I was told because now that I’ve got a defibrillator I don’t need the valve replacement as quickly.

      I realize you don’t have a diagnosis so your situation is different, but given the evident concern about your work suffering while you seek a diagnosis, my recommendation is to give your manager a heads up if at all possible so that you can work with longer-term planning. I think the crucial questions are whether your manager would be punitive if you even intimated there was something going on, and whether you will need coverage/support to deal with whatever the diagnosis is. If the answer is yes to the first and no to the latter, wait till you have a diagnosis.

      1. Tired*

        You had a cardiac arrest in a meeting and people are questioning the severity of your illness? Yikes!

        Part of my problem is that I’m not quite convinced that whatever’s going on health-wise is something that is real and substantive enough to require and deserve accommodation. Maybe I should be? But if I had something that was clearer, and especially something more obviously medical, I don’t think I’d be having as hard a time figuring out how to talk to my manager. But maybe I’m just burned out and my planned vacation will help? Maybe it’s some lingering symptoms from when I had Lyme disease a few months ago? Maybe all the physical symptoms are manifestations of depression and I need medication for that?

        I also don’t really know what I’d be asking for – understanding and flexibility, mostly, which I think my manager would give me to the extent he could. Time of for medical appointments is easy and straightforward in my office. But I don’t know what to do when the work impacts are a general lack of motivation, efficiency, productivity, and focus.

        1. Siege*

          Dying in a meeting, even if it turned out not to stick, should be a real conversation-stopper, but not at my workplace, which is VERY VERY BAD at boundaries!

          Unless you are sitting there with a voodoo doll of your boss, stabbing it with pins and saying “eff you, you a-hole”, it sounds like whatever is going on falls under the rubric of “medical in nature” even if it’s any of the other things you mentioned. When we change without notice or warning, it means that something is happening to us. And you deserve accommodation while you figure out what’s happening. Take your vacation and see if that puts the pep back in your step; if it doesn’t, have a short conversation about “If you’ve noticed I’m having a little trouble with work lately, I’m having some testing done to figure out what’s going on, and I’ll keep you updated when I know more.” It sounds like doing that will give you some peace of mind, and you don’t need to struggle with whether you deserve support. Of course you do.

          Unless, of course, you DO have that voodoo doll, because then you are 100% in charge of what’s happening and you should probably just stop with the pins. :)

          1. Tired*

            Thanks for this – I’m kind of in my own head on this and “of course you deserve support” is a good thing to hear.

    2. Jack Straw*

      My first mention to my boss was vague, but it did specify my absences were related to medical issues. Something like: “I wanted to let you know that I’m having some medical testing done, so I’ll need to be out XYZ (time frame, frequency, whatever fits your situation).”

      I would say something proactive, asking for feedback related to my productivity and performance. Maybe, “I don’t think anything related to the testing is impacting my work at this point, but if you see my work slipping, please let me know ASAP.”

      1. Firecat*

        I wouldn’t do your second recommendation. That draws attention to it that implies you can make a difference if it is impacting you when you may not be able to.

        This is coming from someone whose boss literally said ‘You can’t use that as an excuse anymore” in response to a chronic still seeking a diagnosis years later issue so YMMV.

        1. Jack Straw*

          Good point. Best to not even put the thought in their head that it will impact work.

    3. Koala dreams*

      You can tell your manager that you have health issues and are working with your doctor to resolve them. That’s all you need. Later, if you get to the point where you need accommodations or extra time off, you can have a second conversation with your boss.

      1. Mr. Cajun2core*

        I came here to say the exact same things. I do have a number of physical and mental issues. All I tell my boss is that I have an on-going medical issue which requires multiple doctors visits.

        I recently had to tell my boss that I was going to be going for “daily treatments” (that is the exactly what I said) and that I would do it as much over my lunch time as possible and that the treatments would take 4 to 6 weeks. I am very lucky that my boss is very understanding.

        I am going for TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation) which requires daily treatments for 4 to 6 weeks.

    4. Lisa*

      I’m really sorry this is happening to you. I’ve gone through a few different versions of this. Some various notes:

      For accommodations, unfortunately it really does matter who you’re working for and with, because management reactions to the same situation can range from “You’re still breathing so you’re fine” to “We should be kind and flexible” to “We should give you less-challenging work” to “We need to put on you STD leave whether you want it or not.” And maybe you aren’t actually asking for a full accommodation but just a general understanding… you might be taking more sick days, you might be out for more appointments.

      If your PTO policy will let you get away with that, you might want to do that to start, at least until you can get a diagnosis. You might also be able to fly under the pandemic radar as regard to working from home. Back in the pre-Zoom days I took some audio conference calls from bed, laying down, and I could let people believe I just had a light flu and wasn’t waiting for my cardio and endocrine test results.

      I learned the hard way that even very experienced managers at very large and established companies can be horribly under-trained on how to manage health issues on their staff. One of the exceptions to “Everything isn’t actually HIPAA” is that if you work for a really large company they are often self-insured, which means that actually they are a HIPAA-covered entity and they may not want your management or any of your coworkers to know anything specific about your health. I had a (mega-corp) employer that had hired an entire outside vendor to cover everything related to healthcare or leaves. But my manager had not gotten the memo and tried to micromanage my care (in a caring/maternal fashion, but!). Our healthcare vendor’s nurse told me not to tell my manager anything specific, while my manager was over-involving herself to the point of overriding my doctor’s orders (to give me *more* accommodation than I needed). It got very awkward.

      On the flip side of it, I’m currently freelance consulting for a colleague with which I have a very high trust-level. He knows I’m dealing with some health stuff and he has flat-out said: If you’re not feeling good, reschedule the meeting.

      Also, consider not over-reading into the physical/mental distinction. One you’re into “what the H__ is wrong with me?” territory that has already broken down. Physical problems can create mental problems and vice versa. Worry about that as much as you need to to get care, but maybe not so much when you’re dealing with how to manage it at work. Because it actually doesn’t matter, it’s a health issue.

      Overall, a good rule is to say only as little as you need to say to get the accommodation you need right now. And just be honest, especially if you’ve got a decent manager. “I’m dealing with some health issues I expect are minor, I’m in the process of getting a diagnosis. I may need to adjust my schedule for appointments and may ask to work from home more than usual, or to adjust my hours where possible, and will sometimes want to stay off-camera. I’d also like to avoid unnecessary travel for now.” Or whatever version of that describes your situation. And again, do not hesitate to use the pandemic as cover where it helps.

      Best of luck. I hope you feel better soon!

    5. Stitching Away*

      Speaking from unfortunate personal experience, be very careful in what you disclose, because without a diagnosis, it’s a lot easier for them to fire you before you have what you need to get protections in place, especially if you live in an at will state.

  9. Yikes!*

    This sounds like a middle school dilemma that unexpectedly intertwined with my professional life. I have changed a few facts as to make this anonymous.

    I was close friends with Kassie all throughout my childhood up through our mid 30s (now we are in our mid-late 40s). She was the sister I never had. As adults, our lives went in completely different directions. We more or less drifted apart. It really hurt me that eventually Kassie went no contact, no birthday text, not the occassional coffee, no returning phone calls. I totally understand drifting apart but not saying hi to an acquaintance…. I figured our friendship had run it’s course. I’m one of those people who over analyze things, especially socially. Of course when this all happened I racked my brains thinking if there was something I did to offend her. I’d like to sincerely apologize if I did. Kassie and I had very different lives and each of us seemed to want/ admire what the other had. Nothing malicious just different lifestyles, upbringing, etc. Loss of her 25+ year friendship took a lot for me to wrap my head around.

    Our careers could not be any different. Kassie went into basket weaving; me into llama grooming. By some weird coincidence our careers have collided. A local zoo had a project teaching kids about llamas. They hired my employer for llama grooming classes and hired Kassie’s company to make baskets to carry llama food in. Funny thing is the company, Kassie or myself aren’t even geographically in the same area! Due to my company’s llama experience we are being viewed as having slightly higher status than Kassie’s company. I only realize Kassie and I would be working on this project together when the company sent an email out introducing everyone and the project.

    Odds are I will see Kassie again. Of course I am going to be professional, cordial and friendly. I miss my old friend. However after years of sporatically trying to touch base, I’m just at a point where I have no desire to rekindle a friendship outside of work. I would love to catch up again but in all honesty I want to ask questions about what happened, no contact, did I do something.. Kassie is a social butterfly. I’ve heard from people on the project Kassie is telling people we were such good friends and she wants to meet up socially at some point. We haven’t communicated in 10+ years.

    If it comes up, how do I draw the line and say let’s keep this professional and catch up after the project is done?

    Does anyone else feel like this is a middle school issue?

    1. Rainy*

      I don’t think it’s middle school per se, I think it’s just the kind of thing that happens when people who were friends as kids grow up. Sometimes the friendship stays and sometimes it doesn’t. If she asks to catch up and you want to, say yes, and if you don’t, say no.

      Chances are that if you ask her what happened the answer you get will only raise more questions for yourself. The quest for “closure” that comes from an external source is never really successful, in my experience.

    2. bunniferous*

      I think you are overthinking this. Sometimes people are having things go on in their own lives and let people go. Or maybe she was immature then -but this is ten years on!

      Meet her, say hi, and then just see how it goes.

    3. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      I agree that you are overthinking it, you grew apart. You state you are hurt that there has been zero contact initiated by her but it also sounds like you have not initiated contact either so is that really fair? If it really bothers you reach out so that you can catch up.

      1. Firecat*

        Actually OP states that several calls, texts, and invites went unanswered so it’s not a dual blame situation and ball is clearly in ex-friends court.

        OP it’s ok and reasonable that you are sad about this. It’s understandable that you want closure or to know why, but sadly it’s unreasonable to try and get it. Don’t try to get answers while working together. Frankly trying to get answers at all, again while a totally understandable thing to desire, just isn’t generally done and would come across oddly.

    4. Best Intentions*

      I’d assume any “let’s catch up soon” talk is just social convention and not a signal that they really mean to follow up and do anything. Your reply, as you don’t want to re-start a social relationship would be something like: “It has been a long time” or “Let’s check calendars”. Then neither side does anything to move that forward and that’s that. It happens all the time, even with the best of intentions from the person instigating the idea of meeting up again later. If she actually does follow up, you could then just not reply at all, or be very busy catching up on all post-pandemic activities and not available at the moment (or the foreseeable future lol).

    5. JRR*

      You probably think about this way more than Kassie does.

      I have many close friends from my 20s and 30s who I haven’t talked to in years. But I wouldn’t characterize any of them as having gone “no contact.” That’s, in my opinion, an overly dramatic way of describing what happens to most friendships over the decades. I’ll occasionally run into an old friend or strike up a conversation online, and it’s never the least bit award.

      I’m 99% certain than when you see Kassie it will be no big deal if you don’t make a big deal out of it.

      It is a little curious that she has not responded when you’ve reached out. But there are so many possible non-dramatic reasons for that, I think it’s worth giving her the benefit of the doubt.

      1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

        I agree you’re probably thinking about it way more than Kassie, but I don’t think it’s overly dramatic to call this situation “no contact”. I had a similar situation with a friend – We went to middle and high school together, talked on the phone a lot in college and into our 20’s, and then out of nowhere, she just… stopped returning any calls/texts/etc. It was like she’d disappeared. I have no idea why, and it hurt for a long time. I’ve made peace with it, but I do understand how painful that can feel, and I have no idea how I would react if she suddenly popped back in my life. Take care of yourself OP and do what feels right while still being professional since it is work. If people come asking you if you’re friends, I don’t think you need to lie. You can say “oh, we were friends a long time ago. I don’t think I’ve heard from her in several years, but I’m really excited about this project because REASON”

    6. Lunch Ghost*

      “Let’s keep this professional and catch up after the project is done” sounds fine to me as long as you actually intend to catch up after the project is done. If not, it’s just kicking the can down the road. (A vague delay might work in some cases, but someone who’s excited to catch up is probably going to assume you mean it.)

      As for whether to do the catch-up, is there any possibility that you could want some kind of friendship with her in the future? Because if not, if you just want answers as an exercise in Verifying Myself As A Good Person (I find out if it was my fault or not, if so I apologize and am therefore A Good Person, if not I know she is to blame and I am therefore The Good Person) (I mock from recognition, I have totally done this sort of thing myself), she’s likely to pick up on that and things will get very awkward.

    7. animaniactoo*

      Assume that any catching up DURING the project will be superficial at best. “Yeah, my oldest graduated college last year and is now…”

      which might also be a good bridge to a deeper catchup after the project is over and the ability to delve into “where did this all go wrong”.

    8. CatCat*

      Sounds like a normal sort of drifting apart that can occur in adulthood. If you don’t want to re-kindle the friendship, that’s certainly okay, but you seem to have a perspective here that you did some sort of bad thing or Kassie did some sort of bad thing and then Kassie iced you out. From Kassie’s perspective, it really just could be that you drifted apart and that’s it. No drama, not intentional hurt feelings, just lives going in different directions personally, professionally, and geographically.

    9. Anne Elliot*

      “I would love to catch up again but in all honesty I want to ask questions about what happened, no contact, did I do something.”

      I would respectfully ask whether you are going to ever receive answers to these questions that would be acceptable to you. Realistically, what could you possibly have done that would both (1) merit being dropped and never contacted again but (2) be something you yourself are not aware of? The harsh truth is that the real answer to these sorts of break-up questions is probably some variation on “We had grown apart and I just didn’t enjoy spending time with you anymore.” I’m not saying this to be mean at all, but if you have decided that you don’t really want to be friends with this person any longer (and I wouldn’t either, she was pretty cruel to you, intentionally or not), then I would not bother trying to establish contact in order to seek “closure” regarding her previous behavior, because you’re not likely to ever get it.

      1. HigherEdAdminista*

        This is very wise.

        I have a former friend who I met under different circumstances than you named, but we got very close, very quickly. At one point, she started distancing herself from me and as soon as the circumstances that brought us together changed, I never spoke with her again. She unfriended and blocked me on all social media.

        I have an inkling about what prompted her to do this (she got into a new relationship and she had showed some red flags in the past that I had ignored), but at the beginning, I really wished I could get answers from her. However, really… what could she say that would make this behavior acceptable? It isn’t. No one has to be friends with someone and people do drift apart, but totally ignoring your occasional contact (while her right) isn’t typical of a friend who you just grew apart from. I have friends I have grown apart from and we say hey to each other now and then, and it is always nice to hear from them even though we aren’t likely to get more involved with each other now. The closure with it has to come from you deciding that this isn’t something you want to engage with.

        The fact that she is telling other people she wants to catch up with you and talking about your friendship could be benign or it could be odd, but really it doesn’t matter as long as you stick to doing what works for you.

    10. Malarkey01*

      I think you’re framing this much differently than Kassie would. The phrase “no contact” is usually used when someone makes a choice to abruptly stop all communication with someone due to some issue/boundary and it’s usually where there’s an expectation that you’d have contact (almost always when parents, children, siblings cut off contact). Drifting away from a childhood friendship is so normal that unless you went from we talk weekly and hang out monthly to finding your texts and calls blocked I wouldn’t call it no contact.

      Friends drift apart due to lots of reasons- changes in interest, life gets really busy for someone, wanting to change how often you commit to social life, distance, etc. I have friends that I had every intention of catching up with but it never came together. If I suddenly found myself in regular contact again I’d be excited to say hi, maybe have a drink and catch up on their lives, and then get back to work in a normal friendly work relationship.

      It’s fine not to want to rekindle a close friendship, but I personally wouldn’t try to rehash what happened since it’s probably a benign drift.

      1. ecnaseener*

        +1. It certainly was rude of her to never return your messages, and *maybe* she knew it was rude and chose to do it because she was mad at you, but *maybe* she was just overwhelmed and got stuck in a guilt spiral of “I don’t have the energy to answer her text right now, oops it’s been 12 hours, way too late to answer”

    11. JB*

      I’ll be honest, the way you are looking at it does feel a little middle-school-y.

      You want to ask all these questions, but there’s nothing Kassie could possibly say to satisfy you. I know right now you may feel like ‘but I just want to know’, but think, really think, about how you’re going to feel if she says ‘oh, I just didn’t think it was worth either of our time to keep up the pretense of a friendship when we didn’t talk any more’? What if she says ‘actually, yes, you did offend me (and I shut you out rather than telling you so)’? There is no good answer here; you were hurt by the friendship ending, she can’t un-end the friendship or erase that hurt by telling you why she did it.

      And it is totally valid to feel hurt by a friendship ending, but those emotions are also your own responsibility as an adult. Nobody has an obligation to continue being your friend, and there’s no way to end a friendship that’s universally unhurtful.

      My recommendation is either:
      1. You make peace with the end of the friendship and the start of the new relationship as ‘work acquaintances and former friends’. Meaning you meet up to catch up, but definitely don’t go trying to do a post-mortem on your friendship!
      2. If you can’t do that/that would be too painful for you (which is totally fine and normal!) don’t accept any one-on-one hangout invitations from her. You’re very busy with the project and you just don’t have the time but you’re happy she looks well. Etc.

    12. Anon for this*

      You don’t say anything about what happened in her life/yours in the intervening time. When I had kids a lot of my social life went by the wayside. Then when I had one with special needs it became all consuming and I largely fell off the social grid. Now that my kid is grown, I would be like Kassie, hoping to reconnect.

      It’s possible you didn’t do anything wrong, that something happened in her life that caused this. I’d recommend giving her a chance, but don’t count on anything.

      1. Massive Dynamic*

        This is super important. Various things in our family lives can soak up our otherwise-available bandwidth to maintaining outside friendships.

    13. Red Swedish Fish*

      I don’t think there is a line to draw, Kassie isn’t asking to rekindle your friendship. She told other people you were good friends and would like to meet up socially. She has not contacted you directly so she is saying this because its what people say and she may think as a group for the project you all will meet up. If she wanted to start the friendship she would call you directly not to the group. Go with it, she was a good friend and you drifted apart like most friends do. Do not bring up that you believe you were ghosted by her to anyone you work with or to her unless she asks to come to your house for dinner or something that only a close friend would do. Its been 10 years she likely has no idea why you quit talking.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I agree. She put it out there that her thinking is in a peaceful place. Just say, “phew! thank goodness” and forge ahead with the work at hand.

        I read though this with a different conclusion than some folks here. I agreed with you, OP. Do the project and if there is any figuring out to do about the friendship then do that after the project is over.
        My rationale here is that you both need to do good work and get a paycheck. Right now that is what you both have in common and I think you both can rally around that goal for yourselves and for each other.

        And here is a sneaky part: This will give each of you a glimpse into the people you have become. We grow and we change. You will get to see her in her normal operating mode. And she will see how you normally operate.
        It could be that later you work things through and the friendship is better than ever. It could be that on the last day of the project you both say, “See ya! Have a nice life!” I know it’s hard but for your own best interest don’t spend one minute thinking about where this will land when the project is done. Just focus on the work and focus on being your professional self.

        As an aside: I think the fact that she is stuffing the pipeline with nice things about you MIGHT telegraph that she is worried enough to try to set the stage for when she sees you. This is where it would be really handy to just don your best professional persona and keep it on. That can look like, “Hi! It’s nice to see you again! I am really looking forward to digging into this project.” And from there on you are “all about the project”.

        I would not however, tell her point blank that you don’t want to talk about things now UNLESS she brings it up. Then you can just say, “Oh when the project is over we can have a lunch together and talk about it then.”
        Keep it short and keep it simple.

    14. Sleepless*

      I went through something a bit like this, and I went through a lot of these feelings too. I had a friend who, 20 years ago, I would have described as one of my best friends. She did a polite slow fade on me about 10 years ago. At the time, it drove me absolutely crazy. I was incredibly hurt. But she wasn’t completely gone from my life, because she and my husband work in fields that overlap and regularly contact each other. She still calls him once in awhile in a work context and doesn’t seem the least bit awkward about it. I finally accepted that our friendship just ran its course, and she doesn’t feel weird about it so I shouldn’t either. If she ever wanted to get together again it would be nice to see her, but otherwise I’ve managed to be fairly ok with it.

      1. ECHM*

        Same with me (although I’m still not quite so OK with it) although now I work across the street from her house …

    15. I'm just here for the cats*

      I think you are overthinking this. Sometimes people get caught up in their own lives and friendships grow apart. Maybe something happened 10 years ago that you aren’t aware that caused her to not be able to or want to follow up with you. You might not have done anything wrong!

      It also sounds like you don’t live near each other, so it may have been harder for her to reach out. Out of sight out of mind type of thing. You say she is a social butterfly, so if she moved to another area she may have been busy with getting to know new people (or if you moved she was letting you get settled and/or meeting new people herself). Or maybe she didn’t view your friendship as closely as you did. Maybe for her it was more of a friendship of convenience.

      I think if she asks, and you want to, meet up with her socially. Maybe say after the project is over. “Kassie that would be great to catch up with you, but lets wait until the project is done so we can celebrate a successful project and not worry about work.”
      Then if you want to ask her you could. I wouldn’t start an interrogation or anything, just something like How did we lose track of each other? We should chat more regularly.

      But I think you have to prepare yourself that the Kassie that you were friends with may be a different person and may not want to be so close anymore.

    16. Simone*

      It sounds to me like she knows she did the wrong thing by you (in ghosting and/or drifting away), is feeling nervous about upcoming interactions, and is overcompensating by telling *everyone* how amazing your friendship is – when she really should be reaching out to you directly to clear the air, or at least smooth the way to working together. I think “let’s focus on work and catch up after the project is done” sounds fine to me – it sounds like you’re approaching the situation with a lot of grace. Final advice, having been in similar situations – make sure you’re not investing more in her than she has been willing to invest in you. Good luck!

    17. beach read*

      I think you would know (or have a vague idea ) if the drift apart was for some kind of dramatic reason and not just a typical growing apart kind of thing. Relationships look different to the people in them. One person might be much more casual about friendship than the other, especially someone who you describe as a social butterfly. When you meet again, be your best warm, friendly professional self and if you really need that closure, you could wait til after the project is over to reconnect on a personal level.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        It’s hard to say sometimes, because I’ve met people who will swear blind that they have No Idea why someone cut them off, and really, what they mean is that they’ve willfully refused to listen to the reasons, and/or don’t see them as valid.

        I also think that when people insist that they want to know the reason, what they really want is a reason that makes sense to them. However, if you push for an answer, you have to deal with what you get. So it could be “it wasn’t you, it was me, and I’m embarrassed about how I treated you”, but it could also be “I realized I simply didn’t like you any more, and you wouldn’t take a hint to back off,” or “I saw you as a friendly acquaintance, but you wanted to be my BFF”. Even a distinct offense doesn’t necessarily make you feel better, if you don’t agree it was friendship ending worthy.

        For the OP, though, it’s a work question. Suppose you have that conversation, and it’s devastating. Or you push for the conversation, and Kassie refuses to have it. Now you still have to work together politely and professionally. Keep thing fairly light – you can claim to be busy if she wants to meet socially – until after the project, then push for answers if you still want them.

  10. Kat Em*

    Any thoughts on how to effectively transition to a role with more autonomy for the first time ever? I’ve just been promoted from “my supervisor dictates my every task” to “here’s a list of objectives, have at it,” and it’s surprisingly nerve-wracking!

    1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      I always struggle but I found making a list of goals, breaking them into steps and listing them by priority helps. Sometimes I have to ask my boss about priority.

    2. CheeryO*

      If you have peers who do similar work, take them each out for a coffee or lunch (or schedule a quick call if you’re virtual) and pick their brains about how they prioritize tasks and keep things moving. Most people would be happy to give you some tips based on their experience.

      Also, I assume you still have some sort of direct supervisor who oversees your productivity to some degree, so see if you can get some expectations for your first few weeks and months set in stone.

      1. Kat Em*

        No peers, the role was created for me. I have the same supervisor as before, so that is helpful, but I’m concerned that it’s also an awkward transition for him!

    3. Em from CT*

      I’d suggest trying to prioritize the objectives: what’s the one that has to come first, because of importance? Or, alternately, what’s the one that has to come first because of scheduling/because other items depend on it? Those are the things to try tackling first.

      Also (you probably know this if you read this blog regularly!) touching base with your supervisor about her priorities for those objectives can be really helpful! That’s something I have to keep re-learning, myself, so I figured I’d mention it here. :)

    4. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      This might be more detail and less strategy… but given a list of objectives, I sort them by urgency in descending order (i.e. the hottest fire first). If two or more objectives have similar (or no specific) urgency, I then sort them by duration and tackle the shortest ones first.

      My logic goes along the lines of at least being able to demonstrate some tasks completed at any given stage. If I have to tackle the longest task first, I may well have nothing to show for my efforts at an early follow-up.

      Once I start getting a good grasp on the role and some confidence, I’ll add a primary criterion of difficulty to the triage and tackle the hardest stuff first. If I’m not going to complete on time, or if something comes up and I’m out of the office unexpectedly, etc, I feel better about asking for help with simple tasks than I do about asking for help with dragon-slaying. I intuit that it’s easier to find that help, too.

      Good luck!

    5. animaniactoo*

      At some point this will probably become more instinctive – but for now, I would start with breaking down the objectives into the tasks needed to complete or progress with the objective, and set yourself deadlines for getting those tasks done. Sometimes, I have literally just doled out the tasks into specific time slots so that I have a “what I am supposed to be work on right now” list.

      After that comes the point where you just don’t feel like working on X right now and figuring out where you can swap it with some other task without messing up the whole deadline.

    6. Mockingjay*

      Concur with the suggestions to break into tasks and prioritize. Then look at what tools and processes the work requires. A lot of things are probably already in place and will support your path forward: databases, SOPs, workflows, review cycles. Once you have a plan, run it by your supervisor: “Hey, here’s the draft schedule for widget production – did I miss anything?”

      After a few times, you’ll be fine.

    7. Jack Straw*

      I live by my one sheet for the week which is basically an adapted time blocking method.

      It’s a horizontal sheet with three columns on each side: Notes, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. I list tasks I need to tackle each day in that columns so I can space out and prioritize what I do each day. I draw arrows to move things to the following day if I reprioritize or don’t finish them.

      Notes column is for new tasks, notes jotted during calls, etc. Each Friday, I move things to the new sheet that weren’t done that week and I map out my upcoming week. It has helped me both with anxiety surrounding forgetting something that needs to be done and with my actual productivity SO much.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I read this question as about boundary lines, perhaps I am off base?
      If you are wondering how much autonomy you have you can directly ask the boss about this.
      “Boss, how do I know when I need to loop you in either for an FYI or for an approval on something?”

      Generally speaking if I have to go into another department for something (information/work/materials) I check with the boss. If I find out it’s the norm to ask the llama groomers once a week how many llamas they expect to see this week, then I do not ask permission for a repetitive task like this.

      Another time I ask permission is if I am taking on a special project that I picked out for myself. At work we have a LOT of X’s, But X is not tracked in any way. It’s up to me to recall the specifics. (A very baaaad plan.) I asked the boss if I could make a spreadsheet of X’s. I explained it would be a huge time sink to set it up, but once it was set up it would corral those X’s that are in limbo now. Here I am asking because the boss should have say where I put large amounts of time, especially if I have created the project myself.
      Another time I check in is if something is going to cost a significant amount of money in material goods.

      This gets easier as you learn what normal is, once you see something that does not fit with the rest of what you have seen then you will know to ask someone or ask the boss. Hopefully, your boss has rules of thumb about things. My boss and I set up a rule of thumb that we fiddle with a computer problem for 15 minutes if we do not get it in that time frame we call for help. We set the narrow time frame because of the limited hours we work. It plays out that if we call for help once a month that is a lot.

    9. Izzy*

      Make time to think and plan and make lists! Write down all your ideas.

      I’m in the same situation and the most important thing has been to realise that thinking and planning IS the work, not something that stops me doing my work.

  11. KaiFae*

    I need some perspective on whether or not I should be bothered by an email. I work in a doctor’s office that has several branches open in my area, easily a couple hundred employees. We are owned by a larger corporation. Earlier this week, the market’s admin assistant sent an email on behalf of one of the doctors. The doctor is chairing a fundraiser gala for an organization. They’re advertising for people to come and is looking for any contributions for a silent auction.
    My concern is about the organization itself. It’s an organization for church planting in countries outside of the US. And that’s all it does. And I will admit that many of their views are contrary to mine. This email was sent to everybody in all the offices in our market.
    I will admit that I would feel less bothered if it was a different organization like Habitat for Humanity. Since the organization is purely religious, was it appropriate to send this email in the work setting to all the employees? It does fit within the culture of the office, but not necessarily the corporation. So my question is, would this be worth making a fuss over or am I letting my personal views and bias cloud my judgement?

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      I’d be bothered by this, too. It’s one thing not to agree with a charity’s mission, but this sounds like supporting religious evangelizing, which I would have an issue with. Even if it’s OK with your organization, it feels icky in a secular workplace.

    2. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I probably wouldn’t make a fuss, but I wouldn’t attend/donate/volunteer and I would also privately give some side-eye to those involved. If it gets pushed more aggressively, then I might decide to make more fuss.

      1. Quinalla*

        Yup, as long as it is just a quick email and no further pressure, I’d suggest no action and moving on.

    3. DataGirl*

      Does the corporation have a fundraising policy? I work for a hospital and we have very strict rules that you can’t sell anything or do fundraising without going through corporate channels and making it an official giving campaign. Perhaps you could forward the email to someone at corporate as a head’s up and let them deal with it?

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      Is there pressure to attend/contribute or is it more of an FYI? If they’re just letting people know they can participate if they want, I would decline without making a fuss (at most, something like “I don’t contribute to religious causes but good luck!”). If they keep pushing and following up you might want to see if others are willing to push back as a group, along the lines of “We’re uncomfortable having a religious charity promoted so heavily at work, people may feel pressured to support a cause that doesn’t align with their own beliefs”.

    5. animaniactoo*

      Is there ANY pressure AT all – even a whiff of implied pressure – within the e-mail that was sent?

      If not, I would lean towards letting it go, even though I agree with your dislike of the organization.

      If there is – I would approach it from the standpoint of “People should not feel pressured to give to charity at work. Particularly a charity which may not align with their own personal views such as this one.”

    6. KaiFae*

      I can say that there isn’t really any pressure in the email. It’s just that I’ve been here several years and there has never been anything sent like this before. The closest would be the events where other doctors paid to have other people voluntarily see some religious movies in the theater. So it’s ok for me to bothered about it, but it’s not worth making a fuss over unless they get pushy.

      1. Former Child*

        It’s the DOCTOR’s interest, and it sounds like he’s not pushing it, just inviting people if they’re interested.
        But if there’s the slightest whiff of pressure, then it’s wrong and I’d ask HR about it. If he has the kind of standing that makes anyone feel pressured, that’s wrong.

      2. honoria*

        “other doctors paid to have other people voluntarily see some religious movies in the theater”
        that just sounds so off (and unsurprising, as I am originally from the Bible Belt, sigh)–paying employees to come be proselytized to

    7. OBMD*

      I am a physician in a setup like this. The fact that a doctor is spearheading this fundraiser raises huge red flags for me. This type of thing is JUST NOT DONE!!!. A physician doing this gives unconscious pressure on other employees and gives the charity event a gravitas that it otherwise would not have. The closest thing I have seen was when one of our doctors who was a breast cancer survivor organized a group to walk for the Susan J Komen walk in our city. You can not ask for donations from your subordinates. I can’t tell you whether to do anything or not, but you may want to have a talk with your practice’s office manager and let her know how uncomfortable this email made you.

    8. Clisby*

      I don’t think I’d be *bothered* by it – I just wouldn’t have anything to do with it. Just like if they sent out something similar for a secular non-profit I had no interest in.

    9. Homophone Hattie*

      I had to look up church planting and it looks like it’s missionary work of a particularly unhelpful bent* (I mean, not even providing medical aid or something, not that I’m a fan of any sort of missionary work, full disclosure)? Nasty stuff. I’d be disturbed. A doctor is presumably a person with a certain amount of power in an organisation shouldn’t be pressuring staff like that on something like this, especially given the controversial religious aspect. Very different to asking people if they’d like to watch a few religious movies, or contribute to a less controversial organisation.

      *I’m being nice, it looks like it is actively harmful/possibly colonialist, given you said it’s going on in other countries.

    10. Small town*

      I also work in health care. This is really not done and can raise issues of bias if people do not participate. The idea of corporate church planting squicks me out. In the hospitals and offices where I have worked the physicians did not even bring in order forms for Girl Scout cookies because of an implied pressure.

  12. First Time Manager Help*

    I’m going to be getting my first direct report and quite frankly I am terrified. I’m in my mid 30s (female) and I have avoided this path for a long time because I have witnessed so many people who were good at something else workwise be terrible managers. The thought of potentially ruining someone else’s career scares me. The thought of ignoring warning signs or being laughed at by others scares me.

    Does anyone have any advice or guidance? Any specific training or books to read?

    1. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      Find information on the Boys Town management model. It’s a social work strength based model and the best I have seen in how to develop staff in a positive manner.

    2. new kid*

      Are you hiring this person, or being given management responsibilities for a current coworker?

      1. First Time Manager Help*

        Current colleague – they were a junior associate and I was a senior associate and I was functionally serving in a team lead capacity before anyway. The day to day shouldn’t change that much, but having the official authority gives me anxiety.

    3. CheeryO*

      I’m in a similar boat! I will say that you shouldn’t be afraid of ruining someone’s career. The fact that you’re posting here means that you care, and that is the most important thing. Also, everyone is responsible for their own career, to an extent. I’m sure we’ve all had to do some managing up, and that will probably be the case for your direct report too.

      I’ll be watching for advice too, but just based on my limited experience so far, I’d say: don’t be afraid to ask for help from your peers or your own supervisor, and don’t be afraid to be up-front with your direct report that you are in a transition mode and that you are open to input from them. Things will be a bit different for a new hire vs. someone who used to be a peer. In the latter case, you might have to draw some new boundaries to keep things professional.

      I recently read and enjoyed Welcome to Management by Ryan Hawk. I think Alison has a book too!

      1. Elizabeth Proctor*

        Yes! Alison’s book Managing to Change the World is super helpful (and the other tools from the Management Center). The book is written for non-profit managers but it’s broadly applicable.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Keep reading here. Daily. Read Alison’s books. Cover to cover.

      Fear is simply a lack of knowledge. It’s okay that knowing how to manage people was not in your genes at birth. That’s fine- no one has it genetically encoded. We all have had to learn. Since you referenced fear several times, then that merits reading daily to fill the voids. Let your level of action match your level of concern. If you have high concern, take lotsa action.

      You are aware that you have concerns and you are asking for help. This is fantastic. Truly bad bosses do not ever realize they need to learn and be helped. You actually stand a good chance of being a good boss.

      Start reading.
      You can ask questions here in this forum as specific things come up.
      I got my bachelor’s in management. I have learned more here than I ever learned in college.

    5. Aly_b*

      My only advice is that you’re not doing this alone! I assume that you also have a manager, and she should be able to help with sticky issues. Talk to other managers at your level. Run situations by your colleagues in management, as long as it’s info you can share. Sounds like day to day you have covered, so before some of the bigger conversations, prep it with your own manager or other managers you trust.

    6. Malika*

      Looking back in your career, can you signal managers who were outstanding and those who were a hindrance? Evaluating what they did well and badly will make it much clearer on how to go forward. I still use the good examples of a fantastic president and team of directors i assisted who were fair, encouraging and who expected excellence without expecting me to become a robot. The experience of working for a troubled manager with rage problems during the prison sentence of a great recession job has made me check my physical and mental health before my own troubles would affect my reports.

      I have never had employee reports, but have had interns report to me for the duration of their placement. Being clear on expectations and encouraging them in their developments helped a long way in building a good work relationship with them. The adage of praising them publicly and giving them constructive feedback in private has also stood me well. Direct reports can one day become your colleagues, part of your handy network or even managers. Taking the long view can help you see the strength of developing managerial skills and a good rapport with your employees. The fact that you are thinking on how to handle this new part of your job makes me sure you will ace this! Never be afraid to ask for help or advice from great examples. They will love to step in and guide you during this next chapter of your career.

    7. Your Local Password Resetter*

      Also, remember that managing well is hard and be kind to yourself. Allisson always notes that every manager makes a lot of mistakes in their first year. So if you do mess up, that’s just going to be part of the learning process. And most likely fixable if you course-correct afterwards.

  13. nightswimming*

    I was out of the office yesterday and when I came in today, my boss told me that all Llama receipts need to be turned into “Fergus” and Fergus will decide who will take care of payments. Well, it turns out that at the staff meeting the day before, “Sansa”, the Administrative Assistant, freaked out and that’s why there is the new process. Somehow my name was brought up- I wasn’t turning in receipts to her, when no one asked me to and I was handling my own work. (Sansa never said anything to me about receipts or turning them into her!)

    I also found out that SANSA was the one that was processing payments when she wasn’t supposed to, yet somehow my name was brought up/I was blamed?

    I spoke to my boss and he made it seem like it was no big deal, but it still concerns me. I mean, it was a big enough deal to change how things are done. Is there any way to remedy this? What have you done in situations like this? Do I do anything?

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      It sounds like they want to have all receipts running through one person, and Sansa’s freakout resulted in them either realizing that she was doing stuff she shouldn’t be or that the process overall wasn’t working. As long as your attitude is something like “sure, happy to follow new process” and you do it, you’re probably fine.

      1. Former Child*

        Sounds like you were brought up as the victim or bystander and not the perp, that would be Sansa. Your name may have been mentioned because you have enough standing or respect that people would care more if it was you.

    2. animaniactoo*

      The only thing to do is follow the new process without complaint.

      You’ve already brought it up to your boss and it seems like he may be aware that even though your name came up, it is more a Sansa issue than you issue. Prove that by making it a complete non-issue on your end now that you’ve mentioned it.

    3. Malarkey01*

      If your boss says it’s NBD, I’d take his word and just start following the new policy. It’s not unusual occasionally where I work that someone will find a gap and have a mini freak out because the gap itself is a bigger deal that needs to be fixed but no one is blamed for not following a nonexistent process. I’d assume your name just came up as an example that everyone was doing things differently.

    4. Malika*

      You did what you thought was right. You cannot be blamed if there was a process you hadn’t heard of. I have worked for corporations where i got a talking-to because the way i handed receipts in was incorrect. It hadn’ t been communicated and had no way of knowing it was incorrect. I course-corrected and everyhting died down swiftly. I hope it does for you too!

  14. Miss Ames*

    Medical/Health insurance – for people (in the USA) who are not in full-time jobs that offer insurance, if you have health insurance, how do you obtain it? do you have it through part-time employment, a state-offered plan, or some other?
    I will be leaving full-time work this fall and am wondering how to obtain health insurance once I leave my employer-sponsored plan.

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      You’ll be covered under the ACA, also known as the marketplace,, Obamacare, or whatever your particular state is calling it. If your income is low enough you might fall into Medicaid.

    2. LimeRoos*

      Definitely check out And you can google if your state has it’s own website too. I know IL & MN do. You can find a company that does Individual & Family Business coverage, and they should have a range of plans for your needs/budget. You can also see if there’s any brokers around you to do the leg work, though I don’t know how their fees work but they should also have a huge variety of plans. I do work for a non-profit insurer, and we have a large variety of plans in 9 states.

      1. LimeRoos*

        Oh! And you can google a lot of the big players to see what they have in your area. BCBS, Humana, Cigna, UHC, Aetna, Kaiser, may all have plans. Can also do State+health insurance companies, and there should be some good hits. I do have some feelings about the major players, but you can check the reviews for your area and see who your current providers take. That’s another thing to research – make sure whatever plan you choose has the doctors you want to see in network.

      2. Generic Name*

        Colorado has its own website, and I have to say it’s very well run. You can look at all of the plan details without entering in any information about yourself, not even an email. My husband has a plan through Kaiser Permanente, which is top notch in our area.

    3. Pop*

      For years, my husband had health insurance through Starbucks, which requires you to work something like ~20 hours a week to qualify for pretty decent benefits. Many people get jobs at Starbucks to supplement their income and benefits while doing their “own thing” – my aunt did the same when she started her own consulting firm. When he left Starbucks, he transitioned to using the Marketplace/ACA/Obamacare (all the same thing) and was paying about $350/month for a plan once we got married, was paying less before but I have a higher income than he does so getting married made him ineligible for the subsidies. (He makes too much to be eligible for a state plan in our state – the income thresholds are pretty low.) When I got a new job, they covered half of his premium so he switched and is now on my insurance. None of my employers have required a legal marriage to be on insurance, but previously none of them subsidized so it would have been ~$550/month to add him – much cheaper through the marketplace.

    4. Generic Name*

      My husband is a 1099 contractor. While he could get insurance through me, it’s quite expensive. It’s more affordable for us for him to get insurance through the state healthcare exchange. AKA “Obamacare” :)

    5. Hillary*

      I used the Obamacare marketplace to bridge my coverage while I was out of work – it was easy and not nearly as expensive as COBRA.

      One important thing – leaving your job is a “qualifying event.” That means you can buy insurance on the exchange outside the open enrollment period, you’ll just have to certify it on their website. I don’t remember them asking for evidence but it’s been a couple years.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Also relevant if you have a spouse or civil-union partner whose company issued insurance you have not been on. If you will no longer be on insurance as of middle of the year, they will pick you up. Also if you happen to be very young with working parents, see if you are under the increased age range for staying on a parental insurance plan.

        1. Clisby*

          Agreed – I would start there. My 25-year-old daughter is still on our family insurance plan, provided by my husband’s employer (this is her last year). So am I, although I could go on Medicare if I had no alternative.

    6. Lucy P*

      Ditto on the ACA/Marketplace/ The rates for this year, at least in my state, are extremely affordable. When the new, lower rates went into effect in April, it lowered my premium about $250/month.

      I was forced into it when my company stopped offering health insurance. I’d heard so many bad things about it that I thought I would hate it. It’s much better than I expected. Monthly premiums are less than what I was paying on the group plan. I have a silver plan, so doctor copays don’t exist until I meet my deductible. However the insurance company has negotiated rates with the doctors so I’m still not paying full price ($75-100 per visit as opposed to $150+ per visit). Maintenance meds (like blood pressure meds) don’t cost a thing, even before the deductible is met.

    7. asteramella*

      Just wanted to mention that if the ACA Marketplace/ is confusing to you (it’s confusing to most people!), there are lots of organizations that can help you navigate your options for free. Google “[your city or state] ACA Marketplace navigation assistance” or something similar. Most medium to large cities have at least one org that offers this type of assistance free of cost.

  15. should i apply?*

    Any tips for bringing up salary range questions during the interview process? I am in the process of interviewing for a really interesting role, but there has been no mention of salary range, or even asking about my expectations. This is a smaller company (~100 people) and the process has been on the informal side. I have had a screening interview with their internal recruiter and a 1 hr video interview with a hiring manager, both that were very positive. However, they are unsure on their hiring time frame (dependent on getting outside contracts) which I can handle as leaving my current job isn’t urgent, but I don’t want to wait around if we aren’t close on salary.

    So if you were in my position how would you ask? Email the recruiter with my salary expectations and ask if that is in line what they are planning? Wait for the next interview / contact? Something else?

    1. T. Boone Pickens*

      I’d go with something along the lines of, “Hey, now that we are getting deeper in the interview process I wanted to circle back and make sure we’re aligned on salary. For me to make a move, I’m looking to hit $X, does it make sense for us to continue?” Inevitably, the company will probably ask you what you’re making right now, do not feel obligated to share that information. Simply restate the target salary range you’re looking to hit.

      1. T. Boone Pickens*

        *Nesting fail on this part. This of course runs the risk of you potentially undervaluing yourself so if you have some good salary comparison info out there, you could try broaching it that way too. Something along the lines of, “The market research I’ve done indicates the salary range is between $X-$Y, is that what you had in mind?”

    2. Lauren19*

      This is probably a symptom of them being small and not having a ton of recruiting/hiring experience. If I were you I’d call the recruiter to catch up on the process/timeline, reiterate your thoughts following the interview, and say something along the lines of, “I’m definitely interested in this role and look forward to the next steps. However I do want to be mindful of everyone’s time (yours, hiring manager, mine, etc.) and make sure that the compensation range for this role will be mutually beneficial. Can you speak to how compensation for this role is structured (base, bonus, 401(k), PTO, etc.) and what you’re looking to offer the successful candidate?”

      Definitely get them to share their range before you share yours. After all, they know more about what the job is they’re hiring you for. Allison has a ton of good content on how to do this. Good luck!!

    3. BRR*

      If I was personally in your position, I would just wait until the next step and say something like “I’m excited to talk more about X role. I just wanted to get a sense of what your hiring range is to make sure we’re in the same ballpark.” There’s a really good shot they will ask you what your salary expectations are and you’ll have to decide if you’re fine with that or if you’ll push back (i’ve personally taken the approach of fighting on principle that employers should be naming a number).

      You could definitely reach out and ask their hiring range now, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Something like “after talking more about X role it sounds really exciting. I realized we never talked about the salary. What’s the hiring range for this position?” But if I was in your position I wouldn’t be waiting around for this role anyways regardless of what it paid so I would just deal with it at the next step.

      1. Former Child*

        I like “hiring range” because it’s brief but clear. When they respond you can mention perks, but you’re not hitting them w/a long question upfront.
        The briefer your question the less ominous the salary discussion looks.
        If they won’t give a range, you can point out that it’s good to know now if you’re on the same page, maybe ask when they COULD. And circle back to how interested you are because of X and Y.

    4. RagingADHD*

      I would expect to have this information before, or at least during, the first interview. If they hadn’t brought it up, I would have asked when they said, “do you have any questions aboit the role?”

      Based on where you are now, I wouldn’t wait around, but would ask if contacted about moving forward, with wording something like, “I’m very interested, and want to make sure it’s realistic for me to move forward. What is the salary range for this role?”

  16. ahhh*

    OK I am NOT telling my situation as a debate regarding the COVID vaccine. I am telling my story from my point of view.

    When the COVID vaccine came out I got vaccinated as soon as I could. I have an underlying medical condition that made this vaccine a necessity for me. I took every precaution I possibly could. In addition I work in the office of an essential company. Luckily my company had strict about guidelines regarding those who had to come into the office during the lockdown.

    I volunteer (and am on the board) for an organization made up of 8 board members. The organization is geared towards helping a community need. One of our other board members is a front line essential worker. Marie chose not to get vaccinated. Again this is not up for debate, it is Marie’s choice. Covid, life, the vaccine were obviously topics of conversation over the past year. Friendly debates did happen regarding getting the vaccine between the entire board. Everyone stayed professional. In my opinion the vaccine should be required, but this is my opinion based on my personal life.

    While personally I think Marie should have gotten the vaccine immediately, she didn’t. You guessed it Marie and her family got COVID. Now I would never never never wish anyone ill health. Covid basically put Marie’s family in a temporary financial bind. Marie’s sister started a go fund me page and meal train (to cut down on groceries bills, not due to needing help during a hard time). I do consider Marie a good acquaintance, maybe even a friend. Even though I didn’t agree with how Marie handled tings, I donated, made meals, ran errands, checked up on Marie & family.

    What I’m ticked off about is Marie’s sister. Sister helps out at the volunteer organization but is not on the board. She knows me through volunteering and Marie. Occasionally we’d chat about life outside the volunteer organization, which is how Sister found out where I work. When Sister set everything up she contacted all the board member’s employers! In her letter explaining Marie’s situation she said that we (me) knew each other and she was contacting our companies on our (my) behalf! Most of the other board members work in huge companies with thousands and thousands of employees where the request would have gotten lost in the shuffle or the company would have cut a $50 donation check. I work for a very small company. Somehow this request made it to my boss. Luckily he is laid back but I was mortified by this…. so was Marie.

    While the Sister angle has been taken care of (that’s a post for another day), do you think there is anything else I should do with my employer?

    1. LadyByTheLake*

      Simply making it clear with your company that you in no way authorized or support the request is sufficient.

      And Marie’s sister is a pushy lunatic for doing that.

      1. quill*

        Yes. People are going to see Marie’s sister as seriously overstepping by going through several circles of acquaintance (on behalf of her SISTER she is contacting a COWORKER’s OTHER PLACE OF EMPLOYMENT) to essentially beg for donations. A very calm and mild “Oh, I didn’t know she was going to do that / I certainly didn’t talk to her about doing that! / I didn’t authorize that, I’m not sure why she went ahead with it.” should put the embarassment ball back in Marie’s sister’s court.

        Your boss is probably not going to want to dwell on it further than that anyway!

    2. A Poster Has No Name*

      I don’t think there’s anything else you can or should do with your employer. You had nothing to do with it. You talked to your boss about and he’s not (from what you’ve said) mad at you or anything, so I’d just let it go.

      But, wow, Marie’s sister was so far over the line with her behavior that she’s now only visible as a dot in space. I mean, YIKES.

    3. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      Oh thats NOT okay. She is misrepresenting herself to get charity funds. I would talk to her directly and state you are concerned that she stated she talked to you when she did not. At least Marie is also NOT okay with it so she should not get any blow back.

    4. I'm A Little Teapot*

      For employer – you said that it wasn’t anything you approved, you are mortified, you will/have spoken to the sister and made it clear that her actions were not ok, and you apologize for any problems this caused. As long you did this stuff you’re ok.

      You said you handled the sister. Good. Also check to make sure that whatever the sister is doing with the nonprofit she’s not causing any issues with her lack of boundaries. You’re a board member, you have power there and also responsibility.

    5. Bagpuss*

      I think you’ve done anything you can with your employer – they know that you had not requested or authorised this use of your name or of your employer or board’s name.

      I’m not quite clear f the set up – was your name used to the other businesses or was it
      to Jane’s employer “Jane has asked me to contact you on behalf of [board] ”
      and to Tom’s employer “Tom has asked me…” ?

      I think if your name was used to any other organisation it would be appropriate for you to send them a message to set the record straight, and as a board member I would suggest that you look at whether you currently have any kind of formal policies about this kind of thing, and make sure that staff and volunteers are made aware of the policy , and if you don’t have one, get one in place
      Things I would be looking at would be:
      – How did sister get the details of the people she sent the requests to? Was this publicly available information or said she use her position as a volunteer to get them?
      – Was she stating, or giving the impression that the request was authorised by the voluntary organisation and/or it’s board members in their capacity as board members or as representatives of their employers? (it’s still not OK if she was representing it as a request by you in your personal capacity, but it is a bigger issue for the organisation if it was holding it out as being you-as-board-member

      For what it’s worth, all this would be true regardless of what the fundraiser was for – it wouldn’t be appropriate in any situation to use your name, or the name of the organisation or board members employers without their consents.

      I would definitely be reviewing Sister’s suitability as a volunteer.

    6. animaniactoo*

      I might talk to your boss about speaking to HR or upper management to make it clear that you neither authorized or requested this e-mail reachout, nor would have if it had been discussed with you.

      Because, yes. In a small company, it matters more than just what your boss thinks of you, and it would be good to set the record straight with whoever else’s hands this passed through to land on his desk.

    7. Malarkey01*

      This is bananas. I wouldn’t worry if you’ve set the record straight with your boss or anyone else who may have received this at your office. I would absolutely make sure your nonprofit has rules around personal information and people using the organization information to solicit members (the 2 I’m involved you you can’t even send a solicitation email using contact information for other members).

      Just because I’m nosy- this seems like a massive fundraising appeal if they’re soliciting businesses and setting up meal trains. Was Marie or partner hospitalized for a period or suffering from severe long haul CoVid? While medical costs are no joke and many people have zero cushion for emergencies this seems like a lot for a 2-3 week illness and I’d wonder if Marie’s sister thought this was a way to make some cash.

      1. Ahhh*

        THey were ill for about 6 weeks. 1 (of their family of 5) ended up in the hospital. Another child has special needs which made it difficult to find help for that child. While this is something Marie and her family will pull through I think they will be ok but money will be tight while they catch up. I honestly think Sister was just reaching out to any contact that she knew whether it be professionally or personally. Sister works for a mom and pop company so I think in her mind everyone has a casual relationship and even has lunch with their boss often.

    8. Mental Lentil*

      Ugh, Marie’s sister is a nightmare.

      Technically speaking, I have already donated to Marie’s Gofundme page. I paid taxes, which meant that Marie and her family could have gotten the vaccine free of charge.

      I am so tired of these people. I’m sorry you’ve experienced this, ahhh.

    9. Firecat*

      I don’t understand why you spent so much time on Covid and vaccine stuff when your question is essentially – a coworkers sister blast emailed everyone I worked with stating it was ony behalf. How should I shit this down?

      The rest is distracting fluff. I mention this because, as you are trying to shut this down at work you’d have a better time of it if you drop the entire vaccine Covid no-vaxxer got sick details.

      1. Ahhh*

        apologies. It’s friday. I always viewed open thread as meeting a group at a coffee shop. This was my story to tell. Enjoy your weekend

        1. Juneybug*

          I am glad you included the details. It makes understanding the situation easier. And I would like to think all AAM readers are one big coffee shop friends. :)

    10. Nancy*

      Your situation has nothing to do with the vaccine. No one should contact people on your behalf without approval from you. The reason doesn’t matter.

      Your employer seem to understand what happened and that you were not involved, so nothing else you need to do.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Right. No one uses your name on anything without first asking your permission.
        I have had people use my name as a reference when there is no way in H that I would be a reference for them.
        I had a person use me for a credit reference, the last time I saw this person they were 6 months old.* (wth)
        These people never asked me, they just went ahead and gave my name to a third party.

        No. It’s not asking to much to tell people they must check with you first before putting your name on ANYTHING.

        *That credit check one was interesting. I found out about it because the person stopped making payments. I had to tell the credit company that I did not know where the person lived nor their phone number. I had to tell the company that I had no contact with this person for DECADES. It was not my awkwardness to wear, I just had to tell the truth. Yeah, I was ticked. And the person was ticked at me for my supposed lack of understanding…. sigh.

    11. Imogene*

      You probably won’t read this, but I completely understand why the fact that they didn’t vaccinate makes this situation even more stressful. I hope the other posters meant that bringing that up meant it was distracting from explaining you had no idea what Sister was doing/you never would have okayed it.

      You’re not wrong, and it looks like you’ve explained it to your boss, so I don’t think there is anymore you could or should do. Well, maybe do something fun when you can, you deserve it!

  17. Less Bread More Taxes*

    I found the perfect job for me this week – I have all the required and preferred skills, the work itself is something I’m truly excited about, and the team culture seems like something I’d fit into very well. The issue is that I am finishing a PhD and won’t be available to start work sometime between December and February. My boyfriend thinks I should just reach out now with my resume and let them know how interested I am in working with them while giving them my timeline. I’m not sure about this for two reasons:

    1. One of the skills they have listed as preferred is a foreign language, and I am studying hard in order to sit the C1 (work-level fluency) exam for it in December. If I contact them now, I don’t have anything tangible to show for that skill, and I worry that if they talk to me now and see my current level, they won’t be interested in talking to me again in a few months.

    2. I’m not sure how to draft a coverletter when I am basically saying “please hold this job for me for five months or at least keep me in mind for your next hiring decision”. 

    I also don’t know what kind of response I’m looking for. I certainly don’t expect them to interview me now when they likely need someone to fill that role soon.

    What’s the best way to handle this? I have already saved the job ad and the company in my records. If they have no open positions when I start job searching, I was thinking about cold-emailing them a copy of my resume and an enthusiastic coverletter. Is that also an okay thing to do?

    1. CBH*

      I’d reach out now. You have no idea how long their interview process will take. If it comes to it maybe you can work something out like working part time until February then switch to full time. At least they will have your resume on file. If anything you will make some great contacts in your PHD field.

    2. introverted af*

      I think you could work into your resume and cover letter any existing accomplishments in your language and say that you’re studying to sit that exam this year. It can’t hurt to apply for the job now if this is the only thing that’s off.

    3. Rainy*

      I’d apply to the job now and explain in the cover letter that you are currently completing your PhD and you’ll be available to begin a new position in January (or whatever). This way, if they need to fill it sooner they know that you’re interested but not a candidate for this role this time, allowing them to screen you out for this one, and if they anticipate a long hiring process anyway, especially if they’re specifically recruiting PhDs, you’ve been up front about your timeline.

      Jobs that recruit new PhDs usually know they have to wait and are okay with waiting for the right person. If it seems really great I’d go for it and see what happens. Worst case scenario, they need someone in 60-90 days rather than five months, and they turn you down for this one.

    4. Anne Elliot*

      I’m not sure of the hiring culture in the company or agency you’re talking about, or the country you’re in, but I work in the U.S. and with an employer with a regimented hiring process, and I would not bother to send in any materials. I think you have accurately explained your goals as: “please hold this job for me for five months or at least keep me in mind for your next hiring decision,” and in my professional area the answer to both of those questions would be an automatic hard “no.” First, we are hiring now, not five months from now, and in my field there would be no way to hold a position open for five months (nor would you want to, you could lose your funding for the position). And, second, we hire out of a pool of applicants and no one has the time or mental bandwidth to hold someone’s application materials for the next possible opportunity. If another opportunity opens up, and the candidate is really a great fit for it, he or she can and should send in their materials then.

      But mileage varies widely depending on field, company or agency, and hiring culture. I’m just saying in my field and area, you would be completely wasting your time. You also might be coming across as a bit clueless as to how hiring works in my field, but I would not hold that against you, because by the time we are hiring again, I’m not going to remember your materials either way.

      1. Jobbyjob*

        Fresh PhDs are almost always hired months before their start dates because it’s understood that they’ll be scooped up by someone else otherwise. Coming from a hiring manager of PhDs, please don’t listen to this advice.

        1. Less Bread More Taxes*

          I’m actually trying to get out of academia, so this is a regular industry job. They only require a Bachelor’s degree. I don’t know if they have hired someone coming out of a PhD program before. So I can understand how my application could be totally dismissed, but I wanted to know if it would be so outside usual work norms that I’d burn a bridge before even getting a chance.

    5. Nesprin*

      ABD is something that employers who hire PhDs understand- put in your coverletter your enthusiasm for the position, and mention that you have your defense date scheduled for X. Speaking as one of those PhD hirers/havers, I would wait multiple months for the right candidate.

      Also, foreign language fluency is something you can put on your resume without the certifications, but be ready to talk in said language if necessary.

      1. Less Bread More Taxes*

        You’re right, I can speak conversationally right now, and that is something I can write down. I just haven’t taken any fluency exams before.

    6. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      1. One of the skills they have listed as preferred is a foreign language, and I am studying hard in order to sit the C1 (work-level fluency) exam for it in December. If I contact them now, I don’t have anything tangible to show for that skill, and I worry that if they talk to me now and see my current level, they won’t be interested in talking to me again in a few months.

      Eh, I don’t know that I necessarily agree with you having nothing to show. If getting certified in six months is realistic, I can’t imagine you’re not at least functional in that language. Assuming you have average-to-above-average skills for not being a native speaker, I’d just be forthright about your plans and ready to demonstrate the language skill you do have.

      1. Siege*

        There’s a huge difference between “I don’t have this certification yet but I’ll complete it by the end of the year” and “I’ve always meant to study conversational Klingon, and this job will finally push me to do that.”

    7. animaniactoo*

      What you want is not a cover letter saying “Please hold this job for me” but a cover letter that says “If your hiring timeline matches up, I would love to be considered for this job now that I will be ready for in December after I have completed the C1 exam.”

    8. BRR*

      I think you should apply but be more specific than “between December and February” in your cover letter. A lot will depend on how unique your skill set is and how difficult is it to find people for this role. I know when I’ve hired for positions that called for additional languages on top of a specific skill set, like an accountant who is fluent in A and B, it was pretty difficult to find the technical and language skills and we often had to compromise on a candidate’s skill set because the language part was so important. We would have gladly waited to fill the position if there was a better candidate.

      You’d put at the start of your letter that you’re interested in the role but you wouldn’t be able to start in the position until X date. Also it’s completely possible they have a slower hiring process and asking to bump the start date out a tiny bit on top of that will be fine.

      And to your last paragraph, I think you’d have better odds applying now than cold-emailing later. The exception is if it’s a high-turnover industry/company. But in my head I’m imagining they just filled this role and likely wouldn’t have a need for your skills right after hiring.

    9. Bubarina*

      100% apply. I have a PhD and started applying for jobs in August of my final year, knowing that I realistically wouldn’t defend until February or March. Hiring processes for high-level work tend to take a long time.

      For my current role (academic research), I applied in early August and didn’t have a start date until January. By January, I had completed my dissertation but was still waiting to defend. They then gave me two weeks off right before my defense at the end of February to prepare and additional time off for my hooding ceremony in May. They hire ABDs all the time, so they were very flexible and willing to offer whatever support I needed to get the PhD behind my name.

      All of this is to say you should definitely go ahead and apply but be transparent during the interview process about your availability and what you need.

    10. Talvi*

      Depending on the language they’re looking for and the other skills… this may not be as much of a long-shot as you think. You have nothing to lose by submitting your resume and cover letter.

      I’m actually in one of those types of roles — I’m in a field with few permanent job openings, and when a permanent position my field popped up looking for fluency in Foreign Language, I applied even though I wouldn’t consider myself fluent (reasonably proficient, yes, but not fluent per se). The language skills test involved talking with someone fluent in that language from a different department.

      I still got the job, and because the combination of technical skills + language proficiency (+ people interested in moving to the city this job was located in) was rare enough, I was able to negotiate a start date a few months off.

      It will depend on where you are and the technical skills required for the job, but don’t underestimate how hard it might be to find a suitable candidate!

      1. Corporate Recruiter*

        Agreed with all of the above- we have a position open for someone fluent in Farsi (with a clearance), and I wish someone would reach out and say “I’ll be ready for this job in December!” It would literally be a dream come true.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        You wtite it’s “preferred” not “required”, so I say go for it.

  18. introverted af*

    So I had a conversation yesterday with my grandboss. I have been pretty frustrated with my raise for the upcoming year (2.5%, standard raise for my org, about $1,000) and the conversation I had with my supervisor about it initially. I told him all my thoughts and feelings and I feel like that got better. The conversation with my grandboss was about my boss’ review, so I included this and said I thought his initial response to my frustration was unprofessional and not the kind of thing that should be his go to answer. And my grandboss was like, “yes, let me also respond to those concerns. I’ve been here 10 years and raises are never above that percentage, outside of promotions and market corrections.”

    I’ve never been so deflated. That’s not even inflation on a good year. Yes, promotions are more, but like come on. I wanted 5% this year. I wanted to get to $40k, less than $2,000 total. I do not think that’s unreasonable after I kicked ass this last year, and want that to be recognized as going above and beyond what my job requires. I had thought well yeah, I can stick it out for 6 months to a year and see how it goes and then after my almost certain promotion next year I can see how I feel, but this is just unacceptable. Even in non-profits, this is not ok.

    We’re trying to buy a house right now, so I need to get through that but then I’m pretty done here I think. And if I’m really out of line for my expectations I also need somebody to say so.

    1. LadyByTheLake*

      A 5% annual raise would not be usual at any place I’ve ever worked– 2-3% annually is standard absent extraordinary circumstances, so your Grandboss’s response is not unexpected. Other places have different rules, but this isn’t extraordinary. Of course. you have the option of leaving if you think that you are underpaid, so that’s the tradeoff these companies make if their policy creates incentives for people to leave.

      1. introverted af*

        I feel like my expectation for a normal year is 3-4%. Under 3% feels pretty bad. I wouldn’t expect 5% every year. 5% was my hope this year in part because of my top performance (that is absolutely reflected in my review) and because we didn’t get a raise last year due to the pandemic and there were conversations about “catching people up.” (those are literal words said by our president) I really appreciate your input!

        1. LadyByTheLake*

          That changes things — if you didn’t get a raise last year and were led to believe there would be a catch up raise, then I’m with you!

        2. Bagpuss*

          Did you raise that? That sounds like you could have flagged up that you would see 5% as a market correction given that you have not had anything last year, and perhaps also go back to your boss and push for a formal promotion to reflect the stellar performance, if that’s a possibility?

          1. introverted af*

            The conversation where he told me my raise had no room for negotiation. He handed me a piece of paper signed by our president, vp of my area, and his boss and that was what I got. I should have raised it to explain my frustrations better though. I had also been pushing for a promotion since I was told they were having those conversations about overall promotions but they’re strict about you have to at a minimum hit the number of years in your current position first. That was also frustrating for me since I’ll hit that in October, but won’t be up for anything again until next July.

            1. I'm that guy*

              You need to look for a new job. It sounds like you’re good at what you do but your company doesn’t care. They have their rules and they will never change. And the longer that you stay there the harder it will be to buy your house and the harder it will be to retire when the time comes.

              1. Fran Fine*

                This. Your company is extremely rigid, introverted af, and you’ll be fighting these people for every little thing even if they do end up giving you what you want this time.

                You’re not out of line for being upset about this situation at all.

      2. Lauren19*

        It’s a fair question. What does a B+ year get you and what does an A+ year get you? If it’s a 1% difference and you’re at 40k, that’s $400 a year, or $33/month. Is that worth it to you? Your employer? It’s totally normal to job search for increased compensation. Some companies can only budget so much for certain roles, or have so much work to promote people. So if performance based raises or bonuses aren’t in the budget and there’s not a need for a higher level role, those are the facts. Don’t take it personally and good luck out there!!

      3. Clisby*

        That has been my experience as well, barring promotions or a recalibrating of the pay schedule.

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      That’s understandably deflating. Why not start job-hunting now? It always takes longer than you think, so depending on where you are in the house buying process you might already be in your new home before you find a new job. And if you do find a new job sooner, it’s not the end of the world to switch jobs while house hunting. The main thing to avoid while house hunting is things that will affect your credit score, like buying a new car. Of course, check in with your lender to see if they have any recommendations/rules about switching jobs, they’ll be able to advise you best.

      A friend and her spouse both changed jobs recently while house hunting and it didn’t affect anything. (Of course the buying market is brutal right now and they still haven’t found a house, but they’d still be in a job they hated/passed up a good opportunity if they both waited until they got a house.)

      Good luck! I’ve been in your situation before where I’ve felt very underpaid and been told that I wasn’t ever going to get more money, and it sucked. I wish I had worked hard to get out right then, but instead I was so beaten down and deflated that I ended up staying another year or so until I was laid off. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, I hope you can find a new job soon that pays you what you deserve!

      1. introverted af*

        My concern about job hunting is that we’re looking to get into real estate as flippers with a couple friends and I just don’t have the bandwidth with the existing project I have at work and then also trying to get our first house decided on and bought. That is really good to know to think about the lending/credit!

        1. Former Child*

          You need to remember that YOUR AGENDA in life isn’t the company’s concern. Be careful you don’t over-extend yourself in real estate when it’s dependent on a job you’re disappointed about.
          It’s one thing to buy a house now, you have to live somewhere and it may be equal to rent. You could job-hunt after the house. Even quit after buying.
          But adding house flipping too means you need security. And, flipping w/friends adds more uncertainty.
          Your job has its rules and you don’t like them. You can look around and maybe find a higher salary, but be careful here.

    3. should i apply?*

      While I don’t think 5% is outrageous, in my experience 2-3% is more common for a yearly raise. However, now you know what your company’s position is, I wouldn’t take that personally. It sucks, but now you know to get more you need either a promotion or leave to get a higher raise.

      You said that you “kicked ass” this year, did you manager also agree with that assessment? I am also concerned that you shared your “thoughts and feelings” obviously I don’t know what you said, but I would be concerned that you didn’t come off as very professional. I would have focused on the accomplishments, and any information you had related to market rates for pay.

      1. introverted af*

        My review absolutely reflected my performance and my understanding of my performance.

        The thoughts I shared with my grandboss were that I felt my supervisors response to my concerns about my raise were not appropriate. I shared these thoughts because we were discussing my opinion of him as a supervisor and feedback for his review in a meeting she invited me to, not as something totally random I initiated. I explicitly told her I didn’t want this to turn into a whole vent session again for me, and to cut me off if I was going there. You’re right that I could have focused on my accomplishments, but after going through my review and seeing that my supervisor totally agreed that my performance was above and beyond (exceeds expectations in 3/4 areas and otherwise highly complimentary of the projects I took on beyond my job description) I felt like that didn’t matter any more.

        His responses to my frustration were 1) (the university we’re affiliated with) won’t get raises this year; 2) our organization values longevity, which is why I couldn’t get more as a new person; 3) that if it was up to him he would give me 20%.

        My problems with that: 1) Our leadership regularly uses the excuse that “we have to be sensitive to School and follow their lead” when it’s convenient but doesn’t back that up when the School does something positive for their employees. 2) You don’t get longevity if this is what you give people; 3) I know 20% isn’t realistic, so for that to be the number he throws out makes me think he doesn’t understand the process and he thinks I wanted something that unrealistic. Clearly 5% was out of line with the organization but for me to want $2000 isn’t crazy.

        1. should i apply?*

          With the additional context I totally understand why you are frustrated. At this point I think you are better off starting to job hunting or at least trying to get a better understanding of the job market for your position.

    4. chai latte*

      You’re not unreasonable to be unhappy with your compensation – no matter where you live, an under-40k salary is low. Liveable, depending on where, but low.

      That said, a 2-3% annual raise *is* pretty standard. Your company isn’t out of line for offering that percentage.

      They may or may not be underpaying you in terms of what you could get for your skills elsewhere, but you are underpaid in terms of a general “what a professional job should enable you to do financially” – unfortunately, that is just the standard for a lot of jobs/fields in the US.

      1. 867-5309*

        I would disagree with the statement of “what a professional job should pay.” I know many people in low cost of living cities who are able to afford a home, go out, take vacations, etc. on salaries in the $28,000-$40,000 range. All of children.

        (I think stagnant compensation and the growing wealth gap are a problem. Just disagreeing with that particular statement.)

          1. Paris Geller*

            Yeah I’ve lived in two pretty low cost of living areas on 28K (2013) and 32-37K (2018-beginning of this year) and it was a struggle. I don’t want to say I live the most frugal of lifestyles but certainly nothing excessive, and no student loan debt or kids, just an auto loan. By the time I finished paying modest rent, health care premium deductions, car insurance, auto loan (with a low finance rate), utilities, basic groceries. . . there was no way I could have afford a home or frequent vacations without going into significant debt. My “splurges” were more Netflix & hulu subscriptions (a total of $20-25 a month?) and maybe a new book every month or two.

      2. TiffIf*

        I see 2-3% as a yearly Cost of Living adjustment though–not even really a “raise.”

        1. Pikachu*

          Yep. Cost of living raises have never been real raises for me, because they were inevitably wiped out by increased healthcare premiums four months later.

    5. SlimeKnight*

      It really depends on your place of work. I work in the public sector and a 2% cost of living adjustment is standard. This year it is 1.4% with an additional 1% possible for merit. It is possible to get more, but that would only be if you could show that you substantially expanded your scope of responsibilities horizontally. For example one year I took on managing two new programs and received a 6% raise, but this was very unusual. The only way to get more than that is through promotion.

      I’m not advocating for this system, but it may not be something your boss or grandboss has any control over.

    6. 867-5309*

      The average pay raise everywhere I have worked is 2-3%, with 5% being incredibly exceptional. Your employer is not outside of the norms with this.

      Besides just wanting to get to the round number of $40,000, are you making a business and performance case for the raise?

    7. Paris Geller*

      5% is definitely outside the norm for any place I’ve worked or anyone I’m close enough to know their work history/raises (some of my friends and I definitely discuss things like that, in an effort to be more transparent about money). I got 4% last year and that was exceedingly rare–a standard 1% cost of living adjustment that was across the board and then a 3% performance raise. That being said, it does sound like you’re underpaid, so yeah, I’d also be done with that workplace.

    8. DataScientist*

      Just to add on a a manager who does the salary increase review, 2-3% per year is typical for most jobs in my area. Also note that most times managers have set $ amount based on the average %. This means in order to give one person a larger increase some one must get a lower increase. So your raise could have actually been reflective of your high performance status. If the average is 2% then giving you 2.5% and the low performer 1.5% is how the company would differentiate.

      It sucks and I was also disappointed in our company this year, but it is not at all reflective on how they feel about you personally and more just corporate culture.

      1. Former Child*

        True. And adding in personal goals of buying a house AND “house flipping” makes it sound like she expects her raise to accommodate her life.

    9. BRR*

      You’re not out of line. It sounds like you’ve gone above and beyond and done the work to warrant a 5% raise (I’m also wondering if your manager really thinks you should be earning 20% more or if it was their attempt at encouragement). Yes 2%-3% is typical but that’s more of a standard COLA and you can certainly do the work to warrant more. It also sounds like your boss and grandboss wouldn’t go to bat for you and that’s also frustrating. It does sound like they wouldn’t be able to get you a larger raise even if they tried but if that’s the case, they didn’t handle it well.

      Also I’m not sure if I’m misreading the tone from your letter but it’s sounding very personal. I’m kind of worried when you mentioned “vent session again.” If you’re not already, I would try and keep the conversation about your salary related to your skills and accomplishments as much as possible.

    10. JelloStapler*

      Yup. I wish I had advice, but I just have commiseration. That’s going on in our place (and 2.5% is amazing where I work) – and they are surprised people are leaving our industry in droves.

      1. JelloStapler*

        ETA: However, it *is* typical across many areas right now in the US- so not personal to you.

  19. SilverSwans*

    I’m looking to leave my toxic job. My boss and assistant manager have issues with anger, boundaries, and narcissism. They want me to be their emotional punching bag and say that they’re “just joking” or it’s “hazing.” They yell in people’s faces, curse at people in front of the rest of the staff, etc.

    My boss is a huge bully and a toxic person who belittles and emotionally manipulates us. They won’t tell us what they want, but then berate us when projects are not completed as they deemed they should be, along with personal criticisms and insults and passive aggressive silent-treatments, etc. I realized this toxicity quite early on, but can’t leave until I find a new job.

    In interviews, what should I say when they ask, ‘Why do you want to leave your current job?”

    Once I do leave, how can I not let it have an impact on my new job? (And mental health/well-being)

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      I’ve been there! Focus on what you like about the job you’re applying to. For example, it sounds like you’re looking for something with more autonomy once clear direction has been given.

      Also, think about the elements that you can discuss, removing the emotional parts.

      1. Fran Fine*

        Focus on what you like about the job you’re applying to.

        This is the best pivot.

    2. irene adler*

      Don’t talk trash about your current employer- no matter what. That will reflect badly on you.

      Focus on what attracts you to the position you have applied for.
      IS this an opportunity to use skills you haven’t used at current job (or have recently acquired and want to put to use)?
      IS this an opportunity to grow/move up whereas current job doesn’t offer any avenues for promotion?
      Is your current position moving towards something you are not interested in doing (answer here is yes – from what you wrote. Find something innocuous here; like too much llama grooming when you are interested in llama training- something that pertains to the job you are interviewing for).

    3. occasional interviewer*

      When asked, “Why do you want to leave your current job?”, you could say something like:
      “Well while I enjoyed being able to work on [a project you are highlighting], I am looking for a company with a more supportive and collaborative culture.” Then counter with a question like, “What do you enjoy most about the culture here?”

    4. animaniactoo*

      “I am struggling in my current job that has poorly defined goals, and am looking for a place where I feel better set up to succeed”

      A company that would take that a negative is more than likely a company that you don’t want to work for, so while you don’t want to trashtalk your current company, it can be useful to give the overview as a mismatch with what lets you succeed.

      Once you do leave – every time something makes you wince, take a deep breath and ask yourself if you’re reacting to previous history or something that actually just happened here? You’re going to need that process so that you don’t convince yourself to underreact to something that is real where you are, just as much as you are trying to avoid overreacting.

      And in the meantime… what are you doing in your personal time for stress-relief/mental disconnect from the job while not working?

      1. Former Child*

        Say a fancier version of this:
        “I’m a team player with a great attitude and can follow complex detail work, so I’m looking for a place that appreciates that.”
        That praises you instead of slamming your bosses.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, only you have to be able to show, not tell… That’s just blah-blah corporate lingo that means less than nothing if it’s not backed up by facts.

  20. 3days*

    Hello! I am looking for some advice on a tight-ish timeline. My boss set up a lunch meeting with me titled “career next steps.” Every time (for like the past year…) we’ve talked about it I’ve said, “I don’t know…” and she tells me to think about it. I have a strong sense that my boss and her manager want to mentor me and have me succeed, but I don’t know what to tell them.

    Specifically, I work in retail/branch banking at a small (150ish employee) bank. I started out in customer service. I was doing slightly more reporting and special projects than other customer service people, so I got promoted to primarily do reporting and special projects and back up customer service. During the pandemic the need came for me to fill in a lot more for customer service, but now that we’re back to normal my manager has taken me off all customer service. There really isn’t enough reporting to justify a full time employee in my area. (My boss is also pretty bad at sharing her work even though she has a ton on her plate.) There are people who do similar work in other areas of the bank, so it’s not like I could just start helping out other departments. (Note, these people have titles like “analyst”, “specialist”, “coordinator” while mine is “administrator.”) I’ve never been or wanted to be a banker, basically just have general office skills and general banking knowledge. I am OK with interpersonal skills but I would strongly prefer to work internally rather than with clients. I don’t feel the need to get on a management or officer track, but I also don’t want to do the same thing for the next 40 years. I do enjoy working on a lot of novel projects, but I wish I had some day-to-day stuff to fill my time. I just graduated with a BS in business December 2020.

    I think bsa/aml sounds interesting because of the investigative work, but I don’t know what the actual day-to-day work looks like. I also think working in credit or loans sounds interesting because it seems like the work is discrete and measurable. Is it even appropriate to tell your boss you’d like help leaving her department? I should mention that I’m at a privately owned bank with amazing benefits and would love to stay here as long as possible.

    Does anyone have any sort of advice for me? I feel totally stuck and unprepared.

    1. Reba*

      Well, stop saying you don’t know, but you know that :) This is fine! It’s a conversation, it’s not a binding commitment to anything, and it’s not a trick question. It sounds like they would be supportive of whatever plans or interests you develop, she knows that you won’t stay in the same job forever!

      Say just what you said: “I think bsa/aml sounds interesting because of the investigative work, but I don’t know what the actual day-to-day work looks like. I also think working in credit or loans sounds interesting because it seems like the work is discrete and measurable.”

      Then ask your boss what they think about your skills, aptitude whatever are suited to those paths and how you could learn more about the roles. You can benefit from her perspective on your organization and the field.

      1. 3Days*

        Thank you for your advice, I think I will tell her just that and hope it helps the conversation.

    2. Joobie*

      I have been in your shoes! I started in branch banking with a HUGE top-3 size bank. Once that crushed my soul after 4 years, I moved to loans. I moved to a small bank, as a Commercial Lending Assistant. Basically, I maintained files, facilitated loan documentation, and helped my boss maintain his schedule. It was great. If you can, and it interests you, try that! You will have some client interaction, but you’ll have probably 65% internal interactions. From there, you can see a lot of different roles, and determine what might be next for you. You might might do what I did, and go the credit analyst route, which means you underwrite the financial picture of a business to determine the feasibility of a loan. From that role, I moved to a portfolio manager role, and am probably moving to a credit administrator role soon. Or, you could move into the loan servicing and administration or documentation role, or loan review.
      To my mind, AML/BSA will be very much the same day in and day out, and honestly you’re no one’s friend. Catching a big Kiting scheme is VERY cool, but that won’t happen a lot, and to my personal opinion, compliance of any sort is the title that has other people think “oh great, it’s her again” when you call.

      My two cents!

      1. 3Days*

        Thank you, I appreciate your advice. I don’t really have a network of banking people and I’ve had a hard time visualizing career paths.

    3. AndersonDarling*

      Maybe ask what options are available to you? Your manager could be thinking of 5 paths for you and is hoping that you randomly come up with one. If you ask, you may find out that there are more options available to you.

    4. animaniactoo*

      It is fine to say “I get a lot of satisfaction out of performing my job well, and being internal support. However, if there are other positions that you think I would be well suited to doing, I would be interesting in learning more about those.” and fill that out with whether you want to work collaboratively or individually, and having a sense of not wanting to do the same thing for the next 40 years but not really being clear about what else you would be interested in doing.

    5. Kes*

      It sounds like you do have some ideas of where you might want to be longer term, and your boss likely has some thoughts as well. In the meantime I would think about what tasks and types of work of what you are doing you like best, and start there. You also mentioned your boss is bad at sharing her work, I would think about if there are specific tasks you are aware of that you think you could take on to help out. That way you can start the conversation with where you’re at and go from there –
      “I’ve been thinking about this. In what I’m doing now I find I particularly enjoy the projects that involve [deep analysis of data]. I’m not sure how much additional need for this type of work there is in our area beyond what I’m currently doing, although I’d be interested in hearing if you have any ideas there. I also know you’re really busy so I was thinking maybe I could take on a few of your tasks, for example [x task], so I could learn more about that and to lighten your load. Longer term I was considering maybe moving into bsa/aml or credit or loans, but I don’t really know too much about these areas yet or also if there are other possibilities that I might be overlooking that would be a good fit. I’d be interested to hear what next steps and trajectories you think might make sense for me.”

  21. Temporarily Anon*

    Looking for ways to turn down candidates that are not just overqualified, but so much so that the job isn’t even written for them. As a note, this isn’t an entry-level gig for folks who are okay with stepping back or stepping down, or using it as a means to get a foot in the door. It is specifically a post-bac position, explicitly spelled out in the job description, and we have almost all PhDs applying. And I do promise it’s explicit, but the language is such that I’d likely dox myself if I copied from the job ad.

    I know people are hungry for work! I am deeply sympathetic, and I get that people are just applying wherever they can. But it also feels like a waste of everyone’s time- theirs for tailoring their application materials for a job that is not written for them, and ours for having to wade through.

    Our first-round rejections, i.e., ones where we opted not to even interview, are form letters stating that the candidates didn’t meet our requirements. However, that doesn’t feel applicable, since these candidates technically do. Just want to be able to acknowledge the bad situation and respond to their inquiries with empathy.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      So…. why are you so opposed to hiring a PhD? Are you concerned that salary expectations will be out of whack? Or that they’ll get bored in 6 months and leave?

      1. chai latte*

        My guess is the latter – there are so many PhDs graduated and just not enough jobs to go around. So a lot of PhDs will pick up any semi-related job they can get but stay on the job market for an academic job. It’s especially bad in humanities and related fields because they don’t have the same pathways to business sector work that STEM/business/etc PhDs do, and during Covid a lot of depts shrank and laid off even tenured folks.

      2. Temporarily Anon*

        I would hire someone with a PhD in another field who was looking to come into our field. But this is a specifically a post-bac fellowship, not a post-doc. Nothing to do with duties, salary expectations, boredom, or wanting to take a step back.

        1. animaniactoo*

          In that case, I would simply state that. ‘While we appreciate your interest, this fellowship is targeted as a post-bac and not above position.”

          1. ecnaseener*

            “This fellowship is specifically for post-bac candidates, so unfortunately you aren’t eligible to be considered.” That’s it! (Okay, add a little fluff if you want but that’s it on substance.)

        2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

          Oh – so these are academic fellowships, targeted at post-bachelors, pre-PhDs.

          Yeah, then you’ve got to be explicit up front in the ad, and specifically say that PhDs and PhD candidates will not be accepted. And then it sounds like you need a specific rejection email for this category as well.

          Because, technically, a PhD is a post-bac. (technically correct. the best kind of correct…)

        3. Golden*

          Is the listing calling it a fellowship or a job/career? I know you said the listing was explicit, but in your OP you call it a job (I believe you either way!). That’s kind of bizarre if it’s specifically titled as a post-bac fellowship and PhDs are still applying.

          I (a PhD) was turned down for associate positions a lot when job seeking, sometimes because they figured I’d be bored, but I never would have applied to something explicitly described as a post-bac fellowship.

          Maybe it’s better to post the listing through undergraduate job boards or set up contacts within a few colleges to recommend good candidates?

        4. AcademiaNut*

          We have something similar at my institute – one or two year contract jobs for people who have graduated with a BSc, to get lab experience and language practice which will help when applying for graduate programs overseas (they usually do the GRE and TOEFL during this process). A PhD wouldn’t be considered, because that’s not who the program is for.

    2. balanceofthemis*

      I have a couple friends who recently finished their PhDs and are in this situation. The problem is that stable jobs (ie: tenure track) in academia are disappearing, and that is where most people who went for their PhD expected to end up. A big issue for them is that their work experience is often directly related to either research or teaching (or both), so while they have more education than required, they often don’t have the work experience needed for higher level jobs.

      It’s nice that you want to be compassionate. In these cases you could send an email thanking them for applying, but explaining that this is a post-bac position and they are overqualifed. Or, have you considered interviewing them? I promise, they are aware that they are educationally overqualified, but they are, in a way, trying to get their feet in the door of a new industry, even if its sort of related to their education.

    3. AndersonDarling*

      Honestly, I wouldn’t immediately throw them out of the running. They may have legit reasons for wanting to take a role with less pressure, more reliable hours, or stability. I know a bunch of people are changing jobs for something more stable.

    4. NoLongerYoung*

      Wording change. Don’t say “meet” requirements, say “match.” You have other candidates that more closely match. (I won’t get into the overqualified discussion).

    5. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      Can you change the form letter to explicitly state that this is a post-bac fellowship and you cannot consider any other degree level? That way not meeting the requirement would mean a person who is below the requirement doesn’t meet it and that exceeding the requirement still does not meet the right requirement either.

    6. Anonymous Koala*

      In my experience with STEM PhDs this is very common and no matter how you alter the wording you’re almost sure to get at least some applications from PhDs who are desperate for jobs. You may also be running into applicants who need to find jobs in the next few months for immigration purposes – if you don’t sponsor for H1Bs or aren’t e-verified, I’d put that right in the ad. Honestly if you don’t want to hire PhDs, I’d be blunt and state that in the ad, and then send form rejections to overqualified candidates. I promise you’re far from the only employer dealing with this right now, and the PhDs applying to you are used to getting form rejections for this kind of thing. And if you are willing to hire a PhD (assuming your funding allows for that), knowing that they’ll still be looking for work and will probably leave you fairly soon, you’ll probably get a pretty good employee.

  22. Not Paid Enough*

    Anyone here an hourly non-exempt employee with experience pushing back on a boss who expects you to be available at the drop of a hat? I’m not in management and make about the US median income, so I’m not in a senior role or anything. He’ll regularly send messages outside of work hours “just in case you’re checking” and has called me after hours before wanting me to log back in to handle a relatively minor task that could have waited until morning (or been done during the work day, had he planned better). I don’t have on call childcare, and frankly I don’t think I’m paid enough to be on call (nor is it a role where on call duties are typical – it’s a standard clerical/office position, just with a disorganized boss).

    1. I should really pick a name*

      Do expect an impact on your job if any type he sends a message “just in case you’re checking”, you’re conveniently not checking?
      What about not answering calls after hours? (If your boss asks why you didn’t pick up, say that you were out somewhere)

      1. Not Paid Enough*

        TBD? He’s new, I have my first performance evaluation with him coming up, and so far I haven’t been checking/answering after hours calls/etc. If it does come up in my evaluation, I want to be either prepared with some ideas of pushing back, or resigned to him being unreasonable and adjusting my expectations and plans accordingly.

        1. I should really pick a name*

          In that case, I have a few thoughts:
          1. It’s good that he’s new. That means you can kind of train him to expect that contacting you after hours is not effective. It would be harder to stop responding if you had a history of responding.

          2. If he brings it up, ask him if there are any specific cases where your lack of response actually caused a problem. (please note, I’m making the assumption that he’s a reasonable person, and clearly that’s not a guarantee)

          3. I think the standard Ask a Manager response would be to ask “how do I go about logging time for this, because we wouldn’t want to get in trouble for unpaid hours?”. I’m not sure how effective this would be, because I’m sure he realizes that the only way the company would get in trouble would be if you reported them.

        2. Jack Straw*

          The performance eval is a perfect opening to look at your job description together, but only if you are okay having the outside-of-normal-hours expectation added (with appropriate compensation IMO) to your job description.

          “I’ve noticed you sometimes contact me outside of normal working hours, but that isn’t included in the description of my role. If that’s something you expect, can we talk about what that looks like as far as frequency, on-call compensation, and access to systems, etc.?”

          If I were your boss, that would flag for me that my expectations are not inline with the role. Also, pointing out that it will cost more to have someone be available 24/7, and if the expectation is that you are available and need to respond, you also need a laptop, work phone, etc.

          That should generate a big NOPE from the boss, but if they really DO want you to be available 24/7, it’s a discussion to have with them for the reasons mentioned above.

        3. BRR*

          Since he’s new would something like “I’m not sure if they brought it up during your on boarding but I’m non-exempt so I don’t check messages after *end of day* because I’ve always been told to avoid overtime pay” work?

          Other phrases that might come in handy: “How should I mark my time for that?” and “I wouldn’t want us to get in trouble.”

    2. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      Don’t check and if you see it don’t respond (definately don’t answer the call, let it go to voicemail). If your not being paid to be on-call or its not in your job description there should be zero expectation. You have to set firm boundaries. Respond back once business hours have started.

    3. Elenia*

      I gently train my bosses, if they are receptive, by never answering the phone, or if I think it is that important, calling back like a day later or if I am on vacation, just saying the message never got to me. And I feel no guilt. But I do feel irritation. :)

    4. JRR*

      How are you receiving work messages when you’re not on duty? When I was nonexempt at my last job, it was explicitly forbidden to log into email or use any company software when not clocked it.

      If he’s contacting you via your personal phone/email, then, as others have suggested, conveniently don’t check your messages until you clock in the next morning.

      1. Not Paid Enough*

        I’m not seeing them until the next day (except for the times he has called my personal cell phone), but I guess part of what confuses me is that I’ve had this sort of role at several different companies and I’ve never had a boss who sent after hours messages by multiple methods/with multiple follow ups or ever called me at home. So the vibe I get is that maybe this guy is just a bad boss with unreasonable expectations, but maybe he’s not used to supervising non-exempt employees? Or committed flagrant wage and hours violations at his previous positions. Either way not sure how to gauge pushing back vs putting up/job search planning, since I’ve never dealt with this before.

        1. A Poster Has No Name*

          I would say, if you’re open to being paid for these things, remind him you’re hourly and ask how you should log time for any OT stuff you handle for him. That in itself might do the trick, but if he takes you up on it, well, extra money. Obviously don’t do this unless you are willing to do the OT, as he might call the bluff.

          If you’re not, then, yes, I’d start with pretending that he doesn’t know you’re hourly and remind him that you can’t work off the clock and then, I guess, just don’t. It will probably take a few reminders for this, possibly looping in his boss at some point. I’d probably go with Alison’s method of treating it like OF COURSE he wouldn’t expect you to work for free on your off hours (especially if there are company policies you can point to, etc.) and be very matter-of-fact about it.

      2. Malarkey01*

        If he says anything I’d start with confusion and mention you’re non exempt and that previously you were under the impression they did not want to pay you overtime for these emails/calls. Since he’s new there’s a real chance he hasn’t connected the dots yet, especially if he’s only managed exempt people in the past.

        If that doesn’t work I’d mention that things are just crazy with young kids and you’re nights are go go go and you seldom have a chance to check.

        1. JelloStapler*

          I’d actually just say “I am not generally available outside of work hours, if that is an expectation- let’s talk about how that looks for both sides”.

    5. animaniactoo*

      I think it might be best to raise it as an overall picture thing. “For anything that takes more a minute or so to do, the legal requirement is that I am paid for the time that I spend doing these things. Because this is not an “on-call” position, my preference is to wait until I am on the clock during regular work hours to take care of these matters, particularly as I have responsibilities outside of work hours that often make me unavailable to put the time in then. However, if I do take care of stuff outside of work hours at any point, how would you like to handle my logging my time and submitting to payroll for that?”

      This is a 1-2 boundary. 1) I do not have this availability. 2) I am not going to do it for free. (starting with an implication of this and reinforcing it at the end.)

    6. Event Professional?*

      If it continues after you strategically “forget” to check your phone, and/or he brings it up as a performance issue, bring up wage law violation. “Boss, I can’t log in after hours and do work. That’s overtime that needs to be clocked or else we’re opening up the company to liability. If overtime is something this role requires, we need to negotiate that; I am not prepared to work unscheduled overtime.” It’s likely that once he realizes asking doesn’t work, he will stop. But I want you to be prepared in case it doesn’t.

      1. Former Child*

        Since you’ve had this kind of set-up in other jobs, you can mention that, and talk about how it worked fine w/those bosses. Politely.

    7. RagingADHD*

      Ignore it, and screen his calls.

      If he wants to bring it up, you have excellent reasons why you are not available. If he directly says he wants you on call, then you tell him what amount of money would make that worth your while.

      If you are valuable enough that he needs your help after hours, then he doesn’t want to lose you.

    8. Tea and Sympathy*

      You might want to search the archives, because Alison has answered this type of question before. If I remember right, if you are paid hourly, you must be paid for any work you do. I think she suggests a script along the lines of asking your boss how he wants you to include that on your time sheet, or whatever.

  23. Mannheim Steamroller*

    Some Employers: “The problem with remote work is that we can’t micromanage you remotely.”

    Some Employees: “The problem with remote work is that I can’t blame traffic for being late to a Zoom call when I want to sneak in some extra sleep.”

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      I had my first full day in the office this week. AKA My Least Productive Day.

    2. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Why are you scheduling meetings first thing in the morning? Also, tech issues are real. It took me 7 minutes to log in to my webinar this morning. It should have taken 30 seconds.

      1. Mannheim Steamroller*

        I never said that I was either “that” employer or “that” employee.

          1. SnappinTerrapin*

            I agree. MS plainly did not imply that “all” employers or employees took these positions.

      2. Lana Kane*

        Sometimes they are necessary? For example, if you don’t want early meetings, avoid the healthcare industry!

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          And don’t work across time zones. I’m working with Europe from the US, so a 7am meeting may save a day in our development cycle. The tricky part is working Australia into the mix.

    3. Leah K.*

      The problem with being back in the office is that people still schedule back to back meetings and forget to account for the fact that it now takes me 5 minutes just to walk to the bathroom. We are humans! We need our pee breaks!

    4. The New Wanderer*

      Me WFH: I can make an 8 am meeting, no problem!
      Me, forced to go to the office: Make it 9 or later, or I’ll just call in before commuting.

  24. Falling Diphthong*

    Answer to that AAM favorite, Does anyone actually wear shorts suits?

    I was at an outdoor wedding last weekend, “cocktail attire,” and several of the men wore suits with coordinated jackets and tailored knee-length shorts. So I have finally spotted this in the wild, even if not at work. Men were 30-ish. I wish I had paid more attention to their footwear; I can only report that it didn’t stand out as odd.

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I saw a woman wearing one at a client’s in May/June. First time I’d ever seen in real life. It was a woman, suit shorts and a coordinating 3/4 sleeve jacket. She was wearing heels.

    2. Glomarization, Esq.*

      No. Shorts are for children; on adults they are underwear, sleep wear, or outdoor casual/athletic wear, unless they are quite literally Bermuda shorts formal wear for people in Bermuda. Shorts suits are for preadolescent boys who have a role in a religious ceremony (or are members of the Royal Family).

      I will die on this hill.

      1. animaniactoo*

        You probably REALLY don’t want to know about the Lace Shorts for Men then.

        Link in next comment if you don’t find it by googling…

          1. SnappinTerrapin*

            Mercy. THAT is well beyond my comfort zone.

            Come to think of it, it would probably be beyond everyone else’s comfort zone, too, if I were to give it a try.

      2. Mental Lentil*

        Yeah, you will definitely die on this hill. (Types I as I sit here in very comfortable shorts.)

      3. allathian*

        Primary school boys in the UK. Poor things have to wear shorts year round, even if they wear them with knee-length winter jackets. Granted, girls and women never grow out of wearing skirts in that environment.

        1. SnappinTerrapin*

          When I was a child, my mother laughed when I asked how women could wear skirts in the winter.

          Sixty years later, I still don’t understand how – much less why – they endure it.

      4. SnappinTerrapin*

        That notion has gotten deeply ingrained in my psyche, too.

        On the other hand, I recollect seeing a picture of my grandfather in a knickerbocker suit, and he looked pretty sharp.

        I don’t know that I would have the nerve to try it myself, though, and if I did, it would probably be for a social occasion. (Same thing about a kilt.)

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      This sounds cute lol. I can’t imagine wearing that as a work suit but it seems like a great idea for a summer wedding!

      1. Eden*

        Yeah I was just looking through photos and thinking “well I could see this on groomsmen I guess”

    4. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I am ashamed to say that I wore an outfit of salmon pink shorts and matching vest with white tights and white flats in the mid 90s. I wish it was my worst fashion mistake, but I also remember when floral rompers were a thing in the early 90s (full length, not shorts). I have a lot to atone for.

      1. Montresaur*

        I gotta say, while neither of those would be something I’d wear (I probably would have chosen a light gray vest :p), I’m high-fiving you. I love it when people dress unusually, even when there’s a cultural consensus around bad fashion choices.

        Also, the 90’s were terrible for clothing and hair, and none of us who were alive then completely escaped it.

      2. emmelemm*

        I also have a lot to atone for…

        I’ve never been good at fashion and it’s even worse when I *try*, which I did for a while in the 90s.

      3. The New Wanderer*

        SAME. My mid-90s shorts suit was white with green stripes, worn with sheer hose (required for my mall job). I believe I had a second shorts suit but have successfully blocked details of that one from memory. Also did the full-length romper thing! I got revenge later on when I bought a shorts-romper and converted it to a cute tunic length top. No onesies for adults!

      1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

        Australia, too? Or is that just in Men at Work videos from the 80s?

        1. linger*

          New Zealand, too: knee-length “walk shorts” were reasonably common among men of a certain age, especially in the offices of the public service, up until that generation retired (in the 1980s).

        2. Shorts shorts shorts*

          It was common in Australia up to the 1990s when many offices had no air-conditioning. Wearing a full suit when the temperature outside is 35+ degrees Celsius stinks.
          Source: my dad often wore this in summer.

    5. Montresaur*

      I’ve never seen this IRL and so it would probably take me aback at first, but right on! Sounds like something you’d find at Wildfang; and their stuff looks so sharp.

    6. 3Days*

      I saw one on an older gentleman on Father’s day in 2015. He was European if it makes a difference, but never since. I just can’t imagine a short suit is THAT MUCH cooler than one with long pants.

      1. SnappinTerrapin*

        Perhaps the jacket and shirt should also be short-sleeved.

        Or the short-sleeved matching shirt should have some indicia of formality, comparable to a Royal Navy officer’s shoulder boards on a warm clime uniform, which match the insignia on the coat of a temperate clime uniform.

    7. Chompers*

      I got married last month (in a very, very hot Las Vegas) and one of my friends wore a shorts suit and he was an absolute hit with everyone. One of my family friends wore his shiny gold suit (because I requested it) so they did sort of end up canceling each other out on what people talked about!

    8. Donkey Hotey*

      I can’t say all or nothing. I put short-suits in the same category as kilts outside Scotland: you have to read the room. That said, there are a vanishingly small number of places I would consider a short-suit appropriate.

    9. rear mech*

      Boat shoes maybe? Light colored leather loafers or oxfords? Maybe it’s because I’m from a very hot place but shorts suits in linen or seersucker sound quite nice for an outdoor event.

  25. Hi*

    I just accepted a temporary position and told them that I could start a week from now. My issue is that I was invited to a second interview with my dream job today. I’m hoping that the dream job will make a decision within the week before I start the temporary job. I accepted the temporary position when they offered because I didn’t want to be without income for longer than I have to (I currently have no job, no income).

    What is the proper way to turn down the temporary position for the dream job if I’m offered? I’m hoping I’m offered the dream job before I start the temporary position but if not would it be horrible to quit during my employment if I’m offered the dream job? Does it make a difference that it’s temporary?

    1. Doctor is In*

      I would not feel bad about leaving a temporary job for a permanent job. Just try to give some notice if you can. Good luck!

    2. 867-5309*

      Give the standard two weeks notice to the temporary job, and tell them you thought the other opportunity had gone cold when they reached back out with an offer & you cannot pass up the security of a permanent role. They might annoyed since you just started but you do not control that.

    3. Siege*

      I mean, what’s temporary? Are you talking about a two-month fixed-contract project sourced through a temp agency, or is this a temp-as-in-we’ll-never-hire-permanent-but-we-need-permanent position, or is this maternity coverage, or…?

      In any case, if it’s through an agency, I would just contact them and quit if you get the offer. You could offer to stay on for a few days if they need time to find someone else with your skillset to cover the position. But they’re a temp agency. They have people waiting to do the job, and the longer those people are in the role, the better.

      If it’s a more permanent position hired through the company itself, I’d probably do pretty similar, honestly. If you’re early in your temp role, they may be able to go back to another finalist and offer them the job, so it may make sense for your last day to be whatever day you give notice, but let them guide that. It’s a constant theme of the site that if you haven’t been in a role long you don’t need to do a traditional notice period, and I feel like that’s doubled in the case of a recently-started temp job because they’re unlikely to need to restart their search all over again.

    4. Can Can Cannot*

      Yes, it definitely makes a difference. Temporary means exactly that. You should feel free to jump ship from a temporary job for a permanent job, especially when it’s a dream job (assuming those really exist).

    5. Not quite*

      You’re overthinking it, I think. Temps quit at the last minute or during their first week all the time. Just explain you were offered a permanent position, no normal person will hold that against you.

    6. BRR*

      There’s a difference entirely because it’s temporary. Acknowledge it’s inconvenient for them and say you couldn’t pass up long-term employment.

    7. PollyQ*

      Not at all horrible. If it turns out that you’ve already started working the temp job (which is pretty likely, given how long hiring often takes), then it’d be good to offer to work a notice period. They make not take you up on it, but at least you’ll have handled it professionally.

  26. SCD*

    Hello. Lurker here. I’m hoping I can pick your brains because I need some advice.

    I’m a Senior Creative Developer (I design and develop eLearning) about 4 months into a role at a learning and development organization. Unfortunately, I accepted a job that was described as one thing and has turned out to be something else entirely.

    Without going into too many details… I’m essentially doing everything except content creation. Recently I found out that my role is going to become somewhat sales focused ‍♀️ and my manager made a point of saying that content is irrellevant. She said point blank to forget the learner experience because it’s not at all important. I’ve also just been put in charge of a program that does old school lecture style powerpoint training with absolutely no interactivity, video, voiceovers, or knowledge checks. I have very little room to make improvements and based on my experience at the organization so far, I have little faith that will change. To top it off, the work I have been given is suitable for an entry level employee, but I’m a veteran in the industry with 20 years of experience under my belt.

    Needless to say, I think I am in the wrong organization and after less than a handful of months I’m planning to begin my job search again.

    How do deal with this situation on my resume and cover letter? I know once I get an interview I will have a chance to explain in a tactful way why I would be willing to leave a job after only 4 months. But what is the best way to communicate that ahead of time?

    I’m hesitant to leave it off my resume because then I have an employment gap. Nor do I want to seem disingenuous for leaving it off. Should I address it in my cover letter and if so, how?
    I would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks!

      1. SCD*

        Well, I seem to be particularly inept this morning. Sorry for the duplicate comment. I refreshed the page and my comment didn’t show so I posted again. Please feel free to delete.

      2. silverpie*

        (tech) Emojis like that are two characters under the hood: first the base emoji, which gets stripped by her blog prog, and then a male/female/neuter sign to indicate which variant to show. That second part actually shows up. ‍‍‍ (/tech)

    1. Reba*

      I don’t think a 4 month gap is horrible, so it would be fine to leave it off the resume itself, and it’s not disingenuous! But if you would rather leave it in, something like “the job didn’t turn out to be what I thought it would be, I’m more interested in focusing on X” is perfectly fine to say — in an interview, I’m not sure I’d put that in a cover letter as the letter should be forward-looking, not why you’re leaving someplace. Good luck!

    2. new kid*

      Ugh that sucks. I’ve definitely been there with some of the ID/content strategy roles I’ve been in. I think with a short stint it’s easy enough to spin it in interviews as “The role was intended to be creative instructional design focused with an emphasis on eLearning, but once I was hired it shifted to be more marketing focused which isn’t really my skillset. So I’m looking to jump back into the ID work that I love!” kind of thing. That said, I think it could be worth subtly mentioning some of what you ran into here to avoid ending up in the same situation again. You don’t have to frame it as bad-talking your current employer, but just asking questions like “what is your goal for eLearning at your organization?” / “is it important to you that someone in this role stays current on emerging learning technologies and learning theory?” / etc.

      Good luck, I know there are companies out there who will actually respect you work and allow you to shine!!

    3. AndersonDarling*

      As long as you don’t have a history of short jobs, I think you should be okay leaving it on your resume. I had the same issue in my field and started job searching after 6 months. I mentioned it in my cover letters, “My current role has moved away from development, and I’m seeking a job where I can dedicate my time to building dynamic and compelling content.”

      1. Kes*

        Agreed with this and the above answer, as long as you keep it brief and just state the fact that the role shifted away from development and you’re looking for a position that will let you focus on content, should be fine.

    4. 867-5309*

      Were you at your last role for awhile? If it was at least 2-3 years and you have something before that in the same timeframe, as a hiring manager I would just assume that you were looking for a legit reason. It would not throw you out of the running. However, if most of your jobs are a year or less, then I would be concerned, in which case, considering leaving it off your resume.

    5. WellRed*

      If you put it on the resume it won’t add value to your candidacy and you’ll have to figure out how to spin it.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Agreed. Gaps, especially during a pandemic, can be easier to explain than a poor-fit, short-term job where your accomplishments don’t showcase your actual skills. Anecdotally, I have a 6 mo gap and an 18 mo gap on my resume, they have never even been mentioned in an interview and they weren’t pandemic or recession related.

        Good luck with the job search!

  27. Do you validate?*

    I’m going through a needy phase. Maybe it’s imposter syndrome, maybe I just don’t like my job anymore and don’t think I’m very good at it (perhaps both). In any event, I tend to go through moments where I need more validation than usual. Concurrently, I am talking with my therapist about being more vulnerable and accepting from people should I need it. And now I face a conundrum. I do not want to be vulnerable with my boss – who is a perfectly good boss, but also very very busy and I hate asking for her help unless necessary and my emotional need is not really her problem. So, I suppose I’m trying to find ways to validate myself and actually take it to heart rather than think I’m just placating myself until someone important comes along an voluntarily offers me random praise… because that happens (NOT!)

    1. LC*

      Could you ask for a short, but regular check-in with her? Just taking 5-10 minutes once a week or so to ask for any feedback on whatever specific thing you did that week.

      This probably wouldn’t work for every role, I’m thinking of something where you turn work in, or present something, or had to handle a particular thing, just something kind of concrete. Might be a little weird to ask for feedback on something not so concrete.

      I definitely understand where you’re coming from, I feel that way too. In my last job, this worked well for me. My boss was also super busy, so when I first asked for regular check-ins, we very clearly agreed that I could send her a meeting request for anything that wasn’t already blocked off on her calendar and that she may need to reschedule last minute if something urgent comes up, but she will always reschedule (this prevented the “she just doesn’t want to meet with me/I’m a burden/she probably only has bad things to say/guess I’m not important” spiral that I would otherwise immediately fall into if she just started bailing last minute with no indication of rescheduling).

      And I didn’t tell her any of the stuff in my head, I just said that I’d like to check in regularly to make sure I’m staying on track. This isn’t asking specifically for positive feedback, but you’ll likely get it more often than you think, and if anything is actually wrong, you can know and fix it rather than just ruminating.

    2. Koala dreams*

      Could you keep a list of things you did well at work, and look at it when you feel down? Or write down when people say something positive to you, so you can look at it later?

      1. LC*

        Oh yeah, I love this idea!

        I had a folder in my inbox called Smile, and I’d copy emails into it that said positive stuff about me or like, emails that rolled something out in a positive way that I was really involved in, particularly nice “thank you” emails I’d received. Basically anything that I was proud of or that gave me the warm fuzzies.

        In addition to just being a nice thing to do for yourself, it also helped me when performance review time came around and I immediately forget every thing I’ve ever worked on.

        1. Kes*

          Yes, this – I have a folder of screenshots of positive feedback I’ve received – formal feedback through our portal but also emails and messages where someone specifically thanked me or called out my work. This way I can easily remind myself when needed of the evidence that others think I’m doing a good job, as well as being a reminder of achievements for reviews if needed.

    3. The cat's pajamas*

      I’m feeling similar. I recently decided to reconnect with a past mentor and didn’t realize how much I needed validation until we started catching up.

      Do you have anyone in your life who gives reliable pep talks?

      Perhaps we could start a validation thread… I’ll start, Isee you and you’re awesome!

  28. lt anon*

    I have a resume question. I’ve worked for the same school board for 20+ years as a Library Technician. I’ve worked in a handful of different elementary schools (one school closed after amalgamation with another school and I worked in the new one). I moved from that new school when my hours were cut to my current school–after 3 years there, the board cut all LT positions (which were either 6 hrs/day or 3/hrs a day depending on school size) by 50% and we were given two schools–I kept my current one and picked up a smaller school. I did that for two years, then, because I was only at 4.5 hours/a day at the two (3hrs at larger school, 1.5 at smaller) I was able to pick up a third school, also at 1.5 hrs/day. That lasted for a year because at that point, the board adjusted how it assigned hours for the larger elementary schools which meant I got enough time at my larger school to put at the 6 hr/day mark (although I’m now down to 5.5 hrs/a day…declining enrollment).

    So, I’m not sure how I should list this on my resume for outside the board jobs (it’s not an issue for internal positions as we have a jobs portal we use–and don’t need a resume, it’s all in our file in that system). The school board is my actual employer but I’m wondering if I should list each school separately with the same info under each one…or if I should list the schools/dates under my job title/employer, with job info under that–so one list of duties instead of multiples of the same thing. While I’ve done various committee work at my schools, I list those separately under activities/committees (and tbh, I’ve been on the same committee at different schools). I’m not sure what’s best or if there’s a different type of resume that might work better.

    Any thoughts/input would be appreciated. Hope everyone has a great Friday!

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I would lump that all together as working for “East Whereverville School District”. Then list the dates. If you made the analogy to a retail job, you wouldn’t need to list the 5 locations of Llamas N’ Things that you worked at. But you could mention that you successfully adapted to several different schools, worked with different principals, etc.

      1. lt anon*

        I was thinking along those lines–and including adapting to different staffs is a good point, too. Thanks for the reply!

    2. May Flowers*

      I suspect your experience is related to what some of us need to do when we have had multiple job titles within the same organization. For example, I had four different roles (of increasing seniority) at a former employer. On my resume, I listed the employer name in the largest font. Then, in medium font I listed each role and the years for each role. Under each role listing, I had bullets for accomplishments for that role. I suspect you could easily do the same for your resume: Biggest font is your school board, then the different libraries/schools in medium font with a bulleted list under each of those schools with your accomplishments in that position.

      1. lt anon*

        Something like this is what I was leaning toward, but I wasn’t sure it would look “right”. But looking at as you did from the business perspective, it makes sense. Thanks so much for the reply!

  29. Butterfly Counter*

    I’m a lecturer in a university. I often have students asking me to write letters of recommendation for jobs and further schooling and I am often happy to do so. I’m also willing to be a reference for some students who are getting out into the job field for the first time.

    I have a student right now that has asked for a letter of rec. I like him, he’s not the best student, but he passed my class with a large margin, but he put in a lot of effort into his work, which I think will translate well in the field he’s interested in. I said that I’d be happy to write a letter of rec and that the place he’s applying should send the letter request to me or that he should tell me the email the contact I should submit the letter to.

    He’s told me, no, he wants me to send the letter to HIM, that he’ll print it out and hand it in when he interviews. He said he won’t read it if I don’t want him to. I’ve emailed him back to say that I normally am in direct contact with those receiving the letters of rec, but he’s insisted that he wants me to send it to him.

    This is weird, right? First, if he’s just printing out the letter to carry with him, those who are reading it don’t truly know if it was me who sent it or not. Second, (and I don’t think he would do this, he’s pretty honest, I’ve found) he could potentially change the letter.

    So my question is if there are any places out there where a letter of rec is something just handed in by the job applicant rather than sent directly from the recommender? We’re in the digital age and paperless seems the norm now. Further, it’s what I’ve been doing exclusively for the past 10-ish years of writing letters of rec for my students. I think I’m confused about this because my student is so insistent.

    I appreciate any insight to this.

    1. Less Bread More Taxes*

      Once, I was asked to personally send my recommendation letters by email – they couldn’t come from my recommenders. It was insanely weird, and when one of my recommenders reasonably objected, my interviews did accept to have an email exchange with him instead. I think my interviewers requested this because it was easier for them to deal with, but they were not the norm.

      Honestly, I just don’t think this student understands most work norms. It could be a teaching moment for him where you explain why this isn’t done and that showing up to an interview with a recommendation letter is going to come across oddly at best. Of course, if a job asks for a recommendation letter from your student specifically, then you could consider doing that, but it’s still very strange.

    2. Annony*

      That does not seem normal at all to me and probably wouldn’t carry any weight. Is this for a job or is he applying to another academic program? A school might accept it if it is one of those “you must submit three letters of recommendation” things where it is really just a checkbox but a job probably wouldn’t want a letter at all and would rather call you.

      1. Butterfly Counter*

        He’s looking into law enforcement. I’ve done enough academic letters of rec to know that I email them to the school/committees they’re applying to.

    3. Reba*

      In some countries, yes, sort of generic letters of recommendation are a thing, included in job applications and such. In the US no one wants these. And in academic applications, your take wrt to the confidentiality of the letter is right.

      The printed out part is definitely weird.

      1. Butterfly Counter*

        Hmm. He is from another country, though is applying to a place local in the US. Maybe he isn’t familiar with how things are usually done here.

        I did tell him it’s highly unusual and that he should look into what his potential employers want him to do, but he hasn’t gotten back to me about that yet.

    4. DataGirl*

      Any chance this student is from another country? When I lived in Germany it was normal to collect letters of recommendations from previous employers to keep in your CV- so they employer would give the employee the letter and they’d just make copies to include in any applications.

        1. DataGirl*

          He likely doesn’t understand the norms in the US- or maybe he just wants to have it on file for if/when he goes back to his home country. When I lived in Germany it was expected you’d have those letters from all your past jobs- even if they were really old.

          1. Ann Non*

            I think what you are describing is not referred to as a letter of recommendation in Germany; it is called “Arbeitszeugnis”, i.e., a report on your work history for that company/evaluation of your work there. You definitely do not get one from your university supervisor.

    5. Person from the Resume*

      From what I heard, I’m with you. I don’t think this letter will have any impact because the it could be easily faked.

      In my experience, jobs in the US rarely ask for letter of rec, they want to call or contact (email) a reference directly. If they do accept a letter, they are unlikely to want it to pass through the applicants hands first.

      I think your student may be misinformed.

    6. Name Goes Here*

      I am also a university-level instructor who regularly writes letters of rec. On rare occasions, a letter of rec will go to the applicant rather than digitally to the place they’re applying. It’s a little weird to me that he’s printing out the letter to carry w/ him –– in my experience, sending the letter through the applicant is a thing that happens with smaller, more local orgs that just haven’t been able to make the jump to paperless; I wonder if the applicant doesn’t have a clear picture of how letters of recommendation work.

      1. Butterfly Counter*

        This was my assumption, too.

        Though the fact he’s from another country might account for him not knowing this is an unusual ask.

    7. Double A*

      In many states, teaching jobs require you to submit letters of recommendation with your application, so it is very normal for people to just email you a letter they wrote and you’ll submit it as needed (usually a PDF). However, that’s quite field specific and everyone knows about it so no one bats an eye about being asked to write a letter like this.

    8. The New Wanderer*

      Not academic environment, but I had an intern ask me to write him a letter of recommendation (in the US, intern is American) for him to keep on file. This was maybe 10 years ago and the idea might have been to print it on company letterhead. I did it, and I don’t know if he ever used it. It’d be really uncommon in my field to be asked for letters of recommendation (I rarely get asked for formal references, though the informal network is often checked), but he went into a different field.

  30. Dino Dan*

    This is totally silly semantics but I gotta ask: do you call OUT sick or call IN sick?

    I always say call OUT sick because you’re calling to be out of the office but I’ve seen posts on here that say call IN sick, I guess because you’re calling into your office. What do you say?

    1. Less Bread More Taxes*

      I say call out sick. It’s usually been shortened in the places that I’ve worked – e.g., “Where’s Jane?” “Oh, she called out.” I wouldn’t say “She called in”.

      1. English, not American*

        As a “call in” user, in that exchange I’d say “she’s off sick”.

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      I call in sick, because I’m placing a call IN to the office to tell them I’ll be OUT sick.

      I’m in the Midwest & have only seen it the other way in online sources.

      1. Firecat*

        I’m in the Midwest corn and hig belt region. I’ve only been heard people say they called out.

        Where’s Jane? Oh she called out sick.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Big city background & currently upper Midwest here, so that’s where we call IN. :)

    3. NotMyRealName*

      I have a similar question – do you make copies or take copies? I’ve always said make, but people in my office mostly say take.

      1. Jessica Ganschen*

        I’d say “make”. “Take copies” sounds like it’s getting some crossover from “take notes” or “take dictation” maybe?

      2. mreasy*

        Hold on, you’re saying that if you’re going to the photocopier to make 50 copies of a document, your colleagues would say they’re going to TAKE 50 copies? That…is wild.

        1. Siege*

          Do they have to be copies of your documents, or can you just take fifty copies of whatever looks interesting in the copier room? :)

          “I’ll take this copy of Keith’s project proposal, and that copy of Barb’s event plan, and … hmm … how about three copies of Wakeen’s budget report? That’s fifty pages!”

          1. fhqwhgads*

            Like….like they’re treating the copy like a photograph? I take a photograph, but I make a copy.

      3. I'm A Little Teapot*

        I say “make” copies. But it’s possible there’s some regional differences there, but I did hear someone from the UK say “take” copies once.

    4. LadyByTheLake*

      A person calls IN to say that they will be OUT sick. So it depends on what part of the sentence the speaker is focusing on. Personally I say “called out sick” because I don’t focus on the notification — I focus on the fact that they are out.

    5. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I always said “call IN”, until I started working in food & beverage, where it seems like the standard is “call OUT”.

    6. English, not American*

      I’d always say “call in sick” in the same way that e.g. a police officer “calls in” a crime to dispatch on a crime show. You’re passing the information into the company. “Call out” just sounds wrong to me.

    7. Person from the Resume*

      It doesn’t matter to me what someone says.

      I’m likely to say someone called IN sick because the call came into the office. I don’t use the phrase “call off” in this context.

    8. Forrest Rhodes*

      Doesn’t it depend on which direction you’re coming from?
      1) I call IN to say I’m sick and I won’t be coming to work.
      2) “Where’s Forrest?”
      “They’re OUT sick.”

      1. Joielle*

        Yeah, I agree with this. If you’re talking about the call, it’s “called in sick.” If you’re just talking about being out of the office because you’re sick, it’s “out sick.”

    9. Mr. Tumnus*

      In hospitality jobs, we always said “called out”. We used “called in” to mean that we called someone in to replace the person who called out sick.

    10. Policy Wonk*

      I use call in sick, but know plenty of people who call out. I think it is a regional thing, like standing in line or on line.

    11. Afiendishthingy*

      When I lived in the Midwest, I called in. Now I live in New England and call out

    12. They Don’t Make Sunday*

      Born southerner calling in sick. Also, I stand IN line, not on line.

  31. Justme, The OG*

    I work in higher education and we’ve all been expected to be back in the office for a few weeks now. We were given to option to apply for remote work, either part time or full time, and the ones from people I know are all coming back denied. To be clear, we work with 100% online programs so there is no reason to be on campus most of the time. So that’s fun.

  32. DataGirl*

    Tips and tricks to avoiding mistakes when you are overworked and overwhelmed?

    I’m in a role that is supposed to be back end/project based, but in the last weeks due to staff shortages and major problems in processes I’ve been thrust into most of my time acting as ‘help desk’ and providing internal customer support. Yesterday alone I had 70 emails related to IT problems that I mostly can’t solve- I can only pass on information to others. By the end of the day I found myself making stupid mistakes because I was trying to respond to things too fast and had too many open issues in my brain. I decided first off, I need to slow down, and second, I need to make sure I understand the issue before responding or passing it on. But I’m wondering what else I can do to work better?

    1. Mimi*

      Breaks are good! I know you feel like you don’t have time, but even five minutes once an hour to stretch and walk around a little bit can help A LOT.

      Also, can you shut down running processes in your brain, as it were? If you’re spending RAM on trying to remember that you need to do a thing, write it down. If you need to remember all the parts of the ticket reply, make yourself a bullet point outline and then actually write it out. If it’s the task switching, any routines that help you set down one ticket and pick up the next one are good.

      When you know you’re likely to make mistakes (so, especially at the end of the day), maybe make a practice of reading the ticket twice to make sure you understand it, writing your reply, and then reading ticket + reply again before sending, to be sure you have correctly identified the problem, that your response actually answers all the parts, and that you didn’t forget to finish a sentence or something.

    2. LC*

      Something that’s helped me is to make sure I take regular breaks from work. Not long breaks, just like a minute or so, but fairly frequently. You could do every hour, or every 3 emails you respond to, whatever makes sense for you.

      I literally set a timer and keep it small but visible on one of my monitors. When it goes off, I’ll do any combination of these types of things: stand up, do a quick stretch, make sure to look at something further away than my screen for a bit, grab more water (and hopefully drink it!), switch up my music, look up that non-work-related thing that’s been in the back of my mind for 20 minutes. Even if it’s just sitting way back in my chair and just chilling for a minute, it helps me not get bogged down or overwhelmed.

      (Of course, take your regular breaks too, including lunches. This doesn’t replace that.)

      I’d also consider how you work best. Do you need to focus on one thing and one thing only? Try to resist the urge to have multiple emails open at once “because they’re all related so it’ll be quicker.” Or the reverse, is it easier for you to step back and look at things in an overarching way? Look for patterns in the emails you’re getting and lump them together to work on in batches. Would it help to pause after writing a response and start pulling up what you’ll need for the next one, then go back and do a quick reread of the response before you send it? Or would the quick switching between the two throw you off more?

      None of these are right or wrong. But they are useful to understand about yourself. Work with your natural strengths rather than fighting against them.

    3. animaniactoo*

      Organization tree.

      Set aside time when you will respond to issues. Sort the quick issues “I know this off the top of my head and it’s a one-line response” into one folder as they come in, and another for “I am very familiar with this but need to double check that I have said the right thing” and another for “I can answer this but only after I check on a few things”.

      Get the quick issues know them off the top of your head answers out first – having those off your plate will relieve your mental pressure about the rest.

      If anyone pushes you about stuff not being answered stonewall them “I’m sorry, I have a lot of stuff backlogged and am trying to get through it as quickly as I can” – note that “as quickly as I can” also includes your own mental addendum of “get through answering it RIGHT as quickly…”

      Discuss the work backup and your inability to clear it on your own because the LAST thing you want is to be stuck permanently doing this when they decide they don’t need to hire someone else to replace the roles/etc. because you are handling it fine with no issues for anyone else. Allow there to be issues in timeline response.

      1. animaniactoo*

        Other possible things:

        Do you have a couple of common mistakes? If so – make yourself a list of those and check your responses for them. And possibly – write reply. Do not send. Review in an hour/the next morning before sending.

  33. New Here*

    I have frequently been told in my life that “it is easier to get a job if you have a job”. Is there any truth to this statement? I personally don’t really buy into it.

    1. Butterfly Counter*

      In my experience, yes. I think it has to do with being considered an attractive candidate. Not attractive in the beauty sense, but it is related. And it’s also related to length of time a person has been unemployed.

      If a person has been out of a job for a while, hiring people wonder why that is. Is there something other companies have seen in this candidate that turned them off? If they’re a good worker with in-demand skills, what is it about them that makes them jobless?

      On the other hand, if a person is employed, especially in a job market that is tough, potential employers figure it’s because the worker is so great that their current employer is doing what they can to hold on to them. If the market has a glut of available workers and a person has a job, they are doing well enough not to be replaced by one of the many potential applicants out there.

      Some (not all) companies attribute joblessness to the individual workers rather than to circumstances. If a person is out of a job, they must have done something or be something bad. If they have a job, it’s because they’re a stellar worker.

      Of course, this is not always true, but how a lot of companies behave.

      1. Fran Fine*

        All of this. When I graduated from college in 2009, I couldn’t get a job to save my life. It took 11 months for me to land a (low-paying) job, and I’ve been working pretty consistently ever since. You know what changed between when I graduated and when I got my first job 11 months later?

        Nothing. I was still the same person with the same skills I had before – it’s just that no one would give me a chance until a temp agency did. Then, I suddenly became attractive to employers and had no problem changing jobs and industries.

    2. LadyByTheLake*

      If you are a professional looking for a job who is not currently employed, all kinds of questions come up about why you aren’t currently employed — questions that never arise if you currently have a job. Were you fired? Are you difficult? Quit jobs on a whim? It doesn’t mean that you won’t get the job, it’s just that there is an extra explanation step required that isn’t required if you are currently employed. And if the period of unemployment goes on for a long time, that raises even more questions — think about it like a house that’s been on the market for a really long time — there must be something wrong with it . . .
      So yes, it is harder to get a job if you are not currently employed.

      1. Firecat*

        My spouse and a lot of other millennials got discarded in the modern economy as damaged goods. They were laid off in 2009 or 2010 with only a few months to a years experience. It took about a year before jobs started coming back, and then they were competing with “fresh” grads who were more malleable. After a while of not getting those jobs the emoyers had their fears confirmed in a sort of self driven prophecy. They were on the market too long so they must not be good workers and eventually it became impossible to overcome that perception until only the retail jobs would consider them (and then frequently only if they left off their degree).

    3. just a thought*

      I’m guessing having a job and an income would be comparable to increased unemployment benefits (not the same, but similar benefits of less desperation and retaining an income). One of my best friends is getting an economics PhD and said there is a lot of evidence that increased unemployment benefits actually gets people jobs faster and/or better jobs they stay at longer.

      “Our evidence shows that by providing more time for job searches, extended unemployment benefits significantly improve job matching. Matching workers with the most suitable jobs – given their education, talents, and experience – benefits workers, because they earn higher wages and have greater job satisfaction. It also aids firms, because it makes them more efficient, and it supports the overall economy because it improves productivity.”

    4. Cookie D'oh*

      I think there is less pressure and stress when you are looking for a new job while you’re already employed. So maybe easier in that sense.

      1. Fran Fine*

        This is also true unless you’re working in a toxic environment, desperately trying to get out. Then I imagine job searching/interviews would be stressful as hell because you’re over invested in the outcome. (And this is why I no longer wait until I hate a job before I begin job searching – I want to be as relaxed as possible and not jumping at every opportunity out of desperation.)

    5. I'm A Little Teapot*

      That has generally been borne out by my experience and observations. It’s not a hard and fast rule though.

    6. mediamaven*

      As someone who hires I absolutely believe it’s true. I interviewed someone this year for a role with 1 to 2 years experience. She sounded like the complete package…except she left her job at a similar place after a year and decided to be unemployed to job search because she was so unhappy. It just raised a few too many red flags for me.

      1. Stitching Away*

        Wow, because it was a similar place, you couldn’t think of a single reason that wasn’t her fault that she might be so unhappy there it wasn’t a red flag?

        1. mediamaven*

          I could think of plenty of reasons but the industry is a tough one and this company is well known and regarded. Joining my company wasn’t going to eliminate her stress.

    7. Bagpuss*

      I think it is generally true but with exceptions

      I think if you are not currently employed it potentially raises the question in potential employers as to *why* you are not currently employed.

      It does depend on circumstances though. For instance, if you were a travel agent who hadn’t been working in the last few months, I don’t think it would be a major issue., as there is a very clear and obvious reason for you not having been in work, but in normal circumstances, or in a role where people are in demand, it would be a bigger orange flag.

      I also think that the longer you have been out of employment the harder it is as there may be concerns that your skills will be ‘rusty’ .

      I’m in the UK – I don’t know whether it may be more true here on the basis that it is more difficult to sack people without good reason, and usual to have longer notice periods, so in the absence of a clear explanation within the application, it does ping a few alarm bells

    8. Koala dreams*

      It’s generally true, other things being equal. Of course, other things usually aren’t equal.

    9. Firecat*

      IME yes.

      When I was unemoyed it took me 6 months to get a job and I was offered a very low salary. Once I was oloyed with in a few months I was getting much better offers. I’ve never had a gap since then and the longest I’ve gone trying to find a new job was 4 months but usually it only takes 2.

    10. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      I would say that it is true, because employers can expect that if you have a job you have had some experience with office norms and need less training. If you don’t have a job you are believed to be either inexperienced (never had a job, why should we bother with a super green employee when we can get someone who has some work history), unhireable (if they have no job, did they get fired? Why did they leave their last job without ensuring they had something else set up? Are they flaky?), or out of date (this person probably isn’t up on the cutting edge ways of doing the job, too much time out of the job market returns them back to the inexperienced category or ‘probably will be too stuck in the old ways and can’t adapt’).

      Its not always the rule, but there definitely is some bias that something is off if you don’t have a job.

    11. Hillary*

      I know I interview better when I have a job – that security gives me the confidence to really assess whether I want any job or that specific job.

  34. Tuckerman*

    Does anyone know how FMLA works if you have a side gig? My husband and I offer classes, as well as education through social media. It’s mostly a hobby but we’re trying to make it more. If I’m on FMLA for a parental leave, I can’t take another job, or I’d be terminated. But would that include writing social media posts, sharing, or otherwise engaging in the business from the couch?

    1. Squeakrad*

      Not exactly the same thing but I I’m a part-time adjunct instructor at two universities. I took them FMLA from one job, but continued to work at the other and there was never an issue. And there was explicitly not an issue.

  35. Blackbird*

    I need help with knowing how/if to negotiate for a raise- I received a 30% raise about 9 months ago, which puts me about 10% above the top range of my role’s salary band. I achieved this based on a competitive offer from a multinational financial institution, which my current employer decided to match, in order to retain me. Part of the retention plan, according to my grandboss, was to advance my career path in about 18 months, to a role I’ve been working toward. I heard from my grandboss (and also a different, trusted colleague) that they are considering making my advancement happen early, due to internal pressures and workload.
    Based on the new role salary band, my current salary would be about 5% below the mid-range. The new role comes with a lot of increased responsibilities, as I would have what’s called single-signature authority—this means I would be taking direct responsibility for the success of the financial decisions I approve, and have a much higher degree of direct impact on our institution. The workload would likely be higher, also, which a slightly decreased amount of freedom.
    I am regarded as an extremely high performer in my current role, though I’m still relatively new to the industry (6 years direct experience, 4 years tangential experience) and the role specifies 10 years experience. If it matters, I’m a mid-30s woman, in a male-dominated industry, in a conservative state. I’m the only woman in my current role (there are 11 of us).
    Should I just accept whatever increase they do (or don’t!) offer me? I struggle with asking for another increase, when I was just granted one 8 months ago, and my salary is completely in line with the new role’s stated compensation band. My husband thinks I should get a minimum 12-15% increase based on the new responsibilities, and he’s not wrong, but is he right?

    1. just a thought*

      The last time I asked for a raise, I had a list of all the ways my job had changed since the last time my salary was negotiated. That definitely helped.

      However, I didn’t have the company’s salary band. You said your current band would be in the range, but below the mid-range, of the new role. Is that band based on experience in the role?

      You might be better positioned to ask for another raise after a good performance review in the new role instead of when you start, less than a year after getting a huge raise. You may also have to know your company. If they only gave you a raise when you had a competing offer, would they give you a raise without one?

      1. Blackbird*

        All good points- the band is a bit nebulous, it’s really more of a guide, and the bands were updated May 2021, so I know they’re current. From experience, the person determining salary offer basically just “uses the Force” to determine where the pay lands, with some guidance from the band. The company does give annual raises of about 5% based on performance, and I had gotten a nice 10% raise a year prior after finishing my Masters in accounting. When I was recruited away ( I didn’t proactively try to leave, a recruiter called me and it was intriguing), the company just threw the salary band out the window and did what it took. To my company’s (and grandboss’) credit, they are not afraid to pay well for good people.

    2. BRR*

      If you were coming into the role as an outsider what would you expect to earn? And then bump it up a little since you’re a known high performer.

      1. Blackbird*

        That’s such a good comment! Our industry is very tight-lipped about salaries, so I have no idea what other people in the role earn. Glassdoor etc don’t help either, because it’s hard to capture what this role does in a job title search (there’s not really a streamlined title for the industry)

    3. Hillary*

      Step one is to see what they offer. They already know you’re a flight risk and they’ve treated you correctly for retention so far, so you might be pleasantly surprised.

      One option, although it’s a bit risky, is if you don’t think their offer is appropriate for the work ask them if they can comp other people with similar responsibility. That may not mean your specific role, it can be people on other teams or in other parts of the org too.

  36. LTL*

    Asked this in the comments in the last update but thought it would make sense to do it here.

    What are some fields that are currently experiencing a dearth of applicants? I’m looking for ideas as someone who’s been job hunting for a while now. It would be nice to apply to a position without a lot of competition for a change.

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Apparently retail/fast food. But those are generally not great jobs. There’s a decent amount of demand for accountants/auditors in my region, but there’s also nuances of specialization and experience.

    2. Hillary*

      Chauncy mentioned truck drivers. Other less-education-required options are diesel mechanics and skilled manufacturing (around here medical devices pay the most). Warehouse (not Amazon) and simple manufacturing are both hiring like crazy, but the pay scale is lower. They’re better than retail/food for predictable hours and usually have benefits.

      I suggest everyone think about all the b2b activity that’s invisible to consumers. I’ve spent most of my career working for manufacturers – you’ve probably never heard of the company and our peers because you don’t know you use our product every day. We’re trying to hire for pretty much everything we do. There are companies like that all over the place.

      Honestly, even drive/walk around industrial parks near you, write down the companies’ names, and go look at their websites. It might help find options.

    3. Flower necklace*

      Teaching, although that requires being certified. Still, there are certain subject areas that are in high demand. I was hired in 2017 fresh out of grad school, at the end of the summer. And then my department had two open spots for the entirety of the 2019-2020 school year because we couldn’t find good candidates.

    4. Anonymous Koala*

      Almost all manufacturing and production jobs – especially in sectors like food, medical supplies, etc that never shut down. It’s not for everyone and does require some physical stamina sometimes but one of the companies in my area is paying it’s workers $50/hr of overtime just to keep up with demand. They literally can’t find people even though they’re offering high wages for the region.

    5. Clogerati*

      Pretty much everything in F&B, and that doesn’t just mean waiting tables or bartending. I know that liquor purveyors are struggling with finding salespeople (who work with retailers, not the general public) and account managers, many restaurant groups need admin people and office managers, there are a plethora of jobs outside of customer service within the industry!

    6. Vermont Green*

      Here it is construction work of every kind, including contracting, building, plumbing, sheetrocking, painting and wiring.

  37. Momof1*

    I work at a company that never shut down in-person work during COVID. We were always open, reporting to the site as usual. They slowly started to open up WFH opportunities to select staff with the aim at getting on-site headcounts down to where we could successfully social-distance at all times. And, they implemented a masks at all times policy mid-late April of 2020. Those policies were in place until about a month ago when they started offering “VAX Passes” to people who were willing to share their vaccine records with HR and have them verified. You get a literal pass, a card to put with your badge that you must produce on demand, that allows you to be unmasked and get within 6 feet of other vaccinated people.

    All of this is fine, and it seems to be working. My problem is that I’m finding my self having lost all respect for people who still have to be masked. People who seem to be otherwise competent, successful adults. People who I know have compromised immune systems, live with their elderly relatives or young children, one gentleman with Type I Diabetes. Basically, people who should have been first in line.

    I try hard to mask my disappointment in them, but it is becoming harder and harder to respect people. We are now far enough out from the change in policy that people who were motivated to get their vaccines purely to be able to go maskless at work have waited the 2 weeks past their second shot to be eligible for the passes. So, anyone who remains masked is doing so willfully. And it’s becoming very, very hard to take them seriously about anything.

    So, how do you cope? Do we just have to suck it up and deal? I would theoretically like to mask when I feel it is necessary, like if I feel a cold coming on, or in any close encounters like meetings in closed spaces, or needing to get within people’s bubbles for work purposes. But, I feel like that validates the people who are remaining unvaccinated. So far, I and several others, have been trying to use our fresh, unmasked faces, as incentive for people to get their shots and join in our freedom. Feigning sympathy for those who “haven’t gotten their passes back from HR yet” worked for awhile, and it is how I know who is just waiting to clear the process and who is just unwilling, but I know now who is in which group and the people in Group B are now ALL firmly BEC. And it’s a large percentage of the staff, like maybe as much as 40% (so, following the vaccine rates of our state at large).

    How do we convince people to get it together for the sake of the rest of us?

    1. DataGirl*

      Are you sure that the people you are seeing who have masks on aren’t vaccinated? There are people (I’m one of them) who think the CDC was reckless in dropping masking mandates so soon and are still wearing them even though we are vaccinated. I work for a hospital on the admin side and we still require masks for everyone, even if no patient care is involved in our tasks, even if we are vaccinated.

      As for how to convince people to get vaccinated- it they aren’t rabid anti-vaxxers just sharing personal experiences of how well being vaccinated went/is going for you might help win over hesitancy, but otherwise I don’t think there’s much you can do.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        That’s true- I still mask because I’m not so sure about these variants and I’m trying to manage my anxiety.

      2. Pop*

        Yes, I am a high risk person (at the end of my pregnancy) and got vaccinated as soon as I am able to. I am still masking in public places because I will soon have an infant at home. I don’t mind the CDC guidance overall, and am fine with not masking in smaller groups, but I think BECAUSE I was first in line (for my age group) I’m still masking. Several of my immunocompromised friends and friends with small children are the same way. It’s probably not either/or.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’m fully vaccinated, and still wearing my mask. My immune-compromised relatives have been told they may not have any immune response from their vaccinations. Anyone under 12 has no protection yet.
        And honestly? This mask has kept my allergies under better control than they have been my entire life. And I’ve had no colds or “stomach bug” for 19 months.

    2. DarthVelma*

      “People who I know have compromised immune systems, live with their elderly relatives or young children, one gentleman with Type I Diabetes. Basically, people who should have been first in line.”

      Some of these folks have likely been vaccinated but are still wearing masks BECAUSE they “have compromised immune systems, live with their elderly relatives or young children”, etc.

      I’ve been vaccinated for a month now and I still wear a mask when I leave the house every time.

      1. Momof1*

        They’re not. I’ve asked. That may have been an overstep at the time, but really, HR was very slow to roll the passes out and I was one of the first to get one on the first day. So there was about a week of “Oh, sorry you still have to wear a mask. I hope HR gets you sorted out soon.” and people responding by flat out telling me and others they weren’t interested in getting the vaccine for various (invalid, imo) reasons.

        Where I live is in general rural and MAGA-y enough that I have a debate with myself almost every time I have left the car in the past 15 months over whether I think it’s more of a risk to remain maskless, or put one on and deal with the possible confrontation with a community member, and I come to a different conclusion basically every time depending on where I’m at, how many other people are there, the bumper stickers on cars in the parking lot, etc. It’s exhausting, and I really thought, given the year of grumbling everyone went through about wearing the masks in the first place, the opportunity to be mask-free for 9 hours a day would be incentive enough for the people who were hesitant. Apparently, I was wrong.

        1. LC*

          I get your frustration with the people you know for sure are intentionally not vaccinated and have what you see as invalid reasoning. I really do. It’s a little judge-y and I’m not saying it’s necessarily a good attitude, but I do get it.

          There’s no indication that you are doing this, but I want to mention, please don’t put this same frustration on people outside of work/whose situations you don’t know. I’ve been fully vaccinated for two months and I still wear masks in some situations. But I hesitate to wear one sometimes because I’m worried that people will assume I’m not vaccinated and judge me. Not that their judgement would impact me in any real way, and I don’t really let it stop me from wearing a mask if that’s what I want to do in that situation. But it would hurt.

          Overall though, if you can extend a little grace to your coworkers, it’ll likely help you feel a little better too. You’ve done everything you can to protect you and those around you, and remember that if 40% of your coworkers aren’t vaccinated, that still means 60% are! And every single one helps the group overall. Remember how much safer a group that’s 60% vaccinated is compared to a group that’s not vaccinated at all. I have no idea how much exactly, but I bet it’s a lot!

        2. DataGirl*

          I understand your feelings. I live in a state that trends red and have the same debate before I walk into a public space. So far I’ve been lucky enough to only get yelled at by one crazy random person in a grocery store for wearing a mask, but violence is always a concern.

          It’s great that at least your employer is enforcing mask wearing for those who are unvaccinated. Most places are going on the honor system and the anti-vaxxers/anti-maskers have proven over the last 1.5 years that they have no honor.

        3. Katie*

          I live in a lefty area, and am a lefty, and there are plenty of lefties I know who aren’t getting vaccinated, using the same talking points as my right-wing parents! Which is to say, bumper stickers are not a sure indicator of vax status.

        4. Wordybird*

          I actually appreciate the head’s up that these (anti-vaxxers) are people I don’t want to associate with or spend time with unless forced to do so. These people always existed (and always will); the pandemic just gave us a handy way to distinguish them. It’s awfully handy as a way to weed out people on dating apps, too.

          [The only semi-plausible reason I’ve heard for someone to not be vaccinated was a young (20-something) woman who said her doctor recommended she not receive it because she was healthy without any underlying conditions and was planning on becoming pregnant in the next couple years.]

          There is nothing you are going to be able to do to convince them otherwise because this is a hill they are willing to (literally) die on. I don’t think it’s necessary to respect your coworkers (ideal but not necessary) so as long as you don’t actively sabotage their work or reputation, that’s all you can do.

    3. Peachtree*

      Hey, I get your concerns – it’s important for everyone to be vaccinated when they can be. But this comment is unfortunately a little judgemental. I wonder if you’ve thought about any of the questions below?

      1. You’re assuming that people don’t have a VAX pass because they haven’t been vaccinated. What about folks who don’t want to share their medical records with your HR teams?

      2. You’re making a lot of assumptions about people’s ability to get the vaccine. You know who they live with – fine. But do you know when they have free time to go? Is the vaccination centre convenient or is it a 45-minute drive with appointments only during the workday? If you’re worried about people living with relatives, have you thought that some of these people might be caring for them and can’t find break times?

      3. For some of the groups you mentioned above, like people with immunocompromised systems, catching Covid – even after vaccination – is still dangerous. The vaccine is extraordinary at preventing deaths from Covid and significantly reducing hospitalisation. It is not a “get out of jail free and never get sick again” card.

      4. If I was immunocompromised (see point 3) and saw coworkers without masks on … regardless of my vaccination status, I’d probably still wear my mask! Especially if you made it about “freedom”. Freedom to some people means going to a crowded football game, nightclub, dinner with 20 friends – and who knows if you might pick up Covid, be an asymptomatic carrier, and pass it to me?

      I don’t say this to be mean or harsh, but I really think this is none of your business. Some people are not going maskless at work. Some people should get the vaccine and haven’t. But you wearing a mask or going maskless is NOT validating people who aren’t yet vaccinated, it’s just your personal choice. Stop making mask wars a real thing!

      1. Momof1*

        1) This may be the only valid reason, IMO, for not at least getting the pass and then choosing to wear a mask anyway. Just, for whatever reason, not wanting to disclose to HR, and by proxy literally the entire site, that you’re vaccinated. You’ll never convince me of the logic of it, but I know people have their hangups about privacy.

        2) Our company provides 4 hours of paid time to go and get the vaccine, and up to 1 full day of pay afterwards to deal with any side-effects. 4 months ago, maybe there weren’t any sites close to the office or people’s homes, but we have 2 large university hospital systems, and 2 private systems, within 30 minutes of here that were doing walk-in clinic, the local grocery store advertises walk-up appointments over the loudspeakers 7 days a week now, and all the local CVS and Walgreens locations have appointments available all the time now.

        3) It’s not, but several of these are the people gleefully telling me and others that they have no intention of getting vaccinated, ever. They also have the option to sign up to WFH (I have the only position that is not eligible, at all, for WFH. Every other position can petition for the accommodation)

        4) There are a few people choosing to do this. They have their passes and go maskless in their offices, but mask up when they have to come on the floor or into an enclosed space with others. They are also not the problem, and I occasionally am one of them. It’s just a horrible feeling to feel like I have to keep wearing a mask when I have been cleared not to, because other people are terrible human beings.

        I’m mostly just venting here at this point. But, it’s nice to get some perspective from the commentariat.

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          I say this with kindness and as someone who also carries a lot of frustration about how people have responded to this pandemic – you seem more invested in justifying your anger than in moving past it. You asked how to cope and people have given a lot of thoughtful feedback that you seem determined to reject and explain away. It sounds like everyone is following your office guidelines, so you need to stop worrying about your coworkers’ private medical decisions and accept that they have their reasons even if you disagree with them.

        2. Eden*

          ” It’s just a horrible feeling to feel like I have to keep wearing a mask when I have been cleared not to, because other people are terrible human beings.”

          Well, you don’t have to. That’s a requirement you’re imposing on yourself and then being annoyed at following it. Either you’re “cleared” or you’re not. Idk if you mean medically or by office rules but either way other people should not come into it because after all you can never know what a stranger’s vax status is.

        3. Iced Mocha Latte*

          I agree with both Dark Macadamia’s and Eden’s comments. Stop worrying about everyone else and stay in your own lane.

          I’m vaccinated, I’m a manager, and my company has implemented the same policy, minus the badge to wear. I have unvaccinated-by-choice people on my team who must wear a mask and vaccinated people who don’t have to, but some choose to for their own reasons. It’s my job to make sure I enforce the company’s mask policy, that’s it. So that’s what I do. I keep my thoughts to myself and just mind my own business. And I don’t worry about what everyone else is doing.

      2. Mr. Tumnus*

        I’m the HR person who collects the information at work–we don’t offer VAX passes, but we do offer a bonus for those who are vaccinated. I am the only person who knows for sure who has proved they are vaccinated–I hear there are some people who don’t feel comfortable sharing that info, and it’s fine.

        Our employees are allowed to take the masks off if they have been vaccinated. I still see at least 50% of them with masks on. There are various reasons for this: they can avoid some of our appearance policies if they keep the mask covering their face, they feel it is irresponsible to be maskless, they have a cold and don’t want to sniffle on people. Honestly, their reasons for wearing a mask (or not) are none of my business and none of the other employees’ business.

        1. allathian*

          I do hope that people will keep wearing a mask in future if they feel a cold coming on and can’t WFH.

          Good for them if they decide they can keep their beard or wear metal on their face if they’re masked.

    4. MissGirl*

      If they are wearing masks, let it go. I understand frustration at people who won’t get vaccinated and won’t wear masks and take zero precautions. But these coworkers are taking precautions.

      Some people with poor immune systems are also hesitant about the vaccine. Some people are allergic. Some people are fearful. As long as they are masked and respectful of you, let it go.

      1. Momof1*

        They’re not taking precautions so much as having their livelihood held over their heads for the sake of the rest of us. Going maskless without a pass is, and has been all along, a firable offense here. No warnings, no excuses. I heard a lot of “this is ridiculous, I don’t see the point, I’m only doing this so I don’t get fired” from people in management positions. Thank god the person at the very top here was on the side of corporate and the company’s medical team when it came to enforcing policy, otherwise people may have been able to skirt the policy. I know that other sites were not as compliant as we are and have been.

        1. MissGirl*

          Does it matter why as long as they are? You are fighting a battle you cannot win. Let’s say your company forced everyone to get vaccinated, these same people would complain and moan but they’d still be vaccinated. They’re complaining but they’re still wearing masks.

          I get it. My brother and his wife are not getting vaccinated because a friend’s doctor told the friend not to—supposedly. I want to rage at them at every family party but I can’t control them. I’m focusing on tending my own garden. I cannot let their decision affect my happiness. And I can do what’s necessary to protect my health from them.

        2. 10Isee*

          It sounds like what you’re actually upset about is people who are openly dismissive of the pandemic and disparaging of safety measures, not just people wearing masks. I think it’s important that you make that distinction, if so.

        3. JelloStapler*

          Okay, so they still got it. I get it, I get frustrated too. But this attitude will not change their minds and will only get you more upset. Not everyone will have the same outlook.

    5. meh*

      People may also still be wearing masks because they have people at home who are still unvaccinated or still at high risk. I agree there is probably not much that can be done for people who are anti-vaxx

    6. Captain Raymond Holt*

      Do you know that all of these people are unvaccinated? They may be choosing to continue to mask because it makes them more comfortable even though they’ve been vaccinated.

    7. Anyhow*

      I’m fully vaccinated and I wear a mask. Wearing a mask =/= not vaccinated. So, I would not assume that the mask wearers are not vaccinated.

      As far as convincing people who aren’t vaccinated to get vaccinated is concerned, I just don’t have an answer for that. To me it’s a combination of ignorance, stubbornness, and politics. I’m not certain that people who don’t want to be vaccinated can be convinced. I hate to have such a defeatist attitude; but, there it is.

    8. Sasha Blause*

      If you can’t see the absence of a badge pass, I wouldn’t assume they’re unvaxxed. I’m fully #TeamPfizer and have been for months, but I still wear a KN95 indoors and in busy outdoor spaces. Despite my excellent health habits, I catch a severe cold if I so much as drive slowly past the airport. My colds linger for weeks. I’m technically healthy, but I just get sicker than other people, and for longer. (Doctors say it’s all in my head and/or imply that I’m exaggerating about my health habits.) And after seeing a family member struggle through 8 months of long COVID after a mild, barely noticeable, thought-it-was-allergies case? I’m not taking any chances.

      If you can see that they don’t have a pass, though? IDK… no advice, only sympathy. The realization that nobody cares about anyone but their own sorry self has really messed me up. I just don’t think that attitude can be changed without completely overhauling society and removing the internalized perception that one is in a tooth-and-nail competition with every other person they meet.

    9. university admin from home*

      Frankly, you don’t know that the people still wearing masks haven’t vaccinated. I’m fully vaccinated, and definitely wearing masks in public, because I’m concerned about the delta variant. From my perspective, there is a small risk that I can mitigate by wearing a mask, so I do, because I *really* don’t want to catch this. Perhaps reframing it in your head will help?
      (And for those who don’t vaccinate when they could, I suspect there’s nothing you could do with a simple conversation to change their minds. It might be that they won’t consider it until someone they know is sick, for instance.)

    10. Unfettered scientist*

      I would just note that just because people are wearing masks at work doesn’t mean they *don’t* have the vaccine. Unless you know each of these people’s medical history, I think it’s also likely that esp those at higher risk have chosen to continue wearing masks despite being vaccinated. Wearing a mask =/= no vaccine (again unless these people have individually told you otherwise, I wouldn’t speculate).

    11. Eva*

      We have employees who are vaccinated but don’t want to unmask, even though the restrictions have been dropped. I think there’s an inherent lack of trust in the WHO and CDC, and add the Delta variant – people are keeping their masks on regardless of vaccination status. Masks are little facial security blankets. I don’t assume a mask wearer isn’t vaccinated. I just assume they feel more comfortable with the mask on.

    12. AY*

      You have no way of knowing whether (1) the person wearing a mask has an underlying condition that prevents them from being vaccinated (or their doctors have advised them to wait for more information before getting one) or (2) the person is wearing a mask to protect an immune compromised person at home or simply prefers masking. It will probably help if you try to think the best of others.

      1. AY*

        And obviously YMMV on this, but whenever I get too upset about low vaccination rates in my state, I remember that *I’m vaccinated* and that usually helps me calm down. I’ve got that sweet, sweet Pfizer juice running through my veins, no matter what anyone else at work, at the store, or anywhere is doing.

    13. Anon for This*

      I’ve been fully vaccinated for months and still wear a mask if I am going to be in a room with more than a couple of people. Don’t assume they aren’t vaccinated. (If they are loudly anti-vaxx, feel free to avoid them at all costs!)

    14. Malarkey01*

      So, I’ve had to reframe this for myself. I think not getting vaccinated (when you have no medical impediment) is stupid and I think it’s somewhat selfish since this is a public health crisis and kids still aren’t eligible and people in the rest of the world are begging to have this thing others are thumbing their nose at. BUT, I cannot live my life angry at 50% of the population, especially after the last 4 years in this country- I just can’t keep this negativity.

      I’ve accepted that for my health, and my unvaxxed kids, that I will need to continue wearing a mask for some time and that it’s probably the new norm in certain situations for the rest of my life (airplanes, doctors offices?) Reframing it as just something that’s a part of my life that I’m responsible for also took the sting out of not relying on others.

      1. NotRealAnonForThis*

        Similar here. I’m fully vaccinated, ditto partner, ditto the kid who’s *old enough*.

        The kid prone to respiratory issues, has had an incident of respiratory collapse (still dealing with likely medical PTSD here from that whole episode as a family), and is TOO YOUNG for any vaccination? Yeah.

        I’ve reframed it as “the same people who can’t be bothered to not eat peanuts while sitting next to her because their inconvenience is more important than her life are the same selfish jerks who refuse the vaccine and simultaneously refuse to wear a mask because they’re over the “scamdemic”, so I’m not surprised, but I also don’t give a rip what they think of me wearing a mask either.” Because honestly, as the parent of a child with pretty severe food allergies, I already knew that a decent portion of the population refused to do, or at least whined and complained about doing, something extremely simple to protect the life of a child.

    15. All the words*

      Are you making assumptions about why people are masked?

      I’m fully vaccinated and still masked in the office. Vaccinated people can still catch and transmit the virus. I have no confidence that many of my unmasked co-workers are vaccinated. I just watched them go through this entire pandemic breaking, mocking and ignoring every safety guideline. By your estimation, my co-workers would be the safe ones to be around because they’re unmasked, and I would be the risky person because of my mask.

      The country has collectively decided covid isn’t a thing anymore. I feel otherwise, but the only person in my control is myself. So I just keep my mask on and try to pay less attention to the safety measures other people are or are not taking. It’s really all we can do.

      1. All the words*

        Ha. I took so long to type my reply that you all covered all of my points before me.

      2. Oxford Comma*

        This is me right now. I’m getting pushback and dirty looks in stores and stuff and pitying looks at the office, but I’m still wearing mine.

    16. Dark Macadamia*

      I think it’s funny you feel wearing a mask would validate anti-vaxxers because I basically wear a mask for the opposite reason: I want to normalize mask-wearing for the sake of children and others who are still vulnerable. Based on the current regulations in my area, someone wearing a mask is much more likely to be doing it because they take Covid seriously than because they’re deniers so I’m not worried that people will assume I’m part of the problem.

    17. Leah K.*

      I am fully vaccinated and I am frustrated that large groups of people are still choosing not to get vaccinated, which is how multiple new virus variants mutate and spread. However, whenever I interact with individuals that wear a mask, I do not let my mind wonder whether they are vaccinated and think about all the reasons why they should be vaccinated. And I do it for two reasons: “privacy” and “choice”.

    18. Katie*

      It’s a thinking error to equate masked with unvaccinated. One way to cope is to change your thinking. You yourself say there are situations where you might still mask. For what it’s worth, we have a similar program at work, and I’m vaccinated, and I still wear a mask most of the time.

    19. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      My work did a ‘voluntary’ report of whether or not you got vaccinated, and even though I am, I did not reply. There is no explanation, other than the implied ‘so we can determine when we can mandate that everyone needs to return to the office’ that was given on why my work needed to know this information.

      Note I do go into my physical workspace, I just find it annoying that they are playing this off as ‘we care about your health’ when in reality its a ‘we just want to stop allowing 100% telework.’

    20. BRR*

      I’m answering your questions as someone who fully agrees with you. I’m also answering your questions as someone who is exhausted from trying to fight other people’s stupidity *sigh* (to clarify I mean them, not you!)

      “So, how do you cope?” If I don’t know them I give them the benefit of the doubt that for some reason they can’t get one. If they’re gleefully telling me they won’t get one because *stupid reason,* I just respect them less and be thankful the current vaccines are highly effective. There’s really nothing more you can do and that pains me to say.

      “Do we just have to suck it up and deal?” At work, yes.

      “How do we convince people to get it together for the sake of the rest of us?” At work, you don’t (unless your job is related to this).

      Also wear your mask in those situations! You’re not validating them! Frankly, I don’t like how ditching a mask is seen as reward for getting vaccinated. It’s nice in some situations but in other situations, multiple layers of protection is good.

    21. Invisible Fish*

      See, if I was at your company, I’d have the snazzy vaccination badge, but I’d STILL be wearing my mask because I have ppl in my life who can’t be vaccinated at this time. Please don’t assume people without masks are unvaccinated – they may be protecting loved ones they worry about constantly. Anything I can do to prevent the spread of illness is a priority for me. (Also, these folks without masks may have health concerns that prevent them from getting the vaccine- some folks, like my loved one, are in danger from the ingredients in the medium the vaccine is in. She’s waiting to get the okay for one of them … still hasn’t happened. When it does happen, she’ll still have to get her vaccine at the hospital, with one of us with her, ready to be saved if necessary.)

    22. RagingADHD*

      How do I cope?

      I just had to make a decision to disengage and let go of my feelings about it.

      I got vaxxed ASAP so the reckless anti-science types couldn’t hold me hostage anymore by making me pay the consequences of their bad choices.

      Then I realized that the anger was still holding me hostage. So I had to decide that I wasn’t going to let their bad decisions ruin my day.

      Maybe it’s my age, but I have accumulated a lot of life experience dealing with people who are smart, kind, or talented in one area of life but make totally moronic, self-destructive choices in other areas. I have made some of those dumb choices myself.

      We’re all still human beings who deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. And if I can respect someone’s professional judgment when I know about their terrible choices in romance, or drinking, or parenting, then I can respect their professional skill in the face of this choice, too.

    23. identifying remarks removed*

      “How do we convince people to get it together for the sake of the rest of us?”

      You can’t – you’re wasting time and energy on something you cannot control. If they’re not convinced by medical evidence etc by now then they’re unlikely to change their mind because a coworker is telling them to get vaccinated. They’re more likely to go to HR and complain about you questioning them on their vaccine status.

      I had both vaccine shots as soon as I was eligible. But with the Delta and now Lamda variants making the rounds I still wear a mask at work.

      1. Stitching Away*

        Everyone is free to believe whatever they want, right until they inflict their beliefs and the consequences of their beliefs onto the people around them without those people’s consent.

    24. Stay in your lane*

      You don’t.
      You mind your own business.
      Someone else’s medical status isn’t yours to control, own, or have input in–especially since you’re not a medical provider.
      Keep on judging others though…karma will catch up to you eventually.

    25. Tali*

      I’m in the same mental place as you and here is how I think about it. I’m still thinking things over and I admit and own my flaws.

      As others have said, we can’t infer vaccination status from mask status. Similarly we can’t infer health situation, scientific literacy, political opinions, cleanliness or general compliance from mask OR vaccination status. I know some anti-vaxxers who are compliant with masks and social distancing, I know some vaxxers who don’t understand how airborne viruses work, I know many people who are just plain tired and don’t know whom to trust.

      I see many many people, this thread included, who have decided that because they personally are vaccinated, now they no longer need to worry about the group. While I understand this from a mental health boundary perspective, it is very hard for me to switch from “everyone needs to act on behalf of everyone’s safety, even if it’s uncomfortable” to “at least I’m safe”. Self sacrifice for public good and performative cleanliness have been key virtues for the past 1.5 years, and it is very hard for me to suddenly drop those values. Especially because that feels like abandoning the vulnerable people I’ve worked to care about–the elderly, the youth, the sick, etc.

      So in the moment, I try very hard not to pass judgment on others. But I do not think we should forget or ignore the willing ignorance that is happening right now. Not just the ignorance that makes people pass up perfectly safe vaccines, but the urge to “return to normal”, to forget how world governments and authorities sacrificed and continue to sacrifice human lives for greed, how individuals refused to bear even the slightest inconvenience for public good, how we as a society sacrificed the lives of vulnerable people and essential workers because “the economy” and “I just want to get back to normal” and “It’s not my problem”. Right now the Olympics are taking place during a local state of emergency because of the spreading pandemic–sports entertainment is worth more than the health and safety of local citizens.

      The most important thing we can do is not forget. We must remember this. I am not sure what we can do with memories of injustice. But we must not forget.

  38. saffie_girl*

    I’ve had a eureka moment and wonder how others deal with this:

    I can get really stressed, and do not perform as well, when asked for projects last minute. As a result, many years ago, I started adjusting my work habits to try to think ahead to what would be asked for to be prepared for the last minute requests. This worked as I was less stressed and my work was better.

    Fast forward and I am now getting very frustrated as I’ve noticed more and more over the years that others do less and less expecting me to already have done the research, analysis or plan. Sometimes that works, but I have always focused on my own work/tasks/needs and not everyone else’s. I then get a lot of blame and animosity for ‘not doing my job’ when I did not work ahead or anticipate everything (who can do that?!?). Unfortunately, some of my management sucks and is not going to change so they also blame me when other’s fail. Most of my co-workers are not held to this standard and I am not in a position or compensated for this additional forethought.

    Obviously I have to change my behavior. What are your best suggestion on how to adjust?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Oh this suuuuuucks. You’re being punished for doing your job better.

      Is there a way to draw the line between knowing what to do and having already done it? When last-minute things happen, you can say “well SOMEBODY is going to have to do a waiver request to the Board of Teapot Certification. I’ve got the URL for the form in my notes. Who’s going to take care of it?”

      1. Clisby*

        That is a well-known phenomenon among poor managers. People who do a poor job at important/difficult work are rewarded by having it taken away and put on someone else’s plate. People who do a good job at it are punished by being given more than they can handle.

    2. Mockingjay*

      Ask them before they ask you. “Fred, can you let me know when Last Minute Report is ready for my review? Thanks.”

      Of course this depends on who the managers are holding responsible for Last Minute Projects. It might be worth a conversation with your supervisor: “hey, a lot of these last minute/overdue projects are being dumped on me and they are impeding completion of my regular work. Most are things that, if people followed the SOP/workflow, would be completed on time. Can we get everyone on the same page to follow the process?” Or “Can I get your help to push back these requests?”

      Frame it in terms of impact on your work. It might be worth pulling some quick notes: how many requests in the last month (timeframe), from whom (are there serial offenders), how many of your own projects had to slide, etc. Right now managers aren’t seeing pain, they are seeing results – the projects get pushed through. Make ’em feel your pain.

      1. Anonymango*

        Sooooooooo much empathy.

        We have a shared task list. I’m generally on top of it but have gotten behind from the other work dumped on me, plus a recent change in the tracking software made me accidentally miss some reminder alerts.

        Then I got called out by my boss… not only for being behind on MY tasks, but because it makes it easier for co-workers who aren’t pulling their weight to justify slacking. You know, those same coworkers whose work is getting dumped on me. Aargh! My boss is generally good otherwise but ugh that was icky.

    3. animaniactoo*

      “I have sometimes been able to anticipate needs and get ahead of the curve, but it’s not a guarantee. Please do not expect that I will always be able to do this. The earlier you can give me a head’s up about what will be required the sooner I can work on my portions of the projects and ensure that deadlines are met.”

      Repeat verbatim over and over again.

  39. quill*

    Probably not going to get any takers on this, but today I found an error in the new job’s study management software that our SME has never seen before.

    Anybody know how I can, without cracking the program open like a walnut, look up what an error code is that states “SQL Exception: violation of Primary Key (and then lists the primary key / duplicate value)”?

      1. quill*

        Yes, but I don’t have access to the tables, sadly!

        Also based on how the value I was entering is generated (automatically and sequentially: it’s a sample number) I’m getting dang worried while wandering stack overflow about HOW that happened. Because if I didn’t mess up, it’s the computer, and… no. I don’t want this cursed study to go THAT far. Bad enough that all of the samples arrived in loading the same day and I spent yesterday sorting them onto shelves and printing labels for them.

        1. AndersonDarling*

          Null values could throw that error. So it may not be something devastating. It could be a know problem that the SME knows exists but it doesn’t have any impact on the results.

          1. quill*

            I think that’s more or less what it is: the program isn’t displaying the value I entered, but if I enter it again it thinks I’m putting it in twice.

            NOT the stress I needed for this friday!

            1. Eden*

              If that’s what you think the issue is, check for any options the program has of “clear caches” or anything like that. And/or restart your computer.

  40. Spessartine*

    tl;dr: how do you switch careers when nothing interests you and you have no ambition?

    I’ve been making teapots for my entire working life and I’m so tired of it. It has nothing to do with my current circumstances—my boss is great, the work environment is great, and the job itself is rarely stressful. But the work itself is boring and doesn’t pay a lot. I can make teapots in my sleep. My hands hurt all the time from carving teapots. I’m pretty much at peak teapot-maker; there’s no advancement unless I want to become a manager (I’m incredibly awkward and not good with people) or open my own teapot outfit (tried it—I quickly realized being a business owner is not for me). I already get paid more than the vast majority of teapot makers, so switching workplaces for a raise isn’t an option.

    This isn’t new and has nothing to do with the pandemic. I’ve been wanting out of this field for several years. But I cannot find anything that interests me enough to take the leap of leaving a secure, boring job for something I might end up hating or not being good at. I’m not financially able to just quit and start exploring other fields. I also don’t have a degree, which doesn’t help. I tried college when I was young and hated it; I tried again last year with an online school part-time and struggled immensely. I don’t have the energy or drive to get through it. I feel like work sucks all the, well, life, out of my life and I barely have any hobbies. I spend weekends trying to recuperate before it starts all over again.

    I feel like there has to be some job out there that’s right for me, it’s just really obscure and that’s why I can’t find it! I’ve been working with a career counselor but so far nothing has come of it.

    Has anyone else here been in a similar situation? How did you get out of the rut?

    1. Empress Matilda*

      Could you stick with the boring-but-stable job, and pick up some really exciting hobbies? Maybe now is the time to try out whitewater rafting or Extreme Knitting or something else you’ve been interested in for a while. That way your job can be just your job, what you do to pay the bills so you can do other fun stuff the rest of the time.

      1. Spessartine*

        Something that’s been on my mind a lot lately is how work is your life. Not in the “employer expects you to be at their beck and call 24/7” way, but in the sense that your job, assuming you work full time, is something you spend a huge portion of your adult hours doing before you retire. For a long time I thought of work as something you set aside time–a lot of time–to do, and life was what happened before and after. But the longer I spend in this career the more I feel like I’m wasting my *life* doing it. There are so many other things I could be doing with all those hours of my life! Things that wouldn’t make me literally count down the hours and minutes until I can go home! I just….don’t know what those things are. Because I’m too drained at the end of the day to explore anything that seems interesting or fulfilling. Half the time I’m too drained for anything to *seem* interesting in the first place.

        So I guess the answer is no, hah. Short term, sure. I value financial stability above most things so yeah, I’ll keep slogging through the work. I’m just not sure how long I can sustain the slog or how to get out of it.

    2. Siege*

      My partner started working with more of a life coach – Ama La Vida in Seattle if that helps – and they guided him to a great career option that he never would have thought of in his life, but sounds excited about every time he talks about it. It will take going back to school in his case, but the main point is that they were able to tease out something he’s genuinely passionate about. A strict career coach wasn’t nearly as successful.

      I’ll also note that online school is very difficult for a lot of people. It may well be that you don’t want to go back to school at all and that’s totally fine, but online school has a lot more challenges than schools would like us to think – the biggest is scheduling. If you go to school, you have a dedicated time and place to learn; if you go to your computer … well, you’d better be a self-starter. It’s different from online work because there’s a time commitment – I’m expected to be at my desk, even though my desk is at home, between roughly 9 AM and 6 PM every day. But school, particularly asynchronous online school, doesn’t have that kind of accountability built in.

      Good luck!

      1. Spessartine*

        I hadn’t thought of trying a life coach. That’s something I’ll investigate, thanks for the suggestion! The experience your husband had really sounds like what I’m looking for. I don’t even need to be super passionate about it, I just want something that engages me and is at least mildly fulfilling. Sometimes I wonder if I might just be too boring a person for such a job to exist.

        Scheduling was definitely a big problem with online school for me, but I also just don’t mentally (or maybe emotionally) do well in a class kind of setup in general. I get good grades, but it’s like pulling teeth. I almost never retain information from reading materials and there are few things I despise more than writing papers. I think a trade school or apprenticeship or bootcamp of some kind is more up my alley. I have an enormous amount of respect for anyone with the mental fortitude to get through a bachelor’s degree (or more) and thoroughly wish I could scrape it up from somewhere in myself.

    3. RagingADHD*

      I think the first step is to think strategically about your workload and your energy levels, so you can claw back some brain space and/or physical rest during the week. There may also be a physical component there, with food and sleep quality, so you can have more engagement in your life outside of work.

      I think you will feel more enthusiastic about things when you feel better in general.

    4. animaniactoo*

      Identify what you are good at that doesn’t suck the life out of you. Customer-facing work? Individual position without much contact with co-workers/customers? Math-focused, reading focused, doesn’t matter?

      Then start identifying jobs that match up with these skills/interests. If nothing you find *interests* you, what sounds doable and not soul-crushing at a pay level that you are good with?

  41. Temporary Temp*

    I’ve read the classic Ask A Manager posts about how to list accomplishments on your resume when there aren’t easy measures which is true for my job (receptionist), and implemented it on my resume to success by focusing on things I changed/did particularly well (based on feedback) in previous roles. But does anyone have any ideas about how you should handle putting a job on your resume when you have no “ownership” over it to improve things or stand out?

    My specific situation is that I’ve been a temp receptionist at covid-19 vaccine sites for all of ‘21, and my job duties are basically “read off a script, input the patient data correctly, escalate all issues to the site lead”. There’s no real room to improve things or stand out because everyone in my role is supposed to do the exact same thing the exact same way to keep the operation running smoothly. I have had two “personal accomplishments” at this job—learning a new EMR system and getting experience at a larger/higher volume clinic compared to previous jobs—but I don’t know how to list these and/or my other aspects of my job without creating a dry list of responsibilities and would appreciate any ideas on how to handle this section on my resume.

    (I’m aware I could leave this job off because it’s a temp job, but without it it looks like I’ve been unemployed for more than a year…)

    1. LadyByTheLake*

      “Successfully performed intake supporting critical Covid-19 vaccinations at a high volume clinic.”

    2. voluptuousfire*

      Do you believe you may have established a rapport with the patients? Anyone you may have empathized with and made them feel a little better while waiting for their test? Throw in something like “provided stellar customer service to Covid-19 test patients with an empathetic ear, smoothing over potentially tense moments.” Something like that.

    3. Zephy*

      You say “COVID-19 vaccine sites,” plural, so maybe you can come at it from that angle? Having to be flexible and adjust quickly to new protocols from one site to another, working cooperatively with a wide variety of individuals, is that anything? The learning a new EMR system and getting experience at a larger/busier clinic are definitely important, do list those for sure. Do you have any metrics you can report, have any of your sites had record-high vax rate days while you were there?

    4. Event Professional?*

      COVID-19 is a scary, politically charged, hot dumpster fire. “Performed well and exceeded expectations in a sensitive environment.” The comments above have some great wording for resumes but I think you can lean into this job for interviews too. Think about some specific instances where you calmed a patient down, or talked a spouse into getting their vaccination, or otherwise provided great customer service. You absolutely made a difference, and do not feel ashamed to talk about it, even if the day-to-day was uneventful.

    5. BRR*

      Is it impressive to say how many patients you processed? Or maybe how many you processed during peak demand? (just a stab in the dark here really)

    6. pretzelgirl*

      Could you talk about the volume of patients or data you inputted?

      Scheduled approximately 45 patients daily for CO-VID 19 testing
      Spoke to and developed rapport with 45 patients daily, accurately documented information and scheduled them for appointments

      You could also talk about handling medical info or adhering to HIPAA standards.

    7. A Girl Named Fred*

      I think you’ve already identified several things you could list on your resume, you just need to reframe how you’re thinking about them! Learning a new EMR system is great, especially if you’re going to apply to jobs that use similar software or require learning new software – how quickly were you up to speed and functioning well on it? Same with the volume of the clinic – how many patients did you interact with per day? Did you enter all of their data into the system, and if so what was your error percentage (if you know that)? So, for example:
      “Learned new EMR system” becomes “Learned new EMR system within first two weeks of training”
      “Input patient data accurately” becomes “Served X number of patients per day, inputting their data with a less than 2% error rate”

      While these may or may not be the same duties as other folks in your position, putting numbers onto them helps someone who wasn’t in the position see how much you were handling – someone who handles 20 patients per day is going to be different from someone who handles 80, etc. Good luck! :)

  42. betsyohs*

    I am working on setting up a formal mentoring program at my small (<30 people) company. Have you ever been a part of a professional mentoring program that you have found useful? Would you tell me details? How are mentors assigned? How often do you meet with your mentor/mentees? Are there specific topics you try to cover at each meeting, or is it more organic than that? What specifically have you found useful or a waste of time?

    Related, we have lost more than a quarter of the women at our company in the last year, so if your mentoring program includes a component of supporting women in male-dominated fields, I'd love to hear about that, too!

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      If you’ve lost 25% of the women in a male dominated workplace, I’d be seriously looking at the men’s behavior.

      The most useful mentoring I’ve ever had has developed organically, without any formal program involved. My worst mentoring experiences were through the formal programs.

      1. betsyohs*

        All the women who have left went on to bigger companies/teams/projects. I think that a lot of the reasons that they left is that they didn’t see opportunity for growth at our company, which is tangentially related to the men’s behavior, because it’s almost all men in senior management, so they control what kind of work we go after. But not directly related to discrimination/microaggressions/etc that come from the men towards the women.

        That said – I would like to start this mentoring program so that people have help figuring out how to grow at our company, but also just how to take their career where they want to take it. The person who did the most informal mentoring (and was amazing at it) is one of the women who recently left.

        1. Fran Fine*

          But not directly related to discrimination/microaggressions/etc that come from the men towards the women.

          That you know of. I find it very hard to believe that these men in leadership positions keep bypassing women for advancement and there isn’t some sort of discrimination involved. These women would also be unlikely to tell if they were discriminated against because of your industry’s make up – they don’t know whether they’ll ever run into these guys again in a professional capacity, and complaints like this could lead to retaliation, so they’d be more inclined to keep the real reason for leaving to themselves.

        2. I'm A Little Teapot*

          The fact that women aren’t being promoted or given the bigger projects is itself evidence of discrimination. If your industry is 75% men, 25% women, then your company should have the same gender mix.

        3. fhqwhgads*

          Just to clarify, my previous “ding” was especially agreeing with this:
          “The most useful mentoring I’ve ever had has developed organically, without any formal program involved. My worst mentoring experiences were through the formal programs.”

    2. LCS*

      I am a woman in a very male dominated org (oil & gas) and have been both a mentee and a mentor (a lot more on the mentor side of things). A couple of items to consider:
      – I’ve been assigned to relationships with other women strictly on the basis of “You’re both women – must be a great match since you can relate!” – but in real life there’s a lot more than gender that determines a successful relationship. And honestly, if gender politics are still regressive in your org, the mentee may do better to have a senior male colleague acting as a bit of a sponsor vs. another woman who may not be taken as seriously as a leader.
      – A loss of 1/4 of your women makes me think that you need more than mentoring to fix it. What is your pay equity like? What are your inclusion & diversity policies? Do you reasonably deal with harassment when it’s reported or is there a bit of “boys will be boys” mentality? Is there equal opportunity for stretch assignments and promotions? Competitive parental leave policies? A reasonable approach to work/life balance and a degree of time flexibility where the role can support it? For me, getting this stuff right has a much more substantial impact on my job satisfaction than just matching me up with a mentor, no matter how successful that mentor relationship may be.

      1. betsyohs*

        Super useful feedback, many thanks. I wouldn’t have said that gender politics are still regressive – my company is very vocal about supporting women – but the part about being mentored by a woman who is not being taken seriously as a leader strikes home!

        I will dig into your other questions further. I’ve been at this company a long time, and until 6 months ago, I would have said they were amazing on all accounts. I’ve now been talking to more women, and I’m beginning to think that I just didn’t realize how things were because I have been protected from the brunt of things by virtue of my department and my seniority. Trying to use that seniority to make some positive changes!

        1. Fran Fine*

          my company is very vocal about supporting women

          Most are. But 1/4 of the women in your company just left, so clearly, this isn’t borne out in practice.

    3. Concerned Academic Librarian*

      Academic library: mentees fill out a form indicating what general areas/topics they’re interested in. Mentors fill out a form indicating what areas/topics they consider themselves expert in. Mentees get a couple of choices for mentors and then everyone is matched. Some people meet 2x a month. Others 1x a month. The person who runs the program checks in with everyone every 6 months.

      I would recommend giving mentors/mentees some sort of mechanism where they can indicate if there is anyone they do not want.

  43. Alexis Rosay*

    I supervise a group of Llama Groomers, and each of those supervises a paid Llama Grooming Intern. We are 100% remote this summer. One of the Llama Grooming Interns’ core tasks is to create out a record of the grooming that was completed each day, filled out in a very specific format for compliance with a grant we’ve received. This is about 25% of the intern’s daily tasks.

    One of our interns has not completed any of the required daily records so far. I have reached out to her multiple times reminding her, asking if she needs help, etc. I have asked her supervisor to follow up with her multiple times. She keeps telling her supervisor that she’s going to reach out to me, while completing ignoring my emails. About 1/3 of the internship period has passed.

    At this point, I am thinking of showing up as a surprise during one of the remote llama grooming sessions to speak with the intern since she’s ignoring me and her supervisor has not been effective in following up with her. I’m overall at a loss because we’ve used similar paid interns for the last 7 years and this is the first time someone has simply ignored one of their core tasks this way. She is performing the other 75% of her tasks adequately.

    1. Mr. Cajun2core*

      I would say this falls into the get it done or you are out of here category even if the other 75% of her tasks are perfect.

      1. Empress Matilda*

        Yep. You have two problems here – the intern, and the supervisor.

        For the intern, instead of reminding her or asking if she needs help, say “these reports are a required part of your job,” and list the consequences of not doing them. Would you terminate the internship? Is she there for a school credit, and could that be affected by her not doing the reports? Also decide if you need her to catch up on past ones that haven’t been done, or just start fresh from today, and spell that out very clearly as well. “From now on, you need to send me the daily report by X:00. If I don’t receive it, I will…”

        And you should have a similarly direct conversation with the supervisor. Reports are part of the intern’s job, which means they’re part of the supervisor’s job as well. And doing what you ask is also part of the supervisor’s job! So to them, you give direct instruction as to how to handle the intern’s reports, plus coaching on leadership or difficult conversations or whatever they need to fulfill the supervisory part of their role.

        Good luck with both!

        1. Alexis Rosay*

          Thanks. It’s tough because the intern so actually an alum of one of our programs and she comes from a slightly tough home situation so we’ve given her a lot of latitude so far. Too much, I guess.

          1. really*

            You are doing her no favors. She will not be able to leave the tough home situation if she doesn’t have a grasp of work norms and standards. This is a low-stakes situation, and the best place to learn.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Maybe this person isn’t doing her tasks adequately after all. If she’s blowing off the 2 hours/day of paperwork, that means she’s taking 8 hours to do 6 hours worth of work. May be a bigger conversation than just “do the recordkeeping”.

    3. Person from the Resume*

      I think that’s the way to go, but also put it on the Llama Groomer who is supervising the intern. “Since your intern us not providing the record of your grooming we need for compliance with the grant, I am going to need to require that of you until she does. If she doesn’t send it at the end of the day, you need to.” Maybe it inspires to groomer to make her intern do her job. Maybe it doesn’t, but at least you get the records you need.

      You’ve got two problems (1) intern nor performing (2) missing compliance records.

    4. velomont*

      Can you have intern’s supervisor send intern an email, Cc: you, or you send an email, Cc: supervisor, explaining the criticality of these records vis a vis grants? In addition, can you then direct him/her that by a certain date you require the completed previous records, or else? (dismissal or whatever you think is appropriate)

    5. TexasTeacher*

      Maybe instruct her supervisor to set up a meeting with her and have her do it right there in the meeting? This will ensure the intern knows what to do, how to do it, and her supervisor can be on hand to answer any questions. It’s time consuming, but if it’s a task that must be done, this will make it clear to the intern that it’s non negotiable.

    6. animaniactoo*

      At this point I would follow up with the supervisor or whoever is supervisor’s boss to say that their supervision is ineffective and intern’s work is not getting done and clearly the follow up to make sure it is being done isn’t happening. And look at the possibility of reassigning the intern to a different supervisor.

    7. AcademiaNut*

      Honestly, you need to have a conversation with the intern telling her clearly that this part of the job is essential and needs to be done. Ask if there is a reason she hasn’t done it. Tell her, point blank, that she needs to do this, every day, properly, or she will be fired. If she doesn’t do it, fire her.

      Refusing to do 1/4 of your job duties is a fireable offense. Refusing to do essential, grant compliance tasks is also a fireable offense. If she needs to learn this lesson the hard way, it’s better to learn it now, during an internship, than later when it’s a full job.

    8. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

      I think your idea of showing up at the session is a good one. No more “at one remove”, which obviously hasn’t been working.

      The intuition (maybe wrong) which came to me reading your story is that perhaps the intern doesn’t actually know how to do the task, and is anxious or ashamed about that, which would explain the level of avoidance.

      First I would want to check in one-on-one with the supervisor and get their perspective on how this has been playing out and what they’ve tried. That might show it in a different light, plus anyway I might not want to land in their session without talking to them first, in case that was disempowering for them.

      But unless their input did put a very different light on it, then yeah I would want to visit the session, and be with the intern like “I’ve come to support you in doing the record-keeping, as there’s clearly been some kind of problem with it and I want to figure out what needs to be in place”. Then gently but firmly insist it’s happening right there right now. Minimum possible shaming for ignorance, maybe a bit of encouragement, “stick with it, you will get it”.

      I imagine a visit like that would probably surface at least part of what’s been going on, e.g. it would become evident if there are parts of the process she’s never learnt. You might also pick up on what the dynamic is between her and the supervisor, which sounds like it must’ve been non-ideal in some way.

      Then I would tell them I was coming back next time as well to see how things were progressing. I wouldn’t be like “I’ll leave it to you two now”. I would invest my own time till I was 100% sure she was back on track – because whatever’s not gone quite right in the training of this intern, I would want to get that properly sorted now, not risk it rumbling on for the other two-thirds of the time.

      my 2p :-)

  44. RemoteThankYous*

    We have a freelancer who’s been with us for around 5 years that is leaving to take a full-time opportunity. We are all still working remotely, so our normal “let’s raise a glass in the kitchen for Fergus” doesn’t apply. How can I best recognize this person’s contributions and thank them for their time with us? It’s hard to gather signatures on cards and whatnot when we’re all scattered about. Any ideas are welcome!

    1. Coenobita*

      Specifically related to group cards: my office has jumped on a service called Group Greeting in a big way. You create a ecard, send the link around, and everyone can write and format a message. I think it costs about $5 per card (or less if you have a subscription, but you can also just pay per card). It’s super easy and surprisingly nice. I think it’s just groupgreeting dot com.

      1. Lyudie*

        A coworker has done several of these and they are really nice…the recipient can also download it as a PDF (I got one for my birthday this spring and some people said really nice things and I wanted to keep it).

  45. ProperDose*

    I’m feeling very conflicted if I should wait out my current job, or start looking.

    I started this job late last year fully remote. It’s a new role and skillset where I needed to learn many new things. This role is new, and was split out into two positions as the person who held this job was retiring.

    I’m feeling frustrated because I don’t have a clear set of expectations. There are no written expectations of what my role, and my co-workers role, are responsible for. So, my co-worker often oversteps into my role when they shouldn’t be [I try to just let this go for my own sanity].

    My boss is very hands-off. Yet, doesn’t provide even just topics of objectives I should be working on [my boss also very much does not understand the work I am supposed to be doing].

    For the past several months, I benefitted from having the person who was retiring around to work with me. Now, that person is gone – and I’m left having NO idea of what I’m supposed to be working on next. No time and action calendar, no guidelines.

    It has been communicated to my boss that there needs to be definitions of the roles [hasn’t been done]. I also become frustrated because my co-worker who wants to take over my tasks – they are not reliable [bad communication, turns in work late]

    I’m trying to keep this as short as possible – but maybe my question is – are these red flags? If I’m not feeling interested in the work also, is it acceptable to start looking? The good things are pay, benefits, and remote work. I’m just always feeling stuck, and sometimes just sad.

    1. kbeers0su*

      If you’re not getting clear guidance from your boss, I would take the initiative to give him your ideas. I’d sit down (perhaps with your colleague) and discuss the broader-stroke work you’re supposed to do (whatever your joint predecessor did) and then try to map out (based on job descriptions I assume you got when you interviewed) who does what. *Hopefully* your colleague is game for this conversation, because if you’re unsure about your role they are likely in the same boat, and that may also explain them over-stepping into what you assume is your role. Then you can jointly work on a plan for the next 3/6/9 months (whatever your cycle is). Set up a meeting with your boss together and present the plan. If nothing else, it will force boss to redirect you if the breakdown of responsibilities is wrong, or if your plan is going in the wrong direction, etc.

  46. Bloopy*

    I’m a graphic designer and I have friends and family ask me to do work for them ALL THE TIME. They are honestly relentless about it. Often, people ask for free stuff and some people offer to pay, as if that makes a difference. I don’t want to do graphic design projects for every person I know anymore. It’s not about the money. I simply don’t want to do it. How do I get them to stop asking?

    1. LadyByTheLake*

      “Oh, that’s what I do for my job — I don’t want to have to do it in my free time!” Said in a friendly and breezy manner.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Yep, double down on not having time. And remember that it isn’t a negotiation, if they say, “Oh it won’t take long to do,” then respond, “I don’t have time to take on any projects.”
        “But I will pay you.”
        “I don’t have the time to take on any projects.”
        “But the world will end if you don’t make a bunny logo for me!”
        “I don’t have the time to take on any projects.”
        Repeat until the begging ends. If you deviate from the message, then it will open up opportunities to convince you to take on the work, so stick to the same “I don’t have the time.”

        1. angstrom*

          If you want to soften it a bit, you can add “Here’s a list of tools/sites/resources I’ve found to be useful” and have a standard list ready to give out. Resources could include students or other graphic artists who might want the work.

          If they want more tips or advice, the answer is still NO.

        2. Bloopy*

          I have tried this tactic for sure. They know how busy I am. Sometimes they just say “oh that’s ok, i’ll wait.” And then I say something like “You’ll be waiting a really long time.” To put it into context, I work 2 jobs so I am already at 60-80 hours a week as it is. I don’t want anything else ever. I have started saying “Sorry, that still won’t work for me.” But they still come back. They truely are relentless lol.

          1. LadyByTheLake*

            I don’t think that claiming to be busy is the way to go — I think literally saying you don’t want to do your job in your free time is the way to go — PollyQ makes the point more eloquently than I did.

      2. PollyQ*

        Or even, “Sorry, but I don’t take on projects out of work,” with no further excuse. If the same people keep asking you, you can push back with, “I’ve told you that I don’t take projects outside work, please stop asking.”

        1. Bloopy*

          This is a really great response too. I think I needed the language. I have tried the I don’t have time tactic and it doesn’t work unfortunately. I am going to try this. It’s no without saying no.

          1. BRR*

            Yeah literally don’t add anything on to PollyQ’s wording. People will try and change your mind on it if you give them anything to work with.

        2. MissDisplaced*

          I second this!

          I mean, would you ask a dentist to work on your mouth outside of the office? People are often so disrespectful about graphic design and marketing and want you to “help” for basically free. Same with construction (husband gets it all the time too).

    2. meyer lemon*

      I think you need an ironclad policy. Either no freelance work period or no work for friends or family. It’s actually a lot easier to just point to the policy and be boring about it than to try to adjudicate every individual request. I know a few people who have a side business doing something like baking or crafts, and they have all needed to put a policy like this in place too.

      1. Bloopy*

        I like this idea too. I think they would be so annoyed but I don’t really care at this point. THis is also a side gig for me, so very similar situation. I do graphic design in my main job too, but not the same stuff as my side gig.

        1. I should really pick a name*

          They might be annoyed, but they clearly don’t have a problem with annoying you.

  47. Kate 2*

    Is there any hope? I seem to keep finding myself in jobs with unrealistic and/or abusive expectations. I have read many times the askamanager tips. Unfortunately I live in a rural area with many small companies, so many of them are not possible. I am in a job that is survivable, but I want a job that values my strengths, one where I don’t feel like a square peg in a round hole.

    I am on the autism spectrum. I have 25,000$ student debt for a useless partially finished degree. I am considering doing a bookkeeping certificate part-time with my full-time job, but I would have to take out about $10,000 more in loans. And that seems like a bad decision, to take on more debt when I already have so much. All of the other “good for autistic” people job lists I can find require expensive advanced degrees.

    I also have anxiety and depression. They are under control for the day to day but flare up under stress. I got a talking to at work today and I am really upset and sad and scared. I don’t want to get fired, but I am not sure I can do what they want.

    Please help. I am at work right now and can’t respond very much.

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      You may be limited by your location. Can you look for remote jobs in a different area if you don’t want to/can’t move? I don’t know what you do but if it’s possible to do it remotely, I’d definitely suggest trying to find something somewhere else, since it sounds like your area doesn’t sound like it has a lot of options.

      I’m sorry you’re in this situation.

    2. Empress Matilda*

      It sounds like you have a lot to deal with right now!

      First, I suggest checking some of your assumptions in the last paragraph. Not saying they’re wrong, and obviously you know your situation much better than I do! But even NT people have a tendency to go to the worst-case scenario when they’re stressed, so it’s worth taking a step back on that.

      Are you actually likely to get fired for not doing what they want? Or will there be other consequences, even just somebody being angry at you? Is what they want a key part of your job, or of their business? Why do you think you can’t do it? Is it illegal or unethical? Or is it a case of you’re so f***ing done with this job and everybody in it, that you just don’t want to do it any more? (This is a totally reasonable answer, by the way!)

      Do whatever you need to get through today, and whatever you normally do to relax when you get home. Then when you’re calm, spend some time thinking about the questions above, and anything else that will help you get a handle on your next steps – things like finances, how long can you put up with job while you look for another one, etc.

      There may not be hope for this job, but there should be hope for finding another job at least. Good luck, and I’d love an update when you have one!

    3. Koala dreams*

      Don’t take those lists too seriously. A dream job for someone is a nightmare for someone else. Think about what you like, or dislike, and try to make your own list.

      If you consider book-keeping, you could look for advice from professional organizations, and try to find people currently working with book-keeping to ask their advice about what education you need and what the job is like. More and more companies are open for remote book-keepers, so you’ll be able to apply for jobs outside the local area. On the other side, the education requirements are getting higher, so a course or a certificate is necessary.

      Finally, find some time after work to do something just for you. Something relaxing, something fun, something interesting. Even if it’s just five minutes, it’ll help.

  48. Coenobita*

    Can we talk about jobs where you have a direct, one-to-one positive impact on another person? (aside from healthcare, social work, and other jobs that require extensive training/certification)

    I’m a do-goody type person who has been working in federal policy/advocacy for ~15 years, but I’m getting frustrated with the “big-nonprofit industrial complex” in general and my job in particular. I’m exploring options for something with a more immediate impact.

    I find a lot of satisfaction in customer service (in sane environments, of course!) and while it’s not currently part of my day job I’ve had my foot in it for my whole working life via side jobs and volunteering. I do have a public health degree, but it’s policy focused and I have zero clinical experience, and also no desire to extensively retrain (I’d consider a certificate or some targeted coursework, but not another degree). I also have some experience in libraries, but no MLS.

    So, I’m interesting in hearing all kinds of suggestions for jobs that (1) feel like they’re on the side of positive change in the world but (2) do it on an individual rather than policy-level basis?

    1. Generic Name*

      I have a job that’s somewhere in the middle, I suppose. I help clients, such as our state’s transportation department, complete their projects in an environmentally responsible manner. People drive on improved roads or replaced bridges that were designed and built to minimize the impact to the environment as much as possible. I also help wind energy companies site and operate in a way that reduces impacts to birds and bats. I’m a biologist working at an environmental consulting firm.

    2. LCS*

      I work for a massive for-profit corporation, but one with a pretty developed department focusing on community outreach and social responsibility. There are some really cool jobs under this umbrella; people employed there do things like
      – providing job training & upskilling to underserved local communities in order to make them eligible for job opportunities in our org,
      – administer a summer intern program focused on Indigenous students that includes a ton of direct mentoring activity
      – Oversee our grant program, ensuring that funds get distributed to worthy causes in the community (some of these at a very small local level with noticeable impacts for individuals – it’s not all massive sponsorship and branding sorts of donations)
      – Supporting internal training on things like unconscious bias & diversity, to support moving towards a more equitable and inclusive workplace

      They get the benefits, budget and salary of a massive multi-national but day to day see clear personal impacts of their charitable work and community outreach activities. It’s a pretty cool setup.

    3. Pam Adams*

      I’m a university academic advisor- helping students sort out their issues and earn their degrees is the best!
      Your public health degree would be an asset in working for a medical or health based school.

    4. asteramella*

      I would look at roles in care navigation. You might search for terms like “care navigator,” “patient advocate” and the like. Many free clinics employ this kind of role—it’s usually not true case management, but connecting patients/clients to assistance programs and other resources after assessing their needs. My employer tends to hire people with public health backgrounds for these roles because it’s very helpful to have a good understanding of health disparities, theories of health behavior change, barriers to care, etc.

      Alternatively, you might look into becoming a certified Community Health Worker. In my state CHWs complete a 160 hour training program (~$500-1,000 thru a community college or private organization approved by the state) then take a certification exam (free or cost). Some CHWs do general health promotion activities or events but quite a few work with clients one on one.

    5. Holly Walker*

      Does your community have an Arc Chapter? The Arc works with clients with intellectual and physical disabilities in a lot of ways both individual and policy level.
      CASA-Court Appointed Special Advocates- is a group that helps provide children with proper legal support, and it also has state and local chapters. Most of the non legal professions would be admin or fundraising, but there are options there.
      Look for elder support groups or local meals on wheels groups- there are the obvious volunteer positions, but they might also have openings for someone with a public health degree!
      Care Management roles in healthcare settings (or any of the ones I mentioned) wouldn’t require any further education for you, and they’re usually done outpatient and in the community so you get to work with clients for an extended period of time!

  49. Union curious*

    Have you had any experience with a workplace unionizing? What was it like? Are there thing you wish you’d known going into it?

    1. Cptn*

      I am not sure if you are writing from worker or management perspective. I am experiencing this from management perspective. We have multiple locations unionizing and I don’t think all of the employees are on the same page about what to expect. One employee is extremely well-versed and has a clear understanding of what to expect from the union while others at a different location have been making weird demands and threats. I think it is reasonable to expect that as a union employee, you will still need to work with the management of your organization but the union will represent your concerns when something happens outside of the collective agreement.
      You should also consider the merits of the specific union you are working with as some unions have more power and ability to get things done than others. Some unions are very concerned with their own internal politics and growing what is essentially their business and do less work advocating for their employees so you will want to work with a union that has a strong history representing employees like you. Certainly consider union dues and what you can reasonable expect to obtain in exchange for paying those dues.

    2. Anon Pseudonym*

      I was involuntarily put into a union and didn’t get much out of it. I once worked somewhere with group A of employees that were already in a union, let’s say they were the llama behavior researchers. I was in group B, let’s call them llama training instructors. Group A had specific degrees and training for their jobs, grop B was adjacent but did not require specific degrees, e.g. related degree or experience was enough for jobs in group B.

      Group A decided to add us to the union without asking for our input. There were only a few of us. So, one day, the union steward came down to congratulate us for forcibly joining the union.

      I didn’t get much out of it. About 1% of my paycheck was taken away for the privelege. I thought it might help protect from layoffs, but people in the union were laid off during a downturn, so nope.

      It ended up causing more drama, too. Anytime there was drama, the stewards went around trying to get people to make statements etc. so they could make a bigger deal and fight everything. I suspect this was in retaliation to a reorg a few years before my arrival where Group A and B were merged into the same department. Group A’s profession is very gatekeepy, and they complained about it constantly, even 5 years later…

      I also got lots of annoying mail and phone calls to support political candidates the union endorsed or lobbied for. They didn’t stop until 2 years or so after I left that job.

      I like the idea of unions, but did not have a great experience. Ymmv.

  50. Ask a Manager* Post author

    FYI, for at least a little while, any comments with words commonly associated with armchair diagnosing are going to go automatically to moderation so I can look at them before they publish. This means that some other comments are going to get caught up in that even though they’re not breaking any rules (for example, if you mention that you are neurodiverse or autistic, the comment might go to moderation until I can release it) and I’m very sorry about that. This is the only way I think I can short-circuit what appears to be a real epidemic of this lately.

    1. Empress Matilda*

      Thanks Alison! It’s too bad that the extra work of fighting this (apparently never-ending) battle falls on you, but I really appreciate that you keep doing it.

    2. Holly*

      Thank you! I’m autistic and I have found this trend pretty upsetting, especially all the stereotyping and the ‘ND folk can’t help how they act’ BS.

    3. BRR*

      Thank you! I know the comments are a small portion of your site traffic and I really appreciate the time you put into moderating them.

      Yeah no idea what’s in the water this week.

    4. AcademiaNut*

      Thank-you! I really appreciate all the hard work you do keeping the comment section civil and useful.

  51. Toothless*

    I’m applying for new positions after nearly three years in my current role. I would have stayed forever, except that we are being acquired and the acquiring company has very different values and I am in the kind of position which will likely get cut if we aren’t in alignment. I have been applying for jobs for months now and keep striking out – I am not even getting interviews. I customize my cover letters and resume, but I am just not having any luck. I suspect it is because I have a title where people normally have about 10+ years of experience and I only have 5. I am also looking for jobs at a less senior level as I still feel I have much to learn from someone more senior and I don’t want to be in a leadership role (I address this in my cover letters). Regardless of the reasons for not getting responses, my confidence is absolutely shot. I have come across a position that I am extremely interested in and the job ad states “If this sounds like a position you are interested in, tell us your story”. Telling my story would be very long and this direction seems kind of vague. Any advice from this wise group?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Eh, “tell us your story” just means “give us a resume and cover letter” to me. They’re trying to sound personable and hip, not asking for a 20-page essay that’s suitable for publishing in The New Yorker.

    2. JRR*

      I’ve had jobs where my official title did not align with industry standards. For instance, I was officially a “llama stylist” when I was doing a job that would normally be called “llama groomer.”

      I have always listed that job on my resume as “llama groomer.” It makes my work history easier to understand, and no one has ever noticed or cared about the discrepancy as far as I can tell.

  52. SnapCrackleStop*

    One of my excellent former employees is applying for Med school and I’m a contact. I’ve given my phone number, but like everyone else these days I don’t pick up unknown numbers.

    Reassure me: med school admissions folks will leave a voicemail when they call references, right?

    1. Cptn*

      Yes, they will leave a voicemail. Have you also provided your email? I personally prefer to send an email to set-up a time to talk rather than just giving my email for people to call whenever.

    2. Casey*

      I definitely think they’d leave a voicemail. That being said, if the med school isn’t local you could look up the area code where it’s located and resolve to temporarily take calls from that area code. It’s not a perfect screen, but an option!

    3. Blue Bear*

      Assuming you are in the US, they will probably not even call. Medical schools receive so many applications that the vast majority of the time activities are not verified with the contact unless something seems fishy – though I expect they would leave a voicemail if they called. When I applied, none of my activities were verified by any of the schools that accepted me. I think they figure they can suss out liars/exaggerators in the interview and the background check will turn up anything egregious.

  53. Gaia*

    It has been so long since I’ve been on here.

    I’ve decided to start looking for a new job. My current job is 2 yrs old with no raise, not fully utilizing my skills, and no sign of that changing soon.

    The thing is, I single handedly create a very large project that spans from now through October. I logically know I’m replaceable on this and they’ll survive…but I feel about about potentially resigning in the middle.

    Any advice or encouragement is appreciated.

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      Do what’s best for you, they’d lay you off in a heartbeat if it suited them best. If you’re truly invaluable to them they’d be paying you accordingly, not make you go two years without even a COL raise.

      Good luck! I hope you find something soon.

      1. WellRed*

        Yes they had an option to keep you. They chose not to exercise those very basic options.

    2. philippians411*

      Do your best to document the project workflow and process so someone can take over with enough knowledge to make the transition smooth. But don’t let this project derail your job search. Don’t leave your former employer hanging so to speak, so try to work out a reasonable arrangement for transitioning out of your role once you get a new job offer. It sounds like this isn’t an abusive/toxic environment so ending on a good note will benefit both ways.

    3. PollyQ*

      Definitely start hunting and definitely don’t feel guilty. Do be sure to document and cross-train as much as possible. And given how long job-hunting can take, it’s entirely possible that you’ll still be at this job through October anyway.

    4. The New Wanderer*

      I’m planning to leave my current position by the end of summer, and I’ll be handing off a number of projects to colleagues. What makes me feel better about it is that I’ve been working on knowledge transfer for months already and I have a plan to document the things I’d recommend for the future of those projects. It’ll be hard to be cut off from knowing how things turn out on projects that I care about, but I believe they’ll be in good hands.

      Also, this may not work for your situation, but another thing that is smoothing the way is that I confided in a couple of colleagues about my plans because we have really strong working relationships and they will be the most affected by the shift in workload. It would be really hard to cover everything that needs to be planned for within 2 weeks’ notice and circumstances are such that I won’t be able to give more than that formally. It’s kind of a risk because I don’t have official plans so we are proceeding like nothing will change while still planning for it on the DL. Fortunately, they’ve been very supportive overall.

    5. Bstar0306*

      I’m in the same position. I feel bad leaving my job in the middle of the busy season. But I need to do what is best for me. :/ It’s so hard though I feel guilty for things that aren’t even my problem.

  54. A CAD Monkey*

    I’m burned out and need advice on what types of jobs i should even look for. i want to change industries, but have no clue as to what skills would transfer to any other job

    Background: i’m an architectural drafter with a bachelor of architecture degree. i draw plans for buildings from conception to construction using autocad and revit. i have working knowledge of photoshop. i can draw an existing building from just photographs and satellite images. i do code review (building, a.d.a.). i have had only 3 jobs in my life (6yr college job running data/phone wires in corporate environment, 12 yrs at toxic arch firm, and 3 yrs at current arch firm.)

    i’m tired of drafting and would like to get into another field completely unrelated to arch/engineering. help

    1. Generic Name*

      Would you be open to staying in the engineering/architecture/construction field but without doing any drafting? What about working for a city or county doing code compliance? A lot of those jobs are entry level and your architecture background would be a huge plus. Also look into quality. The American Society for Quality has a comprehensive website.

    2. ForgetMeNot*

      If you’re willing to invest a bit of time into learning your way around the other apps in Adobe’s Creative Suite (like Illustrator and InDesign), it sounds like you might have a basis to consider transferring to graphic design, information design, or data visualization. You’d probably need a portfolio or at least work samples, but some of your drafting projects may be able to go into that. I know from working with designers in a corporate environment that it’s really valuable to have someone with a good eye for structure and proportion. Ironically, many excellent artists are no good at information design, since they’re not used to working with data/copy that needs to be clearly presented. I’d think an architectural drafter would have a much better sense of how to do so.

      1. Fran Fine*

        Good recommendations – I was going to suggest the OP go into UX design for the same reasons you mentioned above. An architect with CAD experience would totally understand stuff like wireframes and prototyping.

    3. FormerHatRack*

      Well hello, me from 18 years ago.

      My early resume is identical to yours; BS Arch degree, various CAD programs from the early 00’s, working knowledge of various graphic manipulation softwares, code review experience.

      My jump was not fully out of the A/E world, I just switched to a completely different discipline and no longer deal with the architectural aspects of things, nor do I design anything. I *do* work in an adjacent field (MEP) as an estimator, with occasional dabbles into management of things (not people). I’ve found it significantly more satisfying that being a CAD jockey ever was, and that it is sufficiently different that I’m beyond happy with my career path.

    4. A CAD Monkey*

      Thank you for the responses. i now have a better idea of what skills might translate to other fields and how.

  55. Anonycat*

    tl;dr, I expect my current boss to badmouth me throughout my very small industry after I leave. She’s a chronic liar about important things in addition to be generally toxic and volatile. I am concerned about what will happen if she badmouths me to too many people in the industry.

    Full version:
    I work in a very small field. My boss (relatively junior) turned out to be super toxic–lying about funds, asking invasive personal questions, etc. Bad news on multiple levels. I am currently negotiating my offer to start somewhere new, so operation “get out of dodge” is nearly complete.

    My problem comes from the fact that my field is very niche and everyone knows everyone. My boss has a growing negative reputation, but I think it’s important that she not go on a full on crusade against me when I leave (she has done this to other people, so she might). I’ve gotten coaching from senior mentors about how to delicately explain why I left after a very short time in my current job. I wouldn’t be too worried that she will go on a crusade against me based on the job-related stuff since I’ve given her very little to criticize me on…. as long as she thinks I like her has a person and am leaving for unrelated reasons (current job is fully remote, new job will be in-person with tasks I like more that haven’t been possible at current job, so I can spin this story).

    The issue comes from the small field where everyone knows each other dynamic and a particular personal situation: we’re both pregnant, actually both at the same stage of pregnancy. Our due dates are the same week in September. I know this because she overshares everything and talks about her pregnancy constantly. I have hidden the fact that I’m pregnant from her (the perks of remote work!), but I’ve disclosed to future employer because I’ll need leave so soon after starting and need to negotiate that. It’s highly probable she’ll find out about my pregnancy at some point. And when she does, I fully expect her to get in touch in a sort of explosive way. She’ll view it as a personal betrayal that I’ve hidden a pregnancy for 6-7 months while working for her.

    I’d rather not 100% burn the bridge, but maybe it’s unavoidable? I don’t know if there is anything I can do to get ahead of this, given that she’s a toxic person. I am hoping that her growing negative reputation protects me, but there are important senior people in my field–like my grandboss–who solidly on her team (I have no idea why, but the final straw that prompted me to definitely quit was grandboss not caring about falsified financial records. Grandboss has a fine reputation, so far as I can tell, so this was very surprising). Any advice about how to brace myself and future boss for the fallout given I’ve already dug the hole that she’s going to be so angry about?

    1. LadyByTheLake*

      As someone in a niche industry who was badmouthed by someone with a terrible reputation — having someone horrible say bad things about me actually made people like me more. And if she’s publicly upset because you didn’t share that you were pregnant — that’s just some crazysauce right there and people are going to think bad things about her, not you.

      1. mreasy*

        I have been in a similar situation (small industry, horrible boss who hated me when I left) and even though my then-boss was successful, her reputation was known, and people didn’t take her seriously. If she’s as off the rails as you say, it will likely be the same in your small industry. That was more than 15 years ago and it never negatively affected my career.

      2. Blackcat*

        I doubt she’d give the pregnancy as the reason. She’d make up something else. That’s what she did when our intern (reasonably!) quit on the spot after being blamed for a mistake Boss made. She lied to everyone saying the intern showed up on drugs (!!) and so she fired them on the spot.

      3. JelloStapler*

        Especially true if they also see how calm and collected you are with the whole situation.

    2. kbeers0su*

      You could also prep with several responses to her if she does explode at you over the pregnancy news.
      – “I’ve been dealing with some associated medical issues so I haven’t really been discussing it with anyone”
      – “I know some folks dealing with pregnancy loss/difficulty getting pregnant so I’ve trained myself not to talk about it much”
      – “Honestly, I’m just so over people touching the belly/asking me how I am/giving input on baby names that I stopped mentioning it except to my partner and doctor!”

        1. Anon Pseudonym*

          Still icky, but you could say you saw how excited she was about her own pregnancy and didn’t want to steal her thunder… :P

  56. Casey*

    Looking for advice — is it ever a good idea to tell your manager about a breakup? My partner of 3 years and I just split up, and my work productivity has definitely suffered from a) general brain fog / sadness and b) having to deal with moving out of our shared apartment on short notice. I’m only 4 months into this job, so I don’t want to come across as dramatic/unreliable, but I also want to flag for my manager that I know I’m not at the top of my game and I’m working to get back there. (Also, I am read as female, my manager & most of my team is male, and we work in engineering. So there’s that dimension of wanting to avoid coming across as emotional.) What do I do? Just tell him that I’m moving and that’s been crazy? Vague statement about “things going on in my personal life”?

    1. Empress Matilda*

      Ugh, I’m sorry for all the chaos in your life right now – I hope it settles down soon. Definitely say something to your manager. Reasonable people will understand that chaos happens, and sometimes it happens when people have just started a job. If you’re not comfortable mentioning the breakup, you can certainly mention the move – there’s usually plenty of upheaval to go around even if that’s all it is!

      Also, check out Captain Awkward’s excellent post “How to tighten up your game at work when you’re depressed.” She has some fabulous advice there, for how to keep going at work when everything is falling apart at home. Good luck. <3

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      I think it couldn’t hurt to let them know that something has happened in your personal life (possibly mention that it means you’ve had to move very quickly) and that you recognize that you haven’t been at your best. but you’re working hard to correct it/get back to normal. Use your best judgement if your boss seems like someone who wouldn’t care/would use it against you.

      I’ve found that it’s better to say something before your boss does, especially if you haven’t established a long-term track record of reliability yet. It’s almost always better to give someone a heads up when something is off/wrong, rather than wait until they comment on it and you then have to explain it as an excuse for a problem that’s already happened.

      I will add that I’m not working in a male-dominated engineering environment so someone with experience in that probably has better advice, I know that can unfortunately play a big role in things.

      I’m sorry about your break up, I hope your new place is cute and sunny and always smells nice.

    3. Paris Geller*

      I think at the very least you can mention a move/things going on in your personal life. If you want to get a little more detailed, then it depends heavily on your workplace and your perception of your boss. Both in my current role and my former one I would feel comfortable telling my boss about something like a break-up–not in great details, but just that it happened, I’m dealing/working with, etc.–but I’ve also had jobs where I would have felt that was being held against me.

    4. The Prettiest Curse*

      I’ve been through some very stressful (non-breakup related) stuff in the last few years, and I used the phrase “I’m having a difficult time in my personal life.” More specific than just “things going on” (and also conveys better that you have stuff weighing on your mind), but vague enough that they don’t know the details.

    5. AnotherAlison*

      I’ve always preferred to shove my emotions down and embrace the distraction of work in those situations, but as a female manager in that industry, I think most managers would want to know and would be understanding. If you have one that would be a jerk, you already know because they’re a jerk anyway. I would convey it as something like “being more distracted than usual from tying up some loose ends from a long-term relationship that ended, including an unexpected move.” I think it would be helpful for you to have some people at work who can support you, and if your boss was having some unasked questions about your performance or attitude, that puts it into context.

    6. Malika*

      When my partner and I went on a break I immediately told my manager and he was very understanding. If you stick to a factual statement of the situation and request what you will need during this difficult time, a reasonable manager will comply. I worked some extra days from home and that ensured my productivity stabilized because of it. Your employer knows that during these situations you cannot operate at your best but that if they handle it gracefully you will have the tools to get to a better place and return to performing at your former level.

  57. AvonLady Barksdale*

    A client relations question! I have been in several client-facing roles, but my current one is my first where I am completely in charge of the business and the client’s main contact. And I sell stuff, so there’s a lot of client interaction and a lot of sensitivity, for lack of a better word, required. I never want to risk embarrassing them or making them think I am chastising them or something.

    But I have clients who call me by the wrong name. From different companies, so it’s not like one set does this. This usually happens in emails and after several exchanges where I sign my name, so it’s obviously a typo or mistake and I usually let it go. But some keep doing it. Not over and over, but every fifth email will open with, “Sarah, please do this” when my name is Susan.

    I have a very common name. It is often confused with another common name. Think Michelle/Melissa, so close and of the same era but not something like Christina/Christine or Allison/Alison.

    I am annoyed. Not furious, not upset, just annoyed. Should I address directly this next time? Or just continue to pretend I don’t notice and keep signing my actual name and hope they get it?

    1. T. Boone Pickens*

      I’ll be interested to read the responses to your question. As someone with 2 first names, I 100% sympathize with you and unfortunately, I don’t have any good advice. When I inevitably get called by my last name (which happens about once or twice a week) my next message to the person is usually signed with my first name only. To this day, I’ve received exactly 2 apology messages from folks acknowledging their error. I think part of my issue is I’m a guy and I feel weird bringing it to people’s attention. That being said, I think you have a far stronger case than I as people are literally calling you by the wrong name.

    2. LadyByTheLake*

      Breezily — “Just a note that my name is actually Susan — thank you so much for your order blah blah blah.” If you treat it as no big deal, no one should take offense. I say that as a person who, for whatever reason, gets the wrong name or spelling stuck in my head. All it takes is a quick correction and I’ll get it right going forward.

    3. AnotherAlison*

      Go ahead and correct them. My actual name is Alison, and not exaggerating, at one job my small department had Alison (me), Angie, Andrea, Amy, Ashley in one office, and Ali in another regional office. People were always fumbling it. I don’t blame them! I’d rather be corrected repeatedly than to keep calling you the wrong name. Most people would just say, “Oh, that’s right, sorry.”

    4. Overeducated*

      I too have a common name of that era and I don’t make a point of it. Usually people notice their mistake soon enough. I tend to have mostly repeat contacts though, not as many new ones as you may have.

    5. Sleepless*

      I have a slightly worse variation on that! I have a coworker whose last name is very similar to mine, and hers is more common. We also have a slight physical resemblance (I have to gloomily point out that she is prettier and thinner), enough that a client who wasn’t really paying attention might not know which one of us was which. So we very often have to casually correct clients, who either get us confused with each other, or heard my name but thought it was the more common name that she happens to have.

    6. Not Veronica*

      I have a somewhat common name but for some reason is often randomly replaced with another common name of the same number of letters. There’s not even any similarity in the names other than they are both long (think being called Veronica instead of Jennifer…) And it happens from people in all different scenarios, jobs, companies.. there’s no pattern other than me! Its happened often enough that I now laugh about it and try to figure out WHY (do i look like a veronica?) . With folks that repeatedly do it even though they know better, I generally have a relationship where we can laugh about it (“Veronica please do this” “You mean Jennifer?” “oh yes, OMG so sorry I don’t know why I keep calling you Veronica!” “no problem, happens all the time. Here’s the results you wanted”) With one person I started calling him by a different name to get the point across (“Veronica please do this” “Ok Tom” “no my name is Harry” “yeah well my name is Jennifer”…) but you have to be very careful about who you do that to! Depending on the relationship you have with the person you could just add a gentle “actually it’s Susan but i’ll be happy to take care of that for you.” then laugh at them when they are not around..

  58. Abigail Chase*

    Hi all! This is a work/life question. I started an internship back in January and worked 9 am to 4 pm, 5 days a week. In May, I graduated from college and began working for the same company as a fellow 9-6 pm, 5 days a week. I’ve held other internships before but this is the longest I’ve ever worked full time. I’ve noticed that I’ve adapted a “living for the weekend” type attitude. I feel like I only really have fun/enjoy myself on the weekends but I don’t want to be like this! If I only live for the weekend, I feel like time is passing too quickly and I’m wasting my summer/time during the week. During the week, I’ll get off work, bring my dog to the beach, have dinner with my parents and watch TV until I go to bed. Have any of you found ways to really enjoy the week and not just wait for Saturday to roll around? (should also note that I recently moved multiple states away from the city I went to college in/where most of my friends are and also moved away hundreds of miles from my childhood home where some of my friends still live so beyond my parents and kid brother I don’t really have any friends to hang out with at the moment).

    1. mediamaven*

      Welcome to adulthood.

      You can still use the week nights for fitness, happy hours with friends, crafting or whatever you consider fun! But then make the most of the weekend and take all of your vacation days.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Not being cheeky here, but what are you hoping to do during the week that you’re not doing? Your routine sounds pretty normal to me. If you’re talking about going out, you can still do that. You can take a class in the evenings, go to a movie, etc. There are so many possibilities. Are you concerned you don’t have time? Or that you can’t stay out late?

      1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

        Second the idea of scheduling things. Class on Tuesday, bowling league on Friday, etc.

        Carolyn Hax has recommended becoming a regular at some place for people in your situation. If you’re always doing tapas at the bar on Wednesday at the same place, pretty soon you’ll be in a position to make new friends.

    3. Generic Name*

      Yeah, the switch from school to work is brutal. Sure, school can be stressful, it you have so much free time! I remember being exhausted at the end of an 8 hour work day at the beginning of my first job. Working is hard. As my mom would say, that’s why they pay you to do it, because it’s work. If it were fun, you’d pay to do it. :)

      1. Malarkey01*

        Summer is also really hard even if you’ve been working years- it stays light so much later, it’s warm, kids if you have any aren’t in school, so suddenly it feels like “the day is young” at 6 pm. You’re hitting full time work at the worst season.

        Let yourself adjust a little, dont overschedule but have a few planned activities, and spend some time thinking specifically about what sort of life you want (time to pursue this or that hobby, time for fitness and sleep) when you get more specific about what you want you get less of the more vague life is passing me by feeling.

    4. Casey*

      I think this is a making friends / living with your parents thing more so than a work life balance thing! I generally split my weeknights between happy hours, running errands, library trips, getting dinner with friends, and yeah a reasonable amount of Netflix. Another thing that keeps my weeks feeling fresh is working out consistently – I go to a climbing gym in the mornings so it feels like more of an “activity” than, say, running on a treadmill.

    5. Actual Vampire*

      Girl you go to the beach every day! What more do you want! Seriously though, it sounds like you have a very healthy work/life balance and plenty of free time. If you’re not satisfied with your weeknights, you should put some thought into what would make you more satisfied – and be patient with trying things out until you find what works for you.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        Yes! Ways it could be worse: you could eat dinner alone or barely leaving your house each evening.

        Plan things. Join an adult sports league or hobby group or something that has you leaving the house one or two nights a week.

    6. meyer lemon*

      For your next full-time job, you might want to look for something with a flexible schedule and/or limited commute. Personally, I like to start work early and finish early, so I have long evenings. I also work from home, so I have no commuting time. I’ve also arranged my schedule so that I put in a little extra time every day and take a day off every other week.

      For me, this is a good balance, but I think it depends on what time is most meaningful for you during the week. Do you like to get up early and get a lot done in the morning, or would you rather finish early every day? Do you think you’d prefer to work 10 hour days 4 days a week? Or maybe you could make a part-time job work financially? I think these flexible options are becoming more common now, and they do make a difference.

    7. PollyQ*

      You could try to find a regularly scheduled weeknight activity, e.g., a community choir, meeting, pub quiz night, adult dance class. This would give you a little structured fun and also help you meet new people in the area. If you’re not so much a joiner, then perhaps a hobby where you’re actively enagaging yourself, more so than just watching TV.

      1. angstrom*

        This! When I moved to a new city for a job I was determined to NOT spend evenings alone watching television. I looked up activity/hobby clubs and adult classes and got my butt out the door and tried new things and had a great time.

  59. Spills*

    Any advice on how to speak more plainly in my communications — or rather, how to get more comfortable doing it and knowing when and how it’s ok? I come from a hospitalty/client service background, where all of my communications were very deferential. Lots of pleases, thank yous (not that that is bad), might I ask you for assistance, exclamation points, etc.

    However, I’m in a different environment now and feel like I need to figure out how to speak more directly. I’m afraid that the extremely deferential language is making me come off as less experienced than I am, and I’m also extremely conscious of being a woman in a male-dominated field and coming off too feminine and apologetic. I already try to reel back my “sorries”, and have tried replacing phrases like Sorry about that with Thanks for your feedback, etc.

    I think these feelings are being prompted by some new, younger folks joining the team (not significantly younger – they are in their 20s and I am newly 30 – eek!) but they communicate in ways that somewhat horrify me but also somewhat impress me. They are way more comfortable pushing back or saying that they are too busy to do something, where I continually struggle with saying yes to everything and taking on too much.

    I’m also a bit neurotypical, and think that contributes to my struggles with being able to “read the room” and know when it’s ok to be more direct or push back. Office politics fill me with dread, and I’ll spend hours agonizing over the right response to an email. I feel like all of this is holding me back from reaching a higher level.

    Anyone else relate to this, or have any tips for how I can get over this?

    1. HereKittyKitty*

      At one of my old jobs I unofficially became an email drafter because I am apparently really good at writing emails where people are worried about getting backlash or pushback, so I literally would sit down with coworkers and help them write out difficult emails!

      I write emails very “matter of fact” and try to eliminate any hedging. I write in such a way where any actions I want to take are clear and my thoughts are easy to read and clear as well. That might mean even using bullet points to lay out a series of questions so visually people know where to focus.

      I also tend to write how I would like to read emails. I’m neuroatypical and emails where there’s a lot of hedging, or using the sandwich method, give me mega anxiety because I just want people to matter-of-factly say what they are /wanting./ If you are sending an email because you want me to take an action, tell me exactly what action you would like me to take. “This is great, but can you do it a little differently, please” may have positive words in it, but I have no idea what you think is great and what you would like to be different. It would be much easier if they wrote something more actionable and specific: “Your color choices are great, but can you change the font of the blue text, please?”

      I think please and thank you’s are totally fine and use them as well. Matter-of-fact doesn’t necessarily mean harsh.

      Another thing that can be a little difficult to gauge is sometimes you end up with coworkers that just don’t respond well to your style of writing. I once had a coworker that would often cry at the slightest suggestion of a revision, so when I emailed her I made sure to heap some praise at the beginning and end… basically the sandwich method. So sometimes yeah, you may have to adapt for different people.

    2. lady gamer or something*

      I’m also working on this issue. Shortening my sentences and replacing the apologies definitely helps. It’s a process!

    3. Jean*

      My advice is to practice saying no in lower-stakes situations (like when a friend asks you to drive them to the airport or something – “No can do, I’m busy that day”). I also find it helpful to stop and take a beat to think and absorb before just jumping to your habitual response. Sometimes just having that little time cushion is enough to gather yourself. Best of luck from someone who used to be incapable of pushing back/saying no and now loves it, lol

    4. LC*

      I definitely won’t claim to be excellent at this, but this is something I’ve been working on over the years too.

      I think I’d suggest looking for someone who’s already established there, is well respected, and has the email style that you’re going for. Maybe someone who is a level or two higher than you, but probably not any higher than that. Bonus points if it’s a woman, but definitely not necessary.

      Then take particular note of anything you see them send out. How they stated things, how they asked things, how they respond to other’s requests, etc. Obviously don’t just copy them, but taking the time to see what they do and how it works for them can help you translate that into you-speak.

      (PS, do you mean you’re not neurotypical? I’m guessing so, most NT people don’t find the need to say they’re NT, so just wanted to add in, I am also neurodivergent and definitely understand the struggle with the “knowing when it’s okay to be more direct/push back” thing and so much of the other stuff that doesn’t immediately mesh with our brains. I don’t have a ton of advice, but I do offer some solidarity.)

      1. Spills*

        LOL yes – neurodivergent is what I meant. Clearly my fingers and brain were not working together on Friday. Thanks for the tips!

    5. Free Meerkats*

      Try writing emails with no fluff beyond “Hi” and “Thanks”:

      Hi Ferdinand,

      I need the plans for the left-handed veeblefetzer calibrator by end of day Tuesday.

      Instead of:
      Hello Ferdinand,

      I hope you had a great weekend and I really hate to bother you with this request, sorry. I’ve found that I really need the plans for the veeblefetzer calibrator; only the left-handed one, I really don’t need the right-handed, but if it’s easier for you to send them together, I can manage. I apologize for putting this on you, but I promised Velma I’d get it for her by Thursday, and I need some time to review it. So sometime Tuesday, or even early Wednesday if you can possibly manage it would be great.

      Again, I’m sorry for only giving you a week notice, but this just came up.

      Thank you so very, very much,

    6. Red*

      Take a look at Grammarly and the Hemingway App editor. I found both of them incredibly useful for identifying where and how to edit professional communications.

  60. Question for online teachers*

    Hello, I have a question to anybody here who might have experience as an online tutor to children. I have booked some 1-1 online classes for my small children (piano, math, and a foreign language). Questions are:
    1. I’ve written quite long messages explaining what my children need etc, and received very curt replies from the teacher. Is it too much to expect teachers to read and respond to these messages? For what it’s worth, I pay about 1$ / minute (some are 30 min or 45 min classes). Teachers are from all over the US. Should I expect private teachers to only work during the hours they are paid, so any discussion with me has to happen during the teaching hours?
    2. Do teachers have any suggestions on what to do if my child is just not paying attention? My being in the room with them seems to actually make things worse (this is a problem with the youngest, who is 5). I used to set up a camera in the room just in case, but my child learned to turn it off… My child does sometimes pay attention, but it seems to depend on the subject and the teacher. One time my oldest child just cried for 20 min (I found out later, from the class recording – the teacher did not report this to me). This teacher is the nicest person, my child was just disappointed that they couldn’t do a problem, and they have a lot of anxiety. But somehow this teacher didn’t contact me even when this was happening. Should the teacher have contacted me, or was it important for them to establish some trust with the child without me?
    3. What should I look for in an online teacher for each type of subject? I am particularly unsure about online piano lessons (the kids are new to piano). Is this really… possible to do well? Should I find an in-person teacher as soon as I can get the children vaccinated?

    By the way, this might sound like a lot of classes but during the summer they have little other academic stimulation (except independent reading) so it isn’t really that much! I hope this question counts as ‘work/school -related’.

    1. Blackcat*

      1. If you’re paying $1/minute, yeah, I wouldn’t expect detailed communication from the tutors outside of the tutoring hours. I did detailed parent reports and such when I worked as a tutor, but I charged $80-120/hr depending on subject/needs. You’re not paying enough for there to be extensive communication outside of tutoring time. You could likely use the paid instructional time to talk instead.
      2. It’s EXTREMELY hard to get a 5 year old to pay attention to online learning. Extremely. It’s going to be functionally impossible with many kids, and that is not the fault of the teacher. I really question the value of any sort of formal online instruction for a kid that age that’s not absolutely necessary (like remote teaching during COVID).
      3. I would not try to do online piano as a new thing. As a continuation of other lessons, fine, but I can’t imagine introducing a musical instrument without being able to see hands closely (in both directions).

      What are your goals with the online learning, particularly for the 5 year old. Is “academic stimulation” outside of reading that important?

    2. Malarkey01*

      I LOVE the new online remote resources and learning, BUT it’s not for everyone, kids have a much harder time with it, and some of this is probably not going to work remotely.
      1) in general whether in person or remote I’d expect an instructor to be available for a quick chat during the lesson (normally a drop off/pick up check in) and if there’s a problem that they’d have a few minutes to discuss. Detailed emails when setting up the classes if you had specific questions wouldn’t be much, but multiple emails would be a lot and I wouldn’t expect them to spend unpaid time responding.
      2) this is where online and kids hits a speed bump, and even in person I wouldn’t expect a 5 year old to be able to focus more than 10 minutes without some get up and wiggle time. I personally would approach this as a fun bonus activity and if they don’t pay attention one day oh well, and if they’re crying then seriously it’s not worth it and time to find something else.
      3) musical instruments and especially new to it, don’t bother. You could try some YouTube instruction videos if THEY really want to try, but learning an instrument online is hard. My son has done his guitar lessons online but already had a strong base- so much of the early lessons are tutors actually placing and correcting hand positions

      I really really understand needing to keep kids learning and engaged during the summer, especially after a year plus in lock down. However, we’re trying to go more stress free, less rigid. Online instruction videos have been GREAT. We try to focus more on activities like learn to cook x and y, or learn how to do this craft, collect leaves and watch a science video, etc. You run the risk of having them dislike an activity just because this years format isn’t a great introduction (just my 2 cents for what it’s worth)

    3. Question for online teachers*

      Thanks for your perspectives! We are in a rural area so don’t have a lot of in-person tutoring options anyway. I guess things are going better for us than I thought, I’d say the kids are paying attention at least 70% of the time, so maybe I should I adjust my expectations. A reality check helps! (For piano, I can play some myself so can correct their hand positions etc if needed).

    4. Teacher*

      I’m a teacher working a salaried position, but I work one-on-one providing literacy instruction, and worked remotely for most of this past year.

      It sounds like the tutor responded to your email, just didn’t have a detailed response. That seems reasonable for me at that price point especially.

      For the paying attention—I have colleagues who feel differently, but I try not to involve parents in supporting instruction unless there’s a serious issue (like once I had a student playing with a knife!). It helps to establish our structures and routines separate from home rules and habits. I probably would have said something if a child cried for 20 minutes, but it would have been a heads up after the fact, not during the lesson.

      And honestly, I think 5 is too young for online instruction. We made it work with our kindergartners last year because we had no choice, but it was not developmentally appropriate for many of them. I agree with the above poster who recommends fun enrichment activities—those help academics too!—over tutoring.

    5. Anonymous Teacher*

      Ditto previous posters! As a parent and a teacher, I empathize you. I know it feels as though this summer, coming off the year and a half of crazy remote learning, is just an additional drain on our kids’ progress. BUT, just like we are all burned out, our kids are burned out, too. You say that your kids get little other academic stimulation besides reading, but there all multiple opportunities for learning or retention of skills that don’t involve looking at more screens or paying someone to drill your kids with endless math problems. (Note: I am very biased against screen time for young kids – I own that.) Let your kids play & be imaginative – playing is learning. As someone mentioned above, cooking activities are great fun, and incorporate sequencing, math (measurement, estimation, time), reading to complete a task, etc. I’m not sure if you’re working while they are taking classes, but I do understand if you need them to do activities that don’t involve you! Board games like Clue involve inferencing, developing questions, note taking, and social skills like turn-taking or dealing with disappointment/failure. Card games like Uno or Go Fish involve matching, prediction, and executive functioning skills like planning. Playing house or with dolls involves narration and story development, social skills, perspective taking, dialogue, and fashion design! Legos involve design, experimentation, etc. Art projects can involve planning, following directions, problem solving, etc. Puzzles help with visual-spatial skills. Crossword puzzles and Code breaker puzzles involve logic and language. Nature walks can involve scavenger hunts to learn about the local ecosystem. Mundane tasks like grocery shopping (even online if you’re not comfortable taking them to the store) or getting ice cream can involve math and money skills. (Spices in the grocery store are listed alphabetically – have your kid find the sage!) I’m not sure what opportunities are available in your community and how safe you feel about taking your kids out, but the libraries can be a huge source of fun activities – some will check out puzzles and games, even art pieces or building tools. Contactless pickup might be an option. Would you consider outdoor camps or activities for your kids? Whether organized, or something fun like painting rocks with little sayings or designs and leaving them at parks for others to find, or something like geocaching (very educational!), there are lots of ways to use the outside for fun and learning.

      If you really do need your kids to do online classes this summer, or if your kids need to receive specialized services in order to maintain skills over the summer (i.e., they have an IEP) that must be delivered via structured online classes over the summer, here is what I would suggest in response to each of your questions:

      1) The teacher side of me would absolutely find great value in any information about your child that would help me address their needs in a tutoring session. However, while I would appreciate the information, I would not have time to give much of a response, other than a “thanks for sharing” type answer. (The parent side of me sees why this would be frustrating.) I would usually be able to have a brief (i.e., 5-minute) conversation at the beginning or end of the next session to address any concerns. If you want to have an in-depth conversation, see if you could use the next session as a conference instead of a tutoring session, or offer to schedule an addition (paid) session as a conference. Provide any topics of concern or questions in advance to maximize the time of the conference.

      2. Maintaining attention is one of the hardest aspects of online teaching. I know you said your 5yo prefers that you are elsewhere (got one of those myself!). Are you trying to work your own job while he’s in class? It may be enough that he’s staying in his designated spot and being quiet in that case. 30-45m is incredibly long for a 5yo to sit and maintain attention. I’d hope there are a few movement breaks or songs sprinkled into the sessions. Even if they do a couple of tasks, then bring them to you for some lavish praise, and then go back, it would probably help them persevere and it could help you to know what is going on in the session. Some sort of brief visual checklist (eyes on teacher, stay on camera, raise hand) might help – with copious sticker rewards. Honestly, some kids may do better with workbooks instead of online-lessons. There are lots of activity books for different ages – some even come with stickers or certificates for the kids. (My 5yo will do a certain number of pages each day in order to get a small reward like a piece of chocolate or something.)

      For the crying episode, was that a 5yo or a different child? Either way, I’m sorry that happened. I could see a teacher wanting to deal with it without parental involvement, but at the end of the session, I would have probably said something to the parent about how a problem was frustrating, but we worked through it (usually my students’ parents are there at the beginning/end of the session, unless they’re in high school). When you watched the recording*, did you feel the teacher was responding to the child appropriately and ultimately defusing the situation/helping the child meet with success, or did you feel that the teacher was making things worse unnecessarily? If the former, I wouldn’t worry about it too much. If it’s the latter, make sure the teacher knows about any strategies that work for your child, and one of those strategies could be to text you in the moment. (*FYI, not sure if you signed any contracts saying you wouldn’t record sessions. In my organization, neither parents nor teachers are permitted to record sessions. I know some of my parents have recorded sessions without letting me know – it doesn’t bother me exactly, but I don’t really want to know that they’ve done it. If they’d asked beforehand, I would have said sure, but to do it without asking is a bit of a breach of trust, and I’d just like to continue living in my little world where I can pretend that they haven’t recorded videos of me without my knowledge.)

      3. As others noted, I think it would be really difficult to teach an instrument to a beginner online. I’d wait until this could be done in-person. (If you have at least an intermediate ability in piano yourself, you might be able to help them during an online lesson, but I would not encourage this route.) Maybe learn a language or some other extracurricular activity… As for what to look for in on-line teachers, of course look at their qualifications in their subject matter, but also ask them about the methods they use to teach online (Peardeck is awesome!), how they keep kids’ interest, how they generally structure their sessions, and how this varies based on the student’s age and interest/aptitude. You want a teacher who can adapt quickly – recognize when something is not working, and can then try another approach.

      I hope that helps. Good luck this summer!

      1. Question for online teachers*

        Thank you for taking the time for such a thorough answer. It’s reassuring to hear I probably didn’t actively annoy the teacher by providing information, they just didn’t have time to respond with a long message. Overall the children actually seem to enjoy the sessions, which is why I continue. I didn’t mention but both kids are advanced at school and were complaining they were bored, so this is supposed to be additional stimulation that they are seeking (except the foreign language – that is really because I want them to connect with my culture – it’s also the one that they get the most bored with, but I’ve asked teachers to never speak English). I’m doing many of the other activities here (like cooking, playing games, sending kids to outdoor camps). I just wondered if there was any way to improve the classes (that I could do on my side), but it seems it’s actually going quite well relatively speaking (which explains why none of the teachers told me there was an issue). The older is 8 and quite a perfectionist and does well in school, so it seems was ‘shocked’ he was given a problem he couldn’t solve. We’re working on that… The recording is made on the teacher’s side, actually, I didn’t even ask for it, but having them has turned out to be very helpful.

    6. Afac*

      As a teacher who once was a child who cried easily when frustrated, I would not necessarily report tears to a parent unless it appeared to be a constant occurrence or that the child was out of control or a danger to themselves. You didn’t mention how old your eldest child was, but if it seemed like a one-off bad day for an otherwise good student, I would just let it lie. I mostly teach older kids now, but in such situations I have backed off, let them cry it out, then we both would re-group–them to reset their frame of mind, me to reassess to try to find the point of frustration.

    7. RagingADHD*

      If my anxious child cried for 10 minutes of a 30 minute lesson,

      1) Yes I would expect the teacher to tell me after class and discuss it.

      2) Probably would stop doing that online class.

    8. The New Wanderer*

      I understand if you prefer the 1-1 tutor setup and dedicated teaching, and have already considered the other online options. But if not, an alternative to a synchronous online course is to consider websites my family refers to as “semi-educational” – essentially gamified learning sites such as ABCya, Dreambox, Edutyping, and Lexia (and Khan Academy, which is less game-y). Our school system has used some of these throughout the past year and a half to supplement regular classes so they are familiar to the kids. My son is now 7 but for the last couple of years we’ve had him do up to 20 minutes of practice on these websites all summer and he generally enjoys them because of the game/reward setup.

      Small group classes through a platform like Outschool have gone well for my daughter who is 11. Some are live classes, some are video + assignment. She also does remote instrument lessons but she did in-person lessons first for almost a year so she was able to switch to remote pretty easily as an advanced beginner. I think it would be much more challenging for a child who hasn’t had in person instruction previously unless it’s a more generalized basic music class (learning the note names, symbols, rhythms, singing/clapping, that sort of thing).

  61. All aboard*

    I’m beginning a new job soon! It will start remotely, and transition back to hybrid/in office in a couple months. Any tips for navigating re