open thread – August 6-7, 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.

{ 1,321 comments… read them below }

  1. WonderMint*

    Would love some perspectives of those who made the jump from salaried to freelance.

    The past several months I’ve taken PTO from my salaried job to get ahead on freelance work (!!) It is my strong theory that if I network I could make about the same money freelancing, with the added benefit of flexibility, freedom and fulfillment. Any advice is welcome.

    Side note – This wouldn’t be a pivot, what I do salaried is in the same vein as what I do freelancing. My salaried job has no issue with me freelancing, so I’m not worried about retaliation at the moment. My boss initially recommended me to an associate of his which kickstarted my freelance career. I just can’t personally justify using PTO to work elsewhere.

    1. WonderMint*

      Side note to the side note – If you’re scratching your head wondering why on Earth would a company be okay with letting an employee freelance like this, know it is an open secret that our job is WEIRD. The pay and benefits are fabulous due to the cash cow of our parent company’s product (adult entertainment, which I do not work on directly) but management and business logistics have always been questionable.

    2. Callisto*

      I’ve never quit a FTP job to freelance, only used freelancing as a safety net during unemployment and as a side gig.

      That said, the general rule is to charge 40-60% more per hour than you would earn in FTP employment. This accounts for lack of health care, paying your own taxes, etc.

      Some things to consider: paying estimated taxes quarterly, investigating whether or not to create an LLC, creating templates for contracts and invoices, getting permission to use completed work as samples/references, setting up an online presence and making use of social in a professional manner.

    3. notacompetition*

      I left my FT job in September to do freelancing full-time. Same industry (marcomm). I’m inundated. I’ve had to turn away work! My advice for you:

      1. Save at least six months’ salary.
      2. Research retirement rollover/IRA options.
      3. Secure at least 1-2 retainers to start so you know you will be making X amount of money out of the gate.
      4. Talk to someone who can tell you about health care if you’re in the U.S. My health care premiums are more expensive now but it’s worth it to me. Really important to know before you make the leap.
      5. Once you’re out, let everyone know you’re freelancing. Tell your D&D group, your mom’s friends, your Uber driver, your professional network, your college alumni listserv, etc. You never know where you might pick up some work.

      1. FlightOfTheConcords*

        Congrats! And awesome! : )

        I did the reverse and left my long term freelance for FTE, but honestly……I’ll be back to freelancing in a year. I loved not dealing with office politics and there was so much gratification running my own business.

        Good advice about the retirement options, though. That’s one thing that I feel I really missed out on during my freelance years.

        And also great advice about charging what you’re worth.

      2. MissDisplaced*

        Yes on try to secure the monthly retainers.
        I’ve always had people ask my why I never started my own agency. This is why! I was never able to secure enough regular, ongoing work from 1-3 companies. I would also suggest those companies be as diversified as possible, to avoid putting “all your eggs in one basket” should one industry take a slump.

    4. LongtimeFreelancer*

      I did this and love it! Depends what kind of work you do but my top tips would be:
      –> to make sure to charge properly (so many freelancers start out asking for the same rate as they would want in a salaried job – yikes!). This article is a bit outdated amount-wise but good fundamental concepts: https://workischanging.ca/much-charge-pricing-tips-experienced-creative-freelancer/

      –> find established consultants/freelancers doing *complementary* services to yours and pitch yourself to them as a partnership. So, if you’re a copywriter, network with designers for example. If they like you, they’ll bring you into their projects or even introduce you to clients that you are a better fit for. Win-win.

      –> Get prospects on the phone as soon as possible. Doing business over email is not ideal, and makes it really hard to feel someone out. Also, don’t be afraid to ask something like “are you just shopping around right now, or do you have an idea of your budget for this project?” – people almost always answer this question, and it’s good info to have.

      –> It doesn’t have to be a formal contract each time, but follow up each call/verbal agreement with an email that puts all discussions in writing. Ask that the client reply to the emails confirming the information so you have a record of the agreement at that time. Also, be sure to get a deposit (50% upfront and 50% on completion is the standard in my industry) for all work.

      Those are my main tips! Good luck!

      1. LongtimeFreelancer*

        One other thing I just thought of – I would also recommend following some freelancers/experts in your field on Instagram/social media, if you’re a person who can get distracted by social media like me. My favourite is @jasminewilliamsmedia (she has some templates in particular that I’ve found really helpful) but there are lots of others depending what you do. I found having a feed filled with lots of like-minded entrepreneurs kept me motivated when I first started out.

      2. Lilly*

        My friend and I started doing marketing freelance work together mid-pandemic and partnering with complementary services has been vital. We work with several other agencies and our companies funnel work to each other constantly.

        Get yourself a lawyer and an accountant who specialize in small businesses right off the bat – we incorporated with the help of a lawyer, and we had to pay taxes two months after setting up shop. Both provided really reasonably priced services, with the understanding that we would be loyal and stay with them as we grew.

        If you’ve got a niche, embrace it. Flaunt it. Make it obvious on you profile / socials / website. We get comments all the time, “oh, you seem to deal a lot with pink petal painting on vintage teapots, interesting…It’s hard to find people in that space. We might have a client for you.”

        If people say, “oh you should chat with so and so!” Go chat with so and so, you never know where the conversation will go or what will come of it. We request a 15 minute video call, make up a list of questions (how they achieved success, their processes, recommended industry resources, what do they do) and just chat.

    5. Expiring Cat Memes*

      I went from a very demanding full time job to freelance. I was going through extreme burnout at the time and knew I couldn’t handle a crossover period doing both. I saved enough to allow myself a frugal lifestyle with 2 months off to recuperate plus 6 months to get my freelance work off the ground before *needing* an income.

      It takes time to build it up, and there will be seasonal ebbs and flows in work. Accepting that irregular income is part of the deal is important; if you can’t manage that expectation you’ll quit early and find another salaried job just as the freelance work gets traction. So a good financial buffer is important if you want to commit to it.

    6. Chc34*

      Figure out how much you should set aside for taxes, and every time you get paid, put that percentage of the money into a separate savings account immediately. Don’t even let yourself think of that money as yours!

    7. Sharon*

      Make sure your rates reflect all of your expenses, including taxes and insurance, and make sure you’re charging enough to cover non-billable time. For example, if you spend 3 hours on marketing yourself and billing for every hour you are working for a client, you have to figure that in. Keep great records of your business expenses, including mileage, postage, supplies, etc. It’s good to have a basic understanding of what is needed for tax records rather than wasting your time saving everything and paying an accountant to sort through a bunch of unnecessary paperwork.

      1. JT*

        HOW does one get that basic understanding of what is needed for tax records? That’s something I’ve started to hit a wall on.

        1. Sharon*

          I’d suggest asking for a meeting with whoever does your taxes. There are also a number of resources online (search freelancer tax records), but your accountant or tax pro should be able to help you customize a recordkeeping plan depending on your type of business, and explain the difference between personal and business expenses for things like meals, gifts and entertainment, home office space, and vehicles.

    8. Ghostwriter/Copywriter*

      I finally made the leap into full-time freelancing six years ago, after 10 years of doing it on the side. As you note, the flexibility, freedom, and fulfillment are wonderful! Not knowing your intended industry, role, or location, here are some general observations:

      –Earnings: While I do earn more than my previous salary, I now pay for healthcare, self-employment tax (ouch!), and all the expenses of running my own business. Understanding these costs helps me factor them into my rates.
      –Fluctuating income: My monthly income can vary wildly at times. Having a bigger cushion when I was starting out would have made this less stressful. If it’s possible in your field, structuring at least some work on a retainer basis helps even this out.
      –A contract: If you don’t already have a contract, spend some time (or consult an attorney) to draw one up tailored to the work you’re doing. Use it with every client, even if you know them well. I find my contract is most helpful in protecting against scope creep.
      –PITA clients: Lower-budget clients can be just as or more demanding of my time as high-budget projects. Trust your gut when considering whether to take on a new client. If you see red flags early — dickering on costs while insisting they need something ASAP, etc. — be prepared to walk away; such behavior rarely improves.
      –Increase rates: Review and raise your rates on a set date annually. Give yourself the raise you deserve! On occasion, I’ve used rate hikes as a way to jettison less-profitable clients or less satisfying work.
      –Network: in addition to networking with potential clients, build a network of other freelancers. Whenever I can’t take on new work, or when a client needs a freelancer with a different skill set, it’s nice to be able to refer them elsewhere.
      –Non-payment risk: Depending on a project’s size and my knowledge of the client, I limit my exposure to non-payment by getting a portion upfront, with further payments linked to deliverables/project milestones (with details in the contact).
      –Taxes: It took me five years to figure out that hiring an accountant to do my taxes would save time, stress, and money.

      1. FlightOfTheConcords*

        OMG yes, the low budget clients were THE WORST. So demanding, calling all hours of the day and night, super picky. I ended up not getting paid from a few for whom I did the whole website setup / development / design / everything and was in charge of their domains; I was honest in that if they weren’t going to pay me, their sites were not going to stay online. It’s amazing how quickly the checks came through when they realized that they weren’t getting all of my work for free.

    9. Nela*

      I’ve been a freelancer for 8 years now, I never regretted it, but the transition was quite stressful in my case. (I also remained in the same career.) From my experience, I’d recommend the following:

      Account for low season/lean months. Every industry has it, mine is usually in January and during summer months. Once I started expecting that, I stopped stressing over money.

      Embrace rush fees – that’s the freelance equivalent of overtime pay.

      If you don’t already have one, make a separate bank account for freelancing income, and transfer yourself a salary on your personal account. Pay all business expenses from your freelance account. Even if it’s only a pack of staples, it should not come out of your personal money.

      If your employer is open to part-time work, you can do that before you leave for good. If they value you, they’d probably like to keep you around for longer. That way you still have some stability as you’re building your freelance client list.

    10. ScreamingFlower*

      This thread has some great tips and advice. I am trying to pivot to freelance work as a virtual assistant. I am keeping my full time job for now until I am comfortable enough.

    11. New Mom*

      Is your current company open to allowing you to work 75%-80% (only if you want)? It might be worth asking if you enjoy your current job and the benefits but don’t want to work 100%. I had a coworker successfully negotiate down to 80% so she could keep her benefits and just take a 20% paycut.

    12. Jimmy Junior*

      Here’s my advice, as someone switching to a freelance industry that will NEVER pay as well as my current job. (For context, going from politics to private music instruction)

      1. There’s nothing wrong with easing into it, as long as you can find the time and head space you need for the freelance work. That means two sources of income, so I am a fan of stretching that out for as long as you like.
      2. Tax wise, I learned that I could ask my employer to withhold taxes equivalent to X extra income for the year – saving me the trouble of filing quarterly income taxes for my small business income while I keep my main job.
      3. Others’ advice on saving up an emergency fund is spot on.
      4. Charge the rates now that you will need to charge when you’re only freelancing – don’t lowball yourself because this is just for fun or because your early clients might heavily sample friends. Set the rates where you want them to be to support yourself long term.

    13. tab*

      I did it, and I haven’t regretted it at all. I do have a husband with a steady income and health insurance, so it was a very low risk move for me. I highly recommend taking advantage of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) near you. I met with an advisor there monthly for two years, and it was extremely helpful. I also talked to friends who started there own businesses, which gave me insight. I formed my company as an S-corp, so my husband and I could both be owners, and we have an annual meeting wherever we want. (Typically San Francisco.) I used Legal Zoom for the incorporation paperwork, and GoDaddy for my website and email. It was much easier and less expensive than I expected to set it up. I’ve been working on my own since 2010, and I love it. Good luck!

      1. Freelance perhaps.....*

        Wow! This thread is so timely. My situation is exactly like yours and I have researched the SBDC in my area. It’s wonderful!! I haven’t yet contacted them, because I’m still in the process of figuring everything out. At what stage did you contact them? I don’t want to waste their time. So far I only have a website and I am still searching for my first client. I haven’t even set my rates. I have 2 part time jobs currently, one of which I just accepted.
        Thanks!

    14. Dancing Otter*

      Be sure your contract / letter of engagement includes a clear definition of project scope – scope creep is common, and you need a way to say, “No, that wasn’t included in our agreement. It will take X additional hours / cost $Y extra. Should we go ahead or not?” And then get a signed addendum to cover the extra.
      Be sure to include payment terms. No, Net 90 is NOT prompt payment. But some of the biggest companies will try to get away with it. And be prepared to stop work if progress payments are not made as agreed. You could be putting that time into clients that actually pay your invoices.
      Professional invoicing is also important. If client XYZ needs invoices electronically in a particular format for their payment process, that’s what you need to provide.

    15. Orb*

      Here’s a tip no one ever gave me and that I’ve never seen warnings about anywhere: Know that you can’t get a mortgage as a freelance/contract worker unless you’ve done it for, at minimum, two years, and ideally longer. But you will fully be unable to get a mortgage no matter how ideal of a lending candidate you are if you have not been doing your full time freelancing for less than two calendar years, and after only two your options will still be fewer. Even if you have a year behind you and have contracts from clients showing you have another year of $X, no dice.

      And if you think, ok, well, then I’ll get a normal W2 job again when I want to buy a house, guess what! They don’t like that, either. They’ll say your new regular employee job is yet again a new career that is unpredictable, and you can’t get a mortgage again for at least another year and ideally at least two.

      1. ReFi Freelancer*

        Ugh I’m in the middle of refinancing now having been a freelancer last year … wish me luck!! I’m hoping everything’s been so crazy with Covid that they’ll be a little more flexible. Or that ReFi is different. After all if I’m a bad mortgage debt, they’re already stuck with me as a client.

        1. Orb*

          Now that I have no idea about. I would imagine it’s different when you refinance, but that’s purely speculation.

          I can say that I just talked to some realtors again recently and they indicated that there was about a 0% chance of me getting a new mortgage at the moment because my spouse and I both had pandemic related job losses in industries that crumbled so we’re in different kinds of careers now. I didn’t bother to talk to any lenders because I believed them, based on my experiences trying to get a mortgage in the past few years as a freelancer. First it was that I hadn’t been freelancing long enough, then it was that the nature of my freelance work had changed somewhat, now it’s that my normal job that I got since the pandemic dried up my freelance clients is again different than what I was doing two years ago. Every time I’ve been told by plenty of different places that they won’t lend to me because they don’t think my income is stable enough, and the fact that I make good money consistently for many years doesn’t matter. Got stellar credit, only a little bit of the debt they like to see with a nice long history of paying towards it, big down payment cash, high income, only looking for the absolute cheapest houses in my city. No dice. Been trying to buy a house for six years! Can’t get financing.

    16. SummerBreeze*

      I did this. I…didn’t like it.

      I was very well paid in my corporate job, and honestly that was part of the problem. I was very used to knowing how much money was coming in each month and I found the transition to NOT knowing to be incredibly stressful. And even though I saved up a big cushion before making the leap (100k!) I found myself constantly worried about income. (I have kids, daycare costs, a mortgage in HCOL town, and my husband is self employed so our healthcare costs were insane) I spent way too much time trying to find clients.

      For certain fields (I’m in communications) I think a lot of people are used to the low rates they see on places like Fiverr, which meant I was turning down opportunities because they paid laughably low. I also for me, discovered that I much preferred to do work where I was fully immersed in the brand, which is hard to do as a consultant when you have limited contact with people inside the company.

      I lasted less than 2 years, and frankly it would have been shorter than that but the pandemic happened halfway through and for a hot minute there I was very grateful for my flexibility. But I’m back in FT now, back to making the salary I expected, and am MUCH less stressed!

      YMMV. But I always bristle when I hear folks encouraging people to go freelance. It’s not for everyone!

      1. ReFi Freelancer*

        I agree that comms and graphic art seems to be less lucrative than it may have been in the past.

      2. Nela*

        I’d never encourage someone who isn’t already very motivated try it, because of the unpredictable nature you mention. And yes lowballing in creative industries is quite common, so unless you have a serious edge, people don’t get why things should cost as much.

        It’s definitely not for everyone. I’d say freelancing is most suitable for people who feel “unemployable” – strong dislike of red tape and authority, prefers to work alone, has a lifestyle that’s hard to fit into the 9-5 schedule, etc.

  2. Company Software Overhaul*

    My company is doing an overhaul to centralize all data. Bits and bobs of different software across departments/countries will be replaced with standardized options that everyone shares. This will apply to sales, engineering, R&D, technical documentation, advertising and media, supply chain, and IT.

    Vague question that may be difficult to answer: has anyone been through this type of project, and how long did it take?

    Why I’m asking: I’m looking elsewhere for a senior role, but my skills are outdated. My choices are to teach myself on my own time, or to wait this out and hope I can learn on the job before making a jump. Estimating how long it will take to hit the ground running is the cornerstone of my decision. If this is going to take up to ~18 months, I would probably stay. If this is going to take multiple years, I could self-train faster. (No timelines have been given, it’s all very new and still being researched.)

    1. Anonymoose*

      I’m sure this probably varies, especially by private vs. public and whether you have a dedicated IT staff. As someone in public service in a department with one systems person. Our research to implementation took 6+ years working with the software company. We’re still working on making the one big system fully integrated with multiple databases.

    2. Super Duper Anon*

      Honestly, probably years. My company is doing something similar, but only centralizing HR functions. It took at least a year to get their centralized HRIS system up and running and they are still working on other projects. Their roadmap they presented was at least a couple years of work. If you are centralizing ALL functions, its going to take even longer. There are going to be multiple battles and customization for specific departments demanding things that may not be in the main software, etc. This kind of massive change always takes longer than you think.

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Is this an ERP implementation? (SAP, Oracle ERP, Sage, etc?)

      If so, then depending on how big and complicated your business is, this could go on for years. It really depends on how large & complicated your operations are, from quite a few metrics: number of employees, number & complexity of product lines, do you sell one million $10 widgets or ten $1,000,000 widgets, how dependent you are on a complicated supply chain, whether your products and services fall under quality standards like ISO 9000 & 9001.

      It sounds like they haven’t even decided on a product yet – do they have consultants on board to help with product selection and implementation?

    4. Susan Calvin*

      Honestly, don’t wait either way. Unless you know for sure that the system you’re moving to is some kind of near-universal industry standard that your current company is basically the last bastion of not-using, I wouldn’t assume that learning that new system is going to give you any advantage in a new job, because they might use something entirely different (or a very different configuration of the same product). You’ll have to learn on your new job anyways, so why muddle it by trying to cram two different new things into your brain in quick succession?

    5. Iris Eyes*

      Well we started the process in 2016 and are still in the middle stages. So in my experience this is a years long transition.

      1. Another Annon*

        Same here. I thought by now at least the DOS based system would have been phased out, but 5 years later it is still around.

    6. Hiring Mgr*

      What skills are outdated that you’re hoping this project will level up? If this is all just still being researched (meaning you haven’t selected a vendor, etc.. ) i’d go with two years at minimum

    7. SoloKid*

      I did, and it took years and even then people had created “sub systems” withink the one option. e.g. one team uses one dashboard here, another uses another configured a certain way. Some teams had leaders not on board with the change so one product had to keep using the old system…it can be a mess if not everyone is on board.

      IMO you should learn on the job esp if it’s a fairly new software.

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

      It took 3 years for my org to update to a new Payroll software — there were rounds of testing and tweaks, renegotiating the contract to account for changes in scope, bringing in a third party to fix unexpected incompatibility issues, and running parallel for a few months to make sure nothing went awry. I imagine a project your size may take longer.

    9. Brett*

      I have been one of the critical people in this type of project. Centralizing enterprise data means that you can have experts specifically on data to manage it (data engineers and data stewards). The initial stage took about 18 months, but improvements have been ongoing for years now (since there are always new data requirements). Having software engineers who can build custom data APIs and data warehousing is critical to the effort though. A lot of places try to do this with third-party statements of work and commercial off the shelf software and it does not go so great. For commercial off the shelf, often licensing gets in the way where they could have been more successful hiring engineers and going open source.
      How your company is going to centralize data is probably key to the timing question. If they are hiring a company and using commercial off the shelf software, it will probably be ~12 months. If they are building internally and/or using open source, it will be longer. If they are building a data catalogue and developing appropriate metadata (they should) it will take longer. If not, it will be quick (and probably not go very well).

      Also, the fact that so many divisions are involved points to a multiyear effort. Normally you would want to role out division by division in phases for something like this.

      1. Brett*

        I should add that I did this for a major division rollout for a fortune 200 company, to get an idea of the scope I was part of.

    10. InsufficientlySubordinate*

      It depends somewhat on how big the company is/how old it is/how long people have been doing their own thing (how many parts are run by Excel spreadsheets and somebody’s written directions that have been photocopied 4 times). I’ve been involved in this sort of thing at both small and large companies, and I would say count on one year at minimum if it’s very organized (judging from you having a lot of technical data). Most of these projects are not well-organized or don’t have buy-in from various pockets in the company, especially if it’s a large company and require cultural buy-in. One large company I was at had been working at it for 2 years and probably had another 2 to go if all went well. A small company took a solid 6 months just to decide on a universal definition of Net Sales. My advice would be to go the self-train as it is very unlikely to be done in 18 months if they’re still researching.

      1. emmelemm*

        “A small company took a solid 6 months just to decide on a universal definition of Net Sales.”

        This is so unfortunately relatable to me.

    11. Wakeen Teapots, LTD*

      That sounds like five years to me from the senior management not a tech manager POV. We have an SAP implementation that we’re on year five of, last division on board hopefully end of year. (it might be year 6)

    12. Mr. Tyzik*

      Inhouse or third-party solution? Internal teams or vendor teams?

      Third-party, vendor teams are probably the shortest since they fix-bid based on delivery dates, but could still be 2-3 years. The other combinations will take longer, with Inhouse, internal probably being the longest (if ever completed). The cleanest platform change I worked on took a year of research and three years of implementation; another took 20+ years and is still in progress.

      I personally think learning on the job is better because you are practically applying the concepts as you learn them. Everyone is different. How do you think you would best learn given the amount of time you have?

    13. AnonymousHOU*

      My university is currently going through it’s second ERP-type implementation in the 7 years I’ve worked here. I am currently the subject matter expert in my department for both systems.

      The first was to centralize fundraising and marketing operations with a Blackbaud CRM, which is now stable but is continually being tweaked with new features and quirks 4 years later. Last month, we launched an Oracle Cloud product to cover everything else – budgeting, procurement, HR/hiring, appraisals, grant tracking, etc. It replaced like 10 different piecemeal systems, which is good, but the rollout has been rough.

      I’m unsure about your field, but my personal thinking is that the experience I gain working during these transitions is much more valuable than any self-training I could do on my own. I see it as a selling point not only on hard skills (knowing the quirks of different products and how to navigate them with real world examples), but also the very important skill of overseeing large-scale transitions, project management, and advocating for my team and department despite lacking formal authority.

      1. Wheezy Weasel*

        Agree – the best stories I have during my interviews relate to my on-the-ground experience in previous (usually flawed) implementations. I’ve only rarely been able to discuss something that I learned in a class or by myself.

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

      I’d say at least 2-3 years; a lot of the time will be analysing the existing stuff and how it can be applied to the new system, or how the new system can be customised to your applications.

      If you get a jump on teaching yourself this system could you be well positioned to ‘lead’ some of the migration process or be a subject matter expert? That could generate something resume-worthy.

    15. TooTiredToThink*

      Having worked both in the private and public sectors…. I am going to have to agree with everyone that this is likely to take a long time (more than 18 months) – especially if you don’t have a dedicated Project Manager overseeing everything and if the company is/isn’t putting money into additional resources.

    16. JQWADDLE*

      I went through this kind of transition at a CPG company. The initial plan for the project was 5 years with a phased deployment. There were some hiccups at some of the mill locations which caused later phase dates to be pushed out. It will probably be a 6-7 year project with the surprises/lessons learned from the earlier phases.

      It wasn’t a fun process. People were pulled from the team to be dedicated to the project. I got to support the legacy system and was doing the work previously shared by 3 people. The company was paying for us to get training, which I took, but between the additional work, 10 + hours of class a week and having a newborn, I got majorly burned out. You might not lose your mind like I did, but you probably should consider that your job might change a lot during the transition if you chose to stay and those changes could potentially make self study really difficult.

    17. Girasol*

      We did this. Some managers said “How hard can it be?” and set the deadline at four months. It took over two years, and that with the scope greatly reduced from the original plan so that the effort didn’t drag on forever. One of the problems that we faced is that each department that had a different format for the data, so (for example) one team had a long code string that was the part number, the color, and the size, while another had them separated. One had size to one decimal place while another had three. Different departments had category fields but their categorizations didn’t match. Several had “misc” fields that no one could explain but they were afraid to delete the data because it might be important. Some departments kept data others didn’t want or failed to maintain data that they did. So the effort involved not only standardizing the software, but getting everyone’s agreement on how to standardize the data itself. Then everyone’s different flavor for data recording had to be converted to the agreed-upon model and all the applications had to be rebuilt to use the new data format. In your case, of course, it will depend on the amount of data, the number of different department data models in use, the amount of variance in how different groups store and use the data, the amount of resources given to the project and so on, but it’s likely to be a bigger effort than people think at first glance.

    18. Office Pantomime*

      I run these types of projects and agree with others that depending on size it could take years. Much depends on focus and commitment from your org’s leaders. Can’t overstate that part. Haven’t seen anyone suggest this, but if you were to position yourself to take a key role on the project, you could raise your skill set and have a major achievement on your resume. I’ve seen several careers get catapulted forward from stepping up on major initiatives like this. Just a thought.

  3. Creatives*

    Those of you with side projects that relate to your career, how do you decide whether or not to integrate them into your day job (mention them on LinkedIn or other social, bring up successes in interviews, etc.)

    For example: copywriters who write fiction, music teachers who write jingles, graphic designers who paint/draw.

    1. RagingADHD*

      As soon as I started getting paid for the work by strangers, instead of just exchanging favors with friends or having stuff posted on free sites.

    2. Caboose*

      I have a portfolio website that I link on my resume (as in, an actual clickable hyperlink, not just the URL) and in my email signature. Doesn’t have to be super splashy, but it keeps things nicely organized and makes it easy for interviewers to look at.

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

      I wouldn’t list any side projects, even paid, unless they were applicable to a new position I was applying for. If I’m a graphic designer applying for graphic design jobs, I won’t list painting/drawing unless a) the job asks for that skill set AND b) I want to use that skill set in the job, rather than keep it as a separate side project. For me, a professional graphic designer, I do several creative things on the side both as hobbies and sometimes paid, but they aren’t a career path I want to take or something that I want my employer to call on me to do for them (photography, sewing, jewelry).

      1. Mental Lentil*

        This is a really excellent point. We recently interviewed a person for role A, but he had a lot of experience in role B also listed on his resume, which is part of the reason we brought him in.

        During the interview, he repeatedly stated that he didn’t like doing role B and didn’t want to do role B. For the love of ramen, then why would you list that on your resume?

        The same is true of a portfolio. If you’re using it to get work, I’m going to assume that you’re willing to do everything you list there.

        1. Fran Fine*

          During the interview, he repeatedly stated that he didn’t like doing role B and didn’t want to do role B. For the love of ramen, then why would you list that on your resume?

          He probably doesn’t read here to know that your resume doesn’t have to be a complete listing of your work history, but rather a carefully curated marketing doc that shows your best accomplishments in the area(s) you hope to focus on in the new role.

    4. whoknows*

      I do mention some of my side projects in my resume, and will bring it up in interviews, or as appropriate at work.

      I don’t know that I think it’s appropriate to mention for every job and industry, but I think the individual can best answer whether it’s work related. For example, I work as a librarian, and my side projects are freelance nonfiction. Not really the same fields, but there’s enough demand for those skills within the scope of my day job that I feel justified in mentioning it as a strength. Basically, if it adds to your assets, rather than distracting from them, then mention it.

    5. SummerBreeze*

      I work in communications and have a side career as a traditionally published author and ghostwriter. I am open about my writing online — and my work! To me they interweave and demonstrate my talents in complementary ways. My Instagram is primarily book focused, my Twitter is a mix, my LI is primarily work but I absolutely post there when I win awards or have a cover release.

      I spent a lot of time stressing about how/whether to blend it all a few years ago and then made the active decision not to care and just do what I want :) 10/10 would recommend.

  4. HannahS*

    Has anyone successfully transitioned from one workplace culture to a very different one? What helped you make the shift?

    I have a friend who’s really struggling with transitioning from a process-oriented workplace with a polite, sophisticated style of communication to a faster-paced, less-structured workplace with a more aggressive, less emotionally-intelligent style of communication. From our many, many talks about it, I’m getting the sense that he’s still communicating and expecting to work in the way that he did before; it’s not working and he’s MISERABLE.

    There are definitely some very real issues contributing (covid burnout, one manager is genuinely a jerk), but to me as someone who already works in a fast-paced, unpredictable environment, some of the things he complains about are just different from what he’s used to. He often asks me for support and advice, and I think work would feel less terrible if he changed his own style and expectations a bit to align with the workplace culture. I do have some ideas based on specific anecdotes that he’s told me, but I’d like to hear from others on what was helpful for you in adjusting to working with less structure or a blunter style of communication.

    1. animaniactoo*

      This is not help with doing that – but a suggestion that he may not be able to adjust. If so, this is a culture fit issue for him in the truest sense of a culture fit.

      I work in a company that has gotten better over time, but nobody blinks when somebody says that working there isn’t for the faint of heart or that you have to be a certain kind of person to handle working there.

      1. InsufficientlySubordinate*

        Yeah, I worked in an industry like that, and I burnt out on it and won’t go back. Forcing myself to be a person who can deal with it, really didn’t work in the long run.

        1. Nesprin*

          Yep- the converse works as well. Going from fast paced, unpredictable scheduled, flat hierarchic institution that tolerates brusque communication in the pursuit of greater efficiency to a institution where polite and sophisticated communication and process dominate is literally just as miserable.

          Am burning out on having to manage my coworkers feelings instead of my work.

    2. Smithy*

      This doesn’t address the lack of structure – but I can speak to having a job in an environment where the style of communication was far more blunt, aggressive, etc than I was used to. I was working in a country outside the US already known for having a more aggressive style of communication and in an office that even by that standard was tough with the additional of unprofessional anywhere styles of yelling.

      With the issue being two fold, the first being a different cultural style plus jerkiness initially I received a lot of advice that I would do better if I adjusted my style and I at first heard that as needing to mirror the style of boss. I was actually far more unhappy trying to match that aggressive style than I was knowing that my more polite/nice style irritated her.

      Where I did find success in changing my approach was in emails/written communication. First, I had more opportunities to review/reflect on my writing as opposed to how I reacted in the moment during a conversation. Second, I found ways for my writing to be shorter and more terse that still felt like me. Shifting an email to a list of bullet points worked with the style, but I also saw the professional benefit for that job and beyond.

      Ultimately, my lesson was to focus on shifts that fit the culture but also fit myself. If I was going to expend some professional capital by not yelling back at my boss, but it ultimately made me much happier – that was worth it. But it was a choice I made proactively.

    3. Mynona*

      Just try to help him see it as an issue of different office cultures.

      I moved from a supportive, flat/non-hierarchical office with progressive management to a hierarchical dinosaur from out of a time capsule. All the behaviors that benefitted me in my old office–contributing ideas in meetings–are negatives now. Realizing that helped me adapt and made day to day work less upsetting. Obviously, I still don’t like my office, but my field is really competitive so learning to make do with bad management is an important skill.

    4. AuroraPickle*

      Imagine the workplace culture as a person you’re getting to know. That person has a very different communication style but the intentions are there. You listen and adjust your style to meet their needs and when they listen put some of your own out there and eventually, at the end of the day, decide are you going to work together or are you not going to bother?

      The key point is to focus on intention behind communication rather than being reactive to the perceived impact.

    5. EngineerDE*

      I am struggling with exactly the opposite! I worked in manufacturing for 12 years and it was hectic, everything was urgent, and successful people tended to be aggressive. I made a switch to corporate R&D, where we’re all quiet in our labs and cubicles, everyone is so polite and supportive and decisions are generally made through discussion. I’m still making the shift. Partly I think that it just takes time and patience, but also a commitment to make it work. Does he really want to make it work? Also, when I worked in manufacturing I ended up creating a lot of the structure for a variety of reasons, but I had a role where that was possible but not required. That might work for your friend if he decides to stick it out. In my current, quiet job, everyone is so friendly and supportive including my manager I feel grateful to work here.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Ugh. Expecting Company #2 to run the same way Company #1 ran is a real job killer. And it can really tick off the people at the new job.

      You are indicating that you have had many talks about it. For yourself, decide how much more of this talking you want to do. This will help you figure out what you want to say and it may impact how you deliver the message.

      I think the number one thing that has helped me to shift with the new employer is my own willingness to change and adapt. Has he changed jobs before? How did that go?

      Another question I ponder is how much do I want the job? Yeah, most people need to work but that is different from wanting a particular job.

      I am kind of skeptical because he views their style of communication as “less emotionally intelligent”. Using myself as an example, if I start thinking this way, I scold me and remind myself that because I see the problem that means I can take steps to be part of the solution to my own problem. You might explain to him this is who they are and it is up to him to find in-roads on communicating with them, IN SPITE of this concern.

      Actually I prefer a blunter style of communication after having experienced it. I don’t mind read and I don’t do that great with “hints”. (Grr, I really dislike that word.) I found it a lot less stressful if people just say what they mean or what they want.

      How long has he been at the job? If he is unwilling to change then his workplace is going to be misery until he leaves. It’s his choice in the end.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, this. I like direct communication where I don’t have to softpedal to get my point across, but then I’m also fairly senior in my IC role. This doesn’t mean that it would be acceptable for me to yell at or insult other people when they make my work more difficult than it needs to be.

    7. Anonymous Koala*

      Honestly I think the only thing to do is accept that the culture is different and mentally gear yourself up for it. It sounds like your friend has some internal work to do – really asking himself if he wants to continue with this job, and if he does, committing to engaging with the company culture without judging it. Also since the work is faster paced, detailed checklists for some of the common processes might help. That way he won’t have to rely on memory when he’s switching gears quickly, and things will be less likely to fall through the cracks. (Not that things are falling through the cracks now, but as someone who prefers slower cultures myself, the anxiety from quickly shifting demands is real.) Making the lists is more work up front but it pays off later.

    8. Rhymetime*

      I was previously in this situation. I worked hard to change my expectations and adapt, and I gave it time to see how things would go when a new manager was brought on. I talked with our HR director, who was supportive, about how I could do my best work. Like your friend, I was me who was complaining to my friends about how miserable I was at work.

      After two and a half years of trying, I realized that I would never be happy there because I wasn’t the right fit for the place, and decided to find a new job. That was freeing, knowing that I had done my best to make it work. Six months later I found a new position that was a better match for me. If your friend has given it time and done what he can to adapt and it’s still not working for him, it could be time to leave.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        Yes, sometimes you can’t fit no matter how hard you try.
        I’ve come to realize I hate working in a huge matrixed organization where you have to go through 5 departments to get even the simplest thing accomplished.
        I came from companies with flatter structures, and a lot more DIY hands-on duties.

        After 3 years I’ve realized I will probably never adjust or fit into the matrix. Sadly, it’s hard to even say you have any real accomplishments there, because you are literally forced to hand projects over to other teams for execution. And if those teams don’t give a shit, they will execute poorly and you can’t do a damn thing about it! Basically, you become a project manager, not a problem solver.

    9. DataScientist*

      You can’t change culture as an outsider so if he is making zero effort to conform to some of the norms of that team then he will continue to be miserable. I completely agree with the person who suggested finding ways to assimilate to the new culture that still feel natural to them. Observing people who seem to do well & modifying/adapting their behavior to fit his personality can be a good start.
      We have had a couple of people move on from our team because the fit wasn’t right and they could not adapt. One person complained about the team being rigid and not trying new things because they would not adapt to his methods…meanwhile all suggestions to adapt his method were met with blank stares and a regurgitation of why his method is the right one.

    10. Marketing*

      I lasted about a year before I began job searching for the polite, process oriented corporate culture I’d left. I found the drama and blunt personalities draining. Some people just do better in a larger, more orderly organization, and that’s OK!

    11. BayCay*

      I went the opposite way; I went from a fast-paced culture of terror to one that is driven but not panicky and everyone is treated like an actual human being. Being in a toxic workplace can really mess up your expectations with workplace culture and I know that it took me a long time to adjust again to a healthy environment where I wasn’t afraid on a regular basis.

  5. SlimeKnight*

    I have a Zoom interview next week in state government. I’m a male and usually I would wear a suit and tie. Should I still wear a suit a tie? Or would it would be weird to do that?

    1. State Worker*

      I work in a State government office – I would like to see a solid color shirt with a tie, no jacket necessary.

      1. Paris Geller*

        This is about what I would expect to see where I work (local government), but a suit definitely wouldn’t be weird or too formal.

    2. Littorally*

      I would do it. Treating a Zoom interview as formally as a face-to-face interview cannot hurt, especially for government.

    3. Kimmy Schmidt*

      I think you should wear what you normally wear, especially in government. A suit and tie sounds very normal for a Zoom interview. I would do a camera check before your interview just to make sure everything shows up correctly on screen.

    4. Sangamo Girl*

      I sit in interview panels for technical positions for state government. I wouldn’t find a suit weird at all.

    5. CatCat*

      If a suit and tie is normally expected in interviews in your line of work, it would not be weird to wear that on a Zoom interview (but it might be weird if you DON’T). I don’t think the fact that it’s government makes a difference. I’m in law and government and it would be weird if I were not formally professionally attired during an interview, even a video one.

    6. A Simple Narwhal*

      I don’t think it would be weird at all – I’ve run a few remote interviews, most (if not all) of the interviewees dressed as they normally would for a regular in-person interview.

    7. The Dude Abides*

      No, it would not be weird.

      It would (probably) be very weird coming to work in one, but for an interview you should be good.

    8. Spreadsheet Enthusiast*

      I’ve gone through a few interview for federal positions lately, and I wore a white button up with a tie every time. I considered a suit jacket/blazer but decided against it for no reason other than I thought it would look too stuffy in what was clearly the living room of my apartment.

      Re: Zoom interviews, I would double/triple check your all settings before the interview. I had one interview that followed a game night with friends,, and, despite checking the video framing and sound settings, I failed to catch that my display name still set to “John is stinky” as a devastating insult to a friend until my interviewer named John asked about it…

      1. Purple Cat*

        Oh no. This is so, so funny. But I feel awful it happened to you. What did the person say??

        1. Spreadsheet Enthusiast*

          Thankfully they understood, and we had a good laugh about it. It might’ve even helped break the ice a bit because the rest of the interview felt very comfortable (how could it get any worse??), and I’m assuming it didn’t hurt my candidacy too much because they asked for a follow up interview the next day!

    9. Unkempt Flatware*

      I work in state government in C-suite management. A suit and tie would be expected for hiring one of my peers, would not be considered odd for hiring one of my staff (but a shirt and slacks would be fine as well), and would be odd if hiring for street-level bureaucrat jobs.

    10. Fed*

      I do interviews on the Federal Level, if someone is not in a suit and tie (for men, suit for women) they don’t get interviewed, that’s in person and virtual. I also have then stand up. They are told to be in a suit and we wear suits ALOT!

      1. Unkempt Flatware*

        Wow. I would feel so gross if someone asked me to stand up and show myself in a virtual interview. So gross that I probably would not and end it there. Is that what you meant by, “I also have then stand up”? How do you feel when you ask that question?

        1. Venus*

          It depends on the job, right? It sounds like Fed lives in a suit, to the extent that they mention it to prep for the interview, and it would not be my workplace style but I think it is reasonable if it suits the job.

          1. Unkempt Flatware*

            I’m not balking at the suit. I’m balking at the “now stand up and really show me you’re in a suit” in virtual interviews.

    11. MissDisplaced*

      It does not hurt to wear a suit! Plus, it puts you in the interview mindset.
      But you’d probably also be ok without the suit jacket as it is summertime. So at minimum a solid long sleeve dress shirt and tie.

    12. ChattyAli*

      I work in state government in the judicial branch in a red state. A suit and tie is still very much standard for interviews.

    13. LANbeforetime*

      A suit won’t be odd but I also probably wouldn’t blink at a nice button down shirt, no jacket.

  6. Lost Horizons*

    Has anyone worked in assisted living or a nursing home and had a good experience? Particularly on the admin side? I previously worked in a skilled nursing facility and didn’t have the best experience, but a job opportunity as assistant administrator at an assisted living cropped up and I’m tempted. It would give me an opportunity to work with some of my fabulous former co-workers and would, I assume, set me up for future opportunities in the industry. Still, while I’m sure I could be great at the job, I’m not sure I want to go for it if it’s going to be as demanding and stressful as my experience at the SNF.

    I’m hesitant because my previous experience in the medical field was for a company that was constantly overloading us with more work than a human could accomplish in a day, provided such an insufficient budget that it was impossible to maintain the building and run an office with that amount, and they turned a blind eye to horrible management that included yelling at employees, denying PTO requests with no justification, and, in the case of one department manager, coming to work with COVID symptoms and infecting other employees. Needless to say, I was not impressed by the experience and found it very stressful. Particularly the time we were out of copy paper for nearly two weeks because it wasn’t in the budget to buy more. Or the time our time clock broke and, rather than buy a new one, the company wasted time trying to find a replacement at another building so I had to manually enter 120 employees’ punches for nearly a month until they broke down and bought a new one. I’m exhausted just remembering how demanding that job was, and much of that happened before we even got into COVID!

    My other hesitancy is that it seems like the company sees this as a feeder role for administrator/executive director of the facility. I’ve never been particularly ambitious career-wise and I value my work-life balance. A position like that seems like something where I’d be on call 24/7. While I would prefer more meaningful work than admin in a manufacturing company, I’m not sure that assisted living is the right fit either. Can anyone share your experience in the industry?

    1. Hellllloo*

      I worked in a similar setting as an administrative assistant and really enjoyed it, but left due to the lack of progression. The org I worked for really committed to providing great care and made sure this was shown through recruitment – I’d run from any company that doesn’t screen you carefully, even if they’re desperate for staff. Also, see what government ratings say and look at any inspection records you can access publicly.
      You mentioned on call but generally this is only for managers and some senior carer staff

      1. Lost Horizons*

        Thanks for your insight! This actually would be a managerial role as the assistant administrator, and the role they ultimately want me to move into would be the administrator of the whole building. I’m not sure that’s a path I’m keen to go down since it seems like the kind of role you never get a break from.

    2. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      I worked on the management side of a SNF and I think the question is “is a for profit or a non-profit organization”? If it is for profit the focus will be on the all-mighty dollar over the expense of employees and residents. The for profit SNF’s are notorious for running a place into the ground, selling, and then moving to the next organization to purchase. Rinse and repeat. Non-profits are a little better and here I think the biggest factor is the head administrator’s and the boards approach. I worked at a non-profit where the Admin wanted to run it as a for profit. It was the worst 5 years of my career and I would never go back to SNF work for any amount of money.

      1. Lost Horizons*

        Thanks! That pretty much confirms what I suspected about the industry in general. The SNF I worked for was very much for profit, and it showed in so many of their patient care decisions and employee safety procedures during COVID. I was not impressed by any of that, but secretly hoped assisted living might be different. Alas, the company I’m considering is indeed for profit.

    3. The Director of Weird Stuff*

      Oooh, an AAM post I can actually reply to (long-time reader, first time commenter). My apologies for the length of the following; I work in the field, it is great, and there are lots of things to consider in terms of stress/work-life balance.

      For background, I work in fundraising for a nonprofit Life Plan Community that has independent senior living, assisted living, memory support, short-term rehab and long-term skilled nursing. I started as an executive assistant to the director of independent and assisted living, and my current role is campus-wide.

      One thing to keep in mind is that AL licensure is governed by the states. Because AL typically can’t accept Medicare/Medicaid (there are some exceptions), the Center for Medicaid Services has no jurisdiction. This means that in my state at least, AL requirements are less stressful than skilled nursing requirements. There are regular surveys and they do want to be sure that you’re complying with regulations, but there are fewer regulations and the entire model is less adversarial. Your focus will likely be more on providing an overall excellent experience for the residents and less on ensuring compliance with a huge amount of regulations.*

      In terms of work/life balance, our director of independent and assisted living is usually able to present for kids’ school performances, etc., and she takes a couple of weeks of vacation most years. The past year was of course an exception; everyone was working long hours, and there were a lot more questions from residents and families to field, due to all the COVID restrictions. Now that things have settled down somewhat, I’m sure she works in the evenings and on weekends, but she does make an effort and I believe achieves a healthy work/life balance most of the time. Our organization really tries to support this for everybody, though, so I am sure it is different elsewhere. You would want to pay close attention to the culture surrounding this at all levels of the organization.

      That said, there are some very stressful aspects to the work. For one thing, even in our restriction-averse state and in AL, COVID has dramatically affected operations. Though nearly all of our residents are vaccinated, one case in a staff member means we have to shut down group dining and group activities for two weeks–we just came off two weeks of this. The director has to make this decision and the announcement, field resident/family inquiries, and help team leads like recreation and dining adjust operations on the fly. Second, staffing was a major issue even before the pandemic, and it is reaching a critical stage in the industry generally. If you are short-staffed, you have to limit the number of residents you admit, which can lead to budgetary issues. If you are getting pressure from above to admit even if you don’t have the staff to support admissions, you will be caught between a corporate rock and a miserable staff hard place. That sounds horrid to me, and I would want to ask a lot of questions about what ownership is like and also what the precise staffing challenges are in your area.

      One other thing and then I’ll stop: the size of the community matters. If it’s big enough that there’s a marketing director who does sales, a nursing director who supervises the CNAs, a recreation director for activities, etc., then you will be able to focus on big-picture issues and smooth running of the community. In some smaller communities, the administrator handles sales and has much closer oversight of all functions. So, you want to get a sense of how many hats you’d wear and how that fits your preferences.

      *I don’t want to suggest that these regulations are not necessary–just that my observations suggest that the highly regulated environment of skilled nursing can create a lot of stress, especially if you as the administrator have responsibility for ensuring compliance but not a lot of power to make changes or less than strong support from your leaders in nursing, dining, etc.

      1. Lost Horizons*

        I really appreciate your thorough answer! I also like hearing that someone has had a positive experience in the industry. You’ve given me a lot of good topics to discuss with them that hadn’t even occurred to me. Particularly the part about whether there are departmental leads to handle the individual functions of the community, or if that would fall on upper management. Lots of great info here so I thank you for the time and effort you put into responding!

    4. elle*

      Everything I hear from my friends and neighbors who all work in nursing home care from LPN to RN to management is that they are incredibly short-staffed and burned out right now. They just cannot keep the jobs filled resulting in unbelievable amounts of overtime unfortunately.

  7. EngGirl*

    About to give a performance review to someone who does really good work but has a punctuality problem
    (Before anyone asks yes it matters in this job). Wish me luck!

    1. Ozzie*

      Good luck!!! Hopefully they’re receptive to that one point of needs-improvement. The fact that they do good work otherwise will hopefully soften the blow!

      1. EngGirl*

        It actually went really well! They kind of already new and they’re a newer employee so they’re still finding their feet. But they were receptive so that’s a win in my book

        1. Distracted Librarian*

          Good for you for addressing it right away, so the employee can correct the behavior before it (and their reputation) becomes too established.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      If this is really the case, then you need to enforce the consequences if it’s broken too. I’m not saying not to give them a chance to fix it, but at some point it’s got to be like 3 strikes and fired.

      Harsh, but some jobs do require a punctual person to be there on or before time. It’s not the job for some people whose lives seem to run habitually late.

  8. Little Lobster*

    How do you deal with disappointment in a job that initially seemed like a dream come true?

    I was laid off from my last job, Job A, in April 2020 due to covid. I was a Lead Llama Whisperer. In many ways, that job was a nightmare. But in many other ways, it was a dream. The company was a dysfunctional mess, but I LOVED the work I did. It was exciting, it felt like it mattered, and I was really, really good at it. I was absolutely a rock star in that job, and it felt great to do great work.

    After I was laid off, I fell into a pretty deep depression. For a variety of very real reasons, I knew I’d never have another job like Job A. So I lowered my expectations by a lot, and started looking for Llama Groomer jobs.

    After over a year of being unemployed and applying to everything like crazy, I found a Llama Groomer position with Job B, working under the Senior Llama Groomer. Throughout the interviews, I liked them a lot. The company was decidedly NOT a mess. My interviewers were really intrigued by my background as a Lead Llama Whisperer, and after 3 interviews they offered me a dual role as a Llama Groomer AND Lead Llama Whisperer. My title would be Lead Llama Whisperer. I was elated. I knew there would be a lot of Llama Groomer work involved, but I figured that would balance out with the Lead Llama Whisperer work.

    And then the actual offer came. It was bad. Low salary, low PTO, no perks. I negotiated my salary up to what I was making at Job A, but I felt weird about the whole thing. However, I didn’t have the choice to not accept. I’d been unemployed for well over a year at that point, and I had no other offers. I accepted the offer, and started 5 weeks ago.

    It’s been really disappointing. There has been no Lead Llama Whisperer work. There’s such a glut of Llama Groomer work that it takes up 100% of my time, and that’s not going to change. The Senior Llama Groomer seems like she feels threatened by my title. I rarely get the information I need to do the Llama Groomer work, no matter how much I pry, so everyone seems disappointed in my work, and I have to re-do it.

    I just feel really beaten down. After the last year, I was desperately hoping this job would turn out great, and so far it hasn’t. I know it’s only been 5 weeks, but I wake up every morning dreading coming into work, and after spending all of my 20s in jobs that made me feel that way, and after spending 2 years at Job A where I loved going into work, I was hoping that part of my life was over. I’m in my mid-30s, I don’t want to waste my life feeling like that anymore! Also, I still feel really weird about the offer. Job B is really great culturally, they’ve put a lot of work into making this a highly functional workplace and it shows. But the work itself is beating me down.

    (I actually wasn’t doing nothing for the last year. I was doing freelance Llama Groomer stuff. There wasn’t enough work to make anywhere near what I’d been making at Job A, so I never considered going all-in on freelance. But, I realized that I loved working from home. Something about the vibe and lighting in offices gives me daily headaches. I was taking ibuprofen everyday at Job A, and after I was laid off I never got headaches. Now that I’m back in the office at Job B, I’m back to taking ibuprofen everyday. I hate it. I loved working from home. Job B is not chill with remote work.)

    I obviously can’t quit, so now what? How do I deal with the disappointment and frustration? The thought of spending 2 or more years here before I can start looking for something else makes me feel panicked. I don’t want to be a trouble-maker, and I really am thankful for any job after a year of unemployment, so I don’t want to talk to my boss about how I’m feeling. At this point, I’d rather just mask how I feel and keep my head down. But I don’t know how to deal with the disappointment and dread.

    Any advice is really appreciated!

    1. not a doctor*

      Start looking elsewhere now! Who says you have to wait? You’re not going to look like a job-hopper if you have a solid work history, and this is clearly a bad fit.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This–you don’t have to wait. Plus (and this sucks) it’s easier to find a job when you have a job.

      2. Wilbur*

        “Why did you leave your last job?”
        “It was pitched as mongoose shouting and mongoose grooming, but turned out just to be grooming. I’m looking for a role that involves more shouting at mongeese.”
        It’s a 100% acceptable reason to leave a job, and you should feel fine about leaving. Start looking, everything is fine.

      3. Luna*

        Or you could leave them out completely. As a hiring manager, I’m pretty much wiping out all of 2020 when doing interviews.

      4. Fran Fine*

        I agree with the start looking now advice. Your job search may take longer than usual, so it doesn’t hurt to get a jump on things (but I hope you can get out soon!).

    2. Ozzie*

      I think it’s notable that you recognized early that it’s not a good fit, so you don’t end up stuck there. I do want to ask though, as someone who has struggled with depression their entire adult life – is that coloring your perspective at all? I’m not saying Job B isn’t for you – both might be true at the same time (and often are). I’ve just found that very often, depression makes things that are bad but manageable, totally unmanageable. Are you seeing a therapist to work on your depression?

      I would recommend seeking professional guidance first and foremost, if you’re not already – depression just puts a black cloud over everything, and when something is already not great, it just makes it worse and harder to deal with. Then, I’m not so sure it would necessarily be a BAD thing to continue looking for jobs on the side – while it’s obviously ideal to be at a place for 2 years before going elsewhere, if you’re truly unhappy there, is that something that should really hold you back? I’m not so sure the benefit of 2 years on a resume outweighs… literally all the rest of the bad. If you know a place isn’t right, it’s not right.

      In the mean time, hopefully dealing with and treating your depression will make things a bit more bearable. (it will also likely make job hunting easier, since I find that it makes already difficult tasks feel completely and utterly insurmountable) It’s ok to be disappointed. It’s also ok to stay somewhere because you need the money.

      Also, is there anything keeping you from building up your freelancing business on the side? If not, that’s also an option, so that you could perhaps transition away from working for someone else entirely. (or, if you have the savings, devote your energy there entirely – but I know that’s easier said than done, especially now)

      1. Little Lobster*

        There’s definitely something to your idea about depression. I think that’s making the situation worse. I cannot currently see a therapist because I haven’t accumulated any sick leave yet. I desperately want to see a therapist, though. There’s just always some reason (leave, no insurance, etc) that I haven’t been able to for the past year.

          1. Fran Fine*

            I co-sign teletherapy. I work from home full time and do my appointments either over the phone or online, usually toward the end of my work day, and it’s so convenient. I will never visit a therapist’s office in person again if I can help it.

        1. Ozzie*

          VERY relatable. I’ve looked to tele-therapy, as MissGirl mentioned, maybe that’s an option? (I also have not been able to convince my brain to do so, so I get it. But it’s something to look into to see if it’s right for you!)

          You’re not alone in this struggle Little Lobster, for what it is worth. Be kind to yourself! (but also definitely keep that job hunt going!)

        2. Time’s Thief*

          Seconding MissGirl’s plug for teletherapy. I meet with mine over zoom and it’s been so nice that I want to stay online even once she’s doing in-person again. It’s so much easier to find the time when I only need to close my door.

      2. Little Lobster*

        Yes, depression is definitely a factor. Unfortunately I can’t see a therapist right now because I haven’t accumulated any sick leave. I desperately want to, though, I know it would help.

        1. Working Hypothesis*

          There are therapists who work via Zoom call and are available on weekends or after business hours. You are very likely to be able to find one who will see you at a time when your work doesn’t expect your presence.

    3. Smithy*

      Definitely start applying now. You have the title of Lead Llama Whisperer and are currently only doing llama grooming work, so for any interviews you get – you can always explain why you’re looking is because you had hoped your position would be X% Llama Whispering but due to the massive Grooming needs – you have no time to do any of it. There’s no need to flag any of the other issues.

      It may be that you don’t necessarily get the all of the interviews you’d want, but I would not get sucked into a trap that says you *have* to stay for two years before you can start applying.

    4. Happy*

      This is totally happening to me right now. I left a job because of really bad COVID protocol (they said all the right things but forced me to get a babysitter during COVID) I left for another job where they rehired the person I replaced so I had no choice but to look landed another job that I researched very well and turns out their COVID policy is not much better. Also struggling with what to do.

      1. Little Lobster*

        I’m really sorry to hear that. Cases are really ramping up in my state, and so far my new employer has been totally silent about it. Not sure what to do about that, either.

    5. animaniactoo*

      You can keep looking for another job – you can’t quit with nothing lined up, I understand that – but it doesn’t mean you can’t get a head start on lining something else up.

      But – you can also hit your manager up and be specific: “I’m encountering some issues that I need to resolve to be successful here. I’m not getting information needed to do projects/the job correctly, even when I have explicitly asked, so I’m constantly needing to redo things. And my understanding is that there would be a significant amount of Llama Whispering work, but so far there hasn’t been any. When will I be able to focus on doing some of that work? It’s important to me as something that I enjoy doing and understood would be part of this job.”

      1. Product Person*

        What animaniactoo said! I’d talk to your manager first about not being given the info you need to complete the work correctly the first time, and wait to address the issue of lack of your preferred task later.

        Even if for now you don’t get to do the job you like the most, the fact that you title mentions it is useful, making it easier down the road to have your resume noticed for future openings in that field. And the first step to find time to start doing more of what you like is to stop redoing work because you didn’t have enough information.

        I’d focus on solving this problem first, and wait to talk about start doing your preferred work AFTER you have successfully addressed this big issue that 1) is impacting your productivity and 2) your manager is the best person to solve.

    6. Camellia*

      You say, “I rarely get the information I need to do the Llama Groomer work”. I think you could focus on this, using one of the many scripts that Alison supplies when bringing up issues that are preventing you from doing your job. It sounds like you could do the job very well if you had the info you needed, so if you could get them to open the info pipeline, maybe that would help.

    7. CatCat*

      Agreeing with “not a doctor” that there’s no reason not to keep your job search going, even though that feels really demoralizing to have to do!

      There are a couple of things you can address while still there. You say, ” I rarely get the information I need to do the Llama Groomer work…” I would tackle that one head on with my manager. Really, just put it out there, “I have found that I am not getting all the information needed, like X, Y, and Z, to successfully complete the Llama Groomer work. Where should I be getting the information from?” Maybe there is a resource that they have neglected to tell you about (in my experience, people take what they know for granted… I was a year into a job before I even knew a certain resource manual existed that would have been super helpful for me).

      The second thing to address are the headaches. Talk to your doctor about that to verify if lighting could be the cause. I have had colleagues who get headaches triggered by fluorescent lights. It turned out this was relatively easy for employers to accommodate by removing some or all the overhead bulbs over the effected employee’s work area and setting up desk lamps. I don’t know if that will resolve your headache issue, but could be worth looking into.

      I’m sorry it has turned out like this for you and I hope it gets better!

      1. Autumn*

        There’s a lot than cause fluorescent lights to flicker at speeds that cannot be seen by the naked eye but that can cause wicked headaches nonetheless. Some people are even sensitive to fluorescent light functioning normally. For me, an old, about to fail tube or a failing ballast can bring on a migraine. Yet other people notice nothing.

    8. korangeen*

      Oof, that sounds really rough. As not a doctor said, you definitely don’t have to wait to look for jobs again! If you manage to find something that’s a better fit, I doubt anyone would fault you for leaving Job B. In the meantime, you can take some pleasure in having a reliable full-time income again (congrats by the way on negotiating the salary up to Job A level!) and continue trying to make B work. You say it’s a highly functional workplace, so have you been able to have a conversation with your manager(s) about why the work is so different from what they told you it would be during the interviews? Why would they give you a llama whispering title with no llama whispering work, and how come you’re not getting enough info to effectively do the llama grooming work? (If they’re not able to reconcile this, then it really doesn’t sound like a highly functional workplace…) The work may or may not get better, but perhaps the disappointment and dread can be dulled with the knowledge that you’re still actively looking elsewhere and that at least you don’t currently have to worry about money. The office lights and headaches suck though.

    9. Moonbeams*

      I would definitely start looking for another job.

      In the meantime, would it be possible to have a conversation with your boss about what the priorities of your position should be? The reason I ask is because I was in a similar position for a while–I was hired because of my expertise in X and was responsible for several areas, but one of the areas required so much attention that it took up most of my time. It was an area that didn’t require much skill or education to manage, and had frequent emergencies that couldn’t be ignored.

      I toughed it out for a year, but then I talked to my boss and found that she didn’t realize how much time of my time was being taken up by these tasks. She definitely wanted me to focus on my area of expertise, so she reassigned the lower level things to someone else. It made me feel a lot better about my job, because not only did I hate that part of it, I felt guilty about neglecting the other areas that were a better fit for my qualifications.

    10. Dust Bunny*

      Keep looking.

      I have to be honest–I would take the fact that they offered you the dual role later as kind of a red flag that they probably weren’t going to prioritize it and that you’d mostly get sucked into llama grooming. My experience with situations like that is that the first job is their priority and the second is a cool idea but not one they’re likely to make a reality.

    11. beach read*

      Have you considered an employment agency? I’ve had good experiences with them. I felt like my representative really took time to get to know me and the skills and experience I had to offer. I was able to clearly state what I was looking for and then they matched me up with their client who had a great temp opportunity that was not exactly my experience but within the same industry. Most temp jobs have an expiration date, but many lead to full time employment. I also found that I was interviewing for positions that would never be found posted on a job board so in that way I was lucky.

  9. Sammy*

    I’ve been asked to join a few interview panels for new hires. I’m not the decision maker, just one opinion in a group of four and the lowest opinion since I’m the newest. I’ve never been on this side of the table for interviews before, any tips?

    1. Putting the "pro" in "procrastinate"*

      Think about two or three skills that are really necessary to be successful in the job — if you’re going to be this person’s teammate, think about what skills you would like them to have that would make your life easier — and come up with behavioral questions that encourage them to give specific examples illustrating those skills. For instance, if collaboration is important, you could ask, “Tell me about a time you collaborated with a colleague on a project. What was your approach to the work? How did you plan the work, divide it up, stay in communication about it, give each other feedback?”

    2. State Worker*

      This is a great opportunity for you, it’s a great way to connect with coworkers you don’t usually get to see, and to learn about what senior personnel are looking for. This can help you as you move up in the organization. Ask to talk to one of the other (more senior) interviewers beforehand to get a feel for what to expect. Don’t underestimate your value to the panel, you bring fresh eyes.

    3. irene adler*

      Get straight on what skills/experience/knowledge is actually needed/desired for this position-ahead of the interview. Sometimes the other interviewer(s) will focus on something that turns out not to be all that important in performing the job. Or they have little ‘pet’ things they like to see. Don’t let these get in the way of what is truly needed for this position. You don’t have to argue with folks asking about these ‘pet’ things; just focus on what’s important. Make sure these get asked about.

      Have some good initial and follow-up questions ready that pertain to the things deemed important for the candidate to possess. The others are more likely to ask all the obvious initial questions (or not; depends upon how well prepared the other interviewer are). You want to be a good listener during the interview, and be ready with the ‘follow-up’ type of questions pertaining to the desired skill/experience/knowledge already asked about. Draw out the candidate if you can.

    4. Susie Q*

      One thing to think about is does the panel actually value your opinion or do they just want you to agree with them? In your first couple of panels, when giving feedback I would default to be one of the last to provide feedback and observe how the others give feedback and how that relates to their position in the company. I’ve been part of many panels at many different levels and sometimes the main decision-maker does not care about your opinion – you are there as a formality.

    5. Free Meerkats*

      Since you’re doing panel interviews (I’ve done a lot), you’ll be ranking the candidates. So, even if the first candidate is a magical unicorn who wrote the book on doing the job you’re interviewing for and wrote the software that they’ll be using, resist the urge to give them 5s across the board. Rate them toward the middle of the road so if another candidate is the magical unicorn with a golden horn who taught the first unicorn everything they know, but not everything the second knows, you can rate the second higher.

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        Adding onto these great suggestions:

        Create a rubric, with each score well-defined now, e.g.

        5 = Will greatly contribute in this area
        4 = Will be a pretty good asset
        3 = Will contribute
        2 = Needs training
        1 = Needs significant training

    6. ecnaseener*

      Be ready to answer questions about the role (especially if you’re in a similar role) and the team/culture – candidates will see you as the most likely source of truth for certain things, as the most junior person.

    7. Brett*

      Read some of the interview advice here, both for interviewers and interviewees. Especially questions to ask or expect to be asked (again, both sides).

      Use this to build a list of behavioral questions you would like to ask. I have a list of about 10, and then pick 2-3 that I want to use for that particular interview.

      And then, look over the resume. Assess several items:
      What experience do they have that interests me that I want to know more about? (These should be “tell me about the time in role x when …” questions. Not just “Tell me about your experience with skill x”)
      What red flags do I see that I want to have explained? (I normally ask about these very early in the interview)
      Where do they have gaps? (Ask both so they know their own gaps, and in case they have relevant experience they have left off.)

      If other interviewers don’t ask, make sure you understand (by asking):
      Why they want the job? (It might be just because they need a paycheck. I tell interviewees up front that this is okay if they want nothing more out of the job than a paycheck. But if a candidate wants to learn new skills, or switch careers, or work with a certain type of environment and we don’t offer that, that’s really important information for both of us!)
      Why are they looking for a new role? (Because maybe your role is a great fit, and you want to highlight this, or maybe it is a bad fit, and you want to highlight this as well. Let them make an informed choice.)
      What would they hope to get out of this position? (Same as above. Highlight how you can help their career goals, or, if you have to, note that it is a bad match.)
      The three items above will help you make sure that you get your first choice for a position by being able to match your role to their goals. Or help the candidate self-select themselves out if the position matches up poorly for them (rather than both of you finding out 6 months later that it is a bad fit).

      Just because you are the newest doesn’t mean you have the lowest opinion. If you come prepared and ask good questions, yours might end up being the most respected opinion!

    8. Nicki Name*

      Have a consistent set of questions and figure out what your criteria are for a good candidate ahead of time. That’ll help keep you from falling back on unconscious biases.

      Read the candidate’s resume more than 5 minutes ahead of time, so you know if you want to ask questions about anything specific on it. I’ve been in too many interviews where I think some interviewers are just reading it for the first time when I’m sitting there.

      Take notes! It’s a stressful situation for everyone and you won’t remember as much as you ordinarily would.

    9. I'm just here for the cats*

      I’m in the same boat as you. Have some interviews on Monday and I’m nervous

    10. De Minimis*

      I had this experience recently. Try to summarize what you thought of each candidate, positively and negatively. Where I work we will usually give our thoughts immediately after the interview. It’s good to have something to say on both sides, assuming there’s something both positive and negative about the candidate. Don’t worry about finding something unique to say, just show that you were paying attention and thinking about the candidate’s potential fit or lack thereof.

    11. Siege*

      NB: My workplace is totally dysfunctional. Decide whether you trust the people on the panel with you. I’m on a hiring panel with two of the three worst employees in my organization (we are the first line of defence, not the final decision makers, thank God) so I’ve formulated my clear understanding of what I want for the role we’re hiring for, and I will be pushing for that outcome in my recommendations to the second-tier hiring committee who does have hiring authority. (I work closely with all positions in my organization, and I am the only person here who does, so I feel very fine with deciding that the best hire is someone I can work with.)

      So think about what makes people in the role you’re hiring for good employees to work with, and decide whether you trust the rest of the committee to be on the same page. It can help to explicitly have a meeting to discuss the skills y’all think would be a good fit, especially if you can review resumes and discuss skill transfers, because maybe you want a Llama Groomer who knows the ins and outs of different llama brushes, but you’ve got a lot of applicants coming in from Chinchilla Care And Breeding and it’s useful to decide whether expertise in chinchilla perches are transferable to llama brushes.

      If you decide that you don’t trust the people on the committee, get ready to dig in. Decide that based on whether they are people who are easy to work with (the two on my committee are routinely insulting but of course it’s “humor” and delay others’ work by not completing their parts, etc) and people who do good work, not just whether you like them. If you can’t trust them, don’t worry about consensus, stand up for what you need.

    12. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      Seconding the advice to speak to others on the panel to get a feel for how these things usually go and how much you are expected to actively participate — they obviously want your opinion or you wouldn’t be there, but some companies prefer panelists to weigh in after while others will want you jumping in if questions occur to you in the moment.

      Don’t be afraid of asking questions that relate to fit, which is something that comes up again and again at AAM. Do people need to be able to work more independently, or is chatting with colleagues a huge part of office culture? Could your team use someone who is a real stickler for details because you already have a lot of “idea” people and you want that down-to-earth balance? How does collaboration on projects work and how will the candidate adapt to that?

      Also thing about what the best employees at your workplace do and see if you can ask questions relating to those skills, whether soft skills or technical ones.

    13. stornry*

      Talk to the panel lead – ask them what they are looking for and how they think you might be of help. When putting together a panel, I have sometimes deliberately included someone from a totally different area in order to, in a way, balance things. For example, I have one supervisor who is excellent and finding a candidate able and willing to do the work but can’t quite nail down how to find someone who will work well with others as part of a team – so I always pair them up with someone who can suss out those soft skills.

      1. Wandering*

        Yes, this. Also find out what format they use for interviews. Some places have a fixed set of questions for each interviewer, some for the team with each taking a question in turn. Some have their personal list of standard questions; you want to have questions that don’t duplicate those lists. Some places let team members ask whatever they like.

        Think about how to take notes on things that may not speak directly to your list of questions. Eg, does the candidate pay equal attention to interviewers in turn, focus on just one person, etc; is there an evident pattern to their questions if you? Do they ask some of the questions Alison recommends? If not, might you nudge them toward some of those you find particularly notable? (Do you have questions about the work culture? Expectations (in general & in starting out)?

        Are your notes going straight to the interview team lead? Will you all meet to discuss the candidates once you’ve finished, or to discuss them individually as you go? Etc.

    14. Anabel*

      If you are like 90% of the folks in my industry you are likely to expect too much of candidates, especially as the newest person on the panel. Consider this a good opportunity to learn from your co-workers and reflect on how much you’ve learned in your role.

      While it can be problematic, I try to think about what kind of co-worker I’d want if we were having a really bad day. Whatever a really bad day looks like in your industry. For me I want someone who can find solutions to hard problems, can be resourceful, can work respectfully with a team in a high stress environment, etc. And then I come up with questions about those things. “Tell me about a time when ____” is an interview standard for a reason.

  10. Little Beans*

    How do you handle alarms in the morning when you and your partner have different schedules? My partner just went back to working in person this week for the first time in a year and a half. He has a much earlier start time than me, plus a commute, while I am still working from home. He is a rather heavy sleeper and it is really important that he be on time to work (he’s a high school teacher), so his alarm is loud and it always wakes me up earlier than I need to be up.

    Another factor is that we had a baby during the pandemic and we now have a 14 month-old who still doesn’t always sleep through the night. Pre-pandemic, when my partner’s alarm went off, I’d usually wake up but then just roll over and go back to sleep. Now, my sleep is a lot more precious to me and I’m a lot less happy about being woken unnecessarily, especially if it’s the second or third time that night. Any suggestions besides sleeping in separate rooms?

    1. Amtelope*

      Would a smartwatch or fitness tracker wristband vibrating alarm work for him? That might be less likely to wake you up.

      1. OneTwoThree*

        The alternate doesn’t HAVE to be for him. (I agree that it is ideal.) Although his alarm clock is loud, eventually the OP’s body will learn to tune it out and focus on the light, fitness tracker, etc.

        1. hamsterpants*

          I have not had this experience simply learning to tune out a partner’s alarm, just fyi. It depends on your body and sleep habits. What did help for me was what others suggested, physical methods for me to tune out his alarm, plus him committing to actually get up at the first alarm rather than snoozing 3x.

        2. Anhaga*

          If you’re already on alert for sounds of unhappy baby, it’s hard to tune out anything, unfortunately. I was a horribly light sleeper when my kids were very small.

      2. Little Beans*

        I can’t wear earplugs because I have to hear the baby. And we tried a sunrise alarm years ago (pre-baby) and it didn’t work well for either of us. But hearing lots of votes for a vibrating watch which sounds like it could work!

        1. Ontario Library Employee*

          My husband sleeps right through his fitbit vibrating (but the sound of it vibrating on his wrist would wake me!). So he has an alarm on his phone and I would wear ear plugs. When my son was young, I’d set the baby monitor to vibrate mode and put it under my pillow. It could be calibrated so it only vibrates for loud crying VS a little fussing.

      1. SnowWhiteClaw*

        I second this! I have a vibrating FitBit alarm that wakes me up without waking anyone else.

    2. lost academic*

      This is a challenge because you do need to be able to wake up at night for the kids but not early in the morning when not needed. This solution really has to come from your partner – what will work for him? Before kids, my partner HATED my alarms (especially if I ever hit snooze) because he got to start work much later and had almost 30 minutes less commute as well). I eventually got a FitBit Flex2 (don’t need a smartwatch) and tested it out to find that it was enough to get me up.

      But I’ll also say that on days/nights where sleep is critical we sleep in different rooms. It’s not worth it.

    3. Alice*

      Get him a smartwatch or wearable wristband, and have him set a vibrate alarm. I have an inexpensive one myself. I used to annoy the entire house due to my three very loud alarms (not a morning person) and it’s been a life changer.

    4. Rosie*

      Is he more responsive to touch than noise? Would something like the vibration alarm on a fitbit or Apple watch wake him (especially since it will repeat again 5 minutes later if not manually turned off)?

      That’s what’s been saving my marriage/sleep for years — both of us have haptic alarms and it doesn’t wake the other person unless they’re already nearly awake. AND it doesn’t wake the kiddo in the other room!

    5. Person from the Resume*

      I don’t have a partner, but I find a sunrise alarm clock with 20 minutes of rising light and ending with with very soft nature/bird sounds a gentle wakeup. And if i notice the light before the wake up time and want to stay asleep I roll over and cover my eyes to get less sleep. If your partner is getting more of the light than you because its on his side of the bed it may do a better job of waking him and allowing you to sleep.

      1. Mockingjay*

        You can buy microchip lightbulbs for your lamps that do the same. They sync to a phone app. It’s so nice to wake as the room slowly brightens with soft, warm light. Put one on his side of the bed.

      2. Anonymous Koala*

        I love my light alarm! My partner is really sensitive to noise and he works nights so my alarm going off 2-3 hours after he went to bed was awful. The light alarm saved us.

        If it’s feasible, I would also suggest sleep earbuds with white noise (the noise canceling ones block out everything). They’re a little expensive but they work really well. I’m not sure if you need to be able to hear a baby monitor for your child, but if so, some monitors have Bluetooth and will connect to earphones so you can hear them but not anything else.

      3. allathian*

        I have a light alarm and it works like a charm. I have to be exceptionally tired to wake up to the sound of the alarm. I can’t use the birdsong alarm, because otherwise I’d wake up to real birds singing outside my bedroom window in spring and summer.

        I can’t use earplugs, because I can’t fall asleep with them in my ears, they seem to make my tinnitus even louder and I also hear my own pulse. I could use the sort of eye mask you can get for sleeping on an airplane, though. It’s not an issue for us because my husband and I sleep in separate bedrooms.

        1. BubbleTea*

          I have a sunrise alarm with birdsong, and found that I can differentiate between the real birds and the alarm ones quite well. The real trick, however, was to learn to wake up to the dog jumping off the bed when HE heard the start of the alarm birdsong – he could tell the difference very clearly and heard it several seconds before I did.

          These days I don’t need the dog or the sunrise clock because I have an infant alarm. I miss the days of needing an alarm clock. I miss sleep.

    6. Ace in the Hole*

      What about a vibrating alarm? I’ve seen them in the form of wrist bands. It makes a little noise, but not nearly as much as a loud alarm clock, and may be just as effective at waking him up.

    7. A Simple Narwhal*

      My husband and I both have apple watches and the alarms just gently vibrate on our wrists, no sound. It’s a surprisingly effective alarm but it doesn’t disturb the other person. We both used to have fitbits, which also have a vibration option, but I found them to be louder and oddly less effective than the apple watch. It’s definitely a less expensive option (and they may have improved, I haven’t had a fitbit in a couple years so it’s totally possible the later ones are better), so it’s worth looking into if you don’t want to shell out for an apple watch.

        1. Silence Will Fall*

          I wear mine to bed. I charge it when I’m getting ready in the morning and put it on before I leave. (I keep a backup cable in my purse so I can charge at work/in the car, if I end up leaving in a hurry.)

        2. Irish girl*

          i put mine on the charger around 90 mins before i go to sleep to get a full charge. The sleep app on the watch also has a setting that will tell you based on your bed time when your watch needs to be charged to get enough juice to make it overnight.

      1. Little Beans*

        Hearing lots of recommendations for a vibrating alarm!! I think we’ll have to try this.

    8. Susie Q*

      We were really hesitant to sleep in separate bedrooms but it has worked really well for us. We both sleep better and can sleep on a schedule that works for us individually.

      But if you are against separate bedrooms, I would try ear plugs for you and a vibrating alarm for your husband. White noise could also help muffle sounds in the morning as well.

      1. Sigrid*

        We also sleep in separate bedrooms (I’m an emergency doc so I work mostly evenings/nights, my wife needs to get to work at 8 am sharp). We were initially hesitant due to the social expectations, but I have to say it’s been pretty amazing for us all around.

      2. Malarkey01*

        I was going to say I know this seems radical, but ESPECIALLY when there’s a young child and missing sleep goes from annoying to my brain is starting to damage itself, a bed in another room can do wonders (and if you don’t have a guest room you can put a small bed in the kids room, bonus room, etc to try out).

      3. Girasol*

        Us too. He couldn’t stand the alarm. I was half-awake all night trying to wake early so he wouldn’t hear it. Sometimes I would sneak downstairs and pull a camp mattress and sleeping bag out of the closet for deep sleep on the floor with an alarm to wake me, and gradually we migrated to separate bedrooms for sleeping. It’s so much better for both of us – no problems with snoring and thrashing and blankets, no disagreements over window open or shut. But it’s hard to get past a vague sense of guilt that proper married people must always share a bed no matter what.

      4. ChattyAli*

        My parents slept separately for years when my mom worked second shift snd my dad had a 24 hour call schedule. They maintained a master bedroom but my dad would sleep in his man cave when he had call. I never thought it was weird and it made total sense to me. I don’t think they’d have survived without this system.

    9. Bagpuss*

      Earplugs, if you can wear them, and different types of alarms.

      Has he tried the kind that have a gradual light come on, like sunrise? That plus a eye mask for you might work, and perhaps he could combine it with something that vibrates under his pillow.

      I don’t know if him wearing headphones and using the alarm on his phone could work, so he gets a sound in his ear but you don’t? It wouldn’t work for me but if he is able to sleep with earbuds (or maybe one of those sports headbands, or hats, which incorporate headphones?)

    10. HannahS*

      As a super-heavy sleeper who used to use VERY loud alarm clocks, I’d suggest that your partner add a sunlight alarm. I use one in the winter, and it means that I can manage with a quieter alarm (typical cell-phone alarm vs. one that has the word “bomb” in its name), which is less disruptive to my husband.

    11. AuroraPickle*

      I know you said you wanted suggestions other than sleeping in separate rooms, so I suggest separate beds. It might improve the quality of your sleep so an early alarm doesn’t make it impossible to go back to sleep, as easy to wake up or as stressful when you do because you’ve got all your own space that isn’t being intruded upon by an early riser. And that early riser isn’t stressing out about waking you up.

      Sleep is important. I’m speaking as someone who’s been with her husband for 17 years. We stopped sleeping in the same bed when we lived together but we’re not yet married. We shared a room but had two separate beds.

      1. Paige*

        This is how my spouse and I have our sleeping set up, too; not because of separate schedules, but because of very different preferences re: sheets/covers and mattress firmness. We both already had queen beds when we got married, so we just stuck them next to each other; I call it the “empress size” bed. It works especially well if you also have multiple pets who want to sleep on the bed with you. It does mean that (depending on depth/length of your bedroom) there is very little space for anything else in the room besides a couple of nightstands or a dresser.

        We still have the alarm problem, though. Mostly we deal with that via a vibrating alarm, a backup regular alarm set for five minutes later(in case the vibrating doesn’t wake you up; you switch it off if the vibrating does wake you up), and the rule that if you’re the first one getting up, you don’t get to use the snooze button.

      2. Not that kind of doctor*

        Yeah, my husband and I sleep in separate beds very close to each other. He sleeps badly and is up and down throughout the night, whereas I regularly have to get up at 4:30am; we’d be waking each other up all the time if we were on the same mattress. (Alternatively, I think you can also put two twin mattresses on a king bed frame?) I have my phone alarm set on vibrate and just have it on my mattress somewhere.

      3. lasslisa*

        There is also a cheap and easy to try option of separate sheets. My partner and I use separate sheets because our preferred temperatures are different, I like to be wrapped up like a burrito, and we both like to be able to adjust our covers in the middle of the night / while sleeping without waking the other person. You often don’t even have to buy anything new to try it, use sheets from a guest room or spare sheets from your own bed (folded in half).

    12. Intermittent Introvert*

      Have you considered moving to a different bed after the last time (hopefully) you get up with the baby in the early morning hours? The last sleep shift would be away from the alarm.

    13. meyer lemon*

      Your partner could try sleep headphones so that only he can hear the alarm. They are a bit on the pricey side, though.

    14. I'm just here for the cats*

      I don’t know if this would work for him, but I recommend light alarms. I have woken up before my alarm (with sound) went off because the light alarm was on. Mine is a gradual alarm so it mimics the sun rising. Could he get one and put it on his side of the bed. That might not jar you away as badly as a sound alarm.

    15. Red Swedish Fish*

      Can you sleep in separate rooms for now. Its not idea, but when we had our babies I put a single bed in their room and slept there until the baby slept through the night and while I was attempting breast feeding. My husband has a high stress job and needs his sleep and I was working from home in a much more lenient job.

    16. BelleMorte*

      Deaf people frequently use wrist vibrating alarms, the bedshaker vibrating alarms will wake you up too, they are STRONG. I really recommend separate rooms if you have the space, it makes a huge difference in sleep quality. There is also a lot less stigma around it now as people start valuing their sleep more, I have honestly had a much stronger relationship since we went to separate rooms (I’m a light sleeper who wants complete darkness, he has Restless Leg Syndrome and likes falling asleep to the TV). Ear plugs are another go-to but you might not be able to hear your kid.

      At a minimum, I’d suggest doing it until your kiddo sleeps through the night and you are getting better quality rest.

      1. formalpenguin*

        The vibrating wrist watch works for me. One thing I do is set the watch and then set a vocal alarm for 15-20 minutes later. You can try it out to see vibrating watch works well enough to wake him and worst case the vocal alarm will go off (this is meant to be a just in case although he would ideally wake up with the watch and turn off the vocal alarm). I’m paranoid that the wrist watch won’t wake me even though it does every day that I still set my phone alarm but I turn it off when I wake up.

      1. Little Beans*

        So, the baby crying and me getting up to get him doesn’t wake my husband. Like I said, he is a heavy sleeper!

        1. Ann Non*

          To be honest, I would be so resentful of my partner if he slept through the baby crying. Maybe you can pump and he takes one of the night feedings? Maybe that will train him to be a lighter sleeper?
          Because oh man, what if you have to go to the hospital and he has to take care of the kid by himself for a few days? He needs to hear the baby!

    17. WoodswomanWrites*

      Here’s another suggestion for earplugs. My former partner got up really early and it was less the alarm that was the issue than the fact that I couldn’t go back to sleep with him moving around the place. Earplugs took care of all that. I found that the standard sizes didn’t fit my small ears but found some that are cylinder-shape that work when I trim off the end to make them shorter.

    18. CatMintCat*

      At some point, I just learnt to sleep through his alarm or, if I do hear it, to go straight back to sleep. However, we’ve been at this game of him starting work at 4am and me starting at 9am for nearly 40 years. Practice …

      I like the suggestion of the light alarm, or the watch. I haven’t tried my watch to see if it will wake me up, I need to do that, as I hate the alarm

    19. allathian*

      Sleep in separate rooms. Sleep in the nursery with the kids. Or if you have a living room, ask your husband sleep on the couch. Sleeping in separate rooms won’t affect marital harmony if you’re on the same page about it, but if one of you doesn’t get enough sleep, sooner or later it will cause resentment. The negative consequences of a prolonged lack of sleep (exhaustion and the low sex drive that it can cause, grumpiness, cognitive dysfunction when it lasts long enough) are probably the main reason why couples with young kids are at a greater risk of divorce than at any other time during their relationship, especially if one spouse isn’t willing to do what it takes to ensure that both get enough sleep.

      Another option, of course, is for one of you to get a new job so that you’re on the same schedule.

      My husband and I have been sleeping in separate bedrooms since our son was born. He slept in the nursery with the baby and brought him to me for night feeding. He’s a good sleeper and can be asleep 5 minutes after his head hits the pillow, but I’m not. This worked for us even when he was working and I was on maternity and parental leave.

    20. lasslisa*

      Do you have an option to shift to his schedule? Like, go to bed earlier so that when his alarm goes off at 5:45 or whatever ungodly hour of the morning, you can get up too, and then do some of your personal tasks in the morning before work starts?

  11. CatsCatsCats*

    Any freelancers/contract workers here who can offer advice? I have been trying to break into the freelance writing world for a while now, and finally received an offer from an SEO company to write blogs, social media posts, and web pages for their clients. We agreed on pricing, work timelines, and went over the general information on the phone–all sounded good and doable from both my end and the company’s end (I will be doing this as a side gig while still employed full-time at my day job, so I really wanted to make sure we were on the same page.)

    I was super excited to finally get an offer as I’ve had a lot of phone calls and requests to send writing samples, but no actual offers yet until this week. Well, fast forward to yesterday when I received an email from the guy I’ve been working with at the company asking for the information they will need (I had so far received an email saying “welcome aboard! excited to work with you, etc.”) and one of the requests gave me pause.

    I have done 1099 work in the past, just not in freelance writing, and I’ve had to provide a W9, so was unsurprised to see that request. I also have set up an EIN so I don’t have to give my SSN out to people I’ve never actually met in person, and I’ve also already set up a virtual address for other purposes in the past, and have used that on my paperwork for other contract work before. All that to say, the W9 request doesn’t worry me at all.

    The thing that worried me, however, was a request for a copy of my ID. Is there any plausible reason an employer would need someone’s ID to set up a contract employee? I’ve researched this a bit and the answer seems to be no, but I’m new to this kind of contract work so I’m a little unsure.

    Does this scream red flag or scam? I did ask why they needed an ID, and the answer was that it wasn’t necessarily required if I could provide GL insurance, LLC paperwork, and EIN info. I do have an EIN, as I mentioned, but I’m not set up as an LLC and don’t have insurance… Help!

    1. Expiring Cat Memes*

      I freelance/d and was initially alarmed by requests for copies of my ID too. Seems like standard practice though for companies who have government clients. As for EIN/LLC – I’m outside US so I can’t speak to that. But I have had to take out public liability insurance in order to secure one contract –but that wasn’t difficult or expensive to organise.

    2. RagingADHD*

      Yes, I have had to verify my identity for remote freelance work with established companies. They need to know that they are dealing with real people who live where they say they live.

      If you aren’t sure whether you are being scammed, the ID is not the problem. You don’t know enough about the company’s presence and track record. What kind of vetting have you done on this client? It shouldn’t be very difficult to verify if they are a legit business.

      1. CatsCatsCats*

        They have a legitimate web presence and have reviews. The owner also said he owns a cleaning business, and that checks out as well. I am in CO and they are located in Denver, which according to everything online is accurate. Are there specific things I should be looking out for? I am wary about the ID because everything I’ve looked up says it is extremely easy to steal someone’s identity with an ID… But maybe I am just paranoid.

        1. T. Boone Pickens*

          If you haven’t done so already, you could check them out on Dun & Bradstreet to see if there are any credit issues. Pricing varies depending on what you’re looking to do (they do have a free trial version if you wanted to kick the tires).

        2. RagingADHD*

          Ownership records, business address, prior clients, Better Business Bureau complaints, and just googling the name of the business and name of the owner. If they aren’t brand-new and are scamming, someone has complained somewhere.

          You can always put a freeze on your credit if you have ongoing concerns about ID theft. Personally, I keep mine frozen anyway and think everyone should unless they’re actively in the process of getting a new credit line.

          Was everything else about the application process fine, or were there other things that worried you?

          1. CatsCatsCats*

            Everything else seemed fine… The owner is who I have been talking to and I even looked him up–I don’t see anything that would be a red flag, but since this is a new type of job for me I’m worried I could have missed something.

    3. Teapot Repair Technician*

      Sounds like content farm work, which I would consider a red flag to begin with. If you’re getting bad vibes on top of that, proceed with caution.

      1. CatsCatsCats*

        I think it is in that realm, but a smaller IT business so not as bad as some jobs that I’ve seen on freelancer job boards! I’m trying to get my foot in the door, so to speak, so I can build up my resume with more types of content writing. So far I have primarily written blogs and some website content for my 9-5 jobs, so it’s hard to get any further writing work without experience writing for clients.

        1. RagingADHD*

          There’s nothing inherently wrong with content farm work, except that the pay is low. It’s like working in a call center.

          Some call centers are run by shady or lowlife businesses. But plenty of perfectly legit businesses that sell respectable products use them, too.

  12. Grits McGee*

    Any other archivists following the American Historical Association/ National Archives open letter drama on Twitter? Some of the replies to the original tweet had me full body cackling, not going to lie.

    1. GigglyPuff*

      Do you have a link? I wanted to but I’m not on Twitter and couldn’t find it. I think by the time I looked they might have deleted the original letter tweet.

      1. Grits McGee*

        I’m putting a link in another comment, but I think the easiest way to find it is a google search.

    2. Mobius 1*

      I’m only currently aware of the drama surrounding someone calling a great many libraries and asking to be read a certain court case.

    3. Tomato Frog*

      Oh man, so good, I spent all day checking the Quote Tweets. Delicious. I liked the person who plugged in university/students in place of NARA/researchers to show how off-base and condescending the framing of the letter was.

      I do think it’s reasonable for the AHA to ask a government agency for some clarity about policy and plans. It’s the clueless attempts to troubleshoot (“Hey, how about hiring back some retirees? Hey, have you thought about implementing a system for managing researcher’s images, that would be simple right?”) that really place it in the Asshat Hall of Fame for me.

      1. Grits McGee*

        Yeah, it’s the “We recognize you are working with extraordinary staffing and physical limitations, so we’ve provided a list of expanded services we would like you to provide” that did it for me.

      2. Ace in the Hole*

        The retiree comment in particular pushed it over the edge for me. “Hey, I know the reason you’re doing this is a pandemic that mostly kills old people, but have you thought about deliberately hiring more old people to put in the riskiest job?”

        1. GigglyPuff*

          Yes! Like please ask high risk individuals to come put themselves at risk! Also the digitization thing also got to me. Like scanning is only a portion of that work, so much else goes into getting it online.

      3. commenter*

        If you assume good intent by the authors, which I do because their apology comes across as abject and sincere, I don’t see the problem. People had questions, and the group was trying to get answers.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          It may have been well-intended but it was still monumentally tone-deaf.

          The Board of Directors of my organization thought that archives staff didn’t have anything to do if we didn’t have researchers. That we literally sat at our desks playing solitaire or something unless a patron came in. Sometimes the people in charge have no idea what’s going on.

    4. Dust Bunny*

      I just read this and OMG I don’t know how that initial letter could have been construed as anything other than strong-arming archives employees into accommodating diva researchers. Good grief.

    5. Missing the Toast*

      I was a historian and was reminded of why that is no longer my profession! Who on earth thought that letter was a good idea? Everyone I was in grad school with–and whose projects the pandemic totally derailed– is Team Archivist!

  13. Tomato Frog*

    My direct report has been managing an intern over the summer and it’s gone extraordinarily well. I spoke to him about having a discussion afterwards to talk about why and how it worked out so well, in the hopes that we can take some lessons from it. He was enthusiastic about doing this — but I have no idea where to start with this sort of conversation! Does anyone have any tips or know of any resources for assessment in a situation like this?

    1. Lynn*

      I think you may be overthinking it! Ideally your direct report should be able to share their thoughts on why it went well without you having to do too much to “start the conversation”, and then you can mull it over to figure out a good forum for taking lessons from it (they may have thoughts on this also — if it’s feedback to provide to HR on hiring, or a presentation to other intern managers, or information to HR about orientation, etc). It might be helpful to have thoughts and ideas to prime the pump but unless your office is very formal and hierarchical you can probably play it by ear based on what you learn.

      1. Tomato Frog*

        Letting him lead is a good idea and a good reminder, thanks! I still want to prepare with some tools/questions for helping us get under the surface of things, if needed.

    2. Admin of Sys*

      It sounds as if previous versions of the process have maybe not gone so well, could you take the things that have gone badly with other people / interns and walk through what is being done differently? Though note that it’s possible it’s just a combination of good people and matching styles. If, for example, previous interns were consistently late and the current one is very punctual, that may just be a luck of the draw rather than management techniques.

      1. Tomato Frog*

        This is a great idea — using what was different about this as a guide for structuring our conversation. Thanks! It was definitely at least in part just that the intern was just great and a good fit for what he needed right now, but I’m confident there are some less chance-based elements we can identify as well.

    3. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      When meeting with your direct report, I’d go with open ended questions that are quite broad — “what surprised you the most” and “what was the communication like between you and the intern, and did that change from Day 1 to the end of the summer?” to get a sense of how they worked together. Also make it a point to ask how they thought about approaching the training and the relationship at a high level. Specific-question wise, I have two. (1) What in your past (working life) prepared you for this task? (or similar, you want to know what skills they already had they got to flex or further explore, so you can theoretically prepare others for the intern wrangling in future) and (2) Do you think (intern’s) experience this summer was comparable to other interns?

      That second question feeds into my other suggestion which is to get the intern’s opinion too. If your company has more than one internship, know that INTERNS TALK and to whatever degree you can convince them to level with you, you may gain valuable insight into how the program is run and how your people can maximize the benefits for everyone. It’s still worth asking your direct report though, since the intern may have shared things in a slightly more off the record way that could come up.

      1. Cordelia*

        yes that’s what I was going to suggest too – get the interns view, if you can. For both of them – what worked, what didn’t work, what started off not working but got fixed and how did they fix it. Also for both of them – have they had experiences of managing/being managed in the past, how did this one compare, what made this one a positive experience in comparison to others….

    4. Distractinator*

      Sounds like you’re off to a great start – ask, then listen to the answer :)
      In terms of directing the conversation, what you’re really trying to get out of this is a sense of what to expect going forward – is this report really great at managing interns and you should be thinking about how to steer them towards leadership roles? Is this intern just really great and easy to manage and you should be thinking about how to hire them immediately? Are there specific actions that they did in this mentor relationship that they think could be implemented to assist other intern/mentor pairs next internship cycle?
      So your meeting will start with your report telling their story, and if it’s not clear what the lessons are and how you’d answer questions above, start digging at it.

  14. Goose*

    This question is on behalf of my mother.

    She has semi-retired/consulting after a long non-profit career. She found a part-time job she’s interested that she’s wayyyyyyyy overqualified for, and thinks it could be a great way to immerse herself in the community (my parents moved to a new city recently.)

    I’m trying to help her structure her resume and cover letter. She had another “part-time because she was bored and passionate about the work” job a few years ago that I think she should include, but she disagrees.

    What’s the best way to structure a resume for a job answering phones when she used to run million dollar campaigns? Her cover letter discusses her reasons for wanting this job pretty well, but we don’t want the resume to be a turn off.

    1. LC*

      Why does she not want to include the “part-time because she was bored and passionate about the work” job? That seems incredibly relevant, particularly in a situation where, presumably, everything else on her resume would be the ones that make her super overqualified for this one.

      Speaking to in her cover letter is absolutely a great idea too, but I don’t think it’s unlikely that someone would glance at the resume first, think “whoa this person either applied for the wrong job or will be super bored within a week.”

      1. Mimi*

        I agree about including the previous part-time job. I would guess that she’s resistant to including it because it feels less “strong” than her previous work experience, but it’s actually the thing that shows that she’s prepared to take on a lower-responsibility job with reduced hours — it’s her track record of being successful in a similar job, which is VERY important. It’s the difference between “semi-retired rockstar looking for something small to keep her hand in” and “overqualified rockstar who’s going to get bored and leave.”

    2. CatCat*

      I’d revise the resume to reflect skills that are valuable to answering phones.

      So if she has a line for “Senior Fundraiser” and has an accomplishment that says something like: “Successfully raised $1.2 million for non-profit program in less than a year.” That has nothing to do with answering phones on its face and it’s not clear why that would be valuable. “Communicated regularly by phone with donors from various backgrounds as a part of a successful fundraising campaign” would be more targeted.

    3. Actual Vampire*

      My company is hiring for a similar position right now, and we’ve gotten a few candidates like your mom. They are our top candidates – we are super excited for the opportunity to hire someone with so much experience! Our main concern for our situation isn’t really that the candidate will be understimulated by the work, but rather that they will not take the job seriously and be more interested in enjoying their partial retirement. I think a cover letter (as well as the interview) will be key for your mom to express her interest in the job and her interest in working in general. It’s definitely good to include the fact that she wants to immerse herself in the community- it’s a good example of how she thinks she will benefit from this job, and shows that she wants to be engaged in working and isn’t just doing this for the margarita money. I also think she should include the previous job on her resume. It’s evidence that she still considers herself part of the workforce and is already engaged in her second career. Although, if that experience didn’t go well for her (I’m assuming that’s why she doesn’t want to include it?) she might want to consider how she presents it.

      1. Goose*

        No, her previous part time experience was great and she loved it! I’m not totally sure her reasoning for not wanting to include it–maybe that her resume is already long? As other mentioned, I think it’s a great way to show that she’s not about to get bored and doesn’t know the expectations for this kind of work.

        But it’s so nice to know that resumes like hers are jumping to the front!

        1. Actual Vampire*

          I would tell her to include it even if she needs to drop something else off her resume to make it fit. No one is going to be that interested in a job she had 20 years ago. They’ll be more interested in the sum total of her experience, which she should emphasize in her cover letter. And her cover letter should definitely also include how much success she had (personally and professionally) in her part-time job.

      2. Malarkey01*

        On this- I’d have her think about how she’ll also answer interview questions about her schedule and commitment. My mother struggles with this- she is retired, doesn’t need to work, but actually loves to work and be busy. She’ll take a job and then as soon as a conflict comes up, grandkids need something, or she gets a new idea she quits. She had 8 jobs in one year before CoVid. She just leaves them off her resume and no one questions why a retired person has gaps. Drives me nuts.

        So have her put the other job on because it also shows she understands part time work and isn’t doing this just for fun without understanding expectations.

    4. Anonymous Koala*

      (Disclaimer – I am not a hiring manager and have only ever hired interns.)
      I think writing that she’s semi-retired either in the cover letter or in the resume might go along way towards helping the hiring manager understand why she’s interested in the job. And if she gets a phone interview, this should be easy to explain to the recruiter.

  15. Constance Lloyd*

    Is there any room for salary negotiation with (state) government jobs? Pay steps seem pretty rigid, especially for positions that aren’t especially high ranking.

    1. not a doctor*

      All you can really do is try to argue that you should be at a higher step based on specialized education or experience. If you don’t have either, you’re probably out of luck.

    2. The Dude Abides*

      If the position is within the union, probably not. When I got offered a promotion four months ago, I tried to negotiate a bigger pay rise, but was told that it was set based on what step I was on and the title.

    3. Person from the Resume*

      Salary negotiations, no. Salaries are fixed. They are hiring for a particular position/pay grade and I don’t know of any to get them to change the paygrade. I did know someone who negotiated starting at a higher step (which generally equate to years of experience at a paygrade so they convinced them that their years of experience meant that they start at a higher step. That’s not usually a huge jump in pay and you max out to the top step faster that way.

      In my experience salary and benefits for government positions are fixed to the paygrade and or years of govt service (for leave earned).

      1. Constance Lloyd*

        Thank you! This is what I expected, but I don’t exactly have a history of being an aggressive negotiator in the private sector so I wanted to make sure I wasn’t being unnecessarily timid while applying for government jobs. Cheers!

    4. Civil Serpent*

      Generally no. This is usually dictated by unions and contract negotigations for the whole thing. You may be able to negotigate which step you start at though.

    5. CatCat*

      This is going to depend on the state. In my state, California, yes there is, but whether you will be successful at negotiating up will depend on the agency. Some have a blanket policy that they will only hire at the bottom of the range. Others are willing to do what is called “hiring above minimum” depending on your qualifications and how hard it is to fill the role.

    6. I'm just here for the cats*

      Are you currently employed byt the state or is this a new position? If it’s new, probably not. But I know from my experience in a state university that if you have been there for a while, with a good track record that you and your supervisors may be able to argue why you should get a higher pay. Just keep in mind if there are any maximums.

      1. Constance Lloyd*

        It would be a new position. I currently work as a contract employee for a federal government agency so I’m looking at actual government jobs as well as private sector. I’m currently undergoing a background check for a state job which is overseen by the same agency I currently contract for, and the role itself is essentially a merger of my last 2 jobs. Think… Last Job was completing financial audits of reptile breeders, Current Job is inspecting alpaca habitats for the Department of Alpaca Affairs, and Potential Job would be completing financial audits of alpaca breeders for the state division of the Department of Alpaca Affairs. My current level of clearance is also higher than necessary for Potential New Job.

        I don’t think I plan to negotiate- the stated rate is already about a 30% pay increase- I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t being foolish by not even asking for, say, an extra 50 cents an hour. This is the first time I’m not job hunting with a sense of desperation, so I’m not used to negotiating and considering women tend to be less likely to negotiate than men I wanted to make sure my instincts were correct here. I appreciate all y’all taking the time to respond and help out :)

    7. Anonymous Koala*

      Depends. I’ve heard of several instances in state and fed gov where people were brought on at higher steps within the same payband because their previous salaries were so high it was the only way to salary match. But if you’re trying to move from one payband to another that’s usually not possible.

    8. KeinName*

      So, I am not in the US but wanted to share in case it could be relevant. We have the fixed pay bands, negotiated between unions, labor organisations and so forth. A job is advertised in a catergory corresonding to a salary and then you move on in 8-year steps. But the employer can decide to overpay anyone. This is not written down anywhere but it is done. It is not easy to change the job category or to get more years of experience recognized, so if some boss really wants their, say, highly valued assistent to receive proper pay, they can advocate for overpay for them.

    9. It happened to me!*

      I’m going to go against the tide here and say it’s possible. I got an offer for a state gov job (in the Western US if that matters) and asked to go up in salary (from pay step 1 to pay step 6) and they met me at pay step 3 or 4. It took me about a month to hear back from them after I requested the higher rate because they had to run it through some kind of chain of command for permission to raise the rate.

      1. The Dude Abides*

        In general, it’s easier for this to occur when coming in from outside, as opposed to an internal promotion.

    10. Analise*

      My niece successfully negotiated salary at a state job in WA state, so it must vary by state!

  16. PT*

    I started a new informational blog and am hoping it will gain readership.
    I’m on the free WordPress plan, is there anything I can do that is no cost to promote it?

    I am not on social media so I can’t put it on my Facebook feed or Twitter or Linked in.

    1. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

      You’re really going to have to do good SEO then. But really, not being on social media to promote your articles will hurt you because it’s the easiest source of traffic. Start social media accounts just for your blog and cross post your articles there, using relevant hashtags. Follow and interact with other similar content creators.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Agreed.

        The best way to leverage traffic is sharing – getting other people to spread the word on your behalf.

        Social media is the digital version of “word of mouth”. Starting a blog without using any social media is the equivalent of opening a coffee shop without telling anyone or putting out any signs.

        You’re basically depending on people looking up “coffee shop” in the phone book, and maybe deciding to try yours instead of the one with the display ad.

      2. Lynn*

        Seconded. I did something similar pre-pandemic, and really resisted the idea of doing social, because I don’t even use social media in my personal life, but a friend in marketing gave me some tough love about it. I took a lot of free webinars (as someone who didn’t use personal social media, it was helpful to me, but I have heard paid trainings need to not be worth it), and they also helped distill some thoughts on what I was doing with the blog.

    2. LTL*

      You can make social media accounts exclusively for your blog! Try following others in the same space. Maybe even do a collaboration where you make a post for their blog and vice versa, though that will be difficult before you have a readership. Are there any online or offline communities that are focused around the kind of stuff you’re blogging about? See if you can promote there (and if you can’t, network in those spaces).

      More than anything, you’ll have to give it time. Amassing readers when you’re just starting out is really, really hard. The most important thing in the meanwhile (from most to least important) is to post (1) quality content (2) consistently (i.e. every Tuesday and 8am) (3) often (twice a week is better than weekly is better than monthly, but at some point you see diminishing returns- not sure what the cutoff is for blogging).

      1. PT*

        Given all the social media posts I’ll take it under consideration.
        Your idea about posting consistently is a good idea, one post a week is about what I am looking at, but will post the same day and time each week.
        Quality content is covered, about a dozen articles are either written or in an advanced stage, gonna start the site with a few posts.

    3. Soup of the Day*

      Seconding everyone who says you have to be on social, but would like to add – don’t feel overwhelmed! You can have a presence on all of the major platforms without having to spend tons of time there. Pick the top one or two platforms that are most important for YOUR niche and focus most of your efforts there in terms of commenting on other peoples’ posts, responding to comments, creating thoughtful content, etc.

      You should still be on as many different sites as possible, but social media schedulers like Buffer or Hootsuite will allow you to schedule posts in advance so you don’t always have to be “on” every one of them (and they’ll also let you write ONE post and schedule it to a bunch of different platforms, so you don’t need unique content for each.)

      You can also reuse content from your blog to create these posts so you’re not writing all new content from scratch, and Canva is amazing for making graphics even if you have 0 design skills – they have tons of free templates that can help. Good luck!!

    4. Nela*

      Apart from social media, some things that can help give your blog a little push:

      1. Put the link to your blog in your email signature.

      2. Research other blogs on similar topics, and if they have comments enabled, leave thoughtful comments (with your blog address in the URL field). Don’t just do it once, keep doing it for a while. You might make some new online friends, and if they have do-follow links on comments, you might get some SEO benefits too. Use either your full name or your first name in the “Name” field – not your blog name or any keywords, because that looks obviously spammy.

      3. If you are a member of any online forums (I know, that’s so 2000’s), add the link to your signature there as well.

      Don’t expect miracles, because if you don’t already have a strong social media presence, the growth will be quite slow. But you’re planting the seeds for the future :)

    5. CurrentlyBill*

      Here are a few tips:

      1) Pick the social media platform most relevant to your audience and build a presence there.

      2) If you have no idea where your audience is likely to consume stuff, you probably don’t know your audience well enough to grow it. Spend some time learning about who you are writing to/for.

      3) Get specific on your blog. Don’t try to cover a lot of different topics to cast a wider net for your audience. Go narrow and deep to become the expert in your space. Audiences like experts more than generalists.

      4) Find others in your space (your “competitors”) and support them. recommend their content. Comment on their posts. Do it sincerely, but try support them without expecting support from them. Doing so will again help drive your brand as an expert in your space. connect with them on social. Meet with them in person or online. Clubhouse can be a good tool for that if other creators in your niche are also there.

      5) Be patient. This will take time, and that’s ok.

      6) Get your own domain. It can cost less than $15 a year. MyBlogName.com will be more credible than MyBlogName.Wordpress.com or blogspot.com/MyBlogName or whatever.

      7) If you want to stay free, consider building your blog on Medium or LinkedIn, or a different platform depending on where your audience spend their time. It’s risky to build on someone else’s platform. If they go away or feel you violated there TOS, then you have a problem. But if you build there, you can have can leverage their tools. And it’s no more risk than you already have with free WordPress.

      8) Spend some time figuring out why growing your readers matters to you. Are you sure it actually matters or is this project about self expression? Is your goal to teach people? To feed your ego? To build a brand for a freelance business? To generate pocket change? To generate a full time salary alternative? To build content you can turn into a book? To look good in future job interviews? There are lots of reasons to grow readership. Understanding why you want to do that and what (if anything) you want to accomplish will help you make the right decisions.

      9) Define what “gain readership” means to you. If you get one more reader this year, are you happy or disappointed? I mean you’ve gained readership so you’ve achieved your goal, right? Or you you mean 5 more readers? Or 10? Or 100? Or 5,000?

  17. Pay periods and budgets*

    For the first time in my professional career, I am switching from a semi-monthly pay schedule to a bi-weekly one and I am anxious about it. I am a good saver and always have a decent cushion in my checking account, so I’m not worried about overdrafts, just the emotions. Mentally, I always know roughly how much I should have in my checking account based on what time of the month it is, so switching to a different schedule is going to be an adjustment. Does anyone have any budgeting tips (particularly emotional guidance)?

    1. not a doctor*

      I’m not sure I understand the difference, can you clarify what’s bothering you? Shouldn’t it work out to be very nearly the same thing?

      1. Pay periods and budgets*

        Right now I keep about a one month float in my checking account. Since my bills are predictable monthly, if the number is off from what it usually is (given the time of the month/ bills due), I go back and make sure the correct bills were paid, etc. This works for me because I know the paycheck from the 15th pays the credit card and car payment, the one from the last day of the month goes to the mortgage. Anything in excess goes to savings. Now that it will vary from month to month, I am worried I am going to miss something because the pay periods won’t be consistent on a monthly basis.

      2. Littorally*

        In a semimonthly pay cycle, you always get paid on the same date each month — usually the 1st and 15th. So that accords more closely with billing cycles where the bills always come due on the same date of the month. But what day of the week you get paid varies.

        In a biweekly pay cycle, you always get paid on the same day of the week, but the date of month you get paid cycles through the month. IE — this month I get paid on the 6th and 20th, next month I’ll get paid on the 3rd and 17th, the month after that I’ll get paid on the 1st, 15th, and 29th. It means the paychecks don’t always line up with when bills are due — if a bill falls due on the 16th, for instance, the midmonth paycheck that lands on the 15th will cover it, but the midmonth paycheck falling on the 17th won’t.

        Also, semi-monthly is 24 paychecks a year, biweekly is 26 paychecks a year. So each paycheck is a little smaller with biweekly, but you also have twice a year where you get an “extra” paycheck in the billing cycle. IME it isn’t actually the months where three paychecks fall into the same calendar months, but where they fall slightly askew of the general cycle of bills coming in.

        1. NotMyRealName*

          That’s not always true for semi-monthly. We get paid three business days after the 15th and the last day of the month. The pay period on the 15th can be anywhere from the 18th to the 20th, and the last day of the month pays from the 3rd to as late as the 6th if a Monday holiday falls into it. There’s talk of moving to bi-weekly and I’m all for it.

          1. Lizzie*

            my first job, where I made peanuts, was semi-monthly. I HATED it. there were times where they’re would be 3 weekends between paychecks and as I w as living paycheck to paycheck as it was, that was ROUGH. Then it was weekly, and now, every 2 weeks, which I prefer.

      3. Gipsy Danger*

        No, it doesn’t. Semi-monthly means you get paid twice a month, 24 paychecks a year. Bi-weekly means every second week, 26 paychecks a year. The difference can be substantial (I recently made this switch, and though the jobs pay the same, my bi-weekly check is a couple hundred dollars less than my semi-monthly one was). It is an adjustment. My advice is have a plan for the two extra paychecks you’re going to get a year. For me, those will boost my savings, since I have less regular monthly income to put towards this.

      4. tamarack and fireweed*

        It was quite a change for me to move from what I was used to in Europe (getting paid at the end of each month for that month’s work) to getting paid every second Friday for the pay period that ended two Fridays earlier. The alignment of wage payments with the big monthly outlays is always off-kilter. Luckily I can now afford to keep a pretty good cushion in my checking account.

        There’s already good advice in this thread, in particular I follow the idea of budgeting based on 24 paychecks and use the two extra ones for things I’d have to dip into savings otherwise (larger car repair, 6-month insurance payments, yearly subscriptions and memberships, for example, as well as some discretionary spending on hobby and non-urgent household items).

    2. Allison*

      For me, having everything in writing or Excel helps with anxiety. I can see what dates money comes in and what dates money goes out. Really helps me keep track of everything.

    3. Rosie*

      Budget based on 24 paychecks a year if possible, and treat the extra 2 as “bonus”.

      Write down a schedule of when bills are due, and how much they usually are, and how much you need in your account before those dates — so that you can refer to it when checking your bank balance. That helped me a lot with the “where in the month am I??” concerns when switching to the biweekly schedule.

      1. Snailing*

        This was going to be my advice too. It’s 26 vs 24 paychecks and year, so most months will still have 2 paychecks that just don’t fall neatly on a specific day (1st, 15th, 30th/31st). Instead, start shifting to think about the day of the week that you’re paid versus the date of the month, and treat the extra 2 paychecks like a surprise bonus twice a year.

      2. LC*

        Yep, that’s what I was going to suggest too. It’d be harder if you were more paycheck-to-paycheck, but that doesn’t sound like the case.

        That, plus auto-payments for absolutely everything you can (including between accounts if necessary, like I put most of my paycheck directly into my savings account and have transfers set up to my checking account just after payday, ymmv but that works well for me), making sure the date each month works for what’s in your account + the due date. I know some people like to have one date right after payday or once a month to pay everything, but I like to pay them as I get them. Feels like it keeps my balance more stable, which is good for me.

        I think with those two things, it’ll make the mindset change a lot smoother.

        1. LC*

          Oh! And set up text alerts with your bank for things like large deposits and large payments. That way you can have a sense of when your paycheck comes in and when big bills are paid without having to actually go look at your account.

          Just like how I have automatic payments set for when I get my normal bills, this helps me feel like my balance is more stable and that I consistently have a good idea of what’s going on without having to actually go check. It becomes normal, automatic, background type knowledge, making it less of A Thing.

        2. Pay periods and budgets*

          You are correct, it’s not a paycheck-to-paycheck issue, just a psychological one. I have a lot of anxiety about money even though I know I am doing better than most people my age.

          It seriously had not occurred to me to deposit most into savings and “pay myself” out of that account into checking to better match my expense due dates. I think this tip will help immensely and I am so grateful that this sub has helped with so many ideas.

    4. Colette*

      The main thing is to think about payments that automatically come out on a specific day (like mortgage or car payments), and make sure you allocate the money from a previous paycheck. If you’re used to getting paid on the 15th and the last day of the month, you probably have automatic payments set up that way, so make sure you switch your thinking on that.

      Personally, I never know how much I have in my account, but I have a spreadsheet that is always updated, with money that is required but hasn’t been removed yet listed as having been spent so that I don’t spend it on something else.

      (My sympathies, a former employer announced that they were switching and there were almost riots in the halls.)

    5. MissGirl*

      I loved biweekly and don’t like twice a month. I actually have a harder time budgeting for twice a month because it isn’t consistent. Sometimes I get paid before the weekend around 12 days between and sometimes after which is closer to three weeks. That weekend throws my budget all off.

      I love getting my paycheck every two weeks on the same day. That becomes my budget evening and I spend an hour going over it all. I also like that twice a year I get an extra paycheck.

      1. The Rural Juror*

        I’ve never minded being on the 1st and 15th schedule. However, in our case, it’s actually the last day of the month and the 15th. Our direct deposits go on a Friday if the pay day falls on a weekend. I think it helps that the weekends weren’t going to mess up the schedule and the funds are always available on the 1st.

      2. Fran Fine*

        I loved biweekly and don’t like twice a month. I actually have a harder time budgeting for twice a month because it isn’t consistent.

        Yes! This is my problem with it as well. I wish I could go back to biweekly, but that would mean going to an hourly role from salaried at my current employer or leaving altogether.

    6. Saffie_Girl*

      I just base everything off 2 paychecks a month, and set payments up for the 1st and 15th. This way there are a couple 3 paycheck months for extra money for non-recurring items. Honestly, I would approach it the same way you would with the semi-monthly paychecks and try to stop looking at specific dates of pay and due dates.

    7. Littorally*

      The one big pitfall with biweekly pay schedules is they can play havoc with autopay if you don’t keep a pretty good cushion in your account at all times. When you get paid in the month will vary widely and you can’t rely on always getting your paycheck before an auto-debit on the 14th or whenever. If you are living leaner for any reason, or if you’re the type to scarf extra funds into savings as quick as possible, it can mess with you.

      The biggest emotional thing with biweekly payment cycles IMO is developing a different mindset around the fluctuation of money. Instead of thinking in a monthly cycle, thinking in a two- and four-week cycle will tend to develop — “this is a fat Friday, this is a lean Friday. These are bills this paycheck will cover, these are the bills the next paycheck will cover.” There is a little more looking ahead required for biweekly, I think; you want to stay aware of where your next four or six paydays will fall at any given time.

      1. Pay periods and budgets*

        Yes, this is my anxiety! I do try to put extra into savings. I think I still keep a big enough cushion in savings that dollars will be okay. But knowing the numbers will fluctuate a lot more, I will be paranoid about having too much or too little in my accounts at a given time. “Did something extra get paid out?” or “Did something NOT get paid that was supposed to?”

        I really like the “Fat Friday” vs “Lean Friday” tip.

        1. Littorally*

          I’m glad you like it!

          To be honest, I keep as few autopays as I possibly can, and what does auto-bill generally goes on a credit card so I don’t get hit with awkward overdrafts when things are lean. Then, once the paycheck comes in, I sit down and pay everything that comes due before the next paycheck.

          In a way, to me it seems a lot easier. I just run down the list of due bills and pay everything that hits before X date, and it’s a part of my Fat Friday routine.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Same. I don’t do autopay other than things like Netflix; I’m used to getting paid so little that I have to juggle.

          2. A Feast of Fools*

            I put everything that can be paid by credit card on my credit card because I like the miles and cash back. I pay my credit card every single day (i.e., go to Sam’s Club, get $35 in gas and $100 in groceries and supplies; come home, unload car, log into credit card site and make a $135 payment).

            Only my car payment, car insurance, and mortgage come out of my checking account.

          3. Been There*

            I do very little autopay because I want to check that the bills that come in are correct. Companies can mess up too.

    8. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

      I just made the reverse switch and hate it. I miss bi-weekly so much. It was so much more consistent. I got paid every other Friday. So what I did was I paid every bill 4 weeks apart no matter where it hit in the billing cycle. My credit card might not be due until the 20th of the month, but I always paid it on Friday A. The electric bill always gets paid on Friday B. I could also use this to balance my bills so one check wasn’t all bills and the other is light.

      1. Alligator*

        This is what I do, too – I pay certain things with the first check and others with the second check. Some of your due dates may also be flexible (credit cards?) so you could shift to really early in the month or really late in the month to help balance it out.

    9. Ozzie*

      I have a spreadsheet I use to track my budget, and it includes a section that notes how much money I have remaining in the 1st half of the month.

      I get paid every other week, and structure my budget based on 2 paychecks = 1 budget month (vs calendar month) to make it work around rent, basically. (We don’t get paid on the 1st and 15th or anything, just every other Friday, so it ends up not working with calendar month)

      I track it fairly diligently (it was VEY diligent when I was learning how to budget), but basically, it keeps track of total expenditure (I have it broken out into food budget, personal spending, savings, bills, etc), but also tracks how much I have spent vs how much was deposited in the first paycheck, to ensure I will hit all my marks in the first half of the month, so as not to overspend.

      If you have a little wiggle room in your budget, you can also keep some buffer money in the account, in case you have an expense in the first half of the month that would spend past that first paycheck before you get your second. (the size of this cushion varies depending your spending habits/billing habits)

      The key is knowing when any auto-pays will be pulled, and having money in there to cover it. You can make note of these dates as well so you’re keeping track, or simply deduct them from the spreadsheet ahead of their payment, so you’ve already accounted for them in your spending.

    10. Teapot Repair Technician*

      Have your paycheck deposited into your savings account and set up an automatic semi-monthly transfer from savings to checking.

      The amount you transfer should be about 1.086 times your paycheck.

    11. Person from the Resume*

      I don’t think about it all. You just need to keep enough of a cushion floating in your checking account to not be overdrawn.

      When starting off you need to note if there are times of the month that you pay a bunch of expensive bills that might be problematic if they come up right before you get a paycheck (note what you think the max amount might be), but generally just have keep enough of a cushion to not have to think worry about it.

    12. The Dude Abides*

      Ask your employer how they are going to handle payroll deductions for health insurance, retirement, etc.

      At one prior employer, they made this switch several months before I joined, but no one changed the contribution amounts, so there were several months where people had extra money taken out that shouldn’t have been taken. This snafu was found around the same time that I figured out that the retirement contributions were also screwy, in that people were not getting their employer contributions raised upon hitting anniversaries, and at a more basic level, the amounts we were pulling out of paychecks were not matching what was actually being remitted to the retirement funds.

    13. RagingADHD*

      Set up a recurring calendar appointment to tell you when payday is.

      Look at your budget and recalculate all your categories to be annual / 26 instead of annual / 24. I have an excel spreadsheet that converts all my expenses to monthly, semimonthly, biweekly, and weekly, so no matter how often they actually occur, I can see how they impact the budget.

      If you are getting paid the same amount, your budget will still work just fine.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        I second this suggestion for a spreadsheet. I’m paid every two weeks and I’ve set up my spreadsheet for monthly paychecks and bills that include two pay periods of four weeks. In mine, I separately list the two pay periods a year that are third paycheck of the month. I budget those separately to save for specific annual costs like car and renter’s insurance, donations to nonprofits, etc. I also mark the year’s paydays on my calendar, which is helpful.

    14. AuroraPickle*

      Change your automatic payments to match your new pay cycle. So if you were paying your car and your mortgage semi-monthly, call up your bank or go online and switch it to biweekly to match your payroll.

      For the odd thing that can’t be paid biweekly, allocate a portion of each biweekly pay to that monthly bill. I have a separate account just for those things with automatic biweekly and monthly transfers. You’ve for a cushion so if the three pay day month isn’t for awhile, no worries. Those months will replenish the little bit of cushion.

    15. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I split my paycheck via my work’s direct deposit. Every two weeks, a sum equivalent to half my standard monthly bills is the first chunk of my paycheck allocated into an account that I only use to pay the bills. Then some other savings chunks are deposited to various places, and then everything that’s left over goes into my “everyday spending” account. All the bills are auto-paid out of the bills account, and I don’t touch it except on three-paycheck months, when I decide whether I want to leave part of the newly-deposited “third half” in there as a cushion or move it around to savings or whatever.

    16. TotesMaGoats*

      When I started my last job I was switching from biweekly to monthly pay checks and it was terryifying because that was NOT disclosed at all until I was signing paperwork my first day. We managed to make it work because I got a vacation pay out from my job before that and the timing of my husband paychecks. So, I totally understand the sweating!
      I second writing it all down somewhere. You could also consider moving some money from savings into checking for a bit to ensure there isn’t a gap.

      1. DistantAudacity*

        Very interesting to see the discussion here, as a monthly paycheck is the norm in my part of the world :)

        But it’s all about what you’re used to, I suppose. Everything is tied to a montly cycle here: paychecks, morgage payments, utilities, etc, so it all ties in.

        Are costs/utilities/bills normally on a twice a month (or every other week) schedule, to tie into the paycheck patterns?

        1. All Het Up About It*

          Monthly paychecks are far rarer in this part of the world. (And probably where the original commenter is located as well) – but as I commented below the job I worked where we had them, changed how I budget my money and DRASTICALLY reduced my stress levels around it. I found that when I was budgeting bi-weekly, it still felt like I was living paycheck to paycheck even though I technically wasn’t because I always had “fun” money and money in savings. And it is because the majority of bills here are tied to monthly cycles, like you talk about. If you just make sure on the last day of the month you have enough money in your account to cover all the bills that come out the next month, whether it’s on the first or fifteenth, then it doesn’t really matter. I love it!

          1. Pay periods and budgets*

            Yes, I’m in the US and I only know of one person that gets paid monthly, but she works in higher ed, which we all know is an exception to everything.

            I’m also someone that uses my credit card for all my daily expenses and then pays off the balance once the statement comes due, so I think this is another reason why the biweekly is a difficult psychological adjustment. Those that use cash or debit are having money float in and out daily, whereas I only have large chunks taken out of my account at given periods. It’s going to be an adjustment for sure. It’s great to see everyone’s system!

        2. Person from the Resume*

          Everything except paychecks are tied to a monthly cycle here. Rent/mortgage and bills are due monthly on a specific day. Since my paychecks come every two weeks, the paychecks don’t align with the billing cycle.

          I’d personally be fine with a monthly pay check, but lots of people probably budget better if they get paid biweekly or even twice a month.

    17. Silence Will Fall*

      I adore You Need a Budget! I’ve been using it for years now, but I started because I was going from getting paid semi-monthly to bi-weekly. It really helped me visualize my budget, especially as I had this weird paycheck gap because of how the company handled the switch. You can do the same thing with Excel, but the $49 annual price tag was low enough for me to skip setting it up myself in a spreadsheet.

      1. knitcrazybooknut*

        You Need a Budget changed my LIFE. I am not kidding at all. My husband and I had a decent system, but we never seemed to be able to save any money.

        You Need a Budget has a bucket system that allows you to designate money for expenses, and you can EASILY see what you have, what you still need to set aside money for, etc. In the first three months of using it, I saved enough money for a new dishwasher. It sounds crazy but it’s true.

        It’s an online system with an available app. I’ve done the transition you’re talking about, and I think using a tool like this would really help you. I’m not a promotional sponsor, either, just someone who loves this tool.

    18. Donkey Hotey*

      Count me as another that prefers bi-weekly over semi-monthly.
      I have to note that I have zero auto-pays, specifically because of this setup.
      But then again, my check hits my account Tuesday morning at 7am and all of it is allocated, paid, etc by 7:15.
      Good luck, and enjoy those two “bonus bonuses.”

    19. JT*

      If you are already used to having a cushion, it really won’t affect you too much. I usually have a cushion of at least one month’s costs in my account, pay my bills all on the same day, and know that my mortgage payment (also biweekly) comes out the week after payday.

      The best thing about biweekly is that twice a year you get a bonus 3 pay days in one month! It feels like extra money.

    20. All Het Up About It*

      So for a few years I worked a job where we were paid once a month. It caused me to develop this method and even now when I’m paid Bi-Weekly I keep it up, and it is SO less stressful than budgeting every two weeks. I follow loosely a zero based budget method with a simple google docs sheet and go month to month. At the end of the month (or last paycheck of the month), whatever is in my account, is what I have available to spend for the upcoming month. Then I budget that out, “paying” all bills in my spreadsheet first. (Some of these are autodraft and they are color coded that way.) I know that what ever is going to come out of my checking in August is already covered by what was in there on July 31st. Any money I get in August is going to cover my bills in September. I review my checking account about once a week to make sure nothing insane happened, like being hacked and to update my spreadsheet to make sure that everything that came out was the planned amount, etc.

      Also, I do all my non-regular bill spending on a credit card that I pay off each month. That way even if I end up going over my allotted fun/surprise expense money for the month, I can easily pay that extra from savings instead of worrying that my autodraft for a car payment is short because I had to pay the mechanic for a new alternator. That might not work for you depending on how much you trust yourself with a credit card. I also list all credit cards/special accounts in my spreadsheet, even the ones I use rarely, so I can be sure each month to double check if did I spend something on them or not. This is literally the most stress-free budget method I have ever used.

    21. hack in training*

      I get paid biweekly and also had a hard time mentally figuring out how things worked at first! What I ended up doing was setting up a separate checking account for all my bills (rent, utilities, etc.) and sending a set amount from each paycheck (half of the total of my bills) straight into that account. Everything is on autopay from that account, and then I know the money in my main checking account is what’s available for spending. More work on the front end, but much less anxiety-inducing for me now because I don’t have to do any math day to day!

    22. Moths*

      It sounds like there have been some great options already proposed here! I’ll add on what I do, which works for me, but may not work for everyone. Like others though, I’ll reiterate that if you can plan for 24 paychecks and have those 2 extra that come in on 3-payday months be considered “bonus money”, that’s easier to budget around (in my opinion). Plus, it’s a nice way to boost your savings or pay down extra on debt!

      I’m also lucky to have a decent cushion built up, so it’s a little less stressful than potentially having an overdraft if a surprise expense gets posted. I keep an Excel spreadsheet with my budget and I always do my budgeting on the last day of the month (or at least close to that), but always on/after my final paycheck for the month has come in. I have all of my recurring expenses listed and on that day pay any fluctuating expenses (e.g., credit card bill, student loan payment because I pay extra on that any month that I can). I also plan out my budget for the rest of the month at that time. I have listed what days different expenses should come out on, so that I know about how much I should have in my bank account at any given point. Anything left over, I transfer to savings, though I always leave some extra in my account as a buffer. Basically, I’ve switched to once monthly budgeting, so that I always know I’m good until the end of the next month. But then keep an eye on my account during the month to make sure things are tracking like they should. It’s a little harder since the paychecks can come in on different days, but I always know about where things should be at this way.

    23. Not So NewReader*

      I am not sure if you can do it now, but years ago I called my credit card company and asked that the due date be at the end of the month. This way I paid the biggest bill after all the checks were in for the month. That helped me to worry less.

      At my current job I got switched from once a month to every other week. I actually ended up with a little bit more because they take out less taxes on a smaller check. You may end up with an additional buck or so.

      Do you use Excel much? For something like this I’d create a hypothetical chart- showing the pay dates and the amount of pay each month on a bi-weekly basis. That way I have a visual of what to expect. As each pay date goes by you can check it off so you can see your progress. (I am super visual. I am doing this with my mortgage now that it is down to less than 2years.) On your chart you can leave a blank column where you can write in the balance in your checking account or a comment about how you think things are going.

    24. beach read*

      Overdraft protection from your savings and/or line of credit can be good piece of mind. Your bank can help you with that!

    25. ronda*

      if you want to you may also talk to your mortgage company about making bi weekly (perhaps additional) payments.
      Some people do this to pay down their mortgage faster, but it might be nicer for you to smooth your expenses if it would make you less anxious.
      some mortgages won’t allow this, so check if they do, dont just start sending in extra payments.

      I haven’t heard of it on car loans, but it can’t hurt to ask (I am assuming these are your biggest ticket regular payments)

      As others have said, most companies will set you up with the monthly payment date that you want, so plot out your new paycheck dates against your scheduled payment amounts and see if you want to change the timing of any of your payments to better align.

  18. Karrie the Keebler Elf on a Shelf*

    I’m applying for an internal promotion so I have to submit my resume and fill out the job application, which includes a work history. The work history includes an area for job description. I have just redone my resume to match Alison’s advice to focus on accomplishments from previous jobs. Should the work history include the exact same accomplishments that I list in my resume under each job, or should it only be a description of the job responsibilities?

    And any other advice from successful internal applicants? This is the first opening since I graduated with my master’s, and I know that I can do the job. I think the biggest concern from the hiring committee will be that they would have to fill my current position which is slightly more specialized.

    1. Ace in the Hole*

      Depends how much room the application has. If there’s only space for a sentence or two, leaving accomplishments for the resume is fine. If you have buckets of space on the application, add everything that’s on the resume.

  19. Paloma Pigeon*

    Curious: There is a ‘Show the Salary’ movement in the nonprofit space to urge employers to list salary ranges in job postings. I admit more and more I’m less enthusiastic about applying to an opening if I don’t see the salary listed. The job description has to be really perfect, vs. in the ballpark, without a range. Does anyone else feel this way lately?

    1. Empress Ki*

      Yes I have never bothered applying for jobs that don’t state the salary. I also work for the non-profit sector. Salaries are nearly always listed.

    2. Ace in the Hole*

      This is a big part of why I’ve mostly had government jobs. I won’t apply to a job that doesn’t list a pay range unless I’m desperate… even if it sounds awesome.

      As far as I’m concerned, the ONLY reason for not listing compensation in the job posting is if they are hoping to pull one over on an unsuspecting candidate who doesn’t know what the job should be worth. That’s not something I want to participate in or condone in any way.

      1. Allypopx*

        Seconded. Especially if they say the salary is “competitive” but don’t list it. Far too many nonprofits expect people to sacrifice liveable wage for the opportunity to do meaningful work and I’m not here for that.

        1. Siege*

          “Meaningful work” is often “a billionaire’s tax write off”, so I don’t even buy the meaningful work argument anymore. If it’s so meaningful, pay for it.

    3. AuroraPickle*

      I don’t like when salary isn’t posted but don’t hate waiting to find out what the range is during the pre-screening call. Nothing wrong with deciding at that stage you don’t want an interview. It’s a two way street.

    4. Pikachu*

      Yep. Not playing that game anymore. I can’t count how many opportunities I’ve probably blown asking for salary up front, but whatever. It doesn’t help that recruiters post bogus job titles that sound much more senior than they really are. Waste of time.

    5. Kimmy Schmidt*

      I keep trying to convince my university to list salaries in job postings. No dice so far, and I’m worried I’m expending too much capital harping on it. But like. Our salaries are public record! We’re a public university! Can’t we save everyone the trouble and just list them?

    6. SyFyGeek*

      I think it would be great to know the salary before I decide to apply or not. I now post jobs on a couple of job specific boards- as in every job posted is in the same field. And they require at least a salary range to be included. It saved so much time and energy in the interview process vs. the applicants that came through our website with no knowledge of the salary.

    7. Siege*

      Yes. I work for a not-for-profit and make about $80K. Most non-profits in my city pay $50K as the high end for my job, and a number pay $40K-$45K. (As a note, in my city if you are single with no dependents and make less than $70K you are very likely underwater, and the only thing that keeps me in the lifestyle I have is that my rent is an easy quarter of market rate without roommates; it’s still mostly tiny luxuries like coffee a couple times a week, rather than routine vacations to Bali.) I’m not willing to take a $30K pay cut for anyone, and I’m extremely unwilling to go to the effort of tailoring an application for a position where I don’t know that the salary is reasonable. This is why my next move will likely be into government work (or possibly one of the unions that pay six figures for my role; I currently work for a union) because they disclose the salary.

      At this point, a perfect job description includes the salary.

    8. cubone*

      A local AFP (assoc. of fundraising professionals) has refused to share any job postings that don’t include salary. I really like these types of rules and think it does a lot for setting a better standard for the industry.

      My last non-profit (a living nightmare) was open internally that the reason they didn’t include the salary was that they knew it was low for the area and would prevent them from getting “quality” applicants.

        1. cubone*

          oh amazing! Hilariously a senior development exec at that last non-profit was chair of the local AFP chapter and got called out on Linkedin by fellow fundraisers on shared job postings that didn’t include it. That org still doesn’t include salaries (and the senior exec still works there), I wonder how that’s going with their AFP role.

    9. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      Yep. I am well paid so I will only even think about applying if I know they’ll meet my salary requirements (which most roles don’t). I am pleased that I was able to convince my boss to convince HR to show the salaries for our open positions!

    10. AnonymousHOU*

      I absolutely agree. I have an application floating for a job that seems exciting, but has no salary range, and some anecdotal numbers on Glassdoor. I plan to ask about range if offered a phone screen, but won’t move forward without it.

      When my university launched its new ERP system last month, the internal side (for current employees) includes the pay grade but not the *actual salary range* for the job. It’s somewhat helpful, but I don’t get why that information isn’t available on the non-employee application site. It’s not a substitute for a salary listing though – $35,000 to $69,000 is a HUGE range.

      1. Ace in the Hole*

        Maybe I’m misunderstanding, but isn’t the pay grade synonymous with salary range? At every public employer I’ve worked for, the salary range at the job was whatever the pay table says for the grade(s) of the job, with the assumption that most candidates will start at the lowest step and get annual step increases until they max out.

        Of course, I’m also surprised that a single grade covers $35-$69K. Usually the top end is more like 20-30% higher than the bottom end… not literally double!

    11. Elizabeth West*

      Yeeeessss omg, just tell me what the job pays. If it’s not what I want/need, I won’t bother applying.

      /mini-rant
      It makes me so mad when companies make applicants jump through numerous and arbitrary hoops because they want to hire the right person but won’t even talk about the most important thing upfront. Such a waste of time on both sides. Most of us work for money so we can pay for goods and services, not because we love them. It’s a business transaction, not a romantic relationship!

    12. JT*

      100%
      Most of the time I don’t even look at a posting if the salary’s not listed. The only reason a company has for not providing a salary range in a posting is for the chance to pay someone far less than what they budgeted for.

      1. Siege*

        That’s not true, it’s also because they budgeted under the average for the field or location and want to get away with it. :P

    13. quill*

      Admittedly I am VERY outside your industry but during last job hunt I found myself even more dismissive than before of jobs with no salary info. To me, it’s a pretty sure sign that they’re looking for the cheapest possible candidate.

    14. Stitching Away*

      Entirely. There’s not one reason other than to scam potential employees out of wages to not post a range.

      Have you seen the increasing number of job ads for remote jobs in the US that say “open to all except residents of Colorado”? I cannot wait to see those lawsuits, I hope those companies get taken for everything.

        1. Stitching Away*

          No, it’s not, you can’t discrimminate based on residency in one state, and one state alone.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Yes, you can! That’s not illegal. Employers routinely decide not to hire anyone in California, for example, because of California’s workplace laws.

  20. Anon Today*

    HR People – I’m wondering if this is the new normal:

    In the last 2 years my HR department has locked off the elevator so that you cannot get off on their floor (elevators open to a lobby area, and all offices and sensitive paperwork is behind locked doors) and made it so that you must have a appointment to talk to HR in person.

    I assumed that this was in response to covid, but when I asked was told that, no, this is the new normal for HR departments nationally. I was surprised because we often are told to go to HR to pick up paperwork, or to come see them if a badge is not working. Is this the current practice and I am just out of touch?

    1. ferrina*

      I’m not in HR, but that is NOT normal. My current HR (and every HR at every small to midsized company I’ve ever worked at) has their own section that is accessible to everyone. They have an open door policy because they WANT people to use their expertise. They have locked filing cabinets, but haven’t locked themselves down. That’s ridiculous.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      I worked somewhere where the HR Director did not like people and required that HR be moved to their own private floor in the building. They claimed that it was for confidentiality, but it was fine for Medical Records and Payroll to be on public floors.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I work in an open plan office but HR is one of the few departments with a separate locking office. They also have fixed opening hours when you can visit them.

    3. Snailing*

      Sounds like it’s just nationally for your specific company, but it doesn’t sound normal at all to me. I would think it would actively hurt HR’s relationship with other departments!

    4. Sparkles McFadden*

      My long time employer always had HR behind locked doors. You could get to the reception desk, to pick up generic forms and whatnot, but someone would have to come and fetch you if you had an appointment.

    5. A Simple Narwhal*

      That’s really weird. We have floors you need to use your badge to access via the elevator (actually it’s all floors except our reception floor since we share the building with a few other companies), but none are locked to prevent internal people from accessing their own coworkers, and especially not HR. Our HR is actually on the only floor you don’t need a badge to access.

      So aside from what my company does, don’t most HR people try and give the impression that their door is always open? This is literally opposite from that, they’re actively shutting people out.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        My old company restricted visitors to the lobby unless they had an escort and badge (we even had to badge babies, seriously) and blocked access to certain spaces based on your department. Employees could walk right into the HR person’s office. This seems very strange to me.

        I get that it’s probably related to confidentiality and maybe there was a problem that pushed them to restrict access, but it’s not a national norm that I’m aware of. Small businesses definitely don’t do that—many of them wouldn’t have the space.

    6. MailGal96*

      At my company, access to HR’s space is badge only and you need an appointment to meet with them. They had to give me access though since I deliver their mail. :)

    7. HRChickie*

      I was going to say this is very odd, but then I remembered that I’ve worked in both “closed” and “open” environments. At a previous job the entire HR department was behind a locked door that only HR badges would open. Then Benefits was actually in a locked room WITHIN the department that only Benefits badges would open (due to the medical records/confidentiality stuff).

      But the job after that, and the job I’m currently in – we’re in the open. One job had HR on its own floor, so you could kind of tell if someone was on the floor who you wouldn’t want to hear your conversation, but my current job we’re just part of cube world.

      Honestly I like HR having their own closed-off (but not locked-off) space, or their own floor of a building if that’s your setup. Everyone should be able to get to us, but there are often conversations that have to be had and if meeting rooms aren’t available and you don’t have an office, it helps to be able to know that random employees aren’t just wandering by and can hear you.

    8. Choggy*

      My company HR department has an open office but also separate room that is locked when no HR staff are in the office due to the sensitive files housed within.

    9. AnonymousHOU*

      All of our administrative functions, including HR, moved to a new building a few years ago. Their setup is the exact opposite – all of the floors in the building are access-restricted (because open offices) *except* for the HR floor. During normal business hours, anyone can get to the HR floor without badge access. Otherwise it would be infeasible to process new hires, walk-ins from current staff and students, or literally any other HR business.

    10. Donkey Hotey*

      No, not “normal.”
      It’s tragic to say, but if you’re in the US, I would say that’s more a “shooting prevention” thing than a “sensitive information” thing.

      1. Stitching Away*

        It’s more likely HR trying to do everything they can to not be accessible to employees.

    11. JustaTech*

      I mean, there’s only one HR person in my building, but she has the same silly glass-fronted office as everyone else, on a common hallway. (The glass is frosted half-way up, so if you’re sitting you’re not visible, but that glass provides zero sound insulation.)

      Then again, under previous management, we had no HR people at all in our state, so this might be part of the new management’s “accessibility” drive.
      But like, sometimes you need to talk to HR about time-sensitive stuff? Or really low-key “I need a form” stuff. It’s weird that they’re so inaccessible.

    12. Anonymous Koala*

      In my state (NC) this would probably be illegal; companies of a certain size are required to maintain ‘open door’ HR policies with at least one HR rep available to see people without appointments during business hours.

    13. I'm just here for the cats*

      URGG this sounds like one of my old companies and it is messed up! You need to have access to HR!

      The HR people (all 2 of them but later just had the one) along with the Great grand Boss (don’t remember his title) and Operations managers (grand bosses), and the training person all had their offices in a back area that you had to badge into. Only Managers had the ability to badge to the back. The really messed up thing was that by the time I started at 3 the HR person was usually gone. We didn’t have email or any way to communicate with anyone else. The only way to talk to HR was to have your manager reach out letting you know that you wanted to meet and then he would let your manager know or he might come grab you. This was always tricky because once he grabbed me when I was coming back from break. Told me that my manager knew, but no one changed my status from break to meeting. So I got chewed out and docked points for the month for unapproved time or some shit.
      Obviously this is problematic because you want to be able to talk to HR without having to go through your direct boss. So when I needed to get FMLA I had to talk to my manager first. And of course they need to know why so they can tell the HR person.

    14. Malarkey01*

      At my large office you can get out of the elevator into an elevator lobby and there’s a collection of forms that you can take outside their suite. Everything else is behind the suite doors and you have to ring the bell to be admitted and need an appointment. Our office does have an open HR phone line where you can call anytime during working hours to discuss a situation and get an appointment if needed but they don’t want drop ins.
      Our place is very large and there’s no way they could get their work done if they also had everyone dropping in and couldn’t schedule appointments. Maybe it’s the difference between large places and smaller operations?

    15. Sharon*

      Sounds like this might a way to comply with data privacy laws re collection of personal information. I work at a large corporation where several departments are locked down like this.

  21. H*

    So my workplace emailed this earlier in the week due to COVID “Departmental leadership determined that we will continue at 3 says per week for the rest of August (as opposed to increasing to 4 days as previously stated). ” Luckily my supervisor is somewhat flexible (we don’t work in the same building). I have only been going in 1 day a week since they told us we have to start coming back…anyone else kind of doing their own thing below the radar haha

    1. Pam*

      We were supposed to return 2 days/weekly at the beginning of July- increasing to normal at the beginning of August. I had medical leave, and got it extended to keep me home a while longer.

    2. Lizzie*

      Yes. the plan was, one day a week the last couple of weeks in July, then two in August, then after Labor Day back to “normal” whatever that may be. MY bosses however have said one day for now is fine, and there is a good chance i can still WFH 2-3 days a week even after “normalcy” returns.

    3. Malarkey01*

      We were suppose to start transitioning back to hybrid after Labor Day once the kids went back to school (it’s still have here to find school age daycare this summer), but this week announced we’re now shooting for January. The plan was rewritten 2 weeks ago.

  22. References question*

    I have a question about references! I left a job of 2 years a few years ago and left on good terms. I got along great with my manager (who is a very important figure in the company) and everyone who worked there. However, during my exit interview, I gave HR some feedback about my boss that was pretty critical. I don’t want to give away my anonymity, but he always brought up a topic at work that was offensive for people who weren’t into it (nothing racist, religious, or sexist or anything like that, it was a sporting hobby).

    I went into detail about things he said and that he wasn’t approachable to discuss it with him. I know HR spoke to him because I asked one of my coworkers if he still brings up said topic, and she said he never did it again.

    I’ll be job hunting soon, and I don’t know if I can use him or another woman who worked there as a reference. The woman was VERY close with him and she was always on his side when I brought up how I hated him talking about the topic. I know she is upset about it because I asked her to lunch about 2 months ago and she completely ignored me (and we were super cool when I worked there and got along great).

    Should I skip them as references? Should I tell the companies I apply to (when they ask for references) to not contact this company for a reference due to some things I mentioned in my exit interview? I don’t want to come off dramatic or anything, it was a huge deal and I’m glad I told them.

    1. ferrina*

      This doesn’t feel like a big deal, but if you aren’t sure, see if you can grab (virtual) coffee with him. Tell him you’re job hunting and looking for a position that offers [WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR IN THE NEW JOB] and ask if you can use him as a reference. This is best practice anyways. If you get weird vibes from him, just don’t list him as a reference (you don’t need to tell him, he’ll just assume that no one bothered reaching out to him).

      I feel like it wouldn’t be a great move to tell companies not to contact this company- that is a lot of drama for what should be a minor issue. Asking not to contact your current employer is standard, but not to contact a previous employer speaks of bad blood. Curious what others think on this

    2. LTL*

      I’d skip the woman since she ignored your lunch invite. As for your boss, perhaps you could reach out and say that you were wondering if you could ask him to your reference list and does he feel he would be able to provide a positive reference for you?

  23. AndersonDarling*

    I would like to create more buzz around my work and I’m considering using LinkedIn Posts or maybe a blog. Has anyone shared knowledge this way to bolster “their brand.” I figure I would have about 2-3 dozen articles on specific topics. I’m in a newer industry so it would be good knowledge to share, but the articles would be longer and require visuals so I don’t think that is what people use LinkedIn Posts for.
    I’m not interested in making money, just networking, finding a job better suited to my strengths, and I really like writing and sharing knowledge! But I don’t want to spend $$$ for a blog that I won’t be interested in maintaining after a few years. Any suggestions?

    1. Nela*

      If you’re just testing the waters, LinkedIn or Medium seem to be good places to share writing.
      Medium now has a limit for free readers, but they have “publications” you can submit your articles to for additional exposure.
      I wouldn’t necessarily discount LinkedIn due to the articles’ length, and you can plug images just fine in the editor. Imprint is a newer alternative to Medium, but far less popular. Imprint also supports custom domains (not sure of the cost).

      Personally I’d always rather publish things on my own domains, but if you don’t think it’s that valuable to you to justify the cost, I get it.

    2. Caboose*

      Does your industry have any community groups on either LinkedIn or Facebook? I’m not sure which industry it is, but I’ve found some of these groups to be amazing for networking. Even if there’s no good groups, I’d say to find other people in this industry and follow them where they post stuff. Approach interactions with your peers not from the perspective of “God, I hope these people can help me find a job” but from the perspective of “I hope I can make a friend who shares my interests so we can talk shop!”.

      Tumblr, last I checked, was still free, although you’d have to pay for a custom domain to look professional.

      If the visuals required would work well in video format, it might be worth putting the information into a video on Youtube, honestly! There’s whole swaths of channels dedicated to just…sharing interesting information. You’ve gotta present it in an engaging manner, and know how to cut out industry jargon to appeal to the average viewer, but it’s an option!

  24. Mr. Cajun2core*

    What should a cover letter contain? Previously, Alison has stated that it should not regurgitate what is on your resume but should say why you are excited about the job. However, in a recently article the author pretty much stated that a good cover letter should state why you are qualified for the job (which is usually on my resume). If I tried to do both, I would end up with a 2 page cover letter!

    Thanks!

    1. AndersonDarling*

      If your qualifications aren’t clear, then I would put them in the cover letter. In my case, most of my great achievements are from 4 jobs ago and a recruiter wouldn’t likely scan that far down my resume, so I call them out in the cl.
      I think of a cover letter as a brief conversation I’d have with the recruiter. If I had 30 seconds to talk, what would I bring to the recruiters attention to show them that I am interested and qualified?

      1. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

        Yes yes yes, applicants to help me out by saying “here are three things I do well that are part of what you’re looking for” or basically the TLDR version of an interview, that’s so helpful.

        And brief is right, I’d say the biggest way most people can improve their cover letters is to shorten every paragraph by 2/3 and consider removing one of them entirely. Pique my interest, show me you have enough of the goods that it’s worth talking to you. Make it easy for me to want to move forward and get to know you more.

    2. not a doctor*

      My approach (which I think helped in getting me my current job) was to essentially merge the two: to explain what parts of the job I thought I’d really enjoy and excel at, based on my own background. For example: “I was excited to find a role with a focus on teapot design, because while teapots haven’t always been in my official job description, I’ve always managed to find a way to bring them into my work. For example, at Job X, incorporating teapots helped me achieve Accomplishment A.”

    3. londonedit*

      A cover letter should expand on your CV/resume, and relate your experience to the job description for the job you’re applying to.

      So you’re not looking to just say ‘For the last five years I have worked at Llama Grooming Inc as Assistant Groomer, and I have been responsible for booking in llamas for grooming, assisting the Lead Groomer and ensuring llamas are returned to their owners in a timely manner’. Because those things should be the bullet points on your CV. You’re looking to say ‘Over the last five years I have gained experience in llama grooming through my role as Assistant Groomer at Llama Grooming Inc. Working for such a prestigious company has given me an excellent opportunity to hone my skills – I have been able to expand my role to include assisting the Lead Groomer with brushing and hoof polishing, and I also run the booking system for appointments, where a keen eye for detail is needed in order to give our clients the level of service they expect. Having had the chance to learn more about llama grooming, and to experience working hands-on brushing llamas and caring for their hooves under supervision, I now feel ready to make the move into a more senior role, and I feel that the position of Llama Groomer would allow me to make the most of my growing experience while allowing me to further expand my knowledge’. So you’re looking to give the context behind your skills and experience, and you’re looking to show how they’ll fit with what the company is looking for.

    4. Iris Eyes*

      What qualifications do you have that most strongly match the job description and that you are eager to use? Maybe a sentence or two on why you are interested in the company and then another few about the job itself and how it fits with your experience. You are just highlighting why you are interested in this job at this company and why they might also be interested in you. Not a full blown persuasive essay just a general why you, why them, why now?

    5. Little Beans*

      I have a paragraph about why I want the job, and what about this particular job interests me more than other jobs out there. Then I explain why I would be good at the job but I focus on the intangible things that are not so easy to convey on a resume, and I include a couple very short anecdotes that aren’t really accomplishments but just illustrate a bit more about my working style.

    6. Actual Vampire*

      The way I think about it is that the cover letter is the argument and the resume is the evidence (or the source that’s being cited). The cover letter should explain the conclusions you want someone to come to when they read your resume. So for example, when applying to be an Accessible Teapot Design Consultant, the cover letter might say “I have 20 years of experience designing teapots for a range of users, from babies to Olympic athletes. I am well-versed in the specific design challenges that can affect a customer’s ability to use and enjoy their teapot.” That’s all stuff that could be gleaned from the resume, but you don’t want to rely on the reader doing the work to figure out how much experience you have and how diverse your experience was.

    7. Generic Name*

      Your resume is the dots, your cover letter is the line connecting those dots. Unless you’ve only ever held one particular job that uses the same skills, tools, processes, whatever, and you’re applying for that exact same job using skills, tools, processes you’ve always used, most hiring managers need you to spell out why your past experience makes you a great candidate for the job you’re applying to.

    8. WoodswomanWrites*

      In response to your comment about a two-page cover letter, that can be appropriate in the right context. My work involves writing, and my cover letters are now two pages and demonstrate my ability to write. In one case, an interviewer told me my cover letter was among the best she ever read. Another time, the interviewer said they didn’t need me to submit a writing sample as they typically would because my cover letter was strong. So the one-page limit isn’t universal if there’s a reason why a longer letter would be compelling.

  25. A. Ham*

    How much cushion/benefit of the doubt do you give for people late for a job interview, before it becomes a deal breaker?
    I know things happen, but here I am sitting waiting for a candidate that was supposed to have an interview 12 minutes ago…
    (I may be soft when it comes to this because I remember a time when I was frantically trying to get to an interview and ended up being late. They were extraordinarily understanding, and I ended up getting the job. but I also called when I knew I wasn’t going to make it on time. there has been no call today.)

    This is for a part time job, if that changes your answer.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      For me, it depends on traffic and transport more than anything else.
      If you’re in a place with lots of traffic and difficulty finding parking, or where transit systems get bollixed up, I’d give more leeway.

      Also, please consider your physical location and signage. I was late to one interview because of the way the building and parking lot were laid out. It was not clear at all where the front door was – the building was originally set up for multiple tenants, each with their own entryway, and I had to hike around the periphery until I found the actual door.

      1. The Rural Juror*

        This happened to me at an appointment recently and really stressed me out! The parking lot was at the back of the building, but none of the doors were accessible without a code or keycard. I had to go down a hill on the driveway to get to the front and was cutting it close! It would have been nice for them to suggest I find street parking out front instead.

      2. The Prettiest Curse*

        Yup, I was once half an hour late to an interview because there was no obvious entrance to the building and nobody was picking up the organization’s main phone line, which was the only phone number I had. They did eventually rouse themselves to answer the intercom and let me in after I started buzzing business names at random.
        I was practically crying with frustration, especially when they told me I wasn’t the only person to have difficulties getting into the building! (They did not send me any instructions on who to contact if I couldn’t get in.)

        When I was sending interview confirmations to candidates in a later job, I always included a number they could call if they were running late or couldn’t get into the building, not only to help the candidates but also to make things easier for the interviewers. So I think it takes work from both sides to avoid this type of screw-up.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        This happened to me once when I got to the building and the elevator was out of order. I had to hike up the stairs. There was no way for me to know this prior to arrival. I was only a couple of minutes late and apologized profusely. I didn’t get the job but I have no idea if that had anything to do with it.

        If it looks like I’m going to be late, I call as soon as humanly possible.

      4. beach read*

        Yes!!! I once passed a building 3 times because it wasn’t clear as to how to get in to the parking lot. It was also in a different state that I lived in. I was super late but still got the job.

      5. The New Wanderer*

        This is a surprisingly common problem! Happened to me three separate times and no one had thought to warn me about how to find the entrance or what to do when I got in if it wasn’t immediately obvious.

        For bigger companies with multiple buildings, make sure the candidate has the right address. I showed up a bit early to the wrong building and they had no idea what I was doing there. We managed to figure it out but I ended up being 20 minutes late to the right location (part of the figuring out process was calling the one contact I had, which went to voicemail because they had left to go to the conference room for my interview!).

    2. Whiskey on the rocks*

      15 minutes-ish. All my candidates have my phone number, so 15 minutes without communicating is really pushing it. If you can’t be on time (which mattered in that job) and communicate, this isn’t the job for you.

      1. JustaTech*

        My only, only caveat to that would be if the candidate calls you/shows up after the 15 minute window and explains that they didn’t call because they were driving and there wasn’t anywhere safe to pull over to make a call.

        Making a call while driving a car is a primary offense (ie, you could be pulled over for it) in my state, unless you can use voice-activation and a hands-free set. I would much rather someone explain that they got lost/stuck in traffic and didn’t want to risk making a call.

    3. Colette*

      If they haven’t called to tell you what’s going on, I’d write them off. If they’ve been in contact, I might give them more leeway based on the reason. (“I hit some metal on the road and my tire went flat” would get more leeway than “The traffic is terrible” – unless the traffic is really unusually bad today for some reason.)

    4. Alice*

      Depends on what they have to say when they eventually show up and/or call. It could be that they say they had a medical emergency and they’re in the ER, or some other extenuating circumstance. But yeah if they show up late without calling beforehand, it’s not a good sign, especially if they act cavalier about it.

      1. ferrina*

        Agree. If you have a great reason, great interview, are timely in the rest of the process and have great references (and I will ask references about punctuatlity), you can come back from it. But if you aren’t profusely apologizing/in the ER, I will write you off.

    5. Saffie_Girl*

      I try (not always successfully) to wait to see what they say. Having a flat tire in a cell phone dead zone may be legit. Other general ‘oh sorry’ may not be. Tells you a lot about the candidate though, either way!

    6. LTL*

      It depends on what they say when they arrive. I think the tricky thing about calling when you’re running late is that there’s the person may be driving.

    7. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      I think it depends on the situation and the role. If it’s an early-career type job at an office in the city where there may be parking or transport concerns, I’d be more lenient. I’m about to sit on an interview panel for a mid-senior fundraiser at my university, where we provide a campus map and parking is plentiful, and we would likely count any tardiness against a candidate – but that’s because this job is all about getting to meetings in strange places and you have to know how to get there on time!

  26. Expiring Cat Memes*

    Ever been paralysed by extreme job hate?

    I’ve been pulled in to help out while recruitment is underway for an additional temporary role in our team, a role I’m being “strongly encouraged” to apply for because my contract ends soon, they think my skills would for be advantageous and they want to keep me on. The work is a stretch for my experience, into work I have no long term interest in, but would benefit from a better working knowledge of. It’s a few months, so I figured why not broaden my skill set while I keep an eye out for new opportunities?

    I was enthusiastic to learn the ropes at first, but now I just hate it. Have trouble getting out of bed level hate it. Oscillate between heart-palpitating level imposter syndrome and general frustration kind of hate it. Did I mention I hate it? ‘Cause I f**king hate it.

    It’s not inconceivable that I could quickly learn, like and do well at this job with good guidance. But the new manager I’m reporting to is notoriously chaotic, difficult to contact and doesn’t communicate well. A lovely, highly skilled and experienced person whom I do respect, but who is just not a good manager of people.

    The role is at least 60% stuff I have zero experience in, and I don’t know what’s expected of me or if I’m demonstrating remote competence so far. I’ve been totally thrown in the deep end, providing advice to the executive level on sensitive issues that I don’t feel qualified to do. I have trouble un-muting myself in the meetings because my hands are shaking so badly with the nerves and stress of it all. The times I’ve managed to speak to the manager to ask for guidance, the best I’ve gotten is a brain dump of everything going on in her head, whether it’s related or not to anything I asked, for a brief couple of minutes before she’s off to do something else.

    If I don’t apply for this job, I’ll likely face a period of un– or under-employment. Which isn’t the end of the world, but not what I want either. (And yes, I’m also applying for other jobs, but pickings are slim at the moment). In time I guess I could figure the job out on my own, or find other people to lean on for guidance. But right now, I haven’t been able to write a single word of my application to the job I’m already doing because I’m completely paralysed with hate for it. How on earth am I supposed to explain why I want this job or would do well at it?

    Advice? Commiseration? Funny distracting stories?

    1. Mr. Cajun2core*

      Unless you need the job for food, clothing, and shelter, don’t apply for it. It isn’t worth your health. Speaking from 1st hand experience here. If you do take the job, continue looking for other jobs.

      1. Spice for this*

        YES, I agree with Mr. Cajun2core.
        I have had HATE for my past job and I speak from experience also and have seen things get worse before getting better or never getting better at companies.
        Can you freelance for a while after leaving this job? Do you have $ saved and can you use savings for a while until you find another job?
        You have to take care of yourself and make selfcare a priority. Stress can affect so many different body systems and cause huge damage. You got to put your health first. Good Luck!

    2. CatCat*

      Commiseration because I am at a place where I hate half of my job. Could probably improve if I had better training and management over the work, but I grown to dread and hate the work so much that I don’t see myself coming back from that because it has taken a toll on my mental health.

      Advice: don’t apply to keep doing what you hate if you can afford not to.

    3. Blossom Fowler*

      I have hated jobs in the past but it’s usually because of the people. It sounds like what you hate is the not knowing if you’re doing it correctly. You mention that you are stressed because you are providing advice to the executive level – is there someone on the executive level that you could approach and explain that you need training and/or guidance before you will apply for the position?

    4. StrikingFalcon*

      If you can afford a period of unemployment, I would not apply for the job. You hate the work, the manager can’t or won’t provide you the support you need to excel, and you are miserable! I’d go back to your former manager, let them know that you’ve realized that the open position isn’t the right fit for you right now, and you’ve decided not to apply. If you lose employment due to the end of a contract, my understanding is you would qualify for unemployment benefits, but since they also are encouraging you to apply to an open position, you’ll want management on board with that decision. If you can’t afford a period of unemployment, put together something to apply (it doesn’t have to be great or perfect) but keep job searching, and just do your best at the new role in the meantime. Good luck with your job search!

    5. BB2*

      Commiseration. I am in a similar situation to you. New job i have never done before with zero training. The line you wrote ‘It’s not inconceivable that I could quickly learn, like and do well at this job with good guidance.’ is what I think about every day. I want to be good at my job! Please give me some guidance so I can succeed!

      My therapist asked me that the other week. What evidence do you have that you are not doing well in your job? I have no evidence, no one has talked to me, I have not dropped the ball, I get my work done. My expectations of what I think should be done/how I should be doing it are not reality. Reality is that whatever work I am doing is fine with everyone around me. That mind shift along with just caring less about my job has helped for now.

    6. foolofgrace*

      If you don’t take the job, you’ll be out of a job. If you do take the job and fail, you’re no worse off than if you hadn’t taken the job. And on the plus side, things might work out with the job, especially if, as other say, you can approach someone at the executive level about getting training. Plus that would give you a buffer if you mess up — they’ll have been warned. If you do take the job, try really hard not to take it home with you. Good luck!

    7. Expiring Cat Memes*

      Thanks everyone for your kind and thoughtful responses. I needed to hear the advice about prioritising self care. I have a savings buffer, I just haven’t wanted to dip into it as I’m saving for a house. But there are far more important things in life than money and stuff! Unfortunately going to exec isn’t an option. It’s a large hierarchical organisation and the job reports through a different chain, so it’d be weirdly out of step to go around the manager sideways and 4 levels up.
      I am going to make an effort to take a big step back and disinvest myself though. I still have a couple of weeks to decide what to do, and if I’m still feeling this way I’m going to do the right thing by my mental health and not spend my weekend writing the application and hating on life.
      Thanks all for being so lovely and I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

  27. Coffee Owlccountant*

    One of my direct reports resigned this morning and now I have to write a job description for a unicorn. Anybody have any good unicorn-job-description recommendations?

    One caveat – I would LOVE to post the salary but our HR will not permit it for all the usual BS reasons that loads of companies won’t do it and will not be swayed, so count that one out.

    1. Rosie*

      Be really clear about requirements vs “nice-to-haves”, and which things are needed out of the gate and which can be taught on the job.

      1. ferrina*

        This! Keep in mind that white men are way more likely to apply for “stretch jobs” than other groups, so be clear on what you need, what is trained, and what is a nice to have/can be shifted to someone else.
        Really think about the core skills of the job- do you need someone experienced in kitten hats, or do you need an experienced knitter who is comfortable knitting in the round? This will help as you evaluate resumes too- I once posted for a junior project manager and hired a guy that had no project manager experience, but had managed logistics in a military position. High pressure, low resources, and managing a million moving pieces? Yep, those skills served him really well in the new position.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        The phrase “or equivalent software package” got me through screening for one job I loved & excelled at. (And only left because I was marrying someone in another state that my company didn’t have tax exposure in.)

    2. irene adler*

      Know what skills you are willing to impart to the new hire (i.e. via training). You don’t have to state this in the job description; but don’t make in-house training skills a “must have”.

    3. AndersonDarling*

      Be clear on what the job is rather than a bunch of bullet points of qualifications. “This role will take the lead on Lama Programing Development. They frequently speak to community leaders and conduct research in lama feeding. They are responsible for x,y,z and suggest improvements.”
      And I’d also be really, really sure that the qualifications are using correct terminology. So many times I’ve passed on jobs only to be contacted by a 3rd party recruiter for the same job because the recruiter talked with the company and figured out the real terminology for the position.

    4. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Can you mentally reframe this so you aren’t hung up on the ‘unicorn’ thing?

      There’s a scene from Moneyball that comes to mind. You aren’t trying to find one person to replace this outgoing employee. You’re trying to replace the sum of what that employee did. Can you transfer some of the unrelated tasks to an existing employee? Are you sure that those unrelated skills and tasks are really necessary?

      1. Teapot Repair Technician*

        Agreed. If your org chart includes a position that can only be filled by a mythical creature, see if you can make the org chart more realistic.

    5. Pikachu*

      Are they already gone? If you have a positive working relationship, could you ask them to help? The last job I left, we were parting on good terms so I helped them out by basically writing a big list of all the things I did on a regular basis. Then they could use that list and decide what responsibilities sense for a replacement and what things maybe should be absorbed elsewhere.

    6. Generic Name*

      Instead of trying to recruit another unicorn that has the same knowledge and skill set as your outgoing employee, take a look at the work that needs doing, what skills and experience a candidate needs to be able to accomplish that work, and write a job description for the work that needs done. Sit each of your direct reports down and ask them if there is anything that your former employee did that they might like to do more of or learn how to do. A person leaving can often be an opportunity for other staff to grow in their careers. Once you’ve done that, figure out where the gaps are and you’ll have a good idea of the job opening that you have.

    7. Siege*

      We’ve started framing job postings as what you need when you start, what you’ll do in the first month, what you need to know by the third month, what you’ll do through the third month, then six months, then a year, and then cover the oddball stuff where you’re doing an annual event that happens in February with (this time) likely less than four months in the role. We’ve only hired a couple positions that way, and the second one just got back this week from parental leave, but the feedback we have is that it’s better than a bullet point of all the duties/skills anyone thought of. It means we’ve got time to help you write the legislative agenda because you need the people skills to recruit the legislative committee first.

      I’ve seen that done similarly but more succinctly (because this does make about a four-page description, and I am not kidding at all) by listing the bullet points with percentage categories – ie, you’ll spend 65% of your time doing X, Y, Z, 20% of your time on P, Q, R, etc. We chose our method as a way of increasing the diversity of our application pool because so many people who aren’t white men hesitate on “stretch” jobs.

    8. AnonymousHOU*

      I have a for-the-future recommendation. On my team, I am seen as the “unicorn” who has a ton of both institutional knowledge and nuanced skills. I’ve been in some version of my current role for almost a decade, which is longer than most of the other staff have worked here. My current boss made it a priority a few years ago that I create an operations manual for our team, to prepare for the day I eventually win the lottery/get hit by a bus/change jobs.

      I would HIGHLY recommend this for anyone who is or who manages someone with a catch-all job like mine. The operations manual doesn’t have to be incredibly long, but should be able to point to mission-critical things and how they should be covered or who can provide training. For example, I worked with our database team to create a bunch of specific queries/naming conventions/processes. My successor doesn’t need to know the nuances of how those are built, but needs to know what they are called and who to email on the database team for training or temporary coverage. I’d even include things like “YOU MUST CHANGE OWNERSHIP OF THE SHARED DRIVE BEFORE BOSS QUITS OR ALL THE FILES WILL BE DELETED WHEN HIS LOGIN IS REVOKED.”

    9. Mockingjay*

      Identify which of the unicorn’s duties are basic requirements and which ones are things that they picked up along the way or naturally evolved as next step in process.

      You’re probably hiring for the first and hoping for the second.

    10. Mental Lentil*

      I always try to break it out into skills, knowledge, experience, attributes. And then after that REQUIRED, a lack of which is a deal breaker, and then DESIRED/OPTIONAL, which is not a deal breaker.

    11. Caboose*

      This is probably a minor thing, but make sure your line breaks and formatting work on all sites!

      Not having a salary posted is already going to turn away a lot of “unicorns”, unfortunately, but having a posting that’s just a wall of text full of buzzwords and incorrectly-formatted bullet points is definitely going to turn away everyone else. Unicorns have a lot of options for jobs; make them understand why *they* want to work for you.

    12. The New Wanderer*

      My colleague just shared with me a job posting that is clearly looking for a unicorn. It’s in our field but under responsibilities they list literally everything that anyone who works in our field *might* do, but they sure as heck wouldn’t be responsible for all of it. I could easily name six people responsible for the core duties in this post, each of them working full time. From the post it seemed like they were looking for one person to do it all, which came across like they had no idea what each responsibility really involved. That can be a recipe for burnout or disappointment, but never success.

      So as others have noted, please be very clear that while the scope of the role might touch on these things, the core requirements are a much more reasonable and limited set.

  28. Anonymoose*

    Any tips for a federal Zoom interview?

    I’m currently in state civil service so I know it’s probably the same standard format, have to ask all interviewees the same questions, etc. But any other things to prepare for? Do the KSAs specifically get discussed? (not the general topics but the actual questions) TIA

    1. Policy Wonk*

      Depending on the grade of the job, there will be standard requirements, and specialized requirements. If there are any required specialized or technical qualifications, focus on those. And where possible give specific examples of how you did x or y that shows that you meet the requirements.

      And it should go without saying, but please check how everything looks on screen. What looks good in the mirror may look washed out or different on screen, and a messy background can count against you even if it’s not your mess.

      Good luck!

    2. FED SES spouse*

      Look up the STAR and CCAR interview models. That is how you should be answering depending on the level you are interviewing for.

      Just like other interviews, it depends how much the want to tell you about KSAs or the job in general, you may/may not be able to ask questions. Like other gov jobs, you will be asked the same questions, will be pretty formal.

      Check out the usajobs and fednews reddit threads, you may be able to find people who talked about interviews for the same job. Good luck!

    3. The New Wanderer*

      I did a Zoom federal interview this past spring. I was asked a standard set of questions that could have applied to the junior version of the position as much as the senior version (my role would be senior). At the beginning of the interview, the host introduced everyone and then explained the ground rules – questions would be asked by each of the panel members and they’re happy to repeat any question but would not be able to provide clarification or ask follow up questions of me. I was told to answer as fully as I could and to indicate when I was done. (Incidentally I did this by stopping talking and sitting back rather than saying “and I’m done” or any verbal cue, and that seemed to be easy to convey over video.) I don’t think any of the questions referenced the KSAs specifically, but they were all either field-specific or “tell us about a time when this challenge happened.”

      The formal question and answer part took up just over half an hour, leaving me 15 minutes to ask my questions. I had prepared a bunch just in case, by looking at the various websites (the interview setup included links so they definitely expected me to be familiar with those sites), and I think we actually got through all of them. That part of the interview was much more conversational and relaxed, which was good. In the course of those questions, I was able to reference a few extra things about myself and my experience that hadn’t fit neatly into any of my previous answers.

      Good luck!

    4. RosyGlasses*

      There is actually an interview prep class next week that you can register for via usajobs for what to expect in a federal interview. Good luck!

  29. Lady Meyneth*

    I just finished a job interview, and it seems to have gone really well. But the final question was “How many tennis balls can you fit into a limo?” This is for a senior engineering position, so my brain was like… WTF?

    Fortunately, I’m still not sure I really want this job, so I wasn’t at all nervous on the interview. I just kinda laughed and told them it depends on wether they want the limo to move or if I could put balls in the driver’s spot too. Then said I’d have to research limos internal sizes, but I could get back to them.

    I never had an outrageous interview question before, so I wanted to share!

    1. LTL*

      Brain teasers make for horrible interview questions. But interviewers ask them to see how you think, so it’s not about getting the right answer but watching how you go through the question.

      1. Constance Lloyd*

        I was asked a ridiculous question like this in an interview for a retail position. After I was hired they admitted they ask those to see how graciously the applicants respond to absurd questions when they’re supposed to be on their best behavior. That was one of the worst jobs I’ve ever had, but that’s probably more because it was retail!

        1. Lady Meyneth*

          I was in retail for a little while through college, and considering the amount of carzy and ridiculous questions customers ask… yeah, I can see an absurd question being very valuable on a retail interview :D

      2. LC*

        I’ve asked and been asked questions like these (although at least a little bit more related to the job) and I think they can be useful if /b> the interviewer actually says what the point of the question is.

        “How many tennis balls fit in a limo?”
        vs.
        “We’d like to get a sense of how you approach questions that you won’t immediately know an answer to. If we were to ask how many tennis balls fit in a limo, walk us through your thought process. What questions you would ask, what information you would need and how you would find it, etc.”

        (Unless they just really want to see how you respond to oddball questions out of the blue about something completely unrelated to the asker or current situation. Then, sure, go with the first one. That sounds awful though.)

        1. LC*

          *sigh.

          My kingdom for an edit button. Sorry for the formatting fail, I thought I’d gone back and gotten rid of that extra space.

        2. Siege*

          Yeah, we recently hired for an admin position in my organization and one of the questions we put in the interview was specifically flagged as there being no one right answer, the problem posed was intended to be unsolvable, and we wanted to know what steps the applicant would go through to solve the problem. The situation was a combination of a document that needed finalization and distribution in the next fifteen minutes to avoid triggering OT for the employee, an extremely ambiguous clause in the key point of the document, unreachable staff in the comms department, and a board meeting first thing the next day.

          The applicants who decided they could solve the problem by ignoring one or more of the components of the situation were not well-ranked; the applicants who requested permission for OT (which we grant pretty freely), sent a clearly-marked “DRAFT” copy of the document to the board, noted the discrepancy in the covering email, or contacted the org president (appropriate in our context) got ranked up. We could have done something similar by asking an unrelated question like tennis balls in a limo (and I like your framing here) but we got something very usable from describing a plausible, no-perfect-solution scenario.

          1. AcademiaNut*

            See, that question makes sense in the context of the job. You get a sense of their ability to troubleshoot problems, and their knowledge of what kind of responses are appropriate.

            How many tennis balls in a limo tests someone’s ability to do back of the envelope geometry problems. I wouldn’t be fazed, because I work in a field where doing that sort of calculation is actually useful.

            The OP says they told her to research it and get back to them, which is even more bizarre, unless they actually like filling limousines with sports equipment.

            1. Lady Meyneth*

              “The OP says they told her to research it and get back to them…”

              Just to clarify, they actually didn’t. I offered, kinda jokingly, and they said it was alright and they’d just note my answer on the spot. It would have been extremely bizarre though, and would definitely make up my mind to run.

      3. Admin of Sys*

        Yeah, this, though they’re often done really badly. I had a manager who would ask something about navigating with a sextant, which had such a wild amount of assumptions about base knowledge and context it was insane. His argument was he wanted to know how you went about finding information about something you’d never heard of before, but my view was that even in highly specific industries, there’s usually /some/ level of shared context.
        I like asking about the driver’s seat! If I were inclined to ask those sort of questions, I’d give you extra points for thinking outside of the box, and considering the purpose of the request rather than just the technical details. But the response about you looking up limo size is weird – it sounds like they almost expected an actual numerical number, rather than a process walkthrough.

    2. Coder von Frankenstein*

      In theory, this type of question is supposed to provide insight into how the candidate approaches unexpected situations and goes about solving novel problems.

      I believe Google pioneered the approach of asking stuff like this. Then they analyzed the results, determined that it didn’t work, and stopped doing it. By then, however, it had established itself in the universe of “One Weird Trick” questions beloved of managers who don’t know how to evaluate candidates.

    3. AuroraPickle*

      I would have said, “well, it depends on the size of the limo or maybe it’s a toy limo and the real question is, how many limos can I fit in the tennis ball? And also, who’s birthday is it?”

      Your answer was much better.

    4. Pam*

      Does the limo have a moon roof? Otherwise, you would be limited by the height of the window you are pouring the tennis balls through. (Cue those videos where someone booby-traps a medicine cabinet with marbles)

    5. Marie*

      That type of question used to be extremely common in tech. I got “how many piano tuners are there in ?” and “Why are manhole covers round?” The idea is to see how you reason out an unfamiliar problem and if you are willing to estimate based on what knowledge you do have. Google was famous for asking how many ping pong balls could fit in a schoolbus. But they’re BAD questions. They don’t correlate with job success. There are better ways to see how someone approaches an unfamiliar problem.

      The famous/big-name tech companies like Microsoft, Facebook, and Google officially stopped using brainteaser questions 10-15 years ago at least. But occasionally employees at those companies will use them for reasons I do not understand. A lot of smaller tech companies still use brainteasers because they’re either copying what they experienced when they were working in big tech or because big tech used to use them “so they must be important.”

      I think your answer was great. I’d be cautious of a team that’s still using brainteasers. It would make me worry that they aren’t up to date on other practices in the industry.

      1. Lady Meyneth*

        Those questions were never too popular in my corner of the world, so I guess I never expected to get one ever. But this company is a humongous O&G giant, one of the world leaders, so at least I don`t have to worry about them having too many outdated questions.

        It’s actually an awesome opportunity, would be a promotion and probably come with a lot of benefits. The only reason I’m not sure I’d take it is the commute when WFH is over (it’d double from my current office), so I’d need at least partial WFH locked in contract before I commit.

      2. David*

        At some point I heard that estimation questions, like the piano tuners and ping pong balls ones, were supposed to test a person’s ability to break down a difficult-sounding problem into components which are easier to tackle individually. Like with ping pong balls in a limo, you can break it down into (1) estimate the volume of a ping pong ball, (2) estimate the volume of a limo, (3) estimate the ratio of those two. And then each of those tasks can be broken down further into things like estimating length, width, and height, or rounding numbers to powers of 10 before dividing, or whatever. The actual numbers involved wouldn’t matter, it’s all about the process. Given that, it makes some sense that people would have thought those questions were testing some kind of useful technical ability – at least, before there was real evidence to show otherwise.

        I never understood the point of things like asking why manhole covers are round, though. The main “skill” that seems to test is having heard the same question before.

    6. quill*

      It’s so weird but I wonder if they are screening out snap-estimators in favor of people who take practical considerations like “does it need to be safely driveable” and “what model of limo?” into account?

      Because I have unfortunately met a lot of “future engineers” in my time who may have been good at math but were very, very bad at practical questions. One of them built a crooked set piece because he forgot that 2×4’s have width, etc.

  30. Whiskey on the rocks*

    I have an interview on Tuesday with an organization I’ve wanted to join for awhile. It is the first interview, but I’ll be meeting with the branch manager, the regional manager, the director of operations, the director of HR, and the CEO! It’s a management role that reports to the branch manager. First, I haven’t interviewed in over 10 years. Second, I’ve never had a panel interview. So I’m a bit nervous how this is going to go. I feel like that panel is more of a second or even third interview, and I won’t be comfortable asking some of the more mundane questions I have that the CEO doesn’t need to be answering. I know it’s possible that some of these people won’t end up attending, or for the entirety of the interview. How do you prepare for panels like this? How do you make sure you get to ask all your questions when this doesn’t seem like the right audience? What else should I be thinking of to make a good impression and not get intimidated??

    1. ferrina*

      Remember that you are interviewing them too! I’ve found that this makes me more confident and the conversation flow smoother- I’m not trying out for a role, we’re chatting to each other to see if this is a good business partnership.

      For your more mundane questions, you can simply say “I have a couple questions about [MUNDANE THING]. Who would be a good person for me to chat with?” Most reasonable companies will be happy to guide you.

      1. Whiskey on the rocks*

        That’s a good phrase, thank you. I’m going to write it down on top of my list of questions.

    2. SyFyGeek*

      This may seem outdated, but take enough copies of your resume, with cover letter, so you could hand a copy to every person if you needed to.

      Without fail, there’s always one panelist who doesn’t have access to your info during the interview. Being able to hand over a hard copy for them to look at, or take notes on has come in handy more than once.

      1. Whiskey on the rocks*

        It’s not outdated! I did actually have an interview a couple weeks ago (for a job I was pretty sure I didn’t want, it was good practice and went well). The interviewer was trying to pull up my resume and was pleased when I handed him a hard copy. I was debating about the cover letter also, but I think I will now that you’ve said it.

        1. JustaTech*

          I had this be the saving point of an interview, when I got to the interview with several copies of my resume only to discover that somehow the university system had sent this group my very first ever resume from when I was a week out of undergrad.

          Granted, knowing that they were interested in interviewing past-me and not present-me rather ended my interest in the job (I had advanced a *lot* in the interim), but they were all terribly impressed that I had paper copies of my resume at hand!

    3. Workerbee*

      I love panel interviews because I treat them like I, the applicant, am instead conducting a live survey of the company. They are here to answer my questions just as much as I am to answer theirs.

      One of my favorite questions to ask is about company culture. Throwing out a “What are the internal politics like here?” and paying close attention to everyone’s expressions, how answers are phrased, and what isn’t said, can help uncover red flags.

  31. Sled Dog Mama*

    I work for a company that provides services to other companies on a contracted basis. Generally 1 or 2 employees are assigned per site and work onsite at each place we provide services. I work at site A 4 days a week and site B 1 day a week. At Site B there is a second person (we’ll call him John) who is there 5 days a week (so most weeks Site B has 6 person days of coverage). When John takes time off I usually go to site B to cover for him and our Boss comes to site A to cover for me. Site B is about 1:30 drive from home for me and site A is about 20 minutes.
    Boss and I are in the middle of a huge 3.5 month push to get 2 major projects completed. Project 1 (at Site C) started in July and solely belongs to Boss, it is currently scheduled to wrap up around Sept 1st (assuming they stay on schedule but they have used up all the buffer in the original schedule). My project at site A kicks off next week and is supposed to conclude about Oct 18th. John has been aware of both these projects for at least 6 months (they both had a huge amount of work leading up to our portion which is the last critical stage).
    The last week of July John emails me and boss saying he’ looks at taking some time off in the next few months and wanted to check what was reasonable before putting anything in the system. Then he listed off 3 separate times he wants to take off. 1 week in august (which he is flexible with), a four day block in September and a second four day block in October before my project concludes. My initial response was you are out of touch with reality. But I calmly emailed back “hey, here’s my current project schedule so you (he and Boss) know what’s going on here.” Neither of us heard anything about this from Boss until Aug 4th when he said that John could have the week of August 16th, Boss wouldn’t be able to cover for me but Jane was going to come up and cover for me. Jane was at Site A temporarily a few years ago but has never been at Site B. He wants to send her to the site she’s more familiar with, which would be fine except that it’s been years since she was here and I’ve updated a lot of procedures and there have been a lot of other changes.
    Now I’m not particularly happy about this because as part of the project at site A we have a software upgrade happening that Friday-Sunday and a major hardware delivery on the Saturday and I should be there the whole week prior and after. But Boss isn’t worried and says me being there the week shouldn’t be an issue. This is also highly disruptive to some of the things I do outside work for my mental health but I knew about that when I took the job (I just thought John was a little more considerate with scheduling).
    So I dutifully informed the director at Site A that Jane would be there to cover for me on dates X-Y and could we please check with IT to ensure that her computer credentials were still active. Director is NOT happy about this, she immediately emailed both me and boss back that she did not find this acceptable at all. I’m not responding to this at all because that’s Boss’s place (I don’t have the authority to cancel John’s PTO or tell Jane that she has to cover for John).
    So I think director is in the right here, but who’s out of touch? John for asking for 3 weeks off (with very little notice) when he [should] know there’s a major project that makes it difficult, or Boss for deciding a) that John can take the time and b) that it makes more sense to pull me from my site the week before a huge upgrade than to figure out getting Jane up to speed at Site B.
    Also how long do I wait without Boss replying to Director before I poke him that this needs to be addressed ASAP. He’s not good about reading and responding to emails during the day so he may not respond until after hours and Director tries to detach from work over the week so may not see a Friday evening response until Monday morning. I am in a training class (for the new hardware we’re getting) all week next week so I will have limited ability to respond to things.

      1. lasslisa*

        And if you haven’t mentioned to your boss that you think it would be another for Jane to come up to speed on site B while you roll out the projects at site A, do that. He doesn’t know things about your work that you haven’t told him. Don’t belabor the point but it’s worth a mention that you think accommodating the director would be possible and also smart for the team.

    1. should i apply?*

      I will caveat this with I don’t work at a contracting firm. However, in my personal experience, little notice is any where from 1 day – 2 weeks. I am assuming that this is his vacation to use, and isn’t something like an unpaid leave. I would be pretty upset if I couldn’t take my vacation that I had earned, and especially the Sept / October requests aren’t short notice.
      It sounds like the larger problem is your company doesn’t have the flexibility / staffing to cover employees vacation. Unless I am missing context, like this is the accountant version of tax season where everyone know there isn’t vacation.

      1. JustaTech*

        Agreed. It would be nice if John realized that you can’t cover for him until your projects are done, but on some level that’s not his problem, that’s Boss’ or Director’s problem. And while the week in August might be short notice, asking in July about time off in October seems like plenty of lead time.

        And unlike if someone got sick, by giving this lead this should be plenty of time for Jane to get back up to speed and ready to take over for you or John. (Because you should also totally be taking some vacation after these big projects!)

        1. AcademiaNut*

          Prior to this, had John been given any information about what is a reasonable lead time for requesting time off, or that August through October was not a good time to take time off?

          I wouldn’t consider two to three months notice for four days off to be short notice unless someone explicitly told me so. And I find that people don’t pay detailed attention to other people’s workload unless it impact their job directly – John may have known you and boss were working on big projects, but that doesn’t mean he knows the details.

          So – I think John was entirely reasonable in requesting to take PTO, which is part of his compensation package, and if coverage is an issue, asking for the multiple times at once makes sense – that way, if he can’t get all the time off, he might be able to prioritize which is more important. Your boss could then reasonable say “You can’t take time off in October because there’s no coverage”.

          But I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect John to preemptively not request time off based on other people’s projects, unless he’s been told that in advance, or to resent him for not doing so (or resent him because your boss okayed it). You don’t want to set up a work culture where people are afraid to use PTO because it’s going to be treated as a huge imposition to request to use your vacation time, or because it’s going to upset coworkers if it’s approved.

  32. Iris Eyes*

    I am going to need to transition to our partially finished basement for full time WFH. I’m nervous about the lack of natural light in the winter and overwhelmed by all the options for making the space closer to fully finished (all my “perfect” solutions seem to come with huge price tags.) Anyone make the transition and have helpful advice?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I’m working in my partially-finished basement right now, because my upstairs office gets too hot in the height of summer.

      Some of the things to put in place you’d need regardless of whether it was a basement or not. Ergonomic chair and desk the most important.

      As far as light goes, I think desk lamps work better than overhead lights for video calls, and you can get LED bulbs with different ‘warmth’ levels for those.

      Wear warm socks (and slippers), because a bare concrete floor can make your feet really cold.

    2. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

      I saw a neat trick on tiktok the otehr day – a guy who lives in a basement apartment in NY created a fake window for himself. It’s a frame with full spectrum lights and blinds that let in some light so when he has it on, it feels like there’s light coming in through the window. That might be a nice DIY that could help with the light issue and avoid overhead lights. As for fully finishing it – my method is to focus on one detail at a time and not try to finish it all at once. I like to build a space slowly over time perfecting one element at a time.

      1. Pikachu*

        If you have a drop ceiling with fluorescent lights, they make these things called Sky Panels that look like clouds and scenery rather than the usual boring plastic.

        My OB/GYN had them and it was a really nice distraction!

    3. Admin of Sys*

      What’s not finished? Some things are easier to fake or fix than others.
      If you’re looking at a concrete floor, I love the silicone mats that are slightly cushioned under the desk, they make standing and just resting your feet a lot nicer, and they insulate pretty well. Similarly, a big rug makes things less echo-y and cold.
      If you’ve got bare drywall, commit to painting, it’s not that expensive. If you’ve got some other unfinished walls (pegboard, unskimmed sheetrock, etc) priming and painting can still hide a lot of sins. But if that’s not an option, you can get privacy screens that basically amount to stand alone cubical walls, and hide the walls that way. You can get decent ones for around $250.
      For lighting, especially in a windowless location, get grow lights and some plants. You can get some pretty affordable led based grow lights and it is amazing how much the spectrum helps when you’re inside. I used to have one at my back in a warehouse and it felt warmer even though it doesn’t actually generate any heat. Similarly, green things around you (that can be kept alive by the grow lights) help with enclosed spaces.
      The other thing you may want to get is a dehumidifiers. I always find basements damp and having one really helps keep some of the mustyness away, even if you have to empty it a lot.

      1. JustaTech*

        Another floor option could be those puzzle-piece floor tiles that look like “wood grain” (from a distance) that are super quick to put down. Rachel Maksy over on YouTube used them to finish her basement studio a couple of months ago and they look pretty good.

    4. 30 Years in the Biz*

      I haven’t made the transition myself, but I think full spectrum lighting to mimic natural light would be an essential. You can buy floor lamps and it looks like you can even hang full spectrum “grow lamps” from your ceiling/joists. Home Depot (if you’re in the US) has some options. In regard to furnishings (again in the US) you can find good deals at used office furniture dealers, local auctions, Habitat for Humanity ReStore shops, Goodwill, Salvation Army, etc. I particularly like the Habitat for Humanity store. An artificial plan or two will make things cheery.

    5. Anonymous Koala*

      Sun lamps aren’t too expensive and can make a big difference. They don’t really make you feel like you’re in natural light, but somehow mine makes it easier to focus.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      For fast wall coverage that insulates, look for inexpensive bedspreads or drapes at a thrift store and mount them from ceiling to floor. In a pinch you can nail them to the walls. If you have open basement shelving, you can hang the curtains in front of the shelves. When I move downstairs during heat waves, I do some of this. I’m considering making myself a video call backdrop out of an inexpensive shower curtain that has a forest printed on it.
      I also like having a fan in the basement office, because air flow helps more than just plants. If you have any access to a window, you can mount a couple of mirrors to direct some sun in to your area. Raiders of the Lost Ark gave me the idea.

    7. Red Swedish Fish*

      One of us works in our basement everyday since March 2020, below are some things we found to make it feel finished. The ontel light and a backdrop wall was the biggest game changer.

      Lighting: overhead light mount get the Ontel Beyond Bright LED Ultra-Bright Garage Light (check amazon) seriously this puts out a great amount of light and its adjustable for about $30. We have 4 in our 1200Sq Ft basement for about 2 years. Extra lamps too with daylight bulbs, you can’t get enough light in a basement the daylight bulbs are key. A sunlamp too if possible especially when it will be dark when you come up and go down.

      Walls: floor to ceiling curtains (blackout hides the concrete walls best) hang them from the rafters with ceiling mounts. On one wall get a photography backdrop katebackdrop.com are priced well search window.

      Flooring: depending on your budget get light peel and stick tiles or LVP flooring and a nice light rug it will feel so 1997 putting a rug over peel and stick carpet but in a basement its really a nice option when your moving around especially in the winter.

      Decor: Get some large fake plants, and put other furniture down there too so it looks like a real home or office. It felt like a basement when I could look up and see our Christmas storage on one wall, the AC, Water heater, and sunk pump on another hiding those with rolling storage carts with curtains made a huge difference.

  33. Green Beans*

    Anyone want to share terrible first impression stories? Because I have a doozy…

    For set up, I sit in a large (should be shared; currently isn’t) office with no privacy, so I frequently forget to close my door. I am playing the Olympics on the second computer in my office, have been for the whole games. I sit with my back to the door.

    The other day, I was in a video meeting with my door half-open, when I heard one of my coworkers stop by my door and loudly, jokingly say (I think as a prelude to introduction): “And here’s Green Beans, who is clearly hard at work.”
    I half turned around, said very flatly, “I’m actually in a meeting, thank you,” caught a glimpse of two surprise-response faces, and turned back to my screen to finish what I was saying.

    Well. Mentioned it to another coworker and apparently that’s the top candidate for our open executive-level position. Who would be my direct manager. To top it off, I’m not meeting the candidates and I don’t think they realize they’d be managing me/my position (they’re meeting all their other direct reports, executive-level positions, and their admin.)

    So in the likely event she gets the job, she’s getting a surprise bonus report who basically kicked her out of her office the one time she met me. Solid.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      At a previous job, the first time I met the CFO, I was alone on an elevator violating the dress code (jeans) and dancing and lip-synching along with the Queen playing on my headphones. (Not like, crazy slam dancing, but a little mild boogie.) I had done a little spin, so when the elevator door opened, I was in the tail end of that spin with some jazz hands … and face to face with a very perplexed older lady in a nice power suit. Who made a “I’ll take the next one” gesture at me and allowed the elevator door to close again. The next time the elevator door opened, instead of dancing, I had sort of slumped down the side of the elevator wall to sit on the floor and was laughing like a maniac. (Luckily nobody was getting on there.)

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          So “laughing like a maniac” also describes my husband now, who has a multi-year history of joking that I am about as romantic as a brick upside the head. (He’s right, but if he doesn’t stop cackling I’m gonna stab him with a potato.)

    2. ecnaseener*

      Ha! I think you’re fine, you were just a little less than polite in response to (playful) rudeness.

      1. Green Beans*

        We’ll see – the candidate looked pretty shocked by my response (her mouth sorta dropped open.) But the person who was escorting her may have set up her expectations incorrectly – I could see her saying something like , oh you should probably meet Green Beans, people swing by her office all the time and it’s never an issue, so we’ll just pop in.

        That’s not actually true – people do stop by a lot, but they either make eye contact or wave to make sure it’s okay to interrupt me before they start talking. It’s just usually pretty subtle/quick because I have no privacy.

    3. Thursdaysgeek*

      Um… I hope that she has a sense of humor, because in that case you should be fine. Besides, you were in a meeting, so kicking her out was appropriate.

      I was in my cube working away, and a man came in and started talking to me. It was clear he knew who I was, and expected me to know who he was. But I had no clue. Finally, I asked him, “I’m sorry, who are you?” He introduced himself – my great-grand boss, who had sent an email the week before saying that he would be visiting. Our emails also have pictures attached, to help us know who people are.

      1. Green Beans*

        No idea if she does or not – I’ll see if/when she accepts the job! (I’m half-seriously considering just not telling New Person they’re my manager and seeing how this plays out, though. I just found out someone completely unrelated to the role was invited to a group interview when she was here, so I’m pretty salty at this point.)

        Oh, oh no to yours! That is exactly the kind of thing that would happen to me – I’m terrible at faces and definitely need in person introductions even after email ones!

    4. Mister Meeble*

      This one was so far over the line that it’s seared into my memory nearly 20 years after it happend.

      I worked in a fairly conservative office for a company that printed religious literature. Oddly, a little bit of “naughty” behaviour was tolerated, but nothing really untoward. We did have a graphic artist on staff who was, to put it mildly, rather coarse. Gym rat, muscle shirt “bro” stereotype. And he was fairly vocal about things, generally within cultural limits. he and I worked in an open area with defined workspaces, but anything said there was definitely not private.

      One day, however, we had a young lady in to interview for a typesetter position. She had rather large breasts but was dressed appropriately. As part of her interview, she was being shown around and met everyone. She was introduced to “bro” and me, and walked to the next area with the person interviewing her. Bro said to me, in a normal conversational voice that I know was heard everywhere, “Hey Meeble, did you see the t*ts on her?”

      I KNOW she heard this, as did the interviewer. I immediately admonished him with how grossly inappropriate that kind of comment was and tried my best to dissociate myself from him. I wasn’t worried about me, but didn’t want anyone thinking that I approved of such insane and inappropriate comments.

      The interviewee was hired and there was no ongoing issue with her or “bro”, who left of his own accord within a few months. The incident was not made a into big deal. In fact, it was never really mentioned again. I suspect the interviewer apologized for our resident idiot pig, but was so shocked by it as not to ask, especially since I wasn’t a supervisor or manager. I was deeply embarrassed for “bro” and for the company, though.

      1. allathian*

        Ouch, how awful. I totally understand your embarrasment by proxy here. I’m cringing just reading this.

    5. Malarkey01*

      Fifteen years ago I worked for a huge company and this particular office space was in an old building. They were doing renovations and had been stirring up the local cockroach population so we had a bit of a big issue. The new CEO of the company was doing a tour of regional office headquarters and was apparently walking through our cube farm on a tour right when I screamed (yes screamed) ROACH HELP and the coworker in the adjacent cube ran over with huge size 15 feet chased and stomped it while another adjacent coworker also screamed it’s coming this way. Bug is killed right in front of this guy and our entire leadership team and all three of us standing there, the other two said hello and I…bowed (we are in the US and not any sort of cultural reason I just went blank and bowed). He didn’t even respond, just walked away.

    6. Might Be Spam*

      Meeting more than one person at a time is a huge problem for me. I’m bad at recognizing faces and matching names. I have to recognize people by voice and the way they walk. One time two new coworkers started on the same day and when I left two years later I still couldn’t tell which one was which. I would only talk to them when they were seated at their desks which had name plates.

      1. allathian*

        I don’t have problems identifying and recognizing people I work with regularly, but we’re a nationwide organization and in pre-pandemic times, people would visit from other offices quite often and I’d have no idea who they were if we didn’t have identifying badges that double as log-in cards for our computers, and whenever we aren’t actually sitting at our desks in the office, we’re expected to keep the card so it’s visible, either fastened with a lapel clip or on a lanyard. The print is quite small, but certainly large enough to read if you’re sitting across the table from someone or standing around talking in the corridor.

    7. RussianInTeaxs*

      I have a doozy too:
      at OldJob it was lunch time, bunch of us congregated in one cubicle, watching some local police chef on a monitory, live. Some man comes through, says hello, introduces himself with his name. We all: nice to meet you? With the undertones of “who are you again and why you are on our floor?”
      Came to find out he was the president of the company, came from the headquarters for a company wide event.
      Woops.

    8. retired*

      Many years ago I worked for a large major state agency. We were all traveling for work and we were eating/having drinks in the motel where we were staying (I was in a unit of all women). A man tried to pick up one of us (she was really beautiful, really nice, and knew how to dress). When we got back to the office we found out the man was the head of our agency. Our boss sent around an email with pictures of people we might want to be able to recognize.

    9. Stitching Away*

      Think back to your interview for this job.

      Now think back to when you started. Of the people you met during the interview process, how many did you remember details about after the first week?

      You are the hero of your life story, but not anyone else’s.

    10. beach read*

      It’s an icy snowy freezing morning in the late 80’s and the doors to my Chrysler Laser are frozen shut. I try the hatchback and to my surprise it opens. I crawl through. (Yeah, it wasn’t that easy, I was wearing a skirt.) The car starts. I head to work. Almost there and the car slides on some ice and I have a one car accident. I’m not hurt and thankfully the car doesn’t seem damaged. At this point I’m late for work. By the time I get to my Boss’s office, I’m pretty shaken up. She tells me to go grab a cup of tea, take a few minutes to calm down, warm up etc. I go to my desk to drop off my coat and purse before heading to the break room and one of my co-workers comes up with a well dressed man, sits him down at my desk and tells me to assist him. (Memory is a little fuzzy, I can’t remember if she introduced him first or not). Instead of sitting down to help him, what comes out of my mouth is a decidedly un-helpful: “I was just about to go get some tea…” The well dressed man is the new operations manager and my new Boss’s Boss’s Boss. I mumble something about having been in an accident but the damage is done. I believe it was six months later I was demoted to a much less prominent position.

      1. allathian*

        Ouch, that’s unfortunate, but people are rarely completely rational after a shock like a car accident. I’m sorry your then-bosses weren’t more sympathetic.

  34. Allison Hassig*

    I am participating in the #40×40 challenge from Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. I do procurement contracts and supply chain so if anyone is interested in 40 minutes (or more) of my time and mentoring, reply to the post and we can connect!

    1. Mich*

      Hi Allison! What industry are you in? I’m currently in sales for an ingredient company and have been curious about the transition to procurement or a more supply chain role.

  35. Free Meerkats*

    Order came down from the Mayor yesterday afternoon – full masking back in effect UFN. Still allowing more than one person in a vehicle if they are all wearing surgical masks, fans set to high without recirc or all windows open. While the one person per vehicle (except transit) was in effect, it made many jobs difficult.

    But (at least Public Works) will not be going back to remote work. Darn!

  36. Cookie D'oh*

    Anyone else out there work in software development doing scrum/agile?

    I’ve been working in the industry for 20 years now and most of the time my role have been system/business analyst positions where I gather the requirements from the internal users and write the requirements that the developers use to update their code. (Like the Tom Smykowski character from Office Space)

    In my current company, my role has changed a bit. With agile, I’m a Product Owner and also the Team Coach. I used to like doing the requirements writing part, but now my role has changed and I don’t do much of that any more. I feel like 90% of my time is spent hosting meetings and asking other people to get things done and then following up with them to see if the task has been completed.

    For example, the users encountered a bug in the system while doing some testing. I had to ask the developer to review the defect. The defect was resolved but another team didn’t deploy the latest code to the test environment. Now I have to contact that other team to find out why the code wasn’t deployed.

    The developers and users I work with are in India and scattered across the US so all this is via Teams messages.

    Just a little bit of a vent I guess, because it gets old constantly trying to track people down asking them about the status of their TPS reports.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Yeah, I work in Agile Scrum. And I’ve done some stuff with remote team members (China, not India).

      So it sounds like they aren’t doing Agile well. People should be updating their cards as they do their work, just as a matter of course. The disconnect between the devs and the people who should have deployed the code to the test server is also concerning (I think Agile Scrum combined with DevOps works much better than it does without DevOps). As the team coach, you ought to have the authority to get those processes enforced better, and you ought to be escalating the consistent failure to adhere to the processes.

      1. Cookie D'oh*

        Thanks for the comment! I agree that Agile isn’t being done well and it helps to have that confirmation.

        There is a DevOps team that handles all releases to the test environment and production. It seems that some of the developers aren’t submitting build requests in a timely manner and then I don’t know about it until someone notifies me that there is an issue.

        1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

          But that’s not what DevOps means! It means the devs also do the ops, which means they pay more attention to how deployments work, don’t depend on somebody else to migrate or clean up deprecated database stuff, are responsible for getting their own work into the release builds, etc.

          1. Cookie D'oh*

            In my company there is actually a separate group called DevOps that handles all code deployment to the test and production environments. We have to go through a whole process to submit build requests and meet the deadlines for code freeze, etc. The developers have their own development environment to work in, but they don’t have permissions to deploy any code to test or production.

            1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

              OK, they call it DevOps, but that’s not DevOps. Thats just Ops.

              If there’s a pattern of those people ‘forgetting’ to deploy bug fixes to the test environment, you need to escalate that too. You need to be keeping track of that – and your project management support tools should do a lot of that work for you. If there’s not a simple way to track when a change gets integrated into a build and pushed (so you can see the delay between “marked as completed” and “deployed to test”), then that’s another problem.

    2. Colette*

      I’m a scrum master. Is there a reason you have to do both product owner and team coach? It sounds like the team coach is the part you really don’t like, while the product owner (who sets the overall priorities) is closer to what you like.

      I’m also confused about why it is your job to contact a team to find out why the code wasn’t deployed. I can kind of see the mindset, but as a product owner, you are not responsible for making the development team do their job.

        1. InsufficientlySubordinate*

          My guess would be they’re calling it Agile/Scrum but are actually doing a hybrid where the Product Owner is a project manager/team coach as well.

      1. Cookie D'oh*

        We had a team coach, but he was a contractor and a bunch of contractors were laid off a while back. So I got asked if I could take on the Team Coach role as well. Of course, it’s never been backfilled.

        I end up being the point of contact for the entire dev team. The users have an issue with their testing, they create a defect and let me know about it. In this scenario, it is an issue that is blocking their testing. So I contacted the developers asking them to look into the issue and they let me know the code hasn’t been deployed and they’ll do it on Monday, but the users need the fix done today.

        I think in this case, I should have pushed the developers to work through the process of getting the new build submitted today.

        1. Brett*

          Agile coach normally requires some fairly specialized training and it not an easy role to just switch to. As well, your team should have training so that they can help shape how your team does agile rather than it just being a top down decision.

          1. Cookie D'oh*

            Thanks for saying that. I really was thrown into this role without any training. No one on my team has really gotten training on agile. We’re in this mode of working as hard as we can to get code done and delivered to production. That’s definitely more of a company/management problem setting that tone.

        2. TechWorker*

          We use agile and whilst probably not to the letter, it’s also a long way off what you describe. Users and tester submitting bug reports and devs getting that fixed isn’t project management that’s surely basic support that devs should expect to do..? I do not understand why that should go through a project manager (/team coach/whatever) at all? Don’t the devs by default have to check and respond to the defect system?

    3. Brett*

      They shouldn’t combine agile coach and product owner. What you used to do is more product owner. What you are doing now is more agile coach, because agile coach is a full time job and is absorbing all your time.

      Also, this particular type of work is awful to do remotely. It’s one of the few areas of software development that definitely gets less productive from home. And teams is not a great platform for it either. So you have a lot of things going against you.

      What you are describing involving other teams is more along the lines of scaled agile (SAFe). You should see if you can get some formal agile and scaled agile training to help you. Strict SAFe framework might not be what you implement, but there are certainly lessons to be learned there.
      Also be aware that scrum might not be the best method for your team. There are other forms of agile (e.g. kanban, mob, etc) and maybe one of those others would work better for you. Don’t be afraid to experiment and modify.

      1. Cookie D'oh*

        Yes, we are doing SAFe. The reason I’m doing both roles is that our official team coach was a contractor and a bunch of them got let go a while back.

        The company as a whole has decided scaled agile is the way to go, so unfortunately I can’t change the methodology just for my team.

        I have been through some basic agile training, but I didn’t find it helpful because it focused a lot on the “ceremonies” and different steps that work great on theory but not so much in the real world.

        I’m working in an environment with limited development resources and huge backlog of requirements because there’s just not enough people to get the work done. This is probably an issue above my level b/c we boast about doing agile development, but it really feels like they just want us to get as much work done as you can for this high priority product with only two developers.

        1. Brett*

          “The company as a whole has decided scaled agile is the way to go, so unfortunately I can’t change the methodology just for my team.”

          This should not be true. The 11th principle of the agile manifesto is “The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.” It is one of the 12 principles for a reason, which is explained really well here:
          https://www.scrum.org/resources/blog/about-self-organizing-teams

          This is not just self-organization internal to the team. Your team must be able to mutually establish ways of working with others teams as well, without a mandate to follow company-wide methodologies.
          Of course, you are already aware your company is not doing scale agile or agile correctly, but this could give you some pushback to advocate for self-organization and self-management of inter-team ways of working.

      2. Mister Meeble*

        I was in software development for 25+ years and transitioned to Product Owner 2.5 years ago. EVERY company I have worked for that claims to be Agile, SAFe, Holocratic, or have any other methodology or framework has — at best — only done it partially, customized it, or called an apple an orange for the sake of having some sort of name.

        The unfortunate thing is that situations like the Cookie D’oh’s tend to come about even in the best organizations. There’s a lot of skills overlap but many companies tend to ignore the finer points of what a PO vs PM vs Scrum Master vs Agile Coach do. They get lazy and figure a good PO will be a decent enough Scrum Master.

        I’m dealing with that situation now, where I was a real PO at first but as I got things in order and that role wasn’t necessarily full time, had a few other things added, and other taken away, so that my title is “Product Owner” but I do very little of that, sadly.

        The good news is that my job is ending in 2 months anyway, so I’m looking for opportunities that better match my skillset and am finding there’s PLENTY out there. And this is good news despite being a dead job. They’re giving me excellent severance, time to find a job, and help out the door.

        1. Cookie D'oh*

          Your first few of paragraphs perfectly describe my company! It helps to know someone else has experienced that as well. We say we’re doing agile, but it really feels like lip service. They don’t really give us the tools to truly implement that methodology.

          I admit I’ve thought about looking for something new, but the unknowns of a new company make me nervous. I’m also able to WFH full time and even though I’m busy, I’m able to take time off as needed.

          Good luck with your job search!

  37. Anonymars*

    I posted in the Friday thread a couple weeks ago about completely bombing a zoom interview, and got some really great advice. I’ve since had three more interviews and performed much better, thanks to the suggestions from you kind readers. What helped was writing down my answers to the most common interview questions (in addition to what I wish I had said in my bad interview), practicing with a friend over Zoom, and putting a little sticky note with a smiley face behind the camera on my laptop that I could focus on during the interview instead of the interviewer’s face (or my own).

    I’m not sure if either of the companies I’ve interviewed with since will be the right fit, but I’ve gotten to the second round with both so I must have improved!

    1. Spice for this*

      Thanks for the idea about putting a sticky note with a smiley face behind the camera. I am going to do it.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        one of my coworkers stuck googly eyes on either side of her camera, so the lens was basically the bridge of the nose.

        1. Yay, I’m a Llama Again!*

          We had a suggestion of the googly eyes and I actually really like it! It makes me smile when I see my computer ‘looking’ at me.

  38. Potatoes gonna potate*

    Has anyone here chosen their career path based on a TV show/movie/character? My chosen field (accounting) doesn’t have much, if any, representation in popular media, so this is just something I’m purely curious about.

    I usually go on forums after watching an episode and I love reading ppls thoughts on how a show accurately or inaccurately portrays a profession – so if a TV show has influenced your career, I’d love to hear about it!

    1. GoryDetails*

      I didn’t choose my career based on media representation – for one thing, I got into software development in the mid-1970s, when few people outside the computer industry had any awareness of it at all! – but I do enjoy attempts by films and TV to show what it’s like. (They usually get it hilariously wrong, though there have been some exceptions.) For me, the show that most accurately represented my workday experiences on a team of software developers was – surprise! – “The Dick Van Dyke Show”; the comedy-writers setup had a lot in common with the kind of hanging-out-around-our-cubicles that I started out in, where we’d switch between lobbing how-to-implement ideas around, meddling with each other’s problems (always more fun to work on somebody else’s code than one’s own), and bantering about games and movies and pets and such.

    2. ecnaseener*

      For a few years as a kid I wanted to be an astrophysicist like Sam Carter on Stargate! But then math got too hard so no, I didn’t end up actually doing anything in that field.

      1. MadisonB*

        I usually lurk but had to comment on this. This is me!! After I realized I couldn’t be Sam Carter because of math, I wanted to be a fighter pilot like Chaser and Ice on Pensacola Wings of Gold (math also required…), and then I wanted to be an archaeologist/anthropologist like Daniel and ended up in psychology. :)

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      I didn’t choose based on media but TV depictions of teachers tend to be soooooo bad!

      1. Double A*

        What, you aren’t always blathering through the end of the bell, totally unaware of the time and then you have to shout out the homework and test reminder as everyone is leaving? (It’s not the worst thing TV portrays about teachers but it happens in every single depiction of a classroom!!!)

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          To be fair I’ve definitely done this lol. But at least I’m not inappropriately involved in my students’ personal lives (or vice versa)!

      2. Flower necklace*

        What gets me is how students are able to wander around the school at will. No student has ever walked out of my class without me noticing!

    4. RagingADHD*

      I can’t imagine anyone actually getting through an initial class training for any career based on media representation, unless by coincidence they discovered an affinity for the work despite the inaccuracy.

    5. calonkat*

      :0

      But, but, GHOSTBUSTERS!!! The Keymaster is an accountant!

      And Leo Bloom in the Producers!

      Moonstruck, Stranger than Fiction, The Accountant (I haven’t seen that one, but it’s probably about an accountant?), and I’m sure more that I just don’t remember/haven’t seen.

      And Norm (Cheers) was an accountant, wasn’t he?

      As to your specific question, I’m a low level state government worker, and I don’t think there are many complimentary representations, mostly employees asking for specific forms in obstructionist ways. But the purpose of forms is to get the same information in the same manner so that nothing that is required is missed and everyone is treated the same. I’ve helped improve multiple forms, combined forms when possible (so that form X23 can be used for multiple purposes because they required the same information), and ensured they are available. So I guess the representation has made me work harder to be friendly and helpful.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        And Norm (Cheers) was an accountant, wasn’t he?

        I’m pretty sure you’re right, at least initially. His career evolved as the series progressed.

      2. I'm just here for the cats*

        I thought he was a tax lawyer because he represents them in court in the 2nd ghostbusters movie

        1. calonkat*

          I haven’t seen the second movie in a LONG time, so I looked it up. On the ghostbuster’s wiki it says “At some point between 1984 and 1989, Louis earned a law degree at night school and expanded his specialties as a tax attorney. On occasion, he worked on probate.[1] In late 1989, Louis reluctantly became the defense counsel for the Ghostbusters. He was upfront about getting his law degree at night school.” (and also confirmed he was an accountant in the first movie, nice to know I remembered that correctly.)

    6. Coverage Associate*

      I totally did. 2 things TV gets wrong about lawyers are we don’t all make lots of money, and we rarely appear as teams at meetings. Usually only the most senior attorney goes to court or meetings, after conferring privately with junior attorneys.

    7. Quaremie*

      My teenage love of the X-Files and admiration of Scully was probably part of my reason for going into a STEM field!

    8. Msnotmrs*

      I’m a librarian. The only accurate portrayal I think I’ve EVER seen was in the Queen’s Gambit where Beth asked the librarian for a specific chess book. The librarian isn’t sure they’d have it, but she says it’d be in the back of the library (correct, sports/games are in the 700s, at the end of Dewey) and recommends instead a biography of another chess player (excellent reader’s advisory).

      Every other portrayal is some schoolmarmy shushing nonsense.

      1. I'm just here for the cats*

        What about the librarian in Matilda that gives her the books. I think that was pretty accurate. (not a librarian but seriously considered it)

        1. Msnotmrs*

          I don’t think I’ve ever seen that movie all the way through, so I couldn’t speak to it specifically, but I trust your judgement :)

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        At the risk of reinforcing my geeky rep… what about Giles from Buffy? Evie from The Mummy? How about Batgirl from the original Adam West Batman series?
        So okay realistic they’re not. But neither are they stuffy. :)

        1. Msnotmrs*

          Evie from the Mummy is cool. But isn’t she more of an archivist than a librarian? I might be misremembering.

    9. Zenon*

      Huge sci-fi fan, picked to go into astrophysics. Sadly I don’t do it anymore, but it’s fair to say I was not chilling out in a spaceship halfway across the galaxy ever. I didn’t actually expect to be, though. In general, TV/film representations of scientists are laughably inaccurate.

    10. asteramella*

      Not me, but a friend definitely got into her field (zookeeping for a specific kind of large mammal) after becoming fascinated with them when watching nature documentaries as a kid.

  39. peachy*

    How are people’s workplaces responding to the delta variant? Are they pushing back plans to return to the office (if one was in place)?

    I work in higher ed, and as far as know, we’re still planning on a fully in-person semester at the end of August. Staff are on hybrid schedules, but we’re still being asked to come in multiple days a week. This feels… unwise to me. I’m mostly concerned about exposure to students in places like shared restrooms. I’m fully vaxxed, but I know vaxxed people can still spread delta to unvaxxed or immunocompromised folks annnnd… I really don’t want to do that.

    1. sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

      In my city, numbers are still fantastically low so my employer is hoping for a back to the office return for most staff mid-September. Masks would be required in all common areas but we would have access to the microwave, coffee machine and fridge (they were all off limits last year).

      But looking at how delta is surging in other provinces, I’m wary of this date and of the push to return. I’ve flagged it to my director and my steward looking for more insight but no replies yet.

    2. mreasy*

      We had a return to office plan for Sept 13 and now it’s back up in the air. Our office requires vaccination to be in-person, as well.

    3. Ace in the Hole*

      I’m in a high-transmission area, but working in essential infrastructure that requires on-site work. We’ve gone back to requiring masks for everyone regardless of vaccination, but that’s pretty much all we can do short of suspending public services in our less-critical operations. We did that in 2020 for about six months, but it would take half our staff literally being hospitalized to convince local authorities to let us do it again.

    4. Disco Janet*

      I’m a high school teacher, and hahaha I wish. Our official plan, which is not a plan at all, was released yesterday and states that “masks are encouraged but not required.” AKA the people who should be wearing them won’t. And I really feel for the elementary teachers where none of their students have been vaccinated. And no hybrid – were full schedule face to face. This is what I had been expecting, but I am very disappointed they won’t be requiring masks at least until the under 12 crowd can be vaccinated. I’m in a pretty tough spot with my sons who are both too young for the vaccine and have a pre-existing condition.

      1. Flower necklace*

        I teach high school, too, but thankfully our district has a mask mandate. They’re being smart, even if our governor won’t issue a statewide mandate.

        I feel fairly safe living in an area with a relatively high level of vaccination, but our principal has scheduled two meals for the teacher workweek. My high school is pretty big. All of the teachers eating together, unmasked, with Delta spreading seems very unwise to me. I’ll probably just go and sit with my department with my mask on.

    5. calonkat*

      We’ve been back in the office for months now. They just mandated mask wearing all the time (our state is largely rural with all the associated problems), but there are no plans to allow us to work from home again. Apparently my job is 90% holding down my chair in my cubicle WHILE I’m working on the computer or on the phone. Our meetings are all on zoom (which makes for weird echoes when you can hear the person in the next cubicle with your headset and through the air) but gosh darn it, having our posteriors in those chairs is SO IMPORTANT! It’s literally worth dying for!

      1. peachy*

        You’re back in the office, but still meeting on Zoom???? That is maddeningly stupid. I’m having a rage attack on your behalf. I’m so sorry!

        1. JustaTech*

          I’m back in the office but still meeting over Team/WebEx, but that’s because we’re spread across a bunch of sites, so that was how we did it before, except now all the folks take their calls individually rather than from one conference room per site.

          1. Ooooof*

            And this is actually the right way to do it! It equalizes across sites and locations. First, it’s really hard to see and hear groups in a conference room. Plus, imbalances crop up when it’s a mix of groupings, especially if many people are in one or two rooms and there’s one or two people remote. The in-room folks start chatting and remote folks tend to get forgotten. If everyone can’t be in one room, then everyone on their own screen is the best solution for visibility and participation.

      2. Grace Less*

        SAME. And I’m supposed to provide my own white noise machine and noise canceling headphones if I find three separate conversations next to, behind, and in front of me “distracting”.

        “Open for opportunities” flag is on!

    6. CatCat*

      We were supposed to return to office in September with a hybrid work from home schedule. They have scrapped that now. New ETA for return is January.

    7. Paige*

      I’m in higher ed, and we start our fully in-person semester next week. Staff have been required to be back full time since July 1. Zero WFH allowed per our provost, regardless of whether we need to be in the buildings to get our work done. It did not help that we had a massive all-employees meeting yesterday to hear our newish uni prez give a speech, followed by what was definitely a mass-spreader event billed as a “social” with snacks and drinks and therefore a bunch of people walking around maskless. There is no way we don’t have tons of people coming down with covid within the next two weeks.

      At least I work in a building where our dean has made it clear they expect all of us to wear masks, and we only have 1 coworker in the building who hasn’t gotten the vaccine.

      And we’re not in a county with low covid spread. We’re in one of those bright red, all the cases are rising-counties. It’s like people decided that because they want it to be over, it is. It’s insane.

      1. calonkat*

        Oh yes, our county took off it’s mask mandate and apparently now there’s no pandemic! (Our governor did mandate that state employees have to wear masks in “shared spaces” (so, cubicle land?)) Woohoo! The bar and restaurant parking lots are full, I’m one of the few people wearing masks everywhere. It’s truly awful that we could have been really done with this had people gotten vaccinated, we’d gotten vaccines (and personnel/infrastructure to distribute) to other countries, and everyone had just kept doing easy, common sense things.

    8. The New Wanderer*

      Most of the company went back to the office last month with hybrid 2 days in, 3 days WFH schedules. We already had optional masking in most areas with some maintaining a mask-on policy due to close quarters, and strict occupancy limits on desks and conference room seating. The rule was put out this week that in-door masks are now mandatory and people are going to be allowed to WFH more frequently (or every day) with manager approval (and managers were told to approve as much as possible). I’ve noticed that all the previously scheduled conference-room meetings for the upcoming weeks are now virtual only.

    9. JustaTech*

      The only response my company has had to Delta is to ask everyone (again) to take a survey on if they’re vaccinated or not. At two of the sites they’ve had people actually fill out paperwork (but still not show our vaccine cards), but they can’t do that at the third (biggest) site because (they think?) it’s against state law.

      The only saving grace is that the people who must be on-site at that location in order for work to happen always wear a ton of PPE (for the job) so we managed to not have any on-site transmission. Oh yeah, and by the self-reporting survey, that site is ~50% vaccinated, while the other two (where they can ask) are more like 95%. Ugh. I think I’m going back to masking (in our mostly-empty office).

    10. AnonymousHOU*

      Also in higher ed here! We were supposed to come back full-time in mid-July, with no WFH allowed, no exceptions. That was backtracked earlier this week, so we will remain hybrid on a month-by-month basis through September. Everyone must now wear a mask indoors again and be tested regularly, regardless of vaccination status. Students will be back 100% for the fall semester. We are private, so are able to enforce a mask mandate despite our state’s very public stance against them.

      Does your building have a gender-neutral or other single use bathroom you could use? If so, that might help you personally feel better about the situation. Sending good vibes your way!

      1. peachy*

        Unfortunately, single-use bathrooms are hard to come by. There’s one in my building, but since it’s the only one, there’s always a wait for it. There might be other single-use ones elsewhere on campus. However, I’ve got a medical condition that means I go very often, so having to walk to the other side of campus every 30 mins to an hour isn’t ideal.

        Thanks for the good vibes!

    11. Rara Avis*

      My school (K-12, so at least 50% not even eligible for vaccination) is still planning to be fully in person. I’m not too worried. Mask compliance is high, and our area has a very high adult vaccination rate.

    12. Marie*

      My employer is going to require vaccination shortly and working onsite is optional for now. If it becomes required to go in folks with concerns will be allowed to continue to work from home. They’ve pushed. back our mandatory return date 3 or 4 times.

      Right now we have voluntary access to the office. I like it. Masks are required if you aren’t vaccinated and capacity is limited. Delta means the vaccines aren’t a silver bullet (not that they ever were), but at some locations masking in hallways and lines and elevators seems to be the accepted culture.

    13. Little Beans*

      I am also in higher ed and my campus is also still saying in person classes will resume in a few weeks, while we’re getting almost daily alerts about coronavirus exposures on campus. Fortunately, my department has decided to stay remote “until further notice”. A couple coworkers and I had been requesting this, then we found out others were also asking, so not sure if the group pressure helped influence the decision.

    14. ampersand*

      Higher ed here, too. We go back at the end of August as well, with hybrid schedules. The only person in my office who wants to go back, it turns out, is my assistant.

      She told me she is unvaccinated.
      She plans to remain that way.
      She’s very excited about seeing people in person again.

      There are no ICU beds left in my city; hospitals are full. The governor has banned mask mandates for state agencies, including the university I work at. We’re not allowed to ask anyone about their vaccination status.

      Apparently if you pretend there’s not a pandemic, it magically disappears!

      This is not going to end well.

      1. tra la la*

        I’ll bet we’re in the same state. My department (I work in the library) has been back since July 1, and we’re doing hybrid — 4 days in the office, 1 day working from home. It’s not terrible right now because the students aren’t really around. But I really worry about what’s going to happen when classes start on the 23rd, since I’ve been seeing reports suggesting that this state will be the next Florida. (Yay?) All faculty, including us, got an email yesterday telling us that we are also not allowed to treat unvaccinated students any differently from vaccinated students, and that we cannot separate unvaccinated students from vaccinated students.

        This past week I did an all-day Zoom interview for a job at a smaller private college in a state with a higher vaccination rate. They are expecting to go back to in-person teaching, but all employees and students are required to be vaccinated and there is also a mask mandate. Fingers crossed.

    15. gf*

      I work in Higher Ed too. My particular school at the University is requiring us to be in most days a week. I will be working in the quad, thanks very much and walking from the parking lot and NOT taking the bus. We get sick every year anyway when the students come back. This year will be so much worse. It’s so unwise and they really should aim for 50% staff capacity until the new year IMO. I don’t mind rotating my schedule with my colleagues if it keeps more people safe.

    16. allathian*

      For higher ed, it’s really tough because so many students are really suffering without in-person classes. Dropout rates and the need for counseling have spiked.

  40. Mold in Office - What to do*

    It’s been a crazy 3 weeks and I am trying to educate myself on mold exposure and the health ramifications. So about 3 weeks ago, I moved my desk location to an office (I work a hybrid schedule now) that was being used by another person who was in their cube about once a week. I had to move some boxes that were in the corner on the desk (in front of the wall and part of a window) to set up my computer stuff and I noticed water stains on the wood window sills, also paint bubbling around the window casing plus a musty odor.
    I emailed my manager and the EHS person, entered a workorder for maint. to check the water for the water damage. The EHS department replied to say they have arranged for mold testing. Then 2 days later EHS emailed with an update to day that they had someone (they were not specific about who this person is) take a look at the wall/window and will that EHS will be looking to find a mold remediation co. to go in first before our maint. stuff remove the damaged drywall.
    What I would like to know is if I have any health issues due to this exposure, do I have any recourse? Could it be workers’ comp? Any info is appreciated.
    Also to add that I work for a private co. that has about 6000 employees worldwide and they suck at taking care of their employees. However, they do a OK job pretending like they care!

    1. Disco Janet*

      How long were you exposed to the mold? It sounds like you noticed the water damage pretty quickly and I assume then moved out of the office, right? And that all happened weeks ago? Seems pretty unlikely that you’ll end up sick from that if you haven’t already. But maybe there’s more to it – I didn’t see your precious posts if there were any.

      1. Mold in Office - What to do*

        I was in that office for 9 days / about 6-7 hours total. I did wear a KN95 mask for 3 out of the 9 days. On the days I did not wear the mask, I did have a stuffy nose, itchy eyes and I did cough and sneeze (a few times) when I got home.
        I will be moving my computer equipment out of that office first thing next week and I have ordered a spray specially for mold to clean all hard surfaces and wash my clothes, etc.

    2. Ace in the Hole*

      Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer or doctor, I just work in EHS.

      If you had problems during those three weeks or shortly after, you might have some recourse since you could demonstrate it was directly linked to a workplace exposure. For example if you paid out of pocket for doctors visits or treatments for breathing issues, allergies, etc. during the last few weeks that you can now connect to the mold.

      It sounds like you’re worried about a health problem you’re not currently experiencing showing up in the future. The bad news is that you’d have a very difficult (maybe impossible) time proving that it came from this exposure. It was short – only 3 weeks – and not particularly extreme, you had no symptoms during the exposure, and the link between mold and chronic health problems doesn’t have scientific support right now. The main danger of “toxic” mold (based on current medical consensus) is triggering asthma, respiratory irritation, or allergies… all things that show up during exposure, not weeks or months later. The exception would be if you’re immunocompromised and at risk of mold infections. In that case I’d recommend documenting the exposure and talking to a doctor promptly about potential risks.

      The good news is that since it was a short term mild exposure and you didn’t have notable symptoms during the exposure, it’s very unlikely you will develop problems later on! I’m not trying to dismiss people who do have health issues they believe to be mold-related… just that it’s a rare enough phenomenon we haven’t been able to document it clearly in spite of numerous studies.

      1. Mold in Office - What to do*

        Thank you, this information is helpful.
        Since I have had allergies and health issues in the past, I did see my doctor and asked about blood or urine tests to figure out my level of mold exposure. I also had a stuffy nose, coughing / sneezing in the afternoon/evenings after getting home. The doctor is doing research to find best test for me and did say that I have to get out of the moldy office ASAP! I WFH the days after seeing my doc and I plan to move my computer stuff out of that office next week once I have a place to move to. I am glad that I don’t have any books or paper files to worry about.
        I do hope that I do not experience long term affects due to the exposure. It is scary reading information on the web regarding mold exposure.

        1. Ace in the Hole*

          Definitely follow medical advice from your doctor, but try not to be too worried about long-term effects… they really are very rare!

          What you’re describing sounds like a pretty normal mild allergy or irritation and is almost certain to clear up once you stop breathing the irritant – basically like being exposed to pollen you’re allergic to or irritating dust. Stopping exposure is important mostly for comfort (no one wants to sneeze/cough all day!) and also to eliminate the possibility of developing a more severe reaction through continued exposure. A lot of people also get nervous from the emphasis on immediate professional remediation… that’s not because the mold is horribly dangerous, it’s because mold spreads quickly and is difficult to get rid of. Like a bedbug infestation – extremely unpleasant to live with and hard to fix, but very unlikely to cause lasting health problems once it’s gone.

          Unfortunately mold is one of the popular health boogymen right now – there’s a lot of information about it online that is just not accurate. So take the horror stories and scary articles with a grain of salt, even when they refer to studies… I can’t tell you how many things I’ve read that turn out to be totally misinterpreting their own sources!

          I don’t know if links are allowed, but the CDC has a pretty good FAQ about mold with links to other good sources as well. It’s one of the top results if you google “CDC mold FAQ.”

          1. Mold in Office - What to do*

            Thank you so much for this information! I will look it up on the CDC site.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Reactions to mold are nearly always mild and temporary, like sinus allergies.

      More serious reactions come from prolonged, intense exposure. I have had pretty severe dermatitis from unknowingly living in a rental house with terrible mold issues. And my kids experienced frequent upper respiratory illnesses and sinus infections from spending a year on the “sick” hallway at their school, which is constantly battling with mold remediation.

      However, both those situations cleared up immediately as soon as we were out of the environment – that’s how we realized what the problem was, as a matter of fact.

      As long as the mold remediation is done properly & thoroughly, and you haven’t had any allergic-type reactions, it’s highly unlikely you have anything to worry about.

        1. RagingADHD*

          I’m glad.

          Mold is just a normal part of the ecosystem. It is in the air all around us, all the time, everywhere. Our bodies are adapted to interact with it. It’s not some horrible deadly poison, despite the panic on the internet.

          Problems occur when there’s an overgrowth – just like when the dust mites in a house get out of hand, or having your gut microbiome messed up after an illness. Once things get rebalanced to normal, the health effects go away.

    4. JustaTech*

      We’ve only had one bad mold exposure at my work where my coworker with serious allergies cleaned out a walk-in refrigerator that was *full* of moldy cardboard boxes. She got sick enough (pneumonia) that she ended up on short-term disability. She also wasn’t wearing any kind of mask (this was years ago and we didn’t have any on site), and was prone to those kind of infections. After she came back she didn’t have any lingering effects, aside from being strictly not allowed to clean anything moldy!

      I personally have cleaned a regular refrigerator of moldy boxes (again without a mask, but with gloves) and while I took precautions to keep the mold spores from getting airborne, that was it, and I did not get sick.
      Most people with normal immune systems won’t be much bothered by short-term exposure to mold.

      (And at least your EHS/ facilities people are doing something! It’s when the mold lingers for months that you get serious issues.)
      Good luck!

      1. Mold in Office - What to do*

        Thank you.
        My guess is it will take at least a couple of months for them to get it all done.

  41. Stuck in CS Hell*

    My 3 year anniversary with this company (that I’ve been trying to leave since Dec.) is coming up soon and I got sent a survey about my anniversary, basically asking how I felt the last year’s changes were doing. Let’s just say I didn’t hold back any punches and I’ll be amazed if they don’t try to push me out even harder now (still on a 3 month long PIP that’s got a few more weeks to go). But at least I can say I put it in writing/was completely honest about how I feel about the company’s direction and everything that’s been upsetting me and stressing me out.

    A lot of things about the job have pissed me off and I may not get an exit interview chance, so I’m going to be 100% honest every time they ask for my feedback somewhere. We’ve already lost at least 5 long term agents who were damn good at their job last month because the company didn’t want to listen (many were “fired” or forced to quit but their stories are very similar to each other and my own issues that I can say it’s very likely they were pushed out as they didn’t “fit” the company’s culture), and I expect I’ll follow soon anyways, either quitting after getting a new job or being fired/pushed out as well. Here’s to hoping I can find a much better job and company before the end of the year!