open thread – August 27-28, 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.

{ 1,426 comments… read them below }

  1. AnonPi*

    So I’m scheduled to take my PMI ACP (Agile Certified Practioner) exam Monday. Wondering if anyone here has taken it and has any insights/tips you’d be willing to share. Was it mostly scenario based questions? Are there one or two areas you’d recommend focusing on reviewing, like Value Driven Delivery or Release Planning?

    I’m rather all over the place taking practice exams, from 66%-82% so I feel like I’m flailing around what I’m doing wrong. Some of it I know is the whole, two answers could technically be correct, you have to pick the best one bit, which I struggle with. In part because I know I shouldn’t go by my own experience, because it may not align with what PMI says is the best way to go about it, but that’s hard to ignore.

    I really feel like if I pass I pass, if I don’t I don’t, because frankly I’ve come to the conclusion that I should have gone for more specific certifications like Scrum and/or Kanban. But since my employer paid for it I hate to not pass and have that stick in my managers mind that they wasted the money. I suspect it will influence them paying for any future training/certifications.

    1. GeorgiaB*

      It’s been years since I’ve taken the exam, so I don’t remember a lot of particulars, but my advice for any PMI exam (I have my PMP too) is to forget any real world experience and just focus on what the guide says. Unfortunately it’s much more memorization and regurgitation than being able to reason through the answers.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This is what they told us repeatedly throughout the CompTIA Project+ mentoring. Don’t extrapolate; they’re looking for a particular answer. And some questions may have more than one correct answer—they want the most correct one.

        And the test was like the practice tests. In fact, someone who took the test said the practice quizzes were harder. I don’t know about that, but they were similar.

        Personally, I think these exams would be better if they had a class with homework rather than a memorize-this-guidebook exam. I don’t feel completely prepared to do all the work unless it’s something I actually did in another job.

        1. AnonPi*

          Yeah that’s one of the downfalls I think, really this is all about how much/how well you can memorize a bunch of stuff. But for someone like me who does very small projects (as in I’m often the only one working on it, or I may get one or two people allocated to help for parts of the work), I’ve not done a lot of the formal processes in practice. It’d be much more useful to actually go through the process of writing a charter, or practice making some of the various charts, and discuss what may or may not work in different scenarios.

      2. Sam Foster*

        1000x times this. Answer how the book says to answer not how you think it should be done or how you’ve seen you work do things.

    2. Escaped a Work Cult*

      For any PMI exam, continue to review the guide or if you have a cheat sheet fold out! If you’re scoring closer to 80% on most of your practice exams, I have every confidence in you.

      General advice for test taking (currently have my CAPM but basically counting down until I have my PMP hours), taking the weekend off for practice testing. Rest. You know way more than you think!!

        1. AnonPi*

          Ironically they changed the requirements like 2 weeks after I submitted my app. I was so annoyed, it would have been so much easier not trying to calculate hours!

    3. theletter*

      I took the CAPM a few years back and passed. What seemed to work for me was laws, formulas, rules. Tests like these can’t test good judgement, they can only test what can be memorized.

      I never took ACP but I would imagine that it’d be better to focus on general rules of Agile rather than any personal experience you’ve had with Agile, as Agile in practice is going to look different for every team.

      Other than that, from my personal experience of taking these tests as an adult: solid nutrition, light exercise, a good night’s sleep. Your brain is about to run a marathon, you’ll want to prepare accordingly.

    4. AnonPi*

      Thanks everyone for the comments. I kind of suspect part of the problem is I’m being asked some scenario questions that wouldn’t appear on the real test cause they’re kinda odd/convoluted, and that’s throwing me off. Plus the off the wall obscure terms I occasionally get. Which is throwing off my results, especially when I’ve been doing more small subsets than full length exams, so missing an extra 2-3 Q’s could really drop the score. I just did a full length test and got an 84 ::shrugs:: Guess I’m going to have to take my results with a grain of salt and not stress too much about it as long as I’m not like, getting all 60’s.

  2. Not All Who Wander*

    I work for a company that is not just one building, but multiple buildings in one business compound, all for the one company. The buildings are labeled on the outside with Design, Research, Sales, etc but it’s still very easy to get turned around. When I interviewed, my interviewer/boss sent me a labeled map of all the buildings and parking lots with very clear instructions on where to park and how to find their particular office. I showed up early, like I always do for interviews, in case I still got lost, but was easily able to find my way because of the map.

    I recently helped with some interviews. One candidate was 20 min late. As we waited, we speculated why he was delayed. The hiring manager (not my supervisor) said maybe the candidate was lost because he didn’t send him a map. When I expressed surprise, he said he considers it a pre-interview test for the candidates, to see if they can find their way. Either they get to our grounds early and find the right place, or download the map that’s on our website, he likes to see them figure it out.

    When the candidate arrived, he said that he’d parked on the opposite side of the area from our building and had been wandering for a while trying to find our building. No other candidate was late or admitted to getting lost, just this one candidate. I think this is an unfair ‘test’ for the candidates and I dislike that the hiring manager did this. Has anyone else heard of people doing this?

      1. The Rural Juror*

        Yeah, it’s not very kind to put a candidate in a situation where they’re stressed out before they even sit down for the interview. What a tool.

        1. Anne of Green Gables*

          I would also argue that this is really, really problematic for those with some disabilities, and you shouldn’t make someone disclose that at the interview stage.

        1. Blondie99*

          That’s what I would have done, said hey I am trying to find you could you help me out? And to say I was running late.

        2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          Well, they may have called, but the candidate likely only had the number for the front desk or HR, who may not have known who to relay that information to. I just went through interviews with several places and I don’t think I have phone numbers for any one person on the hiring committees I interviewed with.

      2. the cat's ass*

        second that! Reminds me of interviewing in giant Boston Medical Centers where’s there’s no parking, buildings that are total mazes, and unclear signage. I always gave myself an extra hour to find things.

        1. DarkSide*

          Dallas Medical City is the most frustrating place to park and find the right parking area that takes you to the right building….I was so lost and cried trying to get to an appt!

    1. ProdMgr*

      Is navigating an unfamiliar office complex a core job responsibility? If so, this is a good test. If not, this is bullshit.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Sounds like that guy needs reminded also of the fact an interview is a two way street – the candidate is also evaluating the company to see if they think the job is a good fit (as much as you as the interviewer is doing the same).

      2. Blondie99*

        That’s not the test. The test is about being prepared and about how you react if you are not under stress. A diligent person would have researched in advanced where to park, the complex or tried to locate a map online. Then when lost would have called the company to try to find out and told them he or she was running late.

        1. Mad Harry Crewe*

          Or maybe their phone was out of battery or they didn’t have data to look up the number from their email. You’re still testing “does this person have a fully operational smartphone at this very moment” – which is, again, not a core competency of most jobs.

          1. placeholder for a witty nom-de-plume*

            +1 to your comment Mad Harry Crewe. And to Anne of Green Gables comment about this “test” from the hiring manager being problematic to those who may have a disability. Blondie 99, some people also have conditions which actually prevent them from easily navigating based upon a map or directions, look up developmental topographic disorientation.

        2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          No, it’s a poorly designed test because the INTENTION was to test preparedness. What makes it a terrible test is that it can be testing so many other things, as pointed out elsewhere. Another thing this could test is, “if you’re navigating somewhere, what do you do?”

          I have been a hiring manager, a teacher, scientist, and an impact measurement specialist, so setting up tests are one of my specialties.

          This type of thinking could lead to other ridiculous tests like, “We’ll send them the wrong address and see if they correct us. That will test if they’re detail oriented and look up the address on the website.” The intention might be checking their attention to detail, but it’s much more likely that candidates will just assume you want to meet at another location for viable reasons.

          A test for preparedness wouldn’t be a trick like this. It would be an assignment of some sort and it would be related to a core responsibility for the job.

        3. Batgirl*

          You would only download a map if you knew one was needed! If you’re just given a straightforward address, the more logical inference is that there’s one entrance and reception like there normally is.

    2. Need More Sunshine*

      I think it’s a crappy test! Hiring “tests” like this that you don’t prepare candidate for are not fair and don’t show any job skill accurately.

      If the hiring manager had told all candidates something like “We have a large compound with multiple buildings, so please make sure to arrive early to get to our building on time” that would be one thing, but it sounds like this manager just…didn’t tell them anything? Seems like he was setting people up to fail.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        It reminds me of the fable about how the hiring manager had 20 people come in at 8 a.m., and then no one interacted with them until 6 p.m. “The test was patience!” he allegedly told the people still waiting 10 hours after the interview was supposed to start.

        1. R*

          There’s an episode of Community—based on a real psychological test I believe?—where the psych department does a similar one designed to test blind obedience. It’s not patience the fellow in the story was testing—it’s the ability to follow an order for an indefinite amount of time as well as a nifty way to see whether or not potential hires have anything else going on in their lives.

    3. Former Usher*

      No, I haven’t heard of this before. I think the candidate learned something useful about the hiring manager.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep, this. The candidate is free to withdraw their application and celebrate a bullet dodged.

        I don’t want to work for people who like to play guessing games. The boss was rude and discourteous. Even if he hires this person, this person will always remember how he was treated on the interview and that will be the filter everything that happens next goes through.

    4. Xavier Desmond*

      This is stupid and seems like one of those candidates tests that is more of a power play than a way to figure out if someone would be right for the job.

    5. I should really pick a name*

      Did you tell the hiring manager what you thought about the test?
      If so, what was their response?

      1. Not All Who Wander*

        He’s a higher up so I didn’t say what was running through my head, more of an awkward laugh and commenting ‘that’s a bit harsh’. One of the other interviewers said ‘that’s such a [His Name] thing to do!’ like it was typical. The hiring manager just laughed and shrugged. The only further elaboration he gave after the late candidate left is that he feels like his ‘test’ is for common sense, like having the sense to do their research and find the map on the website or to arrive early and explore around.

        1. kvite*

          Fantasy reply “You know what else is common sense? Having a complex that’s easy to navigate for people coming from the outside, and making it easy for people to find you for an appointment.” I mean – he just waisted all of your time, in addition to the candidate’s time.

          Another fantasy reply “I can’t think of a single business purpose for a ‘gotcha moment’ – it’s not good optics for any serious business hiring top talent.”

        2. it's me*

          Well, he’s not exactly wrong that candidates should research that stuff, but I think there’s also a reasonable expectation that the company would provide you with helpful info.

          1. WellRed*

            Right. Presumably, any visitor would be given directions. Just because it’s a job candidate doesn’t make them a lesser human.

            1. Elizabeth West*


              I always try to go in about fifteen minutes early in case something happens, unless the entrance opens right out to the parking lot. One time, I had to climb a couple of flights of stairs because the elevator was out of order. But they at least told me on which side of the weirdly configured building I could find them.

              1. Redd*

                And sometimes something has already happened by the time you arrive! I’ve always tried to give myself a huge buffer on my way to job interviews, but I had one day where the first bus broke down, the second bus was stuck in a traffic jam, and as I was walking the last leg of the trip, I twisted my ankle. I’d left over an hour early and still arrived a few minutes late. I was able to call ahead, but given how the day was going I was honestly surprised my phone hadn’t overheated.

          2. I'm just here for the cats!*

            If I was the candidate I wouldn’t have thought that there was a map available on the company’s website. And employer websites are’nt always that helpful. Things can be in weird places.

            The only time I would think that there would be a map that was available to anyone would be if the job was at a university or hospital, where there are multiple buildings and offices and campus’s have maps to direct students/clients.

            1. Batgirl*

              Yeah I would be much more willing to trust the person I was communicating with than a website. If it then turns out that they were playing silly games, I don’t want the job anyway!

        3. Goat Herder*

          Also, if I were in the interviewee’s shoes, even if I had found the map online the day before, having to figure it out myself 15 minutes before my interview would probably throw me off and make me nervous. I like to get there 15 minutes ahead of time and then sit in my car or my lobby, but if I spent that time trying to hurriedly navigate the building, I’d probably feel pretty harrowed!

          1. Blondie99*

            I would have too and I think that’s the kind of candidate the boss is looking for, that’s the point. It’s not about being able to navigate the campus everyone is missing the point.

            1. it's me*

              Apparently it *is* the kind of candidate the boss is looking for and I think we get that, we’re just saying it’s kind of dickish.

          2. One of the Spreadsheet Horde*

            In my last two companies, the building plans are not publicly available in a level of detail that would be useful. I’d be more concerned if a candidate did know exactly where to go.

    6. AnonPi*

      Yes I’ve heard of this kind of thing, given the same “reasoning”, and I think it’s stupid to do that. What does that really prove?

    7. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Ugh. This is stupid. This is not the Army Rangers. Is he supposed to stake the place out with night-vision goggles and a drone the night before?

      Any employer on a campus (university, hospital, large company) had better provide a map and where-to-park instructions. I posted in an open thread a few weeks ago about parking outside a building with terrible signage, and having to walk around it in order to find the entrance.

    8. Teapot Repair Technician*

      It doesn’t seem to be a useful skill to test for for most jobs. Unless you’re organizing a polar expedition and hiring a navigator.

    9. Earl Grey Hot*

      I can’t help but think that the core issue here is not whether a candidate can find the location, but whether ANYONE can. Your company has a serious problem with building signage. I know that’s not on you, but if a map is required to have any hope of finding your location, that’s a problem.

    10. Clemgo3165*

      It seems kind of silly to me when you could just send the map. But if there’s a map on the website and the candidate can ask “how do I get to your office?” it doesn’t seem like too much to expect them to do that.

      I always scope out an interview site the day before to make sure I know where I’m going. Nothing like getting lost to make you lose the plot.

    11. Sparkles McFadden*

      In my experience, people who use these sorts of secret, gotcha tests do so because they don’t really know how to conduct an effective interview.

      Would I have downloaded the map and gotten there early? Sure. Does that mean I’d be a better choice than a candidate who didn’t do that? Only if the entire job is getting to unfamiliar places on time.

      It’s absurd and adds additional, unnecessary stress to the interview process. As a candidate, I’d actually be judging the hiring group for not being organized enough to send all the appropriate information.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep, yep.

        I could probably find the map and have everything sorted out the day before. This would give me plenty of time to ponder why the onus is on me to do all this. I’d arrive at it’s either sloppiness or head game (test).

        When I arrived on time, I would be sure to comment, “Gee, a little tricky to find.” When the laughter started, then I’d know it’s a head game. [Sloppiness, oversight, human error is usually met with an apology, NOT laughter.]

      2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        I like your check.

        For what it a worth, it wouldn’t occur to me that a map was needed, because how many places have an entire compound to navigate? I would assume that, if the place is hard to navigate, the company would tell me about it and there would be an obvious “Information/Reception” welcoming area to help me.

      3. Batgirl*

        I was thinking the exact same! How insecure do you need to be in your judgement before you make an interviewee go on a treasure hunt?!

    12. Ginger Baker*

      My sister has significant difficulty navigation anything not on a grid (and sometimes on a grid!). She’s excellent at a number of other things and as long as you don’t ask her to be the navigator on a trip this would not impact your experience with her work in ANY way. What a ridiculous “test” to arbitrarily use without notice (unless this is for a job as a driver or another role that involves navigation).

    13. Twisted Lion*

      They do this at my work as well claiming its a ‘test’ but since Im the one who schedules emails I include a map in my email confirmation for the interview.

      I for one think its stupid. My building is hard to navigate and it does take time to figure it out. But we arent going to hire someone based on whether or not they can find our office. Ridiculous.

    14. Rayray*

      That’s a horrible way to treat a potential candidate. I’m sick of all these hiring managers playing tricks and mind games and thinking it’s a good hiring practice.

      I’m sure that candidate was incredibly stressed about the situation. If it were me and I found out this was an intentional test, I would absolutely blast the company on Glassdoor.

    15. anon today*

      Looking for some cover letter advice! I left my previous company last year for a similar job (one step up) at a competitor. Within the first couple of months, I realized it was a mistake–the culture was toxic and the workload excessive. I’ve spent a lot of nights crying and then stressing out because every minute of crying was a minute I was getting further behind on work.

      There’s a new job posted at Old Company, with a different boss, on a different team, but similar work to what I was and still am doing. I think it would be a better fit than my previous job and would be willing to take a lateral move to be back at Old Company. (I’d been at Old Company for several years and got good evaluations there, and made clear in my exit interview that I’d be interested in returning for the right fit.)

      My question is, how much should I go into this in my cover letter? It will be very clear that I’m trying to nope out of New Job after only a few months. Do I need to explain why?

      1. AnonyMeg*

        This happens ALL the time in my industry since there are very few comparative companies (although they are each very large). The grass is always greener.

        As a hiring manager, I would read into your application without you stating it on your cover letter that you are looking to come back.

        Are you looking to come back as a step down role? Or at a parallel to now (which is a step up from before).

        1. anon today*

          It would be parallel to now, so yes, a step up. And yes, it’s exactly that kind of industry, so it’s not uncommon to bounce around between companies.

    16. The Dogman*

      That manager is a terrible person and I would not want to work directly with a bully again.

      I would ask to be placed on interviews that do not have that individual involved, or moved to different duties, and if those were not options it would be time to update the CV and get applications out there.

      This reflects poorly on the company and on the senior people who allow it to happen with no consequences.

      Your bosses should be ashamed and if I were the CEO that hiring manager would be fired and excorted out as soon as I became aware of their bullying tactics and insane hiring technique.

    17. PNW Labrat*

      Agreed with all the people who said this says more about the hiring manager than the candidate. Plus if I was a candidate and found out this was a test, I would assume this was a company that likes to throw inane random “tests” at their employees and that I would have to always be on edge in my job there. Or that I would be working with dickish coworkers. I would pass if I had other options.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        The fact that people are laughing at this stunt, telegraphs that this behavior is accepted in this workplace. The group thinks it’s okay. “Oh that’s just Bob being Bob.”

    18. Me*

      Setting people up to fail is always a shit thing to do. Employers are supposed to giver their employees tools to be able to do the job, not withhold info to see if they can figure it out. That extends to potential employees imo.

      That hiring manager was an ass and honestly that’s a glaring sign that he’s not a good manager.

    19. ProdMgr*

      Recruiters should absolutely provide good directions and parking info.

      I was once on an interview team that rejected a candidate because while her interviews had been OK, the recruiter revealed that she had phoned the interview coordinator 3 times on her way to the interview and had yelled at the coordinator when she had a problem with the ticket machine in the parking garage. The yelling part was disqualifying.

    20. Bagpuss*

      I think it’s a dick move. In most businesses, key points are clearly marked and it is not unreasonable for an interview candidate to expect that either there will be clear signage or that they would check in at reception and be met, or taken to the interview, or at the very least given instructions.
      I think all it tells you (or the business) is that the hiring manager is a dick.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, really. I worked in a place that was pretty much a rabbit warren. I routinely had people wait at the main desk and/or I escorted them to the exit door nearest their car. It’s not a big deal to do this on a regular basis.

    21. learnedthehardway*

      This is a stupid and mean thing to do, and it does NOT tell you anything useful about the candidate.

      A) There are lots of people who you can hand a map and detailed directions to, who will still get lost. Unless orienteering is a job requirement, finding the building is pretty irrelevant as a test of suitability.
      B) Your company’s buildings don’t seem to be well marked / laid out.
      C) Your exec is assuming that people think looking up a building location is part of interview preparation – sure, most people will google map to make sure they know the address, but it’s ridiculous to assume that people doing research on a role will spend their time on map section of the employer website! They might not even look at the page, if they know the street location – and why would they? They have relevant things to look at – like the company’s financials or the business units!
      D) It’s inhospitable and dickish to try to rattle a candidate unnecessarily.

      In the candidate’s situation, I would be reflecting that the exec is an asshole who lacks common sense and common courtesy. I would consider whether he is someone who leaves out important parts of instructions, and whether I could deal with that on a day to day basis (pro-tip – it’s really difficult, and I charge a premium to clients who do this sort of thing.) I’d also be thinking that this is a manager who probably doesn’t consider his employee’s needs and who doesn’t care much about the people who report to him. I’d even be thinking about whether the exec did this on purpose, and if I thought he did, I would assume he is a bully. All told, my interest in the role would be lessened quite a bit.

    22. mreasy*

      This is horrible. I have an awful sense of direction and would be so stressed by the time I found the place…ugh. How mean and unnecessary. Unless you’re hiring for a cartographer or an explorer, why does this “test” mean anything??

    23. Sleepless*

      Oh no. No no no. I would not want to work with somebody who played head games like this. Even if I were any good at finding my way around in places like that. I do fine with driving directions and streets, but buildings and compounds get me every time. I would have shown up to the interview a flustered mess. Then if I found out somehow that it had been done to me on purpose, that would be it for me.

    24. Librarian of SHIELD*

      This is a terrible test, and it makes me wonder what other questionable things this manager might do. Is it his MO to set employees up to fail by not providing them with the tools they need to be successful? Or does he just not realize that’s what this “test” seems to indicate?

      1. Fran Fine*

        That’s exactly the takeaway I’d have about the manager if I were the one interviewing. I would not want to work there if I found out this was done on purpose.

    25. Blondie99*

      Prior to any interview I would always go to the website and figure out where I was to park, the campus etc and if I could not I would ask my interviewer. I also always arrive early enough to allow myself to get lost. So I am sort of with your boss on this one.

      1. MacGillicuddy*

        This makes a lot of assumptions about what info is available and how difficult the area is to navigate. It also depends on the interviewer’s ability to give clear directions (which is NOT an ability that everyone has). A candidate who has trouble with geographic directionality (“drive north on Oak street” but I didn’t bring my compass) combined with an interviewer who gives vague instructions is a recipe for the candidate getting lost.
        I once had an interviewer tell me that the building I was looking for was “right in the town square”. (the interviewer had lived in the area their whole life). I expected a quad-like park space surrounded by buildings. What I found was a several block area with no street signs, one- way streets, and little building signage.

        The interviewer who uses this kind of thing as a test is a first-class jerk. I wouldn’t want to work with someone like that.

      2. Not really*

        While I do not think such “tests” are fair and would not do this myself, I agree with Blondie99 that I would have probably driven there before to scope out parking, looked at Google maps if out of town, given myself an hour extra, and ensured I was not going there with my phone on 2% charge.

        I have been a hiring manager and noticed something similar when our HR department would send out hiring manager phone screen interview invitations. They always were detailed and said gave a call-in number to join the call AND a backup number to phone in if there were technical difficulties. There was no way to get this wrong IF you read the interview invitation. We invariable had a couple candidates no-show and later tell HR “no one called me at 2:00 for my interview.” Those were never the strongest candidates from their resumes but those to whom we were giving a chance anyway to impress.

    26. Hello, I’d like to report my boss*

      I work for a university with a confusing campus and about 75% of candidates go to the wrong place. We always expect it. I’m moderately pleased if they go to the right place but it doesn’t affect hiring! (Possibly because I was one of the 75% who got lost!)

      Making it a test is unfair and on the rare occasion one of the other interviewers mentions it as a significant factor for a candidate, I try to shut that down.

      1. I'm just here for the cats!*

        Same here, only it’s not the campus itself but some of the buildings. The one building I had to go to for my interview and where I ended up working was laid out so weird. People who worked in the building didn’t know where the office numbers were because office 180 was inside a bigger office area. However, instead of marking on the door offices 160-190 it just said 160.

        Plus the rooms were mapped out badly.When you enter the main entrance there was one hallway with another really long hallway branched out. on the long hallway there were multiple other smaller hallway branches. It was a maze.

        Also the rooms were numbered odly. instead of having all of the even numbers on the right side and the odd numbers on the left side the rooms would be labeled all on one side and then you would turn around and labeled on the other. So if you walked down the hall on the right side it would be 101, 102, 103, 104 when it got to the end of the hall it would start the labels on the left side 105, 106 ,108. So walking down the had You wold have room 101 on your right and 121 on your left.

      2. PT*

        I worked somewhere where our central office’s building’s front door address and attached parking garage addresses were different. The front door was on a main street and the garage was accessed on a back street, in a rabbit warren of one-way streets that necessitated an approach from an entirely different direction. If you did not know this, you would get *hopelessly* lost.

        Thankfully, all of the people who organized meetings would send you the address saying “If you are driving please set your GPS to the garage address, 120 Smith Street, NOT 100 Money Way or Fancypants Tower.”

        There would be 0 reason to test anyone on this, unless you are a cruel sadist.

    27. That was a lot of details*

      Oh man, I had a boss who did this. We were only in one building, but there were three entrances and no signage whatsoever to indicate it was the RIGHT building. Most of this boss’s hires were eventually let go because shockingly, being able to pop into nearby businesses and ask if they’d ever heard of the company and might know how to get into the office was not a reliable way to evaluate skills for our very specialized jobs (it was, however, a good way to annoy the nearby businesses by having them interrupted multiple times per day by people asking for directions).

      This boss was bad in many many ways (we also had to take a typing test for hire – in 2012). She lasted about 6 months after I started and I was surprised by the things that came to light after she was gone.

    28. Sandman*

      I tend to go to into overly though anxiety mode with interviews, so I MIGHT have looked something like this up ahead of time – but honestly, I would have just been looking at the address. If there were multiple buildings or even confusing doors I would have expected the interviewers to give me a heads-up in advance.

      In other words, I wouldn’t want to work for this guy.

      1. banoffee pie*

        I bet the hiring manager used to get lost himself all the time but isn’t mentioning that!

    29. Morning Reader*

      Weirdly this reminds me of a joke I used to tell about the streets of Ann Arbor, that they were designed to be a final admissions test for new arrivals to the university. If you and your family could not successfully navigate to your freshman dorm, the one-ways would eventually flush you out of town.
      It’s not the best joke but I thought it was clearly so ridiculous as to not be taken seriously! It’s appalling that anyone would use this kind of thing to screen for employment. Unless it were somehow tied to a job need; even then it should be an explicit challenge. As in, “Your first test for this position will be a classic Quest. The Quest for the Interview Room. Prepare to be met by a troll, a dragon, or a wizard.”
      Now I’m wondering if I was right all along about Ann Arbor.

    30. Ezri Dax*

      Like a couple of others have already pointed out, this “test” is ableist AF, along with being a d*ck move. I’m autistic, which in my case means my spatial reasoning, sense of direction, and ability to navigate are close to nil. I do my best to compensate and prepare ahead of time, of course, but even with the assistance of maps and GPS I regularly get lost going to new places. If a company did this to me deliberately as a test, especially if the job didn’t require these types of skills, I’d seriously rethink any desire I had to work there.

    31. Anonymous Hippo*

      I think this tests sucks, but I also would probably judge someone if they didn’t figure it out, because I know I do a dry run of interviews to make sure I know exactly where I”m going. But I also know that there are a lot of reasons why a person wouldn’t be able to do it, so I’d be against the test to begin with, mainly because I’m against hidden tests.

  3. Need More Sunshine*

    How can I deal with a chronically negative coworker?

    I know Alison has answered similar questions, but they tend to be more about a manager with a negative direct report (we’re peers) or the coworker complaining about their personal life rather than work processes and office-goings-on.

    When she’s complaining about something I’m trying to teach her (brand new industry to her), I try to navigate the conversation toward what concrete things she can try to mitigate her frustration, and I also remind myself that she’s learning and it’s really hard, so I need to cut her some slack in my mind. But I’m stumped on how to deal with her complaints about regular office stuff – her office is too hot, the shredding company didn’t show and didn’t answer the phone and they better show up this time, a webpage isn’t loading correctly and she’s tried 5 times, our boss had her reschedule a meeting twice, and other little things that just make me feel miserable around her because she’s always complaining! It also makes me uncomfortable that she harps negativity about our boss all the time – our boss isn’t perfect, and even personally recognizes that she’s a great entrepreneur but not a good manager, but I really dislike hearing and participating in bad-talking about others in our office, especially about our boss!

    I get it, it’s annoying to reschedule a meeting or a service visit, or when technology doesn’t work the way it should, but these are all small things that I feel I would easily be able to just shrug and think “okay, whatever; I’ll move on to the next thing for while.” I gather that her general misery stems from not liking the job much and how it evolved (she was hired to be our office manager but is really more personal assistant to our boss and now doing more admin in our industry than she expected), but she won’t have a bigger-picture conversation with our boss about it. (I’ve encouraged her to.)

    I try to combat this by just being incessantly cheery in front of her, or help problem-solving the issue when I can, but how do I politely get her to stop spreading clouds all over the office?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      You may not be able to. Some people are Eeyores, and will never be happy. I don’t know why, and I’ve given up trying to figure it out.

      You could wave a magic wand and fix all those issues, and she’d find something new to complain about. And as you say, some of this could just stem from the fact that she expected one kind of job and is actually working a different one. But I’ve worked with people who clearly understand what the job is, and are accepting of that, but will still find things to complain about.

      You can’t fix those people’s problems. And since you’re not her manager, you really shouldn’t even try to pay lip service to her complaints. “I hate this web page. It won’t load.” “Yeah, that sucks. Anyway, about the TPS reports…”

      1. Need More Sunshine*

        I’ve started doing this more, gray-rock style. “Yep, sometimes technology just doesn’t work right. I’d try again later.” This is a recent development for me, so I’m not sure yet how well it’s working, but I’m trying!

    2. CatCat*

      I’d ignore her “This web page isn’t loading!” (ignore, I mean, so what) or give bored and confused responses to the annoying office stuff. Like, “My office is hot!”, “Oooooookay?” and shrug.

      As for complaining about the boss. “I hope you’re not saying that to me because you think I agree with you” is the type of thing that can really take the wind out of a complainer’s sails. (Even if you agree with some of her points, doesn’t matter, because you don’t want to talk about this.) Or, “Sounds like something you should bring up with Boss instead of me.”

      1. Fran Fine*

        give bored and confused responses

        I’m not ashamed to admit I do this all the time, lol. People get tired of complaining to me because of it and stop altogether.

    3. AMD*

      How do you feel about directly asking her about it? Like, “I have to confess something, I get dragged down by negativity really easily, so when I hear a lot of negative talk about our job it affects my day a lot. Would you be willing to try to keep our conversations more positive-focused?”

      1. Need More Sunshine*

        I’m working myself up to this! I’ve laid some breadcrumbs for it, but I haven’t felt comfortable doing a complete 180 from trying to support her to telling her I can’t handle the negativity.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Eh, why not go with something like, “I understand that learning a new job and being in a new place is not easy. I am here to help make it easier for you but please understand that there are just some things I will not be able to fix such as the heat in the building.”

          This is the ground work, now as each instance comes up, you can say, “The heat in the building is nothing I can fix and others feel uncomfortable from time to time also.” You are setting the tone for “this is what normal looks like around here”.

          I think I would just say, “That’s nothing I can help you with.”

          I do want to point out that the happier you act it’s likely that she will react with even more negativity. And that is because she probably feels unheard. You’re better off saying, “Yep I hear ya but I can’t do anything about that.”

          As far as the boss, keep in mind that she is an adult and the boss is an adult. They need to navigate their own relationship with each other, try very hard not to insert yourself here. This means use redirects. “Yeah, sometimes the boss has to reschedule. It doesn’t really bother me because I think he’s a good boss. But if it bothers you then perhaps you need to speak to him directly about it.”
          I worked one place where I routinely used the idea of speaking directly to the other person, and this tactic shut down so. much. crap.

      2. I should really pick a name*

        I don’t think that phrasing would result in a positive response.

        I’d suggest simply not engaging with the negative comments, kind of like CatCat describes.

    4. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      Most people like this don’t even know that they Eeyore personalities are SO off-putting. Would responding with, “well, what is going RIGHT today?” or “Wow, such a negative nelly” be appropriate in the setting. A cue that she is complaining too much? If you are a mentor I would just tell her that how she is communicating is off putting and may hurt her professionally.

      1. Need More Sunshine*

        I like this framing of “What’s going right today?” and asking her to spin something positive. I’m her peer, not manager or mentor, but because I’m in the office more than others (and my other coworkers are notorious for not being willing to train people), I’ve become her de-facto trainer and main point of contact. Not what I want, but I also want to get her up to speed so she can help me with my admin work! So I don’t want to be rude to her either.

        1. banoffee pie*

          She might not realise how much she’s complaining, some people don’t (I’m not sure how, but they don’t!) It can be very annoying to listen to, I sympathise

          1. allathian*

            Some people simply have a very negative personality. Their internal monolog is pretty much all negatives and almost no positives. I know because I used to be like that, and I’d maybe say one out of ten of the negative things I was thinking and give the impression that I was complaining all the time. I almost never said anything positive, even when I caught myself thinking it. It took therapy and a bit of tough love from people I care about, and a conscious decision to at least try and see some positive things in my daily life for me to change.

    5. Twisted Lion*

      I have a coworker that was like that and I told her “Honestly, these things are not that bad or life changing. You have a choice here which is learn to deal with it or job search” LOL.

      But Im salty.

      1. Need More Sunshine*

        I sort of did this the other day… I asked her if she really wanted the part of the job where she helps us with industry admin and she looked very shocked and scared. Which made me feel bad and slightly back track into “I don’t ask that to be negative; I value your work and, as a peer, want you to not be miserable when you’re here.”

        So at least I’ve started naming the issue some and hopefully it’ll make her think about how she’s coming across all the time!

        1. Xenia*

          This to me is a great response, actually—you’re telling her that you are noticing her complaining and are taking it seriously, which is probably not her intent.

        2. Oh Behave*

          Hopefully you can react with more of this. Some people get into a rut. If she’s unsure about the job, insecurity will come out as complaints. It’s tiring to deal with.
          Stop reacting to everything you’re able to ignore. Every time you respond to her you are reinforcing for her that it’s ok for her to do this. She does not want to be cheered up.
          Over time her behavior WILL rub off on you. Be careful to not let her attitude get to you.

    6. cabbagepants*

      Honestly, after dealing with negative co-workers, I would say to do less work around this! Don’t try to change her mood. If you think she truly needs help with something, put her in touch with the right people. Otherwise I would be pretty minimal in my response. “Oh no, that sucks!” at the first complaint, a wan smile at the second, and no response to subsequent complaints.

      1. LKW*

        Yeah, at some point you ask “are you venting or do you want solutions?” And at some point you have to say “Look, your venting is making my day harder, so I need you to find another outlet.”

    7. HannahS*

      I get that being around endless complaining is tiring. Some of it, you can mitigate–especially around the boss. You can absolutely say, “Sorry to cut you off, I’m just not comfortable speaking so negatively about Miranda,” and immediately change the subject. You can shrug and say, “Sorry to hear” when she complains that the office is too hot, and then repeat “Sorry to hear” when she continues. If you’re supremely uninteresting to complain to, she may cut back a little.

    8. Kara*

      I think being overly cheery is probably just going to fuel her fire! I would actually ask her to stop.

        1. Daffodilly*

          YES. For real. I hate incessantly cheery people, especially if they are some sort of self-appointed “example” for others.
          Toxic positivity is a real thing. And sometimes – like in this thread – people get branded as “negative” and that becomes a self fulfilling lens and suddenly you somehow think of yourself as the positive one and yet all you can see in them is negative.
          And somehow, that’s their fault?

        2. allathian*

          Oh yeah, absolutely. A generally positive or neutral person who nevertheless realizes that sometimes life sucks and it’s appropriate to recognize that is what I strive for and what I prefer in my coworkers.

      1. Budgie Buddy*

        I was thinking the same! This could escalate into a standoff real fast. And then the Eeyore will write in about their aggressively cheerful coworker…

        1. Need More Sunshine*

          Very true! At the moment, I’m going for neutral or positive, but not aggressively cheerful, just leaning more on the optimistic side vs pessimistic. One time she said it looked like it was going to rain after a few weeks of none, so I said something like “Oh good! We need some! I’ve been wanting to go out kayaking in the river but it’s been too low.”

          Her response was “Well it looks like that downpour from (northern location) and we DON’T need that and I’ll get CAUGHT it in driving home.” (Yes, she really does emphasize words a ton like this!)

          So I just said, “True, it would suck to drive through it, but I’m glad we’re getting some rain.”

          1. MiloSpiral*

            Oof. OP, I feel your pain. My boss behaves similarly.

            Your scripts seem great, but honestly, I’d agree with others who are saying that you are putting too much work into this. You sound like you like to help people and empathize with them easily, and that’s great! But it also seems to me like engaging with her about her problems is just draining to you, and if that’s the case, I don’t blame you.

            One of the best scripts I’ve gotten to get someone to STOP doing this, rather than just to diminish your own investment in it, is: “Huh, that’s too bad. What do you think you’ll do about it?”

            It requires no work on your part and it turns their problem back to THEM. I’d wager that after a couple times of hearing this, your coworker won’t go to you so often with her problems. Right now you are giving her something, including when you respond with positivity. If you ask her what SHE plans to do about it, you are not giving her anything. A sink can’t suck down water if there’s nothing to drain.

    9. Anon for This*

      My kids call such behavior “pain Olympics”. Does she realize she is always being negative? It would be learned behavior and she doesn’t know she is always complaining. Might want to point it out to her.

      1. Need More Sunshine*

        I do have a feeling it’s learned behavior. From the style of the complaining (like complaining, but with a smile and a collegial tone of voice), I get the feeling that she’s previously worked in offices where people bonded over complaining about their work, and so she’s learned that all work must be annoying and everyone must love complaining about their work all the time. For her, it seems like a way for her to try to connect to people, but it for me, it just wears me down!

        1. Parakeet*

          This makes me suspect that it’s at least partly a matter of different office cultures and her not having quite figured out the new one yet. I don’t think there’s necessarily anything wrong with a culture where people commiserate in a friendly way about the tech not working (the bad-talking is a different issue, and maybe more related to the big picture – the encouragement to have a big-picture conversation with the boss seems like a good idea, even if she won’t go for it). It’s just clearly not your office’s culture, or one that you would find amenable I gather.

          I wonder if she’d be receptive to something along the lines of “Hey, I’ve noticed that it seems like you’re trying to bond with people over complaints about things like equipment not working. I know that’s common in some offices, but it’s not the culture here and it’s likely to make people think you resent the job. If you want to connect, a lot of people here [chit-chat by the water cooler, go out to lunch once a week, whatever it is that people there do to bond].”

        2. banoffee pie*

          Well if she’s doing it with a smile and you think she’s trying to connect, that’s a start. It’s better than dealing with a relentlessly negative person. Maybe you could chat to her about something else, something you have in common, and she might latch onto that as a way to connect. Good luck!

        3. Batgirl*

          I’ve had some luck with: “Are you just really unhappy here?” Or “You’re coming across like you don’t want to be here” when it’s a complainer who thinks they’re doing something unremarkable. It sounds concerned enough to say nicely, but marks it out as a record scratch. Also something like “I’m really starting to worry about all the issues you’re flagging. Are you doing okay?”

      2. Slipping The Leash*

        I used to have a coworker with a 10-year old. She would say to him, “Did you say something? You know I can’t hear you when you whine.” Totally worked.

    10. learnedthehardway*

      Can you ask her, “Do you want help, or do you just want to complain about this?” If they just want to complain, I would learn to tune them out.

      Some people want to vent. It’s how they deal with stress. They don’t realize that they’re displacing the stress onto other people.

      (Personally, I’m a vent-er. But I try to make it funny / amusing for others. I work through problems verbally, but make a point of finding the lighter side of it.)

    11. Tessie Mae*

      Some good replies here.

      I will only add that I used to work with a peer who complained all the time. I came to accept that it was just his personality. To help me cope with it (somewhat), I played a little game in my head: How long before X complains? How many complaints will there be today? And so forth. It didn’t solve the issue, but it did help me deal with it.

      1. MiloSpiral*

        Lol. I think I’m going to try this with my boss. Right now my game consists of “How soon after I send this message is she going to call me?”

    12. Feliz*

      If I were you how I’d interact with her depends on the complaint – but I’d also trying to stop fixing things for her. Engaging more and trying to be helpful doesn’t seem to be working.

      Complaints about the boss/coworkers/other people – I’d shut that down pretty quickly. “I really don’t agree with you” or “That’s something you should discuss directly with The Boss” or “What has The Boss said when you raised that with her?”

      You don’t want to be pegged by others in the office or your boss as agreeing/being part of this. I’ve watched this happen – management was very aware of it and it negatively impacted the people doing it.

      For complaints about other stuff – I’ve had success with “That sounds tough, what do you think you’ll do about it?” Used a few times it seems to stop the person coming to vent to me.

      Good luck, a bit of venting is fine but endless complaining is so draining!

    1. Need More Sunshine*

      Keep an open mind, be willing and ready to say “Let me think about that and get back to you” when you get questions you haven’t expected, and proactively ask your own manager or predecessor for tips and ongoing feedback on how you’re doing as a manager.

    2. Grits McGee*

      If you aren’t quite sure what you want a work product to look like, be up front about it and set the expectation that there will be trial-and-error and revisions. I had a brand new manager who, while not a bad person, was not great at articulating (or even really knowing) what she wanted from me, resulting in lots of frustration on my end trying to read tea leaves and predict what she was going to find objectionable.

      1. Yorick*

        This is a great point. If you’re not sure, have them check in with you about it often. For example, for a piece of writing, have them show you an outline before finishing the whole thing. Then you can catch if there’s something about the assignment that you didn’t explain well enough.

    3. Mental Lentil*

      If you type:

      “new manager”

      into Google, it will bring up a lot of past discussions here that you might want to look through. Lots of good resources!!!

    4. cubone*

      honestly, just be open to learning and growing and making mistakes. The worst managers I’ve had want to seem like they ALWAYS have everything under control, which usually leads to terrible decisions and secrecy. You can feel when someone is insecure in their role and there’s a huge gap between appearing to have everything under control and being a chaotic, disorganized boss.

      I became a much better manager when I was willing to say “I haven’t decided how to proceed with this project, what do you think?” or “to be honest, I haven’t gotten the info I need from that team yet. But I will follow up today and if we don’t have a clear answer by Friday, I’ll decide at that point if you should proceed without the info or move the deadline.” Basically, showing your work and communicating your thought processes >>> having every single answer.

      Also, 1:1’s, deliver feedback quickly (in most cases – don’t wait for PAs and if it’s small stuff, don’t wait til your next 1:1), ask for help/support from other managers. If you’re looking for books/resources, 2 things helped me most: reading AAM regularly + the book Radical Candor by Kim Scott helped me give feedback better.

        1. cubone*

          I think what I really liked about Radical Candor was that it really demonstrates that the “screaming aggressive jerk boss” is of course terrible…… but so is “passive, insincere boss”. I’m pretty sure there’s a quote in it from someone who had both and says something like: “at least with jerk boss, I knew what they WANTED from me”. That was super eye opening for me, at that point I thought the worst thing you could be as a manager was unkind. But now I think it’s “unclear” (I mean after like, abusive, obviously).

        2. Kelly*

          Thanks for the recommendation on Radical Candor. I’m on a group in my workplace looking on how workplace culture can be improved. We’re looking at various issues, including feedback, workplace process, among other things. Their feedback articles look like they could be useful.

          The reality is that we can only do so much because a fair amount of the perception that our workplace culture isn’t great comes from things we really can’t change come from overly rigid structures in higher education and a public sector work culture that isn’t unionized but still retains a decent number of union work policies. One example of that include a person once passes their one year probationary review, it’s extremely difficult to get fire them. Most of my colleagues really are committed to doing the best job possible, including showing extraordinary flexibility and patience during the last 18 months. There are some that don’t do much more than what is in their job description and enough to get a meets expectation on their annual review. Those of us who have colleagues with that mindset are stuck with them until they retire. The other example is how our job descriptions are written. The job descriptions themselves have very well defined areas, including how many hours we can work and when we can work, in addition to core job duties. That is both a positive and a negative. On one hand, it gives people some ways to push back when asked to spend more time doing tasks that are outside of their core areas. I’ve used that mechanism myself to remind my supervisor that there is another person who has those tasks as his core duties that he should be doing. The negative part of that is it doesn’t allow for adjustments and flexibility for people to assist when circumstances merit it. For example, if campus insists on pretending that everything is normal and Delta isn’t going to lead to increased student and staff getting sick, we are going to need to have some flexibility about work hours and work responsibilities to provide the services that campus is expecting. Staff that have it in their job description that they can only work from 8 to 6 during the week may have to adjust their schedules to work evenings and weekends. Other people may have to cover supervision duties if their colleagues are out because they or their kids are sick.

          It’s a change that has to come from the grassroots up and working with colleagues to create change. There’s always going to be those who are happy with the status quo and any changes that they perceive to be harmful in some ways to them they will resist. They may not like actually having to get cross trained on their coworker’s duties or having a tough conversation about their own performance that results in some of their duties being shared with others.

    5. HannahS*

      I think it’s important to take time to reflect on your new role. Typically, a manager leads/guides people; it’s not the same as being more senior at task-doing. When I’ve seen new managers struggle, it’s often because they’re still trying to “own” the tasks that they did before, and are missing that their job is to lead the team in doing the work.

      Be aware of power dynamics. When you become a supervisor, your words and actions have more weight. If you ask someone to do something, they’re more likely to say yes–even at their own detriment–than they would have when you were their peer; if you send people emails late at night, they might feel more pressure to respond off-hours–that sort of thing.

    6. Sparkles McFadden*

      I always reminded myself that my job was to organize things as well as possible so the staff could concentrate on the work.

      Communicate. Tell staff what you expect from them. Be explicit and clear. Most people want to do a good job but they need to know what your definition of a good job entails. You’d be surprised at what people need to be told. (Seriously, I had to explain to someone why he couldn’t change his clothes in an open work area.)

      Address issues as they arise. Nothing in a yearly review should come as a surprise. Include positive feedback regularly too. If a direct report does something particularly well, acknowledge that in real time too.

      Remember that being completely fair isn’t possible because people are different and have different needs. Aim for treating everyone equitably.

      Communicating upwards is vital as well. Know what your boss is expecting and keep her informed of progress and delays.

    7. Jean Pargetter Hardcastle*

      This feels like kind of a downer, but it was the most helpful piece of advice I got as a new manager: this might feel unreasonably hard for a couple of years, but it will get better after that.

      Managing people is very, very difficult, and it is 100% okay and normal to feel that. You don’t have to knock it out of the park on your first day, and if anyone is expecting you to, they are being unreasonable, not you.

    8. LKW*

      Support in public, criticize in private. Don’t throw your team members under the bus. If they screw up something, it’s on you. You didn’t set expectations with enough detail, you didn’t monitor or check their work, you didn’t do something. If they keep making mistakes, deal with the person making mistakes constructively.

      When they do good or outstanding work, credit them. Make their progress part of your job.

    9. Anonymous Educator*

      – Don’t micromanage but have clear expectations with clear measurements of what you want your direct reports to accomplish and by what deadlines
      – If your direct reports have the PTO, approve any time-off requests quickly and happily, as long as there’s necessary coverage
      – Don’t wait for your direct reports to ask for a raise or promotion… if they’re doing good work, vie for those things on their behalf
      – If there are conflicts among your direct reports, don’t tell them to sort it out themselves if you don’t think that will actually be possible and if you believe the conflicts will hamper their productivity

      1. SpartanFan*

        I always try to go one step further than your PTO line. I encourage my team to use their PTO. Last thing I want is for someone to lose time.

    10. Qwerty*

      – No one is communicating as clearly as they think they are
      – Everything takes longer than you remember it taking. Managers are very bad at estimating at when a task/project should be complete
      – You can’t do everything yourself
      – Sometimes you have to give people space to fail so they can learn (or show you that their method actually does work)
      – Praise in public, criticize in private
      – Externally take the heat for your team mistakes/problems, but redirect any kudos to your contributors. Even if someone screws up or is bad at their job, you don’t blame them when talking to higher ups or other teams because at the end of the day you are accountable. Similarly, when you talk to a contributor who underperforms or made a mistake, that criticism should be coming from you as an “these are the expectations of the role” not “Big Boss wasn’t happy”
      – Being the boss is lonely. You can’t joke with people like you used to, and there will be a power imbalance underlying most interactions

      I highly recommend “The Making of a Manager” by Julie Zhuo and wish I’d had it when I started managing. Her target audience is new managers and one of the first chapters talks about feeling like you are overwhelmed and drowning, which was so nice to hear that it wasn’t just me.

      1. cubone*

        “Everything takes longer than you remember it taking. Managers are very bad at estimating at when a task/project should be complete”

        Such a great one. I left my last job for a myriad of reasons but my new manager’s insistence on “this should only take you 5 minutes”, “if this takes more than 30 min, you’re doing it wrong” was a huge part of it. I get giving time estimates as a way to guide how much energy/investment needs to go into it, but nobody takes the same time to complete the same project. It’s a terrible management style.

    11. get2knoweachother*

      Make sure to take an interest in your employees as people. One of my biggest complaints about my current manager is I know next to nothing about him, and he knows nothing about me. Its kind of frustrating sometimes. Its hard to relate to him or trust him, bc he so business, business, business.

      I am not saying be BFFs, but knowing about your employees kids, pets, where they are going on vacation, hobbies is nice. It makes everyone a little more human.

    12. NoviceManagerGuy*

      Don’t let your reports slide on what you know they should be doing better just because you’re new and don’t want to start on a challenging note. It doesn’t get easier, just has to be done.

    13. Bex*

      Set clear expectations, communicate frequently, and provide coaching and feedback in the moment vs waiting weeks to talk about issues. Check in with your direct reports periodically to see if they are getting what they need form you as a manager. Think about the best managers you’ve worked for and identify what you think made them successful, then try to replicate.

    14. The Prettiest Curse*

      I’ve never been a manager (other than temporarily supervising event volunteers), but I’ve found that the most useful quality in a manager is knowing when to intervene or escalate an issue when one of their direct reports is running into roadblocks. It just saves so much time when a higher-level person is ignoring my emails to have my boss follow up instead.
      Best of luck in your new role!

    15. If you tell me to go I'm gone*

      Never add “aaaand go” to anything you are asking someone to do. It is annoying and rather demeaning.

    16. Skeeder Jones*

      There are a couple of things my manager does that I’ve never experienced before as a direct report. We do have a very close team and I think it is in part due to her managing style. At the end of every one-on-one, she asks a number of questions:
      What’s working?
      What’s not working?
      What do you need from me?
      Is there anyone that you’d like to thank?
      The first 3 questions really help me perform better as I know I have her support and her willingness to provide whatever help is needed. The fact that she asks these questions shows me that she doesn’t want us to struggle and they are not just words for her. The last question is the one that I think really contributes to team unity and camaraderie. I’ll randomly get emails from my manager saying that she was talking to so and so and they wanted to thank me for x or y and it really helps me feel appreciated.
      I’m not keen on being a manager some day but if it ended up happening, I would definitely ask these questions of my direct reports on the regular.

    17. Not So NewReader*

      Always remember that you need them as much as they need you. If you really think about this it’s kind of humbling. Good leaders serve their people.

      Keep the basics in place. Make sure they have what they need to do their jobs. Make sure they understand what you expect from them and what the company expects from them. Encourage questions. They will test you with simpler things to see how you handle it. If you pass the test (answer in an intelligent and informative manner), they will bring you harder and harder questions. When they bring you hard questions that is a COMPLIMENT- not only do they trust you they also think you are up for the challenge. This is what you want them to do- you don’t want shoddy work going out the door.

    18. GI*

      One of the lessons I learned: I was an amazing manager for people who were very similar to me, and probably not that amazing for people who were the opposite of me. If I could do it all over again, I would try to go into it knowing that some people want and need completely different things than I would ever want or need, and I would be more curious about finding out what they want instead of assuming that just treating them the way I would want to be treated is going to work.

    19. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

      Don’t try to make yourself look good at other people’s expense. I’ve seen newly minted managers so focused on trying to demonstrate that they can manage others that they lose sight of the actual business objective. Especially if they aren’t doing great or feel insecure in other aspects of their role, they often try to at least show that they can ‘manage’ their employees, which often hinders their employees’ productivity. They do this by looking too hard for, or inventing, problems to solve, trying to get people to travel during the pandemic when Zoom meetings have been working just fine, or kissing up and punching down. Don’t be that manager.

    20. Generic Name*

      When you give feedback, be as specific as possible. Provide examples of the behavior you are looking to change. Especially if the feedback relates to “soft skills” like leadership qualities or how you interact with colleagues.

  4. Valancy Snaith*

    A friend of mine told me that when she was six years old she told her mom she wanted to be a dentist, just like her. Well, she is now a dentist, just like her mom was! How many people can honestly say they’re doing what they wanted to do when they were six?

    When I was six I had a burning desire to be a writer or “a flower person” (which I think by which I meant florist. Now I serve as an officer in the military and flowers are not part of my professional milieu!

    1. Exif*

      I wanted to be a veterinarian. My parents frantically saved money to fund my dream. I got to college and flunked out of freshmen chemistry. I am not a veterinarian.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I wanted to be a vet, but then I found out they have to put animals to sleep sometimes. I knew my limits there.

        Now I work in communications, which is perfect for a bookish kid.

      2. Lady Ann*

        I wanted to be a veterinarian but then I realized I’m super squeamish and can’t stand the site of blood…so yeah that wouldn’t have worked out well.

      1. PostalMixup*

        I wanted to be a chemist and got a PhD in molecular biology. Now I work in genome engineering. Close enough!
        I also wanted to be a paleontologist or an architect. Not so much on those.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’m kind of the other way around from your friend. When I was little and my mom was talking about her work as a medical coder and admin for a physician practice, I was like “Mom, this is so boring, can we like watch paint dry or something instead?” (And I wanted to be a corporate lawyer and specialize in American history, I don’t even know.)

      And now for the last fifteen years I’ve been a medical coder and administrator (albeit for large academic hospital systems, not small practices), and my mother has managed to bite back EVERY SINGLE “I told you so” that I’ve seen cross her face. :)

      1. siiiiiiiiiigh*

        Yup. I wanted to do anything other than what my parents did–project manager, government employee, and librarian. So what did I end up doing? Getting a library degree and becoming a project manager for the same agency as my stepmom.

        1. Kimmy Schmidt*

          Ha, this is me too! My dad is a librarian, and he knew from about age 8 that I was going to be a librarian. He even called my specialty and what I’d be good at. I resisted hard, convinced there was no way a cool teenager like me was going to work in the same stuffy industry as my dad (way less about libraries and more about showing up my parents). Well, dad clearly knew best because he was right on the money. I’m now a librarian and I love it.

      1. AfT*

        Yep, I wanted to be an Olympic speedskater and ended up an economist… just like my parent! I’m not particularly good at sports, so it’s probably good that I ended up being decent at math.

    3. Ali G*

      Kind of? I grew up in a growing suburban area (outside Philly in 80s/90s) and I saw a lot of forest farms, and open space converted to housing. I remember saying to my mom that when I grew up I was going to buy all the open land up so people couldn’t put houses on it anymore.
      I have a Master’s in Forest Management and have worked my whole career in some relation to forest and species conservation.

    4. PhyllisB*

      I wanted to be a nurse. Had my ACT scores sent to several nursing schools (this was before the days of community college nursing programs.) Then I failed high school chemistry and was afraid to try it.

      1. PhyllisB*

        My youngest daughter said that when she grew up, she wanted to be a bathroom. (Of course, she was 2 at the time.) Her son stated he wanted to be a dog. Don’t see much likelihood of either of them reaching their career goals.

        1. Pam*

          Ha! In ny early years, I was a dog. My name was Jet.

          Later, I had a pack of wolves(invisible of course) that lived in a nearby power substation

        2. Karo*

          I wanted to be a “mommy bird” when I grew up. It was super disappointing to find out that you couldn’t change species.

    5. Elenna*

      I wanted to be an astronaut. Still do, but not enough to leave my steady office job and do… something?… in the hopes of getting a small chance.

    6. Dark Macadamia*

      I wanted to be a teacher at that age and did become a teacher. I also briefly wanted to be a marine biologist (by which I meant someone who is friends with dolphins) but knew I wasn’t enough of a science person and it was probably a less glamorous job than I imagined. I’d still like to have dolphin friends but not professionally :)

    7. Evil*

      I wanted to be a veterinarian when I was a kid!

      Turns out I’m very squeamish. Yeah, I went into accounting/business instead.

      1. LavaLamp*

        I wanted to be a fighter pilot. I realized pretty quickly that while flying things are cool, I have 0 desire to undergo any kind of basic training for any military. Nor do I like the idea of uniforms.

        I work from home now, but much prefer either WFH or laid back offices where you don’t have to dress up much.

    8. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      When I was in kindergarten, I told my grandfather I wanted to be a farmer. He immediately pointed out that Cornell has a great Ag School. I think he even said “Ag School,” as opposed to something more age appropriate, because that’s the kind of family I have (not farmers, btw).

      50 years later I work on a computer, ignore my garden, and my twitter feed is full of farmers.

    9. notacompetition*

      always wanted to be a writer. And I have always been one, from journalism to business copy to songwriting and beyond.

    10. Anon this time*

      This was a real problem in my early life. Not just at age 6, but into my 20s.

      The only jobs I had any exposure to were the jobs of my parents, close relatives, and teachers/professors. So the career choices that I was was aware of were scientist, teacher, or musician.

      Turns out I was not really cut out for any of those jobs, despite my best efforts, but I was lucky enough to eventually stumble into technical writing. Which I had previously only known about from reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

      1. PookieLou*

        I’m kind of the same! For a while as a kid I wanted to write adventure novels. I learned that I’d make a horrible creative writer, but a great technical writer. I worked on a dev team once who all seemed sorry that I had to do all the boring documentation work, but I absolutely love that kind of thing!

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Some technical writing can be fun. I’m a fiction writer, but I love writing step-by-step procedural documents and SOP manuals with screenshots and illustrations. I wrote one for Oldjob and one for Exjob. :)

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            I remember when I took technical writing in college. The Prof told us that poets often made very good technical writers. The goal of both disciplines is to explain something in as few words as possible. (Unless you’re Wordsworth. Then you just run on and on and on.)

          2. Skeeder Jones*

            I do too! I can’t even say why but maybe because at the end of the day, you have clear evidence that you got stuff done and what we write helps people do better at their jobs, which brings me a lot of satisfaction as well.

      2. Lunch Ghost*

        I wanted to write fiction as a kid, decided as a teenager (after a suggestion from my parents) I’d be better off with a career in technical writing so I wasn’t at the mercy of publishing for my career job… and couldn’t get a job in technical writing.

        At least I do write fiction on the side.

    11. HannahS*

      I had a long list of professions when I was six (doctor like my mom, teacher, artist, ballerina, etc.) which was ever-changing, but doctor and teacher were always at the top. Now I’m a doctor in the same specialty as my mom, headed for the same sub-specialty, too.

      1. Fran Fine*

        I, too, had a long list of professions I wanted to be when I grew up (actress, singer, and writer).

        I never managed to make the first two things happen (and considering the state of the film and music industries, it’s a miracle I didn’t – I’d be eaten alive), but I am a writer – I’m a corporate communications manager and have had short fiction and full length novels published.

    12. Anon for This*

      Showing my age here. When I was six professional women were nurses or teachers. That was pretty much it. Of the two, I preferred teacher. I have had a wonderful career in national security policy – still a very male dominated field. I am grateful every day to the trailblazing women who went before me. I sometimes wonder what career I would have chosen had there been more options when I was younger, though I didn’t do too badly!

      1. CatMintCat*

        I am of the same vintage, and chose teaching because I would make a horrible nurse, and knew that from the age of five.
        However, I landed in the right job for me and am still, at the age of 62, teaching small children. Not interested in retiring yet because I still enjoy my job most days. Have to say I’m not loving lockdown teaching, but that will pass.

    13. CargoPants*

      I wanted to be an actual animal, and now my 6 year old daughter dearly wishes to be a cat. Neither of us are going to make that dream come true. :)

      However I am following in my dad’s footsteps, he was moved into a director role at a youngish age and spent his career managing his department, and just recently retired. I never thought I wanted to go into management until it dawned on me that yes, management stuff is what I actually like doing and what I’m good at. So I just moved into my first management role this summer, managing my current team. It’s very different from what I thought I’d be doing – which was musical therapy (that was my mom’s pick!).

    14. Jay*

      Me, sort of. I wanted to be a nurse. My dad was a doc and he said “OK, when you’re 14, you can become a candy striper and see if you like working in a hospital.” I did that and discovered that girls could be doctors (I was born in 1960 and I honestly hadn’t met any women docs before that – or it hadn’t registered). I’m now getting ready to retire after 35 years of medical practice. Not dissing nurses – not at all. It would not have been a good fit for me.

      My husband picked up a piece of mica on a hike at age 6, became a geologist in that instance, and went on to a PhD in geology and a career in science education. We have spent years telling our daughter that we are not normal, most people don’t decide what they want to do at 6 and 14, and it’s not just OK but actually GOOD that she went to college with an open mind.

    15. TotesMaGoats*

      I started helping my mom when I was 7 and she is a college registrar. At 16 I told her I wanted to be a registrar. I’m currently an assistant dean and love that I can talk with my mom about work stuff and she totally gets it.

    16. Macaroni Penguine*

      When I was six, I wanted to be Batman. It turns out that this is a unique role in the niche field of vigilante heroism. These days I work in the social services field as a case manager for individuals with complex needs. So maybe I have become Batman saving the world a lot?

    17. urban teacher*

      I wanted to be a rodeo clown. I am now a special education teacher and feel that my job is close. I keep bulls from charging and entertain people around me.

    18. PookieLou*

      My 6-year old dream was probably something to do with raising animals or figure skating, neither of which are a good fit for me at all. But even from a very young age I was always captivated by the sound of people speaking foreign languages. It was amazing that what to my ear was just a string of sounds, was completely comprehensible to them. The way every language had its own distinct musical quality was mesmerizing. I still feel this way about language, and I’ve been fortunate to work language-focused jobs. So even though I don’t spin on ice or train ponies, in a way I have fulfilled my 6-year old self’s dream.

    19. Jake*

      Nope. I wanted to be a lawyer.

      I’m a construction manager.

      I do work with contracts a lot, so there is some overlap, but frankly, I’m not even close to anything I wanted to be before age 19. At 19 I went from wanting to be a road design engineer to a construction engineer, and from there it has been pretty smooth sailing.

    20. Donkey Hotey*

      I remember saying I wanted to be a writer when I was young. Didn’t think it would be user manuals for large industrial equipment, but yes my job is making words line up well.

    21. anmallvr*

      I always wanted to work with animals. Got a Zoology degree and did work with animals for several years and then life (aka the recession) detoured me for a few years but i am back at it and even in a high paid position because of the experienced I gained while on my detour!

    22. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw*

      I wanted to be a children’s book writer and illustrator when I was six. I very much did not want to have my mom’s job, which was being a college professor, since it seemed like her work was very stressful (and, as an adult, I realize also very toxic).

      I’m a lawyer.

    23. Mantis Tobaggan, PhD*

      I wanted to be an author. All my jobs so far have had writing as a key skill/daily task, but always business or policy oriented. I’ve realized I’m not great at creative writing or fiction but still enjoy what I do.

    24. Magda*

      I wanted to be an author, and now I am an author! Unfortunately, I didn’t understand that being an author isn’t really a real job, for the vast majority of people. You’d have to be extremely successful to make consistent and reliable money this way. So now I’m am an author and have another job, which was not exactly the dream. But close!

    25. I edit everything*

      I’ve pretty much always wanted to be a writer or do something involving horses (cowboy, jockey, etc.). I’m now an editor, so I got close. The project I’m procrastinating at this very moment involves a lot of rewriting.

      I have resigned myself to the fact that I will never be a cowboy, but it’s a deep regret.

    26. Biology dropout*

      I wanted to be an artist from the time I was 5 or so. My family did all the could to talk me out of it, I barely had time to take art classes in high school due to my academic schedule (really, did I need that much science!?). And lo and behold, I am an artist, or more specifically a book designer and art teacher to make money.

    27. Black Horse Dancing*

      I so wanted to be an eventer. Olympics and all. Sigh. Ah, well. I work for local government.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Same. Horses are so freaking expensive, I think you can basically only do equestrian sports if you are already super rich or want to work as a badly paid stable hand for years. As a kid, I got kicked out of the pony club for not having a pony … still slightly bitter about that!
        I enjoy my current job, which has absolutely nothing to do with horses.

        1. Black Horse Dancing*

          I would love a horse again–just a little one to ride trails or brush–problem is, I don’t have the resources. I want an old style Morgan. Or a vanner.

        2. Lonely Aussie*

          Every Olympics people go on about the snobby dressage people but eventing is where the real money is.
          It’s is particularly expensive because it’s three different events and usually held over three days. Meaning it’s a week off work/away from home and either you have a truck that doubles as accommodation or you camp/hotel it.
          Gear wise it’s two (or three) different saddles, multiple bridles, sets of boots, studs and strap goods.
          The eventers I know usually have three different coaches, one for each phase so there’s more cost. Proper care of an upper level event horse at an event requires someone on the ground so if you can’t rope a friend or spouse in you need to pay for that too.
          It’s also much more demanding on the horses so there’s more soundness therapy, vet visits and specialist equipment (tens machines, fancy boots, massage systems and so on).

          I wanted to work with horses as a kid but grew too tall to be a jockey and after doing some stud work pretty much lost interest in dealing with horse people.

        3. Delta Delta*

          Horses are so expensive! I was recently given a retired thoroughbred, and we joke that it was the gift of 20 years of board and vet bills.

    28. Stitch*

      Not at 6, but at age 11 or so I wanted to be a lawyer and I am one. Not the kind of lawyer I thought (I’m the kind who writes in my basement all day, but I love it).

    29. Llellayena*

      When I was little I insisted I was going to be a bus driver. I’m kinda glad I didn’t go that route (pun very intended) since I hate stop-and-go traffic…

    30. Asenath*

      I had a range of ambitions which coalesced (long after I was 6) into becoming a scientist. Alas, scientists (at least in the field I was eyeing) required math that was simply beyond me, although God knows I spent far too much time trying to achieve that level of math, and sitting in science courses requiring it, understanding so little I didn’t even know how to formulate a question. I spent the happiest part of my working life doing admin work in offices, which I liked, and which I had dismissed as a teenager because it would be so boring. I also sometimes take courses out of personal interest – I do much better in courses I am actually interested in and apparently have some natural ability at than I did in courses requiring the higher levels of mathematics.

    31. Life-long librarian*

      Apparently as a very young child, I would “organize” the books on the shelves of the local library.

      25+ years later I have an MLIS and work in the library!

    32. FACS*

      I wanted to be a cowboy. I kind of backed into medical school and was consistently amazed by the “I have wanted to be a pediatrician/cardiologist/surgeon since I was 6” people.

    33. Humble Schoolmarm*

      I thought I had always wanted to be a pediatrician, but I got a nice surprise on my way to start my BEd when I was digging through an old box and found a drawing of myself as… a teacher! So I guess I am living my 7 year old dream. Alas, my broadway star, costume designer, famous ballerina in the winter and famous figure skater in the summer, or mermaid ambitions didn’t pan out.

    34. Never Nicky*

      At six, I wanted to be a writer and write for newspapers and magazines. Or something in the medical field so I could help people.

      I spent years NOT doing that, but in my thirties fell into marketing and communications and then into health comms and PR. Now I edit a journal in the health field, and regularly have stuff I’ve either written or ghost written published in a variety of media.

      Six year old me would have been thrilled. Fifty something me is pretty chuffed too.

    35. usually anon*

      I wanted to be a bridge tender, growing up near a small bridge in Seattle that always had a lighted booth that looked like a perfect place to not deal with people and watch interesting things/people go by.
      Then I realized the solitude required shift work, and adult me passed up job openings (at that very same bridge) with a slight pang for young me who never would learn to enjoy dealing with people.

      1. pieforbreakfast*

        I live in Portland which has multiple bridge tenders. I used to do trauma response volunteering and had multiple visits to bridge tenders who witnessed people jumping to their deaths. This was not what I expected when signing up.

    36. RagingADHD*

      Not me, but a good friend of mine declared at age 5 that she was going to be a doctor and move to Africa to help children. And indeed, she now teaches pediatric emergency medicine in Africa.

    37. Llama face!*

      Sadly, becoming a codebreaking spy scientist pilot detective archaeologist was not a valid career path for me. However I do enjoy my work making order out of office chaos and tracking information and projects (I’m in admin).

      1. Random Biter*

        “I do enjoy my work making order out of office chaos and tracking information and projects.”

        And if that’s not codebreaking/detective/archaeologist work I don’t know what is.

    38. Lunch Ghost*

      I wanted to be a baker. Then at a Halloween party we had to stick our hands in a bowl of “guts” (pasta with food coloring or something) and I didn’t want to, and someone told me if I wanted to be a baker I had to get used to sticking my hands in things like that, and I decided then I wouldn’t be a baker. (In hindsight I think the problem was that I had myself half-convinced it really was guts. If I’d been able to switch mental movies and pretend I was, like, inventing a pasta cake, I’d probably have been fine.)

      From then on I wanted to be a writer, and I would “take notes” on books I read which would have beautifully foreshadowed a career in technical writing if I’d made it. Which I didn’t.

      My siblings are all in jobs they wanted from a young age, though. (For example, my sister the NICU nurse, who was inspired by a classmate’s parent’s presentation about their job in grade school.)

    39. Random Biter*

      I so wanted to be a vet until I realized euthanizing animals was part of the job. I was horrified. Of course, the fact that I had abysmal math scores were also a deciding factor. My boss refers to me as his “Cat Herder Extraordinaire” so maybe that’s Fate’s way of stepping in. Plus I volunteer for a couple of rescues and have rescue pitbulls.

      My daughter wanted to be a paleontologist until she was about 8, but I think all kids go through that dinosaur stage.

    40. Elizabeth West*

      I wanted to be an actor at five after performing in a school pageant. I LOVED being on stage. When I got older, it was actor, singer, writer, or medical examiner (I was a huge fan of Quincy). There was a brief period where I wanted to be a figure skater on TV (also a huge Peggy Fleming/Dorothy Hamill fan).

      Except for the ME, all these jobs seem to have a theme, haha. I sang, did theater, and skated, though not professionally. The only thing I’ve accomplished out of that list is writing, and I’m still working on it. Sadly, I will probably not win an Oscar for acting, but I might someday for writing a screenplay.

    41. California Dreamin’*

      My eldest son (now 24) decided when he was 7 that he wanted to be a game designer (as in video games.) At the time I thought that was akin to saying you want to be a fireman or a MLB player. But he never really wavered from that, got a prestigious degree in game design, and is in his first professional role as a game designer… he basically has his lifelong dream job.
      I have decided my teenaged daughter is an attorney and just doesn’t know it yet. She’s pushing back on the idea… but she did sign up to do Mock Trial this year in her first year of high school. Mom might be right this time.

    42. Robin Ellacott*

      I wanted to be an “owl specialist” because I was obsessed with owls. My specific job is in a pretty niche field but I think it would have sounded interesting to me as a slightly older child… but no owls are involved.

      People with a strong sense of vocation are enviable and I can’t even imagine it. Probably it helped that it was what she saw her mum doing, though. The only person in my circle that I can think of who Always Knew is my dad, who wanted to be either a train driver or an astronomer, and is an astronomer. He also did get to drive a train once.

      1. Delta Delta*

        The awesome thing about owls (which, there are many awesome things about owls) is that you can still be an owler while having a different job! I had a job that involved taking groups on nature outings, one of which was an owling excursion. Our expert was a guy who, IIRC, was an accountant by day and an owl expert at dusk.

    43. Well...*

      I wanted to be an astronaut (ambitiously the first person on Mars lol). Then for a while I wanted to be a fighter pilot. Now I’m a postdoc in theoretical physics. I guess I’ve followed a thread of competitive jobs not typical for my gender.

      I still feel like I haven’t figured out my adult job since I’m not yet in a tt position, and the competition is fierce. There’s no such thing as a theoretical physicist in my subfield in industry, so leaving academia means figuring out something else to do with my life.

    44. kiri*

      When I was a kid, our public library had barcode scanners that were like little pens. I put stickers in all my own books and pretended to check them in and out with a pen. Now I’m a librarian!

    45. JQWADDLE*

      Not me! It was a toss up between wanting to be a figure skater or an architect at 6. I am a software engineer.

      I do have a friend who’s step dad was a crop farmer. She now has her own crop farm in a different city. I don’t know if she aspired to be a crop farmer, but it is pretty cool at almost 40 she can say she has been crop farming for 30 years.

    46. Anonforthis*

      I wanted to design clothes and fashion since I was 9 years old. I have never worked in that job. I have always wanted to. I work in tech.

    47. Redd*

      When I was 6 I told my mother, “I’m going to be a scientist or a teacher or a writer but if I can’t do that I guess I’ll just be a mom.” (I wasn’t being obnoxious on purpose, just had no social awareness whatsoever)

      I worked in phylogenetic research for a few years and in special education for 6, now I’m a stay-at-home mom and do some freelance writing. So I guess I did it!

    48. placeholder for a witty nom-de-plume*

      This is such a wonderful thread! Still working towards being Ellie Sattler-esque (book and 1st Jurassic Park movie version). One of the professions from pre-teen me’s ambitions was always Rx Fire Practitioner; I’ve been working as one for the majority of the past decade and have made it up to the crew boss level. Have worked all types of other jobs- from baker to disaster recovery to backcountry trail crew as well as EMS.

    49. Skeeder Jones*

      I wanted to be a writer and I am (actually a position that combines writing with a ton of other creative work – Instructional Design). The thing was, when I was a kid, I didn’t really know much about writers except that they wrote books and magazine articles. I didn’t know about business writing and once I got introduced to it, it was love at first sight!

    50. Usagi*

      All throughout my childhood, right up until I went to college, I wanted to be a paleontologist — I remember in kindergarten we shared what our future jobs were going to be, and I got to tell my teacher how to spell it. I was going to discover a new dinosaur. I was going to be Dr. Grant from Jurassic Park, and it was going to be amazing.

      Then I got to college, started a Geology degree, and realized, I actually don’t care about this. I still loved dinosaurs, and still wanted to be a paleontologist, but I didn’t want to study 4 years of Geology (in which there were just a couple classes that would be more “paleontology-y”). So I studied Linguistics, Language Acquisition, and Education. I decided I was going to be a Japanese teacher — I’m from Japan, and my dad is Japanese American, so I’m practically natively fluent in both languages.

      But of course it’s not easy to just “become” a teacher; I needed a place to live and a car and a higher degree, and to get all those things I needed a job. So I kind of got stuck in retail. And I was good at it! I got promoted a bunch of times, and eventually got pulled into corporate for a big corporation in tech, which allowed me to change gears a little into Training & Education, which is like teaching.

      Soooo now I’m a Corporate Trainer in HR. And I enjoy it! It’s not what I LOVE doing, but it’s good enough that I’m happy. And now I’m making enough money that I can start saving up to start a collection of fossils. A tooth or a claw or something would look awesome on my desk.

    51. Sallyacious*

      This thread is so much fun to read!
      I wanted to be an actress. And I actually did spend 20 years of my life as a professional actor. And then I stopped wanting to be an actor and now I’m an instructional designer, which is a field I’d never even heard of when I was in high school or college.

      1. Skeeder Jones*

        I had never heard of instructional design either until I was well into my 30s. I totally would have picked this job when I was a kid. I wanted to be a writer and this is writing and so much more of the stuff I love!

    52. Lore*

      I don’t remember this myself but family lore is that I told my first grade teacher I wanted to be an astronaut, an interior designer, or a cocktail waitress. My aunt was a designer but I don’t even know how I knew what a cocktail waitress was! (I work in book publishing.)

    53. Meep*

      When I was six, I wanted to be a composer. I am an amateur composer whose works have been performed at various venues, so maybe I kinda sorta made it? I don’t do it for a living, though. 6-year-old me would have been horrified to find out that I am now a lawyer. :)

    54. Janet Rosen*

      When I was about 10 my dad explained what a Remittance Man was (we were a lower middle class Brooklyn family but he was born and raised in Canada) – among upper crust Brits of an earlier era the black sheep would get dispatched to a distant colony on a handsome annual allowance subject to not showing up again. And this precocious underachiever immediately knew what she wanted to be and, alas, never would be!!!

      1. banoffee pie*

        When I was really small I wanted to be a ballerina, until I eventually saw some photos of ballerinas’ bare feet haha

    55. BunnyWatsonToo*

      When I was 6, I wanted to be a teacher. When I was 10, I wrote to the American Library Association for a pamphlet on how to become a librarian. My bachelors degree is in education, but I’ve been a librarian for 30+ years.

    56. allathian*

      I honestly can’t remember what I wanted to be as a kid, but I knew very early on that I didn’t want to be a scientist. I’d seen my dad tearing his hair when he was writing grant applications late at night after a day spent in the lab a few too many times for that. I had no idea what I wanted to be, so I went to college and got a business degree, because I figured that if I understand how the economy works and how businesses work, that’s going to be useful no matter what I decide to do. The college I went to also had a good reputation for teaching people to actually speak and use foreign languages, as opposed to just grammar. I knew I wanted to learn languages, but I didn’t want to be a teacher. After a number of jobs I realized that the one thing I enjoyed most was when I got the opportunity to translate something. I’ve now been working as a translator for more than 15 years.

    57. Azzo the Turtle*

      I am! I used to play librarian, carefully checking books out to my stuffed animals. I’ve now been a librarian for 18 years and have been fortunate enough to have spent my entire professional career in a job I love and believe in. I’ve also spent my entire professional career at the library I grew up going to serving a community I love; I feel lucky all around.

      Valancy Snaith, please say hello to Barney ;).

    58. Nightengale*

      Six? Yes. I wanted to be a doctor, and also I was reading biographies of Helen Keller and everything else I could about disabilities.

      At 16, I wanted to be a research biologist. I loved medicine but people generally didn’t like me and I didn’t want to add to the problem of doctors without people skills.

      When I got to college I made friends. And also I did research biology in a lab with a professor who had a 5 year old. She occasionally brought him to work and on side-to-side comparison I was much more interested in him than yeast genetics. Also I realized I was disabled myself.

      I taught biology for 5 years to kids with learning disabilities. Then I went to medical school. And now I take care of kids with developmental disabilities.

      Not quite a straight road, but yes pretty much what I wanted to do when I was 6.

    59. Summer Smile*

      From the time I was 8 until I was approximately 12 I wanted to be a detective a la Nancy Drew. I read every single one of the ND books that I could get my hands on.

      I am currently an educator. I have never been involved in police work. I am not a detective and I never have been. I have never solved a crime. Alas!

    60. Anonymous Hippo*

      I was going to be a professional army wife, LOL. I had no idea, I just thought war sounded cool, but grew up in a cult so you could only be a wife. So I figured being a wife and hanging out on base with the other wives and babies would be cool. I am super happy I went an entirely different route lol.

  5. Myrin*

    When do I best ask if a job I would like to apply for can be done remotely?

    I’m not at all someone who actively searches for remote work so I’ve never really paid a lot of attention to the advice given here pertaining to it– I much prefer going somewhere and not intermingling my home and work lives. However, I recently quite by coincidence saw an ad that almost unbelievably hits basically all of my weirdly varied experiences and interests. The thing is that it’s with a company I’m actually a customer of which is based in another “state” (quotation marks because I’m in Germany and that’s the closest equivalent I could think of).

    From what I understand of the role, it’s basically online and phone work only (there’s one duty which might need to be done onsite but possibly a remote connection would be enough) and I know for a fact that they have at least one remote employee already, located in Belgium (who is assigned to customers from the Netherlands and Belgium). I would also be 100% willing to travel there for introductory training or occasional meetings or events, I just don’t want to move.

    Now I’m not sure what to do. Do I send an email before even applying just to ask about this? Do I apply and mention possible remote work in the email my applications materials will be attached to? Do I not mention anything at all and ask about it in a potential interview (a note on that: It’s customary here to list your full address so they’ll see immediately that I live a few hours away. It’s a neighbouring state and it wouldn’t be unrealistic of them to assume I might want to move there)? Something else I might not have thought of?

    I don’t want to waste either their or my time but I’m totally unsure how to solve this most elegantly and effectively. I’d especially welcome a perspective from other German readers.
    (Also, I could’ve sworn we had a letter with that exact question already but damn if I can find it!)

    1. I should really pick a name*

      You could add it to your cover letter.
      I doubt you’d get a response if you email them.
      If you don’t want to waste peoples time, you should probably mention it in a phone screen.

    2. Super Duper Anon*

      Since you really don’t want to move, I would apply and put that in your application materials. Say something like you did here “I would be willing to travel for introductory training and occasional meetings and events, but am not looking to permanently relocate”.

      That way, if they are open to remote work and think you are a strong candidate, they will move ahead. If they are not open to remote work, they will screen you out and no time wasted.

      1. Myrin*

        I don’t understand? I’m explicitly not looking for remote work and wouldn’t even consider it if not for a very unique combination of factors in this case. I just came across this ad while perusing the company’s website, no job boards involved.

        1. ecnaseener*

          Idk if this is what Anastasia was thinking, but you could try to find the same posting on a job board to see whether they list it as remote or not. But I wouldn’t put too much stock in that tbh.

    3. Chc34*

      I did this (US, not Germany, though): I applied for a job in another state that didn’t specifically state it could be done remotely. I was just upfront in the first paragraph of my cover letter that I didn’t live in the area and was not able to relocate, but if they were open to a remote employee I would be interested. That way, if they weren’t interested, they’d be able to quickly discard my application and no one’s time would be wasted.

      (I did end up getting the job! Good luck.)

    4. Rusty Shackelford*

      I’m not in Germany, so I don’t know how useful this advice is, but I would put this in my cover letter if cover letters are a thing. Something along the lines of “I wasn’t even looking for a job, but I’m a satisfied customer of your company and I saw this job that I’m interested in, however I’m not able to move, but if remote work with occasional meetings in the Black Forest is an option, please consider my application.”

    5. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      I agree with the others, putting it in the cover letter is one option.

      Another option would be to wait until the interview scheduling email (i.e., “We’d like to interview you, here are some days/times…”). Then respond with a more professional version of: “Great, I’m so excited, here are some date and times. Also, I’d be open to to travel for training, but I’m looking to stay where I am. Is that compatible with this role?”

      Maybe explictly state that you would pull out if moving is required, just to eliminate any chance of confusion on their part. This is more just to save space on your cover letter to strengthen your application packet.

  6. FS*

    I would appreciate some advice. Written on phone so please excuse any typos.

    Back in July I applied for an internal position. I applied 7/21 Wed, had a zoom interview 7/26 Mon with the person who would be my boss (F) and coworker (H) if hired; both seemed to like me a lot and F said I’d hear back in a few days. I sent a follow-up thank you email the next day. The description for the job I applied for also disappeared that day from the internal job board.

    Didn’t hear anything. 8/5 Th I sent a follow-up email touching base with F; he called me the next day and explained that he wanted to hire me but the day after I interviewed, there was a hiring freeze in my area (but not for all positions since many job descriptions are still up…). F told me they still really wanted me and he was trying to make things happen since they really need more people in their department and he wanted me to know “silence is not rejection”. I thanked him for letting me know and told him I’d be here if they needed anything.

    I haven’t heard back since that call (8/6 Fr). It’s now been three weeks. Should I email F back with another “touching base” email? I want to make it clear that I’m still very interested in the position, but I don’t want to be an annoyance. I have been checking our internal job board every day; other jobs for my region have gone up, but nothing in that department.

    1. foolofgrace*

      He knows you’re interested. I think Alison usually says to let it go at this point, keep job searching, and if he comes back in touch with you, it’s a bonus. I would let it go.

    2. AnonPi*

      IMO (for what little that is worth) I wouldn’t. I think they know you are interested, and they won’t forget that. More than likely the freeze is still in place, and frankly those things can drag out forever. I would not expect anything to happen soon (if at all – sometimes freezes like this can change positions they hire entirely), and if you do want to look for another position do so.

    3. RedinSC*

      HIring always takes so much longer than one would expect, and with the complications of a freeze and too much work I can totally see that this guy is not being as communicative as you’d like. I think it would be OK to send one more email, I’d phrase it as checking in, you understand there were complications, but you’re still interested if they’re able to move forward.

    4. Carol*

      No, I would say at least a couple of months before you could realistically expect a budget issue to have been resolved, so no point contacting before that. At minimum. Could be half a year, more…

      They like you and that’s really good news, but this I think you have to ignore for a long time before you can reach out again.

    5. Twisted Lion*

      I think the hiring freeze has tied their hands. I wouldn’t message again. They know you are interested.

    6. Evil*

      It’s been three weeks so I would wait for a bit! I followed up every 4-5 weeks when I was in the running for an internal job. Though my experience may not be the norm, because the hiring manager actually loved that I did that.

      That being said… there was no hiring freeze (to my knowledge). We are just REALLY, glacially slow with hiring. It took me around six months from first contact to my first day.

      I would wait for now because it seems as though F is trying really hard to hire you but especially with a hiring freeze, it may take a lot longer than anticipated.

    7. Kara*

      I think you need to take them at their word and not bug them. They’re not going to forget to hire you.

    8. Haven’t picked a user name yet*

      I think it is fine to reach back out for updated timelines, but assume it won’t happen. Apply for other jobs and move ahead. If you haven’t found another job when this one is available in 1 week or 6 months you can consider taking it. But you don’t have an offer in hand.

    9. Grits McGee*

      My experience is in government employment, but in my experience internal hiring is a game of starts and stops. Getting the approval to list a position takes forever, then there’s a flurry of activity once the position is posted and interviews happen, then there’s a long drag between interviewing and the actual offer stage. As other people have said, the hiring manager knows you’re interested and they know where to find you. If they plan to offer you job when they are able, they will; continually following up is only going work against you.

    10. Sparkles McFadden*

      This happens a lot. Whenever someone leaves management re-evaluates everything to see if they “really need” that now-open position. Sometimes, another department will poach an open spot.

      They know you are interested and will get back to you when they can. When I was in this situation, it took almost two months.

    11. LadyByTheLake*

      It can take forever (months/years) to resolve hiring freezes. If you were to reach out again so soon, I think that would be annoying. They know you are interested and they are trying to bring you on board. If in six months you are still interested you might check in, but even that might be a bit much.

    12. learnedthehardway*

      Why not check in with HR to ask whether the hiring freeze has been lifted? They’ll know (or should). If it has been, then you can connect with the manager and let them know, while mentioning that you continue to be interested.

      If the freeze is still on, you will know to hold off.

    13. I edit everything*

      When you’re talking about a hiring freeze, three weeks is nothing. The blink of an eye. There’s no point touching base so quickly.

    14. FS*

      Thread Poster – thank you all for replying. I see the consensus is “don’t contact”, so I will follow that advice. Our organization moves fast on some hires, but this position is different than my current one and may move at a different speed (my direct boss would be in a different state, for one). I really appreciate the advice – so many people chiming in is very reassuring!

      1. I exist*

        #1 in today’s Friday good news – someone planned with potential employer about how often to check in during a hiring standstill. Maybe wait a few more weeks, then reach out saying you understand there’s a hiring freeze, but you’re still interested and ask if it would be okay to check in with them again in a couple months if you don’t hear anything…. or something like that.

        1. FS*

          Thank you for pointing that out to me, I didn’t see it actually! I may do that after another few weeks or so.

    15. Putting the Fun in Dysfunctional*

      These are all great suggestions, anticipate the stock lines that you would like to use, and practice them in the mirror. Practice making yourself big in front of a mirror and saying it over and over in a strong voice.
      1) I would take a minute to clarify the situation;
      2) Thank you for bringing this to my attention, I sent an email on this date to everyone here, but it appears now some of you may not have received it, I will resend (resend the original that shows it was sent to everyone).
      3) I would like to clear up the confusion, X and Y was completed on this date.
      Some things that I have found helpful is if I know something is off but I can’t articulate or put me finger on it, I put a placeholder down and let everyone in the discussion / meeting know that I have an email chain from X that states Y, I will forward it to everyone after the meeting.
      Also, make it a matter of practice for all your meetings to send out a summary of the meeting discussion, and include at that moment the clarifications with previous email attachments. For example, J, K, L and I met today to discuss A, B and C. It was raised that Z still needed to be completed. I was able to find the email on this date to show that Z was completed. Just the facts, no emotion statements. Do it for every meeting, and send it to everyone present. Passive voice if you are comfortable with it that way people may be more receptive to it.
      Here’s the thing though, you feel that you can’t speak up when they through you under the bus, is because they are intentionally behaving in a way to make you feel this way. They don’t want you to speak up, they don’t want you to set the record straight. Don’t let them dictate the agenda. They don’t have your best interests at heart. Only you do. Take a stand for yourself like you would if someone was doing this to someone you loved and cared about. Take ownership of your part, find your voice. You can do it. We are all here routing for you!!!

      1. Putting the Fun in Dysfunctional*

        This was in response to Merrism’s post about standing up for themselves! Will Retype there, feel free to remove on this thread.

  7. Merrism*

    Hi everyone. How do you handle being thrown under the bus by coworkers? I tend to freeze and not say anything in the heat of the moment then blame myself! Not working with toxic people might help but not all of us are that lucky… How do you stand up for yourself and set the records right? Addressing it there and then is probably best option as sometimes it’s too late afterwards and damage is done but I can’t for the life of me do that. Is this something I can improve?

    1. Need More Sunshine*

      First step is to learn to expect it and get some scripts ready and then you won’t tend to freeze as much.

      Have something ready to say like “Hmm, my records don’t match Lucinda’s here. I have XYZ from the last email I saw.” Basically calmly shut it down and offer your evidence.

      1. Carol*

        This–also, you can address things with your manager 1:1 if it’s a big enough problem and the moment has passed–“wanted to correct a misunderstanding that came up in that meeting, I was caught off guard in the moment but here’s what actually happened from my perspective…”

      2. GNG*

        I second this – remember the Thrower is counting on you to freeze, but many times they know they don’t have a leg to stand on, and would back down at the slightest push back. So maybe literally practice some scripts in front of the mirror:
        – That’s not my understanding of the events that happened…
        – I need to jump in here and share what was actually discussed previously…
        – Miranda, how strange to hear you say that, because that’s not what Janet said in the meeting…
        – Miranda, in case you’re not aware, but I actually completed the report and sent it to Amanda already…

        Then watching the Throwers backtrack is the most satisfying thing.

      3. Bagpuss*

        Yes – this also lets you come up worth phrasing that doesn’t outright say “Lucinda’s is lying through her teeth” and allows you to say something such as NeedMoreSunshine suggests, of “Actually, it looks as though there was a miscommunication -I did x and was then waiting for Lucinda to do y to allow the work to be completed” or “I did x, I understood that Y was then Lucinda’s responsibility -how do you want this to be handled moving forwards? ”
        You can also do this a little later in the same meeting / shortly afterwards, start with something like “I just need to go back to the conversation we had about X – you mentioned that I’d done / not done Y, but actually having reviewed it I recall that we agreed in last last week’s meeting that you would do Y, [or as appropriate] ”
        And if you have a coworker who does this a lot, document. Confirm agreed actions in writing as soon as you can after the conversation they were agreed in, for instance
        Also, if it is coworkers, speak to your manager afterwards to clarify and provide any additional information.

    2. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      Always document everything as a CYA, and then when it happens in the moment be ready to pull said documentation out to challenge what ever they are saying. It helps to anticipate how they are going to try to screw you over based on what their MO is. Is it a lot of work? Yes. Is it rewarding to watch them fail at their efforts? YES.

      1. EmKay*

        Heck yeah it is!

        “hey you never got back to me about that report and now I’m late blablabla”

        I just forward my original email with report attached. Sometimes if I feel really sassy, I’ll add a smiley emoji.

    3. LKW*

      Document the work you’re doing. Document decisions and details about who was present, the nature of the decision, risks, etc. When I send meeting minutes I have a section for Actions, Decisions, general notes.

      Have a few phrases, practice saying them out loud so the words are comfortable in your mouth. The suggestions here are great. Some other phrases I’ve used

      1. I’d like to pause here and address ….
      2. I’m concerned about that statement/accusation, can we address that now or should we set up a separate discussion?
      3. I think there may be some confusion / miscommunication and I’d like to provide some clarification

    4. learnedthehardway*

      Great advice from people here for the “in the moment” situation. If you don’t manage to unfreeze in the meeting, though, email afterwards is a great way to push back and to document. And you can CC relevant people.

      As people suggested, keep detailed notes of your projects and assignments – with do lists of who is responsible for what. Send them out at the ends of meetings as a “public service”, which will make it clear to everyone (for example) that Bob is responsible for the llama shearing report, and that you’re responsible for the alpaca grooming report.

      That way, when Bob asks you where the llama shearing report is, you’ll be able to refer him back to the do-list from the previous meeting, AND everyone will know that Bob was responsible for that report, whether or not he asks you about it.

      And if there are unassigned tasks, you can list them as “unassigned”, which makes sure that everyone needs to agree on who will do them, and that at least you can’t be blamed if they aren’t completed.

    5. Anonymous Koala*

      When I work with coworkers who might throw me under the bus, I usually try to ‘bulletproof’ my work by going through it with a very critical eye and looking at all the places I could be called out for not doing something a certain way/ not finishing something, etc. and then I practice my responses to those call-outs. Like “oh it’s this way because last time grand-boss asked us to do this” or “Boss asked me to prioritize project X, which takes A hours, so I only got to B on project Y”. It helps me feel more confident about responding in the moment is I have a practiced script.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This works because usually there are patterns on what they whine about. If you have seen them whine about X in the past then go ahead and assume they will again.

        A lot of this can feel like over-explaining and it is.

        Additionally, understand that you do not have to defend yourself every single time. If you say “it’s raining” and people can look out the window and see the rain, you can let that view out the window speak for itself when Bob says, “No, it’s not raining.” There are times that you can just let obvious things hang there in mid-air.

        It is a train your brain type of thing. I worked with a finger-pointing group and I was not used to having a knife in my back on a regular basis. I would use my drive time home to figure out how better to handle the current day’s situations. I’d review the scene and I would create simple things that I could use to defend myself.

        I kept my actions transparent.
        I communicated with others.
        I kept records. In my work dates were important- so I would jot down start and end dates for projects. I knew that would be something that would be a point of “discussion”. Quantities were also a bfd. So I kept record of quantities.

        I got good at all this ducks-in-a-row stuff. One time a cohort tried to pile a bunch of work in my area while I was on break. The rest of my cohorts laughed their butts off saying that I was the last person in the group that anyone would do that to because I knew where things were at. Cohort had to take back his work.

        Okay now the serious part. Do not stay in this environment very long. It’s toxic. It probably won’t become UNtoxic any time soon. Do your best but realize moving on is probably a stronger plan.

    6. Not such a dumb blonde*

      Last week I trialled “dumb curiosity” when caught off guard and it worked superbly. As I dialled into the meeting (with leadership team) I heard a colleague at another location blame us for a delay:

      “This work is delayed because of location Xs lack of resource”

      So I just replied:
      “Sorry, I’m confused, I’ve only just dialled in and maybe I’ve missed something. Is there a resourcing issue on another part of the project? Activities with my team are ready to go the moment the materials arrive so maybe we should clarify which team?”

      I knew fine well there was only my team from location X on the project……the colleague stuttered something incomprehensible so I just went “think we have some crossed wires here, easy done on such a big project. Probably one we can just take off the tracker”

      There are no words sufficient to describe how satisfying it was-both to call someone out on a blatant lie, but to do it in a way that you look really proactive and under control to leadership. Just wonderful and definitely one I’ll keep in my repertoire!

    7. GNG*

      Adding one more comment: Having the ability to Unfreeze and setting the record straight is a key skill, even when your coworkers aren’t maliciously throwing you under the bus. Sometimes, someone might bring up something but it was an honest misunderstanding, and you’re caught off guard. If you don’t unfreeze and clarify, the misunderstanding would snowball. The same great techniques and skills shared by many commenters here would still be applicable.

    8. Putting the Fun in Dysfunctional*

      These are all great suggestions, anticipate the stock lines that you would like to use, and practice them in the mirror. Practice making yourself big in front of a mirror and saying it over and over in a strong voice.
      1) I would take a minute to clarify the situation;
      2) Thank you for bringing this to my attention, I sent an email on this date to everyone here, but it appears now some of you may not have received it, I will resend (resend the original that shows it was sent to everyone).
      3) I would like to clear up the confusion, X and Y was completed on this date.
      Some things that I have found helpful is if I know something is off but I can’t articulate or put me finger on it, I put a placeholder down and let everyone in the discussion / meeting know that I have an email chain from X that states Y, I will forward it to everyone after the meeting.
      Also, make it a matter of practice for all your meetings to send out a summary of the meeting discussion, and include at that moment the clarifications with previous email attachments. For example, J, K, L and I met today to discuss A, B and C. It was raised that Z still needed to be completed. I was able to find the email on this date to show that Z was completed. Just the facts, no emotion statements. Do it for every meeting, and send it to everyone present. Passive voice if you are comfortable with it that way people may be more receptive to it.
      Here’s the thing though, you feel that you can’t speak up when they through you under the bus, is because they are intentionally behaving in a way to make you feel this way. They don’t want you to speak up, they don’t want you to set the record straight. Don’t let them dictate the agenda. They don’t have your best interests at heart. Only you do. Take a stand for yourself like you would if someone was doing this to someone you loved and cared about. Take ownership of your part, find your voice. You can do it. We are all here routing for you!!!

    9. GI*

      Prepping a stock phrase in advance is the most effective thing — I’ll add that you don’t have to be able to anticipate exactly what they’re going to try to throw you under the bus for. You could just anticipate that it’s going to be for SOMETHING, and then try to prep a stock phrase that address them throwing you under the bus, regardless of the topic. Like, “I feel like I’m being accused of something,” or “Is this the part where we all start trying to blame someone?” or whatever fits your normal style.

  8. ThatGirl*

    Here’s my weird work thing for the week. I got laid off in November 2020. Part of the severance I was offered was 3 months of cobra paid by the company. I got the paperwork but never filled it out because I started a new job 6 weeks later.

    Then a bunch of COVID relief bills happened and turns out even though I never sent anything in, my old health insurance policy is still active, on top of my new one. I had a physical last month and they billed it to the old plan. Sure, let’s let my old company pay for that….

    1. Need More Sunshine*

      As a tip, you can have the provider bill both insurances and the insurance carriers will work out with is primary/secondary.

      Also the COBRA subsidy ends at the end of September so be sure to get removed from your previous company’s plan before then.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I never asked to be put on it, I’ve done literally nothing, if I get any bills for cobra premiums I won’t pay them.

        I am going to follow up with my dr office medical group, though, because I don’t want them to keep billing the “wrong” insurance.

        1. Need More Sunshine*

          True, the worst that will happen is that you get terminated from the previous coverage for non-payment, but it doesn’t sound like they’re billing you at all. So it would be a kindness to give your former employer a heads up that you’re still on there (well, if you want to be kind to them LOL).

        2. Non-Evil HR Lady*

          There was a COBRA Subsidy law that passed as part of the COVID-19 relief bills. If you were involuntarily let go from your position, your former employer was required to keep you on the medical plan for 18 months or until September 30, 2021, whichever comes first. Your former employer was also required to pay 100% of the premiums for you during that period of time. Just make sure you switch the billing to your new insurance effective 10/1/2021.

          1. ThatGirl*

            Yeah, I know why, it’s just weird to me that I didn’t have to formally enroll or anything. Seems like they would want to weed out people who didn’t need it.

            1. Non-Evil HR Lady*

              I agree you should have gotten notice at termination or within 60 days of termination. The way I read the law employees have to elect to keep coverage just like they do in a regular COBRA situation. Maybe they just decided to keep it going for all eligible former employees?

              1. Need More Sunshine*

                Yep, sounds like ThatGirl got the initial notice, but never re-enrolled, but her former employer never actually terminated her either. I work in employee benefits and a TON of our clients forget to terminate people from their insurance, especially the smaller groups (<100 employees), so I wouldn't be surprised if ThatGirl's former employer sent her a COBRA notice but then forgot to remove her from the enrollment altogether!

                1. ThatGirl*

                  Yep, as far as I can tell that’s what happened. 80 people got laid off, but there are several hundred more at the company. I got a bunch of notices, but never did anything with them.

        3. Eden*

          Feels less stressful to avoid getting a bill in the first place than disputing one after it happens.

          1. ThatGirl*

            There’s nothing to dispute, if I get a bill for cobra coverage I won’t pay it and they’ll drop me, which is exactly as it should be. Because I never formally enrolled in it and I don’t need it.

    2. tothefishes*

      FYI you can be penalized for “taking” the COBRA subsidy if you were offered insurance elsewhere. So you may want to call the COBRA provider and make sure they don’t have it down that you took the COBRA.

      1. Health Insurance info.*

        When you have a plan you usually only have to sign or return forms to change the plan or stop it. Also any active employed plan is the primary plan, depending on what state they have years they can come back and get that money and flag for fraud.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I would correct it with the doctor’s office right now — if you are on a different insurance plan have them bill the correct one. Otherwise it could potentially pop back up as the prefill at the future medical appointment.

        1. ThatGirl*

          I confirmed they had the new info when I checked in for my appointment, because I didn’t even know my old policy was active – wasn’t until I got the EOB and logged in that I saw both on the Blue Cross site. But yeah, I’m following up.

  9. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    I finally cleaned out my home office from when various foster and friend’s cats have stayed!

    But I still have to deal with my gigantic, black Stage 5 Clinger cat. I am not joking, most of the time he’s awake, he stays within two feet of me! So I put a cat cushion on one side of my laptop on my desk. This helps slightly with the intrusion, but he still likes to get in the way! He’s big enough that I can’t type or see the screen when he does this.

    Basically, he is not happy unless he’s being petted right that second! Has anyone dealt with clingy pets, esp. due to work from home? What do you do? I can’t call HR on this guy.

    He’s also a huge door-darter and all-around a handful.

    1. Web Crawler*

      When my needy cat gets too needy, I put a basket next to my laptop. If he’s in the basket, he gets pets when it’s convienent for me. If he steps out of the basket, I pretend that he doesn’t exist, including getting up and walking away if he gets between me and the laptop. It took a few weeks, but now he’s less intrusive.

        1. Web Crawler*

          It’s actually not too hard, it just takes some creativity and commitment. The process in this instance looked like:

          1. Put the basket down. Lure the cat into the basket and give him lots of attention, decreasing over time as you get bored/distracted

          2. At some point, the cat will leave the basket. When he does, quickly withdraw your hand and look at anything that’s not him. After a while, lure him back into the basket and start the process over

          3. After some number of iterations, when he leaves the basket, you’ll have to judge whether he doesn’t understand the pattern (and you should lure him back) or understands but doesn’t care (and you should start completely disengaging until he goes back on his own)

          4. My cat also decided to test the exact boundaries, forcing me to figure out where the line was. Like, halfway in the basket (nope), or one paw on the table beside the basket (nope), or one paw out of the basket but not on the table (allowed)

      1. I'm just here for the cats!*

        Keep in mind not everyone is able to walk away if the cat gets in the way. For example my mom works from home and our cat is horible at getting on her desk and laying on her computer mouse or on my mom’s hand. However, she works customer/ technical support and has to be on her computer to take calls. She can move the cat elsewhere but she can’t just leave her computer until the cat decides to go

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I let my puppy get used to sleeping in my lap, which was super cute when she was 8 pounds and got a little awkward when she hit 50. She curls up small, so she still fits in my lap if I’m sitting cross-legged, but it’s awkward in a regular style desk chair. Then one day she almost upended my desk launching off my lap after a squirrel, because her butt was wedged under the edge of the desk. I replaced my desk chair with a butt-and-a-half armchair that weekend, and now most of the year instead of sleeping in my lap, she takes the back half of the chair and I sit in the front half. (Though she does still curl up in my lap on cold winter mornings.) So, uh, my solution was to accommodate. That may or may not be a good plan.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        omg. This is too funny. (Except for upending the desk where one or both of you could have gotten hurt.) I love the shared chair.

    3. Evil*

      I also have a large black needy cat. :) He follows me around all day and is usually within eyeshot of me. Not quite 2 feet, but he definitely hangs around.

      How many comfy spots do you have for him around the house/apartment? I have a papasan-style chair that is supposed to be for humans, but my cat has claimed that and often sleeps in it while I’m at work (it’s next to my desk and couch so no matter where I am, he can be nearby). He also has a cat tree at a nearby window so he can hang out and look outside or nap while still knowing I’m close by.

      My recent problem is that sometimes I like to sit on the couch for breaks or just to work in a comfy spot, and he will often show up and want lap time… and once he sits down, it can be 2-3 hours until he leaves again. I’ve learned that I can perch the laptop on his body and he won’t get too annoyed, though I can’t do it for too long.

      1. LunaLena*

        Perhaps a lap desk would help? I got a cheap plastic one off Amazon that has legs that unfold, so it holds the laptop above my lap. That might leave space for the kitty to stay on your lap, depending on the size of the kitty. Also if I was lying full-length on the sofa, I could slide the desk further down so I could still reach it with extended arms but my recently-departed kitty had room to nestle on/with me (she still hated the laptop and sought ways to undermine it, though).

    4. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

      I have a firm in my lap not on the desk policy. Full disclosure: 2 out of 3 cats do not recognize my authority to enforce this policy and I spend time repeatedly putting the back in the lap or down on the floor. They finally get the message and wander off to find new ways to get my attention. One has turned the bathtub into her personal playground and is making enough noise for a herd of elephants instead of 1 small kitten as I type this.

      1. mreasy*

        Oh yeah I have a lot of policies like don’t get on my keyboard and start rubbing your face on my face during a meeting but my two furry direct reports simply don’t follow them.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        My rule started as “no cats in my office.”

        Then it became “cats are only allowed in my office in tins.” (Our cats who have gone before were cremated and are in fancy tins up on top of my bookshelf, where they can look snootily down at me while I work. During this iteration of the rule, I regularly reminded my husband’s cat that I can totally stuff her into one of those Christmastime popcorn tins if she didn’t get her fuzzy butt out.)

        However, the cat thinks she’s a dog, and that the cat rules don’t apply to her at all. Currently, we seem to have found a mutually tolerable line of “She can come in my office as long as she doesn’t cause trouble, knock things over, or claw my chair,” and my (actual canine) dog has declared herself the enforcer of the rule, and will totally chase the cat back to the doorway if she feels that the cat is not behaving appropriately.

    5. Crylo Ren*

      I put my cats in another room and the dog in her exercise pen when I’m working so they can’t crawl all over me, step on my computer, or beg for pets. I ignore them completely and brush them off when I’m working so I’m not encouraging their behavior. They were pretty needy when I first started WFH, but after a couple of months they’ve learned they won’t get any attention from me while I’m working.

      They won’t die if you have to sequester them away from you for a bit. They’ll be unhappy, sure, but you can always make it up to them when you’re not busy.

    6. CargoPants*

      I have a clingy dog and I put a nice comfy dog bed next to my desk, and that makes him happy. He’s too big and gangley for sitting in my lap but he seems to like the dog bed, especially since it’s meant for doggos like mastiffs (he is about 30 lbs), so it’s quite comfortable and loungey.

      I recently adopted a clingy kitten and for the most part, just sleeping in my lap is good enough. But sometimes I have to put him in the upstairs room and just live with the fact that my door is going to be scratched up.

    7. PeachTrees*

      My cuddly behemoth is also a black cat that is the size, a similar shape, and has the countenance of a human toddler. Accordingly, the only things that even mitigate The Clingening are strategic cuddles, furniture/clothing, and bribery:

      I have to pick my battles, and I’m lucky to have a flexible enough schedule that if I take time to play with him and give him extra attention when he needs it, I can catch up when he naps

      He gets his own chair set up next to mine. Sometimes it’s sufficient for him to sit next to me with a paw or two on my leg, but even if not, it’s less disruptive for him to walk into my lap than it is for him to jump up on his own or beg to be picked up from the floor.

      I don’t wear anything that would risk being made scandalous/otherwise awkward in some way, or that he might get hung up in with him hanging off of me. It’s not his fault he has razor blades growing out of his toes, but getting him caught up in a loose knit world both startle and trap him against my body, so I might as well try to work inside a blender.

      If I need to teach or have a meeting that cannot be interrupted, I put out catnip on his brushy arch immediately before and hope he stays occupied long enough to get through it.

      But mostly people have been very patient if not outright delighted when he appears

    8. Nicki Name*

      Cat bed with high sides. I started off with a folded-up towel to either side of my work laptop, but my micromanager cat liked sprawling onto my keyboard. Now he curls up and conforms to the edges and I don’t have to worry about getting my speakers randomly muted in the middle of a meeting.

    9. Coenobita*

      I have no advice, having just last weekend rearranged my entire home workspace around the needs of my clingy long-term foster dog. Luckily he is content to lie on his bed near my desk since he’s a 60-lb senior boxer mix! He does like to sit on my feet when it thunderstorms, so I need to leave enough space for him under the desk…

    10. Macaroni Penguin*

      I scatter treats in the floor and hope for the best. It might give me 5 minutes of The Office Cat not demanding my attention. This strategy can’t be used constantly or else The Office Cat would become Mega Chonky Oh Lawd He Coming

    11. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Lately one of my cats has started climbing on my shoulder if I don’t pay enough attention to her. She does it in such a way that I am forced to hold her with one arm, leaving me only one hand to type with. She’s lucky she’s the world’s most adorable calico (she has 4 white mitts and a bib!) or I would shut her out of the office.

    12. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Type this one into Google: “acrylic keyboard cover cat”
      You’ll have to figure out how to lift your monitor up to a place that you can see it comma but it could free up your hands to type. I wish I remember where I ran across this first… I have too many allergies to have cats anymore.

      1. Will's Mom*

        OMG, this is so funny. I just Googled this. It is basically a clear acrylic piece (sort of like a monitor stand) except it is clear. There is enough room for your hands to type whilst the cat is sitting on top of the cover. I am low key sorry that I am retired and no longer have a need for this. Thank you for making me giggle.

    13. TPS Reporter*

      Same! I think part of it could be that they like warm things, so they gravitate to the laptop. What if you tried setting up an electric blanket or warm bed near you, like in a short cat tower that is next to you and keeps their head at your hand height?

  10. Amber Rose*

    Guys I’m so angry. I can’t calm down.

    We received notice yesterday that one of our service guys who goes out onto customer sites has Covid. Today I heard through the grapevine that he’s an anti-vaxxer.

    I thought… I thought management was taking this seriously! How could they let him out there like that?! Just send him all over without being vaccinated and then let him wander around here without a mask! They were basically asking for this. We’ve had to cancel a staff appreciation lunch next week and I gotta go get rapid tested because I work with the service guys on a regular basis.

    I’m livid. Just furious. What the actual EFF.

    I can’t cope with this shit anymore you guys. I’m just constantly on the edge of a nervous breakdown.

    1. NotRealAnonForThis*

      Right here with you, Amber Rose. We went from taking it very seriously/above and beyond to “completely back to normal and we’re going to pretend the pandemic is over”.

      I’m not in a good spot with any of it right now.

    2. Sparkles McFadden*

      I am angry on your behalf!

      This is so common now. People seem far more worried about upsetting some covid-denier than they are about people getting gravely ill or dying. I think there’s also a lot of nonsensical magical thinking around. “If I haven’t gotten sick by now, I must be immune.” or “Only old or unhealthy people get this so I’m safe because I take zinc and vitamin C.”

      It’s infuriating…and terrifying.

      1. Windchime*

        I have relatives who feel this way. One of them has now been in the ICU on a ventilator for 10 days.

        I’m tired of this whole thing. We all are. But we cannot just pretend that it’s over; that’s childish thinking and we need to band together to try to beat it. But until we are all on the same page, this will continue to happen. It’s infuriating and it’s exhausting.

      2. This is not my first time.*

        Oh the zinc and vitamin C thing really gets me. A friend posted on Facebook that her daughter is very ill with Covid (and their whole family has it) and someone responded “PM me if you’d like help with immune support ✨ ❤️” and I just can’t. Don’t try to profit off this woman by selling her essential oils!!!!

        Also, sorry to the OP that you’re going through this.

    3. OtterB*

      I understand the anger, but keep in mind that the grapevine is not always reliable. I have two people I know in person (not online) who are fully vaxed and have been diagnosed with covid recently. One is a friend who had some mild, not-typical symptoms (headache and sore throat) and would not have bothered to get tested if she hadn’t known a coworker had tested positive (and the coworker was also fully vaxed and wouldn’t have felt the need to be tested but had just returned from an international trip.) The other is the college-age son of a friend who wasn’t doing anything riskier than hanging out in an apartment with other fully vaxed friends. So it might not be as clear-cut of idiocy as it sounds.

      1. Amber Rose*

        Apparently he’s been pretty vocal about it. The coworker who told me was surprised I didn’t know.

    4. Mimmy*

      I’m angry on your behalf too!! I’m a bit nervous because beginning next month, we will be gradually returning to in-person work. They have strict mask and social distance policies and will be requiring all employees to be vaccinated or be subject to regular testing (state employees). I wonder how long it’ll be before everything gets lax :/

      1. usually anon*

        Same here. Heading back to in-person classes with a vax/mask mandate which will do nothing to stop students (and many staff/faculty no doubt) from swapping & sharing covid with the 10,000+ people on campus.
        Fall is already the most stressful time of year for my workload, and adding Delta to the mix is too much.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I WISH I could find a workplace with strict policies. A recent interviewer was very cavalier about it and said they “haven’t had a problem, masks aren’t required,” etc. Translation: we’re all under 35 (they look like they are) and won’t get it or don’t have to worry about it (yes, Virginia, you do). I withdrew my application.

        I’m scared the only jobs available to me, especially here, are all going to be like that. I’m fully vaccinated, but I also can’t afford to be off work for a week or two until I’m not contagious.

        1. Girasol*

          I wish we could find *doctors* with strict policies. We have to call all over to find offices where masks are required.

    5. Donkey Hotey*

      I hear you. It drives me batty too. We’ve had two small outbreaks in my office this month (the first two in a year) and we still continue to get these wishy-washy “you really should consider getting vaccinated” emails from the powers that be.
      After the last outbreak, I spoke with our HR person (who I know is immuno-compromised) and mentioned that I am tempted to bring in a vaccine dart gun and go all Mutual of Omaha’s Wild America. She smiled and said, “You know, as HR, I can’t condone you doing such a thing… but if you bring it in, I’ll do it for you.”
      At the end of the day, I remind myself that I am doing what I can to protect myself and my family. Other people are being stupid, yes. And some people think Nascar and Coors are a high point for the weekend. People are going to make bad decisions and making good decisions for ourselves seems hollow, but it’s all we have. Keep your chin up (and your mask on.)

        1. Donkey Hotey*

          Don’t forget to fit them with a radio collar so you can follow up in 28 days.

          (also, love your user name. Currently working my way through the series.)

        2. Chris too*

          I’ve been threatening the same thing with the tranquilizer darts. We’ve got to tranquilize them first, I think, so they don’t struggle and pull out the needle or anything.

      1. Anon for This*

        I hear you on the dart gun!
        Everyone’s comments on my husband whi ing about the vaccine mandate at his state) employer helped save my sanity this past week. Thankfully he has decided to get the vaccine to save his job – as soon as his exemption request is inevitably declined.

    6. Macaroni Penguin*

      Gah! It’s understandable that you’re angry. It seems that some places have just decided that COVID isn’t a thing anymore.

      Like where I live. There are essentially no health measures in place. Only COVID positive individuals need to quarantine. It seems that government has walked away from managing the pandemic. It’s all up to citizens, school districts, municipalities, and employers to decide their own health policies. What your service tech did and that overall situation would be totally legal here. (Well, dude should have stayed home but still)

      So suggestions, just empathy.

      1. Amber Rose*

        It’s legal here too, I’m just mad because we’ve had a lot of lip service from management about how seriously they’re taking this, but apparently that only applies to some of us, not all of us.

        The favoritism is gross. And dangerous.

    7. Bagpuss*

      Can you raise it with HR ? To say explicitly that you are really concerned that he has been walking around without a mask and potentially going out to clients unmasked, in breach of your company policy, and that you are raising it now as it was out until you were told about his having Covid that you learned he was not vaccinated.

      Ask them what steps they are taking to ensure that people adhere to their policies (I assume you have a masked unless vaccinated, or masked around others, policy)

      I would explicitly state that you feel the company has failed to adequately protect you and other employees and clients by not enforcing their own policies.

      It may not change anything but equally if they are expressly called out they may tighten up enforcement

      1. Amber Rose*

        We don’t have HR.
        We don’t have any policies around masks.

        I had assumed (and that’s what I get for assumptions) that the reason management lifted the masking rule was because everyone was already vaccinated or planning to be, since we had an anonymous survey.

    8. Turtles all the way down*

      Yes. I get flashes of anger, too. I just dropped off something to a neighbor & she suggested I stay back a bit because her whole family has Covid. But “they’re ok since it’s been 10 days and they’re being really careful.” Ummmmm no they’re not. All are old enough to be vaccinated but didn’t/won’t. She’s a school teacher! Of little kids too young yet to be vaccinated. I was deflated & angry the whole day. But I’m trying really hard to take care of mental health because there are SO many of these anti-vaxxers & we can’t take on them all. Or feel angry all the time. I’m having a cup of tea now. Hugs to you.

    9. Liane*

      Only sympathy, from someone who lives in a state full of private citizens and politicians who have never taken the pandemic seriously. IF they even believe it. (Seriously, we’ve NEVER had a lockdown, few/no open ICUbeds, & vaccination rate is 40-ish %)

      Here is **just one** horror story from Daughter’s job at National Grocer. (Note Grocer’s COVID policies are: Masking recommended for staff/vendors/customers; Employees must report if exposed/COVID positive; Grocer pays employees while they are out with COVID or quarantining)

      Awful Coworker who doesn’t mask at work (& is unvaccinated, probably) lives with her vulnerable & unvaccinated Grandpa. Grandpa tests positive – & Coworker doesn’t say a word! Coworker soon – no effing surprise – tests positive. NOW Coworker tells work. At the **very end** of the shift! Daughter said she & many others were trying to get Management to discipline Coworker, which is allowed under Grocer’s policy, but didn’t know if they did anything, since Coworker quit right after being cleared to return medically.

    10. Meep*

      As a potential customer who occasionally has service people come to my house, I’m incensed, and I would inform the customers immediately if I were you.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      These people are infuriating to me and I don’t even know them.

      I think you said job hunting prospects were Not Good?

    12. cncx*

      I lost my ever loving mind on friday when i found out a coworker who has been coming in and sitting six feet from me for two weeks is unvaxxed and unmasked. But didn’t want to tell people they were unvaxed because of hurt feefees

      Luckily they haven’t tested positive but i still feel like i was tricked into something i did not sign up for, i only found out they were antivax by hearsay. delta is a thing !!! I’m in a risk group!!! one of my friends has breast cancer!!! none of this is ok

      i angry cried most of friday.

    13. Quinalla*

      I would be so angry too! 2 of my 3 kids are in quarantine right now because of exposure to someone with positive COVID test at school. Luckily school is requiring masks for everyone and quarantining anyone exposed because of eating lunch, etc. but I know far too many who are just acting like everything is fine and taking zero precautions and damn that under 12 vaccine can’t come soon enough. You can still get COVID with a vaccine, but the risks of serious illness/death/etc. is so, so much lower.

      A school near us just reopened with zero masking requirements, I just can’t anymore, so glad we didn’t move to that school district!!!

  11. Exif*

    My company has asked for volunteers to join a “total compensation focus group” program. People will gather in a meeting room and discuss their pay, health benefits, insurance/retirement benefits, and general work/life balance. They want a big turnout and are trying to entice people with ten-dollar gift cards (wut).

    Anyone ever do anything like this? Did it seem like a genuine company effort to improve retention, or just theater? Or worse, a witch hunt to weed out the disgruntled?

    Other factors that might be relevant: The company has both office workers and union manufacturing workers. I am an office worker, the only person in the company doing my kind of job, and got hired after 5 years of stringing together waitressing and retail jobs (so my salary history isn’t useful or competitive).

    1. Need More Sunshine*

      I’d go in with an open mind, but be guarded – I’d just be very matter of fact and share your pay/benefits, but be neutral when discussing your view point on them. That way, you look like you’re participating and can gather comparative info from the company as a whole, but won’t get dinged for any type of (perceived) bad attitude.

    2. Cranky lady*

      Yes. It was a precursor to several major compensation and benefits changes that did not go well. Suggest you get your voice heard now or at least hear what they have in mind.

    3. cubone*

      Yes, it was not good in the long run but it was a very toxic company so perhaps not surprising. I am normally someone who loves doing stuff like focus groups and quite willing to speak up. I didn’t find it was used to weed out anyone, but it was definitely theatre and the process became this dangling carrot like “aren’t we amazing for wanting to review our compensation plan and make it more fair?” Uh…. Yeah that’s kind of like, a pretty basic expectation. The end result was also a new compensation plan that was just as secret and inequitable.

      My advice would just be: watch for red flags, don’t get your hopes up, participate and give feedback if you’d like, but a draw a line for yourself when offering that feedback feels more like emotional labour they aren’t appreciating or acknowledging.

    4. Eden*

      This is weird. They should know what their benefit packages are already. If they’re gonna be asking more for opinions, I’d only do it if it were moderated by a 3rd party and no managers or HR people were present.

      1. cubone*

        I could be wrong but I interpreted it as they want to know what employees think of their benefits/compensation, especially if they think it is “competitive”, fair based on market value, etc. I mentioned above a former company did this and they definitely knew our compensation/benefits, but asked more stuff like if we thought Company’s salaries would attract good candidates, did we feel benefits offered were on par with previous jobs/other offers we’d received, etc. I would be really surprised if this actually was just to ask “how much do each of you make?”

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I’d go just to get the gift card. But that’s me.

      Hey you can go and if the conversation does not feel right or your gut says, “be quiet”, then you can just not answer anything.

      Do line up something you feel is important to say so that if you do feel safe in speaking you have something prepared.

  12. Canna-Anonymous*

    TOPIC: Employment drug screen for medical cannabis card holders.

    Does anyone have experience taking a pre-employment drug screen while being a medical cannabis user? Any info appreciated.

    1. foolofgrace*

      I work for state government. It is a completely drug-free environment. They sent out a memo saying that although cannabis is legal in many places, that doesn’t cut any ice with the employer, you are still expected to be drug-free, regardless of whether you have a medical card. Sorry. Maybe private employers are different. But I kind of doubt it.

      1. Grits McGee*

        Yep, same for federal government. I have an absolute nothing-burger bureaucrat job, and I regularly get drug tested for everything they can legally test for.

      2. NotRealAnonForThis*

        Worked for a private employer, can confirm that they went with the federal definition of illegal.

        1. LKW*

          Same-ish. While my employer does not test, many of my clients require it. They follow the federal definition.

    2. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      This will 100% depend on the employer and the funding source. Any employer who accepts Medicaid or Medicare has to have a zero drug policy due to it not be legal federally. As foolofgrace stated government agencies also follow this same policy.

      1. Canna-Anonymous*

        An employer who accepts M/M would have to be a health care provider, no?

        This is a privately held multi-state business.

    3. Dino*

      I’m not a MMJ user but I do take ADHD medication that shows up as positive for methamphetamines. I’ve always mentioned it to the company contact and they’ve always said to bring my RX bottle or scrip if I have the paper copy to the drug test center. I don’t know whether that would work for MMJ though.

      1. NotRealAnonForThis*

        Dino, thank you for saying this. I didn’t know this, and its good information to keep in the back of my head (one of my children takes a likely similar medication). I appreciate your input :)

      2. Rusty Shackelford*

        Medical marijuana is still illegal on the federal level, and properly prescribed ADHD meds are not. I’m sure some employers would let prescribed marijuana slide, but many are going to consider it illegal, whether or not you have a prescription.

    4. cabbagepants*

      Laws about this a very fact specific and state specific, not to mention constantly evolving. You might consider contacting an employment lawyer in your state. If your company accepts federal funding for anything it can make it harder (maybe impossible) to pass the test as a MJ user.

      1. Dino*

        I work in an industry that receives federal funding and is highly regulated by a three-letter federal agency. When I graduated and was looking for work, the first company I interviewed with said “Because we receive federal funding, we drug test and follow federal guidelines around illegality.” I didn’t apply.

        When later I applied at another company, with the same funding and federal regulations, absolutely zero mention of drug testing at all. I wasn’t tested for ANYTHING. Turns out Company A just wants to keep their health insurance costs down and drug testing employees means they qualify for different plans.

        YMMV. If you have a contact in the company you want to work for, I’d suggest reaching out discreetly to ask about the testing process.

    5. Out & About*

      I’m in a recreationally legal state and most employers who drug test – including my most recent past employer – still test for cannabis. They consider it illegal on the federal level and do not classify it as an exempt medication for medicinal users as they would for other flagging medications.

      Companies who don’t care about cannabis seem to avoid drug testing completely or only test if an employee is visibly under the influence during work hours.

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

      Legality aside, another thing to keep in mind is whether or not using cannabis will affect your ability to do the job. If the company is doing a drug test as part of employment screening, it could be the safety of the job requires people to be completely free of anything that would impair their judgement or fine motor skills. Just because you have a medical reason for ANY medication, doesn’t mean they have to accommodate it if it would impact your ability to do the job. A person doesn’t have to be allowed to drive a school bus under the influence of opioid pain killers, even if they have a prescription.

      1. not a doctor*

        Let’s give the OP the benefit of the doubt and assume they’re managing their condition and treatment well enough to apply for the job they’re going for.

        1. cabbagepants*

          It’s not just OP managing their own condition and treatment. The perception of how the medication could interact with job duties also matters. Again, the example of opioids and driving a school bus. You can feel fine, you can *be* fine, but no tolerance policies around certain job+medication combinations still exist.

      2. pieces_of_flair*

        Cannabis is detectable by a drug test several weeks after it was last used. Testing positive has nothing to do with being under the influence at work.

        1. TPS Reporter*

          exactly. My company (healthcare, receives lots of government funding) has a drug free work place not work force policy. As in, you can do whatever you want on your own time but you can’t be under the influence on the job. My understanding is that many tests are sophisticated enough to know if you are actively high versus you have it in your system from a non-work time.

          The pre-employment drug screening is only for illegal substances as well (weed is not illegal in our state).

      3. Anon for this comment*

        I think sometimes it also depends upon your direct manager and how much individual leniency they’ll allow for a specific employee. I’m in a state which has no legality of recreational use of marijuana but which recently made medical marijuana usage legal with a registered prescription card. I have a co-worker who has been vocal with management and co-workers that he has a medical marijuana prescription and does use it medicinally. The agency we work for is a part of state government and we are considered state employees; we are not routinely subjected to drug testing but it is understood the employer may require it if they have due cause. The employee with the MM prescription usage does regularly operate heavy machinery and chainsaws.

    7. RoseMai*

      This is going to vary so much by employer. My job still tests for cannabis, but if someone tests positive they shrug their shoulders and hire them anyway!

    8. Nanc*

      Oh this is a tough one. There are so many things to factor in. It’s completely legal in my state but my brother happens to work a job where their business insurance does not allow any employee to be “under the influence” in any way shape or form, even if they’re a medical user. It sucks but the business can’t survive without the industry-specific insurance so they have to drug test regularly and if an employee tests positive they’re let go. They do make that clear in their job postings and when someone is hired.

    9. Student*

      Seconding the other people who’ve explained that the drug screening is almost always intended to screen out the drug you are using, regardless of any prescriptions you have for it. Your situation is what they are screening against in most cases.

      Go back and take a harder look at any application and drug screening materials they’ve sent you, and their web site. The employer will generally explain what you are being screened for, why, and what the exceptions are. I’ve taken a lot of drug screening tests, and every single one has explained what the purpose is and what the exceptions are.

    10. Fabulous*

      No experience first hand, but my company used to be one that forbade any type of cannabis, despite it being legal in several states. Last year they finally recanted and decided to do away with that rule, and also with the hair follicle test (as opposed to urine) because they kept having to reject [perfectly good] hires due to the drug screens.

    11. usually anon*

      I’ve been a user for decades and just never take a job that drug tests. Yeah, it limits opportunities, but also keeps me free of employers that believe a paycheck = ownership.

    12. noahwynn*

      I work for an airline. Some of our employees (pilots, flight attendants, ground staff, etc.) are considered safety-sensitive positions by the FAA and are subject to DOT drug testing. Since the FAA/DOT is a federal agency, the tests follow federal laws, which means marijuana is illegal. Corporate staff (accounting, IT, etc) are not safety-sensitive and are subject to less stringent rules based on the state they work in which may allow marijuana use for medical or even recreational uses.

      I can see it being something like me testing positive for methamphetamine when I was legally prescribed Adderall. I would get a call a day or so after the test from a physician at the testing organization. I would tell them I had a valid prescription for Adderall, give them the doctor’s name and sometimes other info from the bottle. Then they would send a negative result to the company since the positive was due to a legally prescribed medication. At least for the DOT tests, they never wanted that info upfront, and told me to wait for the call.

    13. R*

      Devil’s advocate, if you have the time to waste, you could always apply and go through the interview, and then let them know your situation when they give you the info on scheduling the test. If they don’t care, then hey, you’ve got the job. If they do, then the offer will just kind of fizzle and you’ll be able to be happy knowing you annoyed a company that’s clinging to an outdated, draconian policy. Hey, go ahead and take the test—they’ve got to pay for it, so waste some of their budget too.

      But in seriousness, if you can handle a little disappointment, I don’t see that there’s any harm in asking them straight out and finding out for sure. It’s not like you’re going to get in Trouble—while you make keep your usage discreet, it’s also something that’s prescribed and legal for you. You’re not going to go on a list, no cops will show up, and anyone who would care isn’t going to want to hire you anyway. As a recreational user in a state where that’s legal, I personally find that companies who want to have that much control of me that they make me take a test so they can find out medical details about me, those places aren’t really great to work for.

  13. Puck*

    What does your exposure policy look like at work? Especially if you are a small (understaffed) company?

    We’ve had no policy and the owner “doesn’t want to make everyone with the sniffles get tested”. I know the CDC recommendations but in the real world what are companies doing?

    (I hate I have to ask this and not just follow the CDC. It’s been a conflict at work)

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Everyone who has been exposed or has symptoms has to WFH until they get a negative test (for exposure test has to be three days later). We’ll pay for work related exposures (travel, office exposure).

    2. AnonPi*

      I believe it’s based off CDC but not sure if it’s 100%. You have to self quarantine if you’ve been exposed for a week and have a negative test on day 7 before you can come back to work. If you’re symptomatic they want you to stay home until you don’t have a fever for at least 24 hours, and you have to have a negative test to come back. If you had covid and all your symptoms go away, but you’re still testing positive (because you can test positive once you’ve had covid for several months) I think in that case they require something from your doctor that you should be ok to return to work, that you’re not symptomatic and should not be spreading covid to anyone.

    3. Campfire Raccoon*

      We’re small, 12 people. If employees are sick, they are supposed to stay home – COVID or not. They work in the extreme heat on asphalt: I REALLY don’t want them to pass out and roast on the burning ground. Most techs are by themselves in their assigned trucks so if they are exposed but not showing symptoms they can decide whether or not they want to work until their tests come back. They are not customer-facing and can be assigned their schedules remotely/text. They are required to socially distance, wear masks, and disinfect their trucks at end of day. If they are showing symptoms, they need to stay home until their tests come back. Our fabrication crew works as a group, so if they were exposed but not showing symptoms they either stay home or I put them on a project they can do themselves until their tests come back. Office staff is a married couple, so if they go down we’re all on vacation.

      In our area 24-hour turnaround for tests are pretty easy to come by, as is the 30-min test. Employees who get the vaccine get a $250 cash bonus.

    4. CR*

      I’m a teacher in Scotland, currently teaching in person. We are asked to do lateral flow tests twice a week regardless, and if we are identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive we have to get a PCR test immediately and cannot return to work without a negative test.

    5. cmcinnyc*

      Before the vax was available we were required to get tested every 30 days. Now that the vax is available the choices are get vaxxed (and prove it) or test every 7 days. The company allows 4 hours to be used during the workday to get a vax, and a “vax sick day” or WFH day without drawing down on PTO/allotted WFH days is included. It strongly encourages vaxxing by making the alternative a pain in the nose.

    6. Hotdog not dog*

      I worked from home all this week because I have a cold. I knew it was a cold all along, but I also got a covid test (negative) because it’s required for me to return to the office next week. The rule is testing for any symptoms at all, if there was possible exposure, or if there is any hint at all that you could possibly have covid. In addition to my negative test, I also have to wait until all traces of my cold are gone.

    7. Anonymous Hippo*

      Current, if you are vaccinated, exposure only requires masking. If unvaccinated, you have to quarantine for 2 weeks or until you get a clean test.

  14. Tbubui*

    Just wanted to say thank you so much to everyone who gave me advice last month about doing an on camera interview! It went really well! I made sure to pause lots and gave myself time to fully formulate an answer before replying (not a live interview). This is an especially big achievement for me since I have anxiety + camera shyness and tend to speak very quickly when I’m nervous. But I came off well and having this interview/feature on our nonprofit will really help us gain more exposure in our community (especially since we were forced to be closed to the public for over a year because of Covid).

    So thank you so much! Your advice and reassurances were really helpful.

  15. HHD*

    If you had the opportunity to take several months off work, while proactively job seeking, but without much in the way of pressure, what would you do with the time? I haven’t had more than two weeks without work since I left high school, and don’t know what to do with myself!

    1. Rayray*

      I was laid off and out of work for a few months last year. Granted I could do much because of lockdowns but I’m telling you, being able to get adequate sleep, time for exercise , time to just watch movies was so so nice. I also took time to do a couple online classes with khan academy or coursera.

      What would you think of finding a volunteer commitment you could go to once a week or so? You could also take time once in a while to
      Be a tourist in your open city and go do some fun things.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I left a full-time job with nothing lined up about 5 years ago. For the first 6 weeks, I watched comforting TV shows, baked bread, cleaned. I took long walks in nearby parks. I took myself out for a coffee. I got all of the Booker Prize nominees out from the library and read them.

      Then I sought out some structure and took a retail job. It paid crap but got me some money and some structure to my day in a nice environment. I interviewed on my days off and before my shifts and landed a full-time job just as my severance ran out.

      It was a tough couple of months because I’m so risk-averse, but the ability to reset was invaluable.

      1. HHD*

        Resetting is sounding pretty good. I’m really risk averse too, but I’m exhausted and need a bit of a break. I think being kind to myself for a few weeks is going to be key.

    3. CatCat*

      I’d hike, get enough sleep, exercise more, take some fun classes, take my paddle board out a bunch, and just relish in being free from job anxiety and stress.

    4. Princess Flying Hedgehog*

      I’m dealing with a different situation that has lead to me having a lot more free time than I used to (in short, due to divorce and 50/50 custody, so no longer spending all my non-work time as mom/house manager).
      I’m cooking my way through a new cookbook I got and I’m getting back into some of the hobbies I let slide over the past few year. Before it got super hot, I was going out to parks and walking a lot on my free weekends. I’m also catching up on all my favorite podcasts that I got behind in. And, I have a list of movies I want to watch that I’m slowly working through.
      If I was taking off from work entirely, I’d also be taking a lot of day trips and doing online courses (probably a mix of practical skill-based courses and more “fun” open college courses on topics of interest) to stay sharp.

    5. Jshaden*

      I’m nearing retirement from the military, and will have a total of almost three months of various type of leave between my last “working” day and my actual retirement date. I’m planning to do a lot of reading and partake in various hobbies during my leave, but if I haven’t finalized my next job by the time leave starts I will also being do some job hunting.

    6. Intermittent Introvert*

      Learn a skill that would benefit your career or make life more fun. Read. Write a blog. Label all your photos. Clean out your closets. Volunteer your skills and time somewhere in your community. Visit elderly neighbors and family and record their stories. Train for a marathon or just a 5K. Check out your local vocational college and learn to weld or cut hair or whatever. (In our state they are tuition free right now.) Discover all the local tourist sites.

    7. HigherEdAdminista*

      I think I would read, write, cook, and take a lot of walks/go to local attractions (providing it was safe to do so!).

    8. LKW*

      When I got laid off I had the most relaxing daily schedule.
      Get up, gym clothes.
      Coffee & news
      movie, book, book club, dinner, whatever

      Because of the pandemic there are TONS of online classes and lectures through museums and universities. You can do virtual tours of places you haven’t visited (yet).

      You can also try to learn a new skill – I’ve learned how to rewire electrical sockets and stuff from youtube. People are happy to share their skills.

    9. Qwerty*

      I almost did this last year but accidentally stumbled across a good opportunity first. My recommendation is to pick a project (or series of projects) and create a schedule for yourself. For me, my top priorities was finally settling into my apartment (half moved in then turned the place into chaos during the pandemic) and getting my coding skills back after being in a manager position. So I made a schedule and picked actual coding projects and house projects along with some daytime fitness classes that sounded fun. I’m actually a bit sad that I never got to put my plan into action.

      My main motivation was making sure that when I re-entered the workforce that it wouldn’t be a big shock to my schedule.

    10. Anonymous Koala*

      In pre-COVID times, I would travel! Applications can be done from anywhere, and travel can be done fairly cheaply if you’re flexible about times and plans. When I was between jobs last year, I spent the time cleaning out our attic, making photo albums, hiking, and generally trying to work on those ‘someday’ projects that tend to get pushed aside.

    11. kiki*

      I just took a month off in between jobs and I really enjoyed it! I took long walks every morning, read a lot of books, made homemade pasta, and spent time reconnecting with myself and loved ones. It was lovely and I started my next job feeling replenished and ready to tackle anything. Savor the lack of obligations and don’t pressure yourself to be “productive.” Replenishing your spirit often doesn’t look like much from the outside but it makes all the difference.

    12. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      I went through this at the start of 2021, but my situation was due to burnout, so my experience may not apply. My 8 months have been spent (in various rotations/mixtures):

      *In therapy (not new, but had energy to go deeper and focus on healing rather than triaging)
      *Talking with friends and family (phone, video, voice memos)
      *Teaching/practicing yoga and other activities that helped me connect with my body
      *Trying to volunteer on Catchafire (surprisingly difficult to find a project match)
      *Spoiling my plants and arranging them in new ways
      *Furiously job searching

  16. Hen*

    Is it worth being less fashionable to be taken more seriously? I work in a male dominated industry that is also pretty well known for casual dressing. I’m a woman and I love fashion. This hasn’t really been a problem because the last 18 months (since I started) we’ve all been remote, but I’m wondering if I need to grunge down as offices reopen. Fwiw, I have a great track record of work, awesome performance reviews, etc… and I also love glittery handbags and colorful high heels etc. how should I play this?

    1. Cookie D'oh*

      I would probably save the glittery handbags for other occasions. I would play it safe at first to get a feel for office culture and then incorporate more of your personal style once you’re more established in person.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I would say maybe do one big standout piece per outfit, if you’re worried about it? Two, if they’re not necessarily close together – like, if you’re not carrying your glittery handbag around the office with you during the day, that doesn’t have to count as your “one” :) Or like, bright red shoes and a statement necklace, with an otherwise relatively simple/casual outfit.

      Personally, I like bright colored super busy prints, paisley and such, so I do a slightly eye-searing skirt with a plain solid-colored top, jacket and shoes.

    3. MissMaple*

      I wouldn’t change your style, but just double check that heels especially won’t slow you down. I love high heels, but they’ve been moved into the special occasion side of my closet, because I just walk too much and have to keep up with people during my job these days. I’ve found some fantastic sparkly loafers lately. Same with skirt and dresses; most days there’s at least a small chance I might be in a clean room, so those get saved for days where I’m sure I won’t have to bunny suit up.

    4. The Rural Juror*

      As long as you’re not dressing inappropriately for the situation. For example, I’m a woman working in construction and do want to look nice for meetings we have with clients or architects, but it would look pretty silly of me show to any of those meetings in high heels. It would make me look a little out of touch with my job, which includes visiting job sites and needing appropriate footwear. I can still wear my boots with a nice sweater, though.

      My advice for you would be not to show up with the glittery-est handbag and high heels on the first day, but to build up over time as you get a sense of the office norms and how comfortable you feel.

      1. LKW*

        Louis Vuitton is doing the 90’s with cute dresses and combat-ish boots. When I worked on a construction site about 25 years ago I had doc martens in different colors. One of the women I worked with would wear these lovely suits and blouses but with her site boots.

      2. Quinalla*

        This! I work construction-adjacent and since I never know when I will need to go to a jobsite and climb a letter or crawl on a gross floor, so I don’t wear dresses/skirts to work and always have backup shoes at work. But I also have no problem wearing feminine tops and fun jewelry, etc. even though I do get some looks for that at times. Sometimes I just wear my blending-in-with-the-dudes outfit to not get the looks, better now that I am getting older (mid 40s).

    5. angstrom*

      The now-retired lab manager at my male-dominated company was a woman who dressed more fashionably and colorfully than the typical business casual. It was not an issue. Everyone who worked with her knew she took her work seriously.

      I think a lot of it is the attitude: comfortable and matter-of-fact. Of course you’re wearing bright blue heels! Why wouldn’t you? “Nice shoes!” “Thanks! Aren’t they fun? Now about that data you asked for…..”

    6. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I’m not sure how to answer this – I’m a man who’s worked in a male-dominated casual industry (engineering and software). There’s a really broad spectrum between “grunge down” and fashion. And there’s plenty of room for eccentrics in that industry in terms of dress, hair, etc. – and has been for a long time. If you were a middle-aged guy with a ponytail in the 90s, you were probably either a rock star or a programmer.

      It’s hard to say whether you’ll be taken less seriously by your coworkers and management without really knowing them well. Just like anything regarding office culture, I’d advise you to go middle of the road and take your cues from the others that you work with, and then slowly find the edge of the envelope. I personally don’t think jeans, a sweater, and a glittery handbag would even be noticeable. Whereas 5″ heels and a silk suit with an Hermes scarf would probably stand out. But who knows, if you’re sitting next to the guy with the handlebar mustache and utilikilt, you might fade into the background.

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        “If you were a middle-aged guy with a ponytail in the 90s, you were probably either a rock star or a programmer.”
        Or you had any of the countless careers in the humanities.

    7. CargoPants*

      I had thought that myself, as I started my first management role this summer. My style is kind of “dark academia meets Millenial with goth regrets” lol. But I kept thinking I’d need to invest in polos and button downs if I wanted to be taken seriously…but after about a month of that, I decided to just dress in what made me feel confident. Since I love statement shoes, I decided to let those be the standout of my outfits, which is a good way to ease into more fashionable dressing at the office if you’re feeling a little unsure.

      It helps that I also like my outfits to be tonal (I wear a lot of neutrals but also will do tonals for colors like olive, purple, dark blue), and I really like that kind of outfit as a backdrop for the statement shoes. It feels a lot more like my style and looks sharp without having to wear something that’s not my jam (I Just Can’t with the button downs, I don’t know why).

      Just as a side note, I shaved my head 3 years ago and my mom was convinced I would be fired. But I had been working my university for nearly 10 years at that point and had a great track record. And now I’m a manager. :) Ultimately your work and reputation speak for themselves.

    8. Sparkles McFadden*

      I think you should dress in whatever way that makes you feel confident and most like yourself.

    9. LKW*

      Wear what makes you happy as long as it meets general professional standards (aka no sequined bikini tops under a jacket). The men who care will either up their game because they too like fashion, or can be shut down with a few redirects or pointed statements like “I dress for myself, this is what makes me happy. Your comments do not make me happy and I’d like them to stop. Can you stop commenting on my wardrobe?”

    10. Weird Resume*

      Question about how to put something on my resume:

      My last full time job was two years ago now. I freelanced fulltime for a year, wasn’t really making enough, and now I still freelance part time and added a part time job in my field. I feel like there’s a bit of a stigma around freelancing when you’re job searching, probably because a lot of people who were laid off (or fired for cause) and have been unemployed may list their gaps this way. Since my freelancing wasn’t too successful anyway I worry about looking like one of these. Since my part time job and my freelancing work overlap, how would you list this?

      Z year – present: part time job
      X year-present: freelancing
      Y year-X year: FT job


      1. Weird Resume*

        Oh I’m sorry – nesting fail. This was not intended to be a reply to the above. Let me repost.

    11. anonymath*

      Read Laura Huang’s “Edge: how to turn adversity into advantage” (something like that). It’s about stereotypes. But I think that dressing distinctively and owning it can actually be an advantage. If you’re thinking about stereotypes, as a woman (or someone visibly with any minoritized trait) you can’t really win by downplaying it. You are never actually going to be one of the guys. Doesn’t matter how conservatively you dress, doesn’t matter how you change your tone of voice, what sports metaphors you use. So think about how you use who you are to your advantage. Huang has some truly cringey stories about the prof who expected her to speak broken English or whatever. I found some of her thinking on this uncomfortable, but thought-provoking.

      Carla Harris has some complementary advice in “Expect to Win” — she advises being true to yourself and also strategically finding points of connection with your coworkers and others to bridge the divide that might be perceived.

      1. Fran Fine*

        If you’re thinking about stereotypes, as a woman (or someone visibly with any minoritized trait) you can’t really win by downplaying it. You are never actually going to be one of the guys. Doesn’t matter how conservatively you dress, doesn’t matter how you change your tone of voice, what sports metaphors you use. So think about how you use who you are to your advantage.

        I agree with this. As someone who was known (and still am) for my distinctive wardrobe in environments where everyone else was business casual (with a strong emphasis on “casual”), I never once changed how I dressed to attempt to fit in. I would have been miserable if I couldn’t wear my beautiful shoes (mostly heels) and bold, colorful prints. That would have affected my confidence and actually ended up making me bad at my job.

        As someone above said, the people who liked fashion like I did stepped their game up and began dressing better, and those that didn’t still respected me because I was also known for being damn good at whatever my job happened to be at the time. My male colleagues will compliment me if they think I look nice and keep it moving – I say embrace who you are, OP, and people will adapt to you.

    12. Policy Wonk*

      Be yourself, but be reasonable. Not knowing the field, it’s hard to say, but someone else already noted the impracticality of heels on a construction site. Ditto bling or scarves near machinery, or delicate fabrics around chemicals. I would definitely not “grunge down” but would find a way to meld my style with what those around me wear. E.g., if flats are more appropriate to your work, wears shoes in fun patterns or styles in lieu of heels. There should be a way to meet in the middle.

    13. Anonforthis*

      I too work in a male dominated industry (tech) and have worked in other male dominated industries in the past (building manufacturing materials/industrial siding…real exciting stuff). I wore, and still wear, red lipstick, dresses, tops and skirts, colorful prints, occasional heels when I feel like it…the rest of our male team wears tshirts (if I’m lucky). I am the only woman in my department, and the company is about a 50/50 split as far as gender.

      If the environment you work in is generally positive towards women, it doesn’t matter how flashy your clothes are. It will just be seen as part of your personal style. Don’t worry about it.

      If the environment is generally negative towards women, your clothes aren’t going to be the problem, and you will have much bigger problems to deal with beyond your wardrobe.

      1. Anonforthis*

        I will say, when I had to go onsite, or to a warehouse facility, I would wear more appropriate shoes, and I would wear pants. But I never really wore grungy clothes because that’s not my style. The sales guys and technicians were very old school at the manufacturing plant. It took me some time to win them over and convince them I could keep up with difficult concepts like “math” even though I was a woman (eye rollllllll). But wearing a polo shirt and khakis would not have helped with this problem. Eventually I earned their respect, in heels and lipstick, and they came to me to help solve their problems. Because I had shown I was capable.

  17. PurplePartridge*

    I posted in last week’s thread about a scheduled zoom call after final interviews from a job I was hoping to get, and it turned out to be an offer! They came in a little lower than we’d talked about previously, but I negotiated back up to the range we discussed, and was able to push my start date out to take two weeks off between jobs!

    I gave notice at my current job, and was a little worried about how it would go since I’m the key resource on a couple big projects. But my boss was very professional about it and said he understood I had to do what was best for me. I held my ground on not sticking around an extra week or doing contact work after I leave. I’m a people-pleaser, so pretty proud of myself for having boundaries in this regard.

    1. allathian*

      Congrats! Enjoy your time off and your new job! I’m glad your boss was so professional about it.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      The original classic in the field is “The Mythical Man-Month”, by Fred Brooks, 1975. It’s a great overview to explain why software projects are so often screwed up.

      Beyond that, it really depends on what kinds of projects, and whether you are using a traditional waterfall approach or an iterative process like Agile.

      1. Budding Product Manager*

        It’s a very small part of our product offerings. Basically adding custom functionality to existing software.

    2. Qwerty*

      This is more of a supplement than a guide, but I like “Scrum and XP from the Trenches” There’s a free pdf available online. It’s one person’s analysis of how his team tried implementing Agile and Extreme Programming and how they parsed through figuring out what works and doesn’t work for their team.

  18. 3Days*

    Hello! Looking for some advice for a resume.

    Spouse’s work history: Bachelor’s -> Lab Work 2 years -> Grad school for education in a niche field-> 1 year teacher’s aid -> 2 years in a non-profit tangentially related to education degree. He is frustrated by the lack of well-paying jobs, poor work/life balance, and competition in his field. He is thinking of going back to lab work. Do we just goose up his lab experience from 5-6 years ago and be brief on his subsequent experience? How should we phrase things so it’s not like ‘I’m giving up on my dreams.’ FWIW his lab employer (who he’s applying for jobs with) let him have a flex schedule once weekly so that he could volunteer with a museum in his field. He would probably continue in his field as a volunteer if he can find a good lab job.

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      You could modify the resume to bring more relevant stuff to the top.
      — Highlights section detailing target-job related skills/accomplishments.
      — “Lab Experience” section
      — “Other Professional Experience section.

      But if there’s not a huge amount of lab experience, then just goose up that highlights section so the first stuff they’re reading is about that stuff, and by the time they get down a little further, they’re already believing that this is what he does. And lean hard on anything from the non-lab jobs that have anything related to lab like activities.

      A quick note in the cover letter … “I’m returning to lab work because [professional sounding reason] and have X skills for your job” could help.

      1. 3Days*

        Yes, he worked in one position, working on one project, at one employer for two years after undergrad just to save up for a graduate degree. I think it sounds like a good idea to put “Lab Experience” at the top with that job, then “Other Professional Experience” with his subsequent work.

        1. PNW Labrat*

          I would add in something along the lines of “experience w/x equipment or techniques” wherever it best fits. I conducted interviews for a beginner/intermediate lab position this week and we were asking that of a lot of people “What basic lab equipment are you familiar with, such as centrifuges, pipettes, incubators? etc” and looking to hear that people did cell counting, pcr, growing cells in media, and so on types of techniques. Depending on what type of lab he has experienced in.

          1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

            I agree, a techniques/equipment section does make sense in a lab scenario.

            (Source: I worked in a lab and was an unofficial lab manager for a year before starting grad school).

    2. ferrina*

      In the 3 years as a teacher’s aid/non-profit, highlight the aspects that translate in to lab work. List the accomplishments (always accomplishments!) and translate it slightly to show how it uses the same skills and got strong results. Make it really brief though.

      I’m an education>other industry professional, and saying “I love teaching, but the work/life balance where I am isn’t working. I’ll always have a love for teaching, but I’m really looking forward to a position that allows me to ____________.”
      (Leaving the education industry isn’t giving up on education. I manage people and do a ton of education for my young employees; you can volunteer or coach; there’s a ton of ways to educate without being an Educator)

    3. Anonymous Koala*

      I would keep the resume traditional, but add a ‘lab skills’ section with all the techniques he can do in an easily-searchable format. And if possible, add a couple of customized bullet points to the top of each resume with things like “2 years of LCMS experience” and such that name techniques explicitly mentioned in the job posting.

    4. ronda*

      instead of giving up my dream reason…

      “have realized that I really like lab work better, for whatever qualities of lab work he likes/does well/fits.”

      I am not sure what advancement looks like in lab work, but whatever that advancement he would like, think about how lab work might help that and what the path may be like. That could be another reason. if lab work is perceived as lower level than current position, might give a reason he wants to do it to get to another level.

    5. Firecat*

      First of all, if your spouse feels like he is giving up on his dreams he should really work on reframing that. If he feels that way it may come across this way. Our society tries to make us feel bad for leaving an industry with crap pay and body breaking hours – cause passion. Don’t fall for it. Do what is best for you.

      I’m someone who switched fields 3 years after graduating. It’s important to talk about the reasons you like lab work. Usually if someone asks – why did you leave X industry? It’s not a judgement a statement but more them being concerned you aren’t committed to their industry. I was also surprised how long after switching I had to address the industry change 5 years later I was Itill having to answer why the switch. I recommend having a couple of sentences naming what you didn’t like in old industry and why new industry is a better fit.

    6. LabTechNoMore*

      Emphasize the lab experience with a “Skills” section and as many lab-based acronyms as you can reasonably list. You’ll also need the right acronyms to catch the eye of the hiring manager. Your best bet is to get familiar with the techniques, abbreviations and which lab subfield(s) you’re applying to. Also they’re applying for a lab job in a different scientific application, it helps to be able to connect the dots between the work your spouse did and the work they’re applying for, even if the connection is a bit tenuous and theoretical.

      Also get a sense of the “advanced” labwork the hiring managers are interested in – what’s the thing that two years in your spouse could do that a beginner couldn’t do? (e.g. Manual dexterity for syringe or pipetting technique, running tricky assays, carrying out difficult sample prep, mechanical repairs of instrumentation, impressive troubleshooting, etc.) Getting back into the grove of a job from 5-6 years ago may be a hard sell, but 2 years experience is nothing to sneeze at.

    7. Frankie Bergstein*

      You’re such a good partner doing this level of information-gathering and due diligence for your significant other. They’re so lucky to have this work, investment, effort – whatever you want to call it – into their career and well-being. You are generous!

  19. Rayray*

    Any advice for getting into an Instructional Design job? It’s something I’ve considered and I know right now I need to do something to get into a better career path. I’m comfortable but can’t keep doing this kind of work I’m doing forever.

    I looked at my company’s job descriptions and it looks like a bachelors degree in various subjects including English which I have are acceptable. I know a friend of mine did an instructional design job with her linguistics degree a few years back. I was wondering though if I should actually pursue a Masters in Instructional Design. Western Governor’s University has a program that looks doable, and hey, they’re actually super close to where I live so if I wanted to try and get a job there I know from acquaintances who work there tou get discounted tuition.

    But yeah, would it be worth pursuing a masters degree for that field? I’m also wondering if I should keep an eye and see if a position opens up at my company but I really think they probably have a super small team since they likely just do our annual training courses and such.

    1. cubone*

      I have started considering this too and haven’t done a ton of research (plus I’m in Canada, so that may affect usage and terms for different degrees, etc). But I have generally found from postings and people in the field that a certificate/diploma + experience seems more useful than a Masters. Granted, if you get the experience and knowledge from the Masters, I’m sure it would still be valuable. But I think a lot of Masters programs can still lean more into theory than practice (not a blanket statement of course!!) and this is an area where you REALLY need practice, not just theory.

      I don’t really know the best route but a couple folks have recommended IDOL courses to me. It’s not a degree but they found the hands-on elements better (but as with any private educational company, you should be thorough and understand fully what you’re getting! I can’t speak to whether they are worth it or not, personally)

      1. Rayray*

        That’s good to know, and yeah, like you I am seeing that experience shows up more in JOb descriptions than Masters degrees. I will look into the IDOL because I haven’t heard of that.

        Good luck to you!

      2. Sallyacious*

        I’m an instructional designer. I got my first ID job with a graduate certificate in instructional design from an accredited university. There are several schools that offer those and I know that right now there is a dearth of designers and companies are scrambling to hire them. A good certification program will take you less than a year and you will probably be able to find something after that.

    2. velomont*

      I would say that there are two facets to this (and I am a specialist in that field). The first is familiarity with, and understanding of the concepts. There is very standard terminology used so you would have to be comfortable with that. The other is the nature of the competition.
      I’ve seen in some smaller cities offices which have Instructional Systems Designers who have BEds and in larger cities where most ISDs have MEds. Are there any community colleges in your area that have some basic diploma courses associated with this?
      At minimum, however, you need to get a grounding in the basic concepts.

    3. Carol*

      I would try to get some sort of experience for your resume rather than a full degree (at least at first–maybe even some kind of mini-course would be better), and aim for corporate ID as a first job or series of jobs. Learn the discipline on the job.

      You might be able to get a job at a university to help fund a degree, of course, but higher ed jobs CAN be extremely competitive if you don’t already have your foot in the door somehow. It all depends, but it can be tough. Professional MAs are so so expensive. If you’re desperate to leave your current field it’s an option, but it may be easier to find something ID related that’s close to your current work and see if you can get that.

    4. Snark No More!*

      Try universities and colleges. If you’re on the east side of the US, try the university of Pittsburgh…

    5. Daffodilly*

      Waves hi!
      I’m also an aspiring ID and WGU is local-ish to me, so we are probably near each other.
      I have been looking for a while with no luck. Doing a masters in ID (not WGU) slowly on nights/weekends. Keep working my day job in the meantime. I chose this long game route because I could do it pay-as-you-go and not go into debt. Also wouldn’t feel intense stress to finish fast and save money like I would with the WGU setup. I talked with a WGU advisor and they have a K-12 slant to their program, plus you had to have access to a teaching population for your capstone research, which I don’t have. (he said most of their students are classroom teachers and it’s assumed you’ll have that or a similar population to work with. Might be worth setting up an appointment with a program advisor over there to see if it’s a good fit for you.
      If local conferences and networking meetups start up again and can be safely done, I’ll definitely be there.

      1. Disco Janet*

        As someone current getting a Master’s at WGU, I second this. The instructional design program is very much geared towards current classroom teachers. I am one, so that’s not a problem for me! But if you aren’t, it would be a struggle.

    6. new kid*

      I’m in this field and imo it is one where a master’s is a huge boost – most positions that are actually called out as ID roles are going to require a master’s, in my experience. That said, before I got my master’s I actually managed to go into ID sideways through lower level content development/technical writing roles (maybe also search ‘eLearning’ as a keyword). Those tend to pay pretty well and don’t require a higher degree, though you’ll want to have a really solid writing portfolio and/or subject matter expertise in the business area of whatever companies you’re looking at in order to be competitive.

    7. Skeeder Jones*

      Hi, I’m an instructional designer and have been in this position for about 4 years. I was hired as a contract position for technical writing (doing work that really fell under ID) and when the ID position opened up, they asked me to apply. I knew a lot about the ID software we were using (Articulate) and a whole bunch of stuff about Learning and Development (certification as a trainer and many years experience being a full-service training person) but I don’t have a masters and wasn’t sure I wanted to get one. At my company, we have a very educated workforce and I wanted to be able to stand up against them so the masters wouldn’t necessarily give me additional knowledge, it would just be for “street-cred”. Instead, I found an online certification through a local (and well-respected) university extended ed program. It was a lot cheaper than a masters and I made a ton of great contacts. In fact, one of my classmates pulled together a group of us that are local (there were people in the program all over the US and internationally) and we started meeting on a regular basis to talk and network (then switched to virtual after covid). At the time, I was the only one working as an ID but in the last year, every single one of them got a job as an ID! So you might want to consider a certification instead! My program was through UCI (University of California Irvine) but there are others, including one offered by ATD (Association for Talent Development).

  20. Free Meerkats*

    It’s annual self-evaluation time for appointive employees here. I have decided to pretty much copy and paste last year’s and make changes where necessary. I’m busy and there’s no raise in the offing for me.

    Does anyone have advice here?

    1. My name*

      I’ve been doing that for a few years now. I always got the feeling they would do what they wanted no matter what I wrote. My duties are pretty much the same, and I can only get the standard raise everyone gets since I’m at the top of my pay band. Going to be less inclined this year because I’m retiring next March. There may be some cash bonus, sometimes leave award, but it’s relatively small.

    2. Juneybug*

      Just make sure to show growth in your career. Maybe you took on new projects? Took a leadership role?
      Bummer there is no raise. :(

    3. LKW*

      Write down your preferred career progression and what you want the company to do to support it – give you opportunities in x,y,z or more training or management or whatever it is you want to achieve.

    4. ferrina*


      I’ve used the same quarterly goal for over a year, but swapped out synonyms to make it look slightly different. My boss never caught on.

  21. Mrs. Hoover*

    If applicable, can folks share their stories about changing careers? (I mean significant shifts in a completely different field). I’ve been doing my job for 15 years and after a year of significant personal change, I am DONE with where I live (NYC) and what I do (my job is basically managing other people’s projects… I have very little input on the projects themselves, I just make them pretty). I want something simpler where I work on things more directly… plus, I want to feel confident in what I do (my whole career I’ve just felt mildly competent but not creative or unique or proactive, as I’m not inspired by the projects I’ve ever been assigned).

    I’ve been dancing around job postings, trying to get my bearings. Do I want to move first and keep doing this job or do I want to change jobs first and then try to find something somewhere else?

    I’m hoping hearing other perspectives might help me figure out what I want to do next

    1. not a doctor*

      I think it’s best to switch jobs before moving, but it PARTLY depends on where you want to live next. If you’re planning to move to another major city, that seems safer to me than somewhere further out of the way (where finding jobs will be more difficult in general).

      I did these things in the opposite order (including moving TO NYC), but I didn’t have a choice at the time, and it did take me a good while to actually switch to the new field (although there were other mitigating circumstances for that). But I did successfully switch, and you can too!

    2. Ms. Impostor Syndrome*

      I came here to post basically the same thing. Been at my job for 15 years and while I like the company I work for I have no motivation lately. I feel dated in my expertise from doing mostly the same thing and want to try something new…but what? I also have severe impostor syndrome so I feel like I’m under qualified for everything.

    3. Parakeet*

      I shifted between extremely different fields, like night and day levels of different (they could use a lot more collaboration with each other IMO, it would benefit both, but that’s a whole other issue). I had been volunteering extensively in the field that I work in now and in closely related areas (it’s the kind of field where there’s a lot of opportunities for volunteer work), for several years. I hadn’t initially ever planned on working in it as staff, I just liked the volunteering, but when for various reasons I was seriously considering leaving my previous field, I got a staff job at one of the orgs I volunteer for. I was already a reasonably known quantity to them as I’d been a volunteer for more than five years at that point. It was originally an interim job to ease a staffing shortage, but eventually became non-interim, and I’ve been in this job for a year and a half now.

      I do still keep up some with my old field (taking free classes, doing little projects), but in a very very different subfield than before (as I said, I think my new field and parts of my old field would benefit from more collaboration and from more cross-trained people, and that realization was part of what got me interested in the different subfield).

    4. Teapots to Books and back*

      I worked in one industry (lets say teapot painting) for almost 10 years after graduating with a degree in that field. About halfway through those ten years, I started a side hustle (lets say reading books and writing reviews). When I got laid off from first industry, I jumped into side hustle full time for the next 20 years. After 20 years of side hustle as a freelancer (which meant marketing, sales, bookkeeping etc in addition to the work itself) I was tired of the non stop hustle and lack of benefits. Went back to school and got the next level certification in my first industry (master teapot painter) It took me over a year to find a position in teapot painting and it was more a matter of luck than anything else.

      So, all this to say that if you want to change industries, its helpful to have recent education/certifications etc in the new industry but also, expect to work REALLY hard to find a new position (especially if you’re hoping to get something other than entry level) I couldnt even get entry level jobs because everyone I talked to thought I would be bored by them/too old/whatever. :(

    5. Laney Boggs*

      ~COVID Warning~

      So last week our location implemented a 100% mask ban (that no one listens to). The exception is “when you’re eating or drinking during breaks.”

      Well, my manager just sent out a meeting invite and “breakfast will be provided.”

      A) I’m fuming
      B) what do I do

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        This got nested funny, but I’ll answer it here. I would address B and request that breakfast to be served outside before the meeting moves inside.
        Cite your local area’s Covid hospitalization rates and the increased Delta driven breakthrough infections.
        And wear your mask whether or not they do.

      2. Anon-mama*

        @Laney: wear a KN95 mask, don’t eat, open the windows. If that won’t work, conveniently remember an appointment you have for exactly that time.

    6. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Not a direct answer, but a couple of frameworks that I’ve been finding useful as I navigate my own transition:

      *_Designing Your Life_ by Dave Burnett and Dave Evans

      *The ZigZag Project (a six part podcast series with exercises).

  22. DeepAnon*

    My company just advertised two positions internally. Both are well within my skill set, with one being a very good match. I am currently in a role I mostly enjoy, though my skills are under-utilized.

    I like my current setup, with two jobs, neither of which taxes me much, leaving time for art.
    But I’d like to apply for one of these more interesting positions too.
    Adding more responsibility to my life would be unfeasible but if they could pay enough for me to drop the part-time job and only have one job, it would be an overall improvement.

    Where I see a risk here would be to get an offer but not take it because they can’t meet what I’d need to make.
    Would that be likely to get me pushed out as a “flight risk?”

      1. DeepAnon*

        Full-time, as is my current job with the same company.
        I have a side gig, which is pretty typical for this company and industry.

        1. not a doctor*

          I agree with the advice below — try to find out the salary in advance, or at least if the salary you’re looking for is likely to be offered. If so, and you end up getting low-balled, I wouldn’t mention the side gig, simply note that you were hoping the increase in hours and responsibility would be compensated at [rate], or cite the research you’ve done for the role.

    1. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      If it is internal can you inquire as to the salary range they are considering? I would not interview and then not take it internally.

  23. hi*

    Just wanted to thank Alison for all the great advice. Your interviewing tips helped me get an internship at my dream company for the past 8 months! Today is my last full time day and now I get to stay part time during the semester. So happy and fortunate to be in this position.

  24. OP from yesterday*

    Hey all- OP here from the “ask the readers” post yesterday. quick comment here because I was late in getting to it and I’m guessing no one is really reading the comments on that post anymore.
    I just want to say thank you for all of the thoughtful advice and commiseration. It’s nice to know I am not alone, and also always good to remember that there all sorts of people NOT calling and NOT angry (and in fact very happy) about the policies. I will be taking everything said here into account as I prep my staff for the announcement, including talking to my boss about setting up a way for people to request refunds via our website, so it does not fall fully on our shoulders.
    Thank you again, I will let y’all know how it goes!

      1. Dasein9*

        Oooh, just had an idea: can you keep a notebook where folks record the most outrageous conversations, then act them out, with all due drama, at an end-of-season party?
        (You’d have to serve ham, of course.)

        1. OP from yesterday*

          oooo that’s an excellent idea. in the before times we would sometimes do dramatic readings of e-mails from people criticizing our artistic choices. “you do too many gay shows” was a real winner (cringe).

        2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          Honestly, when I feel safe enough to see live shows again, that’s probably a production I would want to see…

    1. Zephy*

      Thank you for checking back in! My sister also works in live theater as a company/stage manager. Her specific company was able to “pivot to video” (as it were) over the past 18 months to a certain degree (Zoom theater is actually a really unique experience, 10/10 would recommend), but I’m sure she will soon be facing a similar problem. Her area seems to be handling things decently well, they had rapid testing really early on and their vax rate is good, but there’s always going to be some unfathomable assholes delightful individuals in the mix.

    2. Neon Dreams*

      Glad to hear the comments helped you, OP! There will be the angry customers, but others will be happy you’re open again and provided much needed relief and entertainment. I’ll be locking forward to an update :)

  25. Hurricanin' on My Start Date*

    I’ve been hired for a remote job and we agreed I’d start on Sept 1. Unfortunately, I live in the Southern USA and it’s very likely we’re going to get hit by a hurricane this weekend. It’s still uncertain, though. Last year, I was out of power for a week.
    Is it unreasonable for me to ask the company if I can push back the start date or should I plan to find somewhere, anywhere, with an internet connection, so I can fulfill the agreed-upon start date?

    1. DivineMissL*

      It’s impressive that you’re thinking ahead. I’d just send exactly what you wrote here to your contact at the new job, and ask them what they’d recommend. You’re being proactive, this is a good thing! It shows initiative and planning on your part. Let them tell you how they want to handle it; but ask them now, so they have time to prepare just in case. Good luck on the new job!

    2. Elenna*

      IMO any reasonable boss should understand “I can’t start that week because there’s literally a hurricane”.

    3. foolofgrace*

      I think you should just let them know of the possibilities and ask if they would prefer you push your start date out, or roll the dice and see if power goes out. I wouldn’t stress myself trying to find internet access somewhere, frankly it might be difficult to find.

    4. Cat Mom*

      Would it be reasonable notify them of the impending hurricane and to ask them if your start date can be moved in the event it knocks out your power?

    5. WellRed*

      I don’t think you should ask to push it back for a hurricane that may or may not disrupt you. I do think you could bring it up in an FYI way and ask how they’d like you to handle it.

      1. WellRed*

        I’m in an area that was supposed to get slammed by Bob last week. After all the hype, A nothingburger.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          You can thank me for that … I finally got around to buying the inverter and battery I need to run my CPAP during a power outage. So because of the perversity of the universe, I could not lose power and Henri had to veer off course.

    6. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I would get in touch and just ask about contingencies. That way, if the hurricane passes you by at the last minute, you’re still set. Email your new manager and give them a heads up that there’s a hurricane coming which may impact your Internet service– you’re still planning to start on 9/1, but you can push the date if they’d prefer. Let them make that decision.

    7. Camellia*

      Well, if you think you’ll evacuate anyway, I’d plan for that and make the start date. If you aren’t sure, I’d just ask them what they want to do.

    8. Mynona*

      From a former Houstonian: Notify your supervisor and/or HR contact of the possibility of weather-related internet outage and ask for guidance. If they are in a region that doesn’t experience hurricanes, explain to them that it is impossible to predict how the storm will impact you based on past storms. It doesn’t seem necessary to pre-emptively ask for a week delay at this stage.

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

      I think it’s reasonable to ask if you can push it back because the start of a new job during a possible emergency isn’t ideal at all, but I think this would be a good time to find out their policies on this for the future too; you live in an area that gets hurricanes — what do they expect whenever a remote employee loses power/phone/internet? If you lose power, are there any tasks that you can still accomplish offline and hand over later, or use cellular service (if you have access to that), or are you expected to use PTO or go unpaid?

    10. RagingADHD*

      I agree with the others – get in touch, have the conversation, and see what the options are.

  26. MissGirl*

    Any product managers here? How does it compare to project management? Pros and cons of the job? I’ve heard people complaining about project management because you have all the responsibility to get something done but no power to actually do it.

    There are a few product management positions at my job (data analytics).

    1. ferrina*

      I’m a project manager, but I’ve worked alongside product managers. I’ve seen product managers run in two camps- the product owner and the product coordinator (not actual titles, more of role descriptions).
      Product owners control the strategic vision of the product. What it should be, what it’s brand and features need to focus on, etc. It can be high pressure, involve politics, but you get a lot of control over your product.
      Product coordinator-style tends to be where someone else dictates strategy, but you have to figure out the nuts and bolts. They say they want to add a widget, and you need to get a design of the widget in front of them, then execute that design (looping in other experts and stakeholders as needed). You are responsible for setting the product specs based on the strategic vision
      A product owner often works across teams to capitalize on expertise to get what they need for their product.

      A project manager is a professional cat herder. You need to get the specs from the teams, figure out the responsible parties, negotiate timelines, then check-in and hold feet to the fire as necessary. You might work on one product, or you might work across products.

      There’s a lot of overlap in the skills that you need. As a project manager, it can turn in to a situation where you have responsibility without power, depending on the company and team you work for. I’ve never had much of a problem with it, since I like to Return To Sender. “Oh, you won’t hit that timeline? Okay, thanks for letting me know. I’ll communicate that to BigBoss and see how they’d like to follow up.” Amazing how you mention that you’ll simply communicate who is causing backlog and problems get cleared up…..

    2. Anonforthis*

      I am a Product Manager for a medium sized (less than 100 employees) tech company.

      What I have learned:
      1. People skills = very important. You have to get a lot of buy in, lead with influence but without direct authority, and invest a lot of capital, strategically in different places. I’m always looking for opportunities to make better interpersonal connections with stakeholders to smooth over the rough edges with projects.
      2. Developers have feelings. I do not see my job as “telling devs what to do.” My job is to translate the customer’s concerns to the devs, empower them to help with solutioning, and translate their concerns back into stakeholder speak. I make a point of calling out great work by individual devs to higher ups in the company to give them recognition. I have learned their lingo and entered their world. I am, because of dogged determination, very successful at working with our devs and, dare I say, they actually like me? I’ve also made it a goal to win over the most “difficult” devs to work with. It makes it a lot easier to do my job.
      3. I have to say “no” a LOT. Steps 1 & 2 are very, very helpful setting me up to say “no” and not get pummeled constantly (or maybe more accurately, not pummeled as hard). If people feel like they’ve been heard, and you’ve considered their concerns, but you can explain your ruling on the issue, it helps smooth over a lot of rumpled egos.
      4. You have to have a strong backbone, and a willingness to forge ahead and make mistakes. Even when you don’t have all the data. Sometimes you have to make calls on things and prioritize them based on a gut feeling and pivot later. This is because you won’t always have all the data, or the access to the customer that you need at the time when the decision has to be made, and you can’t just stall out, you have to commit to a course of action and then defend it. I’m still struggling with this one and trying to get more aggressive about defending what I believe is right for the customer and the roadmap.
      5. You will never have a “typical day.” If you like a lot of autonomy, to set your own schedule, chart your own path, this is a great job. If you prefer to have people tell you what to do/assign work to you…not so much.
      6. Communication is key. I record every meeting I attend, go back and rewatch, review the transcripts, take meticulous notes. When someone asks me “do you know about X?” I can pull up notes from 3 years ago with a quick key word search.
      7. Depending on the industry (SaaS for instance) it’s not bad to have some coding skills, or learn some basic shortcuts, like MySQL for data analysis and etc. Not in-depth, but just enough to be dangerous if you need to modify a query without bugging someone so you can pull the data you want.
      8. There are always things that you can find to fill up your day, but you have to have a cut-off point. Being basically competent in a generalized way with a few tools is helpful. Expert level is not required. Mastery should only be pursued in areas of biggest impact (influence, asking the right questions, listening, making decisions).
      9. Google Ken Norton “Bring the Donuts” for a great description of a PM.
      10. I have an actual whiteboard in my home office so I can brainstorm when the mood strikes (which it does at inopportune moments when things just “click” in my brain). I take photos of the brainstorm and pop them into my evernote for the future so I don’t lose it.
      11. I am a human pincushion and have to absorb barbs from stakeholders, bosses, and the engineering team. Because the first thing you learn in this job is you can’t please everyone, so don’t even try. You DO need to please the customer, though, because they are the reason your product exists. I would suggest developing a tough skin, if you don’t already have one.
      12. It can actually be a really fun job if you have a good team. There are certainly stressful aspects to it, but it can be very empowering to have a level of influence that allows you to empower other people and create solutions that help your customers and have a DIRECT IMPACT on revenue, strategy, growth, etc. I’m still learning about some of these higher level things (I report to the CPO and absorb a good bit through osmosis).
      13. I do a good bit of “extracurricular” learning on my own. Reading product books, learning about frameworks, finding new tools, reading links that our devs send me about stuff they care about, reading up on our industry, etc. This is a must, in my opinion.
      14. Just because someone in a blog advocates for a particular methodology or system doesn’t mean it’s the best one for your company. You have to combine the best of what you like and tailor it to your environment. Don’t introduce red tape into the process if it doesn’t truly need to be there just because a talking head at FAANG said “this is the only way to do product, be like us.”
      15. It’s very helpful to be organized. If you don’t have a system for keeping track of “all the things,” make one. I’m building a lot of our process and infrastructure as I go. I happen to work for a pretty disorganized CPO, so it’s a must in my case.

      Product is great! With the caveats that come with any job: at the right company, under the right management, within the right team.

  27. First time anon*

    Hi all – I was wondering if I could get some thoughts/advice on my current situation. I have been in my role for about 4.5 years and right now there are a lot of opportunities for me to move up in my organization, but they are all in other departments. I really like my job and department, but over the 4.5 years, my role has evolved and I have more on my plate than ever. I’ve also done back up quite a bit when positions were open on our team because of leave and turnover (some I got add pay for, some I did not). My boss has expressed that they do not want to lose me and is it trying to get me a promotion or at least a raise. Ideally, I would be promoted in my current department, but there is obviously no guarantee of that.

    Should I just give up on being promoted and pursue other opportunities? Would getting an offer help me get promoted or just burn bridges? Any and all feedback is helpful to hear. Thank you!

    1. WellRed*

      Why are you giving up on being promoted? And have you had an actual sit down with current boss yo discuss possibilities and timelines?

      1. First time anon*

        Thanks for the response. I should probably provide a bit more context. I work in higher ed and my position is funded by the college rather than the department having a budget for positions in my team (so the college has ultimate authority over raises, promotions, etc). To answer your questions – yes, I have sat down with my boss and they are 100% behind me being promoted and they broached the subject of a promotion. If it was solely up to my boss, I’d have been promoted a long time ago, but COVID-related financial measures at the college level have put a damper on promotions. I guess where I am struggling is that my boss is currently putting in efforts to get me promoted, but I am not sure the college will agree and feel like maybe I should not wait for that to pan out and instead pursue opportunities where I know I can get a more senior position.

        1. The Dude Abides*

          Almost a year, ago, I was in a similar scenario. My boss left right as the pandemic shut everything down, and I stepped up to cover a chunk of his reporting duties up until the day I left. New boss and new grandboss tried to get me a raise/title bump, but the CFO said no. The moment I was told the CFO said no, I started applying for promotions outside my unit. It took a while (six months from application to interview), but I got out. Since then, both grandboss and new boss left, and another major project just got dropped in their lap.

          The boss can talk all he wants, but talk will not get you the promotion. I would start pursuing outside options yesterday.

          1. dumdums from the teller*

            Yup, I’ve been doing promotion-worthy work for several years, and all I got was the title bump (oh, wait, I also got skepticism about “well, is money that important to you?”). So I’ve been looking….

            1. The Dude Abides*

              In my case, a title bump would have automatically gotten me a raise.

              CFO claimed that 1) adding the tasks to my JD was not enough for the title bump, and 2) I would have had to re-apply for my own job if they bumped the title, and blamed the union contract for all of it.

              Now, I’m still within the same agency after a two-title jump, and the new grandboss (who I worked with in the old job) is practically begging me to take over as manager.

    2. Alianora*

      I’m also in higher ed. I think it would make sense to pursue other opportunities, but that doesn’t mean you need to give up on being promoted. Like WellRed said, good idea to have a conversation with your boss about specific timelines for the promotion. Job searches can take a long time, especially in universities. Maybe you’ll hear back about the promotion before you get an offer.

      If you do get an offer and you’d prefer the promotion, then you can take it to your boss and explain that you’ve received an offer, but you’d rather stay in the department if at all possible. I think it’s more likely than not that you’d be told to take the offer in this scenario. But there’s a chance it might expedite the promotion if that’s already in the works. And I don’t think it would burn a bridge in a reasonable workplace. But if you go this way, you do need to be prepared to take the other opportunity.

      And of course maybe you’ll get an offer that’s better than the anticipated promotion.

    3. Policy Wonk*

      There is not enough info here to say what will work in your specific situation. But I found that leaving my organization to take a job in a different one, and subsequently a third one, ultimately made me a more attractive candidate when a senior job opened up in the original org. I had the nuts and bolts experience in that org’s work, but also had a broader perspective of the overall business than my near-peers who had stayed there over the same time period.

    4. First time anon*

      Thank you to all who replied! All of you brought up great points and are giving me the boast I need to continue looking elsewhere.

  28. Anon in Ohio*

    Any suggestions for people looking to branch out more into freelance writing? My boyfriend has been writing essays and the like for the last 3 years but is looking to get into more established channels of freelance writing. He had one unsuccessful trial with a copy writing agency and is talking with one research agency, what other channels should he be looking at?

    1. Neon Dreams*

      hey from one state over! (WV). I’m looking to the freelance route myself and it’s so overwhelming. I’ve found several websites to apply for work and found resources through a podcast ( is one of them). But I’m stumped on how to land clients. I’ll be interested in replies as well.

    2. Kara*

      I haven’t freelanced since 2016 but back when I did it you had to pitch individual stories to clients.

    3. mreasy*

      Find the publications he would like to write for (starting on the small side) and pitch them. My husband is an EIC and this is how they find many of their new writers.

  29. Camellia*

    I wish there was a ‘secret shopper’ experience that we could do for HR. I work for a great, mid-sized corporation. They take care of us in many ways, e.g., pivoted to WFH and we’re not going back yet, gave us an extra Personal Day last month because this year has been so hard, generous leave and sick time, constantly have ‘chats’ and ‘town halls’ and ‘breakfasts and lunches (when we were still in the office)’, all to give us chances to get to know, see, and speak to, our leadership teams, who generally are very open and approachable. I’ve been here eleven years and hope to stay longer.

    However, back when we were still in the office, I came in from vacation to be told by a co-worker that someone from another team was transitioning male-to-female. I immediately went to co-worker’s desk to congratulate them and ask which pronouns they preferred (she/her). She thanked me, we chatted a bit, she asked me a couple of questions about makeup (my hobby), so I invited her to lunch to discuss. At lunch, she told me that when she had gone to HR to share and get some support, the only thing they did was panic and say, “YOU’RE NOT GOING TO START WEARING DRESSES TO WORK TOMORROW, ARE YOU?!?!”. And then tell her that she could only use the separate, handicap restroom. I was SO disappointed in my great company. Granted, this may have been the first time they had to handle this scenario, but still, I would have thought they would have a plan. This still bothers me and makes me wonder what other scenarios they might not handle well, hence the ‘secret shopper’ thoughts. Oh well.

    1. Web Crawler*

      I wish that was a thing too, especially for trans scenarios. My HR wasn’t bad, but I’ve heard too many horror stories from friends.

    2. fairleigh*

      With your colleague’s permission, going back and telling HR what you’ve said here might be useful. It can be really wearing to be the person going through a major change, as well as simultaneously having to educate people and push back at the same time. You can help her by taking on some of the latter.

    3. Alexis Rosay*

      A friend of mine recently came out to HR and let them know she’s planning to transition, and they said, “That’s good because we realized we need more diversity at this firm.” HUGE CRINGE. It’s good because it’s someone is going to live life as their authentic self, not because it helps you check a corporate box.

      If that’s what it takes for some people to be supportive, it’s better than the wide range of negative and unsupportive reactions…but urgh.

    4. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      They may need a bit of time to regroup and do a better thing.

      Accidentally dropping some helpful guides into the HR department’s inbox might be a way to help them reframe their panic. And in the meantime, give the same resources to your colleague, and openly (and without overt glitter) act as if this is a perfectly normal and ok thing for someone to be experiencing while being a person with a job, so that your other colleagues can have something to model their own reactions toward.

      1. TPS Reporter*

        I agree, you don’t have to refrence this particular co-worker but could ask HR if they could put together trainings or guidlines on diversity and inclusion that discuss trans issues.

  30. Escaped a Work Cult*

    Updates from last week and my slacker coworker who went on vacation before completing the work in the process we need her to! Well she saved over my work to remove the updates I made and I finished documenting the proof for it.

    Manage versions on GDrive, you are a lifesaver for the proof.

    Have handed it over to my boss and absolutely letting him take it over. I’m too frustrated and upset to have any kind of professional conversation.

    1. They Don’t Make Sunday*

      Wait, was she trying to take out your updates to make it look like any requests for further work weren’t in there?

    2. Mockingjay*

      I am infuriated on your behalf. I’ve also had people take out my edits and corrections. And yep, I live my life by version history.

      I hope your boss takes action with Slacker.

  31. hoggums*

    Hi all, I need some help respectfully excusing myself from a retirement party. My supervisor is retiring and he had his work-sponsored retirement party this week (during work), which I attended. One of my team members is throwing him a smaller party at his house this weekend, which will include our immediate team as well as a few people who moved out of our team but were on it many years ago (I’ve never met them). I was originally leaving for a work trip this weekend and wasn’t able to go because of that but my trip was moved to leave late next week now. I have really bad social anxiety and flat out do not want to go to this lol. Everyone else will be there with spouses and/or kids, I’m the only person going alone. And the one team member on my team who I am closest to is not going due to a prior commitment. Additionally, I want to relax and finalize packing during my last weekend before going out of town for a month, because last weekend I was frantically packing and doing errands on what I thought was my last weekend. When everyone at work found out my trip was moved, their first response was “great, now you have nothing going on so you can come to the retirement party!” “the address is X” And I was unsure what to reply so I just said “ok”. What can I make to get out respectfully? I was thinking of saying I plan to visit my dad before my long trip but I feel that will seem weird as I can visit him
    another day on the weekend.

    1. CatCat*

      “Something has come up and I can’t make it.” If they press, just a vague, “A family thing I need to help out with, but have a great time at the party!”

      1. Elenna*

        This – go with something vague so they can’t poke holes into it, and then switch the topic to “congrats on your retirement” or whatever.

      2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        I like this! You can add, “Since I have to miss this one, I’m glad we got a chance to celebrate together earlier :)”

        Also, smile for real, don’t hold up an emoji sign infront of your face.

    2. not a doctor*

      Oof. I sympathize, but I don’t think you have a way out of it without looking bad at this point. Maybe you can cite your dad as a reason to arrive late/leave early, but I think you at least have to put in an appearance.

      1. not a doctor*

        I’m surprised by the other comments! I think in my area, skipping an important event with the whole team present would be seen negatively. If you think you can get away with it, though, totally do it.

      2. Fran Fine*

        The OP absolutely can skip this one since she already attended the original retirement party. If anyone wants to judge OP for it, that’s their problem.

    3. Twisted Lion*

      I would just say something came up and you wont be able to make it, congratulations again on their retirement. The person retiring will be too busy to care. And your nosy coworkers might ask but you can just say you got a migraine or something. Dont feel bad. My personal time is precious and I dont like going to stuff like this either. LOL

    4. identifying remarks removed*

      I’d say visiting your Dad is a good way out. Your coworkers don’t need to know when he is available – if they ask you can say he has plans on the other day.

    5. Mynona*

      Citing COVID precautions/avoiding large gatherings might be an option. My department has had a lot of resignations in the last few weeks, hence more than usual going away gatherings, and they made me realize that I am not ready for large-group-indoor-unmasked-parties, even when I known my co-workers are vaccinated. People understand–it’s a weird time with all the unvaccinated kiddos going back to school.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I would probably just not go, assuming it’s not a formal seated dinner party, and then if someone asked me about it on Monday, “Sorry, I had family stuff going on all weekend!”

    7. Dasein9*

      The above replies are great: a polite “something came up.” The only thing I’d add is maybe sending a nice card with handwritten, sincere, kind words about how much you appreciate your supervisor. That way, your final interaction can still be positive and warm.

  32. Albeira Dawn*

    I was reading through the archives yesterday and came across a post from 2011 asking people what their “secret fantasy careers” are. I figured it’s time for an update!

    Definition of a secret fantasy career: something grounded in reality that you didn’t pursue for whatever reason. Common responses to the last post were things like event planner, librarian, chef.

    I’ll put mine in the comments!

    1. Albeira Dawn*

      Some things I’ve thought about: architectural historian, archivist, fancy garden designer, investigative journalist but for really mundane things like county commission efforts.

      1. awesome3*

        I do always get that spark when I see reporters live tweeting school board meetings, like wow, imagine if that was me

        1. Albeira Dawn*

          Reporter livetweeting school board meetings was my exact inspiration! I’ll livetweet planning commission meetings from time to time, but it’s not the same as getting paid to debunk all the bad data they bring up.

      2. Mojo021*

        I have always wanted to do something with books! Editor, reviewer… even a librarian… I wouldn’t mind being an admin to an editor… anything with books that allows dogs in the office :)

      1. Albeira Dawn*

        Ooooh, that’s a good one. And also reminded me that I sometimes dream of being an executive assistant at a publishing company.

    2. Nela*

      Astronomy researcher
      Robotics engineer
      If I hadn’t flunked my EE studies, I could have ended up as the latter. I’m happy with my creative career, though!

    3. fairleigh*

      Sea captain

      But I decided being the lone female on the high seas in an industry well-known for assault was a bad idea

      1. MissDisplaced*

        My friend has her 100 Ton USCG captain’s license and delivers boats for a living. She does 3-4 deliveries a year to supplement her other job as a jewelry designer. But you’re right that there aren’t many women captains on the larger commercial ships.

    4. Valancy Snaith*

      Historical reenactor. Like, a professional one. If I lived in a place where there existed a living history museum I would totally do it as a volunteer, but it would be my dream job for real.

      1. Humble Schoolmarm*

        Me too! Lucy Worsley (Of the UK’s Historic Royal Palaces) basically has my dream job of dressing up and giving enthusiastic talks on social history.

        The pandemic has also triggered my first serious interest in academia. I’d love to be paid to research and write about all the weird/fascinating sociology of this time.

    5. Campfire Raccoon*

      Vegetable garden designer/teacher, mushroom farmer, writer/editor. I actually do all three for funsies and the idea of doing them as for pay or as a JOB kills the joy for me. So I keep the dreams of mushroom riches right where they belong, in my dreams.

      1. Fran Fine*

        I also want to be an interior designer and decorator as my dream career. Or a cultural anthropologist (if money weren’t a factor) or museum curator.

    6. Alexis Rosay*

      Radio producer. I know I’m not really suited to the career for temperamental reasons, and also I hear the hours are killer and as I get older that sounds less and less appealing…but whenever I hear radio internships advertised, I have a twinge of regret.

    7. awesome3*

      Grounded in reality, most likely other life would be youth librarian. Less likely I think but still something that interests me would be something in agriculture.

    8. Sherm*

      I fantasize about being a therapist. I find it fascinating that some people are actually so different from the persona they present to the world. (For example, the “life of the party” really wants to go home and read a book.) And as a therapist I’m sure you would have many glimpses into people’s real selves. It would be rewarding as well to improve people’s health. Despite this fantasy, though, I doubt I’d actually be that good at it. I’m introverted and would probably be exhausted from talking with people all day.

    9. Caboose*

      I would love to do interior design! Unfortunately, I also love having a reliable job and not needing to deal with clients, so software it is.

    10. Jay*

      Something in theater – actor, stage manager, producer. NOT DIRECTOR. In a cliche reversal, I have not always wanted to direct.

      Owning a bookstore.


    11. My Brain Is Exploding*

      Philanthropist! Writer of novels! Genetic detective (I didn’t know that was a thing until we watched a tv show about it.

    12. Unladen European Swallow*

      Meteorologist. Not so much on-the-TV kind, but the ones at NOAA that get to see all the data and predict oceanic conditions. I once looked up grad programs in meteorology on a wild whim and you have to take SO MUCH MATH as a prereq to apply! I’m not bad at math but it’s been decades since my last calc class in college. I’ll just look at radar maps instead, thankyouverymuch.

      1. cat wrangler*

        If you are on FB, I recommend you look up Rippeology (if you don’t mind swearing, either). He’s an amateur meteorologist, but soooo good. Educational and entertaining!

    13. Talvi*

      Nuclear physicist. Or astrophysicist.

      I loved physics and I was always good at math, I just really, REALLY hated grade 12 math… which put me off becoming a physics major in undergrad. (Whyever did trig have to start involving graphs and waves??? Triangles were fun!) Did an arts degree instead. I still have a fantasy of going back to university part-time to study physics just for the hell of it, though.

      (I became an archivist in the end!)

    14. Alianora*

      Medical illustrator. Requires a specific degree from a medical school. Only four universities in North America have programs. Fascinating to read about, very interesting, but not really for me.

      A couple reasons:
      – time investment into taking the prerequisite classes
      – not sure human anatomy/dissections/etc are for me
      – the art aspect wouldn’t be a roadblock, looking at the example portfolios of accepted students, but art right now is a relaxing escape for me, and I don’t want to make it my career. This is the main reason I decided not to go for it.

    15. Wanna be space pilot*

      Astronaut (but when my eyes went to crap with puberty, that dream was out)
      Fashion magazine editor but being a dorky introvert also killed that one
      My dad wanted me to be a lawyer, my mom wanted me to be an architect (or maybe it was vice versa?) I dunno.
      Next passion was computer animation – got my degree in computer science but coding? YUCK
      Determined that regardless of what I did, I wanted to make a lot of money so ended up going into business/finance. I use my money to do fun stuff on the side. shrug.

    16. Alllisson*

      Heavy Equipment operator
      Interior designer
      fitness instructor
      FBI agent
      anything involving sailing/boats :)

    17. Sam Yao*

      Airline mechanic. I come from a WASPy family that always just assumed everybody would go to a liberal arts college and I did, but my talents are much more mechanical than academic! I was a crappy student, didn’t know what I was doing with my life, and after some delicate tripping around the margins of librarianship eventually found myself doing office work, which I anticipate doing until death. But I love airplanes and I love fiddling with machinery, so given it all to do over again I’d go into planes (or cars, if I wanted to make any actual money)!

    18. Cute Li'l UFO*

      I would love to be a textile conservator. I think it’s absolutely fascinating, getting to see history up close and being able to conserve things that are older than I could ever hope to be. It’s just a difficult field to make a living in. So I live vicariously through videos, photos, and museums.

    19. Coenobita*

      Mine is – and I know this is weird – medical examiner/coroner. But I decided a long time ago that I did not want to do that enough to go to med school!

      1. Jasmine*

        I went to a talk by the local coroner a few years ago, and she made it seem utterly fascinating!

    20. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Economist or architectural historian. I am fascinated by economics and would love to learn more. If I ever win the lottery I’m going back to school to study it. I did get to work in an architecture firm as an archivist for several months, and then at an architecture school library, both of which were fun.

    21. Calamity Kate*

      Love this question! For me, it would probably be coroner, television news reporter, or florist.

    22. Well...*

      Tiger trainer (assuming the whole thing was somehow ethical, but hey this is fantasy life!)

      The Netflix series kind of ruined the fantasy for me, but taking care of big cats would be cool in theory.

    23. Anonforthis*

      I love to cook gourmet food, so a Michelin star chef, who never has to get up early in the morning, work late nights, holidays or weekends. Also never has to clean the kitchen or wash any dishes.

      Yeah I think we can see why this didn’t pan out.

    24. MissDisplaced*

      I always wished I could’ve been an archeologist like Indiana Jones (but certainly not a tomb raider). It seemed like such an exciting career: history, research, field work. But then I realized you needed a PhD and had to learn many dead languages!

    25. RussianInTeaxs*

      Hurricane chaser!
      Weirdly now I live in a super hurricane prone zone, go figure, which was not at all the case when I was growing up..

    26. AnonForThis*

      17th century natural scientist.

      Of course, I’d need to independently wealthy (cool), and turn male (less cool). But you’ve got a period when scientific knowledge was exploding, but the fields were small enough that one person could do significant work in multiple areas, while being totally self funded, and before the invention of the H index.

      In real life, I did a number of year of astrophysical research (which I see a couple of people have listed), followed by transitioning into a more technical position in the same field. I like the technical problems, but not so much publishing, ten year research plans, and management responsibilities. The work itself is cool, but as with many dream careers, getting to a permanent position is extremely difficult, even without wacky requirements like “living in the same country as my spouse”. Also, yes, so much math….

    27. Purple Penguin*

      I’d love to have a literary salon where people discuss, eat, drink and be merry, think Gertrude Stein’s salon in 1920s Paris.

      It wouldn’t be an impossible vocation but I probably would need to be independently wealthy.

    28. Disco Janet*

      Imagineer focusing on the Disney theme parks. I adore all the behind the scenes work that goes into planning the attractions, lands, design changes, etc. Growing up mostly pre-internet I assumed you had to be in engineering due to the name, and math and science aren’t my strong suit. But now I know there’s much more to it than that involving other fields like interior design and such, and wish I’d went for it!

    29. Jasmine*

      So that 2011 post is what got me to start thinking about a purposeful career plan… I’m now 6 weeks away from finishing my MLIS and becoming a qualified librarian!

    30. onyxzinnia*

      FBI behavioral analyst at Quantico a la Clarice Starling
      Musical theater actress on Broadway (alas I am a terrible singer and dancer)
      Cheesemonger with my own cheese shop (I still consider doing this)
      Investigative true crime reporter
      Travel agent

  33. KayEss*

    One of my colleagues received an email from a client about meeting scheduling that included “I am wide open whore I can do 10:30 on the 7th or the 9th” so we’re all starting the day with a good snicker.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I used to have my Word look out for “public” and “county”, two words I wrote about often and was always paranoid about misspelling.

      1. fairleigh*

        Ahahahaaha I use those words frequently too and I know which specific misspellings you are talking about. Mortification week indeed!

      2. Anonforthis*

        I used to use that word in place of “public” in a document that I had our interviewees read (for an editing/copywriting job so it made sense)…because it’s a legit word, it doesn’t get underlined when you do spell check in ms word. I was searching for their attention to detail. I would run a “track changes” when they sent the assignment back to see how many of them caught it. Not all of them :)

      3. Ron McDon*

        I read a job advert just this week that mentioned ‘dealing with the pubic’ as a part of the job… :)

        1. AcademiaNut*

          I once saw a (legit) job ad where one of the requirements was “must like talking about penises”. It was for a sex toy store, so fair enough.

    2. WellRed*

      I once posted a story to our website about a company “shitting” it’s operations to a new state. A reader emailed to let me know.

    3. Firecat*

      I once typed the notes and instead of sideline it auto corrected to sodomize.

      So it was fully titled- Sodomized Ideas: good but we will deep dive them later.

      1. Imprudence*

        If you use word it is possible to set up an exclusion dictionary. I type a lot of minutes, and mistyping the phrase “matters arising”. I have added the wrong word to the exclusion dictionary so it gets flagged as an error if I leave out that”I”.

  34. Mimmy*

    Two things today! First, I am thankful for the Mortification Week that we had a couple weeks ago. I just did something a bit mortifying on a zoom call at work. I tend to beat myself up when that happens–even for small things–but then I remember some of the stories that were shared here. It’s still very difficult to not continue to beat myself up (been that way my entire life), but it shows that it is possible to move on without the incident impacting your job or your supervisors’ opinion of you.

      1. Mimmy*

        Oh it was tame compared to the posts last week!

        At the end of a group session with our students and a small number of staff, the manager said something to the effect of “If anyone of my staff on line haven’t submitted their timesheet, please do so as soon as possible.”. She knew that person was me but didn’t want to name names (for obvious reasons). Well, stupid me blurted out a bit of an “oops”… cats out of the bag! I apologized later and she said it was no big deal.

  35. JustaTech*

    Networking at a virtual conference: Advice?

    I’m going to my first virtual conference next week and there are a bunch of networking sessions. I’ll say upfront that I’m not a great networker, I’m shy and introverted, so I usually end up standing on the edge of the room hoping for another awkward person to talk to.
    Obviously that’s not how networking works for a virtual conference, so does anyone have any advice on what virtual networking looks like and how to make it work?

    It sounds like it will be on video (rather than over a chat), so also does anyone have advice on how to look professional on camera at ~6am (yay time zones) for a femme person? Can I get away with mascara and a bold lipstick, or do I need to go for full-face?

    1. Nela*

      Virtual conferences usually have breakout groups for networking of 4-5 people in each group. Usually one of the people in the group takes the role of a “moderator” and starts asking questions of the other members. (Usually I’m the moderator, unless someone else calls dibs :)) Since there’s very little time, people will usually keep their intro short so everyone can have a chance to introduce themselves. Sometimes there’s a person that disregards timing guidelines, that’s when having someone act as a moderator is very useful.

      Makeup-wise, my role of thumb is “Don’t look like a corpse.” In my case that means kajal pencil and tinted lip balm, maaaybe mascara and a bit of concealer under the eyes. I’ve never done a full face makeup for the camera, people can’t see that much detail anyway.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I did this once at an event for women in tech and it was actually super easy. Don’t worry about the make-up– no one’s camera is that great. It was surprisingly chill– I went into rooms and just started chatting. “Hi, how are you, what do you do?” is a fine opener. “What brings you to this event?” for a peer.

      We also had speed-networking session, which were awesome. I think they identified us as candidates or recruiters, so if I was matched with a candidate we sometimes just chatted. I spent 4 minutes talking to a woman about pie.

      Some people came into the bigger sessions and just listened/observed. That’s ok, though you might be greeted. You can say, “I’m here to learn more about your company and what you do ” and let them talk.

      I will say that while I am a people person, I can be super shy. After the first hurdle, I found it very easy to just relax and chat. Remember that most people find this situation awkward!

    3. Belle of the Midwest*

      I was on the planning committee for an all-virtual conference in May–hopefully the sessions will be facilitated by people who are skilled in making it work. if it’s on Zoom, they might assign you to breakout rooms for a short period of time with a set of icebreaker (I hate that word–let’s call them connecting questions instead) questions so you can engage in some small talk before or after they have introductions in the main room. Hopefully the networking sessions will be organized by topic or special interest and you get to pick something you feel more engaged about to begin with.

      I have a very pale skin tone and found that I needed to go ahead and put on “color makeup”–eyeshadow, eyeliner, brow pencil, and blush–to keep from looking washed out on camera. do you have a way of checking yourself on camera before the conference? I would just do a practice run where you look at yourself on camera with full makeup, no makeup, and just the mascara and bold lipstick to see which you like best. if you can do that at 6:00am one morning before the conference, you’ll get a good idea of how it will work. (I have found that I look a whole lot different on camera at 9:00 am from what I do at, say. . .2:00pm!)

    4. Veronica*

      At the virtual conferences I’ve attended, I make a point of sending follow-up emails or messages to people after their talks. Basically, if I would have gone up to them after the presentation to ask a question or introduce myself, I send a brief email. It can just be a note saying you saw the presentation and enjoyed it. I also did this for poster sessions where they poster was available but there wasn’t a great way to interact with the author. It’s been helpful for retaining connections with people I usually only see once per year at conferences. As a presenter, I would love it if I got something like this. Often the feedback you get is very limited.

  36. B*

    My father passed away a few days ago after having cancer, and I have about 2.5 months of sick leave built up (I’m not in the US) so my doctor has given me a medical certificate (on mental health grounds) for the next six weeks because I’m just not up to going into work right now.

    Would it be wrong of me to use some of this time to go on a vacation and see two of my best friends who live a few hours away that I haven’t seen since the beginning of the pandemic and go away somewhere with them? I feel like some people would say it is wrong to use sick leave for anything other than being physically sick, but my mental health is a mess right now and some time with friends and a vacation/break would REALLY help me right now. Sitting in my apartment is doing me no good, and my friends are happy for me to come.


    1. Box of Kittens*

      Absolutely not wrong – go take a break! If that’s what you need right now for your mental health, that’s what you need. So sorry for your loss.

    2. Elenna*

      Mental health is also health, it’s perfectly reasonably to use sick leave to deal with it! Not to mention that at the request of your doctor you’re already using your sick leave to work on mental health, it only makes sense to do that in a way that will actually help.

      1. ronda*

        you can tell coworkers you went to stay with friends for support,

        but probably not that you went to the beach and partied (or whatever else they would think of as too much fun)

        Sorry about your dad. take care of yourself.

    3. The Rural Juror*

      DO IT. You don’t need to tell anyone at work that you’re going or even anyone else who doesn’t immediately need to know your whereabouts. Go recharge and enjoy the company of people you miss.

      I’m sorry about your father. Wish you all the best.

    4. Carol*

      So sorry for your loss.

      Many people realize serious bereavement (particularly after what might have been a long illness) can be a very long and difficult process and that you’re not lying in bed motionless the entire time (and that it wouldn’t be healthy to do so). I would keep any public pictures to a minimum because there can always be that snoopy, judgy colleague or friend, but…this seems like a natural thing, to visit friends for comfort after such a serious loss.

    5. hoggums*

      yes, it would definitely be ok to do something that will help improve your mental health! that’s what your time off is for!

    6. Trivia Newton-John*

      I am so sorry that you lost your father. Please, go see your friends. You need them for your support right now. HUGS to you.

    7. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*



      On a detailed level, spending time with your friends will put some life back into you, which is what sick time is for. It’s medically excused. Your mental health is a big component of your overall health. If it helps, think of your trip as a wake.

      Truly, go. You only get so much time on this rock.

    8. LDN Layabout*

      Do it, but be careful about social media etc.

      I’m not saying this because I agree with anyone who might be an arsehole about it, but you don’t need that additional stress right now or ever, really.

    9. LKW*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. Take the break. You don’t have to tell people that you’re visiting friends. You can say that there is a lot more to deal with than expected and you’ll be out for a defined time.

      Grief is hard. It will hit you when you least expect it and you just have to ride it out. Don’t set expectations that you “should be over it” at a certain point. It took me close to a year to feel normal after my dad died. But eventually I did return to a more normal state.

    10. Massive Dynamic*

      Heck no, go see your friends!! I’m very sorry for your loss. When I was in your shoes a few years ago, I wish I’d have taken more time off as well. Best wishes to your family.

    11. Another JD*

      Totally fine. I’d just make sure you have some private space to go cry and sleep when you need. And perhaps a code word with your friends that means you just need some time to yourself.

    12. RagingADHD*

      I’m so sorry for your loss, and a getaway with supportive friends sounds like an excellent use of your time. The whole point of the leave is to help you process and feel better, and as you say, sitting home alone isn’t going to help with that.

    13. beach read*

      B, My condolences on the loss of your Father. Taking care of yourself at a time like this is so important. You have the time coming to you AND the Doctor signed off on it. Grief is very personal and different for everyone and what helps you in the healing process should be too. If that includes time away with good friends in a sunny, warm or cold, cozy place, that is what you should do.

    14. Not So NewReader*

      Actually this is a very good and very wise decision.

      Just be aware that not everyone will get how wise this is and be selective about who you inform.

      Technically speaking there is no difference between this and if you broke your leg (fate forbid) and had to stay with friends until you could move around better. No one would ever think you were on vacation in the latter scenario.
      Sometimes we need our peeps to get to a better spot.

    15. allathian*

      I’m so sorry for your loss.

      Please take the vacation you need for your mental health.

      That said, it would perhaps be prudent not to share too much about your leave at work if you’re afraid of being judged for taking the leave. If you have coworkers who follow you on any social media, maybe refrain from posting vacation pictures.

  37. Willow*

    I started out this week telling my boss, once again, that I am burned out. First she blamed me for the situation, and implied that my marital status (single, no kids) may play a role. Then she told me that she had seen for the last two years that I was burned out (I told her several times), and didn’t do anything because she hoped that the problem would go away. After telling me that my colleagues find me difficult to work with (untrue) because I am “prickly”, and berating me several times to tell her how this could be fixed, I finally talked her into a two-week delay at which point I must tell her how I will fix my burnout. The answer, of course, is that I will find myself a new job because no one should put up with this crap. But if anyone has any suggestions on what I could tell her that will get her off my back while I conduct my job search, I’d love to hear them.

    1. Decidedly Me*

      Can you ask for some time off or say you need that for burn out? Or, ask to delegate some stuff, mix in some easier days with harder days, take on a more fun project, etc?

      I’m sorry you’re going through this and wish you the best of luck in your job search! I have a team member that came to me about burn out recently (not exactly job related, just she hasn’t taken a lot of time off and has had some personal life things going on) and asking for some time off in a few months. We encourage more time than she was originally asking plus some time sooner and are reviewing if there were job related contributing factors.

      1. Neon Dreams*

        The slight about being single and childless makes me roll my eyes so hard. I’m sorry she’s not listening to you. It’s her job to help you succeed in this role.

    2. Carol*

      Well, I think the only thing you can really do is stop letting her pass the buck to you, and make it her responsibility to change your workload, since it IS her job and that’s the problem. If she brings up whether you’re married or not (??) again just say “that’s not really relevant here, what’s relevant is that x project takes y amount of time, routine task z takes a amount of time, etc. etc. and we need to figure out what’s realistic and sustainable to complete in a work week.” If she reacts negatively to that (sounds likely), just say “you insisted I tell you how to fix my burnout and this is the only logical solution.”

    3. LuckySophia*

      Your boss sounds like an ass, so I don’t know if this will actually help…but maybe go back to her with”The first step to solving a problems to identify the problem” and tell her you are working hard to identify the specific conditions that are causing you the burnout, so that you can then try to come up with a list of specific solutions. In other words, if you just go back to her and say “work overload is causing burnout”…you won’t get any traction. If you can, document the specifics, e.g., “The website updates have to be completed by 10 a.m. every Monday, but I get the input late, which means I am working every Sunday evening until 11 p.m. to ensure they can go live by 10 am Monday. The late input and late hours are contributing to my burnout. I have three ideas for how to ensure input is received on time….” .

    4. Princess Flying Hedgehog*

      Does your company have an EAP you could use? I work at a large company that provides EAP services, including 5 free counseling sessions. Or does your insurance provide a discount on counseling services such as betterhelp?

      Your boss super duper sucks.

      1. Neon Dreams*

        I second this? I’m using counseling that I was referred to by my EAP. The EAP company offers a discount to betterhelp by being a member.

    5. fairleigh*

      Can you turn it into less of a personal conversation and talk more about how your work is affected? Your boss seems like a jerk, but maybe talking very dispassionately and detached is a language she can better understand.

      E.g. “I am finding it hard to do the TPS reports because I’ve been spending so much time on the ABC investigation. Can we bring in Jane to do the TPS reports, or would you prefer I spend less time on ABC?”

    6. Zephy*

      The answer, of course, is that I will find myself a new job because no one should put up with this crap. But if anyone has any suggestions on what I could tell her that will get her off my back while I conduct my job search, I’d love to hear them.

      I think you answered your own question, here. Probably the magic words to get her out of your hair for good go something like “I am resigning from this position and my last day will be X.”

    7. Twisted Lion*

      I dont know on what planet she thinks your marital status has to do with your workload. If she brings it up again I would say it like that as well.

      Are there projects/duties that you have been doing that someone else can do/should be doing? I ran into this at a job where I became the go-to for everything and my boss refused to distribute the work to 3 other people. I tried a few times to point out things that needed to be moved to someone else. You can make a table with everything you are doing plus how much time each duty takes. Maybe a visual representation would help her. Then you can suggest that it be moved to another person who is not as overworked as you. Try to put the ownership back on her as the manager.

      But honestly, the personal attacks sound horrible and I hope you can find a new job soon.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        I mean, everyone knows that having kids is so soothing that you can do more at work with less stress, as you are calmed by their presence in your life.

        Maybe tell her you’ve almost got the quick Vegas wedding sorted out, but you’re having trouble figuring out how to acquire a child in a couple of weeks without resorting to kidnapping. A pregnancy takes nine months, and that’s too long a timescale to be useful for your current burnout.

        1. banoffee pie*

          haha yeah, looking after kids on top of the job would obviously be the answer to burnout…no, wait…

    8. A Brew Yet*

      I’m sorry, but I don’t think you can take this seriously. “Berating” you, insulting your life choices, expecting YOU to solve your workplace burnout (emphasis on workplace). How can you possibly support this with any kind of real response. Don’t even try! I say you go to your boss with a list of completely crazy suggestions or requests. If you’re going out, go out in blaze of glory kid. Some suggestions: a water feature for the office (so soothing), a pie your boss contest (builds comradery), snack bin or fruit bowl replenished by the office (so heathy), a really good standing desk (reduces stress). Ask for something totally off the wall and then get out.

    9. Tomato Frog*

      I know you’re mostly just trying to appease her while you job search, but it might be worth a try to actually get something out of this obnoxious assignment. Maybe work from home days, if you don’t already have? A no-meeting, no-email Fridays where you’ll focus on existing tasks without interruption? Unloading a task that someone else can handle?

      Five minute meditation breaks every hour? In which you put on headphones, close your eyes, and visualize a work life without your horrible boss?

      I wish you luck finding a new job.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      As gently as possible- one thing to do is don’t talk about the burnout. If you mention it that will trigger her conversation over it. She is a proven a$$ in the way she handles the conversation, don’t get yourself any more proof if you can avoid it. Yes, a survival mode type move. But it might help.

      If you do use EAP you can drag out the appointments so that can be your answer for the duration of the appointments. “I have another EAP appointment coming up!”

      To entertain yourself you could –IN YOUR PRIVATE THOUGHTS ONLY-make up factitious responses.
      “I wiped the hard drive on my computer, I feel so much better.”
      “The industrial-sized shredder will be here next week.”
      “I dunno how it happened but everything disappeared from my Outlook calendar and I am doing so much better.”
      “Remember all those pesky clients/customers we had? They won’t be a bother any more. I fixed it for you.”
      “You know the main program we all use and it was so old and encumbered? That problem is gone now.”

      Even dark humor can help you take back your power/autonomy. It can help a person remember that this is a part of life but not all of life and not to let her wear you down any further. I have gone as far as telling myself, “I will not wear the boss’ worries for the boss. It is up to her to carry her own worries.” I never realized I needed to tell myself this. But I did need to tell me this. And it’s amazing what an eye-opener this statement can be.

  38. Anon123*

    We are in our busy season and are working 12+ hour days, 6 days a week. People are burnt out. Any time someone tries to bring up an issue or make a suggestion, GM responds with “no one is holding a gun to your head and forcing you to work here” instead of actually listening and trying to come up with a solution or at the very least empathizing. Basically any time a comment or concern is raised it is met with a “well we don’t need you anyway” attitude. GM is obviously not concerned with turnover as we lose multiple full time staff after each busy season with no intervention or attempts at employee retention. Every year it is harder on those of us who stay because we essentially have to start from scratch with new coworkers and can’t build a strong team with actual experience. I’m at a loss on what to do here and would appreciate advice on how to talk about this in a way that may actually bring about positive change.

    1. fairleigh*

      Alison’s standard advice is to push together as a group, which may help. But also people are already voting with their feet and they don’t seem to care, so that may not help. Best advice is maybe to follow the leavers.

      1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

        The boss is making a rational decision. He seems to have no problem replacing the people who leave every year. Unless your industry gets totally upset due to Covid, etc, and it becomes impossible to find new employees, he’s going to keep doing this.

    2. WellRed*

      Yes, band together. In my fantasy, it would be to walk off the job after the conversation goes nowhere.

    3. Princess Flying Hedgehog*

      The GM has zero interest in changing anything. Please start searching for a new job.

    4. cubone*

      this is a great example of “when people show you who they are, believe them”. They’ve made it quite explicit how they feel – you are disposable and they have no interest in reflecting on the harmful environment they’ve created. YOU and your colleagues might be invested in making positive changes, but they have explicitly said they are not. You can still communicate how this impacts the work, but don’t waste your energy trying to get them to WANT there to be changes for the better. Their words have made it clear they don’t care. Believe them.

    5. TPS Reporter*

      Definitely agree with finding a new job. In the meantime can you just stop working at 40 hours? Would they really fire you and are you really afraid of that? You can say you did as much as you could within that work week and if they want you to re-prioritize tasks they should let you know what’s important. If management is not willing to put in the work to support you do not keep taking it all on.

  39. fairleigh*

    Just found out a candidate I didn’t hire has been hired by a close partner and I’ll be collaborating with her on a project. First meeting is this afternoon. What do I say?

    Background: looked good on paper, interviewed well, but she made a lot of sloppy mistakes on the technical exercise. I don’t think the partner uses a technical exercise. I was professional in my dealings with her but I had to keep stretching my notice period with her (HR hoops took forever) and gave a fairly pro forma rejection, nothing too personalized and warm and fuzzy.

    1. LadyByTheLake*

      “It’s good to see you. PartnerCo is a great company, how are you settling in?” Or anything else about them and their new role — you shouldn’t mention anything at all about not hiring them or that process etc.

      1. ferrina*


        If she brings up that you didn’t hire her, you can be very vague “Yeah, it was a tough decision. We had a lot of great candidates. So about [OTHER TOPIC]….”

    2. fairleigh*

      Okay, thanks all! I am usually a fan of acknowledging the elephant in the room, but seems like the consensus here is not to.

      1. Kara*

        Absolutely not. This is not an elephant in the room. This is another elephant from another room that you don’t need to bring into this one.

  40. BlueberryFields*

    Can we talk about that Forbes article, “Want to work 9-to-5? Good luck building a career”? I have many (incredulous) thoughts.

    The first two paragraphs: “I recently fired my first-ever direct report. Although he was low-energy, uninspired, and an awful speller, what ultimately led him to the ax was his insistence on boundaries.

    He would come into the office at nine every morning, leave at five, and be inaccessible anytime before and after. Regardless of deadlines or passion projects, his workday was determined not by his work, but by his hours.”

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      This article is infuriating because there’s so many good observations buried within a really tone deaf framing.

      Yes, we hustled after the great recession because we were *terrified*. I put college on hold because my friends graduating with masters degrees were working at dunkin donuts en masse and I decided if I was going to do that I might as well just…work at dunkin donuts (not literally, for anonymity’s sake, but I decided to build work experience before saddling myself with debt). I worked ridiculous hours at low paying jobs to barely pay my rent because just being employed steadily seemed like a miracle. My friends who were lucky enough to enter their long term careers at that stage did even crazier things because they knew ten people were ready to take their place if they didn’t show up hard enough.

      And we all burnt the eff out. The pendulum didn’t swing, the other shoe dropped like a ton of bricks. It wasn’t sustainable for an entire generation to push themselves that hard. People haven’t gotten lazier, they’ve gotten smarter and less desperate.

      Also: “And what’s more, this “balance” implies a strict tradeoff between the two constituent parts, a polarizing schedule of on/off. At work, you’re all on. After work, you’re all off. But this mindset is problematic in that it puts an undue amount of pressure on us to be all on when, in reality, sometimes we can’t be.”

      Yeah, that’s my preferred workflow. I have ADHD, it’s hard for me to focus for eight hours. Allowing myself some wiggle room to get distracted or off task during the day knowing I can pick it up at night if I have to works fine for me. That’s a choice I made. If people have children or other responsibilities at home they may not make that choice. That’s okay too.

      There could be so many good conversations here but instead I just want to shake this article writer and hire the poor guy that got fired for setting reasonable boundaries.

      1. Jean Pargetter Hardcastle*

        “This article is infuriating because there’s so many good observations buried within a really tone deaf framing.” Yes. These are the words I did not find for my response to reading this!

      2. Spencer Hastings*

        Yeah, the article seemed to be based on a weird straw-man reading of what “work-life balance” means.

        “It’s not a strict binary! You can’t be 100% on at work! Checkmate!”

        …Yeah, so? We should always be partially-on outside of work hours? Or what?

        My perspective is somewhat biased because I work for a CPA firm — the hours are long during tax season, and even at other times of year, I might be working on a project such that it makes sense for me to work more hours. But I don’t think this is incompatible with work-life balance! When I’m *not* working, my time is my own, and that’s what’s important to me. It seems like the author disagrees with that.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          Right, sometimes long hours even make more sense for work-life balance because you just want to wrap up that one thing that you know you’ll stress about all night if you don’t…but that’s so situational.

    2. Two Chairs, One to Go*

      It was horrible. I like having boundaries to keep my work & personal life separate. I wouldn’t work for an employer who expected you to be available 24/7. Yikes.

    3. NotRealAnonForThis*

      My take on the article: this speaks more about the mananger.

      Second take: F.T.S. All the way to heck and back.

      Third take: I do know (knew?) someone who did build a career and was constantly a company man first, to the detriment of at least one marriage, relationship with children, etc. When he died very unexpectedly in a freak accident at age 50, do you know what his death was worth to the company? A single moment of silence at the annual exec retreat. Takeaway from those of us present who knew him well? Ain’t worth it.

    4. Jean Pargetter Hardcastle*

      I can’t imagine there are that many people who truly insist on 9-5, Monday through Friday, no exceptions ever. I think what people push back against is being asked to work more than they’re being paid for, which we should do! It should be understood that if you have to put in a few hours on a Saturday, you’re going to take those hours off elsewhere in the pay period.

      There was a post earlier this year — I don’t remember it exactly, but the question was about being exempt vs non-exempt — where Allison said something to the effect that it’s very messed up that we, as a society, have decided it’s a status symbol to work more and not get paid for it. That’s what I think about anytime someone starts extolling the virtues, or even the “grow up, that’s the way it is” of working 40+ hours. Science has already told us that even 40 hours is too much for us; why would I continue pressing people to work more than 40 hours?! We should be trying to change the narrative, not perpetuate it.

    5. not a doctor*

      I guess I would have gotten fired from that place, then! I don’t turn off the computer at five ON THE DOT or anything, and if something emergent comes up I’ll stick around — but for the most part, I’m putting in my 40 hours, and good luck trying to get a hold of me outside of them.

    6. Malarkey01*

      I like that an article like this comes out at the same time that almost every industry out there is bemoaning the shortage of employees and the great resignation and trying to find the cause. This pandemic hit at the same time as we have some generational shifts, educational and larger demographic changes in the US. It’s a confluence of a several things that impact work and attitude changes around work and it seems like some managers/employers aren’t seeing the big train coming down the track.

    7. cactus lady*

      My jaw was on the floor at this: “A hunger percolated—work for work’s sake—and as millennials graduated and began their careers, they were guided by two values: a laser-focused desire to do what they love, and the misconception that doing what they loved meant working all the time.”

      Does this person not realize that we felt like we HAD TO work all the time and monetize, well, ANYTHING we could, because there were no jobs and the ones there were didn’t pay us enough to live on?

  41. Third Generation Nerd*

    I work for a financial services company that is trying to increase diversity in both employees and clients. I’ve been working with the in house recruiter on her plan for hiring apprentices. This position requires the ability to speak confidentially with many people, to be a persuasive story-teller, and to successfully operate in a highly regulated environment. She suggested a weed-out question: What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working or in school? “Because if they say they play [popular tabletop role playing game] we’ll know they’re an introvert and asocial and not suited for this position.”

    I spoke up right then, and asked her what she thought playing the game entailed, and she admitted that she was just going off a stereotype and assumed they live in fantasy-land.

    So I told her about the knowledge, skill, relationship savvy, and nuance required to run a successful game. How groups who play often have deep and lasting relationships, cooperate on both in game and life objectives, and in actual fact a group leader has to be well versed in the regulations and rules, and apply them with integrity. Also not all such gamers are introverts.

    Basically, someone who runs a successful game is almost perfectly suited for the apprenticeship. Furthermore, there is a HUGE untapped market for our industry in the sorts of people who play these games – they are dismissed by the folks who are usually hired for the same reasons she wanted to dismiss them as applicants. Seriously, the number of tech workers who play golf (the usual means of bonding with clients) vs. table top games? Give me a break.

    1. Campfire Raccoon*

      OMG what a jerk! My son and his friends all DND and put it on their college app/resumes! It’s a huge thing at their STEM-oriented (very large) high school. They take turns being DM and spend a TON of time planning campaigns. This winter they’re all going on a camping trip for a forest fantasy campaign in an actual forest. Recruiters love to see that sort of team work, initiative, creativity, and leadership. It also helps them be detail-oriented, give well-thought out answers on the fly, and speak in front of groups. Your hiring manager is a turd.

      1. Campfire Raccoon*

        I’m going to add to this because I’m weirdly fired up. When the kids had to remote learn last year and couldn’t see each other in person, they organized 2 to 3 online sessions a week using discord and dndbeyond to store characters/maps/items/monsters. They adapted to working/socializing from home faster than most adults I know.

      2. Third Generation Nerd*

        I have to jump in to say the hiring manager actually listened, HEARD what I said, and even was on board with the idea of doing an event like sponsoring a tabletop night for a recruiting event. I was just stunned to realize what implicit bias was there, and how it clearly shaped the candidate pool.

    2. Anonymous here*

      I don’t get why people think someone who plays games with other people is asocial. Do the people they’re playing with not count?

      We recently hired someone (a white man and it’s pretty obvious he comes from money) at my job and he had “golf” as a hobby on his resume, and brought it up again when asked about himself in the interview. I kind of got the sense that it’s worked out for him to bring it up in his past jobs, but it fell a little flat with our current office, which is mostly ethnic minorities and women (hiring a white man actually increased our diversity; we hadn’t had one on the team before.) I mean, we didn’t count it against him, and he’s a good coworker, but it wasn’t the bonding point for us that he expected.

    3. it's me*

      One really just can’t assume “nerdy” = asocial/shy/introverted. Don’t believe me, just attend one day of DragonCon.

  42. Eponymous*

    Is there a good benchmark for how much work one should be doing at the next level up before getting a promotion?

    I’m currently at my company’s highest “field” title, but for nearly two years now I’ve been doing most of the work (>80%) of the “junior project manager” title. I had a meeting with my supervisor earlier this week to discuss what I would need to do to get this promotion, and he seems to think that I need to be doing close to 100% of the JrPM level work to be promoted. From my perspective that means I’m doing higher-level work for lower-level pay. I’ve spoken with a SrPM with whom I work closely and he thinks I should be promoted now and trained in on the last ~20%, but unfortunately this SrPM doesn’t really get a say in promotions.

    My supervisor is hung up on a few particular tasks that make up the 20% and I had to point out that a) I do at least half of that 20% for projects from other PMs and b) he doesn’t assign me projects where that 20% is applicable so it’s not really fair to judge me on this.

    1. ferrina*

      Is there a benchmark? Not really. It varies. There is no hard and fast rule though.

      I think the real question is- what will it take for your supervisor to promote you? You need to sit down and spell it out- “I’m really interested in the Junior PM role. What will it take for me to be able to move in to that position?” Try to get a list of tasks, metrics and a timeline. If it’s something where you need your supervisor to assign you something, see if it counts if you doing the task for the SrPM while the SrPM oversees your work. Document the conversation by sending a follow up email of the benchmarks and bullet points. If you see an opportunity to do a necessary, bring it to your supervisor. If they say no, ask why not (not as a challenge, but to get more information for what kind of opportunities you should keep an eye on).

      That’s assuming your supervisor is reasonable. But something in your story tells me there’s more going on here. Watch out for sexism/racism/agism- are the standards he is holding you to the same that he holds everyone to? Do you really have faith that he’ll follow through?
      Ultimately, you may need to switch companies in order to get the title/pay that you deserve. Unfortunately that is incredibly common. At least doing the higher level tasks will help build your resume!
      Good luck!

      1. Eponymous*

        It was at my half-year review earlier this month where I brought up this promotion, and the meeting earlier this week was specifically to discuss it. I do have a list of tasks and a timeline, but it’s hard to put a number/assign metrics to them. My supervisor has scheduled a follow-up meeting for several weeks from now, and I’m going to start documenting everything I do that’s JrPM-level, particularly if it’s for projects for which my supervisor is not the PM.

        I think my supervisor is fairly reasonable. I don’t think he’s sexist or ageist, or intentionally malicious in anyway. He’s just… milquetoast? inadvertently unaware? unintentionally limited? E.g., he just didn’t consider that just because I don’t do X for his projects that it doesn’t mean that I don’t do X for other PMs’ projects.

        However, I do feel that he holds me to a higher set of standards than some of his other supervisees, but I think it’s because of general competence and not because of age or gender. E.g., some slightly-more-senior colleagues publish final reports full of minor grammar and punctuation errors, but my supervisor will point out similar errors in my draft reports. It seems like at this point those colleagues have proven that they just can’t do any better so they aren’t worth correcting, but I can do better so I need to be reminded if I don’t.

        And I know he’ll follow through on this, because I’m going to pester him until he does.

    2. Anonymous Hippo*

      IDK what the norms would be, but I don’t think it’s fair for someone to have to take on any of the higher level job in order to be promoted. Demonstrate the ability to work at that level, sure, through projects or helping out with something or what not, but to take it on permanently, that just sucks.

  43. Cat Mom*

    I just found out that I didn’t get the internal transfer I applied for. It was several grades above my current grade, so it was a stretch. Do I ask about how the internal process works, or just thank the HR person for the opportunity and move on?

    1. ferrina*

      I would ask about what I could do to be a stronger candidate next time. It’s a pretty common question to ask, really.
      I wouldn’t ask how the process works at this point- that’s really question for when you are about to apply or when you have just applied. It would seem a bit odd at this stage.

    2. Decidedly Me*

      I’d thank them and ask for any feedback on steps you could take to be a better fit for the role in the future.

  44. Oscar's Trash Can*

    As a result of a reshuffle, I’m soon to be promoted to be in charge of my current department. One employee that I’ll be supervising works alongside me, but our current workstream is more parallel rather than interacting directly so I was less in the loop about his day to day. I am aware of a lot of his grievances with the company so far – basically he’s working long hours and wants a raise because of that and is feeling burned out. In addition, our titles were changed to be more streamlined with the rest of the company, and on paper, it looks like a pretty significant demotion (even though the new title makes more sense for the role he had).

    Now that I’m being promoted, I’m made aware of all of this feedback and areas for growth he really needs to tackle before that’s possible (think high quality, but low efficiency which is the main culprit of his late nights). Unfortunately, because we sort of operated without direct supervision, no one actually gave him any direct feedback on his areas for improvement even though he’s been working here for two years, so he hasn’t been given a fair chance to actually act on that. He’s been asking for a raise and has just had the question avoided rather than anyone tell him that he needs to improve areas of his work before that’s even a possibility. I think that he has a very different view of his work output than his peers do, and I can’t blame him for that since no one has given him any indication that they have concerns.

    I don’t know where to start managing him because I feel like I have to dump some harsh truths on him all at once and while the feedback is accurate and justified, it should have been given to him over a year ago rather than now -any advice on how to message that – validating his situation while not watering down feedback he needs to hear?

    1. LKW*

      Do you know the statements to be true? If not, can I recommend approaching the situation from a relatively fresh position? Since you’re receiving this feedback third hand, can you have a relatively open and honest dialog with him and say “Look, this is the feedback I’ve been handed, but I don’t know if this is or is not reality. What’s your perspective?” then listen.

      And the last manager may have had some chip on her shoulder or was conflict avoidant or whatever. So instead of assuming that the last manager was right – maybe take a step back. Tell him the things he needs to demonstrate to move up. And then discuss what kind of framework would enable him to meet those objectives and you to coach him so that he’s not missing the mark.

    2. MacGillicuddy*

      This stood out for me: “ low efficiency which is the main culprit of his late nights”

      Is this person putting in extended hours? Is he expected to keep up the pace? There’s a “diminishing returns” aspect to working really long hours. Nobody runs a marathon the same way they run a sprint. I’d look at the bigger picture here.

  45. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    What a difference a week makes.

    Everyone who advised me on getting Team Processing to include my team earlier in the process, your advice seems to have worked. I was involved in both issues that were troubleshot this week inside of 4 hours of the issue arising–a far cry from 18-24 hours that pass normally! And that improvement is before I could even get the email-group suggestion evaluated by Management. Thank you all.

    I’ve also been approached by another company about a role that I’ve been lobbying my current employer to create for the last 8+ years–half of the development I have been doing and half mainstream development. Such a position would allow me to leverage my niche development experience and knowledge to help the mainstream team to integrate it more effectively, and to help both teams avoid reinventing the wheel when unnecessary. Interviews are still being performed, but even if it doesn’t pan out, just being able to make my case to an interested and motivated party is a shot in the arm! (That it’s a nominal *and* effective promotion is a plus, too.) (Personally, it would also mean that I could show experience for mainstream programming jobs after 2-3 years and not be forced to find the niche programming if I found myself in a position where I needed a new job next week.)

  46. AMD2*

    I hired a housecleaner from and interviewed her, and at the interview we agreed she would work for ~8 hours every Wednesday for four weeks. I offered $20 an hour, which is slightly higher than I want to but I emphasized I was looking for someone who could work independently without micromanaging to help get my house more organized while I was caring for my kids.

    Her first day was Wednesday. She confessed she has untreated ADHD and other mental disorders. She accomplished in seven hours what I could probably have done in two, needed a lot of micromanaging, and could not remember general instructions like “Put all the electronics on this table” or “Don’t put plastic in the bottom rack of the dishwasher.” She said she really needs a detailed to-do list to stay on track, and, flustered at the time, I agreed to do that going forward.

    Do I need to try to make this work?

    Complicating things, she talked literally every second she was here, interrupting and talking over my children at times, and told me she has an extensive history of sexual abuse and trauma and this job is the first thing she’s gotten off the couch for in weeks, and she found it very therapeutic that I was “such a good listener.” (I didn’t have any choice! I tried a couple times to say I needed to talk to my kids/focus on writing and literally couldn’t get a word in.) I don’t want to give her a bad mental health blow, but I also don’t know if I could take another eight hours of her presence even if she was doing it for free.

    If I tell her I don’t want her back, what would be tactful wording to use? I know I should have addressed the problems while she was here, but her constant personal revelations about being molested, raped, and abused were throwing me off and making it hard to talk about the job. I don’t want to sound heartless – if she was a friend, I’d want to be there for her and support her, but she’s literally a stranger who’d been in my house for only a few hours!

    1. JB*

      You don’t owe this woman anything. I don’t know if has a policy on contracts and breaking contracts so you may want to read up on that. Otherwise, I would contact this woman and either say that this isn’t working out or lie a little bit and tell her that your situation has changed and you will not be able to use her services any longer and wish her luck.

      1. No Sleep Till Hippo*

        Honestly, it’s not even a lie. “I thought I wanted you to work for me, turns out I don’t.” Situation = changed.

        Adding my voice to the chorus of NOPE here – whatever this woman’s issues may be, the situation isn’t working *for you* (and her issues are her won to figure out – not yours!). That’s a good enough reason to say “Thanks, but no thanks” and move on. You don’t owe her anything more than basic courtesy and pay for whatever work she’s already completed. You’re absolutely in the right to find someone else who will better fit your needs.

    2. CatCat*

      You do not need to make this work. You don’t need to go into a lot of detail. “I am terminating our housecleaning agreement. Unfortunately, it’s not a good fit. Reflecting on last Wednesday, I need someone who can work more independently without detailed lists and with less conversation throughout the day.”

      If you want to add in anything more personal to address her struggles, you can. “I’m sorry for all the struggles and trauma that you have had. Unfortunately, I am not equipped to provide support on that front. Check out RAINN (give website and phone number), which provides help for victims of sexual assault and is in a better position to provide trained support or point you toward appropriate resources.”

    3. Caboose*

      Noooo, you do not need to try to make this work! You hired her for one day, and she did not work out.

      I’d just text or email to let her know that you won’t need her services again. Or just let the contact die out! You had such limited contact with her, and if you need someone to help reduce chaos in your life, she’s really not the person for that job.

    4. WellRed*

      No! No! Omg. I’m sorry she’s got a tough life but not only is it not your problem, she Didn’t. Do. The. Work. And your kids deserve better. And even a friend only gets so much if a pass on treating everyone as their therapist.

    5. Sparkles McFadden*

      Nope. You also don’t owe her any explanation. If you feel you need to say something just be vague and say “I no longer need your services.” Don’t open the door to a big discussion. You don’t want her there and talking about it makes it sound like you’re open to the idea of keeping her on.

    6. Chc34*

      You don’t need to make this work, but I also want to point out that your pay rate seems a little low for more experienced workers, so you might also consider if you’re going to get what you’re paying for.

    7. Cute Li'l UFO*

      Oh good lord no. Echoing the other sentiments. You hired her to do a specific job and paid her for the privilege of playing unwitting therapist. Please end the contract professionally and if has a review/flag system please do let them know.

    8. Nesprin*

      Nope! if she’d flubbed visit 10, you might cut her some slack, but if she flubs visit one while disclosing her history of sexual assault (ack), you hire someone else.

    9. Dark Macadamia*

      I’d just say something like “I know we discussed giving you a more detailed to-do list, but on further reflection I really do need someone who can manage all that independently so I don’t think this will be a good fit.” Wish her well but don’t even mention the personal stuff.

      It’s okay that you were thrown off in the moment – the oversharing alone would be super uncomfortable without the added circumstances that she was in your home, in front of your kids, and working for you at the time!

  47. DJ Abbott*

    Are there any Customer Service jobs that pay more than $20 an hour?
    I was bored in my pre-pandemic analyst job and laid off just before the shutdown. This gave me time to realize I need a lot more interaction with people, and I’m trying to move into either mid-level admin or Customer Service. Meanwhile I’m working part-time at a grocery store deli. It’s not a good place to work. No benefits, no raises, not even a lunch break on a seven hour shift, so I want out!
    I had my first interview since the shut down for a front desk position with regular hours and full benefits. It pays $16-$19 an hour. I was making $28 at my old job.
    Is this the best I can expect? Is there a way to move into a job working more with people that would pay more?
    Thanks! I have to work this afternoon, so I’ll come back this evening and see what you all say.

    1. fairleigh*

      Don’t know what kind of analyst you were, but lots of tech support people, or people who help tailor a company’s product to specific customers, make bank.

    2. Decidedly Me*

      It depends on your definition of a customer service job. For example, a Customer/Client Success Manager is very CS oriented (along with a lot of strategic work) and pays more than that in the postings I’ve seen. A tech related support role will pay more than non-tech one typically.

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      The more specific domain knowledge you can bring to bear, the more likely that you’ll be tier 2 or tier 3 support, and therefore can command a better salary.

    4. Littorally*

      Yep. I work in a discount broker-dealer (retail investing), and our entry-level customer service folks currently start at $22/hr, and it goes up quickly from there if you get onto the right track. Caveat is that you do need to be able to pass a bunch of licensing exams if you want to get onto the well-paying track.

    5. Anon this time*

      In my experience, $17/hour is the rate for someone who knows how to take care of customers but can’t necessarily answerer all their questions, and $22/hour for someone who loves working with customers and can answer all their questions.

      The last company I did customer service for, I started as the former and rose to the latter. I felt I was underpaid, but having product knowledge definitely translates into high pay.

    6. Alianora*

      I’m in a customer service-adjacent job at a university and make more than $20/hour. There are quite a few jobs like this at my university. My particular department provides a specific administrative service to faculty, so our “customers” are all internal, but there are also jobs working with students or prospective students, service centers on campus, and even positions that assist companies working with the university. It’s a good environment if you like helping people. The job titles are not going to have “customer service” in the title, but you can find them by reading through the descriptions.

      I do have to mention that I live in a very HCOL area, so depending on where you live, the universities near you may not pay as much.

    7. Caboose*

      I’d guess that customer/client support, specifically for a software company, would work well for you! Jobs where you’re helping support other companies are far more likely to pay well.

    8. Eden*

      I have a friend who made more as a Patient Access Representative, but I’m sure this depends on your geography. $20 in our HCOL area is probably not as good as $16 in many parts of the country.

    9. Skeeder Jones*

      I think it’s really going to depend a lot on where you live and the cost of living there. I live in a high cost of living and have had CS jobs at $18 and then more specialized roles were $25 and up. I’m glad I am not in CS any longer but I’m still CS adjacent (now I work in Learning and Development supporting CS positions.

      1. Fran Fine*

        Also look into claims adjusting. That’s very customer service focused, and you can definitely make more than $20/hr. (My entry level trainee role many years ago started me out at $20, and then after 8 months, I went up to almost $22/hr.)

  48. JB*

    A coworker “Elsa” spread rumors about me having an affair with our boss. This happened years ago but lately I’ve been wondering how I should have responded. I was a bit of all-star in the office at the time, processing cases faster than anyone else on the team and as I result I was rewarded with some cherry assignments. Elsa, who seemed to be jealous of other women anyway, I guess decided that because I was getting the good assignments I must be having an affair with our boss. She told a few coworkers who then told a friend of mine who told me. I didn’t do anything about it other than deny it to my friend. I should mention that I was not having an affair, I was never even alone with my boss and we were not flirtatious or unprofessional in any way. Elsa quit a few months later but her two friends would occasionally make comments to me at work over the next year or so. For example, when I lost 25 lbs, they casually mentioned that usually a person loses weight when they are having an affair. I let the comments roll off my back. Now that I’m older and no longer at the job, I wonder what I should have done. Ignore it? Report it to my boss? HR? I still sometimes see Elsa at industry events and we pretend to not know each other.

    1. WellRed*

      I would have told Elsa immediately to knock it off, and then probably would have alerted HR to get it documented. This could have had repercussions for you. I believe it also falls under sexual harrassment.

    2. LKW*

      I think telling your boss and HR together would have been appropriate. His career was also put in jeopardy.

  49. Certified Scorpion Trainer*

    I posted last week about having been accused of something terrible by someone in a different department in an attempt to get me fired. The accusation was false and it was dropped. Or so i thought.

    I spoke to my leadership (whom i distrust because they are chummy with Accuser). they chose to believe the accusation, though they brushed it off in a “it wasn’t THAT bad. Accuser tends to blow things out of proportion.” And they told me that all of my leadership knows and they believe the accusation, though they were ‘nice enough’ to defend me in that “it wasn’t THAT bad” way and basically told me to get over it.

    It’s unacceptable to me. The specifics that Accuser made up to seem more credible were easily disproven and when i brought that up, my manager casually says “oh, Accuser told me they got the details mixed up.” Yet they were still believed over me. They basically said it’s their word against mine (yet mine apparently has no weight). Even though it was proven that Incident That I Supposedly Did reportedly happened while i wasn’t even on location.

    When i asked them how am i supposed to work in an environment where the person who sits next to me tried to ruin my reputation and career. I was not only brushed off yet again, but i was told “well just don’t talk at all and they won’t have anything to complain about.”

    So I don’t even have to be present for garbage to be made up about me yet this is their oh so realistic solution.

    It took all my restraint to not walk out right then and there and never look back.

    Needless to say, am looking.

    1. Elle Woods*

      OMG. What a nightmare. I always err on the side of documenting things and would do so even more in this instance to protect yourself as much as possible.
      Hope you find something new ASAP.

    2. MacGillicuddy*

      Meanwhile I would document in writing what the person accused you of, and then in writing include the things that prove those accusations false. Send a copy to leadership, to your boss, and to HR.
      Also include something like “In spite of the evidence that these accusations are blatantly untrue, it appears that many of you continue to believe these falsehoods. This is very serious and I am appalled that there had been no consequences for the person who told these lies about me. Telling me that ‘it wasn’t that bad’ is not a solution.”
      You also might want to speak to a lawyer about this. You don’t know how these lies might follow you in future jobs.

  50. Unicorns & Butterflies*

    How many days do you miss a month?

    A coworker and I were discussing calling in sick or having sick children, mental health days, and vacation. And I have come to the conclusion mine and my children’s wellbeing should be more of a priority. I am a single parent and have been for the last 4 years. Pre pandemic, I was the parent to give my child as much medicine as necessary so I could work. I also was in a high stress, 60~hr week position. With the pandemic, I was burnout especially being deemed essential with no work from home luxury. I took a step down in position and pay to have sanity for myself and family.

    My coworker commented that I missed a lot of work. With vacation, sick children, and a mental health day, in the last year, I have been gone 1 day a month. Is this a lot? How many days do you average?

      1. Fran Fine*

        And dead wrong to boot. One day a month is not a big deal, especially if you have the leave allowance.

    1. Amber Rose*

      Seconding that your coworker is an ass. I get 20 days of vacation and 6 days of personal a year and you better believe I use them up, and I don’t have kids. Nor do I need them to want/need time away from work.

    2. fairleigh*

      1. If that’s how much time off you’re allowed, take it. It’s part of your compensation package.

      2. 1 day off a month is not a lot.

    3. Decidedly Me*

      For me, about that, but due to COVID reasons (I took less time than normal last year). However, with my upcoming time off for the rest of the year, it will average more than that (maybe about 2ish days per month). I’d say about 1-2 days per month average seems common for folks around me, too. However, I will say that sick time feels more disruptive than vacation time, since it’s last minute. People seem to notice folks that take a lot of sick time more than they do those that take a lot of vacation (even if the same amount).

      Overall, though, unless your manager seems to have a problem, I wouldn’t worry about it.

    4. Jean Pargetter Hardcastle*

      I average between 1 and 3 days a month. Your coworker 1) is nosy; 2) should be taking more time off.

    5. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I have a generous time off bank. I try to plan for 2-3 days a month off (I count holidays and whatnot in there) as a baseline. Most of those days have no plan or purpose.
      I rarely take sick time – I’m just kinda healthy I guess.

      Once we finally could take off time during the pandemic (we were mandatory OT for nearly a year), I started taking a full week off every couple of months, instead of ones and twos.

      Your coworker can suck a lemon. Unless you’ve caused tremendous burden on them by being out, it’s none of their business, and quite frankly, if your being out 1 day a month throws things out of whack, that’s not even your problem, it’s management’s.

    6. Campfire Raccoon*

      It’s your time off! Take it. My employees miss 1-3 days a month. Like Decidedly said, sick days are more disruptive than vacation days as they mean we have to redo everyone’s service schedule last second. Vacation days are often forgotten about because people tend to think of vacation days as “owed” and sick days as “excuses”. The smaller the kid, the more likely the employee is going to need days off. For most folks, this # drops dramatically once the kids stop putting things in their mouths all the time, and picks up again when the kids become teenagers but can’t drive yet.

    7. Carol*

      I’m in awe that you are a sole parent and you only have 1 day per month. I’ve had to do way more than that due to tightened pandemic illness protocols at school.

      Honestly, that’s not a lot for any human being.

    8. Former Retail Manager*

      I don’t think 1 day per month is a lot, buuuutttt you mentioned that you are essential, so I have to ask if your 1 day per month was prescheduled and created no burden on anyone or were you unable to come in at the last minute (which is totally understandable) which created a burden on your co-workers and/or the organization. I’m picturing nursing, but admittedly don’t know enough about the scheduling of nurses to know if one person calling out would mess things up or not, or if you even work in nursing! :)

      I can say that if you seem to be the only taking this leave on a regular basis, and it is creating stress for your co-workers or org, I can see some folks maybe being a pit peeved with you, rightly or wrongly.

      If the time is part of your benefits package, by all means, take it, but if it’s creating a hardship, even for only one day, month in, month out, that probably doesn’t reflect well on you. To be clear, I agree with you that your health and that of your children is the priority, but if you’re the only one using time that way, I can see some folks being upset. If you’re not hearing anything from your boss, then I say continue as-is.

      1. WellRed*

        But one day a month is only 12 days a year. That’s not a lot. If it creates coverage issues, that’s another issue.

    9. Policy Wonk*

      When my kids were younger they would bring viruses home from school, and I missed time regularly when they couldn’t go to school, or when I caught what they had. Childless co-worker complained bout how he had to pick up the slack for me all the time. (Spoiler alert – he didn’t. We didn’t even have the same function!) I would guess your co-worker is similar to mine. As long as you are actually keeping up with your work your leave sounds reasonable to me for someone with kids.

    10. Malarkey01*

      What’s common at my job (and seriously every job would have different norms), but many months we don’t miss any days and then we’ll have a few months where someone takes 5-10 vacation days at once. Someone out a day a month would seem a lot at our place even though we’re taking more than 12 days a year.
      When in doubt ask your supervisor or check out what others do.

    11. Elenna*

      I don’t even have sick children, but I do have 15 days of vacation and yes, I definitely use them all, not using them would just be handing back part of my pay to the company basically. 12 days of vacation + sick doesn’t seem like a lot at all!

    12. RagingADHD*

      I WFH and have a flexible schedule, but one year my kid missed 20 days of school due to illness –before winter break. My husband and I probably would have split that. So 1 day a month does not seem excessive at all.

      I am glad you are prioritizing your kids ability to stay home when they need to. I know you felt under terrible pressure to make those choices, but I also know that the other families in your kid’s school will reap the benefits along with you.

    13. Disco Janet*

      Uhhh I’m a teacher, so built-in breaks around holiday and summer. I take one day off a month (unless doing so isn’t possible because of time already taken for illness, my kids’ appointments, etc.) for mental health and feel no shame about that.

    14. allathian*

      Your coworker’s being an ass.

      Granted, I’m not in the US, we have quite a lot of vacation, sick leave, and also paid sick leave to take care of a sick child. We’re also entitled to unpaid leave to take care of other dependents/loved ones, if necessary.

      When I returned to work after maternity leave, my son got into a spiral of ear infections when he first went to daycare. When it was really bad, I’d be out on average one week every month. I totally get it that my then-coworker got sick of covering for me, but I was working a 6-hour day, and it made more sense for me to take the time than my husband. When my son was a bit older and I went back to full-time, we started taking turns, and also enlisting my MIL to come to our house and care for him during the day when he was a convalescent and not allowed back in daycare, but not actively sick. My MIL’s a retired nursing teacher, so when I had an important meeting I couldn’t easily reschedule and my husband had to go on a business trip, she volunteered to care for him even when he had a fever.

      My son was last off school in August 2020 with a cold (negative Covid test), I haven’t taken a single sick day since December 2019 (cold or mild flu).

  51. Rav*

    I’m getting ready to throw my hat into the job hunting ring. I am a USA citizen, have a Hispanic name and my 8+ years work experience is in Puerto Rico, which is a USA territory. The last time I tried job hunting, I had few successful replies, and I fear one dissuasion might have been my foreigner-looking resume. I know this has happened at least once, because I received a reply along those lines (basically saying they loved my resume, but they couldn’t hire a green card). I have since added “USA citizen” explicitly on the resume. But I don’t know if there’s something else I can do to reduce that impression.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Are you listing the employers by their official, Spanish-language names, or using an English translation?

      Like “Autoridad de Energía Eléctrica de Puerto Rico” or “Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority”? Going with the translation might help.

      1. Rav*

        I’m currently using the English translation.

        I have to revise it, so I’ll be on the look out for other Spanish wording.

    2. WellRed*

      I agree with translations but also, really check the language you use. For example, I’ve never heard anyone say USA citizen. Its usually US citizen or American citizen.

      1. Rav*

        I actually have American citizen on the resume. I don’t know why I remembered it USA citizen (although I’ve been using the latter when writing in international forums).

    3. capybara*

      I think that just listing you’re a US citizen should be sufficient. I’ve never seen anything more while reviewing resumes. I’d assume once you add that, if you’re still falling out of the funnel st the resume review stage, then there’s either some other opportunity for improvement in your resume or sadly, some people are being prejudiced regardless of your citizenship. It seems likely you would be glad to avoid working with people who would discriminate because of your name, though you’d know better about that. But assuming that most employers are following the law and not discriminating, I’d say the next step would be to get some good feedback on other aspects of your resume and make sure it’s representing you well.

      1. PT*

        I mean, there’s a bunch of really stupid Americans who think New Mexico is part of Mexico, not the United States. So some problems might stem from the fact that some hiring managers/HR legitimately do not realize that Puerto Rico is part of the United States, because they’re stupid.

  52. Trivia Newton-John*

    Well it’s been a week since my video interview for the remote position and it has been radio silence from the recruiter (although he knows I was not sure how it went). It’s hard not to be discouraged when I know I can do (and already am doing a lot of) the duties required in jobs that are above mine but I feel like I’ll never, ever get a shot.

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      If it helps, one week is pretty short timeframe. That said, assume you didn’t get it, save your notes and the job description for future reference, and keep applying.

  53. Mimmy*

    Second thing: Zoom connection issues

    My husband and I recently changed ISPs; instead of a cable modem, we now have a Wi-Fi device (T-Mobile). Since then, I’ve been having issues with Zoom where the video and sound get a little choppy. I use closed captions, so the sound choppiness makes it hard to follow in meetings.

    Also, I participate in Zoom groups with a volunteer organization (general chats, speaker series); during these meetings, I have been getting an alert saying “your network bandwidth is low” and even “your internet connection is unstable”. I use closed captions during these meetings too. Luckily I haven’t had that during work meetings aside from the aforementioned sound choppiness, but I’m nervous for when we go back into the office next month as we will still be expected to conduct meetings and instruction on Zoom.

    Things I’ve tried so far: tweaking video settings and using my phone as a hotspot rather than the household Wi-Fi unit.

    What has worked for you guys when there is video and/or sound quality issues during meetings / groups on Zoom or other platforms?

    1. Me*

      Your problem is an internet connectivity one. There’s nothing that’s going to fix that except fixing your internet. Turning off video will help but for many people that’s not realistic to just never appear on video.

      I had Tmobile internet for less than 24 hours. It’s simply not good enough to support my work. And yeah it sucks because I have to pay $20 bucks more a month for another provider than if tmobile worked well. I obviously don’t know why you switched. I switched to save a few bucks, but like I said, saving a few bucks in exchange for crappy internet wasn’t a worthwhile exchange for me.

      1. Mimmy*

        What if I just use my phone as a hotspot? From what I understood, it connects directly to the tower, taking our Wi-Fi router out of the equation.

        1. WellRed*

          I don’t know about hotspots but I can’t fathom changing service providers and getting a WiFi router and then… having to bypass the router. What is your internet speed? Google test my internet speed.

    2. Skeeder Jones*

      I use a wi-fi modem and found that it meant I sometimes have an unreliable connection to my work vpn (and with connectivity during meetings). I needed to connect via ethernet for something IT related and found that it is much more stable so I just left that ethernet cable connected. I used to come in and out of connection several times a day and now I have a consistent signal throughout the entire workday with no problem during virtual meetings.

    3. AcademiaNut*

      I’m a bit fuzzy on what you’ve got – where does your WiFi device get it’s signal from? But there are a couple reasons why this could be happening.

      1) Your internet plan doesn’t have the bandwidth you need. Solution: upgrade internet, or change providers.
      2) Your internet plan theoretically is fast enough, but a lot of people in your neighbourhood are doing high data transfer, and it’s getting sluggish. Upgrading may or may not help. If your speed is fine at weird hours (like 3 in the morning), but slow in the evening, or during business hours this can be the problem.
      3) Your internet plan is fine, your router isn’t fast enough (if your router is older this can be an issue). Solution: upgrade router. Also, some routers have two signals, one optimized for computers, one for cellphones, if so, use that. If this is the case, your internet will be fine when plugged in with a cable, but unstable with wifi.
      4) The internet is fine, but the signal at your laptop is too weak, due to things like walls. You can test this by moving closer to the router. You can get rebroadcasters that help with this.
      5) Check what else might be using the internet at the same time. If you sync to the cloud (Dropbox, Google Drive, etc), turn that off during telecons. Ditto automatic downloads on things like videogame consoles.

      If it’s the base internet that’s too slow, the only real solution is to upgrade. We had to do this for work from home, for heavy data transfer of work files, and so we could do two videocons simultaneously while being able to access web resources.