Labor Day open thread

It’s Labor Day! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about. 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.

{ 606 comments… read them below }

  1. Saraquill*

    On Friday, I experienced my first ever job interview via text message. The hiring manager was different from the one on the website who I was in an email correspondence with. While interviewer said the process would take 5-10 minutes, the 6 or so questions stretched over 90. All questions were one way, they didn’t inquire if I had any.

    Has anyone else encountered anything like this?

    1. Movinonup*

      That seems…strange. If you make it to the next round hopefully an in person interview helps show you the real tone/culture of the place. If they keep just trying to email/text, run. Seeing and actually interacting with your possible team is literally the least and interviewer can do for possible employees.

    2. Farragut*

      That seems insane – who can give their best answers typing on a tiny screen? – and possibly scammy. If a hiring manager has time to do that, they have time to do a phone call.

      1. Kanye West*

        I had an interview at a company that is the developer of one of the ten biggest websites on the internet that was over chat. They do it this way because that is the default way they communicate at work and also 10 different people can take part at once (if they have questions). I also had to implement a mini project.

        I don’t think it is more or less weird than most of the common interview rituals the US and the tech industry specifically has.

        1. Parakeet*

          Chat and text message are very different, though. The former, whether it’s through something like Teams, or Slack, or through a mobile app that has a Desktop version like WhatsApp or Signal, you can type on a real keyboard. At least to me, the latter connotes the plain text message program on a phone.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Yeah, text would absolutely not work for me. I’m a little dyspraxic and I have difficulty typing on a phone. If a hiring manager wanted to talk this way, I’d say my phone keyboard isn’t optimal and ask if we could do a phone call. If they demurred, I’d bail.

            I still think it’s weird overall, even for tech.

            1. RedinSC*

              I actually use the voice to text feature, a lot. You just have to make sure that you proof read your answers before you hit send.

      1. LifeBeforeCorona*

        As an aside, I found that one of those stylus pens designed to use on screens works much faster for me when I have to send long text responses. It feels more natural than using my thumbs especially if your phone is on a table or desk.

    3. Canadian Valkyrie*

      I have had plenty of one sided interviews.

      Sometimes it seems like that they don’t really like me and are just trying to get it over with.

      Other times, I’ve actually gotten the job and the interviewers were just bad interviewers. THIS is a major warning sign in my opinion tbh, which is what you should be aware of if you get hired. There were probably other warning signs I missed, but there ended up being major issues at the org in terms of communication (very top down, managers wouldn’t listen about issues relating to my work), and other stuff (lack of documentation, an assumption that we should be early while also regularly requiring us to work late with low pay — minimum wage to be exact — where we WERE NOT compensated for being late with money or a corresponding amount of time off)

      I would highly recommend you find a way to ask questions, even if they offer the job be like “I have some questions in order to fully consider this offer, who’s the best person to communicate those to?”

    4. NerdyKris*

      I would not be surprised if this is a scam that leads to them sending you a check that you send onwards while keeping some for yourself as your “pay”. The need to talk over text only screams “the person on the other end is clearly in another country and is just pasting from a script”.

      1. Saraquill*

        They had me giving personal information pre interview in the name of background checks. I checked the Social Security Administration’s website regarding fraud and ID theft and put out a fraud watch.

        1. Oranges*

          Background checks cost money and legit employers almost never run them until an offer is pending or very close to happening. Smart to put out a fraud watch! You might consider freezing your credit in addition so the scammers cannot open an account with your info.

    5. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Only once, about 5 years ago and it got very suspicious very fast. Hard to say exactly when but the questions kinda triggered off my ‘this is an MLM/shady firm’ alarm. It’s definitely not normal, no.

      1. Carol the happy elf*

        Not this exactly, but early email days. They gave me the 4-digit password to get into company email. Did not take that job, (but the password was 9876. MUCH more secure than 1234, right??). A few years ago, they were in the news for having patient and employee information compromised by their carelessness. If they’re not careful of their privacy, they won’t be careful of mine.

        Yours sounds like a scam to me. By the time they get back to you for another question, they have raided your life.

        If I had something like this happen, I would look them up on the internet, use only a trusted phone number and ask to speak on the phone (!) with their IT or fraud department. I would also look them up using their home state licensing/consumer affairs on
        I’d also realize that even if they are legit, they have a central screw loose and will likely wobble and self-destruct, crushing employees in the process.

        Good luck!

    6. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw*

      This is when I’m glad I have an iPhone and can type my answers on my computer. I can’t imagine texting a job interview, let alone having to type everything out on one of those little screens!

      1. Carol the happy elf*

        Thumbs of Steel, speed of lightning!
        Still pretty sure it’s a phishing scam.
        OP, have you put a fraud alert on your credit?
        Scammers don’t take holidays like normal humans do.

    7. Cute Li'l UFO*

      Text, no, but I encountered one via chatbot. It went about as well as you can imagine. Text definitely has that aura of scammy around it. Friends in other industries have reported running into more scams job hunting lately and some have encountered it being run through a text message.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Ugh, an actual chatbot?? Not even a real person on the other end?
        At that point why don’t they just email you the questions and have you send the answers back…unless they trust the chatbot to carry a conversation

  2. Finland isn't real*

    I’m coming up for a contract renewal soon and i’d love to hear your success stories of how y’all succesfully lobbied for raises! This will be my first time and I’m super nervous…

    1. Canadian Valkyrie*

      I’ve never had a comtracf renewal (my contracts has always had strict government funding or were maternity leaves). However a friend/colleague did succeed — a lot of it involved gathering data about how her role was benefiting the organization. In her case, having her colleagues (eg myself) track referrals we made to clients and/or when we assigned clients to her stuff helped, she also kept metrics about how client X used Y and Z and other metrics. Being able to point to why the job is essential will help since orgs and/or finders don’t normally want to pay for someone/something to do mediocre work. So show how you matter :)

  3. Movinonup*

    I’m being promoted internally to a larger management role, created specifically for me/my skill set. Any tips for how to make sure the pay is in similar range to other managers in building?

    1. Canadian Valkyrie*

      The pay will likely reflect that you’re new into this higher level. My husbands work has bands that are shared publicly, I’d see if HR has this data cause it can help make sure you’re at least in the right range. If managers who have been in the job for 5 years are making X-Y, you might make W (assuming that W is reasonable close, like let’s say X-Y = 85-90k you might be at 80k). That said, this should come with a clear stipulation of regular promotions and stuff.

      It seems like the US has some rules that bad managers from discussing salary, so if the band level isn’t available I’m not sure how to help. My own work is very different (I am a contractor) so I deal with my wages more independently.

      1. Reba*

        I think there’s a misunderstanding: managers are not covered by the NLRA, which protects workers’ rights to discuss their salaries and working conditions together. So, it would not be illegal for Movinonup to be punished by her company for talking about pay. But it’s not banned! If OP knows others at a similar level, asking them about it would likely be just fine, although some people still do consider this private info.

        But, I agree, asking for the bands as if, of course the company wants to pay people equitably and fairly, could be a way to get the conversation going. Who knows, maybe they do!

        1. Canadian Valkyrie*

          I’m not American so that’s why I didn’t reference that. Thank you for highlighting it though

          1. Reba*

            Yeah, I gathered you were not in the US context :)

            Just wanted to take the chance to clarify since you mentioned rules.

  4. Rebecca*

    Would love some tips on how to learn to use LinkedIn for actual networking.

    I’m a teacher and linkedin isn’t the most useful medium when you’re looking for work in traditional schools, but I recently quit my job and opened my own online school. Now I need to network with teachers, administrators, people who might hire me to freelance for a course here or a workshop there, and I eventually want to move into being able to provide consultations for schools. So now I find myself needing to learn Linked In, but other than sticking my resume up there and creating a page for my business, I’m not sure where to begin!

    1. Farragut*

      Search for phrases like “B2B marketing on LinkedIn.” There are a lot of good resources out there.

      The best way to build your network and influence is to create and share things that are useful and of value to your target audience. Look for and join LI groups that cater to school administrators, then post in them as well. Share articles and write posts that have insights, information, and showcase your expertise.

      Don’t post every day – 3x a week is enough. Wednesday from 9-10 am is the primary posting time to maximize eyeballs.

      Optimize your profile – make sure your headline and About section are clear and concise. For your prior jobs, make sure they reflect your expertise and accomplishments and have a bearing on your current role. Stick your contact information in the About section – don’t make clients scroll all the way down to reach you.

      Create a target list of your top # ideal client districts, do research to build a list of the administrators there, and then search on LinkedIn to see if they (a) have profiles and (b) have been active recently (updated profile, current posts / shares / likes / comments). Determine if you have mutual connections. Then reach out with a personalized LI message asking them to connect to you.

      Source: Am marketer currently helping several business clients on LinkedIn.

    2. Farragut*

      I typed out a whole thing but it vanished, so here it is again to the best of my recollection.

      – The best way to build your network is by posting and sharing useful information of value to your target audience. That’s basic content marketing. You want to be in front of your audience as much as possible and seen as an authority or expert.

      – Start by optimizing your profile. Is your About section updated and does it include your contact info? Do your past jobs highlight your areas of expertise and accomplishments? Does your headline – the few words visible in search – reflect what you do now?

      – Create and share great content. Join LI groups of relevance to your prospects and start posting in there. Don’t post every day – 3x a week is sufficient. Wednesdays from 9-10 are the best time.

      – Build a list of your ideal school district clients, and then research the names of the administrators you’d need to reach on their websites. Search on LinkedIn to determine if they have profiles and have been active in the last year. Then connect with them with personalized messages offering to share something of value – a tipsheet, original research, lesson plans, or some other insights.

      – Find other tips by searching for things like “B2B marketing on LinkedIn.” HubSpot has some good resources.

      – If you are your business, consider not having a Page – it may dilute your message, and people are more likely to connect with a person than follow a business page. If you want to use a page, then LinkedIn gives you 100 credits monthly to invite your connections to follow your page. Use them all!

      – One note: I used to work in K12 education and found very few people in the field who were active on LI. Your prospect research will give you a better sense of its utility in your area, but you may need to consider other marketing options like workshops, direct email, etc.

      Source: Am a marketer helping several clients with LinkedIn

      1. Rebecca*

        this is amazing, thank you! I have started doing free workshops (I did my first one with only 6 people, but I did it!) and I have a newsletter with about 100 subscribers, and a website with a blog full of articles to refer people to. But except for the workshops, which people have to sign up for and then come to at a certain time, none of them are conversations. They’re pretty one sided. I’m hoping Linked In might provide me with some more back and forth.

        I have copied and pasted this onto a document on my computer, thank you!

        1. Quantum Hall Effect*

          I was about to say, start creating content! Why don’t you look into delivering your courses via LinkedIn learning? I recommend posting teasers of your newsletter as well–I’m thinking maybe the titles of the articles with a link to subscribe, or if it’s just one article or one main article, the title and first few lines.

    3. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      First, remember that networking is humans talking to humans about interests they have in common.
      Second, remember that people buy when they trust the seller.

      So, first you need to find people who are interested in the things you’re interested in. Follow people who contribute to the conversation. Join the conversation yourself. Keep at it. Familiarity is part of trust. It’s just like how you wouldn’t expect to go to a single party of strangers and expect to leave with dozens of BFFs.

      And while you’re chatting in the party which is the news feed, you also need to be dressed appropriately. Your profile isn’t just a resume, but is a place to tell your career journey and lay out what value you are offering. It also shows how engaged you are with your network and community. Folks who have a reaction to your comments on other people’s posts can see if you have a track record that resonates with them.

      Be the resource that they trust for your contribution to the overall conversation, and when they need more, you’ll be there when they need your service.

    4. Lizzo*

      Not LinkedIn-specific advice, but I would strongly encourage you to try and connect with people in real life (this includes virtually) who might be good clients or good sources of client referrals, and then connect with those people on LinkedIn. Folks who are already in your real life network might be able to make introductions for you so that you can have one on one (virtual) meetings with folks and have a mutually beneficial conversation, i.e. this isn’t a sales pitch.
      Whatever you do, please do not just search on LinkedIn and add people you don’t know as connections. There’s nothing more off-putting than getting a connection request from someone I don’t know with the message “I’m interested in what you do.” (No, you’re interested in selling me something.) Follow them if they’re regular posters and you like what they have to say.

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        Seconding this approach.

        I use LinkedIn as a digital address book, helping me track who I know and keeping me up-to-date on their professional activities. What little networking happens through real contact (e.g., colleagues, contacts through past/current work).

      2. Rebecca*

        Thanks. My network is very small right now, I am hoping eventually to have enough content that people will want to follow me, but it will take some time to build it up. Before now, everything was about keeping my professional life OFF the internet to protect my job as a teacher, so I’m basically starting from scratch!

      3. WoodswomanWrites*

        Ditto on this. I use LinkedIn extensively for professional networking and I add people as connections only after I have connected with them directly. I have more than 900 connections and if I get an invitation from someone that I don’t know, I decline it.

        I’ve found a couple things that have been helpful. First, I’m a follower of professional groups and LinkedIn shares updates about goings-on with those so you’re in the loop. Second, it’s been helpful to post regular updates about my work. Many of my connections read these updates, and I’ve received responses related to that.

    5. MissDisplaced*

      I do B2B marketing a lot and I have found that joining and using the LinkedIn groups really helps with finding the right people/audience. Just make sure you follow the group guidelines as some are more open than others.
      Note: You can post to a group and that will only be seen by that group (not on your main feed).

      1. Rebecca*

        I didn’t realize LinkedIn had groups! In my non-professional life I am a hobby comedian and the facebook groups are incredible. I will try this for sure.

        1. Miss Displaced*

          There are several industry specific job search/posting groups too! So you might find one oriented to what you’re looking for.

          Do a LI search from search bar (example “logistics”) , then click on the “Groups” button.
          To find your groups, they’re under Work dropdown>Groups.

    6. Mischief & Mayhem*

      As a parent who homeschools (actual homeschool, not virtual public/charter/private at home school), there are always homeschooling families looking for tutors. While most homeschool groups are on Facebook, there are some homeschool parents on LinkedIn, too. My advice is to network in both places.

      1. Rebecca*

        My courses are for children, or I would do it on LinkedIn Learning. But the posts and articles etc. are on the list! thanks!

  5. hamsterpants*

    Laughing and also sadly shaking my head at my company’s latest teambuilder: paintball. My company is around 85% men (common in our industry) and I guess it’s fitting that they picked a sport that is waaaaaay more popular with men than women. Out of around 50 people who ended up playing, only two women chose to participate. I and another women came to the event place for the food but didn’t actually play. It was a very hot day and some people looked wretched in their long sleeves, long pants, and big plastic facemasks. Our boss who urged us all to participate no-showed. Who on my team actually did participate? Well, the two interns, the newest hire, and one other person. So basically the people without the social capital to say no. At least I hope they learned a lesson about BS teambuilders and saw that actually lots of people sit them out.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Oh dear Cthulhu, the memories of the firm that did that with me. ‘We’ll all do paintball! It’s really team building and everyone can do no matter age or gender!’

      Pointed out that my disability means I literally can’t scramble in the woods getting shot at – ‘oh, you can sit in your car and keep score!’. Heck no.

      Next day, a hoard of very bruised and sore people came into the office with a distinct lack of any kind of ‘team spirit’. Next year the boss decided go-karting and two people ended up with whiplash. I didn’t go to either :)

      1. Tau*

        Oh god, go-karting. We had that for the last pre-COVID team-building event, where everyone else was a) a guy b) someone with a driver’s licence. The combination of never having played before, never having driven any remotely similar vehicle before, and in general having no earthly idea what I was doing was not great, and after spending the first ten minutes ramming into every possible obstacle I could and only getting into people’s way, I gave up… except that all our belongings were locked up and wouldn’t be unlocked until the event was over, so I got to spent the next 90 minutes or something freezing my ass off watching my teammates have fun. Never again.

        1. Bluesboy*

          We also did go-karting for team building. There were eight of us, and two stopped before the end, one because he had a bad back and was ruining it in the go-kart, and one because he had had a detached retina a few years earlier and was worried about detaching it again.

          It was interesting that the positions at the end related exactly to professional aggressiveness – I mean, literally, the sales people were all at the top (in prder of how aggressive their sales technique is) and the analysts were all at the bottom. There was teasing. Honestly, a really bad choice. Fortunately the all-you-can-eat pizza that followed it was more successful.

      2. Storm in a teacup*

        our last F2F team build event was in Feb 2020 and we did a great British bake off (baking show) thing. They’d recreated the tent and we had to complete a technical challenge in teams of two. Great fun!
        The location was a pub beer garden so people had drinks after and we all got yummy cakes too

          1. Storm in a teacup*

            It’s still being talked about – but that could also be because we’ve not really had any socials since!

        1. RussianInTexas*

          I would hate this so so much, because I Do Not Bake. I don’t know how to do most of the baking things. Or compete.
          I know it’s an unpopular thing to say in the US, but I have no interest in competing with anyone, even for fun (very few board games excluded, even then I don’t care if I win).
          I would eat the results though. I can be a tester!

      3. Mischief & Mayhem*

        Long ago and far away, my then department did a paintball teambuilding activity. I didn’t even go. One guy obviously didn’t bother to cover his mouth, and that’s exactly where he got hit. He walked around the rest of the week with HUGE “duck lips”. Not sure he ever lived that one down.

    2. allathian*

      How awful, I’m so sorry.

      I hate most forms of teambuilding events with the heat of a thousand suns. I guess I’m glad that while my employer organizes some “fun” events, they’re strictly voluntary. It says in our employee handbook that managers aren’t allowed to consider whether or not a report participates in strictly voluntary non-work events when evaluating their performance. I do like my team and working for my employer, but the only teambuilding I value is the sort that’s done during development days when we’re brainstorming to solve actual work problems.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        I hate them a too. I can’t think of any activity I would want to do with my colleagues, even the ones I like an go to lunch with. May be lunch catered by the employer.

        1. Birch*

          Same. I always figure, if I want to do something fun with a group of colleagues (that we all enjoy), we’re probably already doing it outside of work because we are friends outside of work! Forcing a bunch of colleagues who are not all friends outside of work to do activities that only some of them can do or enjoy, plus the power structures of the work environment, is a recipe for disaster.

          1. Liz*

            We’ve had our share of dumb team building events. My faves (not!) were the ones where WE (everyone but my director) had to drive about 60 miles each way, to his beach house, do something boat related, etc. because HE happened to be there. it as always on a thursday, so he could then work from home friday and enjoy his weekend. We also have had bad ones with larger groups, after that. Medieval Times comes to mind as probably the worst. Imagine a group of adults, in the middle of a weekday, with hoards of school groups. So embarassing. and not very much fun either

      2. GlitsyGus*

        My last company did a few really fun ones, but part of what made them fun is they were low pressure. We had a day at a really fancy hotel on the beach with lunch, drinks, games and, well, the beach, but nothing was mandatory, if you wanted to grab a glass of wine and fall asleep in a lounge chair that was just fine.

        We also went to a sort of ranch for a cookout with archery, bull riding, a casino, slingshot firing range (the slingshots were a lot of fun), that kind of thing, but again, you just did what you wanted, there was no pressure to participate in anything specific other than 15 minutes during lunch when the C-Suite gave their thank you talks, which I think is kind of the key to these things.

        1. allathian*

          The slingshot thing and archery sound fun. I’ve actually done archery at a work event once. I’m usually crap at physical activities, but I did surprisingly well at archery.

    3. PT*

      I worked somewhere that had a ton of employees who were senior citizens because we ran a seniors program, and two years in a row, we did ice skating followed by roller skating as an employee event.

      Now of course SOME senior citizens can ice skate and roller skate, and we did have a couple who participated. But the vast majority of 60+ folks don’t want to risk falling and breaking something. (Heck the majority of our 40+ employees sat it out for the same reason.)

      It was pretty stupid.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        When I was figure skating, I DESPERATELY wanted my companies to have a thing at the rink so I could show off, but alas, they never did.

      2. Amaranth*

        If someone fell and got injured at one of these would the company be considered liable? I wonder if anyone in upper management ever considers that aspect

        1. Hit Me with Your Best Shot*

          Yes, one of my colleagues suffered a serious knee injury playing volleyball at the company picnic and got workers comp because it was a work function. They changed to DODGEBALL the next year and despite not playing, I was hit in the head by an errant ball while sitting at a picnic table nearby.

          1. The Prettiest Curse*

            Dodgeball? WTF, how on earth did they get that one past Legal?? Are they all sports-specific sadists or something??

            1. miss chevious*

              As someone who was Legal at a company that insisted on doing HUMAN FOOSBALL as a team building event, I will tell you that when senior leadership is involved, sometimes even Legal is powerless. In that instance the most I could do was mandate that everyone signed releases stating the the activity was voluntary and they acknowledged the possibility of injury or death. Those forms came in handy when three employees got hurt (none too seriously, fortunately). And the activity was truly voluntary — people had to go to the event itself, but there were many other activities (I personally just sat at a picnic table and had a drink and chatted) and human foosball was not required.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            Dodge ball???? nooooooooo.

            We had to do it for gym class. I’d try to get hit early and sit out the rest of the class. The game always turned aggressive at the end and some people took some real hard hits. It got brutal.

            1. Chauncy Gardener*

              Dear God, I got a concussion playing dodgeball. I was already out (of course), on the sidelines leaning against the wall and got hit with a ball, hit my head on the wall and was out. What an awful game

      3. Sleepless*

        Yeah, I was a pretty good roller skater back in the day and I can still do it, but at age 54, I’m all too aware of how one little misstep could mess up my life very badly for a very long time.

        1. Not a cat*

          THIS! Absolutely! Last year I fell over the darn cat and broke a finger and a toe. That never would have happened if I were younger.

    4. MissDisplaced*

      Paintball can be fun… but it generally involves people trying to “kill/shoot” each other to win if you play as a team so I have to wonder about that as a team building kind of exercise? Plus it leaves bruises. Definitely not a fun for all kind of thing. Sometimes those paintball courses are included at a fun park with other outdoor stuff, like ziplines, a pool, go carts, etc., so maybe it can work depending on the place if there are other things to do? I hope at least your company rotates these sorts of things?

      1. Girasol*

        As soon as I read OP’s account I thought, somebody’s going to end up saying “You fight like a girl” at some point. You can hardly have a friendly office competition without some folks getting way too competitive and others ending the “team building” event wishing that those people could be kicked off the team.

    5. Needs More Cookies*

      My former company did paintball too. I opted out (I think I was pregnant at the time) but I get the feeling that a lot of the “team building” activities were excuses for the owner to drag his sons along and expense his family fun outings on the company dime.

      He at least was a good sport and let everyone take a free shot at him, which left him spectacularly bruised. We never did paintball again!

    6. WoodswomanWrites*

      I wish more managers would just ask employees what kind of teambuilding event they would find appealing, if any.

      1. J.B.*

        Somehow it never seems to be pedicures (not that I’d actually recommend them for work they seem a bit too personal)

    7. Sherm*

      Oof, yeah, paintball can be way too intense for “team fun!” The place I went to once worked hard to make the area look like an actual warzone. Maybe I let my imagination get the best of me, but I kept thinking “What if I was really doing this? Kill or be killed? It would be a horror.” If coworkers are really gung-ho about paintball, I’d definitely advocate a version that emphasizes fun and silliness, not one where it looks like you just joined the military and your first assignment is to mow down your coworkers.

      1. Hard No*

        Before my office career I worked fast food – I was held up at gunpoint by a parolee. I abhor guns and will not go near them; even paintball guns make me anxious. There’s no way I’d attend such an event.

      2. hamsterpants*

        Yep this place was a billion percent pretend military. Like their website is full of black-and-white pictures of guys in camo sneaking around fake ruined buildings with realistic (to me) guns. It felt very awkward and in very poor taste given the pictures in the news these days.

    8. Quantum Hall Effect*

      So basically the people without the social capital to say no.

      Or maybe the people with the most desire to get to know others in the office.

    9. Cute Li'l UFO*

      Oh goodness, I’m a cis woman, love paintball (and did it frequently during prior training), and can’t imagine doing that as any kind of company-sanctioned teambuilding. That is some very physical bruisy time!

      One company I worked at, our department morale was so miserable. I almost got killed by a piece of vegan sushi because someone had swapped the tongs and supervisor was TICKED at me for disappearing to administer lifesaving epinephrine, PM wanted all of us contractors to go to North Beach from the FiDi to get some apparently ~magical~ sandwiches at a deli. He kept harping on and on about how great this place was and how we were all going as a TEAM. Now I have no problem treating myself to lunch but I don’t appreciate being forced to miss hours because someone thinks we all need sandwiches to bolster our spirits. I could tell my coworkers weren’t comfortable with it (we’d all talked about money issues at lunch previously) and I mentioned that I didn’t want to do it because of the time and money involved, even if we ubered and split it. Once I spoke up my coworkers also did and echoed the points. PM had the gall to bring up that we would pick up lunch, that it was just one day, that I carried a nice purse and could afford it (ha!)

      We held firm and I know I got myself marked as the instigator but I’m glad I stood up. Going out to eat can be a great thing to do and get to know each other. Doing it in a way that pushes it as a work and financial burden is unacceptable.

      1. Former Employee*

        If they want people to bond over food which is something that does tend to bring people together (as opposed paintball which tends to do the opposite), the boss should send round a menu so everyone can pick the sandwich they like and then the boss can order lunch, either to be delivered to the office or to be ready for when they get to the restaurant. No one else should have to pay for anything.

        1. GlitsyGus*

          This. Or let the employees take the lead. At one job in my department we would pick one day a quarter and walk from the FiDi to North Beach for cheesesteaks to eat in Washington Square park. It was a lot of fun, but it was fun because the majority of us liked the cheesesteaks (plus there was other options nearby) and we kind of put it together ourselves, rather than having it dictated to us. Management just supported it by letting us have the long lunch hour to do our thing.

    10. The Prettiest Curse*

      Back when I was in a youth volunteer group, we did (optional) laser tag (similar to paintball, except it was indoors on a fixed course) as a team-building exercise. It was actually lot of fun, but the young guys on the other team who played a lot of shooting-type video games “killed” me repeatedly. But yeah, that kind of thing is not really appropriate for a workplace due to the reasons that others have mentioned.
      My all-time favourite team-building exercise/workplace contest that I got to witness in person will forever be the gingerbread house building (#10 at the link below), due to the extreme hilarity and messiness involved:

      1. Jenny D*

        When I started my first sysadmin job, there was a team-building lasertag + dinner evening the Friday before I started. I joined and had great fun, including shooting my boss-to-be in the back four times.

        The main downside was that I was also moving to a new apartment on the Saturday, and my legs were so sore from running around hunched down on the lasertag course…

        My current job had a great team-building event – we were sorted into groups, each group got the same amount of planks and ropes and things, and then we built catapults to see which group managed to fire the projectile the longest.

        1. NoviceManagerGuy*

          Laser tag is a huge plus over paintball. You can be a “camper” if you don’t want to move much, nothing actually hits you, and it’s not gross.

          But yeah I can’t do it mildly so my thighs are always sore from squatting so I present a smaller target.

    11. RussianInTexas*

      Partner’s company would do the department picnic in the local water park – go do your own thing, show up for the catered lunch.
      I’ve seen my of partner’s colleagues in the swim suits by now.
      Large energy company, tech group, not a “tech” company.
      I am not sure it’s a great idea.

    12. GlitsyGus*

      Our boss who urged us all to participate no-showed.

      OK, that would have been the only pro in my book- finding a quiet corner to chill out and then ambush my boss. But I mean, what is even the point of taking your employees to paintball if you don’t play so they can shoot the boss? (It’s a dumb “team builder” in many ways, but one of the big reasons that companies like it is the boss is on the same “level” as the team and doesn’t get special privileges, at least theoretically).

      1. Hrodvitnir*

        Ha, my partner who is a manager has floated paintball before and people were like “you know you’d get destroyed, right?” but he’s the kind of person who would only be entertained by this.

        They never did it because he’s not going to do something that a bunch of people don’t want to do, as was the case. (This is for xmas dos, not “team building” – we did do skeet shooting once, that was fun.)

    13. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      Those of you who have suffered through this may enjoy either the book or the TV Series “Good Omens,” in which a demonic character arrives at a corporate paintball retreat and changes all the paintball weapons to real ones.

    14. BethFrank*

      I identify as a woman and absolutely love paintball…with my friends. Forcing people to go paintballing for a work event is not cool. It’s often painful and can leave massive bruises, depending on the fps of the gun, where the paintball hits, and how close the gun is to you….so taking a bunch of people who’ve never been paintballing and/or don’t want to be paintballing is a terrible idea for many, many reasons.

  6. I'm A Map!*

    Does anyone know of any websites where I could print just a map covering a relatively short distance?

    For context, my commute to work is about 7 miles. Once in a while a road I usually take is closed. Figuring out a different route to get to work unexpectedly makes me very late and is very stressful. For various reasons, it’s easier for me to look at a large map (like on a computer) before driving rather than trying to follow a GPS while driving or trying to look at Google Maps on my phone.

    So I’d like to print a map of the area I commute through to keep in my car. I’ve looked at a few websites where you can plug in two destinations and print maps, but you waste room either printing instructions or a blank area (where you were supposed to type notes), and then the map is tiny and useless. The closest I’ve found to what I want is you can print just the map on AAA’s website, but my route is squished in the far right side of the map, with tons of wasted space to the left. I don’t see a way to rotate the area of the map that’s being printing to focus on the roads I’d actually use.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Could you zoom in on the map and take a screenshot of the portion you need, then paste it into a word document or similar and resize it appropriately to fill a page?

      1. Green great dragon*

        This was my thought. Any paint or picture editing software should let you take screenshots from Google maps and crop, rotate or scale them to fit your page

    2. Rebecca*

      I don’t have a suggestion, sorry.

      But wow, have we come full circle.

      Is it still possible to buy print maps of an area? The books that would put a whole city on many pages so you could get your neighbourhood on one page?

      1. GoryDetails*

        Re those books of printed maps: they still exist, though it seems they don’t get updated as often as they used to, and they can be rather pricey. I have a couple for the areas I spend most of my time in, and still resort to them at times – mainly when I’ve gotten lost from the turn-by-turn printed instructions that I use, or when traffic problems force a detour. I tried pricing replacement copies of the older books and found that some don’t have recent editions at all, with the older editions commanding more-than-cover-price at secondhand seller sites.

      2. the cat's ass*

        if youre from CA, Harris guides were the best. There’s a lot of construction around my office, so I’ve printed out maps of 3 or 4 alternative routes to my office. And in the last 4 years of construction, I’ve used them ALL.

    3. Lizabeth*

      Check your county or state website for DOT maps of your area. VA has detailed road maps of each county.

      Or ADCMapsdotcom?

      1. SofiaDeo*

        This; maybe also bookmark them if you have a smartphone. The state sites often show construction and weather related closures too. A static standard geopgraphical map won’t show those. I was able to print out that days routes showing everything, before I left.

    4. Queen Anon*

      This makes me miss old gas stations with their full service including tires, windows, and oil checks – and racks of road maps. Though perhaps not refolding them….

    5. A.P.*

      You can do this in Google Maps (or Apple Maps). Just zoom in so both your home and work are visible on the same page, but do not request driving directions. All you need to do is print the page and you will get a full 8 1/2 x 11 image of the map.

      One tip: First print to PDF so that you don’t waste a lot of paper trying to get the map centered just the way you want it.

      1. Trixie*

        Another option might be MapMyRun. I used for measuring distance on workouts but it might lend itself to your needs. (Free)

    6. momofpeanut*

      Mapquest still creates printable maps, and allows you to zoom in on an area. It advertises that you can zoom in on an area of the map prior to printing.

    7. Generic Name*

      Look for a mapsco map book or a road atlas book for your city. They are maps organized in book format and each page covers a small area. You can tear out the page(s) that covers the area you need.

    8. Pumpernickel Princess*

      Try Caltopo! It’s free and customizable. There’s a function to save 8.5×11” PDFs of the map you create. I use it for hiking all the time, but there are good street maps available on it too.

    9. I edit everything*

      I’d also recommend just taking a couple hours to go out and drive around and explore in your car. Learn some alternate routes, where other roads go, and have a mental file of options.

      1. Haven’t picked a user name yet*

        I love this option if it makes sense. While I like a picture of where I am going I find it most useful to just drive the roads. That gives me the confidence I need to take any number of detours. I would recommend a weekend when there isn’t a lot of traffic.

        1. RussianInTexas*

          Yes, this is a very good suggestion. Learn your area . I have multiple ways to get to work, and always check Google traffic before leaving the house, because it varies greatly, but sometimes you have to bail and jump on to another route.
          My drive is between 7 and 9 miles depending on the route I take.

    10. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Another thing is when you have the time (going home, etc), practice different routes. I have 3 different routes that I can take that I just know. That makes things much easier when I’m adjusting on the fly because the highway is a parking lot. You will also build up a general knowledge of the area, which will help over time.

    11. Little Miss Sunshine*

      I use Waze for this exact reason. You get real time data from crowdsourcing and automatically get new directions as needed. Of course, living that close you will eventually learn all the tricks on your own.

    12. GlitsyGus*

      AAA still has a lot of paper maps in their offices. You could swing by a AAA office and ask for one for your city. They may charge a couple bucks if you aren’t a member, but it would be worth it.

      1. GlitsyGus*

        You could also try to find a Thomas Guide for your city if they still make them. I still have an old one in my trunk from when I was doing flower delivery in the 90s. Things have changed quite a bit, so I can’t really use it for turn-by turn anymore, but if I’m stuck without GPS it at least helps me get my bearings.

  7. another academic librarian*

    This is work related I think.
    I have employed 2 housekeepers once a week in my home for the last 8 years.
    I pay a generous salary. (more than local rates) I pay grief leave, I give two weeks salary for holiday bonus.
    They are women in their late 50s. They do an excellent job.
    During 2020 when there was uncertainty about Covid pre vaccine, I paid for 4 months of cleaning but did not let them in my home as I am in a few risk categories.
    When I allowed them back, I limited their access to the upper two floors of the house and paid them their regular rate. They are masked in my home. I stayed out of that area for 4 hours.
    When the vaccine became widely available, they made it known to me that they held anti-vax pov.
    I felt that it was unreasonable to fire them. That I continued the limited access arrangement and not entering the part of the home that they cleaned.
    One just tested positive for Covid.
    I do not want them to return to my home.
    What do I owe them? What language may I use?
    Do I have to say it is because of Covid and I don’t feel safe with anyone unvaccinated in my home. Delta is surging in my area. I have returned to limiting my own movement in the world.
    May I just say I have decided not to have them return and send them a weeks salary?
    Other words?
    I feel like an asshole.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      You are NOT an a-hole. At all.

      It is totally acceptable to say that you can no longer employ them until they’re vaccinated and have negative Covid tests. That’s what a lot of employers are doing now – essentially it’s workplace health and safety.

      Or, if you don’t want to raise the Covid thing – which I can understand, it’s stressful as anything- just tell them their services are no longer required. Offer a payment if you want to and wish them all the best.

      I know it’s hard essentially firing staff you’ve had for 8 years, but be kind on yourself too. You’re protecting your life and that’s a good thing.

      1. Artemesia*

        I would have dismissed them when they refused to be vaccinated. There are consequences for not caring about the safety of others, particularly others who have been so generous to them.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          True, I personally would have as well. However, different people have the right to decide what their personal limits are and if they want to let people go with kindness then I’m not going to rebuke anyone :)

        2. bunniferous*

          Even if vaccinated they can still transmit covid. We had a local broadcast reporter, fully vaxxed, contract it at a small gathering he had held where everyone else was fully vaxxed as well-half of them contracted it. The reporter was hospitalized for awhile but thankfully is ok now.

          In this circumstance, if it were me, I wouldn’t have anyone extra in my home vaxxed or not. I mean there are probably precautions you could take and be ok but for peace of mind’s sake probably best to not have them come back. And to quote Reddit, NTA.

    2. allathian*

      You aren’t an asshole. The anti-vaxxers are. All actions have consequences, and you’re entirely within your rights to fire them for endangering your health. That said, the easiest option would probably be to just say that you no longer need their services, without going into any further details. Committed anti-vaxxers aren’t going to change their minds no matter what you say, so there’s really no point.

      While I’ve never employed people to do stuff in my home, apart from maintenance people like plumbers, I understand that a long-term, probably friendly, professional relationship feels more personal than a simple business relationship. But it’s still a business relationship and you have the right to end it when it’s no longer working for you.

      You can hire new housekeepers and require proof of vaccination to let them into your home. You get to decide who you want to do business with.

    3. Gnome*

      First off, you are not an asshole. I have heard of work conditions like this for full-time housekeepers, but never for one-a-week work! You are treating them like full-time employees… Which is great (both in that you are able to and have done so)!

      However, you are not required by any law or social compact to 1. Be as generous as you have been or 2. Put yourself at risk when there are other options.

      I would suggest something like: You know how much I value you and the work you do for me. I know how uncertain things have been in the last year or so due to covid. As much as I would like to keep going the way we have been, between some health concerns of my own and the more easily spread variants, it is too risky for me to have unvaccinated people in my home (or ‘my doctor says it’s too risky’). I want to do right by you, so let’s talk about what makes sense – would it be better if we move on, in which case I would be happy to be a reference, or would you be willing to get vaccinated?

      If they are willing to be vaccinated and you are able, it would be generous to pay them for the weeks they don’t work while they wait to be fully vaccinated.

      By setting it up this way, you aren’t firing them, but giving them the information, and choice, about how flexible you are able to be and what their options are within that.

      If there are other things that would work (PCR testing weekly, certain types of masks, disinfectant foggers) that you would be comfortable with, you could offer those options too.

      But you aren’t an ass. Not even if you just say, “I’m sorry, but I can’t have unvaccinated people in my home.”

      1. momofpeanut*

        I feel very sad saying this, but I am not sure you can trust someone who has refused to get vaccinated so far to do the right thing. Fake cards are a real issue, and you are letting these people into your home.

        This is not a discrimination issue. Just let them know you don’t need their services any longer. Be polite and remember they are the ones throwing away a great job opportunity, not you.

        1. Artemesia*

          I remember reading somewhere that a woman’s nanny claimed to be vaccinated, was lying and infected her children. There is no longer any trust where anti vaxers are involved.

    4. Claritza*

      Your house, your rules! Your health is at stake. Sounds like you have been more than generous as an employer. They are accountable for the consequences of their choices, so be honest with them.

    5. StellaBella*

      This. … May I just say I have decided not to have them return and send them a weeks salary?
      is fine. Explain you are at risk, you are the employer and they have been let go because of refusing to be safe. pls let us know how you are next week.

    6. owl10*

      You don’t owe them anything. If they choose not to vaccinate, too bad.

      In general you are overdoing the privilege guilt. I earn a low wage and work with people. We don’t need pity. So long as we get a fair salary and reasonable working conditions it’s fine. We don’t need to people to wring their hands over us. Many people choose low wage work as a lifestyle choice, it’s not a pity party. Your cleaner may have a better lifestyle then you do in some ways. My low wage, low spending lifestyle is way chill.

      1. I can never decide on a lasting name*

        I love AAM for many things – thoughtful replies like yours, owl10, are one of them!

        1. owl10*

          Low wage workers are tired of being patronised. So you employ a cleaner – oh no! oh dear! how could you!

          Pay the fair wages, give the fair working conditions and check the guilt at the door. We don’t need pity from the rich.

        2. owl10*

          I don’t think people realise how common and offensive these domestic staff comments are. They are super frequent and really rude.

          It’s so common for people all over the media to post comments like ‘I pay my cleaner so much above the rate! I’m super nice to them! I give them Christmas presents! I gave them some new designer clothes I hadn’t even worn! I made them godmother to my children! I give them three months off a year! BUT I FEEL BAAAAAAAAAAD’

          Just stop, please. If you pay an employee a fair wage and fair conditions, whatever the job is in a home or in a store or whatever it’s fine. Please stop. We don’t want to hold your hand through your privilege guilt. If you’re feeling guilty about money after paying a fair wage then go and vote for a political who believes in taxes or something or donate to charity. Stop dumping it on us.

          1. bluephone*

            Word to all of this! Under-privileged people don’t need anyone’s pity or condescending. They need non-slave wages and respect like everyone else.
            I get that the OP feels awkward, especially because she’s known these women for years. BUT–tell them you can no longer employ them because of their refusal to take part in simple public health measures and that’s that. I would say to suggest keeping them on if they agree to show hard proof of vaccination but scam vaccine cards are a thing and they sound like the type to take advantage of it. Besides what about when booster shots come into play? Or annual COVID shots? What about the next COVID pandemic, whatever that’s actually called? There are plenty of vaccinated housekeepers out there–life is too short to keep paying over the top wages for 0 hours of work and to feel guilty about it too. Stop wringing your hands and stand up for yourself.

            1. owl10*

              Vaccination is becoming standard for tonnes of roles. Not just health frontline. I work in hospitality outside the US and our government is discussing mandating vaccines for us and our customers.

              It is actually some kind of reverse privilege something to act like domestic helpers are exempt from vaccine mandates because like guilt or something?

              Lots of jobs require vaccines these days. It’s fairly normal. While domestic work does have a personal element so too does lots of jobs like child care, aged care, nursing and so on. You don’t need to act like someone is different just because you employ them personally. Do people treat their hairdresser or massager with this level of patronisation?

              What would benefit domestic workers is actually to be treated like any other jobs with the same standards of professionalism. In their favour that means legal and fair wages, conditions and so on. On the flip side it also means conforming to norms like vaccines, doing taxes and so on.

              1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

                I think there’s some cognitive dissonance, because we’ve been encouraged to practice compassion with people, in regard to: not everyone can go see their doctor when they’re sick, and other people’s health care is not our business. So you kind of feel like you need to be accommodating with anything regarding health, if you’re a compassionate person who takes the shortcomings of the American healthcare system into account.

                So it takes adjustment, but people need to realize that this is not the same as requiring a doctor’s note when someone is sick for a couple days. The only thing preventing a person from getting a vaccine at this point is opportunity to do it (without losing income). Anyone who wants to require their employees to be vaccinated can provide vaccine pay for a missed shift, and possibly even transport. Even with the matter of respecting other’s views, there’s no responsibility to respect anti-vaxx views to the detriment of one’s own safety in a global pandemic. So there’s no need to extend further compassion to people who refuse to get the vaccine, once you’ve cleared up the issue of giving them opportunity.

                But it can take a bit of conviction and reassurance to get there, when you’re worried you’re not doing the right thing morally. OP, you have practiced excellent moral compassion in continuing to pay your employees when you could not have them working, and in continuing to employ them provisionally after they refused to be vaccinated. You are fully within your rights to protect your own safety and comfort, and as owl10 says, going out of your way to accommodate their folly just because you are privileged is, at a certain point, more patronizing than compassionate.

    7. You're not the asshole*

      Hi, it sounds like you feel responsible for these ladies and that you would hate to fire one of them, to the point of accomodating their non vax beliefs. Considering this, I actually think you might as well not fire the one who tested positive, unless she knowingly exposed you.

      Now, since you did ask for a script:
      ” I don’t feel safe having non vaccinated people in my home right now. I’m sorry, I hate this situation, but unless you get vaccinated, i’ll have give you 2 weeks pay and a great reference. I wish you all the best.”

      If they argue “but you’ve let us keep working until now”. You just need to repeat “I know, but I don’t feel safe, so it can’t go on. I wish you all the best.”

      Your responsibility to employees doesn’t extend to endangering your health (mental and physical) for them. That’s not being an asshole.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        Small, tiny nitpick : the bit about post-infection antibodies being the same as post-vaccination ones is not true. They don’t confer the same benefits.

        Other than that, I do like your wording. Especially your scripts!

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yep — I removed that piece from the post since I don’t want misinformation spread here (normally I’d remove the whole post but it was just that one snippet with misinformation).

    8. Akcipitrokulo*

      You’re not doing anything wrong. At all.

      This is your HOME.

      You are allowed to be safe there!

      If you want to be nice you could offer to pay for sick days if they have any reaction to the jab, or generous severance pay if they won’t.

      You do not have to allow unvaxxed people into your home.

        1. Kat in VA*

          She can request they show proof in the form of a vaccine card?

          (Although, now I think of it, anti-vaxxers are buying blank ones and filling them in with BS information because some people just generally suck nowadays)

    9. fposte*

      You would not be an asshole for firing them. It would be good if you can say you’re requiring vaccination now but I understand if you don’t want to go there.

      Pragmatically, though, are you going to be okay for cleaning then? Are you going to handle the cleaning yourself, or have you found another cleaning team that has better COVID protocols that you’re going to be able to turn to? Around where I live that would be hard to find. I also can’t tell if you’re uncomfortable with anybody who’s ever tested positive entering your house; that’ll be hard to ascertain with a lot of cleaners.

      But if you’ve got a good alternative, no, you’re absolutely not an asshole for considering them to have crossed a line with somebody they presumably knew had vulnerabilities. I just also think it’s okay if you decide that you’re better off keeping them because you can’t be sure of other cleaners either, and they did take and alert you about the COVID test rather than pretending it didn’t happen and coming into your home.

    10. the cat's ass*

      You’re not the ahole in this scenario, your housekeepers are. Send them notice and a week’s salary and tell them you don’t feel safe with the unvaxxed in your home. Or just the notice and the $. You can certainly require your next housekeepers be vaccinated. You get to make the rules and be safe in your own home!

    11. Office Pantomime*

      You’ve received good advice in that your health comes first. This is your home, not an office. I handled my housekeeper the same way. Generous pay because she is excellent, holiday bonuses, paid her during lockdowns. She masked in my home and still does. And, vaccine hesitant. But not anti-vax. I told her kindly that we are probably going to need anyone coming to our home to be vaxxed soon, as my area only had widely available vaccines in the previous month or so.

      Basically put her on notice. She got her first dose about 2 weeks later. Yay! Not necessarily due to me, but she heard rumblings of implementing vaccine passports in my area, so she’s been getting the message on multiple fronts. We are going to vax passports next week. No restaurants, going to events etc without proof of vaccination. Yesssss.

      1. fposte*

        Did you ask to see the card or are you trusting people’s word? I’m not asking that rhetorically–there’s a former cleaner I’m considering hiring again but I’m not sure I’d be up to asking to see the card and I’m wondering what other people have done.

        1. Run mad; don't faint*

          You could offer to show them your card in return. The trust should go both ways, I think.

    12. Southern*

      Keep in mind, if the one that had COVID does decide to get vaccinated, it is recommended to wait 90 days.

    13. Database Developer Dude*

      I want to add my voice to the chorus insisting that you are NOT an a-hole. This is your home, and you have the right to keep unvaccinated people out of it. Anyone insisting otherwise would be. You are not.

    14. SofiaDeo*

      IDK if you are interested, but as an immune compromised person I got whole house air sanitizers. So even if tradespeople are infective, my space gets cleaned after they leave, I simply avoid it for a few hours when possible.

      But I agree with only wanting non vaccinated people, and I would tell them why. Who knows, it may even influence their thinking, when they realize the only other people who will be willing to hire them are other anti-vaxxers.

    15. SofiaDeo*

      IDK if you are interested, but as an immune compromised person I got whole house air sanitizers. So even if tradespeople are infective, my space gets cleaned after they leave, I simply avoid it for a few hours when possible.

      But I agree with only wanting non vaccinated people, and I would tell them why. Who knows, it may even influence their thinking, when they realize the only other people who will be willing to hire them are other anti-vaxxers. “I’m sorry, but it’s not safe for me to be around unvaccinated people” is neutral.

    16. PostalMixup*

      We previously hired a house cleaner who did a great job. The problem was, she was really careless otherwise. Twice she spilled bleach on our chair cushions without saying anything to us about it. Once she spilled the bucket of mop water on the stairs and didn’t clean it up or say anything. My three year old was like “Why are the stairs all wet???” Then one day we came home to the smell of gas. While cleaning the stove she had turned one of the burner knobs. We had a crock pot going right next to the stove. It’s a miracle our house didn’t explode. I felt super guilty telling her we didn’t want her to return, but ultimately, if that’s not the final straw, what is? Does she have to actually blow up my house and/or kill my family? I feel like this is a similar situation. How much do you actually owe someone who puts your health at risk? I say, you owe them civility and wages for work performed, and not much else.

      1. RagingADHD*

        In what possible respect did she do a “great job?” She ruined your furniture, left a worse mess than she found, and created a serious hazard.

        Shiny tile or an absence of dust bunnies don’t even begin to offset that.

        That would be like saying someone was a wonderful cook because they used a fancy recipe but gave everyone food poisoning.

    17. Bluebell*

      You are not the asshole in this situation. I would simply give them a week’s notice, maybe pay them for one last cleaning (but not have them come) and search for housekeepers who are vaccinated and willing to wear masks while cleaning. I don’t think you need to mention the reason why you are letting them go, I’m pretty sure they can figure it out. Sadly, I don’t think I’d trust antivaxxers who then say they got the shots. Counterfeit cards are too common. Hope it works out for you!

    18. Not So NewReader*

      Everyone’s house that I have ever visited has house rules. Don’t let the pets outside. No smoking. Don’t park on the grass. No shoes. There’s all kinds of rules that people use for [reasons] and it’s a given that outsiders follow the rules of the household.

      Workplaces have the same set up with even more detail.

      The conflict comes in when people are working in our homes. It feels so personal. And they feel like friends or family, because who do we have over our houses? Friends and family.
      They are employees. You’re not firing grandma, saying, “You can’t be grandma anymore. I am going to find another grandma.” Double check and make sure that you have that personal boundary line firmly in place.

      Next. IF, notice big IF, I felt this would lead into a lengthy, protracted discussion about all the ins and outs of Covid and transmission, etc. I might opt not to give the real reason. If they are anti-vax there is nothing I am going to say that will change that, so why open the conversation in any manner?

      I think I’d go with some thing to the effect of, “I am tired of all this Covid stuff just like everyone else. Because of my health concerns that I have shared with you in the past, I have decided to remain home more now and I will be taking over the cleaning chores myself. I appreciate your years of help and I will always remember you both warmly. I wish you the best always.”

      Notice how final this sounds, your decision is not open to negotiation, debate, or even discussion. You are tired of all this and you have decided to change the way you are handling things, period.

      Yeah, it can feel like a bit of a lie when you hire someone else. Eh, later you can say you changed your mind yet again. Or you can say that you delegated some chores to new people and kept some chores for yourself. Whichever.

      I am a firm believer that at the time of firing it is too late to go into depth about the reasons. They already know how you feel about the vaccine so there’s no need to recap that explanation.

    19. Sandman*

      I was just talking to a cousin this weekend about a similar situation where they’re turning away clients who would be present in their home because they aren’t willing to be vaccinated. Nobody has the right to endanger the health of another and you don’t have to feel weird about it. You probably will because you have a longstanding relationship with these people, and that’s okay, but they are the ones creating the awkwardness.

    20. GlitsyGus*

      You’re not an asshole. If anything the fact you’re worried about being the A-hole here shows your level of compassion.

      I don’t want to make any assumptions about why your housekeepers have fallen on the anti-vax side, so I’m not going to cast aspersions, but it is very much your right to decide that you only want folks who have been vaccinated working in your house. I also think that it is totally OK for you to just let them know that you were trying to be OK with this, but now you have realized you just aren’t comfortable with the situation. They can either get the vaccine, or you will have to let them go with the severance you mentioned (in case they aren’t sure where to get it for free take a few minutes to look up the closest vaccination sites, and if you want you can also guarantee to cover sick time if they have a reaction to the shot since that is a concern for a lot of service industry workers). It won’t be a fun conversation, but sometimes we do have to have hard conversations and make hard decisions. You do need to look out for yourself here.

      Good luck to you!

    21. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

      I just wanted to add – if you find some new cleaners who are vaccinated, remember they could still catch and pass on covid. The vaccine only reduces that risk, doesn’t eliminate it.

  8. Clare*

    Any tips for managing a very passive aggressive employee? I have worked as a manager in another department that works closely with hers so have known her for a few years already, and am now taking over as her manager. During the time I’ve worked here I’ve noticed a pattern of her being passive aggressive, almost hostile at times, to her direct manager but super nice and helpful to most other people. Not sure what the deal is but I’ve already started to notice her behavior changing towards me and I’m not even officially her manager yet!

    1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Hard to know without examples but I totally believe you. Confession: am reformed MASSIVE passive aggressive manipulative a hole.

      The trick is to believe your own perceptions. People like what I was are very very good at insisting what we said/did wasn’t *that* bad, you must have misunderstood etc. The phrase tossed back at me by the person who finally had enough of my rubbish was ‘regardless of how you feel, I expect you to do X’

      Repeated unemotional statements of fact from them leaves no opening for manipulation.

      1. I can never decide on a lasting name*

        Keymaster of Gozer, thank you for this! Have you elaborated on your past and your change in past open threads? I am not asking for you to point to it, but thought I might ask before searching through hundreds of threads…

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          Not as a whole tale no (it would be pages!) but there’s bits on a few comments I’ve made in the past. Basically, as a younger Keymaster I was not a nice person. Yes there were factors like escaping an abusive relationship, not having any treatment or diagnosis for my mental disorders, being in pain a lot but it doesn’t excuse my actions.

          It was actually getting into major trouble at work because of my behaviour that stopped it. Well, started the path to me seeking out help anyway.

          1. Cercis*

            I saw one of your previous posts and I want to say you are the proof of Carol Dweck’s research. People can change if 1) they believe it’s possible and 2) they want to. Yeah, sometimes they need an outside force to break the inertia of their current being, but it’s possible.

            You give me hope that I will eventually be able to set and enforce effective boundaries that prevent me from being a target for bullies. I know that bullies are gonna bully, but if I can make them work harder for it, they’ll move on to a different target. My people pleasing is a big problem.

            1. I can never decide on a lasting name*

              Thank you for that reference, Cercis, it will be very useful to me in my job. Because yes, people CAN and DO change!

              1. allathian*

                Yup. But only if they themselves have the motivation to do so. People don’t change just because others wish they did. Although, sometimes other people can be the catalyst for change, as Keymaster said. “Your behavior is unacceptable, we’ll fire you if it happens again” is a pretty strong motivator for most people.

      2. RagingADHD*

        The usual pattern generally goes something like:

        1) That didn’t happen.
        2) If it happened, it wasn’t my fault.
        3) If it was my fault, it wasn’t that bad.
        4) Why are you being so mean to me?
        5) I already apologized, what more do you want? (They never did apologize)
        and sometimes:
        6) You deserved it anyway.

    2. Gnome*

      I’m a first time manager and have been dealing with this. So I’m probably not doing it right… But what has NOT worked: saying that I’m seeing X so I believe something is wrong and what is it so I can deal with it. Ok, maybe once.
      I tried three times and then got frustrated, so don’t do THAT. Person doesn’t want to be managed. At all. I would have been better off doing things like:
      -I’m going to document that you wouldn’t answer my questions about progress on the Smith report.
      -(To my boss, since I have no hire/tire authority) Wakeen had been doing X, Y, and Z which I have documented. I have tried A and B (coaching, giving a forum to participate, whatever). My plan is Q, and if that doesn’t work, I think we should talk about whether it makes sense to keep him in this position since the passive aggressive behavior is causing M and N problems and taking time away from O. Is there anything else you suggest, or does this make sense to you?
      -Keeping a stash of dark chocolate.

    3. Alternative Person*

      Be very clear and precise when speaking to this person.

      Keep track of their behaviour.

      Give them as little negative emotion, keep it factual. Be prepared with ‘You may not have meant it that way, but you can’t do that’ or whatever applies.

      If possible, see if you can pinpoint where the passive aggressiveness is coming from. Is this person dealing with some sort of workflow problem and the passive aggressiveness is a side-effect of trying to herd the proverbial cats? That might be something you can help with (not saying it justifies the behaviour, just trying to contextualise it). Or is it passive aggressive because this person doesn’t like dealing with authority?

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        Give them as little negative emotion, keep it factual.

        Brilliant and key. The broken record/grey rock approach :)

        1. Gnome*

          Yes! This is part of why I failed. I kept trying to fix it and got frustrated (ok, it was more complicated than that, but this is fundamental to it).

      2. Bamcheeks*

        yes, the best way to deal with passive-aggressive people is to respond to the words they actually say, and let the attitude just roll over you:

        “So you want me to do ALL THIS by Monday?”
        “Yes please! Let me know if that’s a problem and we can work out which other projects can get pushed back.”
        “Well, it would have been NICE to know a little EARLIER, but it’s FINE, I’m sure I’ll be able to do it ALL.”
        “Great, that’s all I need to know. Update me if anything changes.”

        Never, ever go fishing for problems– however their attitude says, “there’s a huge problem here”, respond to the words. If there is a problem, they need to spell it out in words, not communicate through a general air of arsiness.

        But also, be aware that maintaining this air of cheerfulness is a strain on you and it’ll probably come out in other ways! Keep an eye on when you’re starting to get irritated and short, and find some other way of off-loading the stress so it doesn’t creep into your interactions in unhelpful ways.

        The worst thing about passive-aggressiveness (in my opinion) is that it’s catching– it’s really easy to start letting your own irritation show through tone of voice and general demeanour, and then you’re both annoyed with the other person and annoyed with yourself for being unprofessional! So you have to work really hard on letting it all bounce off you and just being unfailingly good-mannered, cheerful and responsive.

        1. Tau*

          Studied obliviousness works miracles. I’m autistic and for all the problems it causes I swear it can be a superpower when it comes to dealing with passive-aggressive people. Often I will not even notice that someone was attempting to manipulate me by attitude/implication until long after the fact.

          1. RagingADHD*

            Inattentiveness and preoccupation with mental noise can often result in the same gift of obliviousness.

            It really comes in handy sometimes!

          2. I'm A Little Teapot*

            Also oblivious to social stuff sometimes. It really does help with certain situations. I will sometimes pretend to be oblivious even though I know what’s going on, because it helps me get my work done.

            1. Just an autistic redhead*

              That was absolutely the best way I ever found socially to deal with attempted manipulation, insults, or general shadiness. Basically either no reaction, mild confusion, or delight at whatever happy or, at least, sane conclusions could be drawn instead of the intended negative ones.

              1. Bamcheeks*

                My favourite thing about doing this is that if someone IS passive-aggressive or has bad intentions, they’re completely confounded and frustrated when it *doesn’t work*. And if they’re actually lovely and well-meaning but just come across as a bit brusque because of their own social awkwardness or RBF, they’re super happy that you always give them the benefit of the doubt.

        2. LilyP*

          I think this is good advice for maintaining your sanity, but as this person’s manager I do think you have an obligation to the rest of the office to actually make her cut it out entirely and not just expect everyone to work around her. You can lay expectations of politeness, positive/neutral attitude, and raising problems clearly with words and hold her to them.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      This is more with personal relationships, but I’ve had success with just taking things at face value even if I know they’re being passive aggressive. It doesn’t necessarily make the problem go away but allows you to disengage yourself emotionally because you’re not playing the “read my cues and guess what I’m thinking” game, and hopefully makes them realize they have to be more direct.

    5. lasslisa*

      I would make one conscious shot at getting off on the right foot, in addition to the other advice here. Make sure she knows you value her work and give positive feedback / reinforcement for how helpful and positive she is with others. Ask her opinion and try not to go in automatically on the defensive. (But know where your lines are so you can say if something has to be done a certain way for now, if you don’t think her suggestion is workable, etc.)

      She sounds like someone who is very suspicious of management, and you can only do so much about that but you can still be kind while having your boundaries.

      1. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

        I like this. When I could feel myself sliding into passive aggressive behaviour at Toxic Workplace, it was almost always because I had tried to get something that made my work difficult resolved through proper channels and was back burners or ignored or otherwise unresolved. It stemmed from a real place of powerlessness.

        This person may have broader reasons for their behaviour that are unrelated to the work environment but it is also possible that work related stresses bring out the behaviour. Meeting with them and saying you want to make their life easier may go a long way, potentially.

    6. TexasRose*

      Get a copy of Suzette Haden Elgin’s _The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense for Business_, and study its patterns. (She has other books for other specialized purposes, but this one is gold for dealing with employees; any will give you some help.) The one comment with certain WORDs in CAPital letters is JUST one of her techniques to pinpoint the essential tonal nature of English, and how that tone (or musicality) can be either factual or accusatory.

  9. Canadian Valkyrie*

    I hate networking. And I don’t say that lightly. The idea of having to network fills me with dread and anxiety. I spent 5 years trying to network and it was nothing but horrifically awkward, and produced no results (eg I couldn’t name a single person I networked with now that I’m a few years away from it, I got no jobs, no referrals, no nothing… I also had nothing to offer in return).

    I am now in a solid career vs just taking random jobs to pay the bills. I want to network but things like going to work events seems incredibly stupid and wasteful unless I want to learn (eg if there’s some sort of talk about X industry topic). I don’t really even know what’s the point of a network of people who are neither friend, nor coworker, nor former coworker/classmate. What’s the point of that? I would love to meet local people in my industry but I just feel like there has to be a more organic, natural way to meet people that doesn’t involve a formal networking thing.

    1. Lizzo*

      I am an extrovert, but I have discovered that I really don’t like networking the way it is conducted in most professional arenas. It feels fake and schmoozy. Not my jam.
      What is my jam: authentic connection. Meeting with people one on one, expressing a genuine curiosity about their work, asking good questions, seeing if I can learn something new, and exploring whether there is an opportunity for me to help them–refer them to someone, help them sort through a problem, etc.
      Does that approach sound more appealing? If so, I have some suggestions for how to go about making those connections.

      1. Canadian Valkyrie*

        Thank you! I’m so glad I’m not the only one who feels like the more formal kinds of networking feel fake schmoozy, and very contrived. What you’ve suggested sounds way better. How do you manage the initial contact?

        1. BugHuntress*

          I feel like Twitter plays a bigger role in certain professions (publishing, sciences) in letting you get to know other people in your field more organically

        2. Lizzo*

          There are two ways I typically meet people:
          1) I tell people who are already in my network what I’m doing. Depending on the context, I might mention that I’m looking to meet people who are involved with X and Y. If they know someone who is involved with X and Y, I ask if they can introduce me to that person.
          2) I search online (usually LinkedIn) and see if there are second connections who might be interesting people to meet, and then I talk to the person we have in common to get a feel for whether an introduction can be made.

          Oh, and a third way: I am part of several groups by way of my hobbies (think: music performance, sports, art), and I always make sure to talk about what I do, and what makes me unique compared to my competition. It’s a tiny seed, but once planted, it does bring in business.

          It’s worth mentioning that what makes these relationships work is there’s give and take. I try to think of what I have to offer the person I’m meeting so that they get something out of the connection, too.

          These techniques take a lot more time than the “schmooze and business card swap”, but it will feel more comfortable.

          Are you in the Montreal or Calgary area, perchance?

    2. Colette*

      I find networking best when it involves keeping in touch with people I used to work with (say an email once a year) and when it involves doing things I’m interested in (e.g. talking to others at a conference). I think it’s important to have conversations without expecting a particular outcome (I.e. talk to lots of people without expecting it to go somewhere). And it’s also important to ask for what you want. (E.g. if you want advice, ask for it; if you want to work with someone on a project, ask if they’re interested).

      1. Canadian Valkyrie*

        This is how I’ve been handling it too. I am still in contact with, and even sometimes friends with, many former coworkers. If I need advice, a referral, etc, I’d rather get it from someone I know vs feeling like I am milking a virtual stranger for my own gain.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, and the thing is, you don’t have to. I’d hate to start milking a virtual stranger for my own gain, too, especially if I couldn’t reciprocate.

          For the last 12 years I’ve been attending a professional conference every year, except last year when it was canceled. This year it’s going to be a webinar, so I doubt I’ll get any networking done. Before I attended the first event I was determined to talk to at least three people in my field, and I did. Every year since then, my goal has been to catch up with the people I already know, and to talk to at least one, preferably two or three new potential contacts. I’m old enough and have been working at this for long enough that I always try to talk to at least one person who’s just starting out in our field.

    3. ThatGirl*

      I’ve never done much formal networking, but in my observation, it doesn’t need to be. The idea is to make friends, basically, or at least be friendly enough with people that you can call them up/email them about job stuff. It’s fine to stick to people you’ve actually met! And if you happen to go to an event or conference and click with someone, great, new contact. But it doesn’t need to be forced.

    4. Miki*

      It sounds as if you are viewing networking as something formal and structured, when most of the time is really is an organic and natural thing. Alison has a couple of useful posts here that might help: one is “I hate the idea of networking”, published on March 13 2018, and you can find others by clicking on the “networking” category on the sidebar.

      Networking is just about building up your circle of business acquaintances. You don’t need to go to events just to network – you go to events for professional development, and then talk to people. Take an interest in them. Share your own expertise and ask questions. Reach out to people for advice or recommendations. Read blogs written by people in your field, and comment thoughtfully. If something makes you think of someone you met, drop them an email with a link. Just try to connect genuinely and warmly with a few people each time, and your network will be meaningful.

    5. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Humans to humans about interests they have in common…

      Networking is painful and awkward when one or more of the humans is pretending that they have a hidden agenda about getting something from the other.
      Try going into “networking” experiences with the agenda to help at least one person and see if you get different results.

    6. Bamcheeks*

      >>unless I want to learn (eg if there’s some sort of talk about X industry topic)

      Do this then! That is a perfectly genuine and authentic and meaningful way of networking. Go along to talks: now’s actually a really good time to start because there’s still quite a lot of stuff online but physical things are just starting up again. If it’s in person, give yourself 20-30 minutes afterwards and just have a few conversations like, “What did you think of the talk? I was really interested in the comments about XYZ.” If it’s online, add people on LinkedIn or Twitter if they ask an interesting question or share an interesting thought. When you’re chatting to people– online or off– ask about aspects of their job or background or career history or their company’s new product or project that you’re genuinely interested in. You’ll come across as much more authentic, plus you’ll remember the conversation better because your “this is interesting” brain will be activated.

      This stuff is actually what everyone who is “good at networking” is doing– there are definitely people with broader areas of interest and better small talk than others, but very few people are actually 100% faking interest and networking purely in a “I have something to get out of this” way. Nearly all “formal networking things” have some element of talk or topic or introduction (or food) precisely because the vast majority of people can’t rock up at an event with no focus except networking: we all want something to hang our hat on!

    7. Koala dreams*

      The point is to meet people. If you don’t meet new people, you won’t meet new friends either. It sounds very sensible to only go to events with interesting talks or other interesting things. That way you have a chance to meet people with similar interests to you.

      Perhaps you also have too high goals for these events? I’m happy if I’ve managed to introduce myself to a few people and make some small talk.

      1. Canadian Valkyrie*

        I meet new people in normal ways, like at yoga classes, at work, at school, etc. It’s the “meeting people in my field for professional reasons” part that sucks.

        1. Esmeralda*

          The way you meet people at yoga, school, work — that’s the same way you network professionally. If you go to an event, talk to people there about the event.

          Some day we’ll be able to do big conferences again, and then you can: notice people you see twice, and say something friendly about it: at the breakfast bar, say, “I think I saw you at the llama primping accessories session yesterday[wait for response} … so, what did you think about her ideas about llama eyelash curlers?” or, what also happened, “oops, I *thought* it was you, how embarrassing! Haha, well, my name is Esmeralda. What session have you liked so far?” (you can have this bit ready to go, I sure do!) Everyone expects to meet new people and make new connections. So no one will think you’re weird if it sounds fake or contrived. They may feel awkward too.

          I’m a very introverted and basically shy geeky person. I had to *learn* how to do this kind of stuff and just practice. The biggest “secret” is: if you’re genuinely interested in people and listen to them with interest, being awkward or mis-speaking or thinking they’re someone they’re not, will not hurt you at all. Most everyone responds positively to genuine interest.

          1. Hydrangea McDuff*

            This is what I do. I basically strike up a convo with everyone I sit by, am in line with, etc. I collect contact info and I reach out if I felt a good connection with them and need a thought partner.

            And don’t underestimate the power of Facebook groups, even old school listservs. Join a professional org and take advantage of in person and online community.

            Don’t think of it as networking. Think of it as finding your peeps. :)

    8. Moo*

      I would say I’m “terrible at networking” but I have a really big network. What I mean is I’m terrible at sparking a conversation with a rando I’m standing beside at an event, but I’m good when I work with people. Mainly because what we think of as networking doesn’t really do anything. What does work really well is shared projects. Currently I personally want a network of people with more experience than me in a given area, so I’m working with a few people to set up an online group and some events. It’s the working together that actually creates the network. I only discovered this through doing collaborative projects. That way if you contact someone you don’t know to do something, then you have something to talk about. Something to build and work together on. It’s much easier to ask that person to connect you with some other person, info or opportunity, and creates real networks where you do actually know the people, and they know you.

    9. RagingADHD*

      Colleagues. That’s the category for people with whom you share an industry or a work connection, even if you don’t actually work together directly.

      The point of meeting and chatting with colleagues is to find out who is doing cool stuff, and who might think your stuff is cool, too. Then you might be able to do cool stuff together at some point. Or you could introduce two cool people to each other.

    10. LilyP*

      “I don’t really even know what’s the point of a network of people who are neither friend, nor coworker, nor former coworker/classmate”

      I actually think you’re right on the money there — people you’ve actually worked with and had real relationships with *are* your real network in most cases. What if you focused on shoring up those relationships instead of meeting strangers? Invite a former colleague for coffee, email an old boss with a career update, arrange a group of current coworkers to go to a talk or something?

      1. LilyP*

        Oh also, don’t just think of networking as “what can other people do for me” — what kinds of connections could you make between people or groups you already know? Great former intern you could recommend to someone hiring for a junior role? Friend you could connect to a volunteer opportunity? Favorite coworkers you could nominate for an award or talk? Could you volunteer with your alma mater to do some light mentoring/informational interviews for new grads?

        1. Canadian Valkyrie*

          I definitely need to work on the whole I have something to offer thing. For a long time I didn’t have much to offer (my resume read as a job hopping weirdo, due to contracts and just not having a lot of direction in my life so when one contract ended I’d look for the next thing to pay my bills and that could be angering). Now I’m like “do… you want me to come talk to your staff about X? Or do you want me to teach Y?” Obviously I’m not that direct about it, but yeah…

          1. Bamcheeks*

            You don’t have to have something to offer then and there– in fact, it’s often a bit off-putting if someone is straight in with their hard sell. Initial conversations work best when you’re just finding mutual areas of interest– you’re developing new llama counselling techniques, oh how cool, tell me more; no, my job is more focussed on llama enclosure design, though actually, we starting to think about how we integrate more llama-wellbeing into our enclosures.

            All you need to start off with is a basic introduction- Hi, I’m Valkyrie, I’m Junior Oatmeal Designer at Quaker, just came along today because I wanted to hear more about the new oats-sizing legislation, how about you? Asking more questions than you talk about yourself tends to get you the reputation as a great networker!

  10. BellaDiva*

    How difficult will it be for a 60-year old to find a new job after being laid off? My husband has been working for the same company for 40 years, and is possibly facing a layoff in the near future. Contrary to others his age, he never wanted to take the management path, as he enjoys the hands on work, including the long hours.
    We think he will get about 2 years severance, so we have some time (and I work as well), but we’re concerned that his age will be a negative to finding a new job.

    We’re in Canada, FWIW.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          Not in Canada, so more general advice from the techie industry:

          Years of experience in certain operating systems/languages/frameworks/databases is a big thing. Additionally experience in some of the older ones can be a massive plus point if applying to industries where they use older kit (governmental systems, railways, heavy engineering etc)

          My dad, a former dev/unix sysadmin had to find another job at around age 60. Ended up at the railway being the only guy who could understand both the mainframes and the Linux webservers.

            1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

              No worries. Dad’s now retired but still finds it amusing how the firm originally tried to find FORTRAN engineers in the new graduate intake before they advertised externally. Ahh mainframes..

            2. Janie*

              So, if you are in a filler job while you are looking for another in your actual field, how would you guys deal with that in resume/application? I would generally assume that you would leave it off your resume because it doesn’t apply, but I would think that you would have to include it in an application since it is your current job?

          1. Texan In Exile*

            I kept telling my mom, who has an old degree in comp sci, last year that she could go to work using COBOL and make a ton of money! Almost nobody knows it but that’s what they used for the unemployment systems for some states.

            1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

              There’s still a COBOL system running where I work! Which would cost significant millions to replace and currently is supported by one guy in his 70s who works on contract. And hoo yeah it’s some good cash.

              1. GlitsyGus*

                This actually may be a good track for your husband, OP. Since they think he will get a severance package that’ll keep them a float for a little while he could try putting it out there that he is more than happy to take on contracts to support older systems. That may end up being more lucrative, and more flexible, than trying to find a salaried position with one company. Plus, since contractors are selling a service, rather than going through the whole hiring gauntlet, he won’t end up hitting many of the weird flags that may come up for some older workers. Things like having a long work history, rather than extensive education, in tech languages, etc.

            2. Anon Fed*

              I think that’s what they still use at the IRS. Their basic computer system first went online back in the 1960s, although they’ve added onto it through the years. And they don’t have any plans to replace it.

        2. photon*

          Yeah, tech might be hard :/ If he has specific experience in some older/rarer technologies (eg COBOL), he might be in very high demand. In general, though, ageism is a factor in this industry.

          That doesn’t mean he won’t find a new job, but it may take a while/a lot of applications. It might require moving to a tech hub (eg Toronto) if you don’t live in that area already. If he has 2 years, I wouldn’t worry about it too much, but it may be a time-consuming process.

    1. allathian*

      Ouch, I’m so sorry. I hope you get lots of tips and encouragement from older employees who’ve found a new job at his age.

      I’m in Finland, and most people in their 60s are at least thinking about retirement, and in government there’s a mandatory retirement age at 68.

      I wish I could be more optimistic, but at least here, the only post-retirement jobs that are available are usually temping, especially in professions with a chronic employee shortage (nurses, teachers), or starting your own business. The latter can be daunting at any age, let alone in your 60s.

      I hope that your husband’s company will provide some actually useful services for employees who are about to be laid off. I assume he hasn’t looked for a job or interviewed in 40 years, and things have changed a lot.

      Check what unemployment benefits are available to him. He’s certainly entitled to use whatever’s available, there’s no shame in that. Does Canada have extended unemployment benefits for people who are close to retirement age?

      1. allathian*

        And I should’ve added the tech sector. Like others have said, older employees have the skills needed to maintain basically obsolete but still running systems.

    2. Alternative Person*

      I honestly don’t know.

      But since the severance might be decent, it’s probably worth making a list of the skills/certifications he has and seeing whats still useful and what could be updated as well as a list of the software systems he knows.

      Depending on his specific area, there’s the potential for consulting work, depending on what systems and software your husband has knowledge of, there may be firms out there that need support for those systems and tech support for older systems can be difficult to find. It might be worth calculating things like freelance/contracting rates and the like as it could be a supplemental income source.

    3. Texan In Exile*

      As others have said, it depends on the systems he knows, but I would think his experience would be an advantage. The tech dept at my company is having a decent time recruiting just out of school developers, but a very hard time with experienced ones. Part of that, I’m sure, is the very public stance the CEO has taken on mandatory work from the office in the near future, but some of it might be that people don’t think of looking in my industry (insurance) for tech work.

      (They should! Trust me – this is where the action is! This is where there is a ton of cool work that needs to be done and is being done!)

    4. Generic Name*

      My small company has hired several workers in their 60s and 70s. I think they key is we have an emphasis on work-life balance and don’t have a pressure cooker up or out environment. So I wouldn’t say it’s impossible to find a job.

    5. BugHuntress*

      If you and your husband feel comfortable, why don’t you share the tech stack that your husband currently uses?

      Not if it’s proprietary software, of course, but if it’s generic enough not to identify him, I bet readers here would have opinions on how employable it is.

    6. KD*

      Get him to start thinking critically or document all the things he does in a day. I’m sure so many aspects of his job are second nature that if he tries to update his resume after a layoff he may miss some key skills.

    7. Rara Avis*

      My husband (close to 60) was laid off in July 2020 and still hasn’t found permanent work. He feels like there might be age discrimination happening; why pay for his years of experience when you can get someone fresh out of school and pay the bottom end of the pay scale? (He’s in education so the pay for the same job can be vastly different depending on the candidate’s accumulated years.). He’s starting to explore other fields.

    8. LilyP*

      Sorry, does “two years severance” mean he’ll get two year of notice before being laid off, or he’ll get a payout of two years salary when he gets laid off? Would it make sense for him to start casually job-searching now, or would he absolutely not want to move jobs unless/until he’s for-sure laid off? I don’t think he should apply for jobs he’s sure he wouldn’t accept, but starting to look at job listings or asking around in his network would probably give you a better sense of what to expect. Age discrimination is real, but as others point out, there is a demand for expertise on “outdated” computer systems which is not going anywhere soon!

    9. Sandman*

      I don’t know if this is helpful, but in the handful of articles I’ve read profiling people who have had to make job/career changes later in life the one thing that set apart people who found something new from those who didn’t was persistence. It may be harder for him than it would have been twenty years ago, but plenty of people face discrimination of varying kinds and do find new jobs eventually.

      I’ve gotten a late start in my career and this is one of the things that concerns me most, so it’s been encouraging for me to see this trend in the stories I hear.

    10. Chauncy Gardener*

      I agree with everyone about freelancing/contracting on older systems. If you’re in Canada, you don’t have to worry about health insurance connected to your employer, and I bet he could make a bundle contracting.
      Please point him to all of the wonderful resources here at AAM!

  11. Claritza*

    Your house, your rules! Your health is at stake. Sounds like you have been more than generous as an employer. They are accountable for the consequences of their choices, so be honest with them.

  12. StellaBella*

    I was on work travel Friday, fell on the metro as I arrived to the conference, broke my shoulder. I am home now, was treated, have a sling, drugs, and will get it taken care of by my doctors on monday. Any work tips on navigating work in a sling? I will be off for a couple of weeks then back working at home. typing with only my non dominant hand is ok. any tips aside from trying to walk a bit, resting and not working full time?

    1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Best tip I can offer that’s general: remember to slow down! I burnt myself making tea, nearly fell into the toilet trying to flush it and had so much food end up falling into the sling/down cleavage/across legs because I went at the same speed doing things that I’d done before the injury.

      Little more specific to me: moisturiser on the arm. Ye gods that sling rubbed some skin off.

      1. StellaBella*

        Ah thx. yes today had pasta and parmesan crumbles went down my cleavage haha so yes. good idea on moisturizer too thx the skin on hand is sweaty and sensitive so am moving it to increase blood flow etc reduce swelling. I will slow down!

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          I came across the same thing a few years later when I had to learn to walk with a cane and slammed into so many walls trying to do my old speed!

          Additional thought – if it’s possible, and it may very well not be so don’t worry, try to keep a second sling on you pre-tied in a bag or somewhere. I…spilt a lot of curry on mine one night and had to go to work in that incredibly messy thing. Oops…

      2. Anon for this one!*

        Seconding…don’t hurry. Like…if you suddenly have to go to the bathroom and then are frantically trying to get your clothes undone in time you may wind up in severe pain. It’s better to pee in your pants if you have to. Yeah, I know this from experience.

    2. ATX*

      I broke the 2 bones in my dominant arm forearm when I was 13. 4 surgeries and had the first cast up to my shoulder for 8 weeks then another one after a surgery to remove some metal for 4 weeks.

      While I wasn’t working or typing, I could write and do all of my schoolwork. I remember it being annoying, but I found a way to make it work. Perhaps an awkward position or your arm resting on something that allows it to type would help? or perhaps there’s something you can download on your computer that allows talk to text?

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I use speech to text heavily. Biggest thing to remember is to ALWAYS reread before sending — the AI sometimes changes its transcription based on context. Sure, the first half of sentence was right, but then you added a second half, and suddenly the first half changed to be very very wrong.
          Be double careful with names. Just one simple example: my co-worker “Mary” becomes merry, marry, berry, and more. Non-English names are worse.

    3. Holly Dolly*

      Is this filed under Worker’s Comp (if you are in the USA)? If so, there should be professionals working with you that focus on how to accommodate you for return to work. I do this job at a large place in America. I bring up the workers comp because it’s a very legal process to go through. If you work for a fairly good size place, I would contact them to see if they have a department for accommodations or ergonomics for anything you might need to help you—like one handed keyboards, etc.

    4. fposte*

      Lots of platforms incorporate a pretty decent text to speech as well; Google, Microsoft, and iOS all do. Weak-handed typing can get old after a while so that might be worth considering to take the pressure off. Hope you heal quickly!

      1. GlitsyGus*


        Also, for things like email maybe add a line to your signature for inter-office stuff that says something along the lines of, “please forgive typos, due to an injury I am using talk-to-type/modified typing.” This can take some of the stress off worrying about if the typing program used the right their/there/they’re or to/too/two, swapping or double hitting a letter, that kind of thing. In general people will be very forgiving if they know that’s what’s up and you don’t need to be wasting the energy you have correcting typos that don’t impact comprehension.

    5. the cat's ass*

      oh noooo! Good luck today, and want to second the suggestion to slow down a bit. Also, a voice to tet system is great, too!

    6. Cordelia*

      this would totally depend on your job, of course, but would there be a possibility of talking to your employers about the work you’re going to do over the next few weeks? is there anything they would need doing that no-one usually has time for, that would be easier for you to do one-armed than your usual role? I’m thinking of when I used to have a job that involved driving around visiting people in their homes; I had surgery on my foot and was on crutches and unable to drive for a number of weeks. I was given a laptop and remote access to the clinical records pre-Covid, when this was unusual) and took on some specific projects (going through the teams caseload and closing outstanding cases; redoing the induction handbook; writing policies, etc). Obviously your situation is different as I had use of both hands and was just immobile, but maybe there is something that requires more reading and commenting than actual writing?
      And yes, slow down and be patient with yourself!

    7. SofiaDeo*

      Get a sign to hang on your back “don’t bump please, broken”. When I had a broken collarbone in a sling, this stopped me from getting jostled from behind.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        We are in a less populated area, but we noticed when my husband had his arm in a sling people granted him a little more space even in casual setting such as passers-by on a sidewalk. He had a broken collar bone and broke all his ribs on one side. I was “upset” when the doc said no more sling, because the sling worked as a huge caution sign to others when my husband was in public.

        My best thought is to take all the time the doc says you need off from work. In the story with my husband’s misadventure, he was out of work for 8 weeks. By the time he went back, he could do almost everything he needed to do. (He repaired machines, so this meant carrying tools, driving, using elevators or stairs while carry weight, plus the ability to manipulate tools and use both hands.) Yeah, he was tired the first week, but he was sooo glad to be back to work. He believed that eating salads every day helped a lot with all the reknitting his body had to do. If the doc says stay home, then please, stay home.

    8. Girasol*

      When a critical worker on my wildly over-promised project team broke a shoulder, and her main tasks involved computer work, we changed the plans so that her role involved sharing her expertise by phone from home rather than the direct keyboard work she had been doing. In spite of the project stress, everyone on the team offered to do the keyboarding if she’d share her considerable knowledge. Let your manager and your team know how you’re feeling and I’ll bet they would do the same until you’re ready to type again: rearrange so that there’s other valuable work for you to do while you’re on the mend.

    9. MissCoco*

      Having something to prop the arm up on at my desk was huge for me, helped reduce swelling and gave my poor neck a break from the sling.
      Also text to speech, and more voice calls/zooms than I would typically use gave my non-dominant hand a break from hunting and pecking, which did get old fast

  13. Pan Troglodytes*

    Hi all, looking for a sense check on how much leadership you should expect from managers. I am not sure if the extreme ‘hands off’ approach I am experiencing is normal, or how/if I can get the support I need.

    I am leading on a complex and high-stakes project at a not for profit. It involves a lot of external collaborators and the outputs will be high-profile once complete. I took over from my manager in leading on this project, and he provides senior oversight.

    However, I’m experiencing some issues, and I’m not sure how justified in being frustrated I am…

    The problems include:
    – He tends to not show up to meetings, or joins meetings he’s not invited to, without warning. This includes our one-to-ones where he frequently doesn’t turn up. When I ask if he’s free for another slot, he ignores my message
    – For meetings that he does join, he focuses on technical detail and does not offer high-level direction. At least once, he’s disrupted my agenda and left everyone more confused by questioning technical details without explaining why he’s doing that or the context. The team was left confused and the work was delayed by a week until I could clarify his concerns with him and give the team clear instructions
    – When he does join a meeting with external partners, he doesn’t seem to listen, and drops out early. For internal meetings, it’s clear he hasn’t been thinking at all about the project until that moment, so I can’t get his reflections or advice on strategic issues

    He is good at helping me to prioritise tasks, but that is all he does. Is this normal?

    I have mostly given up asking him for strategic input since he either drags his feet, or confuses things more. That would kind of be ok, because I would take a lead and get it done myself, but 1. When I do give things to him, I suddenly get loads of critique/changes to make and 2. I find having discussions and sharing enthusiasm for projects motivating… if not my main motivation..! Without discussion or input from others, it’s extremely hard for me to stay motivated and engaged.

    This has led to chronic procrastination because I feel that either my seniors don’t care about what I do, or they will hyper-criticize it. I can’t get on with anything because I just hear their voices criticizing the work as soon as I start it!

    I am at a point that I’m thinking of looking for other jobs but I work in a tiny niche area, and I only joined here about 10 months ago, after 3 years at my previous job, and I worry I will look like a job-hopper on my CV.

    What are this group’s thoughts? Thanks in advance :)

    1. Yep*

      Go. You will not look like a job hopper – if you start looking now it will probably take some time so you will have been there about a year. You can convey the issues obliquely and factually if asked and it will screen for similar issues in the new workplace. I had deficient management in my prior position (but l wasn’t a manager). I stated in my interviews that l wanted to be an individual contributor (but open to supervising part-time assistance if needed) with a single manager so they were aware of my accomplishments. That was not received as a dis of my previous workplace and taken more as assurance of a good fit for both parties.

      1. Pan Troglodytes*


        I’m guessing you agree this is not great practice then?

        Weirdly, in many ways, I feel able to take on leadership without oversight- but only if that mandate was given. Without the mandate, and with the expectation that I should have leadership/oversight, I feel lost, confused and frustrated.

        1. Yep*

          It isn’t working for you. That is what matters, no? It might be worth a conversation about a mandate with this person, if you have not already had that discussion, but from your description they seem like someone who will not want to provide that. Power/control a la “l will attend the meetings l want to attend,” and “I will not provide input at the outset so l can veto stuff later,” etc. seems to be important to this person.

          1. Pan Troglodytes*

            True- good point! I guess a background concern I have is that I’ll never be happy with a job, so better the devil you know..? I seem to find any organisation pretty frustrating eventually.

            Plus, there’s a chance I might need maternity leave in the future and it takes a couple of years to accrue better terms, and I’m at an age where a couple of years could mean fertility issues. So, despite being unhappy here, I might have to suck it up for potential baby and semi-ok maternity pay.

        2. lasslisa*

          He sounds to me like he doesn’t want his job. Like he finds it interesting in passing when there’s a question in front of him (you could probably use this – more later) but isn’t really into “staying on top of things” or “strategy”. Burnout is a possibility. In this picture: He was doing the job, didn’t want to be in charge, delegated it to you and now is not interested in being in charge of you.

          How you can use it: present him with concrete decisions and scenarios as early as possible. Instead of asking for open-ended guidance, tell him you have options A, B and C and are thinking C because of X. Get the critique out early and it’ll force him to state an opinion.

          Now, I have worked with folks who, whatever you say they will contradict. (Did an experiment in a meeting once. Had this exchange almost verbatim: “Are there any issues with hitting the date?” “No! We are doing great and everything is great!” “So you think you can hit the date then!” “No! This is a very complicated project!”) You can get around it a little by asking open ended questions (“well, which of these options would you recommend?”) But it’s hard to work with. And so is a manager whose attention you can’t get. I’m sorry and good luck!

          1. Pan Troglodytes*

            You got it spot on, really. He is interested in what he’s interested in, and wants to leave the rest to me.

            That A,B, C strategy is exactly how I’ve been trying to approach things, but I have to admit it is exhausting… especially when you offer A,B, or C and they can’t decide anyway, or ramble a bit about the premises of A, B and C and muddy the waters further! haha.

            I feel kind of cheeky posting here, getting free input (especially cos I rarely have anything to reply to others except ‘my sympathy!’), but super appreciate it, thanks.

            1. Office Pantomime*

              Then do the rest. These are the options, and as project leader, you’ll be proceeding with option A by Z date, and set up a meeting email approval in advance to finalize/sign. He waffles. Don’t let him waffle. But CYA on documentation chain.

              1. GlitsyGus*

                All of this!

                This is really good advice. Let me add to it: just decide for yourself that you are taking this project over completely, and only go to boss for approval or when you hit a huge roadblock. When you give him A, B and C, know when you walk in that you’ve already decided C is the best unless he strenuously objects. When he gets done stirring up all the mud just go with, “those are all really good points, that said I do still think C is the best option. Are you on board with that as well?” Basically MAKE him pick A or B if he doesn’t want C. If he dithers, then let him know you’re going with C.

                The meeting stuff is annoying, but since you know at this point he’s going to do what he’s going to do, never PLAN for him to be there, and if he shows up and starts going too far off topic you can let it go for a few minutes and then bring it back with, “those are important, but I think we need to make that it’s own meeting. We only have X minutes left, so can we finish up with the timeline for C before we run out of time?” Now, you know your boss better, and he may not take well to that, but a lot of managers like this aren’t trying to throw you off, they are just kind of in their own world.

                Personally, I work great with managers like yours, just give me the reins and let me go. If I need you I’ll tell you. But, clearly, this really doesn’t work for you and so I also agree with folks saying it’s not a bad idea to start looking around for something new. You won’t be a job hopper, especially because it’ll likely take a couple months to find something that sounds like a good fit. You can use this situation to craft questions about what kind of management you’re looking for so you can find a place you’ll really thrive.

                1. GlitsyGus*

                  Oh, one more thing on the meetings. If it’s kind of obvious to them that he’s popping in and out randomly you can just preempt any awkwardness by letting them know at the beginning that “Boss has a really tight schedule today, but he said he’ll drop in for a few minutes if he can.” (white lie, yes, but he kind of has implied this is the case by his previous behavior, so you aren’t out of line by saying this)

                  Really, if you are the point person they deal with though, the other teams probably aren’t as concerned about it as you think they are. Upper management does this. But if you are getting the feeling they may be wondering about his random drop offs, letting them know it may happen and it’s just scheduling will take care of that.

        3. Quantum Hall Effect*

          I think you need to give yourself that mandate.

          Or if you need to hear it from someone else, here you go:

          By the power vested in me by absolutely no one, I give you, Pan Troglodytes, permission to take on leadership of this project without oversight!


          Seriously, just start taking on leadership. Keep going to your boss with updates and asking for the things that he has shown he can give, but take the other stuff on yourself.

    2. Office Pantomime*

      In my experience, it’s time to manage up. You could cut and run, but I’d first set clear expectations about what I needed to be successful at leading the project. He is your project sponsor. I’ve literally given sponsor role descriptions to managers like this and walked them through it. Also prepared very clear questions about what the project success looks like and their specific expectations of me. Sounds like he is not in his best role – detail oriented, not strategic. Doesn’t have time to be detail oriented so floats in when it suits him. Prioritizing your tasks is like a list – erm… details. Tell him what you need. Be specific. He might be grateful that you are making it easier for him to manage you.

      1. Quantum Hall Effect*

        My thoughts were along these lines. You could start looking on the side, but I think you would find it more helpful to think about what is under your control that you can change (besides your place of employment) than whether you are justified in being frustrated. You can change how you approach your manager. You can change how you respond to your manager. You can change who you approach to have discussions and show enthusiasm. You might find that there is a better strategic thinker around to talk things over with, and you will be less frustrated if you stop expecting things from your manager that he is not going to give.

    3. Cercis*

      That is crazy-making behavior and almost exactly what I experienced at my last job. I never found a way to make it work and I spent several years blaming myself for not being able to work with the boss. 2 counselors later and I’ve finally accepted that it wasn’t that I was wrong, or even that she was wrong (she was wrong, though), but that our styles didn’t mesh. She wanted a mini-her who would do things exactly the way she would do them, but she didn’t want to put thought into figuring out what she wanted before it was done.

      Things I tried:
      1) weekly report with action items bolded
      2) bringing it up at whatever 1:1s actually happened
      3) always having a running list of action items on my person (like literally, carrying around a print out of things that I needed approval/input for)
      4) pestering constantly for feedback

      Things that happened:
      1) being publicly humiliated because she didn’t like the agenda after I’d specifically asked for input on the part that she didn’t like and expressed my concerns about that part and she said “oh, no, this is what I want”
      2) being put on a PIP because event progress wasn’t being made
      3) being demoted and a new person hired over me for me to train
      4) negative comments made to the layers above us about my work ethic and skill levels

      Honestly, get out. This behavior does not change, but does change your mental health.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I want to look at the examples you have here and go one by one.

      “– He tends to not show up to meetings, or joins meetings he’s not invited to, without warning. This includes our one-to-ones where he frequently doesn’t turn up. When I ask if he’s free for another slot, he ignores my message”

      I hate this crap. Okay so what I would do here is plan that he won’t be there. This means figure out where the stumbling blocks are in the current discussion and figure out a) how you want to handle them or b) who in the meeting group would be the best person to talk about this stumbling block.
      Second half: Showing up when he’s not invited. This means using dual thinking. Plan that he will pop in. Make sure the way you are speaking is as if anything you say WILL be repeated to him or he will hear you say it. Be transparent in all you say and do at all times.

      “– For meetings that he does join, he focuses on technical detail and does not offer high-level direction. At least once, he’s disrupted my agenda and left everyone more confused by questioning technical details without explaining why he’s doing that or the context. The team was left confused and the work was delayed by a week until I could clarify his concerns with him and give the team clear instructions”

      Any time we know a person’s pattern we can build a plan to deal with this stuff. Here you want to redirect him to inform the group what he would like everyone to do. “Boss, I see you are concerned about X. How would you like us to correct or modify what we have here?” Use questions to steer him to a conclusion.

      “– When he does join a meeting with external partners, he doesn’t seem to listen, and drops out early. For internal meetings, it’s clear he hasn’t been thinking at all about the project until that moment, so I can’t get his reflections or advice on strategic issues”

      I see several points here. If he doesn’t seem to listen or he drops out early, I’d continue on as I was doing while he was there. I’d assume if something was amiss he’d chime in.
      Reflections. I am not sure what you consider reflections. I don’t know if you mean that he says something positive or he relates a story about an old project he did or something else. Maybe if you nailed down what reflections you are looking for, you could ask pointed questions that would give you the inputs you want.
      Advice on strategic issues. FWIW, I had one strategy course in school. All I really learned was that everything is labeled as a strategy. I do see that there are levels of strategy. I am wondering if you are clear on the scope of your authority? When can you make decisions and when do you have to ask for approval? You should have an idea of the over all goals and usual SOPs for your company- if he is not going to clue you in on these norms is there someone else who will? This does tie into strategy because you have to know how much of these projects are entirely under your watch and therefore are your judgement call.

      “When I do give things to him, I suddenly1) get loads of critique/changes to make and 2. I find having discussions and sharing enthusiasm for projects motivating… if not my main motivation..! Without discussion or input from others, it’s extremely hard for me to stay motivated and engaged.”

      Number one sounds like most bosses I have had. I have said, “Can you tell me BEFORE I do something, how it’s needed, rather than after? I hate to think I have wasted the company’s labor budget.”
      I have also gone with, “So any time I encounter ABC and assume the standard is to do XYZ?” I look for patterns in things that will probably come up again. I try to reduce the amount of times I hear the same criticism over and over.

      Number two is to find new sources of motivation. Surprisingly, I found that standing up for my people was hugely motivating. I frequently asked, “So how do you want my group to handle this?” Thinking about the needs of my group of people pulled me though a lot of tight spots (or seemed tight to me).

      Hearing your supervisors criticisms. It’s a FEELING. You have no proof of this yet. Constantly remind yourself that you have no proof of all this negative stuff. It’s a FEELING. (BTDT. My boss in this case actually bragged, “If you don’t get any complaints that means you are doing a good job.) You may do excellent work but your procrastination might be your downfall. Decide not too shoot yourself in the foot. Back to your group- you owe it to your group to set deadlines, and keep to those deadlines. It’s not just about you, you have others to consider they need YOU. And they need you not to be the boss that is similar to your own boss.

      If you do all these things I can tell you what happens next:
      “It’s up to you to figure that out, NSNR!”
      “Looks like you have a problem, NSN, good luck with that!”
      “I dunno what you are going to do, but if we don’t finish on time then we are in Big Trouble!”

      Punchline: Patch things as best you can and job hunt as often as possible.

    5. Chauncy Gardener*

      This is NOT good management at all!! Please stop second guessing yourself. He is either way over his head, a bad manager, or both. Or maybe he has one foot out the door himself?

  14. PrairieEffingDawn*

    Is there a best/worst time of the year to search for jobs?

    I had a shockingly fruitful hunt back in March but ended up turning down offers due to an unforeseen medical event in my family that I needed a few months to deal with.

    Now that that’s over I’ve spent the past few weeks trying to revamp the job search and it’s not going great. I’m wondering if late July and August just aren’t great job search times due to people being out on vacation, etc? Perhaps Delta could be a factor.

    1. Dwight Schrute*

      I was a 2020 grad and had a hard time job searching too with Covid. I got hired around October due to hiring freezes and what not. Delta could definitely be playing a role in your job search. Fingers crossed you get something soon!

    2. MissDisplaced*

      Covid has thrown a wrench into the normal ‘scape of things, but generally fall used to be good (hire for the New Year) and just after the New Year in March/April, which is the start of a fiscal year for some companies. This is highly dependent on your industry though, as I would imagine academia, retail or hospitality would have very different types of schedules.

    3. I edit everything*

      The job numbers that just came out for the US showed that the number of jobs being added by employers has dropped significantly. I don’t think it’s a time of year thing, but a “Whoops! Too soon!” thing.

    4. Office Pantomime*

      I’m a consultant often IT related, and I find that, not withstanding the enormous wavy wrench of Covid, that projects and hiring are most robust for me in mid-September (post summer), mid-January (post Xmas, post year end for many companies). Cohorts in my industry- employee/contractor, all levels are being spoiled for choice right now though. Anything digital transformation is catching the hiring manager’s eyes in my experience, even though many organizations are stumbling through it. Work in finance? Play up your fin-tech side. Procurement? Find your e-procurement experience. Take a short course on digital transformation (I did), and was able to apply a little innovation on my next project. Two completely unrelated large companies I’ve worked with recently are snapping up vertical experts (accounting, engineering, marketing, etc) with an aptitude for this and putting them forward for some plum assignments. If that’s your bent.

    5. Should i apply?*

      I just read an article about an hour ago that said that September tends to be prime hiring time because things are back to normal after the summer holidays.

      1. RC Rascal*

        I’ve had 5 full time jobs in my career. Two of those offers came in September. One came in November.

        My vote is for fall hiring season.

    6. GlitsyGus*

      Yeah, I think May, then September tend to be a little better because fewer folks are on vacation. Covid has thrown a wrench in a lot of these things, though, so who knows this year.

      That said, I would say still keep an eye open and throw out resumes in August, because often a job posting that goes up in August really gets the interview process going in September. I mean, my feeling has always been even if there aren’t a ton of jobs listed in August, my best opportunity may be. I just got a new job right in the middle of July, so yeah, fall might be slightly better, but I wouldn’t stop looking completely during the “off” months.

    7. Kat in VA*

      Often companies will hire at the beginning of the yearly quarters (January, April, July, October) rather than at the end of the quarters (March, June, September, December) if it’s a sales-based organization.

      A good/bad quarter can affect hiring for the next quarter (and sometimes beyond that).

      Some companies’ quarters are based on a different timeframe than the actual calendar year (fiscal quarters) but most tend to follow the calendar year.

  15. Pichi*

    I’m currently a manager of a team that does technical work and I’m looking to hire my replacement. A few of my current employees have applied for the position, but I don’t want to fall on the classic trap of promoting someone because they perform great on their contributor role when the position they are applying requires very different skills – not just technical, but interpersonal. Any advice on what to ask during interviews to see if they are the right fit for the role, and most importantly the whole team? TY

    1. Persphone*

      Having just made the jump from technical to managerial (of the technical team I was on), my two cents is to think of situations you have been in (obviously, not ones they’d be able to identify!) and ask them how they would handle it. Things that might be useful:

      How would you handle it if your two most senior people disagreed on how to approach a problem (maybe make up a situation with some details – or search AAM for something – so they have something concrete to respond to)?

      Specifically for people from within, you can maybe ask about times when they thought you did something the right way and times they may have disagreed and why. The idea being to get at their thinking, if they think about these things at all, and HOW they think. Are they considering the interpersonal ramifications? How it might impact the overall work flow? Etc.

      Also, think about the non-technical aspects of management. Talk about them and see how they react. Have to go to client meetings? How does that sound to them? Balancing budgets? Interoffice politics? Think of all the things that make you good (or cause you to struggle) that are NOT part of what they currently do now, and talk about it. Also, think about how your supervisor might be able/unable to support the person’s learning and what would fit in with them!

      Good luck!

    2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Made the jump from techie to manager (although I still tech) years ago at a firm, here’s some of the things I got asked:

      Can you give me an example of when you’ve disagreed with a colleague over an important issue? (Listen to how they tell it – plus points for diplomacy, minus points for ‘I’m always in the right’ or ‘I just do whatever I like’)

      How would you approach someone who seems to be performing badly?

      Have you encountered a time when instructions from higher up in management have conflicted with what you know to be best? (Again, this one is more to gauge their general thinking process. Also ye gods this happens so often here…)

      Try hypotheticals in your particular industry. My favourite is to ask how they’d assign limited resource between a major database outage affecting X clients and the CEO’s computer dying and them screaming at you down the phone. Yet again, no right or wrong answer per se, you’re trying to see how they think.

    3. Parakeet*

      One that I was asked when I interviewed for a manager job (that I did not get): “Tell us about a time you had to give difficult feedback to someone.” Of course someone who hasn’t managed before may not have done this in a paid-work context, but people can pull examples from volunteer work, personal lives, etc.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      We just interviewed two people who had applied for the same manager role on their current team, and we asked them about
      -examples of ways they had demonstrated leadership in the past, formally or otherwise
      -where they thought they had room for growth as a leader that the rest of the management team could support them with
      -if they had any concerns about moving from a peer role to a manager role on the same team, given how long and how closely they had worked with some of their teammates (Personally speaking I wasn’t looking for specific concerns and solutions necessarily, I just wanted to know that they had at least considered that it would be a significant shift in mindset for both them and the team rather than just hand waving that it would just work itself out.)

    5. GlitsyGus*

      Everything above is great. I would also suggest a couple of questions asking about why this person wants to get into management. Do they really want to guide and lead a team? Or is it just “the next step?” (Don’t ask that exactly, but that’s what you are trying to determine) Are they ready to spend some time doing actual management training if they don’t have management experience? Are they open to learning about new ways to lead and how to really coach others?

      Along the same lines, will your office support getting REAL management training for less experienced managers? I would hate to suggest that you not promote someone just because they don’t happen to have landed in a role that would give them the skills to manage already, but if your office has really sub-par support for new managers, you may just be setting someone up to fail when they may have been brilliant with a bit more support or outside training.

  16. TryingtobeSupportive*

    A coworker (and friend) recently went on medical leave with no notice. Immediately after they left, our mutual friend pulled me aside. The friend informed me our coworker had been drinking at work that day and checked in for rehab. I think this friend was shocked by my confused reaction, as I clearly had no clue my coworker had any issues with alcohol and I think they believed I was aware already.
    It is clear no one else knows or suspects the real reason for the leave. My coworker has had minimal interactions with anyone since. (I seem to have the most interaction of anyone which is short texts about neutral topics, when I text supportive messages there is no reply).
    The leave is ending soon. I asked the mutual friend to inform the coworker what she told me, but I don’t know if she did. I have no intention of telling anyone as I know nothing directly, but do I tell my coworker I know?
    I feel like it is a big thing to try to hide knowledge about and I also am concerned what to do if I suspect this happening at work again. But I am very aware they did not disclose this to me themselves and may be upset I was told.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      As hard as this is: don’t say anything. It could be false, it could be true, it might have elements of both but you simply don’t know. If your coworker wants to tell you they will.

      1. TryingtobeSupportive*

        I should add that we work in a field where drinking at work is extremely dangerous (as in, could kill someone). Luckily, I found no evidence of harm to anyone that day that I felt needed to be reported, but I legally will have to report if I ever do suspect any potential harm immediately.
        Also, when picking up papers so I could cover their work, I could smell alcohol in their water glass they had been drinking from that morning (I then dumped it and washed it, I knew they would be out for weeks and the cup would smell gross as I sit right next to them).

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          Okay, doesn’t change my advice to say nothing about being told – but I’ll say just keep the same eye out you would do for any other coworker doing something as against the rules as that when they get back.

          Although, take heart! Rehab is often very effective and they may want to have no reminders of their former problem when they get back :)

        2. Bamcheeks*

          That makes a bit of difference to me, actually.

          If you hadn’t heard the rumour that they were seeking treatment for alcohol dependency but had smelled alcohol in their water glass, what would your course of action have been? I think I would go with a casual, “Good to see you back, how are you doing?” and if there is an occasion for a more serious conversation about why they’ve been out (ideally initiated by them, but I don’t think it would be wrong for you to raise it if you have a close enough relationship and you feel like you want them to know that you know.)

          But if you’ve actually seen evidence of them drinking at work, I would lead with that and forget about having heard from a colleague that that’s what happened.

        3. really*

          if you work in certain fields you may not have a choice. I work in aviation and we have a legal obligation to report. Finding no evidence of harm is not allowed. (The plane didn’t crash so its ok).

    2. WellRed*

      I think you need to step waaay back and forget you (think) know anything. Treat this as no different than any other medical leave in which you are privy to the information. If they need your support they will let you know.

    3. Guin*

      1) Mutual friend is neither your friend nor your co-worker’s friend. So stop that right there. I understand being blindsided in the moment, but this is SO not your business. If “mutual friend” mentions it again, shut them down immediately. “I don’t want to hear private information.” I feel bad for co-worker, who may or may not be at rehab. You have no idea if mutual friend is telling the truth or not. When co-worker returns, you say “Hey, good to have you back” and then you continue minding your own business.

      1. RagingADHD*


        Best case scenario, the mutual friend has terrible judgment and no discretion or boundaries.

        Worst case, they are stirring the pot for their own amusement at your coworker’s expense.

        Either way, the mutual friend is not trustworthy, and you should be very careful about letting them have any personal information about you.

    4. Middle School Teacher*

      Wait, first you had no idea the coworker had a problem with alcohol, and then you say you say you smelled alcohol in her glass? I think you need to MYOB.

      1. KD*

        I think the only reason they noticed the alcohol in the glass was because they needed to be at co-workers desk for work related reasons due to their abrupt medical leave. If co-worker had not left so suddenly there likely wouldn’t have been evidence of alcohol consumption.

    5. owl10*

      Why would you require your friend to tell the other friend that they told you? That’s weird.

      You should simply say to the mutual friend ‘I’m going to pretend I did not hear that’ and move on.

      You’re also overreacting. It’s not really a big deal. Substance abuse is common as is taking time out to deal with it. You don’t need to carry on like you know some big secret. Just ignore it and move on and pretend like nothing ever happened.

      1. KD*

        Substance abuse at work that endangers other peoples lives is a very big deal. Taking the time however to deal with any sort of health emergency is not and should be actively encouraged.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Agreed. Assume that someone higher up knows and is watching everything therefore there is nothing here for you to do.
        You could tell your mutual friend not to share further information. That might be a good idea for your own sake.

      3. allathian*

        Taking time out to deal with substance abuse or illness is normal and should be normalized everywhere. That said, according to the OP, being impaired at their job could kill someone. In many jobs that would mean mandatory reporting, in that if a coworker comes to work obviously impaired, the person who fails to report it could potentially get fired. But since the coworker was apparently sent to rehab, someone reported it.

        I do agree, however, that staying away from the gossipy coworker is probably best.

  17. PurpleTeapot*

    Any advice on how to quit my job and stay quit? Basically several months ago I moved several states away for my spouse’s job, and went to quit my job. I ended up fully remote with a large raise instead, as I have little to no redundancy and me leaving would be very detrimental. Turns out I loathe being fully remote with no ability to go to the office ever, and I have an offer (verbal, I’ll get a written later this week) for a very similar job, about 150% more money, and I can go work at a place instead of my home. I’m bad at quitting and really like my job and coworkers, I enjoy the job security I have, and worry I’m going to end up not quitting again. I’ve never actually quit a job, especially not one where I’m 6 states away with a bunch of company equipment. Also, anyone who works with me absolutely knows who I am from this with how weird my situation is, please don’t mention it :(.

    1. WellRed*

      I don’t think your situation sounds weird or uncommon at all. I also think you sound overly enmeshed with this role. You’ve got a great opportunity here. Your old employer not only can’t keep you from quitting but…will survive without you.

    2. Reba*

      Do you think it would help you to use a script? I mean, you have another offer, I feel like that should give you some helpful pressure (as in, you won’t want to turn that offer down, probably!) as a bulwark against giving in to a counteroffer or request to stay at current job.

      Re: “detrimental,” well, there’s never a perfect time. Remember that quitting doesn’t mean you haven’t appreciated your job or liked your coworkers!

      1. PurpleTeapot*

        This last part helps a lot, I definitely feel some guilt and like I’m letting people down at my current/old job. I had a ton of people come tell me how noticed I was and how I was an important part of this companies future last time. Realistically they were in business before me, and will be after me. We have a lot of people who I respect a lot who this has been their job for a large chunk of their adult lives which I think contributes to my inability to leave.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          They’ll be okay, really! They’ll manage. As you said, they were in business before you. That’s how business works. People leave and the company is just fine. If it makes you feel better, make sure your projects are as up-to-date and documented as well as possible before you leave. You don’t have to be available after you leave, either.

          You have an opportunity that fits you better. It’s time to focus on you and not them. If there’s any fit-throwing, whining, or desperate clutching, that’s on them. You don’t have to accommodate it.

        2. Artemesia*

          You moved to a new area, no one will be surprised that you resign to accept a local job. It is business, not personal. You resign with a message like: ‘I have accepted a job here in Peoria and so Tuesday XX will be my last day with Acme. (then add a sentence or two about your pleasure and professional reward in working with Acme and how much you appreciate and value the experience.)

          The latter is not necessary in a resignation, but since you feel this so strongly it is right for you. Much as they appreciate your great work, they will not be surprised and may even be glad, because managing remotely is probably difficult for them as well as for you.

          Kudos for finding the great new local role.

        3. Windchime*

          This helped me, too. I’ve never left a job (before now) where I still liked the people, the organization, and the work. So it feels very weird to be leaving (I’m retiring at the end of the month). I tried to quit in June but it didn’t take; instead, they kept me on part-time for a short engagement. I got to keep my insurance and so it was a good deal; but now I’m ready to leave. I keep telling myself that the organization got along fine before I got there and they will be fine after I leave; I need to do what’s best for me.

    3. WonderfulWonderful*

      No real advice, but reassurance – when you quit last time, it sounds like they worked hard to keep you due to the lack of redundancy. They were aware that you were moving and wanted to leave the company, and they were aware that losing you would be a big problem if nobody else has the knowledge/skills to cover your area. If they haven’t thought about how to deal with you leaving in the months that you’ve been working remotely, that’s an organisational issue and not your responsibility imo. You can do your best to be helpful with the transition (eg offering to cross train people to cover your role, a reasonable length of notice period if that’s possible) while still leaving!

      It might be helpful to remind yourself about why you’re excited for the new job (either work related reasons you’re happy to move, or just things about no longer being remote) – and hopefully if you’ve accepted another offer, it will be easier to stick to your “I’m leaving” than it was when you were quitting without another commitment.

      Best of luck!!

    4. Bamcheeks*

      Arrange a phone call with your partner or a friend for immediately after the “I’m quitting” phone call! You need someone to be accountable to, so that no matter what they offer, you picture your partner/friend saying, “Oh no, Purple, you DIDN’T.”

      It’s totally fine to quit– the normal reaction should be, “Oh, we’re sorry to see you go, but congratulations!” If they make you an offer to stay, that’s nice and all, but it doesn’t oblige you to do anything! But if you find it difficult to say no in the moment, then it’s perfectly OK to set up a person to be your, “I have to disappoint Manager because otherwise I’ll disappoint Friend and frankly I’ll never live that down.”

    5. WFH with Cat*

      Honestly, I’m always a little flummoxed when someone asks how to quit a job because their employer won’t want them to … It’s not their decision. It’s yours.

      If you accept a new position, tell your manager that you’ve accepted a new position, give them notice and a date for your last day, and remind them that they will need to arrange for pick up/shipping of their equipment. (Btw, paying for that is on them.) You can also discuss how they want you to spend your last couple of weeks on the job — training someone new or temporary? creating documentation of processes, etc.? or managing projects already in play? (Try not to invest emotionally in that decision. You cannot do everything, and your manager should prioritize your work within the limited time you have remaining.)

      You can be kind about it, say you’ll miss working with everyone, and thank them if they praise your work and contributions. But don’t let that blind you to the fact that changing jobs is a normal event — and don’t let the company’s failure to plan for your eventual resignation screw up your plans. Losing employees is SOP for any business/nonprofit, and they knew months ago that you were ready to leave the org. If you leaving creates difficulties for them, that’s a business issue and they will deal with it.

    6. Alex*

      Would it help if you didn’t think of it as quitting? You are resigning to move on to a position that is better for you! There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that and only the most awful of bosses would hold it against you. Having employees leave is 100% normal.

      Schedule a call with your boss, say, “I have some news. I’ve accepted a new position that is local to me and therefore a better fit. I appreciate your trying to accommodate my move, but remote work doesn’t work for me and so my last day will be (X date). Can we talk about what needs to be done between now and then to wrap up my work and hand off my projects?”

      Normal bosses will express both sadness for themselves and happiness for you. But whatever the response is…you don’t have to manage their feelings or participate in negotiation to keep you. Keep the words, “I appreciate that, but my decision is final,” in your pocket.

      1. PurpleTeapot*

        This does help, and my boss is awesome and won’t hold it against me. They know I’m less than happy with this whole remote thing, but my skill set is also somewhat niche (which is why this new place is so excited to find me) and it’s difficult to build redundancy for it. Your script, where I mention appreciating trying to accommodate me moving is super good and I think I can say that!

      2. GlitsyGus*

        This was my thought. Chang up your mind set and goin in thinking not that you are quitting, but that you are moving to a new, local job. Of course you need to stop working at this company due to this circumstance! It may have been easy to get talked into staying last time because you didn’t have another offer waiting, it was just leaving to do… nothing. Which was totally OK! But I do think it left a gap in your resolve since you wouldn’t actually be letting someone else down by agreeing to stay on.

        If it helps, you can email a resignation letter to HR right before you call your boss. That way it’s on the books that you have already resigned and set an end date, so now it’s just a matter of working out the transition. I don’t think you NEED to do this, but it may mentally help you in the, “well, it’s done this is a thing that is happening” mindset.

    7. Sparkles McFadden*

      Quitting is hard! I worked for the same company for 30 years but I moved around within the company and I still had a hard time giving notice. Since it was the same company I couldn’t even make a clean break from some positions.

      The most important thing is to document as much as you can. Write out procedures, make a calendar for important deadlines and recurring events, have a list of vital contacts, write out thorough status reports on work-in-progress etc.

      When you speak to your management, do not apologize because there nothing for which you need to apologize. If you start with “I am so sorry about this” then you’re leaving yourself open to pressure to remain in some capacity. Simply say “I have gotten a great local opportunity that I cannot pass up.” Have a specific timeline ready before you resign and do not deviate from that timeline. It will be tempting to say “OK, I’ll help you get through the next two months” or “I’ll continue to do this one task while you find my replacement” Do not do that or you will be doing two jobs forever. If suggestions get made to push the timeline out, say “That just isn’t possible. Can you give me the Fed Ex number so I can ship the equipment back or should I send it back by another carrier?” Write out a script if that makes it easier.

      Best of luck in your new job!

      1. PurpleTeapot*

        You are spot on here that I need to be very firm or I will end up working two jobs indefinitely. Also, I appreciate you reminding me not to apologize! It’s an important thing I tell everyone else but am very bad at myself, lol.

        1. PollyQ*

          Delete the notion that “working two jobs” is in any way an option from your head! That wouldn’t be fair to either employer or yourself. You have two choices: keep the old job, or take the new job. And I’d feel guiltier about bailing on the new job, after they’d gone through the whole hiring rigamarole to find you.

    8. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      You say that if you leave, it will be detrimental to the company. That’s pretty much assumed for every worker and every job! Your situation may be worse than average, but it’s not your problem.

      If the company doesn’t have any clue how to cover for a resignation or a long absence, that’s their problem. What would they do if you were in an accident and broke half the bones in your body? The answer is, they’d make do with an expensive temp, or a senior manager stepping back in, or just not getting your stuff done, until they could hire somebody else or you recovered. And they’re going to lose money because of it. But that’s a risk that management gladly accepted when they didn’t spend the money to have somebody cross-trained and ready to handle your work. Caveat emptor.

    9. lasslisa*

      Practice. It helps to have a reasonable but firm script that you have practiced. And, like all forms of haggling or negotiation, know what you are and aren’t prepared to offer. Like, you know from past experience that they are likely to ask, “oh no, what can we do to keep you?” Is there anything you want from them or do you just want to move on? If nothing would make you happy to stay, which it sounds like it’s your current situation, don’t give them any offer. “Gosh, this opportunity is really good and I don’t think I could pass it up. Sometimes you just have to make a leap.”

      If you tell them something would make you stay then you have opened negotiations. And then you put yourself in a space looking for compromise and feeling bad saying no if they DO do the thing. So don’t open negotiations.

    10. RagingADHD*

      Wait for the written offer. Accept it. Now you are committed to the new job, and they are counting on you, because they need you.

      Print out the offer and highlight the dollar amount and the office address in a bright color.

      On the bottom of the paper, write your talking points:

      1) You have accepted an offer for a local position.
      2) Your last day will be (date).
      3) Thank them for the opportunity/learning experience, and other polite phrases like “It’s been a pleasure.” THE WORD SORRY DOES NOT BELONG IN THIS CONVERSATION ANYWHERE. You have nothing to be sorry about.
      4) Mention where you are saving your documentation or anything you need to wrap up during your notice period.
      5) What should you do about returning the equipment?

      Keep that paper in front of you while you make the call. No matter how much money they offer, you are six states away and they cannot give you what you really want.

      This is a normal part of business. It is not personal. You are not working there as a favor to your friends or family. It is just a job, and now you have a better job.

      Congratulations on your new job, your 150% raise, and your more satisfying office environment!

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Alison has advice & scripts for you! Go into this site’s menu and look at the topic ‘resigning’ to see letters from others in the same boat.

    12. Evelina Anville*

      I once left a fully remote role (prepandemic) for similar reasons. The organization had me ship my equipment and reimbursed me for the cost. If I’d been unable to afford the shipping, the organization would have paid on the company credit card.

    13. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Bigger picture, you probably need to work on learning how to set and enforce boundaries. If you don’t know how to quit and stay quit, that’s a boundary issue. You are not a doormat, don’t act like one.

    14. Not So NewReader*

      If you are worried you won’t leave again then maybe being in an office is not as important to you as you think.

      There is no right or wrong answer here. You have two dueling desires- not to abandon everyone vs not to wfh. You can only have one of these. And now you are in a setting where you have to pick one.

      I get that these people are nice people. But they sound a bit manipulative to me- tugging on your heart strings begging you to stay. It could be that you are just a softie and they are having normal conversation. I can’t tell.

      Where are your goals here? Look at your life goals. Which job is more suited to filling those goals? Goals are powerful tools, they anchor us (make us strong in our decisions) and they also push us forward (“I want to achieve X!”)
      Some of your struggle here might be attributable to the fact that you don’t clearly see which job better helps you achieve your current goals in life.
      Not having goals is kind of like not having a map. I want to go to get food but I have no idea where the grocery store is. I need a map to the store to reach my goal of procuring food. (I moved almost 200 miles from my childhood home- I remember praying that I would find the grocery store somehow.)

      The other thing that would like to point out is anytime we build longer terms plans around what someone else wants or expects from us, this is usually a set up for a bad ending. Depending on how much you want that in-person contact, you could end up resenting this place that you love. You could end up feeling trapped. This is no way to live life. You know you best, I assume that in-person is probably the right answer for you or else you would not have thought of it and acted on it. Starting now, insist on logic, not emotions, to handle your decisions and your conversations about those decisions. It’s fine to tell people you will miss them but you can still leave anyway in spite of that.

      Come back on a Friday and tell us how you made out here.

    15. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      Pre-write your resignation email. (It can be short, just “This is to let you know that my last day will be X. I wish you and Company all the best. Sincerely, PurpleTeapot.”) Then, when you get on the call to quit, as you’re talking, SEND IT.

  18. Fleet*

    I think I’m finally at the point of quitting my job. I don’t have another job to go to, but have a nest egg to keep me going for a few months until I’m ready to take another job. After a hellish few months with a difficult manager I actually think I need a break for a while to recover and de-stress from it. I’ve noticed the YouTube algorithm is throwing out content from people who quit their jobs and it was the best decision they ever made you guys!!!! . It got me thinking – what are your experiences of leaving and then regretting it? Or staying when your gut told you to go and actually being glad you stayed? I’m not at the point of total misery yet, hence the cold feet and second guessing myself.

    1. Finland isn't real*

      I was once at the end of my rope with a job I hated and took the first job I was offered just to get out of dodge. That was a terrible idea and I ended up in therapy, the job was even worse and I wasn’t feeling any better.

      I think if i’d had a couple months break I might have made a better decision re: the next job.

    2. Sparkles McFadden*

      Don’t quit just yet. Take a week off, clear your mind and make a job search plan. Focus on getting your resume in order, updating Linked In, doing some networking etc. Just getting the process started makes staying at your awful job a little easier.

      1. GlitsyGus*

        So much this.
        Take a staycation and spend that time brushing off your resume and getting your job search in gear. Set your Linked In to let recruiters know you’re looking (they will see it but your colleagues/boss won’t). Sleep in and have a leisurely brunch while you scroll through job postings at a café.

        Get things going before you end up rage quitting and suddenly have a “take anything or don’t pay rent” job search deadline. I was in your boat and I ended up finding a really awesome job right as I was reaching the end of my rope at my dead end one. It really was the best way to make this happen, and I am so glad I didn’t just let my temper dictate my decision and quit without anything lined up.

    3. Pan Troglodytes*

      I agree- take a break if you can but don’t quit without a back-up plan- whether that’s a new job you feel happier with, or a robust plan to find one. I have a story of leaving and (sort of) regretting it:

      I left a job I LOVED about 10 months ago due to a lot of burnout, favouritism/nepotism and other weirdness (a client-service I developed was given to a less experienced, well-connected male because he wanted it. I wasn’t told about the decision, and when I queried the fairness of what had happened (not in an outraged way, just in a ‘hey, this doesn’t seem like great practice- I would have appreciated being included in the decision’ way), I was taken to one side to be told how ungrateful I am, and that I won’t be spoken to outside of essential work matters again). I tried to swallow that, but then more weirdness with same boss/dude ensued and I looked for other jobs. I was one of about 6 to leave around the same time for similar reasons (in a small organization too, so it was a strange time…).

      However, I kind of regret my decision. I wish I could have taken a step back, via a sabbatical or long break, and let the issues roll off me, instead of letting it eat me up. After some time, I learned that I wasn’t the only one with experiences like mine, and solidarity helped. Sexism/classism (and racism, I expect) happens all the time it seems.

      Anyway, my point is- the best decisions are made from a place of emotional calm and detachment. I job searched and left in a period of extreme ill health and burn-out, and in hindsight wish I had taken a calmer look at things and see what they look like then.

    4. owl10*

      This is a story of luck. Sometimes the universe may work in your favour.

      I hated my job and quit with no other options. I was several months away from moving house. Then Covid hit and the Govt in my country paid me so much money I didn’t need to work. The end of Covid support coincided with my move to a new area which opened up new work opportunities and I found an amazing job I’m in now.

      I am so glad I quit.

    5. Rhymetime*

      I spent a couple years at a job that wasn’t a good fit for me, doing my best to make it the right match by focusing on my attitude, talking with friends and mentors, doing professional development, etc. It was a vacation with time away that clarified what I really needed to do was find a new position. With that intention, it made the next nine months much easier, which is how long it took me to find a new job rather than quitting with nothing else lined up.

      You said you could afford to go for a few months, but depending on your field and the state of the pandemic, it’s possible your job search could take longer. Consider your economic situation and whether you might be in a position where you have to take a job that’s less than ideal because you can’t afford to be unemployed. A vacation might be what you need to make it through the transition.

    6. Anonymous Event*

      Do you have enough cushion to take a real break and then enough to support you during job search?

    7. Quantum Hall Effect*

      It took several years, but I do slightly regret leaving one of my jobs for another. It’s a bit of a case of 20/20 hindsight, though. I left bc the career path that I believed was available was not attractive to me and bc I didn’t like my lead. Then the new job turned out to be just incredibly boring, and I didn’t have a direct manager to help plan my path there. There is no way I could have anticipated what happened at the new job, but I should definitely have brought my concerns at the old job to my manager there (talked about the career path, let her know what was going on with the lead) before just jumping ship. Who can say whether staying would have lead anyplace good, but leaving definitely was a disaster.

    8. Windchime*

      I delayed my quitting by taking 8 weeks of FMLA. I was lucky to have a bunch of hours in my Extended Illness account so I wasn’t out any pay. I needed that time to destress and think about my next steps; I wasn’t really healthy enough to job hunt for the first 4 weeks so I just took care of myself. When I was ready, I started looking. I still hadn’t found anything solid at the end of the 8 weeks so I went back to my old job (in hindsight, this was a mistake). Within two weeks of going back, I had a solid offer from a good company and I took it. Best move I ever made. I was there for 5 years and am now getting ready to retire–I just turned 60 and it’s time to live the life I want.

    9. Fleet*

      Thanks for all the replies! I’m currently on PTO for a couple of weeks and it’s solidified for me how unhappy my job is actually making me. Much like Pan’s experience it’s a very toxically weird environment I work in, becoming increasingly so as time goes on, and I’m being gaslighted by my manager who is also the head of the company. I’ve tried to raise the concerns constructively to them (there’s no layer above them as such) and that went down like a lead balloon. My manager has a patchy relationship with the truth at best and thinks nothing of throwing an employee under the bus to cover their own shortcomings or errors. Every day feels like a fight or flight response and my body/mind can’t take much more of it. I’ll be the second senior manager to quit in less than nine months, leaving only one left at my rank and then a pool of staff underneath. I am upskilling in the background and have the feelers out for new opportunities but feel like I need a long break.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      For me, your last sentence is my earliest warning sign of what is coming up next: misery.
      You don’t have to be in 200% misery and agony to leave a job. We can leave a job at any time we chose- regardless of stomach ulcer status.

      I have never regretted leaving a job. I have missed specific things about a job which is not the same as regretting a job. I have missed certain people. Or I missed the insights a job afforded me. One place I missed the endless availability of cardboard boxes. That was so handy. But regret leaving, nope.

      I think part of deciding to leave is having the determination to get to a better spot. You already know that this job is not where you should be. You don’t have to prove it “beyond a reasonable doubt”, you’re not in court.
      Instead of losing precious energy on that, focus on where you’d like to go next.

  19. Sarah*

    Just had the first day of my internship and I’m questioning my whole career shift. Another intern who started a couple weeks before me seemed to have everything totally down, but I just felt so confused the whole time.

    I guess everything’s hard at first but I never felt so unsure about this until now.

    1. WonderfulWonderful*

      Give it a couple of weeks – you’ll be surprised how quickly you pick things up, when you’re immersed in it/doing a task multiple times. It wouldn’t surprise me if the other intern also felt completely lost on their first day, they just got a bit of a head start on you! You’ll get there :)

      1. Sarah*

        Thanks :) Hopefully I’ll get the hang of it without the boss noticing that I keep checking my notes every minute haha.

        1. londonedit*

          Asking questions and checking notes is a good thing! You’ve only been there one day, cut yourself a bit of slack. And don’t be afraid to ask or check if you can’t remember something or you’re not sure.

        2. Sparkles McFadden*

          Checking your notes is never a bad thing. As a manager, I was never concerned about the people who checked their notes. I worried about the people who came to training without a notebook and said “Don’t worry. I can remember.” No, they really couldn’t remember.

        3. Squirrel Nutkin*

          I agree — sounds like you’re actually doing great! Keep checking those notes and asking questions when you have to, and you’re going to be up to speed in no time. : )

        4. GlitsyGus*

          I’m 43 and have been in the same industry for 15 years. I still check my notes all the time, I am never without my notebook. No shame at all in that! :)

    2. londonedit*

      I bet the other intern felt the same on their first day! Day 1 and two weeks later are completely different and it’s absolutely normal to feel like a fish out of water. When I started a new job a few years ago, I had a colleague who seemed really knowledgeable and sorted. I fell into the habit of asking her questions when I didn’t know how things worked – and quickly realised I had to stop doing that, because I figured out that she’d only started about a month before I had. Don’t compare your inner feelings to how the other intern looks on the outside. Why not talk to them and ask how they’ve been getting on? Maybe they can share some advice that would be useful to you as you’re finding your feet.

      1. Sarah*

        Thanks for your reply! If I can get to where the other intern is in two weeks, I’ll be happy with myself asdfgh.

    3. Sparkles McFadden*

      Make friends with your confusion! It is the first step in learning something new. Just keep telling yourself “In two weeks, this will all make so much more sense.”

      1. Squirrel Nutkin*

        YES! The ability to tolerate not being perfect right away but to have a “growth mindset” that you’re eventually going to get better at everything you put your mind to is going to take you far!

    4. Rhymetime*

      I’ve been in the professional world for decades and as part of starting a new job two weeks ago, I’ve taken lots and lots of notes that I’m referring to as I go. This is typical for beginning a new role in many positions, and it shows that you are prepared to learn and committed to doing well in your role. You’re doing great, and you’ll be glad to have all those notes to refer to.

    5. Minerva*

      Give it some time. There’s some things you will have get down without notes and some notes are fine indefinitely, but this early, you may not even know the difference.

  20. OldDog*

    I’m looking for assignable training programs to help increase computer skills and knowledge, ranging from pretty basic computer knowledge to more advanced use of Microsoft Office products like Excel.

    I manage a department of 12 people, and those positions cover a wide range of fieldwork and office work and combinations thereof. With that goes a range of proficiencies at computer usage and necessary skills.

    I have a budget for this but I’m having trouble changing the culture to take advantage of it. In the past I have sent out emails linking to possible free trainings and offered to pay for any training someone picked out that they would like to do. I had a few people take me up on it but only one has consistently put the effort into improving her skills. People have said they are interested and want to make it happen but it just doesn’t become a priority and it falls off the radar.

    There are a lot of other mandatory field-specific trainings that we have to take that are task oriented and presented in very distinct chunks. I think that my open-ended, self-paced, and optional training suggestions are just not what some staff is used to and it has obviously not been effective motivation to train up skills.

    I’d like to find some type of system that would allow me to assign a variety of courses so that I can present these trainings as necessary and trackable. That way I can sit down and say ‘I would like you to take this training and get better at this task by this concrete date” and have an easy way to follow up on it. Does anyone have a recommendation for a platform like that or any other suggestions on how to tackle this issue?

    1. Thrillian*

      It sounds like you need a small scale learning management system (LMS). While I’ve been out of the game over the past few years, you may benefit from ones like PluralSight, Skillsoft, LinkedIn Learning or Skillo. I’ve had or been some form of admin for PluralSight and Skillsoft and they allow you to create custom learning plans and/or review users’ activity level (both amount of time watched, and course names watched). Skillo may be more tailored to smaller teams vs. enterprise-wide based on my limited awareness of it. LinkedIn Learning has a great catalog and is extra focused on Microsoft Office since LinkedIn is owned by Microsoft.

    2. Event Professional?*

      Do you use a project management software? We use Basecamp and Professional Development is a project with to-dos and deadlines just like any other. Sally assigns Joe a LinkedIn learning, Sally creates a deadline, Joe completes by that deadline, Joe uploads his certificate to a folder. Our work definitely ebbs and flows, so deadlines are usually set in months not days. The good part about the software is there’s a tab to see a list of everything that’s assigned to you, so if your employees actually utilize the software they can get all their Prof Dev done when they have downtime.

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Can you just fold this into quarterly or annual goals and performance evaluations? That gives the team concrete incentives to do these and uses an existing management structure, so you don’t need to buy/build/invent something else.

    4. Dino*

      Can you dedicate 1-2 hours of their work week/work month to PD time? If the answer is yes, try that. If there are any coverage issues involved, build in PD time at the start or ends of shifts to ensure you are supporting it at that level too.

      Do they have a workload that only increases if they take any time away? Do people have to pull an occasional late night or weekend to catch up? If yes, they won’t take time away no matter what you do. Get them some breathing room and they might have the time to be motivated to improve.

    5. MissDisplaced*

      I think sometimes people are afraid to take time to do training lest people think they are slacking. Or they really don’t have time and are busy. But there are also those who won’t unless they are made to do it. Not sure what type of training you’re looking to assign? My company develops a ton of their own technical training ourselves, but supplements with LinkedIn learning for office type skills.

    6. allathian*

      If your employees are so busy that they feel like they’re putting out fires all the time, they aren’t going to prioritize anything other than the mandatory field-specific trainings that they’re already taking. How much work do these involve?

      Some people simply aren’t interested in learning for its own sake, or even because it would make them more productive and give them an easier workflow. They’re just going to do the mandatory trainings. There’s not much you can do about that, other than possibly make those other trainings mandatory, as in tied to their performance evaluations, if you can. People may have told you that they’re interested, but you’re their manager, so of course they’re going to say they’re interested, even if they aren’t. The rational way to deal with a request that’s framed as optional and that you don’t want to do is to assign it such a low priority in your head that you’ll never have the time to do it. How open would you be to hearing from your employees that they really aren’t interested in doing the trainings you’re suggesting?

      I like learning for its own sake when I’m not too stressed and have the mental resources for it. All the better if the trainings make it easier for me to do my job. But I’m a fast reader, and I seem to learn best by reading. Because I find them a colossal waste of time, I absolutely loathe video trainings, and won’t do any of those unless there’s a threat of me being written up if I don’t, or there’s an obvious lack in my skills that I need to deal with and show proof that I’ve done so. It’s just unfortunate that my employer’s gone in for a specific learning platform that’s big on video trainings. Some courses give the option of skipping the video entirely and reading an illustrated (with the video’s PP slides) script instead, and if that’s the case I’m a bit happier. All of the courses have an option to give feedback, and I’ll always rate a course higher if it has the option to skip the video. I see that as an accessibility issue. You may be right that some of your employees would prefer a more structured course.

      Also, it’s important to remember that we’re still in the middle of a pandemic, and many people are stressed out to the point that they don’t want to do any stretch assignments. Learning new things is a stretch assignment for most people. Can your employees do their jobs reasonably effectively without extra training? If so, maybe cut them a bit more slack.

  21. Bamcheeks*

    A week today I will be starting my very first job in management with my own direct reports! I have 12 years’ experience as an individual contributor in my field and I’ve been trying to make this jump for about four or five years, and kept getting, “Unfortunately there was someone with more management experience”. Finally made it!

    So, what are your tips for the first time manager?

    1. Sparkles McFadden*

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

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

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

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

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

    2. Ella*

      One thing I’ve seen (and struggled with) when working with new managers is those that don’t look at what you’re doing and assess whether it does the job or is good, just make changes or make you change it so it’s exactly what they would produce. Knowing that your way isn’t necessarily the best way, or just acknowledging that the person’s approach may be perfectly good enough is a good way to help win over a team’s trust.

      1. Windchime*

        Yes. I’ve had new managers come in and make a bunch of changes just for the sake of making changes, and what really happens is that chaos is the result. Take the time to evaluate how/what people are doing before jumping in with a bunch of changes.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          In my recent interview process, which led to my first true management position, I had a whole metaphor about how changing managers can be like changing bus drivers without actually pulling the bus over, and that it’s important to make sure your butt is all the way in the seat before you start hanging things from the rear view mirrors and changing the air freshener and all that jazz that doesn’t matter if the bus goes careening off the side of a mountain. One of the team leads now jokingly refers to herself as my rear view mirror. ;)

    3. Evelina Anville*

      Ask your employees how they like their feedback. This has made such a difference for me. For example, some people are very uncomfortable receiving even positive feedback in front of a large group. For negative feedback, I’ve had employees say they prefer to get feedback verbally in the moment because it feels like a Big Deal if it’s sent in writing afterward. Others, especially neurodiverse folks, preferred it in writing later, so they could think about it and process it before we had any follow-up conversations. Using my reports’ preferred communication style doesn’t take that much time/effort and gets such better results. We resolve issues so much more quickly.

    4. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      Have a sense of how much change you want to institute from the get go to make the department run in a way that works for you. And to be clear, saying “I want to give some time before making any large scale changes” is a valid decision. My first manager job was at a different workplace than where I had been for a decade, so I was new to the company as well as managing. When my reports started asking what kind of changes I would be making I explained my focus was on getting to know the workplace and the individual contributors because making changes for the sake of doing something wasn’t my style. That set up early expectations and then when the time came for changes I could explain why they needed to happen.

      Also this should be obvious but worth saying: have a one on one coffee meeting with all your reports in the first week. If you are in an office this would ideally be off site like at a coffee shop or somewhere that feels conducive to a private conversation; if it is remote a phone call is good and a video call is better. This should be pretty broad and a chance for the employee to ask questions they might not ask in a group setting, for you to hear about their work history and set some basic expectations around communication in particular. Remember that anyone getting a new boss will want to make a good impression and they will know how to best work with whoever they used to report to but your style may be quite different and you want to help THEM make your life easier and reduce misunderstandings that come from communication differences as much as possible. It’s also a good chance to ask if there is anything they need from you in terms of accommodations.

      Get your individual monthly or biweekly check ins in your calendars ASAP, even if you want to wait a month or six weeks before launching into them. The first three months or so in management are so overwhelming and 1:1s can feel like an easy thing to punt but helping your staff prioritize your work, getting used to coming to you, and learning how to work together is such a huge part of the battle. It’s much easier if you start with that from the beginning.

      Remember your peer group is now other managers, so look out for one or two colleagues you might approach for advice if you need it, or even help with payroll software etc. Asking a low stakes question can be a good way to start off those relationships so that when you need to run something important by a peer you know who the best person is.

      And good luck! I’m sure you will crush it. Remember that being overwhelmed at first is to be expected but it will get easier.

    5. Tabby Baltimore*

      I gleaned these from responses to a similar question from a few days/weeks ago. Some of the points are echoed in the responses you’ve already received above:
      What are your best tips for new managers?
      *Keep an open mind, be willing and ready to say things like:
      –“Let me think about that and get back to you” when you get questions you haven’t expected.
      –“I haven’t decided how to proceed with this project, what do you think?”
      –“To be honest, I haven’t gotten the info I need from that team yet. But I will follow up today and if we don’t have a clear answer by Friday, I’ll decide at that point if you should proceed …”
      *Don’t try to do the tasks you did before. New managers struggle when they still try to “own” the tasks they did before and miss that their job now is to lead the team in doing the work.
      *Be aware of power dynamics. When you become a supervisor, your words and actions have more weight. If you ask someone to do something, they’re more likely to say yes–even to their own detriment–than they would have when you were their peer.
      *Tell staff what you expect from them.
      –Make sure your reports have what they need to do their job(s).
      –Have clear expectations with clear measurements of what you want your direct reports to accomplish and by what deadlines. Most people want to do a good job, but they need to know what your definition of a good job entails.
      –Keep in mind that different people can take different amounts of time to complete the same project.
      *Address issues as they arise. Nothing in a yearly review should come as a surprise to your employee(s).
      *Praise/support in public, criticize in private.
      –When they do good or outstanding work, credit them. Make their progress part of your job.
      Don’t throw your team members under the bus. If they screw up something, it’s on you. You didn’t set expectations with enough detail, you didn’t monitor or check their work, you didn’t do something. If they keep making mistakes, deal with the person making mistakes constructively.
      –Sometimes you have to give people space to fail so they can learn–or show you that their method actually does work!

      *Intra-team conflict: If there are conflicts among your direct reports, don’t tell them to sort it out themselves if you don’t think that will be possible and if you believe the conflicts will hamper their productivity.
      *Everything takes longer than you remember it taking. Managers are sometimes very bad at estimating when a task/project should be complete.
      *Externally, take the heat for your team’s mistakes/problems, but redirect any kudos to your reports. Even if someone screws up or is bad at their job, don’t blame them when talking to higher-ups, or other teams, because at the end of the day, you are accountable. Similarly, when talking to an underperforming individual contributor who made a mistake, that criticism should be coming from you as an “these are the expectations of the role” not “Big Boss wasn’t happy.”
      *Being the boss is lonely. You can’t joke with people like you used to, and there will be a power imbalance underlying most interactions
      *Don’t let your reports slide on what you know they should be doing better just because you’re new and don’t want to start on a challenging note.
      *Provide coaching and feedback in the moment vs. waiting weeks to talk about issues.
      *Check in with your direct reports periodically to see if they are getting what they need from you as a manager.
      Know when to intervene or escalate an issue when one of your direct reports is running into roadblocks.
      *At the end of every weekly/bi-weekly/monthly one-on-one with a direct report, consider asking these questions:
      – What’s working?
      – What’s not working?
      – What do you need from me?
      Asking these questions shows your direct reports that you don’t want them to struggle. The last.
      *Encourage questions. Your reports will test you with simpler things to see how you handle them. If you pass the test (i.e., answer in an intelligent and informative manner), they will bring you harder and harder questions. When they bring you hard questions, that is a COMPLIMENT–not only do they trust you, but they also think you are up for the challenge.
      *Remember that some employees want/need completely different things from what you would ever want/need. Find out what your reports want instead of assuming you should treat them the way you would want to be treated.
      *Don’t try to make yourself look good at other people’s expense. If you feel insecure in other aspects of your role, don’t try to show you can ‘manage’ your employees by looking too hard for, or inventing, problems to solve, or by kissing up and punching down.

  22. Mind Numbing*

    Does anyone have advice for surviving work that’s so tedious that it gets hard to stay awake?

    I happened to join my new company in their slow season. When I don’t have work to do for my normal job duties, I work on “projects” that are basically updating a specific record field for a couple hundred to a couple thousand customer records in our database. Doing it for one or two hours a day isn’t that bad, but there’s some days where I’m working on it for several hours or most of the day. I used to use new hire eLearnings and training videos I had to complete as breaks, but ran out of them a while ago. Now if I’m working on these “projects” for long enough, I struggle to stay awake and sometimes my fingers get restless (years ago, at a stressful toxic job, I started having an uncontrollable urge to move my pinky finger against my ring finger as if I was itching it, even though it wasn’t itchy–I ended up having to take antidepressants for a while to make it stop, and it’s starting again).

    I know I can’t take a break and read a book for ten minutes when I’m in the office, but can I at least do that on days that I work from home? Any advice?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Can you try changing your physical environment a little every few hours?

      Adjust your chair, move the keyboard and monitor over to the side of the desk, change the light levels. And of course they’re nothing wrong with taking the long way to the coffee pot or the bathroom, and stretching as you walk.

    2. Sparkles McFadden*

      One of my jobs during college was entering data for a hospital study. The data was just strings of hexadecimal numbers. I was specifically instructed to get up every 20-30 minutes and do something physical: take a walk, jump around, stretch. One of the researchers tried to teach me to juggle. I was far less likely to make a data entry error if I did something physical for five minutes, so they encouraged those breaks.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Yes, you need to do Pomodoro style work cycles. Give yourself a little reward for completing a certain number of cycles.

        Can you use music while you work?

        1. Windchime*

          I love doing Pomodoro, especially when it’s something boring. I’m WFH, so I set my timer for 25 minutes. Then I can do what I want for 5 minutes. I try to do something physical; I make the bed, switch out the laundry, load the dishwasher, play with the cat. Stuff like that. Then when the 5 minute timer goes off, it’s back to work.

          5 minutes doesn’t sound like very long for a break but it really works. Oh, and I always take a lunch break. A lot of people in my group don’t, but I feel like it’s important to get 30 minutes away.

    3. Chaordic One*

      Is this one of those jobs where you can sit at your desk and listen to music? When I have certain kinds of jobs where it won’t be distracting and I’m not dealing with customers, I listen to the radio. If I’m physically working in the office I’ll wear headphones so as not to bother other people. I actually listen to NPR a lot, but if it doesn’t interfere with your work, you might find some good podcasts to listen to, or perhaps books-on-tape, or books-on-CD.

    4. Tom Servo's Sister*

      Are you allowed to use earphones? I do a fair amount of routine data entry, and I usually listen to a podcast or audiobook.

      1. Alexis Rosay*

        Yes–one of those chatty podcasts where you don’t need to catch every word. It can actually make tedious tasks somewhat enjoyable.

    5. BugHuntress*

      I’m curious whether there’s any way to automate some of this. There’s a very good introduction-to-Python book called “Automate the Boring Stuff” – Python is excellent for tedious work like this, especially in CSVs or some such.

      Plus, you would have a badass story to tel in your new career as a programmer ;)

    6. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Turn on a movie or tv show in the background that you’ve seen often enough that you don’t need to pay attention to it. That may give your brain enough while not impacting your work output.

      1. GlitsyGus*

        Yeah, when I do the more tedious tasks while wfh I put on sitcoms I’ve already seen but really like, Futurama, Designing Women, Cheers, that kind of thing. I don’t need to give it my full attention, because I know it already, but it’s enjoyable enough to help the time pass. In the office an audiobook I’ve already heard but really liked also works, celebrity memoirs are good for this.

  23. The Prettiest Curse*

    Since the comment threads I enjoy the most are the ones which are just a lot of random stories on a specific topic … fellow event planners and coordinators of the commentariat, what are some of your weird and wild event stories? I’ll add a couple of mine as a reply later!

    1. owl10*

      I hated events.

      Stories include:
      People have sex in the back staff stairwell as we tried to bring food up
      A group of truckers complaining the steak was served medium ‘love, it’s still mooing’
      Corporate parties where the head of the company bored everyone stupid with a really long pointless speech during which no one was allowed to go to the bar, where they really wanted to be
      Depressing young people’s birthday celebrations when no on showed up until super late. I hate this in general I’m always ready to go out early. Why do people go out at 11pm.
      Student events with free food where the poverty stricken international students would attack us for food
      Food served too hot and the kitchen didn’t tell us it was too hot so people ate then spat it out on the floor
      The toilets were always destroyed, whether it was classy people or trashy people
      A birthday party planned by the female friend of a man in a couple, she seemed to be in love with the man
      An event that sold tickets on entry to win a prize. The prizes were worth less than the tickets and could be bought from the grocery store, like a cheap box of chocolates
      The party that stole my decorative bird cage I had lent the party
      The dinner held on a night the venue was closed to all by private parties. Thus, we had only prepared the set menu. Turns out 3/4 of the event guests were vegan. No one had told us and we had nothing ready. They got garden salad.
      The event centre that made good money but refused to buy a new vacuum. One function room was very large and carpeted. It took ages to vacuum with a heavy old vacuum that just didn’t work. All done at 4am. Misery.
      Putting together a dance floor you could lay down on the carpet. There was usually only one person on the team at any given time who knew how it fit together.
      Working for 14 hours without a break
      Getting caught eating left over food when we should have been working
      Being allowed to eat left over canapés, yum
      Taking home spare bottles of wine

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          The answer to that is that all of their good ones have either been stolen by some random person or left behind at event venues by staff who had a million and one things to think about…

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Ah, 14 hour days … the only good thing about 14-hour days in my last job but one is that we’d all stay in the nice hotel where the conference was being held. The staff would give us the extra nice rooms because our event bought the hotel so much business. So at the end of a looong day, I could go back to my luxe room, order room service with a BIG glass of wine and then collapse into bed.

    2. Anonymous Event*

      We had a drama queen event planner and a part time admin who were not getting along at an event of ours. I don’t recalll much except I think planner left open email complaining about admin and of course admin read it. I think they got into a screaming match. Admin eventually resigned (later in) to check into alcohol rehab.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Ah, event drama. Never seen screaming matches, but my old employer had multiple event temps quit with no notice over the years. One of them quit the night before the event and they had to reassign all her day-of-event tasks at the last minute.

    3. Yuck! Pfaugh!*

      This isn’t an event planner story, but rather one from the audience. Maybe not exactly what you’re looking for, but I found it funny.

      My mother in law got snared by an MLM several years ago, one focused on insurance instead of leggings or essential oils. She was absolutely determined it was going to make all its participants rich and wanted SO BADLY to get us in on it. One of the events we ended up attending to pacify her was a three day conference in a different city. We decided we’d go along with it: we’d never been to that city, and it would be nice once we escaped to have a look around. She and my wife have a very complicated relationship, and this seemed like a way to calm things down while having a little bit of travel.

      Well, the conference was boring- the kind of boring that makes you feel like your soul is decomposing. They spent half an hour hyping up the audience for the absolutely incredible company founder who we were all EXTREMELY lucky to learn from, since he would be sharing his amazing wisdom. Then out came a little old man who spent the entire three day conference giving one lecture. He took the first day and a half explaining over and over again how people got paid and how rich everyone could get with this MLM as long as they worked hard enough. It was clear that the idea for this event had been “let our boss say whatever he wants for a long weekend.”

      This event was so boring that the couple sitting to my left BROKE UP OVER IT gradually over the conference. At the start of day one, it looked like the woman sitting next to me was super into the MLM and had brought along her boyfriend so he could get on board. He looked ready to learn, notepad and all. Then the fidgeting started; then the attempts to talk to his significant other under his breath (she was clearly frustrated that he wouldn’t let her focus on the lecturing.) On day two, some of the audience started to drain away: about 10% of the room didn’t show up, and every ten minutes you could see someone get up and leave. The number of yearning looks this poor guy gave at that door! When they came back after lunch, they were arguing as quietly as they could (not very) about whether they should leave. He eventually said something very final and left even earlier than my wife and I. On day three, only his girlfriend came back.

      Honestly, whenever I think too hard about this conference, it makes me really sad. MLMs are really a scourge. But it was just so surreal in the moment, with how poorly thought out it was and with the awe most of the audience gave it, that it became funny instead. Time went so slow, I really thought we’d go to the airport on day 3 and find out we’d been Rip van Winkeled. There was at least a little bit of a happy ending: even my mother in law had to admit how boring it was by the end, and we all ended up leaving early to go to the aquarium together. And after that, we rarely had to hear about the insurance MLM.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        That is an awesome story! I always love hearing event attendee stories too, the fun thing about working a multi-day event is the attendee storylines that you see developing over the course of the event. And sometimes the attendees who are most enthusiastic at the start of the event are the ones who look exhausted and deeply annoyed by the end.
        I’m also glad that you never had to hear much about the MLM again!

    4. Diatryma*

      I went to a conference once and declared myself the Botherer of Waitstaff. Because the people in my group had dietary restrictions but didn’t want to be trouble, so clearly someone had to do it on their behalf. It took most of a cocktail session to finally get an ingredient list for the finger-foods– do they have meat? do they have pork specifically? do they have shellfish?– and I forever judge that conference venue for it. Especially because the answer was generally ‘yes’ and the people with the trays didn’t often know what was what.

    5. OtterB*

      I don’t run events for my organization, but I occasionally help out (I have a different role, but we have some “all hands on deck” events).

      Event in Boston. We needed large foam boards for posters our attendees were going to put up. They had been ordered and shipped. The shipper kept saying that the delivery truck was at the convention center and we weren’t there. We kept saying, yes we were! Turns out they were at a different convention center…

      Some of our events are for graduate students, for whom we pay travel expenses. I don’t remember the details of why, but one attendee had reserved a flight home that was at least 4x what we normally reimbursed. I think our program director got the reservation changed somehow, but our instructions are now very clear that any flight over $x has to be approved in advance.

      Event in Seattle. The event planner had gotten staff really nice rooms with balconies facing the harbor. I was never in my room in daylight to appreciate it.

      Event in Portland. As our conference was ending, an Oregon area science fiction convention was starting. I had some amusing encounters with cosplayers in the elevator.

    6. WoodswomanWrites*

      I was visiting my elderly aunt and uncle in Minneapolis. The apartment building they lived in was near downtown, with a local park between their place and a hotel where there was a cosplaying convention. My aunt was wheeling my uncle in his wheelchair and to get back to their building, we had to go through a group of people in all kinds of fantastic costumes and multi-colored make-up.

      I had my camera and managed to snap a photo of the two of them–my aunt grinning widely and my uncle looking very serious–with the costumed group looking at them passing through. It was hilarious. This remains a treasured image.

    7. Wandering*

      Wrapped all meeting materials, shipper arrived late to pick them up but assured us they’d be waiting for us at the hotel when we arrived the next night.
      At 10am, phone rang. Shipping co let us know that our driver had been held up at gunpoint at his last pickup & the van with all our materials stollen. Two questions: a) Was the driver safe & ok? Yes. b) Why had they waited til 10am to call us??? No answer.
      My boss called in favors from a bunch of folks & we were able to replace *everything* before leaving for the airport! I put together name tags on the plane.

    8. Lore*

      I showed up for an all-day shift running a theater festival with about 8 events back to back from noon to midnight. Our theater was in a church building and no one had told us Hugo Chavez would be speaking in the sanctuary that afternoon. The place was crawling with police and secret service from two countries, and we had publicly advertised events with no effective way to cancel them other than by turning away people as they showed up. The minister of the church totally went to bat for us and said we were there first and he’d hate to cancel President Chavez but if we couldn’t work something out… Which is how I found myself running a team of two US Secret Service agents and an NYPD lieutenant to find and corral my audiences and performers on the street (which got harder and harder as Chavez got more and more delayed at a previous engagement and the crowd waiting to see him got more frustrated), lead them through the metal detectors, up through the choir loft because the normal entrance to theater was locked down, and hand them off to me. We also had to clear out entirely twice for the bomb sniffing dogs. The best part is that after wrangling this all day—the speech was supposed to be over at 5 and he didn’t start till nearly 8–the whole thing wrapped up in the middle of our 9 pm performance and when we came back out, metal detectors, cops, entourages and all had vanished into the night. The US Secret Service guys were brilliant, I have to say.

  24. Janie*

    If you are in a filler job while you are looking for another in your actual field, how would you guys deal with that in resume/application? I would generally assume that you would leave it off your resume because it doesn’t apply, but I would think that you would have to include it in an application since it is your current job?

    1. Elisabeth*

      I would include it, although I can’t really explain why. I guess it looks good that you’re doing some sort of work, even if it’s not in your field. Maybe just include the position and a single bullet point and then move on, leaving the rest of the resume for your more impressive work history?

    2. Crabby Patty*

      I once took a job for four months at a big box retailer just to pay the bills as I looked for employment in my profession.

      I then labeled my employment history on my CV as “Relevant Employment” and off the retail job, figuring if I was asked about retail job (like from a background check), I’d simply say I didn’t consider it relevant to the profession, but that I’d be happy to provide a reference from it.

      I’ve been on search committees where candidates left off retail work from their CVs but was revealed from a background check, and we never factored in the omission.

      Conversely, you could pick up work that keeps skills, x, y, and z polished and include it on your CV or resume by that reasoning (“I wanted to keep my skills updated…”). You can be creative and truthful.

    3. owl10*

      The law around resumes varies from country to country, state to state. Enforcement varies on level of hire.

      In general for a basic role you can submit a completely different resume to different roles. There isn’t really laws against it. There is laws against things like fraudulent resumes for a CEO position.

      But say you’re an accountant and in between jobs you want to work as a grocery store shelf stacker. You can have a totally different resume for the shelf stacker role. No one is really going to come after you for that.

      1. WellRed*

        There are no laws around resumes and certainly no resume enforcement police. Fraud is fraud with or without a fake resume. US based.

        1. owl10*

          I guess what I am trying to say is it is not fraud to write a resume for a grocery store job that omits professional work.

          It is not fraud to write a resume for a professional role that excludes your grocery store work and focuses instead on the freelancing you did in that time in your industry, on top of the grocery role.

          In my country employment fraud has mostly focused on high level roles that had fake experience or fake degrees.

      2. Janie*

        I’m not worried about applying for the grocery store type job, since those types of industries are pretty desperate for workers. More looking for advice on how to handle that type of job when applying for the industry that I want to be in, since it is not really applicable beyond demonstrating that I am working somewhere.


        1. owl10*

          Smart people ‘freelance’ during work gaps.

          You can go on Upwork or Freelancer or whatever and even if you do one job for $20, you’re a freelancer.

          It’s still kind of sketchy and won’t always pass at high level jobs but it does help cover the gaps. I have no idea why people have long gaps on their resume (unless they were sick) when you can log onto Upwork and do some blogging and pretend you’re doing something.

          AMA has a real rule following crowd so I’m sure people will get mad at me for ‘lying.’ It’s not lying, you really did do those projects. That you only did the work for peanuts to put on your resume doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Also in terms of lying, corporate companies who refuse to hire people with gaps are assholes and if they get played, too bad!

          Freelancing is the perfect cover. Never put ‘caring’. Lots of people with gaps pretend to be caring for a sick relative. This one doesn’t work. Doing some blogging for a few bucks on freelance online services – works ok.

          1. ThatGirl*

            Meh, not everyone wants to dedicate time or energy to Upwork, and isn’t it primarily for creatives?

            1. owl10*

              I think I’ve been misunderstood.

              You don’t really work on Upwork. You do like one job a month for an hour just so you can legit claim it on your resume to cover a gap.

              1. ThatGirl*

                I didn’t misunderstand – I’m saying it’s not worth the hassle for some people to set an account up and do the bare minimum just to claim I’m freelancing. I can claim “occasional freelancing” because I AM an occasional freelancer – I don’t need a platform to do it. But when someone says “oh, tell me more about that” in an interview, and all you can come up with is “I spent one hour writing a blog post three weeks ago”…??

        2. owl10*

          To be more clear so what happens is you work your crappy job for money during the gap in employment, which may be bartending or cleaning or whatever.

          Then on the side do a few freelance jobs in your industry or industry adjacent for a few bucks.

          Then on your resume leave off the bartending job and including the freelancing. Most resumes and applications don’t require you to list exactly how many freelance jobs you did or how much you were paid.

          As for people who finds this unethical, stop licking the boots of tax dodging multinationals. Everyone is just doing their best and so long as you will be good at the job you apply to it doesn’t matter if you are deft with your resume.

        3. GlitsyGus*

          When I’ve been in this boat I’ve put the job on my resume, to show that I was employed, but kept that entry short and sweet. Companies get it, you need to pay rent. Plus, you probably can find something in this placeholder job that would apply to a job in your industry. I learned a lot about how to handle uncomfortable situations and work through compromises at my retail jobs, also handling cash and closing out registers, while not exciting, does require honestly and following of procedure. Or using different computer systems or whatever, all of that is relevant.

          Just don’t worry about coming up with five electric bullet points that knock their socks off or whatever. One or two to show you take the position seriously and the skills you’re using and if you do have any sales awards or whatever throw that in there. Then make sure the awesome stuff is in the sections relating to your industry.

          1. GlitsyGus*

            Forgot to add: If you’ve only been at this placeholder job for a few months it may make more sense to leave it off. But if you’re hitting the 6-8 month mark, it probably would start making sense to add it in there.

      3. ThatGirl*

        A resume is a marketing document. It does not require that you list every job you’ve ever had. Making something up wholesale would be fraud, but leaving things off is certainly not.

    4. Quantum Hall Effect*

      I had a filler job that used my professional knowledge in a completely different field. I put it on my resume so there would not a be a large gap. A number of people thought that filler job was a weird thing for me to be doing and quite a large leap from my normal professional experience.

      I would look at how long the gap would be if you did not include it and decide whether having a filler job or having a gap will be easier for you to explain.

    5. PollyQ*

      Leave it off the resume, or maybe tuck it under a section called “Other experience” if you’ve been there a while and you want to show that you’ve been employed during that time.

      Many applications require that you list every job and make you sign an acknowledgment that you’ve done so. For those, obviously include the current job. But if you’ve double-checked the fine pring and and the app doesn’t require that, then you can leave it off there, too.

  25. Jules*

    I keep having group interviews and a lot of the time, you get a brief introduction, but nobody gives you their name or contact information. It gives me a lot of anxiety when it comes to writing thank you notes, because I just don’t know if it’s acceptable to just write them to the person leading the interview/contact person or if you should try to send them to each individual. I admittedly just gave up on doing them for groups, because I just don’t know how to handle them. Also, when it’s a widely known unwritten requirement, why don’t we all make it easy on people and give out the information automatically so people can easily just thank them? Or abolish the practice altogether?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      There’s an easy middle ground for this. I’ve used it and never gotten any blowback.

      “Dear Fergus,
      Thank you for blah blah blah. I enjoyed learning about how Acme Llamas does yadda yadda yadda.

      Please pass on my thanks to your colleagues as well, and I look forward to hearing from you in the future.”

    2. I edit everything*

      I have asked for business cards before, though of course that only works in in-person interviews. No one’s ever looked at me funny, though on occasion, someone hasn’t had any.

      1. Chaordic One*

        There have been times when I thought I must have grown a second head at the moment I asked for a business card. The bewildered looks I got.

  26. Casper Lives*

    I feel like there was a bait and switch pulled by the company at work. They said we could work from home 5 days/week if we maintained a 4.5 out of 5.0 (there’s metrics). Then last week we got informed that they’re completely changing how the metrics are done in a month! Some of the metrics are literally impossible to get a 5. Yes I mean literally.

    The head of our office couldn’t answer how to get a 5 on some of these and couldn’t explain the rationale for the changes. Well, he might not have one. I trust that he advocated for us but you can’t overcome executives.

    Idk. I’m feeling I was lied to. My metrics are very good under the old system. The good news is that I won’t have to get shoulder surgery at this point. So I might not need to hold a week of vacation in reserve until STD could kick in. And I can go on vacation.

    1. Quantum Hall Effect*

      It sucks, but companies change how they do things sometimes. I would let go of feelings lied to. What you were told was the truth at the moment when they told you. Maybe the managers knew the change was in the works, and maybe they didn’t. It’s not going to be helpful to you to dwell on that, however.

    2. Jean*

      Thank goodness for employment contracts, set goals and unions!!! Working in a country where this sort of change would have to be consulted on and rationale provided.

    3. PollyQ*

      If they’re completely changing the metrics, then it’s reasonable for you & your colleagues to push back on the standards used to determine what’s necessary for full-time WFH given that a 4.5/5.0 now means something different from what it once did. But having a standard that’s impossible to meet is total BS.

      1. GlitsyGus*

        I agree. While there is no guarantee they’ll fix it, if you guys speak up as a group, especially if after the first month of these metrics the number of folks who drop below 4.5 has increased by an exponential amount, you have a lot more leverage to either ask for significant clarification or to discuss if the new expectations are reasonable.

      2. allathian*

        This. And if the change was made to ensure that nobody can WFH, the executives should just have banned WFH instead of setting impossible targets. No doubt the WFH ban will make some employees unhappy, perhaps unhappy enough to start looking for a new job, but goals that are literally impossible to reach are going to tank morale.

  27. MM*

    I would love some help in asking for a title change at my job. I was hired for a small part time job doing 100% of my work in one area. Almost two years later, it has changed to full-time, adding several new areas of work, and the original work is now 10% of my job. I would like to ask for a title change that more accurately reflects my job but this is not a common thing at my office.

    I also would like to ask for a salary increase with the title change as I have taken on many responsibilities that are typically reflect a higher salary.

    Any verbiage would be helpful, thank you!

  28. Chocolate Teapot*

    I was expecting a call from a recruiter today. We had fixed the time, I had found a quiet spot, and with impeccable timing, the building fire alarm went off as the call came in!

    Fortunately I was able to reschedule.

    1. OtterB*

      Oh, boo.

      Early in the summer I went in to the office for the first time in over a year. Nobody else was there – we’re at a “you may come in if you wish, but you don’t have to” stage. The building fire alarm went off and I had to walk down 8 flights of stairs. Welcome back. :-)

  29. R*

    Labor Day was the absolute worst when I had to work service jobs. You never get off and because everyone else is you get swarmed with cretins who never go to restaurants and so don’t know that you need to tip. What an awful holiday. Don’t go out to eat today, it’s just rude.

      1. fposte*

        Yeah, I can’t get behind the idea that it’s rude to go out and eat at restaurants that are open for the purpose. It’s rude if you’re an asshole while you’re doing it.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          I try not to use any business on Labor Day. The whole point is that everyone deserves a day off.

          Don’t even get me started on retailers being open on Thanksgiving.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Example of rudeness:
          Them: Why weren’t you in church today?
          Me: Because YOU are standing in my store immediately after church.

          Don’t say, “I am sorry you have to work today” while you are seeking to do business with the establishment.

    1. owl10*

      Holiday’s are always the worst.

      In my town we have an entire month of tourists. They have no clue. All the locals vanish for this month as it is crazy.

      It is a nightmare. Last holiday’s I had a man yell at me because it was busy. It said ‘It’s always like this on the holidays! You need to be do better during this time!’ Ok right so you new it was going to be super crazy but you still came out? Sensible people who hate the busy time stay home until the holidays are over.

      God help me it’s still winter here but the holidays are looming in my mind.

    2. Sleepless*

      I’ve just finished a 13 hour shift in an emergency animal hospital for Labor Day. I think I had *one* client act appreciative. Most of the rest of them pretty much behaved like I had personally made their pets sick.

      1. Black Horse Dancing*

        Thank you for your work! Please understand, many animal ERs are closed/more than an hour away, etc, And stressed out people because their fur family is ill are not acting their best. Thank you for your work and hopefully, tomorrow is better.

    3. sswj*

      My husband and I have no family near us, and I do not enjoy cooking. I can and do, but it is a chore for me, so for major holidays (Christmas and Thanksgiving, mostly) we usually go out to eat someplace nice.

      I always, always make a point of thanking the staff helping us for being there on that day, and mostly (I’m sorry to say) they are surprised and pleased by it. If we have a problem with the meal or need more of their help, I am as pleasant about it as I can be, and I keep a lid on my easily-frustrated husband who does not have a good filter. I’ve waited tables in the past and I found it a horrific job. It takes a lot of really bad service (and I do mean service, not kitchen screwups) to get me to be sharp with waitstaff. I know there are people who love the job, and they are the ones who are really good and deserve all the kudos possible. I was one of the ones who tried it for some sort of income, and it sucked. Unpleasant patrons just added to the misery – I don’t want to be that patron!

  30. Cruciatus*

    I discovered on Friday my coworker is on the hiring committee for a job in another department I’d be interested in. I actually forgot about the job because it came out just as I was back to work full time on site AND at the start of the school year when there is a lot to get done (I work at a university). She wanted to let us know she’d be in the office after hours “to meet with the group for the blah blah job” which completely reminded me, oh crap, I completely forgot about it. Is it a complete faux pas to ask her on Tuesday if they are still accepting applications for that position, or should I just consider it an opportunity lost? I’m not looking for her to provide anything more than “yes” or “no.”

  31. Elisabeth*

    Happy Labor Day everyone! To those of you who supervise interns – how can they impress you immediately?

    For context, next week I’ll be starting part-time communications internships with both a federal government agency and an international NGO. I’ve been intensively studying the issues the organizations work on, made a list of personal projects I want to work on if I have extra time, examined social media accounts and past publications to get an idea of their content and style, and brainstormed topics for articles and blog posts I want to write.

    Does anyone have any other suggestions of what I should do before I start? I really want to do a great job.

    1. lemon meringue*

      There were two things that I got tons of positive feedback on when I was an intern. They are both extremely basic but apparently impressed all of my bosses way beyond any of my other abilities. Here they are:
      1) Before asking your manager a question, see if you can find the answer on your own.
      2) When you receive an email, read through the whole thing and respond to all of the questions, not just the first one.

      Since then, I’ve worked with a lot of interns myself, and I would add these:
      3) Follow through on your tasks without having to be constantly reminded.
      4) Keep notes when you’re shown how to do something so that you don’t have to be shown multiple times.

      I realize these probably all seem like no-brainers but honestly, they make a huge difference in how much an intern is able to actually contribute. (Also, all of the internships I referred to here were paid–I think it’s only fair that an unpaid internship should be much more focused on the learning experience.)

      1. Tuesday*

        Agree that #1 and #2 seem basic, but it’s surprising how many people don’t do a great job at them.

        For #1, even if you can’t find the answer, it’s a good idea to find out what you can so that when you do ask, you are informed of probable options. You don’t want to spend long periods of time trying to chase down information that someone could tell you quickly, but if it’s possible, it’s very helpful if you can say, “I found X and Y, so I’m thinking I should do Z, but I want to check with you to see if that’s the right approach.” And I’ve found that you learn a lot more that way because while you’re tracking down information about today’s project, you’re likely come across information that will be helpful for tomorrow’s.

        Related to #2, I think sometimes people forget info in an email when it’s not immediately relevant to them, so before asking a question, I advise thinking about whether the information has already been sent to you. Sometimes I put stuff down in an email because I want people to have something they can refer back to. A lot of people never think to go back to it, so it’s nice when someone does.

      2. BugHuntress*

        Yes! This advice is excellent. If an intern of mine did these four things on day one without being asked, I’d be very impressed.

    2. Colette*

      Be interested, take notes, and listen way more than you talk. Don’t make suggestions about how to change things until you’ve been there a while – there are reasons why things are the way they are, and you won’t know them yet. Focus on the work they have you doing, even if it’s tedious.

      And understand that while for you this is new and exciting, for them this is another Tuesday – and, while they want to help you, they have other stuff to do as well.

      Ask questions when you need to, but check your notes and resources first.

    3. Office Pantomime*

      You’ve done an impressive amount of prep. Besides that, interns who impressed me came ready to listen and learn; asked questions about what they’ve heard/what is needed. Be careful about framing all the the things *you* want to do. Having them is important, but adapt them (or new ones after having listened to your supervisor) to ideas that will genuinely will benefit *the organization* and how.

    4. fposte*

      Colette gets at this, but I’d directly say let go of the “immediately.” Impressing employers, as an intern or a permanent employee, isn’t an “immediately” thing; at the beginning, your best shot is just “not a PITA,” and then your rep grows as you prove yourself.

    5. owl10*

      Show up on time.

      Maybe I am old but it annoys me when super young staff show up late or at 8.59am. I am not saying you need to be working before 9am, that is illegal if you are not being paid. But people who waltz in the door at 8.59am and then stuff around getting organised are annoying.

      No one is asking you work early or for free. But at your starting time you should be calm, ready, arrived, have drunk your coffee already, put your things away or whatever.

    6. Gnome*

      I’m sorry, but they can’t impress me immediately. Not to say they can’t start off on the right foot, but I view work as a marathon, not a sprint, and there’s nothing that is going to hit “impress” in a few minutes (we’ll, not the positive kind of impress).

      Show up dressed appropriately, ask questions when you have them, ask whomever you report to what THEY consider a success for your internship, and watch/listen. Ask for feedback, but understand that it may be on the supervisor’s timeframe. Those are all good starts.

      I have had the best overall impression from interns who showed up ready to work and learn. I hired one full time recently too when they graduated. Great work ethic on that one and so willing to learn! Now, a few months in, is one of our best in a particular sub-area.

      1. Colette*

        And I think that trying to impress someone immediately often does the opposite. In a previous job, my manager was away the day a new employee transfered into our group, so she asked me to meet with him. One of the first things he did was tell me that we needed to replace our system with something else.

        We knew that the system wasn’t great; we didn’t have the budget for a better one, and suggesting that off the bat (without knowing about the months we’d spent trying to get a better system/making what we had better) was really tone deaf.

    7. Elisabeth*

      Thanks for the feedback, everyone! I’ll make to spend my first few weeks learning more about the organizations and their culture.

      Just to be clear: one of the internships’ description says that I can suggest my own projects based on personal interest. But I’ll be sure to wait until I’ve already done a good job at the projects that I’ve been assigned to.

      1. We love our interns*

        I’d like to add a few things — (1) don’t leave a project unfinished at the end of your internship without telling people. If you can’t finish in time, give folks notice of that. This goes for during the internship too. (2) If you get stuck on a project do ask for help. You are there to learn (and to help). And consider asking for feedback even if you aren’t stuck. It’s best for them to know if your project is on the right track before you finish the whole thing. If I give an intern a project that should take 3 days, I ask them to check in after a day so we can make sure they are on the right track. Usually they are! But if not they aren’t wasting another two days on the wrong track. It’s a good practice for non-interns too! I’m a fairly senior employee but if someone gives me a project I haven’t done before I check in with them too to make sure I’m on the right track. (3) Show up on time and don’t habitually leave early. Of course sometimes you have to, but don’t do it habitually and let someone know. (4) Remember you have value, you’re not just a peon! (5) Have a great time!!!! :-)

    8. Alexis Rosay*

      The most impressive intern I ever had wrote a work plan for herself on her first day, without being asked. She listed her major projects for her internship and how she would accomplish them. Then she asked me to review it to make sure our expectations were aligned.

  32. Karina*

    Has anyone worked at a tiny company with no HR, and had trouble with background checks? I’m currently going through a background check and the only contact I could give for that job was the CEO. She’ll definitely confirm I worked there, but I would prefer to have permanent proof just in case.

    Right now I just have a few super informal paychecks (literally just checks with the company’s abbreviated name on it) and a link to a blog post mentioning I had joined the team. I kept timesheets while I worked there, so I’m thinking about asking the CEO to put an official logo on those and sign them. But any feedback or other suggestions would be appreciated.

    1. Guin*

      What do you mean by “background checks”? It sounds like you’re not talking about a reference. The terminology “background check” is usually referring to obtaining a criminal/arrest record, or possibly a credit report. If an employer wants proof that you worked somewhere, all they need to do is call your former company. Do you have a copy of your former job description?

      1. Karina*

        It’s just an employment and education verification. I know companies usually call HR to confirm former employment, but since there is no HR, I gave them the CEO’s number. That should be fine for now, but I’m wondering what to do in the future when the CEO eventually leaves. I’m not sure if they keep employment records; it’s a very small company and I only worked there for a few months (it was a contract position).

        I don’t have a copy of the job description.

        1. Filosofickle*

          Did you receive a W2 or 1099? That’s verification that you got paid by a company. What about a simple letter from the CEO? Karina was employed for these months by this company.

          If your fear is that a few years from now there won’t be anyone that remembers you from a very short contract job, I think it’s unlikely to be a big deal. You don’t have to list this job at all. As I understand it, while deep background checks want to account for literally every month of employment anywhere regardless what you put on a resume, many backgrounds checks aren’t like that.

          1. Karina*

            It was actually an internship with a small stipend (a little over $1k), during spring 2021. For next year’s tax season, I think the best option would be to ask for or download a 1099 and fill that out. I’ll probably just consult with an expert to get it figured out.

            In the meantime, I do want to include it on my resume since I don’t have very much work experience. A letter from the CEO would be a great idea, thanks!

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        FYI Guin, many jobs do require background checks–for example government jobs requiring security clearance, and jobs requiring close work with children or anther vulnerable population.

        1. WellRed*

          I was confused by her use if background check, too. It sounds like a normal reference process. Karina, I’ve worked at tiny companies. It hasn’t been an issue. If nothing else, hang onto W2s to at least verify employment.

        2. Guin*

          Yes, I know; I worked at an elementary school and I had a CORI check done. That’s why I was a little confused by the terminolgy.

    2. Anon in Texas*

      Oh I’m right there with you. I’ve had one job where the employer of record had to verify my background based on recall.

      My prior boss was very adamant about saving her W-2s and I have since adopted that practice since you never know when you’ll need them.

    3. Colette*

      I had an issue with that – I’d previously worked for a small company, and, since my T4 was handwritten, the background check company wouldn’t accept it as proof that I’d worked there, so the background check took way longer than expected. It was a pain.

  33. lemon meringue*

    I’m looking for decoration ideas for my new cubicle! What have you brought into your workspace that you really like? If anyone has suggestions for office plants that will survive my enthusiastic but inexperienced care, and will do well next to a large east-facing window, I would appreciate them!

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Pothos, commonly known as devil’s ivy, are great office plants. They do fine in fluorescent light and are extremely hard to kill. You can trim them back when they start getting long or do like I did and drape the vines around the top of your cube. :)

      Water once a week until the soil is damp in warmer months and once every two in colder periods. Use a saucer underneath for drainage. Repot if you notice roots coming out the bottom or if the plant starts to seem too big for the pot.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Pothos is a really good beginner plant– cuttings can grow in a vase of water for years so all you need to do is keep the water topped off.

      1. Pikachu*

        Lucky bamboo, too! I grow mine in water and rocks.

        Definitely need a container that is opaque, otherwise you’ll end up with algae growth.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Spider plants and tradescantia are great for low maintenance plants. I have tradescantia zebrina, the wandering dude, and tradescantia pallida, the Purple Heart – both are purple when they get lots of light :) (not all the zebrina variants are purple though.) I got most of my plants via Etsy.

    4. Nicki Name*

      Full-sized wall calendar. I usually went for nature photos or art of some kind. It’s a decoration I never had time to get tired of.

    5. Bon voyage*

      I was just researching office plants! Pothos is a great candidate (not too fussy, fine with fluorescents, and drought-tolerant). Personally, I’ve had good luck with spider plants!

    6. GoryDetails*

      My favorite cube-decoration was the “Build Your Own Stonehenge” kit from Running Press; nicely-detailed miniatures of the Stonehenge stones, with a base marked to help you set them up in the proper form. (Or to play with in different layouts.) With proper lighting it’d cast really impressive shadows; I even got the larger-sized one for a window display at home. (I also recall using lots of “Dilbert” comics on my cubicle walls back in the day, before reality made most of those strips a lot less funny than they once were…)

      I also found some entertaining books of cube-decor ideas, intended mostly for the humor value but with some ideas that might appeal: PIMP MY CUBICLE was one, and included ways to, um, persuade your manager to let your new cabana-cubicle stay. CUBE CHIC was another, from Quirk Books (which should give you some idea of its tone if you’re familiar with that publisher). It included things like setting up a nap nook under the desk (I could have used that, way back in the day) or turning the entire cube into a golf haven or an old-English-country-house-library, etc. While the extreme makeovers would clearly not work in most workplaces, the books might provide some ideas for more manageable decor!

    7. mreasy*

      Snake plants are a good one that is tough to kill. Plus they come in many sizes and don’t grow terribly quickly.

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

        I agree with snake plants. Good in low or indirect light, prefer to be kept dry (wet soil can attract gnats), and does fine in air conditioned offices. Plus they grow tall but they don’t take up a lot of desk space the way a vine plant would.

    8. OneTwoThree*

      I’m not great with plants, but I wanted an office plant. I also travel a bit, so I’m not always in the office on a schedule so the watering schedule needed to be forgiving. I sit in a cubical, so not great light. I ended up with succulents.

      I water them about once a month. When I turn in a certain report, I water the plants. That’s my friendly reminder so I don’t forget. I pull out the plastic put that they came in out, put them in the sink, completely soak the soil, and let it fully drain. I then put the plastic pot back in the decorative pot. The plastic pot has drainage. The decorative pot makes sure my desk stays dry.

  34. owl10*

    Does anyone have any scripts or tips on dealing with regular clients/knows the boss/VIP’s who maybe have slipped your notice?

    I am very good with faces of our regulars. I know lots of people. But every brain has a limit. And, some people consider themselves a regular who maybe actually only visit infrequently. Further there are some people who rarely visit but know – or claim to – know the owner.

    These people are vocal. When I blank on them when they come in they say stuff like ‘you know my order!’ or when doing Covid procedures ‘oh you know me’ or if I say something they don’t like ‘Where’s Jane (owned) today?’

    Customer service is my strength and I have awesome feedback from the people I do remember and make feel welcome. These boss knowing randoms put me on the back foot. I may have missed a face or they are not at the level they think they are.

    Any tips for dealing with someone who thinks they are a VIP but isn’t or who does the ‘I know the owner’ routine? I am not looking for put them in their place tips. I want to give them good service. I am trying to think how to respond when fluxxomed over a comment like ‘pour me my usual!’ from a face I swear I’ve never seen and I’m here every night!

    1. Quantum Hall Effect*

      Be apologetic. “Oh gosh, I’m sorry, what’s your usual, again?”

      I’m mildly face blind, so I am always asking people to remind me of who they are. I own it up front by saying I have terrible visual memory or some such. Feel free to use this excuse! Mild face blindness is surprisingly common, so maybe you wouldn’t even be lying.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Ah yes. I had a very fun 3 years running a wine bar and dealing with this.

      My advice is to break these people down into categories as best you can.

      On the one hand, some people say they’re a regular or a friend of the owner because they want to impress others. They don’t want anything physical out of it, they want prestige. It’s obvious when do it, because they broadcast the fact to the people who came in with them.

      On the other hand, some people do it because they want better service than they’d get otherwise, or because they think it’ll get them a discount, or a free appetizer, or whatever. You know who these people are because they’re the ones who say it to your face, often angrily.

      The first category you can play however you want. Feign a long day, improv it a bit, ask a vague question and trail off and the customer will fill in the missing data, etc.

      For the second category, ask your boss about how to handle these. They may say to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, they may tell you that they’ve told all their real friends not to expect freebies, so it’s only scammers and posers who will ask that. You may find it easy to fall back on policy and procedure. “Sorry, we can’t give you a discount on your drinks, due to state law.”

      The place I worked for was run by a partnership of 4 people – and the 2 who lived locally were brothers who hung out together all the time, so when customers said “I know *the* owner”, I was pretty sure they didn’t.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Make everyone feel welcome, and take everyone at face value if they claim to be a regular. Who cares if it’s true or not?

      Big, bright smile. “Oh, hey, good to see you! We’re so slammed today, I can’t remember my own name! Remind me what your usual is?”

      Then when they tell you, say “Oh, right, right!” and act like it jogged your memory.

      If they ask after the owner, just tell them where she is. Super nice, super cheerful.

      You can give excellent service without actually remembering anyone, as long as they are just looking for recognition and not asking for special favors. Fake it and toss in a couple extra “how have you beens” and “gosh, I haven’t seen you since…when was it?” and “did you change your hair?”

      They aren’t looking for a real connection with you, they are looking for performative deference. So give them the show they came for.

      If they’re looking for freebies or upgrades, keep a list or fall back on policy. Check with the owner on policy for that.

    4. Anima*

      Yes, I have used the “Welcome back, nice to see you, but to give you excellent service, could you please remind me of your usual? Not that I bring out the wrong thing, haha!” countless times and it worked every time.
      I also used “Ah, Mr. Meier, was that Meyer with y or i?” often, some people will tell you their full name, and you can pull out old orders up. (Sometimes I did that sneakily, sometimes openly, depending on customer.)
      Questions about the boss were easy to deflect, like “She’s fine, today’s she is running errands” or something harmless. Sometimes I forwarded wishes for contact, like “Mr. Meier was here and wanted to know how you are”, so it’s the boss decision to follow up or not.
      Keep calm and give your best customer service. Most people only want that. :)

  35. Anon in Texas*

    I posted this on Friday but I’m interested to hear more thoughts! (Also considering that today’s my first unpaid holiday LOL)….

    Started a new job about a month ago – and this is my first time ever being a contingent worker. I anticipated all the benefits and bonuses that I would lose out on not being an FTE and “monetized” those things into my rate. I’m really excited to be here, I’m doing great thing, and getting lots of good feedback so far.

    However, I knew I’d eventually get the FOMO feeling being a contractor. I’m not privy to all meetings in my workgroup. There’s an “employee of the quarter” bonus but I’m not eligible. I can’t take any sponsored trainings. And to top it off I had to learn the ropes for my role and get it up to speed with little assistance whereas there’s a welcoming committee for FTEs.

    I know I shouldn’t let this bum me out, because I’m doing really good stuff. I’ve grown more professionally in the past month here than in a YEAR at a previous job. So I’m just venting here really. But how do y’all deal with this other contractors?

    1. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      I understand the FOMO even though I’m not a contractor – I have two new direct reports, one is a contractor and the other isn’t, and the differences are glaring in terms of support. But! The contractor has to deal with SO. MUCH. LESS. B.S. Less politics, less admin, less Teams video calls “just to say hi”. They don’t have to do the useless required training. They don’t have to show up for nearly as many boring meetings.

      Take pride that you can do the job so well without the extra support, and if possible maybe take some of the money you’re making and put it towards coaching or other training resources to support your career.

      1. Anon in Texas*

        ^^ yes! Totally with you there. I must admit I was surprised at how nice it felt to not have to deal with the corporate kool-aid and just get the opportunity to do good work.

  36. Overthinking and underthinking all at once*

    I want to apply for an internal role, it’s not a promotion – it’s a sideways move into another dept – and I have the option of going via the internal process or external process. Obviously, I should do the internal process, you’d think, but they require you to talk to your boss about it before applying. Which I don’t want to do, but I know it’s the grown up thing to do – right? I know she’ll be hacked off, or maybe that’s just my ego talking… Anyway I have never done owt like this before so any words of wisdom on internal job applications very welcome!

    1. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      It’s a good idea to let your boss know, even though that can be awkward. Unless it is a very extreme situation I’d suggest asking your boss if they have a second to chat (somewhere private) and just keep it straightforward: “there’s an opening (in other department) and I’ve decided to apply. I don’t know what the outcome will be but I wanted to give you a heads up as early as possible.”

      It is a fair accompli that you are applying and you don’t need to ask for their advice (I’m assuming you wouldn’t want it since you don’t have the kind of relationship where you want to have this conversation) but saying you wanted them to have the heads up frames it as you doing them the favour.

      Also, know that managers talk. If you don’t tell your manager, they will likely find out from someone else at the company and no one likes to be put on the spot when they colleague says ”Did you know Overthinking applied for the job?” and they had no idea.

      Particularly because it is an internal position it’s pretty normal that you might want to give it a try so there shouldnt any kind of “why are they trying to get away from me?” reaction from a reasonable manager. And if they aren’t reasonable all the more reason to get away from them and also to make sure it isn’t a surprise when they find out.

      Finally, something I learned the hard way with internal jobs: yes, follow the specific application protocols but separately send an email with your resume to the hiring manager to say you applied but wanted to be sure they had a copy of your resume on hand, or whatnot. Give them a heads up that you are interested and in case anything goes wrong with the broader application they will know to set up a meeting with you.

    2. Aggretsuko*

      ….Yeah, if it’s internal you have no choice but to tell the boss. They will find out from you or they will find out from someone else in the office if you get an interview. I’m not sure if “external” would avoid them finding out immediately, but they will find out one way or another.

      I’ve done this several times and never gotten the job, sigh. Some supervisors were happy that I was applying elsewhere since I do NOT fit what they want here. Another one quit the same day that I emailed him about it so it really didn’t end up mattering there.

      1. Overthinking and underthinking all at once**

        THank you – this is of course very reasonable, I was panicking but you’ve both put it into perspective.

    3. Camelid coordinator*

      You might also want to mention to your boss how the new position fits into your career aspirations/what you like to do. There may be a chance to add that to your current position. Adding some fluff about things you like about working for your current boss wouldn’t hurt.

  37. Pikachu*

    Any thoughts on this?

    Here’s an excerpt:
    For example, some systems automatically reject candidates with gaps of longer than six months in their employment history, without ever asking the cause of this absence. It might be due to a pregnancy, because they were caring for an ill family member, or simply because of difficulty finding a job in a recession. More specific examples cited by one of the study’s author, Joseph Miller, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal include hospitals who only accepted candidates with experience in “computer programming” on their CV, when all they needed were workers to enter patient data into a computer. Or, a company that rejected applicants for a retail clerk position if they didn’t list “floor-buffing” as one of their skills, even when candidates’ resumes matched every other desired criteria.

    It’s tragic, but I think an important reminder for everyone that when it comes to getting a job, your actual skills and experiences don’t matter to the floor-buffing AI gatekeeper. Don’t take the rejections too personally, because in these systems you are not a person.

    1. PollyQ*

      Man, what I wouldn’t give for an in-home floor-buffing AI gatekeeper.

      Of course, at the same time the companies are making it harder for people to find employment, they’re also shooting themselves in the foot. Unless they want to pay computer programmer wages, they’re not going to find the people they need to do the data entry as long as they’re making programming a requirement. So they won’t get better candidates, they’ll just have the positions open longer. It’s not really the automatic part that the problem; it’s that some companies are badly run or have managers who are setting this criteria who are not good at their jobs.

    2. Yuup*

      But those issues aren’t the fault of the AI, they’re the fault of who ever is inputting the requirements.

  38. Equestrian*

    What are your best / favorite interview questions for reliability / dependability? My husband will be hiring soon, and that is the one qualification an employee MUST have. They have to pick up the phone every time, and be willing to take their laptop with them while on a shift. Thanks!!

    1. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      I ask how people prep for their work/stay organized, but I find it more revealing to ask how they’ve dealt with making a mistake.

    2. Reba*

      I think naming those requirements outright (versus trying to get at them sideways) would be helpful, and discuss if they have worked with similar requirements before. He could also ask about a time when they forgot something, missed a critical call or made a mistake and how they resolved it.

      1. equestrian*

        Thanks! those requirements WILL be listed in the ad, but we’d still like to get some probing interview questions!

    3. owl10*

      I think it is hard to pick in interviews. All you can really do is emphasise it is important to be reliable so those who are not can self select out.

      Otherwise what you really need to do is fire people in the early weeks of their employment if they are unreliable. In most countries in the early weeks of employment you can fire as you wish. It is important to get rid of people before they become entrenched.

      If someone is unreliable in the first few weeks, its not going to get any better. Get rid of them while you can. It sounds harsh but work is not a charity for the unreliable, especially if it was explained to them in the interview it was a requirement of the job.

    4. Aggretsuko*

      This reminds me of the job interview when they asked me multiple times if I was capable of making it back by 1 p.m. to reopen the office after lunch. MULTIPLE TIMES. There were several red flags in this interview, lemme tell ya.

      I think maybe a better way to do this would be to say “This job requires that you answer the phone every time and always have your laptop with you. In previous jobs, how have you made sure you were always available when required to be?” Something like that.

    5. Late*

      “Tell me / us about a time when you had to juggle the demands of a face to face client, responding to an email and answering the phone.”

    6. Alex*

      “If I asked your current boss how reliable and dependable you are, what would they say? Would they have any examples?”

      And then also ask their references!

    7. lemon meringue*

      It’s difficult to trust anyone’s self-assessment when it comes to something like reliability because no one really thinks of themselves as unreliable. I would ask more about their enthusiasm for the tasks themselves–for example, someone who is uncomfortable answering the phone would probably not be a great fit. Or ask questions that get at their general conscientiousness–like asking about times they went above and beyond or times when they improved a process or went out of their way to help someone.

      This seems like a great one to ask references about too.

  39. Zenovia*

    How do you overcome being at BEC stage with a direct report? I denied them a request they made a few months ago, with the support of my boss. While they seemed to accept it and are sweet as sugar to my face, I’ve learned they have been going around telling lots of others that I am so mean and they are such a victim. Their performance is fine so I’m trying to let it go, but aaarrrgghhh.

      1. Zenovia*

        My normal approach is to address problems, but I couldn’t see a way that wasn’t “stop gossiping about me.” As others have said, I just need to stop giving it headspace.

        1. Colette*

          I think you could say something like “I’ve been hearing that you’re complaining about the request I denied. What’s going on?” Or even “sometimes I will have to deny requests because of X and Y. I’m concerned that you are repeatedly complaining about a decision that can’t change.”

    1. Quantum Hall Effect*

      I’m afraid that people complaining about you comes with the territory of being a boss. You need to learn to step back a little and not view it as personal. You had a business need to deny the request, and they aren’t giving you attitude about it or letting their performance slip. As the person with more power and more responsibility, it is actually up to you to continue interacting with them normally, as they are with you.

      As to how to cope, complain about it over happy hour to somebody who is not connected to the office. Just be aware that complaining about situations is a way to stay stuck dwelling on the situation, so know when to set a boundary with yourself and just stop.

    2. Sparkles McFadden*

      Yeah…the “complaining about the boss” thing is a way for some people to blow off steam. People feel powerless at work and the manager is the closest person, so you get the blame as you are the bearer of bad news. Remind yourself that this would be happening no matter who that person’s boss was.

      One thing I used to do with very irritating direct reports was to replay what they were saying to me in the voice of someone I liked. This sounds crazy but I wanted to be sure I wasn’t rejecting something because it came from my “nails on a chalkboard” staff member. It was a way of slowing down and thinking about how I would react if a less annoying person was saying/doing whatever it was. If I did need to address something with that person, I would do so directly and factually.

    3. RagingADHD*

      If you aren’t comfortable with someone thinking or saying that you are a big ole meanypants, you are going to have a hard time making decisions that other people don’t like.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      “Sue, do you have a minute, I’d like to talk with you about something.”
      She agrees.
      “So I have heard from several people that you are still upset over the request I had to deny a couple months ago. I’d like for us to talk about this. First let’s start with any questions or comments or additional info you’d like me to know about the request.”
      Listen carefully. If she opens up and tells you the truth give her credit for that.
      When she seems to wind down, ask her if there is anything else that she would like you to know.
      When she finishes you have a fork in the road. She may have shared something that actually changes your opinion on the matter. Or she may have confirmed that your denial of the request was on target.

      If she does not have anything new to add and your decision was solid, then you can go into the importance of discussing things directly with you, rather than others. Tell her that it causes a problem with morale and for the well-being of the workgroup such comments can not be allowed to continue on. Tell her that she came in and told you the truth just now and you expect her to do the same in the future as opposed to discussing it with everyone else who cannot do anything about it.

      If she does add new info that changes your mind- then this becomes a teaching moment. “Sue, this is the exact type of info I need to know to make an informed decision. I would have chosen a different answer if I had known. Please come back to me and tell me any additional thoughts you have that might be pertinent to making a stronger decision.”

      I had to cover my chuckle, because anything anyone said almost always got repeated back to me. Someone could not wait to run over and tell me alllll about it. I used to tell the worst offenders- “You know pretty much everything that is said around here gets repeated. I don’t care how you talk about me or other people at home and off the clock. When you are here part of your job and everyone’s job is to contribute to a productive work environment. Upset and belaboring issues does not contribute to a productive work environment. I have to ask you to either deal with situations directly or let them go. Can you do that?”

      I really do not tolerate this BS. I can understand going to one person and asking them what they think in order to get a grip on things. But complaining to multiple people and playing the victim card does not fair well with me.

      1. Black Horse Dancing*

        Meh. Venting is a part of life, Especially if boss plays favorites, denies irrationally, etc. Why a request is denied is a huge part of things. And most bosses are ‘big old meaneypants’ at one time or another. Maybe the denial was wrong or unneeded or simply ‘because I said so.’ Maybe the denial is correct. People can and will feel how they like. And how did OP learn this? Third hand? Overheard in a break room? From another manager?

  40. Mophie*

    I just switched from a job in the government to one in the private sector. My Resume has been in the federal government format and I need to change it to a more standard form.
    I’m thinking of hiring someone to do it. My question is: I’m not looking to leave as I’ve only been here a month, but should I update the resume now, or wait until I want to look again?
    One part of me says wait, because you only want to go through this expense once. But the other part says I should have something for opportunities that arise unexpectedly.


    1. Chaordic One*

      Do it yourself and do it now. Yes, there are some excellent resume services out there, but most of them are “meh”. Look at the info that Alison has provided in her book and on this website about writing resumes, then be prepared to tweak the resume and your cover letters to the specific jobs you are applying for.

      1. GlitsyGus*

        This! At minimum by doing it yourself right now you’ll have the building blocks all ready o go no matter what happens. Then, if you do decide you need to hire a resume writer you have a base model to send off to them that just needs the bullet points for your current job, all the dates and everything will be ready to go.

  41. Cs*

    Does anyone have advice for switching from agency life to the client-side (ie big organisations)? I have a couple of ex-colleagues who both switched over recently and have been struggling with similar things, particularly figuring out the processes in big companies and how to get anything approved.. and the process of figuring things out is worse because WFH means it’s hard to ask colleagues.

  42. Annie J*

    Hi, does anyone have any ideas about how to network when you have a disability, particularly through online platforms.

    1. BugHuntress*

      I feel like Twitter is useful for some professions, like writing/editing and STEM fields. People follow others with similar interests, comment on their posts, etc.

  43. BrightFire*

    Hi all,

    I was somewhat forced out of my old job after becoming pregnant. I found another job and started last week. I am 16 weeks & am going to start showing soon. However, I have not completed training or really shown my worth yet to the new company.

    When should I tell my new boss that I’m pregnant?

    I am not sure that it matters but my pregnant is high risk & I’m at an increased risk of miscarrying throughout my entire pregnancy.

    1. Aurora Leigh*

      I think a good rule of thumb is after the 20 week scan, unless you want to tell earlier.

      It depends on what your end goal is also — is this a career type job you hope to keep for several years or do you just need a paycheck for a few months?

        1. Aurora Leigh*

          Best of luck with the pregnancy and your new job! I would be upfront with your new boss as soon as you feel comfortable! Don’t worry about proving your worth first, but giving your boss time to make plans for your increasingly frequent appts and leave.

  44. feath*

    What kind of jobs do people move on to when they’re done with first-level customer tech support, that isn’t like…straight up development/coding?

    1. TechWorker*

      Have you looked at QA/testing roles? They’re usually a step up from first line support (or, at least where I work, offer decent advancement opportunities) but need some of the same skills, with the potential to start coding/learning to code if you are somewhere that supports automating tests.

      1. feath*

        Good point – I have a friend in QA that does keep mentioning it to me, but I’m never sure if I can get the whole “create automated tests” thing down, especially when my coding knowledge is so meh at this point and trying to learn things keeps rolling off my brain like water drops. Dunno if that’s because of general stress though.

        1. GlitsyGus*

          it’s easier than you think! Often you won’t be creating anything completely from scratch, you’ll be adding into an existing framework, and they’ll show you what you need to learn.

          If you really want to you could take a brush up class at a local community college or online, but I had no formal coding training and was able to learn how to create test cases within the Jira testing platform in about a week.

    2. AnonToday*

      Security Operation Center (SOC) Analyst: you analyze event logs according to procedure and write short reports. When you get more senior, you may have to write scripts. But def not a programming job

  45. Waddledoo*

    Does anyone have a recommendation for an Ask A Manager like website or blog, but for freelancers/entrepreneurs/contractors?

  46. Gotta Move On?*

    I am a part-time faculty person in a department that has lost all its full-time positions through retirements. The last several times we put in applications to bring back those roles, our application was nowhere near the cutoff line for getting funded. One more semester or one more year of trying to make a full-time role happen is all I am good for. Do I announce this to anybody, or do I just know it to be true and prepare to move on?

    1. Peasblossom*

      This is a tough call; the short answer is to do whatever is going to be of the most utility (materially and emotionally) for you. If you do tell someone else, tell it directly to someone who has real power in opening lines. Make clear that this is nonnegotiable and be prepared to make a case for why they should want to move you to full. The reality is, though, that an administration willing to let a department become this emptied out is likely to also just accept your ultimatum and assume that all will be fine if you leave. So, know when you want to leave, what you’ll want to leave for (job, break, etc.) and be prepared to make that difficult transition. Good for you for identifying that this is the end; I know so many people who just get trapped by academia’s false hiring promises.

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

      Odd that they let all the full-time positions lapse. Is your department, or even degree program, in jeopardy of being eliminated altogether? Higher ed has already taken a beating the last 2 years and there is a lot of talk about an “enrollment cliff” coming in 3-5 years as all the pandemic-affected school kids hit college age — 15% drop in college enrollment by 2025 is one prediction. If the administration in your university hasn’t moved quickly to replace faculty, I don’t think it’s going to get better in a year so you should move on ASAP; announce it when you have a new position lined up.

  47. To Send or Not to Send*

    Trying to keep this as generic as I can. My office sends sympathy cards to other industry offices that have experienced the death of an employee. One of my supervisors has self-printed “cards” to send. The problem is they look horrible. They are off-center, printed on flimsy paper and poorly cut. I don’t want to send them. My supervisor is kind, but I don’t want to offend them by saying what I think of these cards. I’m tempted to remake them myself on nicer cardstock but they are sure to notice. Any recommendations?

    1. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      I’d send, but I’d add a handwritten note to it, which is the kind of touch people remember more than a poorly constructed card.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      If the content is ok, I’d “lose” the first batch, then reprint a new card on proper cardstock as needed. I can’t imagine this would be coming up often enough that you’d need a big stash of them on hand?

      1. To Send or Not to Send*

        Unfortunately with Covid, we’ve sent quite a bit. We had a small supply of generic cards, but when that supply ran out my supervisor made these.

        1. Pocket Mouse*

          Find a couple options to restock your stash (you can get 30-50 cards for $20 or less). Bring these options to your boss and say it’s time to replenish. Use a tone of ‘of course this is the next step, we’ve been using a stopgap measure and it’s time to go back to our standard practice’. If you need any further reason, say the options you’re bringing can be stood up for display because they’re printed on paper meant for the purpose, and factoring in materials and labor it’s less expensive to purchase a value pack than print on cardstock yourself.

    3. PollyQ*

      Any way to get him to reconsider the whole thing? I’m finding it odd that someone’s sending a condolence card to a company, rather than a close family member. It sounds like none of these people even know each other personally?

      1. To Send or Not to Send*

        It’s hard to explain without going into details. It’s not unusual in the industry I work in to send cards such as these.

  48. voluptuousfire*

    I’m super frustrated. I’ve been looking for a new job for a while now and haven’t had any luck getting past the second interview. I work as a recruiting admin and have been looking for either recruiting ops specialist or more involved recruiting admin roles. I have a great resume and hear from a good portion of the applications I put in but I can’t seem to get past the second interview. I tend to be more experienced than most of the roles call for. It either seems to be timing because they hire someone or it’s a canned rejection email and when I do get feedback after asking, it’s something vague like “a candidate who was more closely aligned with their current need” and when I check LinkedIn a few weeks after, it’s someone who has maybe half of my experience or less. I get it–it’s most likely salary-related. What I’m looking for salary wise isn’t outrageous but does reflect my experience and I think that scares off some companies who may not be in the same ballpark.

    I’m taking up a colleague’s offer on doing a mock interview. Not sure if it’s just timing (mine tends to be terrible) or I’m saying/doing something that puts someone off.

    I had the same issues in my last job hunt in that I got to the third or final round but got rejected for too much of not enough–didn’t have enough experience in one thing or someone who was just that hair better than me.

    This really isn’t a request for advice but more of a vent. It’s been a trying summer and my current role is pretty limited so that doesn’t help my day-to-day. I’m tired and frustrated. I haven’t had a break.

    1. PollyQ*

      I would guess it’s not just the salary (although I’m sure that’s some of it), but also that you’re overqualified for the jobs you’re applying for. Employers tend to be leery of that, since they worry that you’ll get bored, or that you’re settling for the time being but will leave as soon as you find something better. If possible, I’d try applying for jobs that actually match your skills & experience.

  49. Eva*

    I’m burning out at work at record speed, and I need to take a long vacation.

    Only I can’t take a long vacation because everybody keeps saying that I’m so indispensable for task X, or that I’m the only one who knows how to correctly do task Y.

    Which on the one hand I guess is good because job security? But on the other hand the stress is doing me in.

    How do you balance wanting to feel necessary and useful at work and also wanting to be able to take a damn week off?

    1. PollyQ*

      You find a company that’s well-run and has backup available so that their employees can take vacations. “Valuable” and “indispensable” are not synonyms. And 1 week is not what I’d call “long vacation.” In the short-to-medium term, I’d suggest sitting down with your manager and saying something like, “If I’m going to keep performing well here, I need to be able to take a true vacation to rest and recharge. How can we set things up so that I can take a week off?” This might mean cross-training, it might mean deciding that there are some tasks that be set aside for a week, or it might mean hiring a skilled temp for a week. If you can’t get your manager to go along with this, then definitely start job-hunting, and maybe think about job-hunting anyway. Security in a job that’s “doing you in” with stress doesn’t sound like such a blessing.

      1. Rick T*

        And when you do you leave the laptop at work and stop answering calls from work numbers. The company will survive when you resign, they can survive a 5 day delay in your tasks or find someone else to complete them.

    2. BRR*

      Think of being necessary as more of a long term thing. The company should want you for the long run, and that means being able to give you time to rest and recover.

    3. retired*

      Not your circus; not your monkey (tasks X and Y being done). They will get rid of you in a heartbeat for their own reasons. Take your time and take care of yourself.

      1. GlitsyGus*

        All of this. Ask your boss who you should train to back you up on X and Y. Then take your vacation. Being the only person who knows how to do something is not the way to be valuable, it just leads to burnout and often not being considered for something better because, “well, who will do X if we promote Eva to Z? Better just give the job to Fergus.”

    4. NerdyBird*

      Take the time off. A year from now, you aren’t going to reminisce about the reports you filed or the functionality you coded. You will look back and kick yourself for not using your time off.

      Take it from someone who thought they were sacrificing vacation time for the greater good and future rewards. The reward was a layoff with no notice. I’m not suggesting that will happen to you! Just that if I had it to do over I sure wouldn’t sit on my PTO, I’d sit on my sofa getting paid to watch Hulu. :)

    5. allathian*

      You need to find a company that provides cross training so that you can take the vacation. And a week isn’t a long vacation.

  50. Going really anonymous for this one*

    How do you get through a day when your workload is more than it should be and you don’t feel appreciated? Practical tips/advice?

    Background: I work for a small company that has seen a LOT of employees leave and most of them haven’t been replaced. I’ve been there the longest now of any current employee, at four years. I’ve never had a review and never had a raise, even though I’ve successfully taken on greater responsibilities, even the job responsibilities of many who have left, with little to no training. The very rare, informal feedback suggests that the CEO is happy with my work. And I assume he generally is happy with my work, since I haven’t heard otherwise, but I don’t know.

    I overheard the hiring manager relate that a candidate had asked about reviews/raises and the time period in which they would occur. The hiring manager was indignant that the candidate had the nerve to ask that, and said the company would not be moving forward with the candidate because the candidate had asked that. To me, that seems like a perfectly reasonable question to ask, but I’ve worked for other employers who took the same stance. I worked for a CEO once that stated that any employee who asked for a raise would be denied specifically because they asked. Even there, I always received a yearly raise, however small. I’ve never gotten a raise here.

    Given the hiring manager’s reaction to a candidate asking about raises, and the reviews on glassdoor from former employees that state that reviews/raises are promised but not given, I don’t think it would be wise to start asking. I can’t afford to be seen as a problem employee.

    I don’t think I’m ready to find another job, as the intangibles of this one and the health insurance are really good (well, I’m sort of reviewing postings on some job sites). But I’m feeling frustrated and unappreciated and the stress of that is starting to get to me.

    1. PollyQ*

      If you really, truly don’t want to job-hunt right now, then tell yourself this: “I know that this job that serious limits in terms of its rewards, but I am currently choosing to stay in this situation for [reasons].” Then it’s not that you’re “stuck”, it’s that you’ve made an affirmative choice to accept this circumstance.

      That said, no raises ever, and they got shirty when a candidate asked? This sounds like a pretty crappy job, and I bet you actually could find something better. I also wonder how long a company that’s lost a bunch of employees and hasn’t been able to replace them will stay in business.

    2. MissGirl*

      Your company is training you not to advocate for yourself and that if you do you will be punished. There are companies who offer raises and insurance. Don’t stay so long that you internalize this toxic message.

      If you do stay, you run the risk of either staying too long or getting on with a company that treats you badly as well because you won’t advocate for your needs. That candidate that they passed over is the lucky one. She’ll land at a place that treats their employees well because she’s already advocating for herself and her needs.

    3. Grass is greener*

      Just… do your job. YOUR job, not 6 other people’s jobs. If you solve a problem for your employer by doing someone else’s work, they see it as solved. There is no going back from agreeing to do something that becomes “your” regular responsibility. If they foist something absolutely critical on you, say “what should I give up to do this?” And then STOP DOING IT. If they won’t let you give something up, say you can’t do the critical task. Gradually stop doing the least important things or do them less frequently. Accept that you will do things imperfectly and sometimes subpar. Send all new problems/issues up the food chain, don’t solve them yourself.

      Remember, none of this is your fault. One person can only do one person’s worth of work. Granted, that amount does grow as you become familiar with an organization, but it is not limitless – you are still only one person. Do not waste your emotional capital on the larger problems of your workplace. You are not your job.

      I, too, work in a dysfunctional organization which is spiraling downward and which hasn’t adequately supported my team in years (we’re at half the staff we had 10 years ago). But I have great benefits, I live in the part of the country I want to, I’m paid a reasonable wage and do get regular (if inadequate) raises. For me, that’s enough. I’ve learned to separate my satisfaction with my daily work from the chaos around me. I am not the organization; I am more than my job. So, you have to decide on the cost/benefit with your own criteria of this job vs. some other one. Can you keep chugging away? Can you turn off the desire to fix it? Because you, individually, can’t fix it.

      Take some time to really look at and list what fills your days. Think about what you would suggest as concrete actions for yourself if you were your own manager. Now, is there any way that any of those actions would ever come to pass at your current job? Can you progress at your current job however you define it? Will you ever get the right balance of job tasks vs. money? If yes, think about what it would take. If no, look harder at those job listings, great intangibles or no.

      Good luck. Introspection is difficult, but if you can lay it all out for yourself, then it is a reasoned decision, not an emotional one. It makes it easier later on to feel like you made the right choice, whether it’s the easy choice or not.

    4. Going really anonymous for this one*

      Thanks for the thoughts/advice. Things improved this week, and I was able to talk to my manager, who said I’d be getting some help, which will be nice.

  51. Aggretsuko*

    What PollyQ said is about what I do with regards to my awful job. I may be stuck, but also staying with the job is my best option under current life circumstances, especially for the insurance.

  52. Austen Bronte*

    This question is for the data analysts out there. Do you have a good life / work balance? I’m a teacher and it’s a field I’ve considered going into.

    1. OtterB*

      Will depend on your employer and on the type of problems you are working on. It’s certainly possible to have good work/life balance, but not guaranteed.

  53. CareerConfused*

    You know how every job is looking for someone with “good attention to detail”? Well, I have bad attention to detail (ADHD), and I am in a field where that matters (lawyer). I am great with the clients, and good on my feet, but forms defeat me. Are there are folks here with experience in the legal field who have suggestions for avenues within the law (or law adjacent) with a higher tolerance for someone like me?

    1. RagingADHD*

      This will depend on what type of symptom cluster you have, of course. When I was a legal secretary I noticed that certain practice areas had a higher proportion of the creative/charismatic/big idea/poor attention to detail types than others.

      Litigation and family law were most notable. Something like tax or intellectual property, not a good match.

      The most ADHD-ish attorney I ever worked for was a divorce mediator. He was popular, good at the work, and had fantastic word of mouth. He would have done very well if he were in a firm that had robust support for all the nonbillable side of the business. But he was determined to be in practice for himself, and struggled a lot with finances – mainly because he was reluctant to push for payment.

      The key for all of them who were sucessful was a strong team of paralegals, secretaries, and firm administration so they could play to their strengths. That may be hard to find outside of a very old-school firm with a high ratio of staff to attorneys. It seems like a lot of places have a team support model now, where the senior partner on a team gets most of the admin attention, and several juniors have to do a lot of their own word processing & forms, and only get a little time from staff for really urgent stuff.

      I hope you find something great!

    2. Glomarization, Esq.*

      In my experience and in the jurisdiction where I had this experience, plaintiff-side personal injury is an area where support staff take care of the details while the lawyers make the bigger-picture decisions on choosing clients and case management.

      Off the top of my head, I can think of two colleagues with ADHD who left law, though it may not have been causal. One is running their family business and the other is consulting in a field related to what they were doing before law school.

  54. TPS reporter*

    The closing attorney I worked with for my refinance had a really good way to keep the process moving, walking you through the docs but not getting too into the details. All of the forms are non negotiable but you need any attorney there to make sure any questions are answered and the buyer has adequate counsel. I work as a contracts attorney which is all detail but my general understanding of real estate is that the paperwork is all forms. It’s really the skill in moving all the parties along, keeping them happy is what’s needed.

  55. SkaterGirl*

    I just resigned from my paid manager position at a non-profit company. There are 3 “advisors” for the non-profit organization. These advisors are not paid and are volunteers. I do everything for the company including but not limited to: pay-roll, sales tax, business tax, entering invoices, entering payments, paying vendors, ect. This non-profit is associated with my graduate school; however, they are not legally connected. These advisors are professors of mine. I quit because I need to concentrate on school and my mental health. Since working here, I have felt no support from the advisors and have been belitted and bullied by them. Since resigning, I went to the bank to cancel the company debit card with my name on it and to remove myself from the account. The bank informed me that only the primary account holder (one of the advisors) can remove me from the account. I asked the advisor to remove my name and they will not. I am afraid they are going to try to extort me into training my replacement since there is no one who knows how to do my job in order to remove my name from the bank account (even though I already quit). I am afraid for the future of my schooling because these advisors are my professors. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Burnt eggs*

      This is late, but you can remove yourself. Submit a letter to the bank saying your name, the organization, account number, and effective removal date. Include the names of the advisors so they have ‘someone’. That will not make them signers in the account, but you have a trail of your removal. A copy needs to go to the organization as well. Pull in the branch manager if need be. And the primary account holder should be the organization itself, not a person.

    2. Colette*

      They can’t make you do more work; you quit. I’d hand in the debit card to the advisor and let them sort it out.

  56. Katt*

    So, before anything else, I fully acknowledge that I am a supreme idiot.

    A few years ago I made a friend at work. Long story short we bonded quickly over a crisis of theirs. We ended up becoming roommates and then it happened again, only then covid hit and the friendship became codependent and sort of toxic. (I moved out recently.)

    Predictably, it’s all blown up terribly and now I don’t know if there will be any fallout.

    They are currently off work for health reasons but are scheduled to return in October. Most of us are remote so that’s not an issue. However…

    – They work in my old division. Different team and different job but I’m on loan somewhere else, hoping to make this move permanent, but there’s a chance I may end up back there.
    – Their mom works at our place of work too (it’s one of the biggest employers in town with a couple thousand employees) and she tends to meddle.

    Right now it’s not an issue and if all goes well it never will be. However, I’m worried about possible badmouthing or even their mom trying to message me on the workplace Teams.

    My current plan for the mom is to tell her “this is really inappropriate and I don’t wish to talk about it with you” if she tries anything.

    However I’m not sure if or what I even should tell my current boss or my boss back in my old division.

    I want to clear the air eventually but right now it’s too raw and I refuse. They crossed a boundary I set (wanting space after they made a rude comment – straw that broke the camel’s back, and they wouldn’t leave me alone and instead sent me many guilt tripping messages on multiple platforms), and I’m angry. I had friends help me craft my final message before blocking them everywhere so it didn’t sound too rude because otherwise I would’ve gone off. That’s how toxic this got.

    I’ve learned a lesson in all this – DO NOT GET THIS INVOLVED WITH COWORKERS. I have other friends who are or became coworkers but this is just crazy and I never imagined it would come to this.

    Thoughts? I already know I’m an idiot so please don’t just comment to tell me I’m an idiot.

    1. OneTwoThree*

      For now, I’d say don’t bring it up at work. Don’t mention anything to your boss. If people notice that you aren’t friendly anymore just acknowledge and move on nonchalantly. Be the bigger person.

      IF the mom or your former friend reaches out about nonbusiness overwork communication tools respond once saying that you want to keep work tools for work communication. You could even use your friends for help with the script.

      IF you KNOW that the mom or your former friend is talking about it at work, mention it to your boss. Keep it brief. Something like “Former friend and I had a personal falling out. If you hear anything, that’s what it’s about. I plan on continuing to professionally work for you and with them if necessary.” Once again, your friends can help you with a script. Keep it short and sweet. This isn’t about work. You are going to be professional.

      Remember, you only KNOW if you hear the details from someone else. Not if you just feel it in your gut or if you see them talking to someone. Don’t let your emotions get the best of you.

    2. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      Stick with your boundaries. Unless there is a work-related reason to interact with either of these people, do not interact, or if you have to do so, talk only about work.

  57. Apprentice*

    Very late comment, but I have a bit of an ethical dilemma…

    I’m current enrolled in an apprenticeship. My apprenticeship qualifies for a state program where I can receive unemployment but not have to job search. However, the state unemployment agency is very behind and my application has not been approved yet–and may not be approved for many months. Until I’m approved, I have to keep job searching in order to qualify for unemployment.

    As a result, I’ve only been applying for jobs that are not a great fit, assuming they’ll throw my resume out. But surprise, I got invited to an interview. I don’t want to waste someone’s time interviewing me for a job I wouldn’t take. But to qualify for unemployment, I don’t think I’m allowed to turn down an interview.


Comments are closed.