open thread – September 17-18, 2021

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

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

{ 1,206 comments… read them below }

  1. hmmm*

    I know this is more a personal situation than professional, but I don’t want to mess up the professional angle. I feel selfish even thinking this way….. and yes, I am making a mountain out of a molehill.

    My extended family has the opportunity to take a once in a lifetime trip to a popular tourist destination for 10 days. A former coworker, James, lives in the area and works for a company that contracts out to the famous resort we will be staying at. I haven’t seen James in 15 years. The occassional “Facebook Likes and comments” that’s about the extent of our keeping in touch. James is meeting us for drinks one day on our trip.

    When planning this trip I admit I got caught up in the moment of actually going on vacation when I emailed James. We worked with an amazing travel agent who helped us accommodate for needs of our extended family as well as anything to avoid large crowds (covid concerns). As a result, a lot of activities and meals were pre booked.

    After getting our itinerary, I honestly don’t have a minute to breathe on this vacation (that’s ok that’s part of the appeal for where we are going). While we will literally get to do and see everything, we will have very little/ if any, downtime including sleep. Most people don’t visit this area at such an extreme, but for us this trip’s specific events will be difficult to experience all at once again. Geographically we will probably get to visit again sooner than later.

    I was looking at meeting up with James as getting reacquainted with an old coworker who had good taste in music and movies. James’ well known employer has offices in the geographical area where I live. I have NEVER used this as a networking connection but selfishly wanted to keep this filed away. I would never ask James to “go out on a limb” for a business connection but perhaps for a general phone number I could call to make an inquiry. The chances of ever using this as a business connection are slim to none.

    I guess I’m conflicted if I am shooting myself in the foot explaining that my immediate family and I might not be able to meet with James or if we do it will literally only be for a drink for a half hour? Am I selfish for even thinking of the business side, when I’m more interested in saying hi to an old acquaintance? I feel like I’m burning a bridge (professionally and socially) if we have to skip on drinks.

    1. londonedit*

      I don’t think you’d burn any bridges by simply saying ‘I’m so sorry – I’ve just had the full itinerary for our trip and it really is jam packed. I don’t think we’ll have time to fit in drinks after all, but I’ll let you know if I’m ever visiting again!’ You said that it’s not really a business connection you’d be likely to use, so I don’t think you have to worry about somehow damaging your professional reputation, and if James is halfway sensible he’ll realise that you’re on holiday, you’ve got a lot planned and you’re travelling with your family, so it’s not outrageous of you to have realised that actually your schedule is more full than you’d realised and you can’t fit everything in on this trip.

      1. hmmm*

        I’m hoping we will have the opportunity to meet up on another trip. He’s now a “local” to that area so James should realize how packed our itinerary is. I just hate to drag him out to a tourist area (I think he lives maybe 20 minutes from the outskirts of the area) for a 30 minute drink.

    2. NT interpeter needed*

      A half hour for coffee would be apropos, and for drinks, maybe nearly? I feel like meeting for a drink is a drink and 45 minutes of chat?

      1. Yorick*

        I agree. He might even be relieved if you say you need to keep it short. I think it would be perfectly fine to cancel politely, but it would be ok to squeeze it in, too.

        If you really want to keep the meeting with James for the business connection, you could meet him for a drink at the bar of the restaurant where your family is eating dinner, or something like that.

    3. Nannerdoodle*

      If you barely talk to James now, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll burn a bridge socially by saying that you ended up being too busy with all the other vacation activities or only have time for a very short visit. Make sure to solidify what your plans with him are, no matter what they end up being, as soon as possible. You don’t want him to block off hours of his time to catch up only for you to blow him off at the last minute. He’s probably looking at the whole situation of catching up with an old coworker he has enjoyed talking to in the past the same way you are, so it really shouldn’t be a big deal (unless you know James to be someone who took great offense to plans changing in the past, in which case you’d need to handle it more delicately).
      As far as burning the bridge professionally, there’s not really much of a bridge there anymore! You haven’t really worked together in 15 years, so the most that would make sense for him to do at this point is give a phone number, unless your work was absolutely amazing all those years ago. Whether or not you meet up won’t change that.

      1. quill*

        Yeah, unless you have already set a specific time that he’s agreed to, you haven’t really affected his plans. If you have and you cancel because “I didn’t realize we’d need so much travel time between things” with plenty of advance warning, you’re at most a momentary irritation?

        If you just made noises about “we should meet up for drinks” and don’t yet have an appointment, it’s even less of a cost, so long as you politely and honestly tell him that with all the details ironed out you don’t think you’ll be able to fit him in.

        1. hmmm*

          we did option 2 – we should meet up for drinks. He emailed us his schedule but we’re still figuring it all out in the next few days.

          1. quill*

            Then just let him know, sooner rather than later, that you’re booked solid & appreciate him trying to make the time.

      2. hmmm*

        James works for a well known company. I just worry that one time I need to network with him, he’ll remember I had to cancel drinks. But you are right, it’s been 15 years.

        1. Yorick*

          As long as you’re nice about it and you don’t cancel at the last minute, he’s not going to care. Unless he’s so awful that you probably couldn’t count on his help anyway.

          1. Uranus Wars*

            This is basically where I land. This happens to people often – you just think you can fit 14 hours worth of things into 10 hours. If you are nice and truthful, he should be fine! You probably aren’t the first visitor who reached out, then was like “oh, hell!”

    4. pancakes*

      It would be really weird for him to be so vindictive over such a minor thing. It’s not as if you having a packed schedule is any sort of reflection on his personality. You will almost certainly have a better sense of his character than anyone here offering advice, but telling him you can’t meet up after all seems very unlikely to do any damage to your relationship with him.

      I will add that for me personally, it is sometimes a relief when out of town visitors don’t want to meet up while they’re here. I have lived in NYC for a little over 20 years and do not want to spend time visiting, say, Times Square with them! Drinks elsewhere, sure, but if they’re too busy sightseeing that’s not something to be offended by. I think most people who live in popular tourist destinations will have experienced with this.

      1. hmmm*

        We live in the NYC area too – I totally get it! James still seems to be very laid back. With things reopening and the events we’re attending happening, I’m sure he gets that we will be busy.

      2. R*

        I was going to say, as a Millennial introvert who lived in NYC for a while, canceling plans with someone is the greatest gift you can give them. This might work in your favor.

    5. Filosofickle*

      Nah, you’re fine. It’s totally reasonable to say “it turns out my family has booked every second of this trip for family activities, and I won’t be able to get away and meet you after all”. It’s a big family trip. You’re focusing on what matters. Have fun!

      1. hmmm*

        It was nice reconnecting via email. My immediate family has said we would like to go back to the geographic area soon. So I hope it’s something we can meet up again another time.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        ^This. Your family has overbooked you.
        (Which reminds me, I’ve been told to look up the old movie “If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium”… you might want to show your $FamilyCruiseDirector before you are all committed to a schedule with zero down-time.)

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, this.

          You do you, but I feel exhausted just reading about a trip that’s so jam-packed with activities that there’s no time to wing it.

          I’ve been on a trip like this in my twenties, although I’ll say it was with friends rather than family. We spent so much time rushing from one place to another that I had no time to actually enjoy any of it. On the last two days of the trip, I dropped out of everything except the meals, and I was barely on speaking terms with our “tour director” friend on the flight back.

          I guess I’m lucky in that we have long vacations here, because the following week I was still off work, and I spent it recovering from that trip.

          But yeah, James should understand if you cancel plans early enough for him to plan something else instead.

    6. Teapot Repair Technician*

      I doubt James would be disappointed to discover that “meeting for drinks” means a 45-minute hangout near your hotel (or in the hotel lobby) with just you and not your entire family. That what’s happened most times I’ve agreed to meetup with an old acquaintance traveling through town.

      1. hmmm*

        The resort we’re staying at has easy transportation to things within and outside of the resort. Part of James’ job’s perks is he has free access to all these areas and even uses them a lot socially. While as a tourist this is an easy mode of transportation, I am not sure of how it is for someone driving. I’d hate to drag James out for 30 minutes if it turns into a whole evening for him if he drives. He said he does not want to meet at the hotel bar as that is where he conducts a lot of business for the resort

        1. I should really pick a name*

          Let him decide if he’s okay with that or not. Just make it clear that you won’t be offended if he doesn’t want to make the trip for a short visit.

    7. Purple Cat*

      If I was James I wouldn’t be expecting to meet with you and your family, I would just be expecting “you”.
      I also would never be offended if someone couldn’t carve out time of their busy family vacation to make it after all.
      A quick coffee or very specifically “one drink” before you go off to dinner reservations is also perfectly fine. Someone “famous” recently commented on how specific end times for social events has made them MORE social because they’re not worried about extracting themselves. So James might really appreciate a hard stop time.

      1. hmmm*

        James is aware he is meeting my immediate family – not the whole family reunion. I specifically mentioned in my email that we had time for one drink.

      1. hmmm*

        I think I got caught up in the moment of having my first vacation in 3 years. James seems to have lost touch with our old coworkers so he seemed to be excited when I touched base.

    8. RagingADHD*

      You are not burning a bridge. You’re overthinking it.

      “James, I’m so sorry, but with all the extended family on this trip, my schedule has spiraled out of control. Can I take a raincheck on drinks? We’ll probably be in town again sooner than later without the whole crew, let’s try again then.”

      You sound really overstressed about this trip, because the real-world stakes on this are nonexistent. I hope you can relax and enjoy your vacation!

      1. hmmm*

        Trust me when I say this is a much needed vacation. The company James works for is very well known and very hard to make connections with. Due to how the company is structured geographically I really don’t have any reason to need this connection, it would be nice to keep this connection in mind. As for socially, I feel bad canceling on someone when we are so close and our only obligations are ultra fun things.

        1. Lily Rowan*

          Like others have said, give him notice and it’s no big deal at all. AND you’ve rekindled this nice association for him — he’ll remember that you wanted to get together, which is a net positive, I’d say.

    9. Momma Bear*

      I have had friends I’ve known for 20 years not be able to catch up with me when I was in their area. If it comes up, reiterate simply that it’s a family trip and the schedule is set by the group. IF there is an opportunity, perhaps reach out last-minute, but otherwise don’t sweat it, IMO. Or just be upfront, “I am sorry, but the schedule with the family is so tight I can only catch up for a short drink. Does that work for you?” Let him decide yes/no.

      If you’ll be back in the near future, cite that. “I can’t this time, but we’ll probably be back in November.”

    10. Pyjamas*

      I’ll be the contrarian and say that while James will understand, you are putting a prebooked reservation ahead of a living breathing person. You are saying that the cost of cancelling one of these events is too great to waste. What if you all get tired or the weather is bad on one of the days? Will you drag the family to whatever it is you booked bc you had a reservation?

      Alternatively, can you duck out of a family event and have a 1-1 with James? Are you so joined at the hip to your extended family that this is infeasible? Seems like you might appreciate a change to get away from the crowd.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, I agree. If you’re with your family for 10 days, surely they can do without you for an hour or so while you catch up with James?

        In James’s shoes, I couldn’t care less about meeting your family, either immediate or extended. If you’re my friend, you’re the person I’d want to meet.

    11. Delta Delta*

      First, this trip sounds like it’s not going to be a vacation at all, with everything so tightly scheduled with a entire extended family. Second, you reached out to a friend to catch up, and it actually does seem flaky to back out. It’s not clear why your whole family would have to meet up with a work friend from 15 years ago. Perhaps we don’t have all the details but it seems like you could explain to the family that you’re seeing an old coworker and you’ll need an hour one evening to do that.

  2. Snorlax*

    I’m giving notice at my job on Monday. I’ve decided to retire. I will offer to stay until the end of October if they want me to. I feel horrible guilt for leaving, because we are terribly busy all the time and this will put a bigger burden on my coworkers. Our team is poorly managed so we are chronically understaffed and overworked. I feel like I’m sort of screwing over my colleagues, but I don’t want to stay anymore. What is the best way for me to mitigate my guilt?

    1. Msnotmrs*

      Honestly, when I’ve been in your position, the guilt sort of washed away from me as I went through the notice period. I started to see it as a “them” problem rather than an “us” problem, and started to gear up to being outside the situation. I don’t know if I DID anything to make that happen, per se, it just kind of worked itself out.

      1. Windchime*

        I think that, when we give notice, we start to kind of detach and look forward to the next stage. It’s almost like we have the ability to see things more clearly from the outside instead of as an insider. I was off yesterday but logged into an “important announcement” kind of meeting and during the whole thing I was, “Meh. I’m gone in 2 weeks.” I’m just……..done.

    2. foolofgrace*

      Well, you could keep in mind that if they needed to let you go for some reason, they wouldn’t hesitate. Your manager might feel a modicum of guilt but the company would do what is best for the company, and you should do what’s best for you.

    3. Panicked*

      The best advice I ever received was that the company was there before you and will be there after you. If it’s not, that is a fault on them, not on you. No one is forcing your coworkers to stay there and and decent person will want what’s best for you. Retire, enjoy it, and don’t think twice!

    4. Liz*

      While its normal to feel guilty, the more important thing is you have to worry about YOU. If retiring is what will make YOU happy, less stressed, etc etc etc., then go ahead and do it. They’ll manage; everyone generally does. And once you go, its not your problem how they get things done.

    5. Sleet Feet*

      A mints notice is generous. No guilt. They will find someone. If they don’t capitalize on your long notice and end up short handed that’s a then problem.

    6. ThatGirl*

      It’s business, not personal. Your coworkers are free to look for new jobs or retire too, and would you fault them if they did?

    7. Dittany*

      You’re not screwing over your colleagues. Whoever is responsible for making your team “poorly managed so we are chronically understaffed and overworked” is screwing over your colleagues. You’re not responsible for giving your organization CPR for the rest of your life.

      1. Aquawoman*

        This. If this was well managed, your retirement would not affect them in the way you’re concerned about.
        This is your life you’re talking about, and not retiring would be giving up your time to enable your employer to continue to mistreat people.

      2. Windchime*

        Giving the organization CPR is such a great way to put this. It shouldn’t be necessary to perform heroics day in and day out at your job; that is why the nurses and other medical staff are so horribly burned out right now. Because it’s way, way too much for people to do and unless you are literally saving lives, there is no need to be chronically understaffed and over-worked. We are sold a bill of goods, at least in the US, that we should put our jobs before everything else and work ourselves to the bone. There is more to life than work and I intend to go live it.

    8. Dust Bunny*

      It’s just . . . not your problem.

      You can’t fix this, so there is no use in feeling guilty about it. You’ve done your work there.

    9. 3DogNight*

      The guilt is normal. It’s probably part of the grieving process you’re going through. Work is almost 1/3 of our lives. You spend a lot of time with the people you work with, and you’re going to miss some of them.
      I would say, to combat the grief, think about a time when someone left unexpectedly. How long did it take your company to replace them or their work? Think about last time you took a REAL vacation (a week or more). How much work was there when you got back? Or was most of it taken care of? My point is, they can handle it. Your co-workers will have a bit more work until you’re replaced, but they’ll be okay.
      Good luck on the retirement! I hope you have some amazing plans!

      1. Annie Moose*

        Was going to say the same thing! Grief and guilt are completely normal emotions to feel, especially when you’ve been at a place a long time and know people well. One chapter in your life is closing, it’s expected that you’ll feel a little adrift, a little sad, a little bit of questioning what would happen if you made a different decision. Over time, these feelings will fade as you get into the next chapter of life.

        I hope you enjoy your retirement!

      2. Been There Seen That*

        I really like this 3Dog. Work is such a huge part of life. I never thought about leaving it in a grieving processing sort of way, but it makes so much sense to me.

    10. Dolly was Right*

      I think you may feel a shift once you put your notice in. I remember I felt similar and then when I put my notice in, it really shocked me how quickly everyone moved on to ‘how to manage without Dolly’. I became invisible to some of the people I supported on a daily basis. I’m not sure what your experience will be but that

      Also consider this- I don’t know what type of job you have or your company but I think you could be doing your colleagues a favor. I am a firm believer that companies need to reap what they sow when they overwork employees and when you stay on to help your colleagues, you’re only reinforcing to the company that what they are doing is OK. Also- don’t be surprised if you notice some colleagues following suite. It hits you VERY quickly when you realize how much your work BFF was the only thing keeping you motivated and your coworkers might realize it’s best for them to jump ship as well. My boss recently left my last job (there was a decent amount of turnover in the position before) and half of my team has exited in the following 3 months.

      1. ProducerNYC*

        Yes to this! I just left a job of 13 years, and once the shock of my leaving (I think they thought I’d be there forever) lifted after a few days, it was ‘let’s fill this position.’ Now it feels almost as if I was never there. Has really got me thinking about how much of ourselves we pour into a job that will get filled in a SECOND under any circumstance. I hope you have an amazing retirement, Snorlax!!!

    11. Cold Fish*

      If you are in the office…. cookies? I am very much in the “baked goods make bad news better” philosophy of life camp. But as everyone is saying, you deserve to retire. Chronically overworking and understaffing the company are not on you.

    12. Teapot Repair Technician*

      What is the best way for me to mitigate my guilt?

      Don’t offer to stay until the end of October. When I resigned my last job I felt guilty, and my guilt persisted throughout the notice period. But the moment I walked out the door for the last time it magically disappeared.

    13. quill*

      Excess stress tends to manifest as guilt when combined with leaving people or a project you care about. If you weren’t already stressed out, you might already be ready to kick back and say that your team has a bright future – on their own.

    14. R O U S*

      I want to encourage you in two ways, as someone who once left a job like that. 1 — I realized that once I was ready to go, I wasn’t as effective at supporting my coworkers or serving our (unbearable) clients as I had been even 6 months prior. Leaving and being replaced was good for me and for others. And 2— my departure from the role was healthy feedback for the organization : they realized it wasn’t a role that could be done by one person. Years later, they have 3 people splitting the job duties between them. It’s still pretty dysfunctional there from what I’ve heard, but the role turnover was unavoidable feedback, and now at least 70% of the job duties are completed each week. Put yourself first obviously, but realize that your departure has the potential to be really good at this time. Maybe you’ll find retirement is right for you, maybe you’ll pick up part time work in a few months, but this organization is no longer a match.

    15. Nicki Name*

      Read the last few paragraphs of this:

      https://issendai.com/psychology/sick-systems.html

      Once you’re out the door, you’ll be able to see that it isn’t you making your coworkers lives miserable. It’s the horrible company with horrible management. You are the only person you can save. Don’t feel guilt about saving yourself.

      Signed, someone who has felt similar guilt about leaving a terrible, understaffed job.

      1. NoLongerYoung*

        Fabulous link. It will be shared with some friends who are still at my (recently departed) old department. So true, so very true….

    16. Belle of the Midwest*

      My daughter’s former workplace had a bunch of people leave in the spring and she started looking for work shortly after her immediate supervisor gave notice. she was quiet until she got another job and put in her notice. She actually had the president of the company try to counter-offer and get her to stay but she knew better than to do that. sometimes it takes one person heading for the exit to give the rest of the crew the courage to follow suit. don’t look back.

    17. London Calling*

      Managing crises is what managers are for. You are doing what’s best for you. You don’t want to stay anymore. All you can do is document your processes as much as you can, train a replacement to the best of your ability and hand over a job that’s in as good a state as you can.

    18. Not So NewReader*

      1) Name a good time in the past that would have been better or even ideal for quitting. (I bet there isn’t one.)

      2)They have had [insert time frame] to correct the overworked and understaffed problem and they chose not to.
      People retiring is not a new thing that just starting happening in our society yesterday. We have all heard of the idea of retirement and companies all know they need to plan what to do if someone retires.

      3) Feeling bad for your coworkers is not the same as feeling bad for the company. You can give well-wishes to individuals and even express regret to individuals.

      4) Feel guilty and retire anyway. If you stay on you still will not fix all that is wrong there.

      5) Remember that retirement is a moment. Life continues after that. Start planning now how you will fill your days in your retirement.

    19. R*

      Go away for a day or two after you leave. I guarantee the moment you’re on a beach drinking something out of a coconut the guilt will reside, and if it doesn’t, then there are also drinks that come in pineapples.

    20. Workerbee*

      Just offer to stay whatever normal notice period it is, not beyond. You can still feel all the feels! You can stay in touch with colleagues! But put all the guilt where it belongs: On the company, on bad management, etc. Who knows, you may be the catalyst for others to take their own work lives back.

    21. Windchime*

      I gave my notice months ago, intending to retire in June. They asked me to stay on part-time to help finish up a project that I have the most knowledge about, so I agreed to stay on until the end of Sept. The project has been a bust because the data person I need to partner with was unavailable during most of my extension.

      I’m done. They asked me to stay another couple of months, but I’m done. Burned out and I just don’t want to work anymore. I realized that this project shouldn’t be a bigger priority for me than it is for the organization. If they can’t free up the data guy, then there is no point in me staying. Also, I’ve only worked here 5 years. They did just fine before I got there and they will be fine after I leave.

      Don’t feel guilty. This is business. We have one life and there is no point spending it doing something you don’t want to do in a job you don’t like. You’re not screwing over your colleagues; management is screwing them over by refusing to staff appropriately. Value your life and your time; if leaving is what you want to do, then you can leave and not feel guilty about it.

    22. Momma Bear*

      You put in your time and it’s all business. Your coworkers have the option to leave or stay after your departure. You do what you need to do for yourself. Setting yourself on fire to keep others warm is not really great for anyone in the long run. ENJOY your retirement!

    23. Night Vale Seems Good By Comparison*

      I haven’t seen anyone else mention this, so: when other co-workers have left (I’m sure there’s been some with such a poorly managed company), did you view them as “abandoning/betraying” you personally, or were you happy for them? Give yourself the same grace you give your colleagues, and realize they will do the same for you. None of you are responsible for poor management.

      Offer to be a reference for co-workers who may also want to escape! And don’t agree to stay longer than you want to. A healthy company would use that notice period wisely, but what will your company do? Pile on my work and make no attempt to hire a replacement probably.

    24. Sara without an H*

      Our team is poorly managed so we are chronically understaffed and overworked. I feel like I’m sort of screwing over my colleagues, but I don’t want to stay anymore.

      Snorlax, someone is definitely screwing over your team, but it isn’t you. To paraphrase Alison, your organization’s management sucks and isn’t going to change.

      I retired at the end of May. I made the decision the previous summer when campus administration (I worked in higher ed) decreed that everybody had to come back to campus for fall term. I masked up and started plotting my exit.

      Instead of “guilt,” think of what you’re feeling as “mourning.” You had a certain role in your organization and developed relationships with your colleagues. The work sounds hard and thankless, but there were probably some satisfactions involved in it, right? Rather than guilt, think of the dislocation you feel now as a natural mourning process for your old role and life.

      You’ve given your employers generous notice. Concentrate on documenting your work as well as you can and brief a colleague or two about where and how you’re leaving any uncompleted projects. (Do NOT let your management talk you into working king hell overtime during your notice period.)

      And take some time to start thinking about how you’ll spend your time in retirement. For the first time in your life, you’ll be in control of your own schedule. This can be both exciting and scary.

    25. Who Plays Backgammon?*

      I say this with all kindness. Your remarks remind me of my predecessor in a previous job. She had a hard time letting go after decades on the job, and (I’m not saying this is you, but it sure was her) accepting that somebody else could come in and do the job, and the workplace would carry on. More than a year after she “retired” she was talking about coming back to volunteer on a big periodic project. Believe me, it went just fine without her.

      Also, now working with a lot of retirees, I see people whose lives were so wrapped up in work that when they retire they don’t know what to do with themselves and don’t take any steps to find purposeful, enjoyable new things to do.

      Relax, tie up loose ends, trust your coworkers and successor to take the reins. Enjoy your retirement. You are NOT screwing someone over by taking the next step in your life.

  3. foolofgrace*

    If you’re a state employee (U.S.) and you’re going for a different state job, does anyone know if they have to consider you over someone who doesn’t work for the state? Someone told me this was the case.

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

      I think in most cases they still have to post the position and allow others from outside the organization to apply. I think it really depends on your organization and state regulations on this. It might depend on the role. If its a director role or higher leadership then they probably need to open to everyone. If it’s just an admin moving from one department to another, probably not. (I work at a state university but academia is probably different if your in a state agency).

    2. AnonymooseToday*

      I’ve heard/understand for us (state govt), that it helps. I’ve seen that they tend to get interviewed even if they are a little less qualified, and if the manager hires someone outside state employment when there’s an internal candidate I think they have to word the HR hiring decision/justification in a way that makes it clear why they aren’t hiring the internal candidate. But then again I applied to another agency job with several ppl I’ve worked with before and was in line with my specialized career path and didn’t get an interview. So probably pretty much depends on the agency/division unspoken rules and the hiring manager. I think at the very least it will get you through the HR screening.

    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      I think it depends on the state. Where I live, they have to prove that they considered everyone fully & didn’t play favorites. On the other hand, if you work for the state, you can get training on creating resumes for state jobs. (They are very different than most.)

    4. Annika Hansen*

      Not in my state. It used to be that if you were a state employee who had a job that had been eliminated/going to be eliminated and your job was similar that you would get preferential treatment. They no longer do that. However, I think every state has different employment rules.

    5. DarthVelma*

      I am a state employee and I’ve done a ton of hiring – this is certainly not true in the state agencies I’ve worked for (3 agencies in 2 states).

      1. retired2*

        Same here…you may be looking at veteran’s preference or something like that, but not having worked in aother agency, no matter where

    6. Don't Touch My Snacks*

      I think it might depend on stat and situation. I recently transferred from one state job to another and due to my career status I was considered a preferential hire. I still had to put in a full application, be qualified, and interview. It was not guaranteed I would get the position. This was in North Carolina.

    7. Rusty Shackelford*

      I’m sure some states offer preferential treatment in hiring to current employees, but definitely not all of them.

    8. Joielle*

      Not formally, at least in my state. But at least for the positions I’ve hired, we do like to see people with a demonstrated commitment to public service, so prior work for the state could help you get a leg up.

      It’s basically because we want people who understand that the work can be a bit thankless, you’re at the whim of the legislature, the public sometimes hates you, the pay is a bit less than in the private sector, etc. For me, the benefits more than outweigh the drawbacks, but we’ve had people come over from the private sector without really thinking about those differences, and left again in short order.

    9. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      This is highly dependent on the bargaining unit of both jobs, to start with – In many cases, the CBA prioritizes lateral transfers that are within the same bargaining unit, but affords no special consideration to state employees who are part of other bargaining units. So, administrative personnel across a dozen agencies might have priority, but a corrections officer who is part of a different union wouldn’t receive that same consideration.

      The good news is that the CBAs of each bargaining unit are matters of public record, and should be posted with the department of administration for your given state, if you want to find out specifically what it says.

      The second thing that can have a huge impact is whether the position is a civil service exam position or not, and which civil service exam it requires you to have taken – many states have specific regulations about that how previous state positions and civil service exams will weight your score when you are being considered for an opening.

    10. too many too soon*

      In my state it depends on which union covers the classification. Sometimes there are internal postings for 7 days just for union members to apply if qualified. If the candidate meets the required quals they are generally hired without interviewing anyone else.

    11. Esmeralda*

      It depends. Sorry, but every state is different, and even within a single state, it may not be the same for different kinds of positions. Or for the same job at different times or in different departments or agencies.

      I’d just figure it could happen and then not worry about it, since it’s not something you have the least bit of control over.

    12. Neighborhood Catistician*

      Depends on the state.

      Here, the first round of hiring is only open to folks who already work for the state. If the hiring manager doesn’t approve of any of the internal candidates, then it gets posted publicly for external candidates. State employees can still apply in the second round, but there is no preference given over external candidates.

    13. Prefer my pets*

      It depends on the state. There are some that treat it like the federal govt where there are actually 2 different application pools for each vacancy…one open only to current employees & one to anyone, I know at least one state who adds preference points to current employees, and some that there is no preference (beyond that you may already be familiar with specific programs or processes). The relevant state employment website should have the information.

    14. Anon Because Potentially Identifying Info*

      I’m sure this varies across states significantly, so I can only speak to my state (Pennsylvania). In my state, it’s generally a decision made about posting the position. When you as a hiring manager post a position, you can set certain parameters on it around who can apply. Some jobs are posted for the public. Some jobs are posted only for state employees (it’s faster than public postings so people often go with this if they think they can get someone internal). Some jobs get very specific, down to the Department Level (generally done if they except a large pool of applicants and want to limit it somehow) or even Bureau Level (usually means they know who they want to hire).

      Once the job is posted, we have to interview everyone or no one in a certain group (for example all the promotions, all the lateral transfers, all the external candidates, all the reinstatement candidates). It’s not atypical for the hiring panel to just pick one of the candidate group types, because there is no other way to narrow down the pool and who has time for interviewing 50+ people for some positions. I hate that, because on occasion there is one potentially good external candidate for example, but they may not even get an interview because overall the external candidate pool is weak and if they don’t look truly exceptional, a hiring panel might not want to waste the time being forced to interview the 20 other external candidates just to interview the one potential good one if they think another candidate group has good potentials in it.

      Anyway, maybe more background then you wanted, but not always that much government specific stuff available, so always like to try to help where I can.

      1. Anon Because Potentially Identifying Info*

        Adding, because I didn’t answer directly enough, no we don’t have to consider internal hires over external for the vast majority of our positions. There may be some narrow union cases where that is the case, but not as a general rule and not for management positions.

  4. Alldogsarepuppies*

    I have my first interview in about 5 years! The last time I was applying for jobs I was straight out of college. Besides reading Alison’s guide, how else would you prepare

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

      Try to do a mock interview with a friend or family member where they ask you some typical interview questions. It really helps you practice

      1. Donkey Hotey*

        Seconding this, even if it’s only saying your answers out loud. We all like to “think” answers but having the words come out makes a huge difference.

      1. reject187*

        Yes, absolutely on STAR! It was one of the most helpful methods I used when interviewing in the spring.

        I’d also say, be confident about what you’re looking for in a position, and when/if you get rejected for some positions, be confident in the fact that you would not have been a great fit for them – nothing personal, just business. (That’s pretty much the only reason I kept applying for positions and now I’m loving where I’m at!)

    2. 3DogNight*

      Go find every award and accolade you’ve ever gotten. Remember how you got those! So many people forget about these, and it’s huge to your morale, and looks great on your resume.

    3. cathullu*

      I start a new job on Monday after a few months of job searching! I had interview notes for the behavioral questions. It had some info on projects and situations that I thought might be useful for those kinds of questions. I didn’t really use it during interviews as it turned out, but it was really helpful in mental prep and in organizing my thoughts. I also added to those notes, where appropriate, after interviews. You may end up doing a fair number, so I found this to be a great way to iterate and improve each time. Good luck!

    4. Nannerdoodle*

      Practice interview questions with an actual person. You may have all the information you want to say in your head, but sometimes the delivery sounds weird or unclear. It’s useful to actually say it all.
      Also, make sure all your interview clothes still fit and work for how you want to portray yourself. Some people’s clothing all fits exactly the same after 5 years, and for other people it totally doesn’t. That’s not something you want to find out morning of.

    5. Littorally*

      Look up some common interview questions online, especially the “tell me about a time when….” questions, and give yourself the time sitting and thinking through your career to dredge up those good examples.

    6. cubone*

      Agree with the commenters about STAR. Having been the interviewer dozens of times, the biggest difference between a good and less good answer is specificity, especially for behavioral questions (“tell me about a time when”). You don’t want to get bogged down by details, but vague stuff like “I resolved disagreements with my colleagues using good communication skills” is basically like saying nothing.

      My prep practice now is three-fold:
      1) review the posting line by line and think of specific examples of things I have done similar to each point (and try to think of them in STAR method)
      2) practice some general behavioral type questions, how would you deal with conflict, how would you deal with a disagreement, etc. Again, specific examples in STAR
      3) practice answers to what I think of as basic “admin” questions: why did you leave your last job, where do you see yourself in 5 years, what are you strengths/weaknesses, what are your salary expectations, why do you want to work here.

      1. cubone*

        ++++1. I reminded my partner of this interviewing for a job and when they asked why he was interested in the company, he brought up why he appreciates the charities and causes they’ve chosen to donate to. His interviewer was super impressed and specifically said “oh so you actually read the whole website and not just the homepage, you’d be surprised how many candidates don’t know more than our name” (he got the job, btw).

    7. MeetingLady*

      +1 on practicing your answers OUT LOUD. It just changes things, and it makes things go so much more smoothly when I can work out some phrasing and segue options in advance. Then when I’m nervous in the interview I can kind of “replay” what I thought went well in the practice, rather than trying to make whole new sentences in the moment.

    8. AndersonDarling*

      When interviewing, it’s okay to ask for clarification if you don’t completely understand the question. And it’s a good move to ask “Did I completely answer your question? Or is there something else you would like me to elaborate on?” in cases where the questions are complex or you feel like you may have veered off course.
      I hate to say it, but you only have one shot to answer the interviewer’s questions. May as well confirm that you provided the information the interviewer is looking for, and it also shows that you are dedicated to good communication.
      Good luck!

    9. RagingADHD*

      I have not read Alison’s guide, but I like to ask a lot of questions about the job. It keeps me in the mindset of “we are BOTH trying to find a good fit,” which helps to show up in a relaxed & confident way.

      l make it a practice to research the company and/or the role or the specific team as thoroughly as possible. That includes:

      – Glassdoor reviews and whether or how any of the specific comments might apply to this role.

      -Market rate for the salary range & bennies.

      -What the company says publicly about their culture, values, and long-term plans.

      -How much any press coverage, interviews, or comments from current & former employees match those statements.

      -Whether there have been any big changes recently like merger, acquisition, or leadership, or if they’re anticipated.

      -Projects they are involved with, especially if it’s the kind of thing you might work on in some way.

      I also bring notes on general questions, like why the role is open, what the manager’s style is like, etc.

      Good luck!

    10. Probably carrying my cat in a baby sling*

      I was in the same boat a few weeks ago, first interviews in about 8 years. I spent a LONG time prepping the day before. like 6 hours? I started with a blank google doc, filled in what I knew about the company, why I was a good fit for the position/why I liked the company, went over my full job experience, how my skills translate to the job description, plus all the questions from Allison’s book.

      And then practiced, out loud. The hardest part is actually getting started! It’s not going to suddenly come to you. You’ll feel ridiculous at first, but just start talking to yourself (shut the door if you can, privacy is nice). I turned on a zoom meeting, and casually started speaking the questions/answers out loud, on camera (but not recording). I have ADHD, and my thoughts are always a whirl, but forcing myself to speak things out loud, on camera, made me slow down, listen to myself, and finish my sentence before moving on to my next thought. It also helped me frame my thoughts in natural speaking way — the most eye-opening part was that it helped me get a better sense of my strengths and how best to frame them (much more than writing). I repeated the questions/answers until I wasn’t stumbling quite as much.

      Then I recorded myself answering the questions; I made myself answer as though someone else was actually listening (no stopping mid-sentence or starting over. Just keep going, even if you don’t like the way you said something. Self-correct, and fix it.). Then I watched the recording and noted what worked and what didn’t. I might have recorded myself a second time, if I wanted to try again. And last, I put on my interview outfit and my partner pretended to be my interviewer; she sat on her laptop in a different room, joined my zoom meeting, and she picked random questions to ask. And she made sure we didn’t break character :) It was incredibly helpful.

      All the practice really paid off in all of the interviews — I didn’t have to make things up on the spot because I had already practiced so many variations of the ways of speaking on the topic. I’m so so so glad I prepped.

      (I also got the job!!)

  5. specialk*

    I’m seething and I want to know if I’m overreacting. We moved back full time into the office two weeks ago. During COVID, the company was running out of warehouse space at our location and rented a new facility for us, but the offices are now just a concrete box with no windows, no natural light and forced ventilation. With cubicles. I am an engineer with 25 years experience, and I have never bought into the prestigious corner-office rat race. During a Management Training class exercise a few years ago, I rated having a nice office at $5 per day. Not a significant factor – I don’t really care about the cubicles. But anyway, I wrote to the HR manager, located in another state, who had just visited and touted her “Contact me anytime” policy. I told her that being stuck in the box under harsh fluorescent lights all day was a bit oppressive and would be even worse in the coming winter, when it would be dark when we arrived at work, and dark when we left for home. I expressed dismay that my office worked well for 18 months remotely, but now it’s back full time in the office with no flexibility.
    She replied apologizing that I was having trouble – but that she personally found returning to the office incredibly fulfilling and productive, and she found the value in working at the office with her colleagues “immeasurable”.
    Am I wrong in thinking that this is horribly tone deaf? Commiserate and tell me there is nothing to be done, or even lie to me and tell me management was considering options, but don’t patronize me. I’m on good terms with her boss, the director, so I’m considering writing back, CCing him and my boss, also located out of state, and telling her how happy I am that she is finding returning to the office so wonderful and fulfilling, especially since I am sure her office in the Corporate Center is bright and airy with a great view. OF COURSE she should disregard MY silly concerns and have a great weekend. Too much?

    1. Snorlax*

      I don’t blame you for being annoyed with her reply, but sending back a snarky response isn’t going to help you in any way. It might feel good in the moment but will not give anyone who reads it a good impression of you, even if you have a good relationship with them now.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      . . . send her a picture of your workspace and offer to trade?

      Seriously, though, I would assume this woman hasn’t given any consideration to the difference in working environments and would sing a very different tune if she were parked in a warehouse.

    3. Lady Ann*

      Your proposed response is understandable, but definitely too much. I think it would be reasonable, however, to reply and state that you’re confused because you’re not sure what *her* experience returning to the office has to do with the concerns you brought up in your message.

      1. Green Beans*

        Oh, I like this. Maybe even something like, “I understand there are a variety of experiences. I want to focus on mine.”

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      It is an out-of-touch response, but don’t reply like that! It’s not clear from your post what your goal was beyond expressing a complaint – did you ask to return to remote work?

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          Ugh that’s really annoying. I agree with Sleet Feet below that acting as if she misunderstood and repeating the specific issues and proposed solution would be the best option. The more you can focus on actionable changes and their work impact, the less she can justify responding with her feelings.

    5. Jennifer*

      Yeah, you’d think an HR person would better understand how to handle an upset employee rather than dismissing your concern because it doesn’t affect them.

      I would write back cc’ing your boss only, not going over the HR person’s head. You might even write something like “Your reply to me implies you are dismissing my concern because you aren’t experiencing the same thing I am.”

      And definitely explain how this affects your work (if you haven’t already) – which is why you cc your boss – something like “I’m finding it difficult to focus for more than 15 minutes without a source of natural light. I’d like to talk about how we can come up with a solution so I can be as productive as possible.” or similar.

      1. Green Beans*

        Honestly, our HR and several of our directors/leadership are very much on the “if you pretend it’s not a problem, it won’t be a problem” bandwagon. No matter how many times I say acknowledging and listening is half the battle, the first go-to is always, “well, how do we convince them that it’s actually not a problem?”

    6. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Invite her to visit your location. In the darkest week of the year.

      Also, buy a light box. At least you can get some better lighting in your cube. And put a big print on the wall.

    7. LizB*

      Yeah, your proposed response is too much. Hers was tone deaf and useless, but looping her boss in on a snarky reply won’t do anyone any good, and honestly could make you look like the unreasonable one.

      You would be justified, though, in responding just to her and pointing out that she didn’t actually address any of your concerns, so does she have any actual answers for you on how your working conditions can be improved? I also think that going to your boss with this problem, rather than starting with HR, might be a better route. You know your org best, but office space decisions aren’t really HR’s purview in a lot of organizations, so there may actually not be anything she can do. Your boss, who knows your work and has an interest in keeping you happy, maybe be better placed, or know the right strings to pull, to make some changes.

    8. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Yeah, too much. The snark, specifically.

      Her personality is not your personality. You have no idea how she’d feel if she was in your facility – just as happy as she is in corporate HQ, just as unhappy as you are, somewhere in between.

      She’s also new, so you don’t know if her use of the word “immeasurable” is because she usually speaks with what you probably consider hyperbole. I’m an engineer too; “immeasurable” has a connotation to us in our work that might not be the same for people with a different background.

      I’ve worked in secured DoD IT facilities. No windows, loud, raised floors, fluorescents, always too cold. So I sympathize.

    9. HigherEdAdminista*

      I do think that is too much. It is possible she is tone deaf and truly loves her return to the office, but it is also possible the uppers have told her that only positive comments about return to the office are allowed and that they want to squash any discussion of WFH. This is a good reminder that HR is there to meet the needs of employees, sure, but ultimately they are representing the organization.

      If you see any immediate safety concerns, like the ventilation, I would bring these up to your boss and see if there is anything to be done. I would also start keeping track of any negative impacts the environment is having on your work with a plan to ask about flexibility regarding working from home. I know it is frustrating to have to wait and I don’t agree with it, but I also know that when people bring up an issue before something has even been tried, there is often a reflex for people to dig in their heels. If you are able to show how it isn’t working, it may go better for you.

      A lot of management types think WFH = not working, which we all know isn’t true, but right now you are trying to suss out if this is the mentality there. If so, they are likely to be inflexible, especially if they are financially invested in this space. In which case it would be time to polish up the resume and head out.

    10. Sleet Feet*

      I think the problem is you buried the lead.

      I’d write back and say something like – sorry I wasn’t clear. I was actually talking about how our office has no windows or natural light and poor circulation. Is there a plan with facilities to move onto a more suitable space? If not will there be more flexibility for hybrid work from home in the future?

      1. MeetingLady*

        This nails it. Redirect to the facility itself. She’s probably getting a lot of pressure to positively message return to office. Redirect from the WFH issue to the problems with the facility.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Yep. And include pictures as mentioned above.

        I often use that “sorry I was not clear” to lead into restating the problem with an entirely different set of words. Don’t forget to restructure your sentences- do not say the exact same thing again as she does not hear that particular set of words.

      3. Velawciraptor*

        I’d do this and put a bit of an emphasis on COVID safety concerns–poor air circulation and ventilation could wind up being OSHA issues. To the extent you can put it in terms that sound like “corporate liability,” you should get a more in-touch response.

    11. cmcinnyc*

      Honestly, this isn’t an HR issue. HR exists to prevent the company from being sued. I would not bother replying to her or involving HR in any way going forward. Talk to you boss about options with the space, whether there’s anything Facilities can do to at least mitigate the crappiness of it.

    12. NACSACJACK*

      I agree with the “Dont make a snarky reply” but I encourage you to write back to her and explain to her that she missed your point – you’re stuck in a box with no windows and no natural light, essentially a factory, and even they have windows. I think she focused more on your comments about how good working remotely worked for you and your team and that’s what she’s turning a deaf ear to. She and Corporate want their employees back in the office. They dont like having their employees working remotely. HR is notorious about working together as a team, rather than individuals so they themselves are not a department to be compared with. I would forward her email to your boss, with whatever relationship you have with him, explaining “I think she missed the point.”

      Sidenote – I wonder if your state labor department has laws regarding working environments.

    13. darlingpants*

      I would also be pissed, but writing a passive aggressive email and cc-ing both her boss and your boss is kind of overreacting (IMHO). Either write back and reiterate what you’re actually asking for (its seems like flexibility to work from home? Or are you asking for better offices?), or accept that her “contact me anytime” policy is a PR stunt and not a real way to get things done.

    14. BRR*

      It’s a pretty bad answer and I would be incredibly irritated as well. You sound like you have a similar view on workspace as I do, you just need the bare minimum. So when office space doesn’t hit that, it’s really bad office space.

      Don’t reply ccing her boss and your boss. If this HR manager is someone who can do something about your situation, I would reply back with something positive about returning, ideally agreeing with something she mentioned (“I also have found it productive to being able to meet in person with colleagues”) and then make an ask for what you want again.

      If this is something that is beyond her control, it’s probably best to not reply (emotionally I want to tell you to reply and let her have it though).

    15. AnonEMoose*

      I agree with those saying a snarky response would be a bad idea, for all of the reasons listed, but oh, boy, am I with you on the feeling!

      I was recently forced back to the office a few days a week (thankfully not all week). With all this chirping about how valuable “in person collaboration” is. Never mind that I am NOT happy about being forced back on to public transit – I’m fully vaccinated, as is my spouse, but that’s not a guarantee. And never mind that crime is up near our offices, so I don’t feel super safe going back and forth, either. On top of that, no more assigned space, so every time I have to be there, I have to book a space in advance…and not every space has a computer. I don’t have a work laptop, and there is no way I’m hauling my personal laptop down there to do what I can do just as productively from home. Nor does our team need to do that much “in person collaboration.” Am I bitter about this?? Oh, just a bit. Nor has everyone been required to return in person yet, so I’m REALLY not clear on why my team, specifically, HAD TO GO BACK NOW.

    16. Mynona*

      If your goal is to work in a less depressing space, ask for accommodations to improve “productivity” instead of communicating your unhappiness to people who frankly don’t care. As others have said: ask for remote work options. Or ask for space accommodations: changes to lighting or equipment or furniture or paint color. Something to compensate for the unpleasantness that can’t be changed.

      It’s the old advice of presenting solutions not problems. But admittedly you are probably still going to be working in a cubicle in a bunker, which just sucks.

    17. Teapot Repair Technician*

      I agree her response was tone deaf, but your proposed response would even more tone deaf.

      “I told someone about something that was bothering me and they didn’t respond the way I wanted” is an age old problem.

      At the risk of sounding snarky myself, you need to find someone else to vent to, but first tell them what kind of response you want.

    18. specialk*

      OP: Thanks very much for your replies. I got her response late yesterday, and penned a VERY snarky reply, but I have learned the hard way over the years that there is very little to lose and possibly much to to gain by going home and sleeping on it before hitting SEND. Cooler head this morning, and then I realized it was Open Thread Friday, and I could ask AAM for advice. I got exactly what I needed here: some sympathy, some admonition, and some helpful suggestions. I’ll reply to her later today with some of the suggested verbiage, understand that Corporate is not considering WFH as an option at this time, and suggesting a light tube skylight or two to provide SOME natural light to the cube farm. Thanx again and have a great weekend!

      1. Observer*

        By the way, I was serious about asking for a change of light bulbs. There is something about fluorescent lights that is hard for a lot of people. LEDs don’t do that. And you can get them (at no extra cost) in a color temperature that’s much easier on the eye.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, this. After I’d been WFH for about 3 months I suddenly realized that I hadn’t been ending my workdays with a slight headache since I quit going to the office. Our offices were due to be remodeled before the pandemic struck, but those plans have been put on an indefinite hold. The pandemic will probably also mean at least a partial redesign. They were going to do an activity-based office with silent areas, collaborative areas, and work areas where you could use the phone and talk, but not necessarily collaborate, as well as 2-person “phone booths” to use for 1:1s, or when you’re presenting at a meeting. I suspect that the focus will shift to more collaborative areas and more employees will be expected to WFH when they need to focus all day. There’ll be some silent areas for those who don’t have the space to WFH effectively. My employer did a survey on employee preferences post-COVID, and about 10 percent said they’d prefer to WFH full time, 20 percent said they’d prefer to only come in for in-person meetings like development days and when their job required collaboration (that’s me), 30 percent said they’d prefer to come to the office 1 or 2 days a week, 30 percent said 3 or 4 days a week and 10 percent said they’d prefer to come to the office every day. It’s taken as a given that in most jobs at our employer it’s possible to WFH in exceptional circumstances, such as when you’re waiting for the plumber or have to take your kid to the dentist, etc.

    19. Purple Cat*

      I totally commiserate with you that her reply was awful and tone-deaf, but if you want productive change, you’re going to have to dial back the snark on your reply.

      What you *should* do is acknowledge the things you do like about being back in the office (white lie if you have to), but stress that the concern is with the actual office setup…. I can’t believe they’d stick *people* in windowless boxes and think that’s a good idea.

    20. Clearlier*

      Often HR has no power and their role is just to do what they’re told. It certainly sounds like that’s the case in this instance. It really doesn’t sound like it would be worth wasting your time with that HR person or their manager.

      Find out who can make changes.
      Work out what changes you want.
      Work out what problems they would solve.
      The go to the person who can make changes, outline the problems that this will cause from the point of view of the company (low morale, increased sickness absence etc.) and then a list of potential solutions. A different facility sounds like it would be ideal but even if they’re open to it that takes time so other suggestions such as regular wfh, building modifications, live plants, an outdoor break area – maybe even an outdoor meeting space are just a few of the things that could help out.

      It would probably be a good idea to take some soundings from colleagues beforehand to understand how widespread your views are and you may choose to do it as part of a group if the decision maker is unknown to you but I’ve often found that the personal touch can be most effective if you’re comfortable in that situation.

    21. RagingADHD*

      Yes, it’s too much.

      Her remarks were tone deaf, and yes there is a productive conversation to be had about this.

      But you aren’t prepared to have it until you chill out.

    22. Observer*

      I’m on good terms with her boss, the director, so I’m considering writing back, CCing him and my boss, also located out of state, and telling her how happy I am that she is finding returning to the office so wonderful and fulfilling, especially since I am sure her office in the Corporate Center is bright and airy with a great view. OF COURSE she should disregard MY silly concerns and have a great weekend. Too much?

      It depends on what you want to accomplish and what consequences you are willing to bear. But if you actually would like to see SOME change or even a bit of respect, I can’t think a worse response.

      Responding and cc’ing others can be a good move, but you need to skip the snark and sarcasm. Especially since there’s a good chance that she’s NOT in a gorgeous office.

      If you respond, say that you realize the return to the office works well for some people. But that does not change the fact that FOR YOUR SITUATION, things don’t look so good. And then ask for some specific changes. If you can’t get full time WFH back, what would help? Would changing the lighting (LEDs at a better color temperature can make a shocking difference) be useful? Would some schedule flexibility be helpful? Those are the only two that come to my mind, but I’d be willing to be that you could think of some other things that would makes things be less miserable. Or not – it could be that there really is not much that can be done here. In either case, this is going to be a much better approach.

      I’m not saying that you’re going to get a good response, but if you want to put on record that the HR rep was out of line, this is a much more effective way to do it.

    23. Girasol*

      I’m in the minority but I vote “not snarky.” Light matters. I watched 50 people in a cubicle area shouting back and forth at each other and the facilities guy as he complied with the work request to replace a fluorescent bulb. (It’s too bright. It is not. Is so! I get headaches in bright light! Well I can’t read with that bulb out! Studies say dim light is best. I’ll show you studies that say it’s not!) Another time I watched a manager tell his team, “We’re reorganizing the department and it’s going to make big changes: new managers for some of you, new responsibilities for all of you. I know this is hard to accept but Now, what are your thoughts and concerns?” And the first response was, “Whatever. Are we *finally* going to get moved to where there’s a window? I haven’t seen daylight in months!” I don’t see how it’s snarky to say that an office is a windowless box with harsh lighting if it is. HR should know better than to blow off lighting concerns. If they want you to be enthused about the value of working near your colleagues, they need to remediate the issues. You gave them an option – let you work at home – and if they disagree they can come up with other options. You would, if you are an un-snarky person, consider them with an open mind and cooperative intent.

    24. Daisy-dog*

      I haven’t read all of the replies, but Sleet Feet’s script for a reply is excellent. A few things:
      – I doubt she can actually do anything about this. Not because HR has no “power” (which varies based on the organization), but because facilities is usually under the Ops umbrella. I believe the person you should have gone to first is your supervisor or whoever is in charge at your site.
      – I wouldn’t count out that her boss doesn’t know about this. Return-to-office is some organizations is heavily discussed and her boss may want constant updates on feedback received.
      – Combined with my above statement, it’s possible that leadership is pushing a positive message on return-to-office. She did not pick up on the fact that you wanted an actionable response – she just is going with the type of script recommended. Maybe you were the 20th person that day to complain about being on site and she didn’t comprehend what was being asked.

  6. A Simple Narwhal*

    I’m hoping the OP from Monday’s post “ my employee sent me a ‘letter of intent’ to look for another job” gives an update! She had been posting in the comments (which I highly recommend checking out, they’re a real trip) and she mentioned she had a one-on-one with him Tuesday morning, I’m eager to hear how it went!

    1. Elizabeth West*

      OMG me too With every reply, it just got more hilariously bad. I’m dying to know how it turns out.

    2. OP*

      I was going to wait to have a more complete update, but this is where we are right now:

      Brief Intent-to-Flounce Update:

      1. We met. I said something like, “You sound very unhappy here, so if you give me a letter of resignation, we can have you move on in December.” Fergus’ response, “What if I want to stay through spring?” Me: “Well, you have that right, but you seem very unhappy with this program, so I think you should think hard about that decision.” I left it there for right now.
      2. Fergus filed an official grievance with the Faculty Senate, saying that the students are being mean to him, and I’m being insufficiently supportive. The Dean is fielding it. The Dean, “I think I know all I need to at this point.” He (the Dean) specifically chose both my boss and I to run what he considers to be his legacy program. I’m not worried.
      3. Fergus is being extremely polite to me and the students right now.
      4. Fergus claims that he officially changed the schedule before the start of classes. The students claim he did so after they started. I haven’t done the deep dive to figure out who is telling the truth here. He had definitely been in contact with students over the summer and told them something different than what ended up happening.
      5. These particular students WILL push hard for what they want. (Think: pre-meds who will argue for an hour for ½ point.) It takes a strong person to say “no”, mean it, hold the line, and NOT take it personally. Another adjunct is getting similar pressure, but is being calm, consistent, and predictable. The new adjunct having no issues, but instead is earning the respect of his students. I wish I could get Fergus to model his behavior on that adjunct
      6. Fergus keeps changing the modality and time of class meetings with virtually no warning to the students, e.g., “I’m going to this conference on Monday.” Me: “Doesn’t your class meet in-person then?”, Him: “Yeah, I’ll make it asynchronous that day. They’ll cope.” Nothing I say makes the least dent.
      7. Some people asked about the phrasing of the rude email. Heavily paraphrased, “I told you I cannot change the format of the class. You’re planning for another failure later in the semester, just as you did last semester. I repeat I will not change the class format again unless I receive a letter from you specifically directing me to change the format. By doing so you will be undermining my faculty rights and responsibilities, so you need to acknowledge this is your decision in a signed letter and take responsibility for students whose grade [sic] suffers.”
      8. Fergus met with the Dean (outcome of filing the complaint) and walked that back, too, saying to him that, actually, come to think of it, my boss and I are actually supportive. And he wants to stay through spring, or even longer! What?

      I’m sure there’s more to come.

        1. Deanna Troi*

          Thanks for the update! This sounds incredibly frustrating. Didn’t he originally ask if you preferred if he left in December or stayed through the end of the spring semester? I probably would have countered with that when he asked “what if I want to stay through spring?” He clearly thought that when the Dean received the original email, the Dean would jump all over you and tell you to do whatever you had to do to keep this guy. Now he’s try to walk back everything he said because he’s panicked that you might let him go. I’m also concerned that he is straight up ignoring you when you try to give him direction about things like not changing the class time and format at the last minute. If I recall correctly, you’re the Department Head. That kind of insubordination should not be tolerated by your institution. If your legal thinks that you can do it within the confines of the existing contract, I would terminate his contract in December.

          1. After 33 years ...*

            Dear OP:
            Agreed … Fortunately, it does sound as though the Dean has read the situation well and has your back. Students who want to argue “why did I only get 99% on this 2-mark assignment” can be very frustrating, but that is part of the territory, as you and your other adjunct know. A complaint from a faculty member that “students are mean to me” would not be well-received here at any level, and certainly would never make it to any of our Senate sub-committees. Changing class meetings on the fly (as your #6) certainly would be grounds for student grievances here – our (unionized) faculty simply are not permitted to do that.
            Fergus appears to be in the wrong profession, or at least in the wrong environment for his approach at your place. In our “different-but similar” situation, the faculty member was assigned elective courses for non-majors, where they could do the least harm.

  7. Anonymous for this*

    I’m at the end of a job search that’s also coming in the midst of an emotional move (we’re moving for my spouse’s new job after 13 years in our current community) and I just need some good vibes. I applied in July and have had four interviews. The other day the hiring manager reached out to ask if I had time to talk today and I really have no idea what that could mean. I’d really like this job and would be good at it, so I’m trying to have hope, but I don’t have much.

    1. RD*

      Sending you only the best vibes!!! <3 I just heard about a job offer last week, and I started interviewing for that role in July too! Also, moving is so hard especially when you like where you're leaving from.

    2. Murfle*

      I’m sure this will work out! I really doubt a hiring manager would call you back and ask about your availability for another conversation only to say to you “nope, we decided not to go with you” – that just seems needlessly cruel. In my experience, rejections tend to happen over email.

      1. Anonymous for this*

        I hope not! The only thing I can think is that it could be because it’s been such a long (though not arduous—no assignments, etc) process that they feel like they owe a phone rejection instead of an email.

    3. Lunch Ghost*

      I hope it’s good news!

      I’m going to be in that position next year (less time in our current location though) and am already stressed about the job search even though I’m sure it’s too early to look.

  8. PM*

    How does everyone handle performance appraisals of their boss?

    I’ve never worked somewhere where I had to do one. I think my boss is mostly useless and don’t trust the feedback will matter. I need to list positive and negatives. Should I just come up with some generic nonsense?

    1. Nannerdoodle*

      Do you trust that your feedback will be kept anonymous or no? If you trust that it’ll be anonymous, you can work on finding actual positives and negatives, and give specific examples of why.

      If you don’t trust that it’ll be anonymous and that your boss would use it against you, then generic nonsense it is.

    2. Sleet Feet*

      If you don’t trust the feedback will matter the. I would skip it or write generic platitudes.

      Why risk blowback for no gain?

    3. R O U S*

      If this isn’t a context where you trust management or the process, go generic. And then pay close close attention to the outcomes of the process: did other people on your team submit more substantive responses? Was there real change? Was there blowback? Treat this year as a data-gathering exercise. It sounds like perhaps you don’t want to be working there next year, but if you are, you’ll be able to pull data from this experience.

      I work somewhere that I think is generally great & responsive, but I went totally neutral my first year with those things just to figure out the lay of the land, and it was valuable to me.

    4. AnonEMoose*

      I would go with generic nonsense. If you’re questioning whether the feedback would matter or be used against you, it seems like the safer option.

    5. Feral At This Point*

      Generic, positive nonsense for the win! Feedback is never private, no mater what they say and it will come back to bite you or your team. My boss, who is usually nice, got *slightly* negative feedback at the start of a 3 day strategic planning session a couple of yrs ago and sulked, kept demanding to know who said it, and made snarky comments the entire session. Not pleasant for anyone.

    6. Mockingjay*

      Address process, not personality. Find some innocuous thing to praise: “Appreciate how Boss always responds quickly to questions” (even if the answer’s always no). Then ask for some little thing within her purview to improve: “It would be helpful if we could set up a status meeting on Thursdays to review status of Project Critical.”

      Keep it short and sweet. Good luck.

      1. A Teacher*

        I once replied with “I have nothing constructive to add” and left it at that. Apparently a few of my coworkers did the same–we legit didn’t plan it. The levels above my boss cringed and addressed some issues that were obvious and then that boss was on a PIP for a bit before eventually being forced out.

    7. Clearlier*

      I know of one manager whose team were thoroughly fed up with her and who got together and agreed on the feedback that they were going to give to the survey. They all provided the same feedback and shortly afterwards she was no longer with the company. If that’s appropriate for your situation go for it but otherwise I’d be extremely cautious about putting your head above the parapet to criticise.

      Constructive suggestions can work well though e.g. “I value X’s feedback and it would be great if I could have regular 1:1’s” is a good way of trying to solve a problem where you never get time to talk to your manager.

    8. Recruited Recruiter*

      Go with generic if you don’t trust that it will truly be anonymous. I made the mistake a few years ago.

    9. The Real Persephone Mongoose*

      I get those a couple of times a year when we do our review process. I refuse to respond to them. The responses used to be just to the person’s manager who is supposed to aggregate the 360 feedback and speak to it in general as part of the discussion. That didn’t happen really ever. Not with my boss. Now, the comments are shared directly with both manager and employee so it’s an oh, hell NO when it comes to responding. I will not provide even vague feedback on them now. Not for anyone much less my boss. If you are required to respond, keep it vague using some of the wording others have provided.

    10. Been there, been burned by that*

      You don’t. At least not anywhere where it can have blow back. In my department, the person in overall charge demanded that IT trace where the feedback came from…and they did. Another time, the convened a committee to supposedly to make sure that particular thing didn’t happen. However, they put the most gossipy people on the committee so the admin got clues who said what. So, I write my feedback at home in long hand and then burn it. Even so, one of the committee members told me that he didn’t see any feedback that sounded like my voice. I just told him that it was too bad.

    11. MacGillicuddy*

      Describe things in observable terms, and only those behaviors that you actually observed. Use examples and be specific.
      One company where I worked required everybody to give reviews of their managers. Several of us reported to Hannah the Horrible (who thought she was the best boss in the world and that she could do our jobs better than we could).
      We (her reports) got together and decided we’d each list the few sort-of-good things HtH did. For the negatives, each of us listed only the things that we had personally seen, or our own interactions with HtH.

      It took each of us hours to write the review. Everybody was really specific.

    12. Juneybug*

      I had a new boss/job after military retirement and was asked to provide feedback for his 360 review. Spent hours on what important changes he could make to improve his leadership and word-smith the review in a gentle, encouraging manner. I had 20 years of leadership under my belt from the military and he was a brand new supervisor so yeah, there were things he could improve on.
      Few months later, asked him on how his review went for him to say he forgot about it and hadn’t read any of his feedback. A month later, asked again for him to tell me that his feedback was fine and nothing he was going to work on. Seriously?!!
      Next boss, same time (ignored the feedback until asked and then said no improvements were needed). Trust me that this brand new supervisor could also use improvement. So I no longer provide feedback. Got better things to do with my time/energy than manage up new bosses that do not want to change.

  9. Work Lunch*

    I have a sticky situation at work.

    My company has been hiring multiple VPs and EVPs in new invented positions over the past year. It’s caused a lot of disgruntlement in the lower ranks, where people are underpaid and raises do not meet COL. The company’s solution to being so top-heavy is to have skip-level meetings with the new VPs, where groups of 5-10 lower-level employees have a catered lunch with the VP of their department and discuss ideas about the company’s direction. (eye roll)

    I just got my invitation for this lunch, and it will probably fall near the end of my two week’s notice (my background check is taking forever because I attended college in the UK). I can’t decline the lunch without a good reason. Word will definitely get out about my leaving by the date of the lunch, and I’m afraid that I’ll become a target/dumping ground for people’s frustration.

    I’m frantically thinking of ideas…call in sick that day, try to push back my notice somehow, anything. Would appreciate brainstorming from this group.

    1. londonedit*

      Could you not say that since you’re leaving, you don’t think it’s appropriate to attend the lunch? That would seem like a fairly straightforward solution to me – there doesn’t seem to be much point in you going to a lunch that’s meant to be for current employees to discuss the company’s direction if you’re going to be leaving imminently. Some companies even have rules against soon-to-be-ex-employees attending things like that – I’ve worked for companies where I wasn’t allowed to attend editorial meetings during my month’s notice period because they didn’t want me to be part of discussions about their future publishing strategy, and I think that’s fair enough.

      1. Zephy*

        It sounds like they haven’t put in notice yet, they’re waiting for the background check to finish going through.

    2. J.B.*

      I skipped something similar because I had been at the emergency department with my daughter. It was much better to have skipped. Be sick, what will they do about it?

    3. Colette*

      If you’ve given your notice and are almost at the end, I would think it would be fairly easy to skip – just say “since I’m leaving Friday, I need to get everything wrapped up and won’t be able to attend”. What are they going to do, fire you?

      1. Work Lunch*

        Sorry I wasn’t clear, I’m still waiting on the background check clearing in order to give notice. So the timing is still a guessing game, but I think the info will be out by the time the lunch happens. Not 100% sure yet.

        1. Colette*

          I still think that if you’re in your notice period, you can blame that for skipping the meeting. Once you’ve quit, they have no leverage to make you go.

        2. R O U S*

          Say you’re going, and then if you do end up being able to resign & it’s in the notice period, decline for that reason. It sounds like a difficult environment but you don’t need to mind game it until you actually know you’re leaving in that exact time window

        3. I should really pick a name*

          Are you saying the info could be out before you’ve completed the background check?

          If that’s not the case, accept the invitation now, and if you give notice before the event, you can back out.

        4. Engineer Woman*

          Yep, I would also RSVP as a yes now. Once you do give notice, then update with a “I will now decline as I’m leaving shortly”

    4. Free Meerkats*

      Talk/email the VP and suggest that, since it’s the end of your notice period, you feel you’d be a distraction and take the focus of the meeting away from her and the intended purpose of the meeting. Simultaneous ego stroke and good business reason.

    5. Bayta Darrell*

      If you haven’t given notice by that point, can you just get caught up in some work? “Oh no, I was so focused on teapot painting that I totally didn’t realize what time it was!” Or even more general “oh no, I was thinking today was Thursday!”

    6. Rusty Shackelford*

      You don’t have a good reason to decline the lunch now, but if your leaving is public by the time lunch comes around, you’ll definitely have a good reason to decline.

    7. OtterB*

      For now, let yourself be scheduled for lunch the same way you would if you expected to continue working there. If your background check and confirmed offer at the other employer come through and you give notice before the lunch, at that point you can suggest to whoever is managing the lunch that given you’re leaving it doesn’t make sense to join the lunch. A catered lunch is not a big deal to back out of; it’s harder if it would be a big travel thing for some reason.

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

      So if I understand your situation is that you have applied and are waiting for the final offer to another company but you have not put in your notice so your coworkers and bosses don’t know that you will probably be leaving soon. It sounds like you have to respond to the invite now even though its some time in the future.

      If this is the situation then I would say go ahead and respond to the invite and say that you are attending the lunch. Then if you get the offer from the other company and you put in your notice you can ask if it would be appropriate yet to attend or if you should skip the lunch that day.

      Good luck !

    9. Cold Fish*

      If you don’t want to take up a spot for an employee who is staying. Could you make up a doctor’s appointment? Ask to be rescheduled for a later lunch. It might give you a little more time for that background check to go thru.

    10. Hiring Mgr*

      I’m confused as to why you would be a target for people’s frustration.. aren’t you just one of the peons along with them? Whatever issues people have how are they even remotely tied to you?

    11. Purple Cat*

      Accept the lunch for now and then decline if you’ve given your notice by the time the lunch actually happens.
      I don’t get the concern if you have given your notice though and attend anyway?
      If the other people are venting their complaints why would it be at YOU?

      Go to the lunch and if it comes up that you’re leaving, tactfully let the VP know why….

    12. NotRealAnonForThis*

      So…been there, done that, here’s what I did and what wound up happening:

      All hands quarterly meeting.
      It was literally held on the Wednesday of my last week.
      I RSVP’ed while in the middle of the “background check pending waiting game” that it sounds as though you’re in.

      When my offer came through and I gave my notice to my direct supervisor, I did ask his opinion on how to handle. He straight up wanted me at the all-hands meeting.

      It was fine as far as I was concerned…and the couple of people who’d attempted to make it awkward by pretending to be so so startled by my leaving, well, I returned the awkward in a way where they’d have to make it clear to everyone they knew they were the problem if they carried it further.

    13. Not So NewReader*

      Cutting right to the core- who is going to dump their frustration on you? And what do you think that will look like or sound like?
      I think worst case might be that you end up stuck at a table with someone talking your ear off while you try to eat.
      I would be very surprised that this person could carry on for very long as the group is small and one whinner probably won’t be able to dominate the conversation.

      You could say something like, “I think my actions telegraph my thoughts on this subject. Meanwhile, we are trying to have a meal, so let’s talk about something pleasant. It will help the digestion to talk about pleasant things.”

      If you have never redirected people to talking about something pleasant, it’s interesting. Some people cannot think of one pleasant thing to talk about… and so they stop talking.

    14. Jean*

      You’re overthinking it. Just RSVP yes for now and once you’ve given notice, tell them you had some appointment come up that day and don’t go. The other attendees can share your lunch portion and fight over your dessert.

    15. RagingADHD*

      Um, accept the lunch. If you wind up that it’s in your notice period, then bow out for obvious reasons.

      It’s not a blood oath that magically binds you to attend.

    16. Nesprin*

      I am almost comically prone to bluntness- my approach would be to go, and ask what the VP’s near term plans are and what they bring to the institution when COL adjustments aren’t in the budget.

    17. linger*

      Unless the other attendees are the specific reason you’re leaving, I’d actually attend, cheerfully go “Woot! FREE FOOD!!!” and deflect all attempts at serious communication. Consider the lunch part of your severance package :)

    18. PollyQ*

      If you’re really concerned that people will dump on you if you’re not there, then I would say go to the lunch regardless of whether you’ve given notice or how much longer you’ll be there. People will be less likely to do it right to your face, and there’s value in preserving your reputation, even from a job you’re leaving.

    19. allathian*

      I think you’re overthinking it.

      You could accept the invitation, and after handing in your notice ask either your direct manager or the VP, whichever makes more sense in your organization, if they still want you there or if it would make more sense for you to bow out.

      If you become the dumping ground for other people’s frustration, you could say something about looking forward to working for a less top-heavy organization. I suspect that once you hand in your notice, they’ll be happy for you to cancel your attendance at this lunch.

  10. Dolly was Right*

    My company of 5000+ employees has a system where every week you can optionally complete a survey where you enter your work life balance and can write in specific issues you’re having. HR has the results but keeps them anonymous when delivering feedback to higher ups.

    My boss asked all of us if we’ve been filling them out. I didn’t think too much about it until my coworker mentioned she thinks someone must have filled out a particularly brutal one, HR flagged it to my director and they are now trying to figure out who wrote it. My team is very small and we’re all super busy so I’m guessing HR did a good job at keeping it anonymous. I also found out from coworker that a former coworker who has now left was informally reprimanded for leaving bad feedback as well.

    I’ve never filled these out but have been contemplating it recently. My boss knows we are insanely stretched but it doesn’t seem like relief is on the way and I’m burning out hard. I already am looking for a new job but unfortunately I waited until I was really unhappy and now I’m very resentful whenever I come into work. I don’t know how long it will take me to find a new job but it’s very hard with having a heavy workload and almost zero motivation to get through this stuff.

    If you were in my shoes, would you start filling these out- considering I’m really only looking for impact in the shorter term (next 6 months) and how my boss reacted?

    1. RD*

      I hate non-anonymous “anonymous” surveys! It seems like they want to figure out who wrote itnot to solve any problems but only to get people in trouble :( I guess I would be curious to see the reaction if I was confident that I was starting a new gig soon.

      1. braindump*

        the only time I’ve found it useful is when my employer did one at the height of the pandemic (for us) with questions like “are you food secure” and “do you have childcare”. They were able to reach people that needed help in those specific areas. If it’s to punish workers because of honest workplace answers, then shame on them.

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

      If you think it’s true someone got fired for leaving bad feedback I wouldn’t complete the survey unless you had something set up. If they could figure out who wrote the feedback they could push you out before you have something lined up.

      1. Dolly was Right*

        The person who left wasn’t fired- she left on her own will. I also suspect part of the reason she was reprimanded was because (Pre-COVID) we had a firm-wide work from home 2 days a week policy (the only reason it wouldn’t be allowed is if you were on a PIP). Her manager almost never let their team work from home despite good performance so I suspect the manager was directly reprimanded herself.

    3. HigherEdAdminista*

      I wouldn’t start filling them out if you haven’t been, but I might be tempted to anonymously get a note to HR and say that your boss is trying to track down someone in the department who filled out a negative survey, so you don’t feel safe responding that way, but that the team is very overworked and the manager doesn’t seem to be acting.

      I know there isn’t a lot of value generally in an anonymous note, but given these particular circumstances it could be worth a shot.

      1. pancakes*

        Sending a note to HR about that on the basis of a coworker speculating that maybe that’s what happened seems premature to me. It seems just as likely that someone higher-up told the director that their department’s participation numbers are low and they should try to encourage more people to fill these out. Either way, it’s not advisable to write something really negative and personally identifying in this sort of survey. Fill them out or not, but it seems unnecessary to point out that it wouldn’t feel safe to be really negative.

    4. BRR*

      I think if a manager is going to do something about your workload, they would act on it whether it comes from their direct report or from HR via a survey. Basically, if you’re hoping for changes, I’m not sure you’ll get them if you do it via the survey if you don’t feel like you can approach your boss directly.

    5. AndersonDarling*

      It’s possible that HR noticed that no one on your team had been doing surveys and they prompted your boss to motivate the team to use the service.
      I’d do a neutral survey with the comment “We were told to start filling out these surveys.”

      1. Dolly was Right*

        Except we weren’t told to fill them out. And at no point was low participation pointed out nor we were encouraged to fill them out in any way – I may not fill mine out but my teammates does and knows others do as well. Here is how the conversation went
        Manager- do you guys fill out the work life balance surveys
        Me- no. I really should but i always forget to!
        Manager- ok what about everyone else
        Other people- various responses like yes, sometimes, etc…
        Manager- oh ok. just wondering

        It was an odd conversation to say the least- combined with knowing that someone else was reprimanded for providing bad feedback- I have a hard time believing this was supposed to be encouragement.

  11. RD*

    I put in notice earlier this week at my job, for a number of reasons, but primarily due to my long commute and inflexible WFH policies.

    I have another job lined up. Today HR met with me and asked if I would stay on if there was more flexibility offered etc. I told them it isn’t only about policy but the culture surrounding the policies.

    I don’t think I will take it, but wondering what your experiences have been with accepting counter offers. I realize it won’t solve all my issues with work, but it is an interesting proposition.

    1. foolofgrace*

      It’s said that most of the things that bother you about your current job will still bother you after you take the deal. How would you feel about that, day in and day out?

    2. J.B.*

      It’s a trap!

      Note that I don’t have any specific experience but my husband’s employer similarly offered him more flexibility to stay and neither of us trusted them to keep their promises.

    3. Panicked*

      I have never seen a counter-offer situation that worked out for the best long-term. I have seen a lot of employees who get termed after their current company found a replacement.

      1. Mental Lentil*

        Agreed. If there are only one or two things that bug you about your job and they address them and fix them, that’s one thing. But most people probably aren’t going to quit over one or two little things.

        If you’re ready to quit, there’s obviously a pretty big reason, or a whole lot of little reasons, or a combination thereof. And companies very rarely can or do address all of those, or even most.

      2. Esmeralda*

        It’s actually pretty common in academia in the US. My husband got a couple of good pay bumps to match offers from other universities.

    4. Liz*

      While I’ve never been in this position, my feeling is, there’s usually one or more GOOD reasons for leaving. And it seems to me, even if a company counteroffers with a great offer, it may only be a band-aid and not a full blown cure.

      Not exactly the same, but I left my last job after someone else left, a new person was hired, and once they came on board, I was going to be moved elsewhere (paralegal in a law firm, moving to a bigger practice group, with my own cases). However, the new hire ended up accepting a counteroffer from her employer, which I guess was too good to pass up. I knew that my moving was contingent on the other position being filled, and who knows how long that might take? I was miserable and started looking. I got a new job quickly, gave notice and never looked back!

    5. Dolly was Right*

      I think a big factor here is if you had previously raised issues with the inflexible WFH policy and asked for more and were told no or if this was a blanket policy you disagreed with and decided to leave over it.

      If it’s the former, then I would be wary. This means this is a company that doesn’t care about your well being until you’ve threatened to leave. And the next time you have an issue come up, it will be the same song and dance until you no longer work there. Also As foolofgrace said below, the other issues will still be there so it’s up to you to decide how to weigh that.

    6. Exif*

      I worked at one company where counter offers were just a way of life. People consistently used them to get raises and promotions. There were seldom any consequences or bitterness, and people stayed for years after the counter.

      I am aware that this is unusual, and sounds better than the usual “countering puts a target on your back” philosophy. But this company consistently underpaid people, who had to scratch and fight for every little raise/title change/general improvement. The atmosphere was a battleground.

      So my take: if countering dosn’t work, you definitely don’t want to be there. If countering does work, you still don’t want to be there.

    7. BRR*

      I’m not a fan of counter offers for all the reasons in Alison’s post on counter offers. One of the biggest points for me, is if a company is only willing to do something for you if they’re worried you’re leaving. I’m asking for a raise soon and I anticipate a no. I think if I had another offer it would be more likely to happen. But if my employer won’t give me a raise unless they’re worried I’m leaving, that’s all of the information I need to know.

    8. Mockingjay*

      I came back once to a job. I left for a lot of reasons (mainly, terrific old manager had left and his replacement was an ass and messed up the entire project). I was contacted by Old Job on the second day after I left. They begged me every day for 4 months to return and “fix” things. So I did (with more money).

      It was a mistake. I couldn’t fix anything. Don’t do it.

    9. Hiring Mgr*

      Despite the conventional wisdom I know at least three people who have had good experiences with counteroffers..

      In these cases though it was basically one issue that was resolved. In your case it sounds like there are a bunch of things so probably less of a likelihood to work out well

    10. Purple Cat*

      For me, once I decide I’m “done” with something, there’s no coming back from that. So if I was at the point of applying interviewing and accepting another job, there’s no counter-offer on earth that would get me to stay.

      1. Windchime*

        This is the way I am, too. Something flips in my brain and makes the decision seem irrevocable. It has happened with jobs and with personal relationships. I can put up with a lot and believe in giving the benefit of the doubt, but at a certain point the switch flips and I am DONE.

    11. Alex*

      Soo…they are saying they are going to change their entire culture for you? Yeah right.

      And if they offered YOU flexibility, how would that really play? Would others be resentful of you? Would your extra flexibility hurt your chances of advancement there?

      And I say this all as a person who accepted a counter-offer with no regrets about it.

      1. RD*

        that’s definitely something I am concerned with, even if they understand that the culture change is much needed. I have been here a long time so making the decision to leave was big and hard, and I kind of feel now that I’ve made it, why would I go back? But I am also surprised they’re bothering to counter offer at all. Not usually the MO.

      2. Autumnheart*

        Or would they promise that you’d have flexibility, but then deny you every time you tried to use it and blame it on situational issues: it’s the busy season, someone else is out, it’d be awkward for the rest of the team, etc. Then after a few months, “You should’ve gotten the hint by now that that offer of flexibility wasn’t real.”

    12. RagingADHD*

      I had a good experience accepting a counter offer, but only because I wasn’t looking to leave in the first place. I got headhunted by a firm that offered me a lot more money for specialist skills, when I’d hired on at fair pay as a generalist.

      I liked the job and the team I already had, so when they matched the money I had no reason to go into a new & unknown situation.

      If I’d been dissatisfied and looking, I don’t think promises to change would be worth staying for.

    13. MissDisplaced*

      If the only issue was salary or PTO, a counter offer might do the trick. But if you have other issues with the policies or culture, you know those really aren’t going to go away.

    14. linger*

      HR may be interested in retaining you specifically, but also just as interested in identifying issues that could lead to a more widespread exodus. So this is at least an opportunity to share your reasons for leaving (though stopping short of naming individual coworkers if that is the case!)

    15. allathian*

      It can work, but only sometimes. When my husband got his Master’s in engineering, he started his career at a company whose head office was in a small town a 5-hour drive away from his family and a regional office in my area. When I met him, he’d been there for 3 years and he still didn’t know anyone in that town except his coworkers, at least partly because he’d travel home nearly every weekend, or else his friends from here would visit him there. When we started dating, he spent most of his free time with me, with only an occasional guys’ weekend there. Pretty soon he started negotiating a move to the regional office, but he didn’t get a transfer until he told his boss that he had another offer from a company here. They didn’t want to let him go, so his manager asked what it would take for him to stay, and he just said he wanted to transfer to the regional office, which he got, as well as a small COL raise, which he was glad to get but I’m not sure if he asked for or not. There have been a couple of reorganizations and a change in ownership, but he’s still working for the same company 13 years later.

      So it can work sometimes, but only if it’s an issue that’s relatively easy to solve and not related to company culture and management, etc. I don’t know why my husband’s then-manager was so fixated on him working at HQ, but once he realized that my husband was ready to quit over it, he changed his tune pretty quickly.

    16. JelloStapler*

      I would be concerned that the flexibility they offer will still be below par and culture won’t change.

  12. Canadian Valkyrie.*

    I need to brush up my marketing skills for career plans I have. I cannot afford a diploma or full time 8 month certificates AND I have a marketing certificate already. I do not need the marketing basics courses that I seem to be able to fnd online. As I already know marketing stuff, I need highly specific courses. I’m not sure if they just don’t offer this in Canada or what’s the problem here but I am looking for ways to update my skills. Getting these skills in my job is not an option. I need to do it on my own time.

    1. cubone*

      free courses: Linkedin learning? Udemy? Coursera? Even just YouTube? It might also help if you mentioned the “highly specific” skills you’re needing, in case people have specific recommendations for those.

      I’m not in marketing but I have a lot of friends who are, and one thing I seem to have noticed is that while the education pieces matter, proof of application (like a portfolio) seems to be just as important, if not more. So what about teaching yourself this stuff through something like YouTube, and then volunteering somewhere to apply them? Then you have a project portfolio or a specific role to add on your resume. I used to work in volunteer management in Canada and I can promise you, there were a ton of places looking for ad hoc marketing volunteers. I get that you’re looking for courses, not volunteering, but hey, it doesn’t cost anything and gives you tangible, concrete examples of different work.

      1. Canadian Valkyrie.*

        I’m in grad school right now so volunteering isn’t really in the cards. My schedule isn’t predictable enough to allow for definite follow through.

        The specific skills I need tend to be more in line with, like, how to take photos for Instagram without hiring a photographer every time you need a picture, how to create a brand strategy, etc without it being overly generic. When I was in college for all of this, a lot of the stuff was very vague like “here’s the high level stuff that goes into a strategy”. Now I’ve barely used my education because I hated corporate marketing and never had a reason to use it until now.

        1. Caboose*

          Based on the ads I see for it, it sounds like SkillShare might be a good fit for you? It seems like there’s a lot of courses focused on creating content and strategizing for stuff like that.

        2. pancakes*

          I don’t know if it’s still there, but Etsy used to have a lot of guidance on those sort of things in the Help section. Some of it was specific to listing things on their site, of course, but there was a lot of more general content about how to take better photos, how to start thinking about branding, etc.

        3. Alex*

          Lots of influencers & bloggers offer classes in this stuff —particularly the photography & social media aspects. Be very very selective about who you pick, and make sure you analyze their online presence, but I do know they cover what you’re talking about. It’s unregulated though: some are experts and genuine, and some are very much a scam.

          1. Dolly was Right*

            I agree with this! The only one I know of is My Life’s a travel movie, a self-made female travel blogger I’ve been following for years and all of her engagement and growth is 100% genuine. I think she has a few courses on her website. I know I’m just a stranger on the internet so feel free to vet for yourself- because HARD agree there are definitely scammer courses out there. Even if you don’t purchase the course, she has tons of tips on how to get great photos on her blog and insta.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      I have my masters in communication but last year took a short certificate course in marketing strategies because I felt I needed more experience on the marketing aspect.
      Check out Cornell University, they have several specific options of certificates. I’ve also found Udemy good for specific skills (such as analytics) or digital marketing or software.

    3. Been There*

      Google offers courses and certificates for its products for free, and I think they’re pretty well regarded.

  13. NT interpeter needed*

    Hi, all, quick question. I am neurodivergent and I have a question about something my reports do that sort of trips me up. They really frequently apologize for things that really need no apology, e.g. “sorry to bother you” when asking a question, or “sorry I didn’t get to this sooner,” or things like that. Should I just take that as a social nicety like “how are you?” or ….what? Sometimes I say “no worries” or something like that, and very occasionally when people say “sorry to bother you,” I say, “that is literally my job, you are keeping me employed” just as a way to say, no need to apologize for asking me questions. What do those mean and how should I respond, if at all?

    1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      I’m not neurotypical but I tend to apologize when I’m nervous about annoying people or messing things up. .

    2. Anon Designer*

      Hey there! This is a social nicety, and likely also a cultural thing. They’re acknowledging that they’re interupting you and signaling respect for your time and attention. You’re right that it’s in the same spirit as “how are you”, and “no worries” is a fine response.

      1. cubone*

        Agreed. It’s a social nicety and a way of saying “I want you to know I value your time and if I had been able to figure this out on my own, I would’ve”.

        One thing you could also do as a manager is lead by example. Genuine apologies are fine but as you’ve noticed, this can be a hard/confusing cultural thing to pick up on, not to mention it’s well known that it can tend to disproportionately be something women do. I had a manager who was excellent at “thanking” instead of saying sorry really well and I think it’s a really good practice. Instead of “sorry about this” it was “thank you for making the time to help me with this” or “thank you for being so patient, here is the report” (instead of “sorry this is late”). It might help to model this to your direct report and maybe they’ll pick up on being appreciative, rather than apologetic. Obviously it doesn’t sound like you’re the overly apologetic one and maybe you already do this, but thought I’d mention it.

    3. BenAdminGeek*

      It’s definitely just a social nicety. It’s basically them acknowledging that your time is valuable but they have something important to chat about. It’s the work equivalent of the head nod and hand wave people do to a driver who stops so they can cross the street.

    4. Purt’s Peas*

      The responses you mention are both things that I would say in response. I think your instincts are correct. You can also add, “no worries, I’ve got time!” especially if you look like you’re busy.

      In this case, I’d interpret “sorry to bother you” as both a “how are you” kind of social nicety, but also as an invitation to say, “no bother, but can you come back in 15 minutes if it’s not an emergency?” if you don’t have time.

    5. Llellayena*

      It’s a vocal tic for most people, you can safely ignore it or respond with “no problem” or “no worries.” If there’s a specific person who does this much more often or seems anxious about it you can occasionally drop in a “there’s no need to apologize, I’m here to help.” I realize recognizing anxiety might be difficult so you can focus on just frequency as an indicator if you prefer.

    6. ecnaseener*

      Some people do tend to over-apologize. I think the way you’re responding is fine in that case, you could maybe be slightly more direct (“No need to apologize, my job is to answer your questions!”)
      Also, things like “sorry I didn’t get to this sooner” may function less as an apology and more an acknowledgment: “I’m aware that it would’ve been better that I got to this sooner, so you don’t need to tell me. I’m on top of it.”

      However if it’s a pattern among most of your reports, it might be that you’re accidentally sending “displeasure” signals. For example, when someone interrupts your work to ask a question maybe you look or sound a little frustrated at being interrupted (this can happen even if you’re not really frustrated but just taking a second to switch gears).

      You can try to counteract this by smiling / acting cheerful if you remember in the moment (easier said than done I know). Or you can address it: “Oh, did I sound annoyed or something? I didn’t mean to — you have nothing to apologize for.”

    7. Purple Cat*

      I’ve always believed I’m neurotypical, but also feel like I could have written this letter, so maybe I’m not?
      Or maybe (more likely) this isn’t a symptom of your neurodivergence and is just a typical personality variant.

      I have one employee who apologizes for asking me questions and it drives me batty. I also tell him that it is literally my job to answer his questions so to stop apologizing. In my situation, I know it’s that he thinks I’m “too busy” to answer his questions, so I reassure him that I will always have time for his questions.

      For the most part, this is a throw-away comment that people make, but evaluate if you need to schedule standing check-ins with your team where they *know* they’re not bothering you with questions, and/or more check-ins on workloads and tasks so you know exactly why they’re not getting to things in a timely manner…

    8. Esmeralda*

      social convention, they are not actually apologizing.
      Your responses are good! I’m neurotypical and say very similar things. You could say, “It’s no bother at all” or “I’m always happy to help”

    9. RagingADHD*

      I’d say it does carry some minor information on top of being just a social nicety.

      “Sorry to bother you” = Is this a good time, or should I come back later?

      If yes, you can reply with pretty much any positive, reassuring starement, like “It’s no bother,” “Come on in,” “Not at all, what can I help with?” or a jokey, “Please bother me!”

      If it truly was not a good time, you can say, “It’s fine, but can you give me twenty minutes?” Or “Just let me finish this thing,” or whatever the case may be.

      For “Sorry I didn’t get to this sooner,” that could express some concern as to whether they are meeting expectations. So, in the moment it’s totally appropriate to reply with “no worries,” but you might take a look at your overall policies and work schedules.

      Are your reports very clear on when things are due? Maybe they need more structure so they know for sure that they are not late or causing a bottleneck.

      Also, how often do you give feedback on performance? They might need more reassurance that they are doing a good job.

      These phrases could just be verbal habits that they were taught as good manners. Or they could be indicating a bit of hesitancy or uncertainty. It’s hard to tell without seeing/hearing the person.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Your answers sound very much like answers I’ve given. In fact I make a point of telling new hires that I am a good person to ask questions because I firmly believe that questions are how we learn.

    11. Autumnheart*

      Instead of saying “This is literally my job,” you could say something like, “Happy to help! What can I do for you?” or in the case of “Sorry I didn’t get to this sooner,” maybe something like “You’re good. What can I help you with?”

      A lot of people use “sorry” as a social lubricant, and it doesn’t have to mean more than that.

    12. Possible Interpretation*

      This can also be thought of as a way to temper expectations before the conversation begins.

      It’s a subtle way of saying “I am anticipating that this simple question will either l
      A) lead to the discovery of an underlying problem which is MUCH less simple… because they are directly related
      or
      B) will show my ineptitude with exceptional clarity, and I’m embrarassed about it but the question still needs to be asked.

      1. Crackerjack*

        I think I use it this way. I find my boss hard to read and know she’s very busy so I often feel like I AM bothering her. I use this both as a way of announcing: ‘I am about to bother you’ {i.e. interrupt you} or as an anxious person, in hopes she’ll say ‘no bother!’ with a big smile (which she never does, which annoyingly enough makes me want to say it more the next time because it makes me think every question is a bother but tough luck, I still have questions).

    13. Chaordic One*

      Often these chronic apologizists have a bit of a self-esteem problem that usually goes back to childhood. They may have been blamed for things that they were not responsible for and/or berated for asking questions and/or not doing things as timely as other might want them. And there are a lot of workplaces (and bad managers in otherwise good workplaces) where some people will continue to be blamed for things that they are not responsible for and berated for asking questions.

      Your “no worries” response is perfectly acceptable and fine. In some situations, where you regularly deal with these chronic apologizits, you can certainly explain to them that they do not need to apologize for asking questions. And, hopefully, they’ll stop.

      1. After 33 years ...*

        Or, they are Canadian. As a Department Head, I used this language when speaking with faculty members, staff, direct reports, and students on many occasions. It’s not uncommon for our Dean / Provost / President to begin a request for information or opinion in that way. “Sorry” may be the most common word in Canadian English.

  14. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    I’m considering taking some vacation time, since I’ve been mentally and physically exhausted but what do you guys do with all the work that piles up? I know I shouldn’t care because I’m not getting anything done anyway, but it bothers me.

    My boss wants to think of someway to help me since I’ve not been able to work well for weeks. I’m not sure if resting will help at all to be honest or how long it’ll take me to recover. I can’t think if anything to say although I’m sure she’s worried about me.

    1. ThatGirl*

      If someone else can take part of your workload they should – that’s on your boss. Otherwise maybe ask her how you should handle it? After a rest you may be in better mental shape to catch back up, too.

    2. Nannerdoodle*

      If you need to take vacation time because of burnout, take the time. Don’t keep working to try and get on top of your workload; it’ll just make it worse because you’ll never catch up if you never take a break. As far as what to say to your boss, be straightforward about how much time you have prior to and after vacation and what you think you can get done. Then ask how your boss wants you to prioritize. Something like “With my vacation coming up, I’m wondering how you want me to prioritize getting things done. I have time for two of A, B, and C, but not all three. Who will be working on one of those while I’m out?” And if you know that some of your work will cause issues while you’re out if it’s not completed, you can say “B definitely needs to be done while I’m gone because Fergus needs it for X and Y.” Your boss should be able to figure out who can cover part of your role while you’re gone. And if it’s a general issue that your entire department is swamped/understaffed, then your boss needs to take that up the chain, not push it back on you.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Yea, not only is everyone swamped, it seems that every bit of work is important. Like we’re having an audit, and I haven’t been able to get the documents and of course we’ll get in trouble. And we have the monthly documents… When someone is out, only a very small portion of your work is covered, because nobody has the bandwidth to do any of the stuff you’re supposed to be doing on top of their other work. Even worse I’ve been so tired I’ve barely helped anyone for months…

        1. Autumnheart*

          Honestly…that’s when you go on vacation, take your much-needed rest, and let the wheels come off the cart.

          If work is late, if the company gets in trouble, if nobody can get to it? That’s the company’s problem. And they won’t fix it until it hurts them. So let it hurt.

    3. Cold Fish*

      If it has gotten to the point that your boss is worried and trying to troubleshoot, I think you need to take your vacation pronto. Your boss is noticing your burnout and that is not good. Is there any way you’d feel comfortable talking to your boss, explain that you need the rest for your own health but don’t know how restful it will be knowing that each day is just that much more work waiting for you when you get back?

      The only suggestion I have is try to find people to cover before you go, rather than assume someone will help out while your gone. So, talk to John about covering for Project X and Sue about covering for Project Y. Then setting up your email so that any emails that comes in regarding X will be forwarded to John and emails regarding Y will be forwarded to Sue. I don’t know how your office works but it could be that John has time to forward this info on X to third party but doesn’t have time to check your email to know that request is sitting in your inbox while you are out.

    4. Daisy-dog*

      Do take some time off. If you have enough vacation to do longer than a week, that is ideal. Be sure to plan some activities during that time – even if it’s just walk around your favorite park each day or watch a Netflix show. Too little stimulation can lead to fretting about work. You will not “recover” in that time period, but you will hopefully feel less weary.

      To prepare, discuss what will need to be done with your supervisor. I agree, when you’re in a role that no one else does, it can be very stressful to take time off because you need to do a lot of preparation in advance and catch-up when you return. So tell your supervisor that. What can she do to mitigate this stress? Can a project be bumped until there is more support or fewer distractions? Is there a task that she knows how to do that she can manage? Or with that task, can she delegate it and provide the instructions herself? You don’t know what support to ask for, so present the issues and work together for a solution.

    5. twocents*

      I don’t know where you work, but I remind my mom who works at a library and has this struggle with taking time off and worrying about the workload: no one is going to die. If the book takes an extra week to get sorted, then … it takes a week. Don’t kill yourself even for your very nice boss. Any time limits are artificial.

  15. mad scientist*

    I have a name where the shortened version of it is incredibly popular, and I don’t know anyone with this name that doesn’t go by the shortened version. To make it easier I can just say it–my name is Jaclyn. I HATE the name Jackie. My parents didn’t like it, and I have never been called Jackie by anyone. I always introduce myself as Jaclyn. However, at work, fairly often, I introduce myself as Jaclyn and, in the middle of the conversation sometimes, people will switch to calling me Jackie.
    Anyone have anything I can say to people in the moment to stop this? I know it’s stupid but it’s driving me up a wall. It seems rude to just say “actually it’s Jaclyn” constantly.

    1. Littorally*

      They are the ones being rude, not you.

      Think of it this way — if they said a completely different name, you wouldn’t have a problem correcting them. “Hi, my name’s Andrea.” “Nice to meet you, Antoinette.” You’d just assume they misheard or had one of those brains that are swiss cheese for names, right? Treat this like that.

      “Yeah, so Jackie…” “Jaclyn, please.”

      If they get butthurt about being corrected, well, then they should call you by the name you’ve introduced yourself by. They are the problem here, not you.

    2. ThatGirl*

      It’s not rude to correct people on your name, as long as you don’t snarl at them or something :) just say “actually it’s Jaclyn” or “I prefer Jaclyn”, it’s fine!

    3. Pascall*

      A slightly more polite correction should be fine. “Oh, I actually go by Jaclyn! I’m not super fond of the shortened version.” At least until you’re fairly sure everyone at your workplace is familiar.

      If they still refer to you as Jackie at that point – after you’ve already corrected them once or twice, then it’s totally fine to be a little more blunt about it.

      I have the same issue with my pronouns sometimes since I use they/them and we’ve had new people start since an official announcement was made to my department about my pronouns, so the new people struggle with them more. I correct them politely until it seems like they’re purposefully ignoring my request.

      1. They/Them Somewhere*

        Thank you!!! I am going through the same thing right now with pronouns. One seems to be trying but the others arent and its exhuasting.

        1. Pascall*

          Don’t be afraid to talk to your HR or manager if your pronouns are deliberately being ignored. I can generally tell that my department doesn’t misgender me on purpose, so I’m very patient and kind with them, but I don’t doubt that there can be some malicious people out there who do not care and will do it just because they refuse to be respectful.

          Advocate for yourself and be unashamed about it!

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

      I know a jacklyn that has the same problem you do. Hates to be called Jackie. I think if you are nice about it when correcting someone then you are fine. If you say “actually I go by Jaclyn not jackie” you should be fine.

      DON’T do what the Jacklyn that I knew did and have a huff. When I asked Jaclyn for something she got all huffy and ignored me! Even though she was literally 3 feet in front of me. After me asking her several times she turned around in a huff and said “Don’t call me Jackie ever! I don’t answer to that name!” I was new to the company so I didn’t know her that well and there was another Jacklyn who went by Jackie on another team.

      Now what that Jacklyn did was rude. You politely asking someone to call you Jacklyn is fine.

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        My name has a “shortened” version (in quotes because, like Jac(k)lyn/Jackie, they’re both two simple damn syllables. I will not answer to the nickname because I detest the nickname version and I have never gone by it. There are people who do. I don’t. It’s not my name. People who call me by it are the rude ones. I just want to be called by my own name.

    5. Alice*

      Correct them! As long as you are not snarling, it will be fine with any reasonable person. And with unreasonable people what can you do anyway….
      I will note that, when people let a wrong nickname or pronunciation go for a long time, it makes things awkward when you finally do correct it. I’ve had professional contacts do that and it makes me wonder, “what else is going on that you are not speaking up about?” I mean, their name, they get to decide how to say it and they can change their mind. But this doesn’t have to be a high-stakes emotionally-charged interaction — just tell people when they get it wrong, every time, in a pleasant tone of voice. If someone is *clearly* doing it to be rude, deal with that, but it’s pretty rare IME.

    6. Liz*

      I feel your pain. I go by a nickname for a very popular and common first name. But mine is not common. Think Katherine, and I go by Rina, not Kat, Kathy or Katie. But for “formal” and legal stuff, I go by Katherine. I can’t tell ou how many people will see my full name, and call me by a more common shortened version of it. Grrrr.

      1. Scarlet Magnolias*

        I’ve posted this before but have had many people abbreviate my name (think “Les” instead of “Lesley”) what I do is nickname them (“Bobby instead of “Robert”) and when they correct me, I correct them. Sometimes takes a couple of tries but usually works like a charm.

        1. Alice*

          Honestly, this seems a little adversarial. Plus, what if they are happy for you to abbreviate their name, and they never correct you?

    7. Jshaden*

      It’s not rude to correct people who are rudely calling you the wrong name. I have related problem, with a less common name that sounds similar to more common names, so I get called by the wrong name often. I’ll correct people, but if it becomes persistent, I honestly stop replying when some addresses “Sandra” instead of “Sansa”. There isn’t a “Sandra” in room, and if they want my input, they can address “Sansa”.

    8. Charlotte Lucas*

      I have a name that’s already a nickname, but some people feel compelled to shorten it further. One person I know does that to everyone. Apparently, 2 syllables are too much. I ignore her, but otherwise, there’s nothing wrong with saying, “Oh, it’s Jaclyn. Nobody calls me Jackie.” Tone makes a big difference here: friendly the first time & colder for repeat offenders.

      1. Camelid coordinator*

        Me, too! I always say that I am very fond of the vowel at the end of my name. I hope this makes sense without saying my name.

          1. linger*

            Or Anna with an a.
            (Not making a guess, just pointing out that the problem as described could affect pronunciation rather than only spelling.)

    9. Bean Counter Extraordinaire*

      I have one of these names as well – think Katherine, and people try to shorten it to Kate/Katie.
      I just say something like “Oh, I never use (whatever they’ve just called me), I stick with Katherine” – assuming this is the first time you’ve addressed it with them, and they’re not continuing to call you the wrong name out of jerkiness.

    10. straws*

      Agree with all the above, you just have to keep correcting them. I’m in a similar situation and just dealt with the nickname most of my life, even though I hated it. I’ve finally started taking my name back and it’s hard for people to adjust after knowing me by a different name for many years. So the sooner you can correct someone, the better so they don’t have a habit of calling you the wrong name.

    11. Nick Names suck*

      I have one of these names also. Say Samantha and everyone calls me Sam. I correct people constantly, I introduce myself as Samantha and after the first couple times of correcting people, I just stop responding. Or I wait for them to call me multiple times and then go Oh sorry, I didn’t realize you were taking to me, my name is Samantha not Sam.

    12. AnonEMoose*

      I feel your pain. My first name has a lot of nicknames associated with it, and I hate being called any of them. It’s gotten easier as I’ve gotten older… fewer people try to insist on giving me a nickname.

      Usually, the first time, I try to go with a fairly breezy “Oh, I go by X…call me Y and I won’t even realize you’re talking to me!” I have had to get pretty insistent with people in the past, but not so much in more recent years.

    13. AnotherLibrarian*

      While I agree you can correct people politely without it being rude, I would also strongly advise picking your battles and deciding time and place. People you work with constantly- correct them. People who email you, you only see once a year, or customers you just are never going to see again- it is probably not worth the energy to fix it. I have a name that is a variation of a common name (think Lindy rather than Linda) and I’ve learned that it is just not always worth the mental energy.

      1. AnonEMoose*

        I disagree with this a bit. Only because, even if you only see/work with them rarely, they may still be mentioning you/introducing you to others, and then the disliked nickname spreads. It’s worse than the common cold, really, and in my experience, every time you don’t correct it, it makes it that much harder to eliminate. But…it may depend on just how much you hate the nickname. I really, REALLY hate it when people just decide to rename me at their whim, so it’s worth the energy expenditure to me.

        1. I Don't Go By Liz*

          Yes, this. I have one coworker who is generally who started calling me Liz and I didn’t interact with her much, and she was always friendly about it, and I was new to the work world, and I did used to go by Liz when I was in school, and, and, and… so I didn’t correct her.

          Suddenly more and more people started calling me Liz. And then an Elizabeth who does go by Liz started in our department, and well… suddenly I was Liz a LOT more than I wanted to be.

          So I’d say if it’s someone you know you’re only ever going to interact with once, sure, don’t say anything. But if it’s really going to bother you, you should speak up. Kindly, and maybe with a bit of humor, but speak up.

          1. Also not Liz*

            Yup. I’m an Elizabeth who goes by Elizabeth, and it’s amazing how many people decide I should be Liz when they meet me. Or I’ll introduce myself as Elizabeth and they’ll say, oh, do you go by Liz or Beth? I mean, I know a four-syllable name is a lot to say, but I really love my name!

    14. Cold Fish*

      It’s kind of stupid and corny but when you introduce yourself could you try “I’m Jaclyn, rhymes with win” or something like that. Put the emphasis on the “lyn” that people want to ignore?

    15. Donkey Hotey*

      I empathize, as I am in a similar situation. Bonus, the CFO/IT guy has my same name and prefers the Jackie-equivalent, so he assumes I’m just like him.
      I recently started experimenting with a spin on the verbiage people use to shift from titles to first names.
      “Mr. Hotey is my father, I’m Donkey.” or in this case, “Jackie is my mom, I’m Jaclyn.”
      Good luck!

    16. Not So NewReader*

      I think a lot of people actually do not mind being corrected.

      Personally, I want to be told and told right away. I think that the problem comes in when I have been calling you Jackie for a period of time and you have not told me. (And I am probably calling you Jackie because someone introduced you to me as Jackie. I make it a point to try to get people’s names right.)

      If this is what you have going on now, it’s fine to say, “Ya know, I actually prefer Jaclyn.” If you want you can say, “I am sorry I did not mention it sooner.” Or “I have been trying to let everyone know.”

      It’s your name. I don’t want to start a conversation by irritating anyone with the incorrect name. Using the wrong name is a solid way to let people know “I don’t care!”.

    17. R*

      Maybe you’re thinking about this in the wrong direction. I say you weaponize it and insist that people call you Jax. Sure, it’s worse, but it’s worse on your terms.

      1. PollyQ*

        I don’t get it. How is “Jax” weaponized? How is it “worse”? If someone asked me to call them Jax as a nickname for Jacklyn, or Jackson, or even John, I wouldn’t think twice about it.

    18. Octavia*

      As someone with the same nickname problem and dislikes my shortened version as well, here’s a couple other tips to consider on top of the suggestions others offered already:

      If I’m just having a first conversation with someone with one these names, I’ll ask that person their preference. (“I’m a Samantha, so I have to ask this – are you a Thomas or a Tom?”) Usually leads to some light banter and commiseration as a lot of people have those frequently shortened names. Seems to help folks remember as well.

      Enlist others. As others worked with me and knew I had a preference, they started correcting people either on the side (a good use of Skype!) or live in the call.

      If it’s just a casual 1:1 conversation, though, I’ll usually just casually correct it, the same way I would if someone called me an unrelated name.

    19. RagingADHD*

      It is not rude to correct people.

      Nice people will naturally feel some slight, momentary discomfort to discover that they inadvertently stepped on your toes. That doesn’t make it rude for you to speak up! Their tiny amount of fleeting chagrin is a lot less than your experirnce of being stepped on repeatedly.

      As you rightly observe, this form is so common that most peopke take it for granted. They won’t know unless you tell them.

      And once you have a few people around who have been set right, it will be easier for new people. They will hear others using the correct form and are more likely to understand that you don’t shorten it.

    20. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’d respond like I do when people use “Mrs” for me. First time’s a joke: “Every time you say Mrs. $LastName, I look for my motherinlaw.” Second time’s more serious: “Ms. $LastName please. I don’t use Mrs.”
      Similarly when my husband “Ferghus” gets abbreviated to his father’s nickname “Gus” , he says “If you want to catch my attention, you’re better off using my name than my father’s.”

    21. PollyQ*

      Nth-ing that it is definitely not rude to correct people and that they’re the ones who are being rude by ignoring your stated preference. You may want to switch up or intensify how you let people know when they repeatedly call you “Jackie.”

      “Actually, it’s Jaclyn” > “Please call me Jaclyn” > “I go by Jaclyn, not Jackie” > “I dislike being called Jackie, PLEASE call me Jaclyn” > “Dude, WTF?! I’ve told you a million times my name is Jaclyn, what is your problem?!?!” (OK, not that last one, but really, what is their problem?)

    22. Not A Manager*

      I’m super late to this, but I think all of these responses use too many words. Just be very bland and boring, and say your correct name Every Time. “So, Jackie,” – “Jaclyn.” – “we need the materials next week.” “As Jackie was saying…” – “Jaclyn.” – “we’re still waiting on the vendor.”

      Every Time. “Jaclyn.” No inflection, no heat.

  16. Anonymous Pygmy Possum*

    I’ve asked about transitioning from software development to something like technical writing here before, so I’m hoping I can get some more information from questions. Is it worth it to get a graduate certificate in something, e.g. technical communication?

    Here’s why I’m thinking about it:
    – It’s less costly/less intensive than a full-on graduate degree, like a Masters, and it would leave me the option to go get a Master’s later, if I really want to.
    – There’s a lot of jobs out there for a Technical Writer that require a portfolio, which is understandable, but all of my writing/editing experience isn’t publicly available yet. Plus, I don’t have that much out there yet, but I really would like to get out of my current job within the next year, and most of the jobs I’m seeing really want writing experience. (I’ve applied to some, but haven’t really started intensively searching – I plan to start that soon.)

    I’m mostly just wondering if anyone here has made the jump from dev work to technical communication work, and if that a graduate certificate is even worth it, or if I should be focusing on something else.

    1. foolofgrace*

      Former tech writer of 20+ years here. I still get emails from recruiters, and all of the tech writer jobs I’ve been seeing are asking for graphics capabilities like Photoshop or some such. Not all companies will demand a lengthy work portfolio, as long has you have *something* to show them, and have the graphics skills. I’d be hard-pressed to go back to tech writing despite my lengthy portfolio because I lack the graphics thing. A tech writing certificate probably wouldn’t hurt, if you could find something.

      1. Anonymous Pygmy Possum*

        Interesting! I have a couple of programs in mind, and they all have some sort of editing/graphics course to take, so that doesn’t surprise me. Thank you so much for your insight!

      2. Donkey Hotey*

        Concur. I use InDesign and Photoshop daily, often composing directly into the layout.
        As to portfolio, having something to show – even a page or two – works.

    2. Teapot Repair Technician*

      I’ve been a tech writer for 15+ years. I transitioned from technical support and don’t have any degrees/certificates related to tech writing. As far as I can tell, that’s true of many (if not most) tech writers.

      My “portfolio” is a manila folder with printouts of things I’ve written over the years. If I had to, I would consolidate them into a flattened PDF (so they couldn’t be easily searched or copied) since some of it isn’t publicly available. I’ve never had an issue providing writing samples on paper with the explanation that I’m not authorized to transmit them electronically. I’ve never had to include writing samples with a job application; I usually bring them to my first interview.

      When I was up for my first tech writing job, my portfolio consisted of things I’d written as part of my tech support job–emails to customers, troubleshooting instructions, training material, internal process documents, etc.

      Rather than pursuing formal training right away, I would recommend these steps:

      Read the “Microsoft Manual of Style.” You don’t have to follow it specifically (unless you’re writing for Microsoft), but it will give you a good idea of how tech writers think.

      Similarly, read the “DITA Style Guide.” Even if you’re not writing DITA content, understanding DITA will help you with general tech writing.

      Learn InDesign, FrameMaker and/or RoboHelp. Again, you won’t necessarily use these tools for every job, but understanding them will help you understand how technical documents are made.

      As another commenter mentioned, learn Photoshop. Also Illustrator. You don’t have to be super talented at them, but competency is useful.

      Take an interest in graphic design, typographic design, and especially page layout design. Again, you don’t have to be talented in those fields, but it helps to know about them.

      1. Anonymous Pygmy Possum*

        That’s good to know, thanks! I’ve already got FrameMaker down – I’ve been using for about a month at my current job, and I have some experience with Photoshop, though it has been a while. If I get any interviews it’s good to know I can print out the documents I already have, even if they’re not publicly available.

    3. it's me*

      You definitely don’t need a graduate certificate just as a prereq for tech writing. A place is going to be more interested if you have experience in either the system or type of system you’re documenting, and/or the type of deliverable you’d end up with, and/or the tools you’d be using to create the deliverable. It’s very possible to get certificates/official records/etc. of learning the tool(s) in question.

      I’ve had success with demonstrating writing skill with writing a sample document for a fake product.

    4. Donkey Hotey*

      OK, one more thing: while a full graduate degree might be overkill, I would strongly advise against just jumping in.
      e.g. My current employer has been around since the 50s and they make industrial machinery. When I started, four years ago, I was the first trained writer they had ever hired. I have been cleaning up what they thought was good writing for four years and it’s a bloody miracle we haven’t been sued. The engineers would say, “What are you talking about? I can totally understand that!” and ignore the fact that the people using the equipment often do not have high school diplomas, let alone engineering degrees.

      1. Teapot Repair Technician*

        Good point. I’ve been there a couple of times–being a company’s first real tech writer and taking over from someone (or a series of people) who didn’t know what they were doing. I wouldn’t recommend that as anyone’s first foray into tech writing.

        Regardless of how much training you’ve had, ideally, your first tech writing job would be working under (or with) another more experienced tech writer.

    5. Fran Fine*

      I wasn’t a software developer, but I work for a software company and enrolled in a graduate certificate program in Technical Writing last year because, like you, I didn’t have a portfolio for when I was going to begin looking for a new job. My program was excellent – I learned the proper way to create training guides, design and help tools like Canva and ClickHelp (we were supposed to learn RoboHelp, but not everyone in my cohort could access that software for free so we went with CH), and I now have an amazing portfolio that got me a new job (an internal promotion with a 13% raise) three weeks after “graduating.”

      I think you can gain a lot of skills in the right program, and if your employer will pay for it (mine did), you should definitely do it. The networking opportunities with instructors who are actually in the field is also a benefit.

  17. kdizzle*

    New-ish manager here (since December). I’ve been within the office for 10+ years and decided to step-in to the management spot when there was an unexpected death of the supervisor. It felt like the right thing to do, although I was a tad reluctant at first. I’ve pretty much had my hair on fire since I took over.

    I think I’ve navigated everything pretty well since then with some obvious manager mistakes as I wade my way through the transition of being a manager instead of a peer.

    I’m hiring my first two people who start this week. It’s all virtual. Help me out here….what kind of things do you wish your manager told you in the first weeks on the job? How can I help make them feel as though they’re part of the team even though we’re all virtual?

    1. Colette*

      Timecards, if necessary – how do they do that? How often? Is there a code they need to use?
      Vacation and sick leave policies, and how to request it
      What about things like getting a computer, office equipment, pens, etc.? What is the policy/how do they do it?
      Have a meeting with the rest of the team and introduce them.
      Set up one-on-ones with them
      Assign someone to go to with questions

      1. Colette*

        Oh, also how do they get their pay or benefits set up/do any required HR paperwork?
        And invite them to recurring meetings for your team.

      2. Annie Moose*

        Yes, all of this!! Good for when you have someone new joining your team even if they’ve already been at your company for awhile, too. Every team and every company has their own way of dealing with stuff like sick time, requisitioning equipment, time logging…

        I’d also introduce them to key people outside your team, especially any support staff they should know. Folks like key HR people, if you have an office manager or relevant admin, the person who handles interoffice mail, whatever. If you have an org chart, sharing that could be helpful too, so they know who the managers are/what the division of teams is/that sort of thing.

    2. Bayta Darrell*

      I just started a new job and it was helpful to have a reference sheet. Important phone numbers, the names and purposes of different systems and my login information for them, that kind of stuff. Also, try to let them know about norms. Are you cameras on or cameras off? Is it okay if a dog or child walks in the room or is that frowned upon? Is it okay to just call over Teams/Zoom/whatever, or should they message first? When people send stuff in messages like Teams, is it okay (or even expected) that they use reactions? Additionally, try to loop them in when unusual situations happen. “Hey, we don’t see it very often that a customer wants a white chocolate teapot instead of a milk chocolate or dark chocolate one, but a request just came in so let me show you how to process that in the system.” Ladtly, check on them frequently. They may feel weird about “bothering” you with a question.

    3. KC*

      I am also a brand new manager. In last month I have onboarded 3 people. Here is what I have done so far:

      1. Detailed training plan – list of tasks, trainings, procedures needing read, people to “meet”, etc. This was something I could give them their first day and they would work on it when I wasn’t training them personally.
      2. Detailed job description – what exactly are their roles
      3. Set up a reoccurring 1-on-1 meeting.
      4. Have all their equipment (computer, extra monitor, mouse, headphones, company swag, email set up, access to drives, etc.) all set up on day one.
      5. Given them tasks they could immediately start to work on. Sometimes it takes a bit to train someone and it is not all going to happen in the first 1, 2, 3+ weeks. And I didn’t want them to be bored reading procedures or watching training videos all day.
      6. Had them create an “About Me” slide to share with others in our company/team. My company is big on having this kind of slide and pretty much a must when introducing yourself to a new group of people.

      Basically, you want to make sure you have your stuff together. I asked my new folks what they have thought of the onboarding process so far and I have been complemented on having all this stuff ready for them when they first started.

      1. Zephy*

        +1 to the detailed training plan!

        During my time at OldJob, my team lead and boss worked to put together a training “timeline”/checklist – basically a list of all of the major responsibilities of the role, broken down into individual tasks and divided up by how long it should take to master them. It got pretty granular, too. There was a list of tasks a new hire should be able to complete with minimal or no errors/supervision at the 10-day, 30-day, 60-day and 90-day marks (they had a 90-day probation period). It helped give everyone a clear idea of (1) where to even start training the new kid, and (2) what is a reasonable amount of time to spend training someone on a given aspect of the job. There were some parts that had one correct prescribed way to do them and did not involve any real skill (counting down the cash drawer, looking up and entering information into our database system, pulling and reconciling reports, etc), which should be mastered relatively quickly; and other parts that did require time and practice to develop necessary skills and confidence to work without supervision or assistance.

    4. JimmyJab*

      My work has hired several folks over the course of the pandemic while everyone is virtual. They assigned each new person a “mentor” (a bit of a misnomer for this role I think) to answer all the random questions you may ask your new colleagues in the office, like who has to approve vacation, is this coworker usually hard to get ahold of? etc. Some people have found it helpful.

      1. Windchime*

        My team does something similar, except that each team member has a role in teaching and mentoring the new employee on certain areas. One person teaches the time clock and ticket system, another familiarizes the new employee on the Sharepoint site, etc. Each current employee knows their area well, and it gives the new employee a chance to meet with each team member for a chat and some instruction on things they will need to know. There is a checklist that the manager gives to the new team member after general company orientation, and the new person is responsible for setting up 1/2 hour meetings with their new teammates, getting that part of the specific department orientation and checking off the list. It’s a great system and it gives the new person a chance to meet all of their new co-workers.

    5. Em*

      If there’s an existing team in place — set up a buddy system, so that there’s at least one name and face who is familiar.
      I’ve found that an active social chat (even if it’s just “good morning” and “good night” messages that people can stick a heart react on or a smiley face emoji) is useful, too. Make sure it’s a separate chat channel from actual work stuff, so that you don’t have signal to noise issues.
      I do onboarding of new employees, and I make a point of saying in our team chat “hey everyone, say hi to _____ and ______! They’ve just started training today.” For the new people, I make a point of having them shadow existing employees and also introducing them personally to people. So, I’ll open up a chat with Stacy and Bob and say “hey, Bob! This is Stacy, she’s going to be working the evening shift as of next week. Stacy, this is Bob — he’s a really great person to ask for help in the evenings when there are fewer team leads around.” Then I leave the chat, but it’s still there and easy to find in their chat history.

      1. Anonymous Koala*

        I second the buddy system, especially if you can pair them with someone who will do a lot of their training. And be sure to tell them how you prefer to be kept up to date on their work- do you want a weekly update email, a meeting, a trellis board?
        And I would encourage the rest of your team to schedule 1:1 calls or chats with the new hires in their first couple of weeks at the job

    6. Been There*

      Are there simple tasks they can do so they feel like they’ve accomplished something even in the first week?

    7. Middle Manager*

      Not terribly substantive, more encouraging, but I wish someone had told me it will take a bit for you to get comfortable and really know what you are doing as manager and that is completely normal. I spent the first year feeling like I was failing constantly. At least for me, managing former peers (two of whom applied for the promotion along side me) was the absolute hardest part. Now that it’s been a few years and those former peers are the minority of my staff, it’s gotten drastically easier.

    8. Elbereth Gilthoniel*

      I haven’t seen these suggestions in earlier comments, so I’ll add them in:
      1. For the first couple of weeks, have a daily check-in or check-out (so a quick beginning of the day or end of day meeting). It can even be for 15 minutes. It’s just time for the new person to ask questions that have come up that they may not feel comfortable bothering you about during the day. And you can make sure that they are settling into the role.
      2. Take the first five minutes of team meetings to be “social” time. It will help the new person to get to know their team mates better.
      3. Either set up meetings to introduce them to people they will work with often or need to know, or give them a list and have them set up their own introductory meetings.

      Hope this helps! Good luck with your new hires. I’ve found that the hardest part of onboarding someone remote is the time it takes – there’s no opportunity to run into them in the break room and have them ask a quick question, or just have them shadow you/ sit next to you as you do something. It takes a lot more time to schedule training meetings, and present your screen as you are working, etc. It just takes a bit more effort.

  18. Jshaden*

    Question on managing my own feelings in my job search. Background – I’m retiring from the US military after 20 years, so this is my first “real” job hunt/interview experience. I know it is perfectly normal to have positive interactions with multiple potential employers and letting them know you are withdrawing because you accepted a different offer shouldn’t be a big deal, but it definitely feels weird. I know I am lucky in that there are several potentials jobs I could be happy with, but I’m nearing my decision point and feel internally awkward having these positive “I’m potentially interested” conversations when I know I can only accept one job. How do folks internally manage what feels like a disconnect to me on this?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      It’s a business decision, not a personal decision. It’s no different than looking at 5 different apartments or houses when you move. Saying you might be interested in renting unit 143 is just plain fact. You might be interested, you might not, it all depends on how a lot of other things work out.

    2. LTL*

      I used to really dislike it, but you get used to it. It’s not dishonesty to say “I’m interested in this job” if you’re truly interested. It’s just an expression of how you feel. You may be more interested in other jobs, but employers know that. No one expects you to only pursue one positive opportunity at a time.

    3. Mockingjay*

      Truly, businesses are used to it.

      There’s nothing awkward in having conversations – companies are gathering info about you to determine whether to give you an offer and you’re gathering data points for your decision to accept. Every other candidate out there is doing the same thing. If you decline, the company will offer to another candidate.

    4. Wandering*

      It’s not that different from interviewing multiple candidates when you have a single opening. It helps both parties determine whether this is a good fit. They will make the choice that they think is best, as should you. Your job is to find the next role that you want, and part of that process is interviewing to learn more about interesting opportunities.

      Good luck.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Allow yourself to feel fortunate.

      Express that feeling of being fortunate to the employer(s) whose offers you are declining. “I have been most fortunate to receive a couple wonderful offers. Unfortunately, I have decided to go with another company. I am very grateful for your time and your consideration.”

  19. Justin*

    Quite a few updates, since I’ve made it part of my schedule to write about my return to office.

    1. RTO:

    It got pushed back a week! We had some technical snafus uploading vax proof but it has now been worked out. Unfortunately, we work in a larger office that’s “vax or test” but there are apparently security guards preventing anyone symptomatic from entering the floors. Between that and my mask, it could be worse. It does me no good to stress myself about it. I’ll be back at my desk next tues or weds. And will update accordingly.

    2. Some comments last week:

    I sure did get a few people wagging their fingers at me to be “nice” because it’s part of working in an office. I have no intentions of being cruel or ignoring someone who speaks to me. I am, however, going to set myself more explicit boundaries (and tell people to please let me know before popping over to my desk), and I’m done forcing myself to put on a neurotypical mask re: expected versions of eye contact (I can do it but it’s unnatural and I end up doing it for too long which makes everyone, myself included, feel weird) and so on. Basically, I am going to find a way to respect my authentic self.

    A broader point is that “nice” is subjective and usually upholds hierarchies if we’re all meant to behave the same way. If someone is denying the identity of me or someone I care about, I will be coolly polite to them but never “nice.” There are people in my office who are low-key racist and high-key classist. They will receive politeness not not niceness. Nice is the status quo.

    2: Evaluation

    So, to tie into all this, I’ve been comfortable seeing myself as neurodivergent and don’t really need much to feel good about my identity. But I know the office is a place where I need more codification to get the support I’ll need. So I’m starting the process of getting it official-official via my doctor and a referral. It’ll take a little while but by the time we return full-time sometime in the winter, either at this job or the next one, I’ll be able to ask for the small things I need to feel comfortable (just don’t pop up behind me or seat me facing the corridor, and be understanding of my tendency to stare into the middle distance). My therapist and I know this is true, and the DSM is harmful overall, but for legal reasons, gotta get it written down.

    3: Other stuff

    In the time since I was regularly writing in here… I finished an entire manuscript for an academic book I have a contract for (not that these sorts of books pay much, lol). Gave a lot of invited talks and have really advanced in prominence in my niche scholarship field. Off to begin my dissertation soon once I get through the IRB process. I’ve gotten a lot of work/writing done since I’ve been at home. It’s not easy with the small child, and also because writing about racism is… understandably personal. But I have something to be proud of.

  20. Roja*

    On starting a business–I work multiple jobs and had some extra space in my schedule this year, so I started a small (I think) personal assistant business a couple of weeks ago. I’ve been getting jobs, and I’m really enjoying it, so I think it’ll be a good fit. But I’m really overwhelmed and could use some advice on how to get into the swing of things. Here’s what I have so far:

    –a facebook business page
    –minimal advertising (fb ad running, community groups posts, etc)
    –google voice number and email set up and in use

    What I will need eventually and am not sure how to get:
    –a lowkey website (will probably go through wordpress)
    –some kind of scheduling software to keep track of appointments (advice greatly welcome here!)
    –help figuring out tax stuff and business stuff (insurance, etc)

    I didn’t want to pour a lot of time and money in until there were some clients but now that there are some I need to figure out the rest of the stuff. Where do I start? My boss owns the business I’m a 1099 contractor for and said it took $1500 to set up the business papers, and there’s no way I can justify that for a business this small right now. But I don’t want to leave myself legally liable either. Help?

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

      Is there a small business association in your city? In my area there’s an association and you might be able to find help. I would also maybe look into some business classes. A local college has online classes for small businesses and I think it would cover some of those questions. Maybe try networking with other small businesses to see what they did and to get help. As for the tax stuff, get a tax person to help you.

      1. foolofgrace*

        This is good advice, and I’d just like to add that in my large metropolitan area, libraries sometimes have a day when people from a small business association come and talk to people for free. Usually I think it’s the Small Business Association or something like that. Ask you friendly neighborhood librarian some of your questions.

      2. Roja*

        This is brilliant! I hadn’t even thought of a small business association. We must have one; I live in a large city.

    2. Just a Fan of Hers*

      You could look up Marie Herman Enterprises – she does courses on working as a PA including all the business set up. I’m not sure when she plans to hold her next course, but I think she also does some one on one stuff or could point you in the right direction. She’s incredibly knowledgeable as she made the switch from admin to business owner herself, and she teaches lots of courses (very well!). I highly recommend her.

    3. Joielle*

      For scheduling software, I really like Calendly. There’s a free version if you want to just poke around and try it out. It lets you set your availability (with lots of options for customization) and then people can go in and book appointments when you’re free. And they can reschedule using a link so you don’t have to do it all by email.

    4. AndersonDarling*

      I found a wordpress developer on Fiverr and they made a simple website for $200. You should have all your text ready to go, and find an example website that they can model. If you are looking for a 3 page website (Business info, About Me, Contact page) then I can recommend going that route.

    5. OyHiOh*

      How much it costs varies state to state but if you have the ability to file documents yourself, it should be considerably cheaper than if you hire a lawyer to file for you.

      For example, in my state (Colorado), it costs under $100 for me to get the forms from the Secretary of State’s website and file a simple LLC. If I go to a local lawyer to file the same forms, it costs upwards of $500.

    6. AndersonDarling*

      You likely won’t need to file as a business until you get big. I took in contractor work and filed my extra income on “Schedule C.” I did all my taxes online and the tax software walked my through all of it. As long as you report your income, then you don’t need to worry about tax liability. AND you can write off your expenses with a Schedule C, so keep those receipts!

    7. RagingADHD*

      Call a local CPA to ask about business setup. It can vary literally by municipality. If I lived five miles to the left of my house, I’d have far more onerous requirements for a business license and taxes to do the same virtual freelance work that I do now as just…myself.

      Don’t take general internet advice about that side of things. It’s hyperlocal.

    8. MissBliss*

      If you do WordPress, you might look into whether there are free plugins that manage scheduling. You might also want to look into Squarespace. It’s more expensive, but if you go for a higher tier option, it can also handle your point of sale and scheduling. It’s also supposed to be user friendly (though I find it a little tricky, but I am used to actually coding websites, so the inflexibility is what trips me up). You can pay month-to-month as well, though annually is cheaper.

      Ask your 1099 boss about their accountant and if they’d recommend them. My husband just started a business and his friend was able to recommend an accountant. The guy is helpful and also advised my husband that it was unnecessary for him to pay someone like him (the accountant) to do the business filing, thereby saving my husband a few thousand. It’s nice to start a business relationship with someone who saves you money!

      As for insurance, shop around. Call multiple places.

      Best of luck! Remember, you don’t have to have everything all at once. I’d figure out the taxes and insurance before the website and scheduling.

      1. Art Sent Me*

        Be careful with free tools. As a personal assistant, you’ll be in confidence with potentially sensitive information. Keeping it in less secure services that are built for data mining could be a liability if they get hacked.

    9. Hola Playa*

      Talk to an accountant, for sure. And check out your secretary of state website to see if you can file an LLC yourself.

      You can keep the books either in a spreadsheet for now or there are some low-cost online accounting subscriptions that are simple and straightforward enough. Keep all your reciepts. Consider a FEIN.

      Open a separate bank account for the PA biz to avoid co-mingling personal and biz.

      Consider liability insurance. Hiscox has historically had great rates for small businesses, though there may be niche policies out there.

      Find a great biz support group. Plenty online. Having awesome, supportive folks who know what you’re going though as a biz owner is everything.

      I vote for Squarespace if you’re doing your own website and Calendly.

      So excited for you! This is a much-needed service.

    10. Roja*

      Thanks, you all! This is super helpful advice and gives me a better idea of where to start. I really would rather not be running a business at all but it’s the only thing that really works with my wacky artist schedule right now… and I’m pregnant too so it’s just a cluster of overwhelm. I appreciate the words of wisdom very much!

  21. GotaPenny*

    Office Coffee Etiquette: I work in a profession where I interact with a lot of people throughout the day. I’ve encountered something that I am unsure how to navigate. I find that as a social/professional “thank you” is to offer coffee. People will say “Oh, thank you very much! Next time I come in I’ll bring you a Starbucks.” Or just a simple “I owe you a coffee… do you like Starbucks?”
    Here’s my question… I do like Starbucks. I do like coffee. But I only like what I like to drink. I like mochas with no whipped cream. but if I say that, I feel weird. Like they were gracious to offer and now I am going to add stipulations to it. I have had people just bring me in random generic coffee. Like I has someone bring me an iced vanilla coffee. It was okay. I drank it to be polite.
    Does anyone else run into this? How do you navigate it?

    1. Pascall*

      I think it’s totally fine to specify that you only drink a certain type of coffee! When someone asks, you can always tell them “I very much like mochas with no whipped cream, but if that’s too much, then _____ is fine!” The blank can be replaced by something else you might enjoy that’s easier to pick up like a small candy bar, or other type of sweets or snacks.

      I don’t drink coffee at all, so I tell people that I love Dr. Pepper. In my office, people usually thank me with Dr. Pepper and plain M&M since I’m allergic to peanuts haha. Definitely don’t be afraid to share your preferences!

      1. DarthVelma*

        This. When someone wants to do something nice for you, they generally want you to actually enjoy that thing.

        Like I don’t do coffee. When people have offered Starbucks, I’m just really straight-forward. I don’t drink coffee, but I like their hot chocolate and I LURVE their hot apple cider with caramel sauce in it. Bring me apple cider and I consider you covered for all work related requests for the next 6 months. :-)

        1. ThatGirl*

          Random fact: the Starbucks caramel apple cider is actually cinnamon dolce syrup + steamed apple juice, plus the whipped cream & caramel on top. There’s no other caramel in it unless you ask for it.

        2. Cold Fish*

          I don’t drink coffee and had no idea Starbucks offered a hot apple cider. I’m gonna have to remember that as it’s getting colder! Thanks

          1. Windchime*

            Its really sweet and really good. I have a coworker whose religion doesn’t allow him to consume caffeine, so the hot apple cider is his drink of choice and we used to make an annual trip down to Starbucks to get it during the fall. So good.

    2. RainbowTribble*

      I think you could potentially make it a joke. “Oh, that’d be great. I have to warn you though I’m super weird about what I drink – I only drink mochas!” Focusing on it as a funny quirk instead of making it a demand. (I understand though – I only like sweet sweet hot caramel drinks)

      1. Mints*

        I would go with something like this too. “That’s so nice of you! I am a toddler, though, and only like one drink: cinnamon dolce latte.”

    3. UKDancer*

      I think as long as it’s not a really complicated order it’s fine to say what you prefer if someone asks if they can get you a coffee. Personally if I’m getting someone a thank you coffee I want to get what they like. Mocha without whipped cream is not a complicated request. So I think.it’s fine to ask.

    4. cubone*

      I know this is not helpful at all, but honestly that’s one of the things that pushed me into black coffee, lol. I had so many times were I was too awkward or nervous as a little baby employee to ask for a complicated latte, or where the milk/sugar was, and after a couple times of drinking a black coffee out of desperation, I suddenly developed a taste for it.

      A side effect is this really funny/bizarre thing that if you drink black coffee, people will COMPLIMENT you on it. The number of times I’ve said “just black, thanks!” and a colleague goes “ooooo good for you!” or “wow!” is hilariously strange. And possibly infantilizing, because I think some of it is about my age, though I’m not 100% sure. Anyways, now I am also addicted to the compliments, in addition to the coffee.

      1. All the words*

        Drinking black coffee gives one coffee connoisseur cred!

        Adding flavored syrup, whipped cream, spices, chocolate, etc. removes it. Sorry lovers of super fancy coffee drinks, that’s just how it is. ;)

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I drink my coffee black no sugar for similar reasons. It’s just easier. Not every place has non-dairy milk, nor do they have stevia or similar. Black no sugar is it.

        I did have to train my brain to enjoy it. So sometimes I had non-dairy milk and sometimes not. Then finally, I just had it black all the time.

        I don’t want people knocking themselves out to get a coffee for me. Conversely I know people who are so fussy they just need to make their own coffee, period.

      3. Joielle*

        Ha, same. When I was in law school and a baby lawyer I consumed a LOT of caffeine but what was readily available was usually just regular old coffee. And maybe like… powdered creamer or something, which, ew. So I just went with it, and now I can’t drink it any other way. Once in a while I’ll order a mocha or even just have a bit of flavored creamer, thinking it sound like a nice treat, and it turns out I just don’t like sweet coffee anymore!

        1. The cat's pajamas*

          I would drink black coffee but my tummy does not agree with it. I could get away with iced black coffee occasionally when I was younger since it waters it down a little if you don’t drink it right away. I need milk or cream to cut the acidity. I was at least able to wean myself off requiring sugar. I still like it occasionally as a treat or for coffee as dessert times.

          I’m impressed with the iron stomachs of black coffee drinkers, and anyone who drinks dark roast or Starbucks, I can’t handle either of those even with dairy added.

    5. Rusty Shackelford*

      It’s not weird to say “Oh, that’s sweet of you. But I’m kind of picky about my coffee – like, there’s only one thing I like at Starbucks. So don’t worry about it.” Either they’ll ask what you like, or they’ll drop it.

    6. BRR*

      If you can stomach it with the whipped cream what about “Oh that’s so kind. I can always go for a mocha/ a mocha is always a nice treat during the work day.” To me, that’s easy enough for someone to remember and is not complicated in the least.

      1. GotaPenny*

        That’s the funny thing… I can’t. Esp when it’s hot. The cream melts into it and it’s disgusting. At least when they’re cold I can scoop it off. I guess it just makes me feel weird since I’m such a picky eater/drinker.

        1. cubone*

          Honestly, if I offered a coffee and someone said “thanks! mocha, no whip” I would not second glance at it at all. So many people are lactose intolerant, avoid dairy, think of whipped cream as a child’s thing (wrong, obviously), etc. that I really don’t think it would strike as bizarre. It would be more unusual if someone said “mocha, but it MUST HAVE WHIPPED CREAM OR I WILL NOT DRINK IT”. I’d be hella impressed lol, but more unlikely for sure.

          1. Windchime*

            This was my thought, too. “Grande mocha, no whip!” said with a laugh will convey your preference just fine and I wouldn’t think a thing about it. If someone is offering to get you a coffee, they would want it to be something you like.

        2. KittyCardigans*

          I think you could say “a plain mocha” and that might get the same information across without coming across as picky? People might occasionally screw it up, but I bet they’d mostly get it right.

    7. RagingADHD*

      You can:

      1) Say, “Thanks, don’t worry about it, I’m not a big coffee drinker.”

      2) Say, “Thanks,” and when they show up with something you don’t like, hold onto it until they’re gone (or leave it somewhere) and throw it out after they go.

      If the same person makes a habit of it, you can tell them your preference. But you don’t have to ear or drink things you don’t like just to be polite.

    8. Possible Interpretation*

      You respond in a self-deprecating way while revealing your preference. Communicating it as a character flaw removes any ability for the other person to view it in a negative way.

      “I’ll have to bring you a starbucks!”
      “Oh, you don’t have to do that; my order would be 20 miles long anyway and not worth the trouble!”
      or
      “You know what, I’ll hold you to that. What do you normally get? I’m kinda picky myself.”

  22. Emi*

    I have an acquaintance whose boss has marked them AWOL, meaning they don’t get paid, for a day that they were actually doing work but not logged into email the whole time. Basically the boss is saying that being offline during regular hours without advance approval constitutes being “absent” from work. This feels illegal to me. They did actually complete work, so they ought to get paid, right? Has anyone else run into something like this? Acquaintance is FLSA exempt and works for the federal government.

    1. J.B.*

      If it’s federal there should be policies governing everything. I think that unless the requirement to be logged into email was communicated in writing he would have plenty of strength for a challenge.

        1. J.B.*

          There’s a difference between being written up (which in state government and a process you could contest) and losing pay. The bar for losing pay should be higher and established in an actual policy.

    2. Moira Rose*

      Federal government? This is not legal. Now, your friend might have been considered AWOL initially for security reasons, which is a whole ‘nother ball of wax, and they need to work that out. But in terms of their timesheet, the boss is committing timesheet fraud, one of the only ways you can get fired as a fed. Kick that ish up the chain.

    3. BRR*

      It is illegal. Your acquaintance needs to be paid for any day they work. Work is more than email (although sometimes it feels like that is debatable haha). Is there anything else that shows they worked that day?

    4. Person from the Resume*

      That’s probably not legal, but it’s not good. Are they normally WFH/virtual or is part of it they couldn’t be found in the office as expected truly absent? Even for someone working from home, it could still appear that they were absent if they worked offline all day long and never signed in and was not in contact with anyone in the office.

      Part of my job requirements is to be online – both email and Teams (reachable by IMs) – when I am on duty. I have to put an OOO email message if I am out for appointments that aren’t a full day (which I think is overkill for email because I do not guarantee an email response within a couple of hours, but OK for IM since I am expected to be available through IM throughout the duty day).

      Frankly, though, it sounds like your friend should be paid for working that day as part of their last paycheck because if your boss thinks you were AWOL for a day even after you explain yourself you are probably going to be fired soon.

    5. Kathenus*

      It’s illegal to not pay them for time worked. But they could impose discipline or consequences for being offline during regular hours.

    6. Teapot Repair Technician*

      That’s outrageous.

      Nonetheless, when I WFH, I make a point of staying logged in and moving my mouse every few minutes to keep my light green just so the “are you there?” question doesn’t come up.

  23. fantomina*

    Question for fellow ace/aros: how did you handle coming out at work?
    Context: I feel like all of the coming out stories I’ve heard are focused on an action– dating someone/people of a particular gender, going to a gay bar, etc. Because my identity is founded on a sexuality that doesn’t involve other people and on a lack of relationships, it really feels like it’s about a lack of action for me. I don’t see the usual easy openings like coming out by naming/gendering your partner. And the last thing I want in my new job is for someone to inevitably ask why I’m single, when I inevitably stutter “because why wouldn’t I be?” uncomfortably and then everyone is both confused AND awkward.

    1. Pascall*

      I feel like it’s not super necessary to come out as ace/aro (and that’s from a fellow ace!). The only time I would mention it is if someone asked me why I’m not dating someone, then I could just say “Oh, I don’t really date!” and lead into the aromantic aspect if the conversation leaned that way.

      But I feel like that’s too many details to share at work LOL, so I would never really mention it, honestly. Though aromanticism is probably more likely to come up than being asexual.

      But for reference, people really shouldn’t be pressing you as to why you are/aren’t seeing someone/dating/etc. That’s kind of boundary crossing and, really, it’s none of their business, particularly in a work setting.

      1. Gipsy Danger*

        This is how I handle it. I am a 42 year old single, childless woman, and occasionally it does come up, and I just say “Oh, I’m asexual,” in a very matter-of-fact way.

        I did come out to friends an family, but didn’t feel the need to do something that formal at work.

    2. ThatGirl*

      I’m neither aro nor ace, but I would still find someone asking me why I was single to be very rude. Some people are just single!

      That said, if you want people to know, maybe be a little more visible about it? Put a flag up at your desk or wear a small pin or just get used to saying it out loud?m

      1. fantomina*

        I’m in the queer affinity group here, so I think most people know that I’m not straight. It’s probably in my head, but I feel like people want to know which queer box I fit into but would never ask, because that’s obviously an overstep. And part of me wants them to know, because ace/aro invisibility sucks and I’d love to do my part in changing that, but I don’t know how to be visibly ace/aro without being weirdly forward about it, I guess?

        1. ThatGirl*

          I understand, I’m bi and in our lgbtq ERG but married to a man so I feel a little invisible sometimes. Within the group it should be no big deal to talk about it? But otherwise if it comes up, don’t be afraid to mention it?

          I still think people asking why anyone is single is rude though.

        2. quill*

          Oh yeah, I get that. My excuse, having been terminally online before most people knew being ace was a thing, is that if I ever get asked why i’m in a queer group I’m the cake catering service.

        3. Cleo*

          It may be more important to you than everyone else, but if it’s important to you to be more visible, it’s worth it. At least in my experience, which I think is similar, even though we have different identities. I’m a queer / bi woman married to a man. I’ve mostly just leaned into the awkwardness and found that it’s slowly gotten less awkward as I get more experience. (And also as I accumulate more pride pins.)

          I’m personally more comfortable mentioning my identity as part of what I’m saying – ie “As a bi woman, something something…” rather than “I am a bi woman.”

      2. twocents*

        This. I’m perpetually single (because dating is a pita, not because of my sexuality) and no one has ever questioned it at work. People just ask how my dog’s doing instead.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I was actually just telling my bestie that the notion of “coming out” as ace specifically drives me bonkers, because other parts of the QUILTBAG are relevant outside of sex, but ace is literally “let me tell you about my sex drive.” (Disclaimer: I am entirely ace and almost entirely aro.) So to me, the very idea of telling my coworkers ANYTHING about my sex drive at all gives me the absolute vapors. As far as I am concerned, EVERYBODY at work is ace and any further discussion about it is completely inappropriate. *shrug* (And this is specific to asexuality – you can be in relationships with whoever you want, regardless of gender, sexual identity, race, creed, whatever, and I won’t bat an eyelash as long as everybody is consenting and of legal age, but I do not want to hear a single HINT about what you do or don’t do in bed, regardless of your relationship structure or lack thereof.)

      1. WellRed*

        Thx for this well written response. I’m not interested in what anyone does or does not do sex wise, especially coworkers. I’m also sorry for anyone who gets nagged for being single. Small town by any chance?

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Unfortunately, it sounds like your awkward questions (why are you single (SERIOUSLY? People, come ON)) are more related to the aro part, which isn’t inappropriate to discuss at work IF you wanted to. I haven’t ever actually had to have that discussion at work – I’m married to a dude, which is a whole separate thing that is weird and works for us despite my ace/aro-ness, and nobody asked me why I was single beforehand, but I’m also SUPER good at setting boundaries about things I don’t intend to discuss.

          For me, the big one is that when people find out I changed my first name in my early 20s, they really like to ask why and what it used to be. My out-loud response is always “Oh, we don’t talk about that. How about that [quick subject change here]?” And there have been exactly two times in my life where someone pushed it after that, and my literal response both times was “We still don’t talk about that. How about that quick and obvious subject change?” And neither of them pushed it after that, but my third round response that I have practiced in case it does ever happen (because I read way too much AAM/Captain Awkward to assume that it won’t ever happen) is “How have you not gotten the hint yet that I don’t want to talk about it?”

          1. Rose*

            Very much agreed with your point about boundary-setting. I think that’s really key. People at work do not have a right to that kind of personal information about you, and there are ways to gently redirect things if they go in a direction you don’t feel comfortable with. We all have a right to do that, and I think that’s important to remember.

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              Also, one more tip: if you don’t want to get into it for whatever reason, the swift subject change is a good one, and a generally-safe ambiguous pivot can go something like this:

              Nosey McGee: “So, Fan (because of course Nosey McGee will also shorten your name uninvited), why are you still single?”
              You: “Oh, I’m good, thanks! Did you get that last set of TPS reports completed, or are we still waiting on something?”

    4. aroace*

      Aroace here and I’m with others that it’s really nobody’s business and don’t ever plan on “coming out” at work.

      Luckily my co-workers aren’t really nosey about why I’m single but in the past I’ve just said, “I prefer being single,” or as Pascall suggested, “I don’t really date.”

      I also work for a small, conservative company that I don’t think would be cool with other LGBTQIA identities and I feel like coming out would just lead to me explaining over and over what it actually means and constantly trying to justify myself and I just don’t have any interest in doing that.

    5. Caboose*

      I think my favorite wording for this is (stolen from a podcast), “Oh, I don’t really do that,” in the same casual tone of voice that you might use if someone asked you if you enjoyed skydiving or any other recreational activity that you just..don’t do. Will people speculate? Sure, but I’ve found that people do that anyway when you come out as ace.

      I also picked up a black ring– I don’t know if people still *do* the ace ring thing, or how widely recognized it is (certainly no straight coworkers seem to be aware of it), but it makes me feel more confident and comfortable overall! (For anyone who doesn’t know, wearing a black ring on the middle finger was proposed as an ace Thing several years back. Mine is tungsten, because most black rings are just plated or chemically treated, and I didn’t want to worry about the metal tarnishing or making my finger turn funny colors.)

    6. quill*

      Well, once in the lab I blurted it out because the nosy nellie on the next bench was going on and on about everyone’s dating life and asked me.

      Other than that, I sort of haven’t? Like. It has never come up beyond “got plans with your parents? friends? partner?”

      Anybody who doesn’t respect a cheerful “nope!” when asking if you’ve got a partner / a date / an OK cupid account is being unprofessional.

      1. fantomina*

        the worst for me was a Big Get type who I was trying to get for work who, after telling me about how thankful he was to have his wife and toddler during COVID lockdown and said something like “what about you?” I can’t remember if he implicitly or explicitly referred to having a partner or kids, but I do remember that it was the most awkward moment of my work life ever.

    7. Esmae*

      Honestly, if people ask why I’m single I just say I’m happier that way right now and leave it at that. Eventually they figure it out, or they don’t. I’ve gotten very comfortable being partnerless without an explanation.

      1. fantomina*

        Maybe I’m just a magnet for nosiness or something! “I’m happier that way right now” tends to be followed by “oh, you’ll find that special someone” in my experiences.

        1. quill*

          It’s also possible that being, I presume, female and under 30 is contributing to this. People no longer ask me certiain things now that I don’t look 24.

          1. Rose*

            Hard same. I’m in my mid-30s now and I think it’s a combination of my own personal confidence about it, the fact that people just condescend more to certain age groups, generally, and the fact that I’m around other 30-somethings (and older) and they just don’t tend to ask those questions as much. It could also be the environment I work in (university). Whatever the reason, I’m thankful for it (even though I feel like I’m much more ready to handle questions like that now than when I was in my early-mid-20s).

        2. allathian*

          Yeah, that’s possible. But I don’t think most people mean anything by that, necessarily. After all, most partnered people have been single at some point, and I suspect that those who say such things have always taken it for granted that most single people would prefer to be partnered, and more or less grudgingly grant that it’s better to be single than to be in a relationship with the wrong person. They don’t see being single as an active, positive choice for you, or see ace/aro as real sexual orientations, and it’s up to you if you want to shrug it off, or to come out to them, and attempt to educate them on this issue.

          I’m so sorry this is happening to you.

          I’m a fairly private person at work, and I want to extend others the same courtesy. So I never ask new coworkers about their family. I’m comfortable talking about mine, so I might bring it up at some point, and if I do, people usually reciprocate. If they change the subject, I know that family is something they aren’t comfortable talking about and leave it at that. If they say they’re single, I’ll take it at face value. If we become actual work friends, and they bring it up, I might ask if they’re single by choice or looking for someone, but only if we’re close enough for that sort of talk. And I never, ever say I’m sorry to hear that someone’s single, unless they make it obvious that they’d rather not be single. So far, though, that has never happened at work, only in my social life.

    8. Rose*

      I get this. I’m ace/aro and, while I understand everyone’s points about not discussing it at work, part of me kind of resents the idea that this part of me has to be more private/hidden than other people’s. Like yes, it’s kind of defined by a lack/absence, but it’s also a part of my life that means something to me. So what I end up doing is usually something like: if I’m genuinely comfortable with the people, around coming out day or pride month I might wear a couple of pins or have pamphlets on my desk or something like that. OTOH, if someone were to ask me why I’m single or otherwise pry into my personal life and I’m not particularly comfortable with them (or even if I am and just don’t think that question is appropriate, which I generally don’t), I’m not going to give them any real information. For ‘why are you single?’ I would just say ‘why not?’ If someone asked me flat out if I preferred not being single or if I was looking (which again, I don’t think is at all appropriate at work) I’d say ‘does it matter?’ Basically I only share about the ace/aro stuff on my own terms, not in response to questions about my dating status.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        it’s also a part of my life that means something to me

        I think this is the part of the whole ace-coming-out-thing I can’t quite wrap my head around. Not necessarily asking you for clarification or anything, and definitely not trying to start an argument, I just don’t get it – I don’t have sex, just like I don’t eat sushi, drink coffee, or lift weights. All of these things are things that a lot of people have a significant interest in, but to me, the fact that I don’t sex isn’t any more significant to me, my life, my existence than the fact that I don’t go skydiving. It literally doesn’t matter. It’s been an issue in past relationships (before I figured out the aro thing), but only in the sense that it was an insurmountable incompatibility, just like the fact that my ex was raised to believe that Lastname Men Don’t Do Housework was an insurmountable incompatibility. I didn’t feel that mine needed “fixing” and he didn’t feel that his needed “fixing,” so we concluded that we were clearly incompatible and went our separate ways.

        1. Rose*

          I mean, I suppose the easy answer is that people are different and have different experiences and feel differently about these things. Growing up I felt like I was lacking or missing something in a way I couldn’t name. I genuinely felt like there was something wrong with me, that I couldn’t seem to form the relationships I was supposed to (the relationships a big part of me genuinely wanted to have). When I realized I was ace (and then aro), that was a big relief and change in my thinking. It isn’t that way for everyone, but I also know I’m not alone in that thinking. I suppose if I were surrounded growing up by people who told me one day I’d learn to appreciate skydiving, or want to do it myself, and that skydiving was something EVERYONE did, and that it was the most natural and ‘human’ thing in the world, and me not wanting to do that was flat out impossible, I might feel more strongly about something like skydiving, too. A lot of it depends on context.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Oh, no, for sure, it’s hardly the first time that something that made perfect sense to a whole lot of other people didn’t click in my head :) I mostly was just thinking out loud about my own viewpoint, and it was you explicitly identifying it as a thing that was important to you that kinda kicked off the train of thought. Like I said, definitely not trying to pick an argument or demand an explanation. :)

            1. Rose*

              Totally get it – and it’s always good to hear other people’s different experiences I think, so I’m really grateful that you shared yours. I will say I definitely wouldn’t share anything about my personal sex life with anyone at work – I see the fact of me being ace/aro as not actually signifying anything specific about my personal behavior, whether others interpret it that way or not.

              1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

                Your comment about “surrounded growing up by people who …” I think is also significant — I wasn’t. Nobody talked about sex around me when I was growing up, I didn’t get the “birds and the bees” talks from my parents, my grandma who was a children’s librarian brought home an assortment of books and I figured it out from there. (I think my folks assumed that if I had questions I couldn’t answer from books that I would ask those, but I don’t think I ever did?) So I think in general, sex has pretty much been a non-thing all my life, and it stands to reason that non-sex would continue to be a non-thing :)

                I did read a totally absurd number of bodice-ripper books when I was a kid and they were totally age-inappropriate, mostly because I ran out of other books in the house [username is accurate] and my mom gave up on trying to keep me out of her books – but they already seemed wildly unrealistic, so mostly I skipped the sex scenes to focus on the rest of the story anyway :)

                1. allathian*

                  I’m glad that there are ace/aro activists in committed relationships who are open about it and happy to say that a sexless marriage/relationship works for them, but at the same time, coming out as ace/aro when you’re married is also involving other people in your marriage in a way that I think is inappropriate at work. I don’t want to know how often my coworkers have sex with their spouses/partners, and that includes never.

                  This is tough, and as you can see, I can’t quite decide how I feel about it. I’m happy if people I don’t know in person are out about their ace/aro relationship, but if I knew that about a coworker, it’d feel like TMI. Am I making any sense?

          2. fantomina*

            Rose, when you say “I genuinely felt like there was something wrong with me, that I couldn’t seem to form the relationships I was supposed to,” that’s I think the heart of my question here; I grew up socialized to think that I was broken, and that partnered is the assumed default irritates to infuriates me, depending on the day. So part of me really wants everyone to know, so that the assumption gets corrected, but on the other hand, I don’t want to broadcast details of my sexuality either. And I worry that if I just say I’m aro, then people make assumptions that I’m a “casual sex” person, thrusting me into the territory of another common assumption that ALSO broadcasts something incorrect about my sexuality. It feels like a Catch-22.

            1. Rose*

              I totally get it; this is actually why I would answer ‘why are you single’ questions with ‘why not?’ or something similar. If anyone were to ask me something like that – which no one has, and I am so sorry if anyone has to you – my goal would be to kind of (gently) throw their assumptions back in their face a little? Not in a rude way, but just like to try to get across ‘why does that matter? why do you assume one option is better than the other?’ Because the crux of it, like you say, is that there IS an assumed default – that if you’re not partnered you WANT to be. That that is the goal, if not now than somewhere down the line. It’s like if someone were to say ‘why don’t you have kids yet? But you want some, right?’ I get that usually it’s an attempt at small talk, but it’s based heavily on assumptions that can make people feel their difference more acutely, in a negative way. At my last job I literally just got pamphlets on asexuality and aromanticism from the student LGBTQ+ group and put them on my desk. The people who I cared about knowing, who I talked with often, figured it out quickly enough through subsequent conversations (but they were also at least marginally familiar with those terms to begin with, and I knew they would be respectful).

              1. Rose*

                I should also say- my situation is probably unique as I worked at a university and could have plausibly had those pamphlets on my desk for another reason. If I were in a regular office it would be trickier, and would really depend on how much I trusted the people I worked with to actually know that. But my reaction to invasive questions would likely be the same.

            2. Farm Girl*

              I don’t want to get into this at work, just my take on it. I understand if others feel differently.
              If someone asked me if I were partnered, my answer is Oh, no – said in a tone of mock horror. Humor helps move it on.

          3. Fact & Fiction*

            This comment resonated with me a lot. So last year I realized I was bi/pan (I tend to say bi but I wouldn’t exclude nonbinary folks) and came out to my husband and online friends, but I don’t feel safe coming out to anyone else. Then this year I realized I was also poly and when I told my husband that, he came out to me as asexual, which explained SO MANY issues in our marriage. We’re deeply in love and best friends, but…There was definitely a disconnect. And there I was terrified he’d want a divorce if I revealed my authentic self and he was terrified _I_ would want a divorce if he revealed his authentic self.

            But my biggest concern was assuring him that I love him and accept him exactly as he is and that he’s PERFECT as he is and not lacking or missing anything. And his biggest concern was assuring me that he loves me and accepts me exactly as I am. In fact, he was actually relieved by my revelation because it alleviated a lot of pressure he’d been feeling/putting on himself. And we’re definitely NOT getting a divorce.

            As far as I know, he doesn’t plan to come out at work as ace, but him just being able to be his true self with me has been freeing. And ditto for me being my true self with him.

            1. fantomina*

              that seems so ideal for you all! I’m glad you were able to tell each other and now can live your lives together as you both prefer!

      2. Cleo*

        I’m a bi woman married to a straight man and that’s pretty much exactly how I handle being out at work for the same reasons. I don’t like people assuming I’m straight so I wear a pride pin on my coat and I have a photo of me with my bi-pride meetup and a giant bi-pride flag included in a little plaque with several photos from my life. Most people don’t pick up on it but it’s been a nice way to find other LGBTQ+ folx.

    9. Aquawoman*

      I think saying “why wouldn’t I be” is actually an excellent returning awkward to sender response. But if you don’t want to say that, just come up with an all-purpose answer, like, “Because that’s how I like it/that’s how I roll.”

    10. Not So NewReader*

      I am single by choice.
      I don’t think that anyone at work, or for that matter anywhere else should be asking anyone why they are single.
      There’s no reason to ask that question. If a person wants me to know they will just tell me on their own. Otherwise it’s not my business.

      How about throwing discomfort back to the sender: “Wow. That’s kind of personal, don’t ya think?”

      Or if you can pull it off, put on a smart a$$ grin and say, “Because I am not partnered up.” (Many people will not be able to figure out that is a non-answer.)

      Or how about: “Life is so mysterious isn’t it? For example, why are you partnered?”
      [Okay, maybe not say that. I am ticked on your behalf.]

      I will say this, I don’t get asked a lot about my singledom. One friend said, “You have said you are not interested in dating. You don’t date. And you seem content with how life is going for you. Your walk and talk match up and people respect that.” Don’t underestimate the power of going about life in a contented manner.

    11. Cleo*

      Not ace/aro but I feel like my experience is a little similar. I’m a bi woman married (for 20 years) to a straight man – so of course everyone assumes I’m straight unless I say something. I’ve also struggled with how to casually come out and even if I should come out. And sometimes when I’m in LGBTQ+ community I feel awkward about blurting out that I am queer and married to a man (this has gotten easier with time – now I mostly just lean into the awkwardness).

      After I got married, I kind of stopped coming out to people – I’m private and it didn’t feel like anyone’s business who I’d dated or attempted to date. And then, after maybe 10 years of marriage, I realized that *everyone* in my life (even people that I’d come out to earlier) assumed that I’m straight and I started to feel really uncomfortable. So I decided that I needed to be at least low key out in my public life.

      I handle coming out / being out at work in two ways – displaying and wearing (low key) pride paraphernalia and during small talk, mentioning that queer things I do (volunteering with Out in Tech, bi meet up events, reading a book for my queer book group, etc).

      Back when I had a desk in an office, I had a little plaque with an assortment of photos and I deliberately included one of me with my bi-pride meetup and a giant bi-pride flag. And I almost always wear a couple pride pins on my coat or purse. One rainbow and one bi pride. When I start a new job I try to remember to wear a rainbow pin to my first couple meetings.

      Most people don’t pick up on the pride pins and photos but it makes me feel better / less invisible and it’s a nice way to connect with other LGBTQ+ folx. Most people, even LGBTQ+ people, don’t recognize the bi pride flag (or the ace or aro flags) but other queer folx will see the rainbow pin and will sometimes ask about my bi pin. And it is a fantastic way to find other bi folx.

      1. Grayce*

        I’m gray ace and not ready to come out. For now, I’m just the buzzkill that shuts down all the sexual humor at work to keep it from being normalized. It’s not ok anyway, but now I know why it bothers me on another level.

        1. fantomina*

          yeah, I’ve thought a lot about whether I’d fall more into the category of ace or grayce, and with the latter it seems even harder for me to talk about except with my absolutely best, most queer theory/community aware friend, because otherwise it feels even more focused on the specifics of my sex life?

    12. Nightengale*

      I don’t usually but I sorta did recently. It’s gotten better as I’ve gotten older (now 45) and people have stopped pestering me about why I don’t date. For a good while, my answer was that I “was an Old Maid Schoolteacher and now am an Old Maid Pediatrician.” Usually then that devolved into people telling me not to call myself Old or an Old Maid. . . I had an actual fight in medical school with a doctor giving us a lecture on caring for patients who are GLB where he said that it was normal to be gay or lesbian but that a kid of 12 who has never thought about sex is abnormal. After the lecture I pointed out that I was then 28 and still wasn’t interested and he said he didn’t believe me, and when I got upset at being told I was lying about my, you know, life, suggested I seek counseling.

      Amusingly though many places I have worked, I have turned into the department expert on gender and sexuality,. I think being asexual makes it sometimes easier to talk to teens about sex and sexuality because I don’t bring as much personal stuff into it? And I’m cis but have a lot of trans friends, probably because I am autistic and have a lot of also autistic friends and autistic people are more likely to be LGBTQIA+. So I end up giving presentations on gender and sexuality and I always explicitly mention asexuality, which otherwise no one ever does. I sometimes wonder if my just doing that is in fact outing myself to the rest of my department.

      But recently our office was going to have a training on caring for patients who are trans/non-binary. The training was mandatory across our whole health system but I was talking it up in our little office because we specialize in autistic kids and so it’s extra relevant in ways people might not expect. So I offered to bring in rainbow cookies for the training and one of our nursing staff said something like “This is interesting for me because I’m one of those other letters, the L” so I said, “So am I, the A.” Then she asked what the A stood for and I told her. And then someone else came in and we changed the subject.

  24. LTL*

    I’m starting a new job on Monday and I’m so anxious! I’ve been feeling like I’m not smart enough to be on the team. Imposter syndrome is really getting along with my anxiety haha.

    1. cubone*

      think of it this way: they wouldn’t have hired you if they didn’t believe you were capable! You’ve already proven you’re smart enough. :)

    2. fantomina*

      I feel that in a major way. My best advice is 1) keep reminding yourself that they hired you for a reason and 2) remind yourself of the reason by keeping and referring to a folder of praise. Any email where someone says you’re the best, or why they like working with you, etc.– put it in the folder. If you already have that folder, today’s a good day to refer to it. If you don’t, putting it together will force you to read through all of those nice emails! :) Also, it helps me to remember that everyone (except narcissists, maybe?) is super anxious about a new job, so my anxiety is normal and expected.

      Best of luck!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Let that humbleness work for you. Take good notes. Ask thoughtful questions. Accept offers of help. Show appreciation. Keep yourself organized and on top of what you need to do.
      Anxiousness is a bunch of extra energy- so channel that energy into building a nice job for yourself.

      I always say the first day is the worst. It’s so humbling to ask where the bathrooms are and to try to find the fridge. Push through the first day and know that on Tuesday, you will know where the bathroom is and where the fridge is. And Wednesday will be better than Tuesday and so on.

      Come back next weekend and tell us how it went.

  25. RainbowTribble*

    Question on timing medical leave when starting a new job.

    Context: I’m applying for an internal position at my company that I have a decent chance of getting. The hiring manager already knows me and my work. I have a medical condition that is getting worse and will probably require switching medication. Due to my unique situation, this would likely mean that during that switch I would be unable to work, at minimum unable to work in office. This condition impacts my job but I’m currently trying to work through until a better time to make the medication switch.

    My question: How long into the new job (if I get it) should I wait before I take this leave?

      1. RainbowTribble*

        I don’t know yet. I’m on a drug that will need to be weaned off slowly and I don’t know if I can start the one while the other is being taken off. I need it to work, to drive, basically do my life. A few weeks would be my hope.

    1. OtterB*

      I think this is something you’d have to discuss with the hiring manager when you are offered the position. To me, it would depend on how long you would need to be out, if there are fixed-schedule things in the new job (a major meeting or a required training course), and how much impact it has on you to wait. Everything else being equal, in between positions might be good.

    2. BRR*

      I think because it’s an internal position where the hiring manager knows you and your work, it’s not as big of a deal as if you were starting a new job (and obviously it shouldn’t make a difference at all but the reality is people are unreasonable). So take the leave whenever you need to take the leave. Don’t worry about trying to hold out X months.

    3. Holly Dolly*

      I work at a large Corp that had a great leave policy for any short or long term disability. Since I work in that department, I see how long people are tenured. We have very new people that go out on leave for months. It’s normal in our culture.

      You have been with that company for some time and have earned the right to use your leave. Your health is important. Also, it’s up to you how much info you share with your manager. Take the leave. Don’t feel bad! I hope you get it all under control and good luck!

  26. JustAnotherGusto*

    Question: Can someone explain to me what “compliance” work is, and who might be a good candidate for compliance work? I’ve seen tidbits here and there that make it seem like it might be a good fit for me, but don’t know enough about it to draw that conclusion. Thanks!

    1. Pascall*

      It depends on the industry. Compliance can mean a number of things – compliance with internal policies, or compliance with governing laws surrounding the company, etc. It’s mostly making sure that the company and its employees are complying with some set of rules – either internal or external, including legal compliance. From my understanding, anyway.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        This is a good general description. I’ve worked for government contractors & in government, & it’s very important. If you like learning rules & research it could be something you’d enjoy. It generally also requires good documentation skills.

        I don’t work in compliance, but much of my work requires me to know the rules, make sure my area is meeting them, & be able to provide documentation.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      It varies from industry to industry. But it general, it refers to a kind of internal auditing.

      The job involves answering whether Department X is complying with some law or regulation.

      This can be working for a university and doing the legwork to prove to the NCAA that you are complying with the scholarship and recruiting rules, or to the federal government that you are complying with Title IX sexual discrimination law. Or working for a bank and verifying that you are complying with FDIC regulations.

    3. Alexis Rosay*

      I imagine it varies a lot by industry. In nonprofits, my field, it usually means compliance with federal grant requirements or national accreditation standards. I think the person who is best in compliance is able to read a very dry, detailed set of standards and regulations, translate them to language others can understand, and creatively triangulate between the cut and dried on-paper rules and the fluid demands of the real-life work.

    4. CaughtOnCandy*

      I don’t know if this is precisely what you want, but my job involves “compliance” so I can share a bit. I do compliance work in a university setting making sure students complete requirements. You need a good familiarity with Excel to do tracking and have into a routine of doing daily/weekly/monthly checks. I email students a lot, following up, assisting with completion of requirements, etc. It’s not the most interesting (to me) part of my job but I enjoy the routine of it, I can listen to some music as I do my checks, do work on how to improve compliance, check off things on my spreadsheet and get a little endorphin kick, etc. If you want a lot of variety, I don’t think it’s for you.

    5. Amber Rose*

      It’s broad. Basically every function is going to have it’s own version. What I do now is a form of compliance work: I run and regularly audit our safety program, and I assist with the quality program audits. What that looks like is that on a weekly basis I gather documentation, on a monthly basis I inspect the company, and on a yearly basis, I compile a giant list of requirements, then sit down and go over all our documentation to make sure they’re correctly done. Then I interview some percentage of the staff to ensure they understand their roles and duties with regards to compliance with the programs and the laws and legislation.

      I do a metric ton of paperwork. My audit reports are in the hundreds of pages. I spend a lot of time talking to various departments about things that are going wrong or are less efficient than they could be, how we can fix them, and then designing and forcing implementation of action plans to address deficiencies. You’re suited for compliance work if you have patience for forms and legalese, strong problem solving skills, and good interpersonal skills. It takes a politic person to change stuff without alienating everyone.

    6. quill*

      In my industry it’s either 1) a mix of routing documents from government offices to product destinations and checking that internal records are made available for purchasers or exporters, or 2) checking physical plant and laboratory safety and reporting procedures.

      I’d say you want to narrow it down to an industry you already have passing aquaintance with before you seek out more answers.

      1. AdequateAdmin*

        Despite my username, I actually also do archaeology and for us it’s doing work (both field work and paperwork/reports) that makes sure groups with federal funding (even tangentally) are following major governing laws regarding cultural resources. It’s also kind of a specialty area, so some firms or individuals can “specialize” in compliance work.

    7. Aquawoman*

      I would think having really good organizational skills would be a necessity, because you are making sure nothing falls through the cracks.

    8. OyHiOh*

      A friend has a background in financial compliance. Their job involved spot checking all parts of a financial institution’s operations – from check drawers, listening how tellers interact with members, and making sure required signage is visible and correct to auditing loans to hours worth of compliance with federal financial reporting, including running membership lists against Homeland security watchlists every day.

    9. Donkey Hotey*

      As everyone else has said, it varies by industry.
      At my previous job, it was not only “the insert says Egyptian cotton, can we prove that it is Egyptian?” but also “the supplier said it was 300 thread count, is it really?” as well as “this company requires price stickers to be placed on the front, upper right corner of the bag and a upc bar code on the back lower left.”

    10. Ann Perkins*

      This will vary greatly by industry but generally refers to ensuring compliance with either applicable internal policies and/or industry regulations or laws. I work in financial compliance directly with financial advisors, so I have to have both the technical financial background to understand investment products and sales and compensation, but also the soft skills to influence advisors to follow the rules they need to without them all hating me. There are other compliance functions in my company that are primarily project based, or back office based/data interpretation, etc. I have a friend who works in oil and gas compliance and I believe she does a lot of reporting functions and pipeline and safety inspections.

      Personality wise, generally it’s going to be people who are type A, able to read and interpret policies for practical every day use, strong organizational and time management skills, natural rule followers.

    11. RagingADHD*

      When I worked at an investment bank, the compliance department dealt externally with banking regulators and the SEC, and internally with making sure the brokers were up to date on their licensing requirements and renewals.

      A person who would do well in compliance is organized, detail-oriented, follows processes precisely, and doesn’t mind too much if other people think they are nitpicky or a spoilsport. I knew some very charming people in compliance who were good at getting people to finish their paperwork by being funny and friendly. Others got it done by being persistent and no-nonsense. Both ways worked.

    12. Hillary*

      Another area is international compliance – they interpret import/export laws and ensure their employer complies with that interpretation. Customs Broker is one of the titles, international compliance specialist/manager is another common one. It (like a lot of compliance) takes a strong personality and a willingness to be the bad guy. You spend time telling sales and leaders no. But you need to be a good influencer and know how to make yourself liked, because you need them to come to you before there’s a problem.

      You also need to know where the real lines are. A lot of compliance appears very black and white at first, but it’s all shades of gray. There are trade law things required by US law but illegal in Europe, and they may both apply to an international company. Which set of laws do you break?

    13. JustaTech*

      As everyone’ said, it varies by industry, but the big thing is razor-sharp attention to detail. It’s about spotting everything (that matters) that is even a little bit off; which could be a missing doorstop or a missing decimal point.

      Professionally persnickety.

    14. beach read*

      A friend audits bank loan files for compliance with all applicable bank laws etc… lots of reading, good eyes to catch errors and writing reports with findings. She says it can be dull sometimes and tiring sometimes but she has a knack for it and she likes the work.

  27. Penny Hartz (real name Jill)*

    Hi AAM community, I am currently completing a capstone research project for my master’s in Learning and Organizational Change, and am collecting data via a survey.
    If you live in the US and are currently experiencing, or have recently experienced a significant organizational change, I invite you to participate. (Examples of significant organizational change include an organization redesign in which the participants’ role, job responsibilities and/or team or unit changed; a merger and acquisition; a change in organizational culture; and/or a significant technology implementation.)

    I’ll comment with more information and the LinkedIn post.

    My ultimate goal is to make change easier/better for employees. Thank you!

    1. Generic Name*

      Ooh, I’ll fill it out as soon as the link is posted. My manager just left, and they have not advertised her replacement’s position because the company has decided to do a reorganization, so I think that qualifies as a “significant organizational change”. :)

    2. Judge Judy and Executioner*

      I will take your survey! I just did my Capstone for my MS in Organizational Psychology degree last year. :)

      1. Penny Hartz (real name Jill)*

        Thank you, @Judy! And congrats on completing your Capstone. The comment with the link is now posted above.

      1. Penny Hartz (real name Jill)*

        Thank you, @Starchy! The comment with the link to the survey (which is within a LinkedIn post) is now posted above.

      1. Penny Hartz (real name Jill)*

        Hi, @Mr. Cajun2core,
        I think yes, this counts, especially if this affects your duties or even somehow shifts the culture of the org/department? You can also begin the survey and if it doesn’t feel right, you can exit at any time. The
        comment with the link to the survey (which is within a LinkedIn post) is now posted above.

    3. RandomLawyer*

      My org (large governmental unit) just went through a massive re-org so I’ll be happy to fill this out

      1. Penny Hartz (real name Jill)*

        Thanks, @RandomLawyer. The comment with the link to the survey (which is within a LinkedIn post) is now posted above.

    4. Belle of the Midwest*

      I’ll fill it out, too. we have an interim dean, one of our directors is leaving next week (moving to another state to be closer to family following the death of her mother last year), as well as one of our career counseling staff (which leaves two of us for the rest of the semester), and the director who is leaving is the career development director. I actually report to a different director but I work very closely with the departing director. This on top of all the “happy talk” and toxic positivity around bringing students back to campus and being one big happy family. I may put in for retirement myself after I complete your survey.

      1. Penny Hartz (real name Jill)*

        Thanks @Belle! (And I attend Northwestern; hello from a fellow Midwesterner!) The AAM comment with a link to the survey (which is within a LinkedIn post) is now posted above.

  28. PrairieEffingDawn*

    Anyone have thoughts/tips on finding/using a career counselor? I’m 11 years into my career, currently job searching and thinking of speaking with a professional.

    I’m not having trouble getting interviews at all. But I’m currently in a toxic position that has I think warped my norms and has me terrified that I’ll never find a “good” job again. I’d like to speak with an objective person who can help me sort out my situation and focus on confidently making a choice for the future.

    There’s an AAM post on this from ~9 years ago ago but I’m wondering if there are any fresh perspectives out there on coaches or counselors.

    1. cubone*

      not a career coach, but recently saw one and I think what was helpful for me was she was particularly experienced with careers at my “stage”. I am basically just transitioning from that first big post-college job and how I want to adapt and grow from there. She had a ton of experience in colleges and with young people/”early career”, so was really insightful. Also, I was really clear on what I wanted: discussion and insights for how to shape the next phase of my career + a detailed, deep dive on my resume.

      So, I would suggest trying to find someone who maybe references some of the things you’ve talked about: recovering from toxic jobs/burnout, fear, “mid career” (that’s what I would call 10+ years of experience personally, but don’t know your specifics). Also, consider looking around for people who do a free intro call and intentionally plan to do at least 3-5 of those, with questions about how they would advise people on those key points you’ve mentioned. Then pick based on the one you had the best, most comfortable vibe with.

      1. PrairieEffingDawn*

        Thank you for this insight! This is exactly the kind of thing I’m looking for. How did you find the person who worked with? I’ve found a few prospectives on Psychology Today and general Googling but haven’t reached out to anyone yet. I’ve also tried asking around to people I know but haven’t had any luck there.

        1. cubone*

          so, fortunate for me but not helpful for you: there was actually there was a government funded temporary program in the city where I lived offering two free appointments with a career coach for people under 30. I just squeaked in ;) They had a list of the available people and you could rank your preference, and that was why I ranked the person I ended up with as my #1 choice. The bit I said about calling around for free intro calls is a lesson I learned from finding a therapist, haha. I did find my therapist(s) on Psychology Today and I think a lot of countries/states sometimes have career counselling certifications, so there might be like a “find a licensed person” tool on their website?

      2. TheDee*

        I just had a free 1st meeting with a career counselor this morning! I will probably sign up with her. I found her through a Google search but even though she is in my town, it took a few searches before I found her. I found it helpful to really have a good idea of what I wanted before looking. I wanted someone who really was a career counselor/coach as their focus, not a therapist who said they also did career coaching. I have some pretty firm ideas of what I am interested in career wise and have explored them to some extent, but need more professional focus and direction. I didn’t really want too much “woo woo” New Agey stuff: nothing wrong with it but not what I was looking for. I wanted something practical but definitely someone to talk through issues with, so not someone just focused on writing resumes and cover letters. I was hoping for someone in my geographical area too, and this person seems to have a lot of contacts she can suggest that I askto talk with which is great. I am looking forward to the process, although it’s expensive!!!

    2. talkitout*

      Agreeing with cubone about setting up introductory calls and sort of vetting people. Adding that you may want to see a therapist, particularly one who works with trauma, in addition to or instead of a career coach/counselor.

      I was in a similar situation and first saw a career coach. She provided great, practical advice for evaluating job offers and clarifying what I want. She also provided an executive view on some of the things I saw happening.

      What stood out to me about your question is “warped norms,” and in that vein, the career coach wasn’t as helpful. She basically said to ignore the bad behavior, which is easier said than done. When “normal” is skewed, you might take on a “What’s wrong with me?” mindset. The therapist helped me understand my reactions and develop more productive ones so that I didn’t take the “warped norms” into new environments.

  29. NACSACJACK*

    I agree with the “Dont make a snarky reply” but I encourage you to write back to her and explain to her that she missed your point – you’re stuck in a box with no windows and no natural light, essentially a factory, and even they have windows. I think she focused more on your comments about how good working remotely worked for you and your team and that’s what she’s turning a deaf ear to. She and Corporate want their employees back in the office. They dont like having their employees working remotely. HR is notorious about working together as a team, rather than individuals so they themselves are not a department to be compared with. I would forward her email to your boss, with whatever relationship you have with him, explaining “I think she missed the point.”

    Sidenote – I wonder if your state labor department has laws regarding working environments.

  30. Alice*

    People working in-person: has your organization shared information about ventilation for COVID safety?
    If so, was info distributed about your workspaces in general or about specific buildings or even rooms?
    Was the info “all HVAC systems are achieving at least X air changes per hour” or “all HVAC systems are meeting/exceeding the standards set by ASHRAE in document X” or “we checked, it’s fine, don’t worry about it”?
    Thanks for sharing

    1. Pascall*

      I work for a school district and, at the height of COVID-19, they put out a “Safety Plan” which is available on the website and includes HVAC information. Here’s a snippet of what is included in the document (with names taken out):

      Daily Cleaning Practices/HVAC
      “• Classrooms and restrooms will be disinfected regularly.
      • High-touch areas will be disinfected throughout the day.
      • Disinfectant spray will be provided in each classroom.
      • All campuses will have a minimum of one electrostatic applicator to provide rapid disinfection.
      • ____ will purge the school’s HVAC systems two hours before school begins daily and also clear out stagnant air for two hours after school.
      • Each HVAC system will run at the maximum outside air setting and maximum allowable air exchanges all day without compromising comfort levels.
      • Each HVAC filter is the highest rated filter allowed by the system and each is coated with the ZOONO anti microbial spray which lasts 90 days.”

      The document included all kinds of other information about face coverings, testing, isolation protocols, etc.

    2. LizB*

      My organization hasn’t shared anything beyond “our ventilation systems are maintained properly and circulating the maximum possible amount of air”. They seem more than a little stuck in older guidelines – lots of emphasis on 6 feet of distance and sanitizing high touch surfaces. Both of which are important measures, of course… but ventilation and quarantining/contact tracing should be higher priorities.

    3. ThatGirl*

      Nope. Don’t think anyone has asked. We do have a mask mandate back, though, after the state reinstated it.

    4. Dino*

      Nope and management won’t answer any direct questions about it. Say they don’t know, but also don’t want us contacting the building management for the office we rent.

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

      As part of a return-to-campus communication we received an update about all of the changes our Facilities and Environmental Health departments had done including adding HEPA filters and increasing airflow through vents and how often they will be changing/cleaning filters etc. but we have a multi-building campus and so there wasn’t anything for specific locations/offices. Any follow-up questions that people have brought up have sort of been met with “it’s fine, don’t worry about it…” answers. We started to open back up and have most people return and then shut back down-ish due to the Delta variant. But for about 2 weeks, I was back to sharing an office space and had requested a portable HEPA filter unit specifically for our confined space. They said NO, and then the point became moot because my coworker went back home.

    6. sometimeswhy*

      Yes, at the Director level (highest level before you hit executives) but possibly only because a third of the org was all “HEY, this thing that we are professional experts in in a different context is a thing we need to be concerned about in THIS context. Would you like to talk to the building management or would you like a pack of nerds to do it for you? Oh you’d like to? Here are the questions we’d like answered. [dramatically unfurls scroll that goes the length of the hallway].”

      1. Alice*

        How much do I love this image Sometimeswhy…. Thanks to everyone who responded. I’m saddened by many of the answers but it’s good to hear some people’s experiences.

    7. All the words*

      Nope. We’re very much left to fend for ourselves and hope for the best.

      Impressive for one of the largest banks in the country, eh?

    8. JustaTech*

      Nope, but we have labs (of various levels of “cleanness”) so in my department/floor we’re reasonably able to evaluate the air exchange for ourselves.

      But I’m not sure they would provide that information for the people who can’t calculate it for themselves.

    9. Purple Cat*

      I work in a general office environment. My company sent out info that they upgraded the filters in the HVAC system to whatever higher setting. And they also installed air purifiers in each of the conference rooms that fit more than 5 people.

    10. CatMintCat*

      I work in a primary school, and all we have been told is “open windows”. My classroom is a century old and the only way to open a window is to smash the glass. I open the door to the outside but that’s all I can do. Luckily, so far, my town hasn’t seen a case of Covid and the nearest large town saw three in April 2020 with nothing since. We’ve been lucky.

    11. Quidge*

      Really late to this, but you might still see it/appreciate another data point! ~4k in company, spread across continents, ~200 in my UK office, for context.

      Early on (during initial UK lockdown) we got an email saying the UK offices were being Covid-safety-checked, which included HVAC/airflow. So I know we’re meeting some sort of UK HSE recommended minimum, but we weren’t given specifics. In fairness, as a non-expert, what am I going to do with them? Yes, that number is higher than that one, good job everyone!

      When we had all our coming-back meetings this summer, some people asked about CO2 monitors (as a way to double-check airflow at their actual desks), no-one on our Covid committee or higher had considered it and we won’t be. I do actually know a bit about portable gas monitors/sensors, and I think that’s a-OK – even getting an accurate reading out of them can be a whole Thing, let alone extrapolating that reading to whether there’s enough air flow…

      That said, the whole company is fully behind flex/WfH working, and not coming back until/unless you’re comfortable. Fortunately, we can ask for all the info and just not transition yet if we’re not happy with the answers.

  31. llama conservationist*

    I am looking for advice on what to do for my career.

    I have a PhD in (let’s say) biology, but I didn’t like academia. So I worked in biotech for 3 years to pay off my loans, but I didn’t like that either. For the last 2.5 years, I’ve been working in endangered llama conservation. The work really interests me, but there are challenges. For example, the project I started is to build a protected habitat for the llamas so they will be safe and hopefully reproduce. However, the community members I work with will refuse to acknowledge my expertise in llamas, and will insist for example that, since they grew up seeing the llamas eat grass on people’s lawns (due to people building homes on llama territory), therefore grass is an essential part of their natural diet, even though that is not the case. They also refuse to allow any kind of monitoring of the llamas’ reproduction habits, so we don’t know if they’re failing to couple, or failing to get pregnant, or to give birth, or if the offspring die before maturity, or what. We only know there are no new adult llamas in the population. My manager is more interested in awareness raising than actual conservation efforts, so although she thinks my work is good, she’s not interested in using her authority to help get the rest of the team on board with my ideas for monitoring, etc.

    Because this kind of work environment is pretty common in the field, I’ve been thinking I’d like to get into environmental policy analysis or work for an international environmental NGO eventually, since that should be a bit calmer and I could live in a city again, instead of this small, remote town near the llamas. It would be good to stay where I am at least 5 years to get into the kind of international conservation policy work that interests me, but if I don’t have any examples to show where I monitored the effects of our efforts on the llama population, it’s not super good experience for the jobs I want. But 5 years is enough time to finish my llama habitat and collect enough samples for cloning, if that’s an option in the future, and that would be good for the llamas, who mean a lot to me.

    But I’m kind of burnt out here, partly due to work, partly small town life, partly probably general covid-related-despair. And I could probably get a job in policy now if I applied to some. I also recently applied to work for a group doing alpaca conservation on the very outskirts of a big city, and from their job posting and postings for other roles on the team, it sounds like they have similar views to me regarding the importance of monitoring population change and creating authentic protected habitats, so that’s very appealing. But it’s a manager-level position and I’ve never managed before (except projects) so I don’t know if I would like it, or if I’d just burn out again after a few years there. And switching from llamas to alpacas requires a big investment of study time.

    So as I see it, I can (1) stay here a few more years and keep trying to get people to let me monitor llama babies, (2) stay here and focus on doing what I can for the llamas without any help, (3) look for a new job in conservation of a different animal with a group that’s more aligned to my views, (4) go into policy research even if it’s not the kind I want, (5) ???. Suggestions? Or anyone who works in policy who knows what kind of experience is good…? Can I even leave after only a few years here, or do I have to stay to finish my projects to look responsible?

    1. Alice*

      As an internet stranger, I’d vote for the alpaca manager job where their values align with yours. Or, at least, explore that in the interview process. Are the values really aligned? They will know that you are not an experienced manager — do they have a plan to train and support you?
      Big picture I think that changing *yourself* (learning about alpacas and management) is easier than trying to change *other people* (the suburban llama lovers and your current manager).
      Good luck to you and the llamas and the alpacas!

    2. Overeducated*

      Keep applying while doing 1/2? These don’t seem mutually exclusive to me, you have to keep trying and see what sticks. You will learn more about the manager job if you interview for it.

      Signed, someone who applied for an unlikely stretch job this week despite planning to stay a few more years to try to finish some projects and look responsible.

      1. llama conservationist*

        That’s true. That’s kind of what I had in mind, and then if I hit the 3 year mark and things aren’t looking better, I might start looking around at policy jobs.

        Best of luck to you with your stretch job, too!

    3. Camelid coordinator*

      I’d also vote for some networking. It could be that alpacas and llamas are not they only choices (save the wild guanacos!) or that there may be jobs that use your skills in a way you aren’t thinking about now. Networking would help you practice saying out loud to strangers what you like to do and the skills you have, which could eventually help in interviews. Good luck!

  32. ErinWV*

    Not sure if anyone else is feeling this, but this week has been a struggle for me that I did not anticipate. I returned to my office 3 days a week back in July 2020, but my boss and colleagues continued to work almost completely from home and my 3-person office was basically always empty. I got very used to having my full office setup but also having quiet and tranquility around me. Everyone has come back to the office full time as of Sept 1. Two people are now sharing one of the positions in my office (so 3-person has become 4-person) and are coming and going constantly. We also have student workers again, which we haven’t had since the start of the pandemic. The office feels like it’s bustling, and I am crawling out of my skin. It feels almost assaultive. (Yes, I am a severe introvert.)

    It’s just weird that I did not anticipate this. I guess it was always this way before, but it’s been so long since we’ve had business-as-usual that I forgot how exhausting it is to be surrounded and distracted and annoyed. UGH.

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      It’s worth a conversation with your boss. Let them know you are feeling overwhelmed by the people traffic in a way you weren’t before (when it wasn’t a pandemic, when that was the environment you started in) and ask for whatever you want that would mitigate it. More remote work for you, more staggered schedules for everyone, separate work space for you… This doesn’t seem like you’re being unreasonable IMHO as long as you don’t make a lot of demands that are hard/impossible to meet.

      1. ErinWV*

        They are emphatically pushing back on anyone doing any more remote work, though that’s not really an issue for me, because I have no interest in continuing to work at home.

        Other office space is just not feasible. Our department is in a space that’s the equivalent of a studio apartment. What I really need is permission to close my office door sometimes. I could probably swing that if I had something specific and important that I was working on, but not any other times. Being interrupted/needed throughout the day is part of my job description. I was just surprised how foreign and overwhelming it felt to have the office be full again. I’m sure I’ll get used to it again.

        1. PollyQ*

          Might it be possible to block off a couple of hours a day for uninterrupted closed-door work? So that you’d be available for immediate questions only 6 hours a day instead of 8? Perhaps a mid-day break would be refreshing? It may be that long-term, this isn’t the job for you, and the COVID WFH break just made that more apparent.

    2. Mental Lentil*

      No help here, but I imagine this is how our cats felt when we were all home all day all of a sudden.

      “‘Get a human’ they said. ‘They’re hardly ever home.’ Ugh.”

    3. Hillary*

      Can you at least recharge at lunch? Take yourself somewhere quiet outside or in the library (it sounds like you’re on an academic campus?)?

      Beyond that, would some kind of white/pink noise help?

    4. mreasy*

      No advice, just sympathy. My few days in the office since lockdown lifted have left me anxious and I’ve had a couple of full blown panic attacks. I was lucky that my boss was willing to lower my number of in-office days.

    5. Business Librarian*

      I’d make a sign for my door that said “Concentrating! Email if you need me!” It would be even better if you had a shared office chat function. If everyone needs you for quick questions, you could change it to knock instead of email. That way you’d get some peace between requests. I wouldn’t ask permission to do this, I’d just do it and if questioned say, I found out I work much better in more quiet circumstances. I’ve been doing this forever to keep heat in my office so I have a different sign for different circumstances.

    6. KoiFeeder*

      You also may be more sensitized now than you were pre-pandemic. I know I’ve developed some sort of agoraphobia? Anthropophobia? I’ve lost most of my ability to handle being around other people, especially large groups of people (well, 3 or more people if I don’t know them) or when I’m in an enclosed space such as an office or bus. I definitely didn’t like interacting with people beforehand, but the idea of public transit was not a panic attack inducing concept!

      1. ErinWV*

        @KoiFeeder, there is definitely some of this in play. I’ve done this job for six years and been pretty stellar at it the whole time. I just have to build those psychic callouses back up.

  33. PrincessButtercup*

    I added this to yesterday’s Glassdoor post but doubt it will get seen, so would love to ask again here: what do you think makes a “good” Glassdoor review?

    I would really like to add one for my old job because they have a huge amount of money + PR into a sunny, caring brand, but it was a nightmare internally across the board. They also recruit a lot of young, inexperienced folks and I heard so much from young employees who were clearly deeply uncomfortable and burnt out, but being told again and again by senior people “this is how just how all jobs are”. My goal would not be to air out my personal grievances, or even to deter future employees, but just to know I have at least put out there some personal experience that might give even one person more encouragement to believe in the red flags, if they notice them.

    So, wondering what you think would make a review actually useful, effective, helpful, etc.? Anything either about stuff to include (or not to include) or practicalities, like length, level of specifity, etc. Thanks!

    1. Moira Rose*

      Honestly I think the more dispassionate you can be, and the more you can focus on harms to others (vs. yourself), the more people will take you seriously, for better or worse.

    2. Internproblems*

      I don’t trust reviews that sound like they have a personal ax to grind, so I’d focus on bigger picture things backed up by factual specifics and keep things dry. E.g., “Management expects everyone to bill at least 50 hours a week. Facetime with leadership is the best way to get recognized. The culture is very focused, and people tend to keep to socializing to a minimum.” vs. “I had to work ridiculously long weeks, which destroyed my personal life, and company leadership never recognized all my sacrifices, and every single one of my coworkers was a jerk.”

      When I read a negative review that doesn’t give much context, I always wonder if it was just left by a poor performer who didn’t like being held accountable. That’s why I prefer reviews name specifics that gives the reader information to decide for themselves. E.g, some people might love not socializing with their coworkers (in the example above), so that’s a lot more useful than just declaring that everyone was “a jerk.”

      1. cubone*

        this is a really helpful way of specifying what “big picture” examples look like! Thank you. I want to avoid being so specific I could be singled out as the author, but there are definitely specifics about the culture I can point out.

        1. cubone*

          oh wow, hahah I realize I wrote my initial post on my computer (instead of phone) which I haven’t done in ages and it seems I had another username I forgot about. Weird.

      2. No Sleep Till Hippo*

        I like this – in my mind it basically mirrors the idea of an accomplishments-focused resume. As many concrete, measurable/observable facts as possible – and let people draw their own conclusions about what that means in a broader sense. :)

    3. quill*

      I know what makes a bad one more than I know what makes a good one, so… definitely don’t overemphasize small details (manager didn’t appreciate my hawaiian rolls, etc.) over big ones (Lack of work life balance, crazy hours, harassment, no medical leave…)

      The more concise you can get your review with the necessary details and not adding too much (as opposed to cutting out identifying info) the better it will be.

    4. BRR*

      I thinking trying to make is a big picture as possible, be professional with your language, and be specific. I feel like most bad reviews say the same things: management doesn’t appreciate lower level employees, no communication, etc. A) those things don’t really tell me anything and b) those are just the general gripes people tend to always have with an office. I find it more helpful as a reader to hear concrete examples.

    5. Coco*

      I think specify. quantitative information could be helpful if your company has problems that are quantifiable.

      Ex. Company’s leave policy allows for 15 days a year but employees are discouraged from taking more than 10.
      Work calls after 10pm when core business hours are 9 to 5 happen on average 4 times a month
      There have been no salary increases for the last 5 years.

      Etc

    6. Girasol*

      My employer’s glassdoor reviews are overflowing with bland oneliners: “Pros: It’s an okay job. Cons: Can’t think of any.” It reads as though a manager said, “Today we will all put a positive review on glassdoor” and looked over each person’s shoulder. Good posts address specific topics that job seekers are likely to have questions about. Not “It’s okay” or “My manager is stupid” but “We’re expected to work 50-60 hour weeks most of the time.”

  34. HRH*

    I have a question on how to phrase some feedback to my boss at my upcoming quarterly review. As background, I’m remote working at a small company in my first long term job after grad school. When I started, I worked pretty closely with my boss, with weekly one on one meetings as well as two or three larger group meetings per week. This summer, my boss and the rest of the top management decided they were overbooked, and adopted a schedule structure that essentially moved my 3-4 meetings per week into one meeting every other week, with a request that the one meeting be only on very high priority issues.

    There are a lot of reasons that this just doesn’t work well for me, but I’d like some advice on (1) what feedback is legitimate, and what is just something I have to learn to deal with, and (2) how to phrase my feedback without coming across as overly needy or defensive. My biggest issue is that the culture of the company went from one in which I was in frequent, casual contact with my boss, could get feedback when I needed it, and had some great mentorship, to one in which I will often go several days without speaking to anyone, and often having to wait weeks for feedback on projects (ironically, someone in management told me this new structure would enhance mentorship, since less frequent meetings would be “more meaningful”). In a similar vein, this new structure has led to frequent miscommunication on who’s working on what, and I’ve often gotten requests to join meetings currently in progress that I wasn’t told about ahead of time (once I was even expected to RUN the meeting). It also seems like management is now making a lot of decisions without talking to the people doing the actual work on projects, leading to unrealistic expectations from clients and scrambling and overtime work on our end. I think they think it’s working for them, because they’re not as over scheduled, but it’s been sort of miserable on my end.

    And, FWIW, I don’t think this is an attempt to box me out, since right before this policy went into effect I received great reviews on my Q2 meeting and even a midyear bonus, but I suppose anything is possible!

    1. Internproblems*

      I would focus on the issues you’re experiencing and less on the reduced quantity of meetings. There’s no reason fewer meetings has to result in these sorts of communication disconnects. I’d suggest naming the broader trend you’re seeing (e.g., I’ve been told about deadlines last minute which has led to extra stress and workload for me), naming a couple specific examples (it happened five times on the X project), and explaining the negative impacts (this resulted in my having to shift deadlines on project Z, resulted in poor client feedback due to an unrealistic deadline I wasn’t able to flag earlier, etc.). I’d focus less on the mentorship concerns because if these other items are addressed, addressing the mentorship may happen organically in the process of resolving the clear business issues.

    2. WellRed*

      I disagree that scheduled meetings is “frequent casual contact.” But if that’s what you are concerned with, is there another way to achieve this? I slack for quick interactions or feedback from boss and coworkers.

  35. Amber Rose*

    We’re gonna redo our inventory and then lock it down, which is so badly needed.

    I can do… whatever I want, in terms of numbering and renaming. That’s an unnerving amount of power. How does one design a new inventory numbering system? How, in fact, does one determine what kind of inventory numbering “makes sense”? Because we have a weird mishmash of our part numbers and borrowed part numbers, and I was just gonna keep ours and change the rest but then I got a complaint that “what does that number even MEAN” like, I dunno, what does any company’s part numbers mean? Is assigning the number 555640 to a part that much worse than the supplier’s number of 324687?

    I’m well aware I’m not going to make everyone happy, but it’d be good to not design a system that makes everyone go WTF the way they do over our existing system.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Why can’t you keep both numbers?

      You have an internal number, which you can guarantee is unique across your organization.
      And you have a supplier number, which you’re going to need to have whenever you reorder parts.

      It’s pretty simple to build a generic search box and have it look at both fields.

      1. Amber Rose*

        We will, but our internal part number is going to be used when selling to customers and when communicating with each other about what we need for jobs. Our inventory management system will assign one part number, and that’ll be used in all the BOMs and engineering drawings.

    2. foolofgrace*

      I don’t know much about this and should probably stop typing, but don’t inventory numbers begin with a numerical sequence that means something? Like “55xxx”s are all schlomos, and “56xxx”s are modified schlomos, etc. I used to be more familiar than I’d like with part numbers of a large computer manufacturer, and as I recall they handled part numbers like that. Processors started with one alphanumeric, memory cards a different one, etc.

      1. Amber Rose*

        Right, so right now we have teapots. The teapots are all model number 111x and most of the related parts are then 11-xxxx. Which makes sense to me, but then I got some whining about “what does 11 even MEAN?” and I was like… it means teacups??? It makes sense to me, but the confusion of my coworkers is throwing me off.

        1. quill*

          Isn’t it usually “the next sequential number we had available for a product?”

          All my batch codes are like, 42A. Product 42, batch A. 42 means that we developed it immediately after product 41. Literally nothing else about life, the universe, or anything.

        2. Donkey Hotey*

          We use a two part numbering system.
          First, to shift from teapots to llamas, there are different parts of the body: head is 100, left arm is 200, right arm is 300, torso is 400.
          Next, there are different systems: circulation is 10, respiration is 20, digestion is 30.
          Then part numbers 1, 2, 3.
          So, parts relating to the mouth would be 131. Heart would be 410. Lungs would be (heh) 420.

          That was totally by accident by the way.

    3. Colette*

      I would guess that ideally, the numbers would give you the classification.

      So if you carried parts for cars, trucks, and motorcycles, you could assign numbers starting with 1 to parts for cards, 2 for trucks, and 3 to motorcycles. 4 would be the start for parts that could be used for any of them.

      And then you could break it down further = 1 would be steering, 2 is exhaust, 3 is brakes

      So parts for the brakes on a car would start with 13, parts for the exhaust on a motorcycle would start with 32.

      Obviously, at some level you’re just numbering, but you could add meaning in the beginning.

      Look at area codes in North America. The older ones all have a 0 or a 1 in the middle. The ones with a 0 were the only area code in that province or state; the ones with a 1 are in provinces or states with more than one area code when they were created. And no 7-digit phone number has a 0 or 1 in the second position (pre-10-digit dialing and the new area codes, of course.) There is meaning in the system, even though you can use it without knowing or understanding the meaning.

      1. OneTwoThree*

        I was coming to suggest something like this! I am not in charge of inventory numbers in any way. However, I do work with mfg numbers a lot. It is helpful for me when there is some sort of logic like this.

        My additional thoughts:
        -Make sure you leave plenty of room for growth and changes.
        -You may only need to logically label part of the part number. Using Colette’s convention above, you could have 32-####. The first part would tell you that is an exhaust on a motorcycle. The last 4 after the hyphen would just be whatever number comes next in the series (0001, 0002,….).
        -Only standardize on things that won’t change internally – product types, colors, product categories, etc. Don’t use external things where you purchase the products from.

    4. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      usually, when someone asks what a number means, it indicates they’re looking for an organizational system where given sets of digits relate to particular traits. So, when I worked in a lens factor, we had part numbers that were 13 digits long – the first four coded for what type of material had been used to make the lens, the next two coded for polishing process, the two after that for finishing process, and then the remaining five were procedurally generated to keep each type of part unique.

      Most of the factory floor didn’t know how the whole system worked, but they might know there own part of it. So, when I worked in the polishing department, I knew that XXXX-15-ZZ-YYYYY meant the part should be experiencing a particular type of polishing process – if the spec sheet or my supervisor said something different, it meant I needed to verify things all the way back out to sales, to make sure that we were turning out parts that consistently met the needs of our customers.

      Whatever system you use, give yourself plenty of extra space in the digits – if you have 50 finishing processes already, put an extra digit in there so that the business can expand it to 1k possible processes, rather than being capped at 100 (though you can use alpha-numeric codes to work around this, if you’re inheriting a process that you need to expand).

    5. Mockingjay*

      I just did a quick google: “inventory standard codes” and there’s tons of sites, info, and software tools to help design a system. Try a more specific search for your industry; there’s probably something you can leverage and adapt instead of reinventing the entire wheel.

  36. Skippy*

    This may be more of a rant than a question, but has anyone else noticed that the trend of employers ghosting candidates has somehow gotten even worse? I have lost count of the number of times over the past six months when an employer has failed to call me for a scheduled interview, refused to acknowledge the receipt of a written assignment, or simply disappeared off the face of the earth after multiple rounds of interviews.

    Look, I get it: everyone’s super busy, and I’ve been around long enough to know how to take the hint that they’ve decided to go in a different direction. But every time someone tells me I’ll “definitely hear back from them, one way or another,” I put on my best smile and nod politely while thinking, “yeah, right.”

  37. Fall Leaves*

    Today’s 1:1 with my manager took an unexpected turn. He said there’s a reorg coming, meaning he’ll have less time for our team (he’s head of another team as well whose work isn’t much connected to ours). He wants me to take over the people management of our team. I’m absolutely flattered that he thought of me but there’s a lot we need to clarify as this would be a new position. I’m super excited but also somewhat scared.
    In short, I’d be managing my peers, some of whom are much older and much more experienced than I am. I’ve already expressed I’m not comfortable managing my own mentor (senior to me but we have the same manager) and she’ll be moved around.
    Until I get more info about the plans… Do you have (good and bad) stories about taking over the management of the team you’ve been on?

      1. Zephy*

        +100000

        Get ALLLLL of the details of this setup in writing. If you’re going to be managing people, you should have the title and pay to reflect that. If they’re expecting you to continue doing your current job AND ALSO do people managing, you will have a bad time.

        1. Can Can Cannot*

          Also, the promotion needs to be FORMALLY announced, both to the team as well as more broadly. Everyone needs to know that you are now the manager. If that doesn’t happen, you will be perceived as just another worker bee, without authority or need to be included in discussions about your team.

    1. OtterB*

      I think it depends on the field and the organization. You said “people management.” I think you need to clarify how much you’ll be doing task/project management, e.g. assigning work to people, being the tiebreaker if two experts disagree on the right way to go, setting project schedules, etc. Or will those tasks be handled some other way, and your role be to handle things like timesheets and PTO requests, be the communication channel between upper management and your team, etc. If you’re going to be directing the work of older & more experienced peers, that could be rough. If you’re essentially getting them the resources they need to do their jobs, that’s a different matter.

    2. Hotdog not dog*

      Seconding I’m that guy’s question…assuming it’s a legitimate promotion, I went through something similar. It was a little awkward at first, but due to both the company structure and support of the change by upper management, we all adjusted pretty well. What helped was reminding myself to always be professional and fair, and to treat my team with respect. (Also, if you haven’t already, read Allison’s book and go through the old posts!)

    3. Kathenus*

      Make sure that you ask for management training, if it’s not already something your organization does when someone moves to this kind of role. A huge key to success in this type of transition is training since it is such a totally different role than being an individual contributor. Many years ago in a management course an instructor said something I loved – “Management is what you get to do when you’re good at something else entirely”. And without training for the new skills you’ll need, it’s so much harder to be successful. And I second what others are saying about getting the specifics laid out clearly – salary adjustment, level of authority (hire/fire, discipline, or just assigning/monitoring work, etc.), what happens to your current duties, etc. Good luck!

    4. The Dude Abides*

      Piggybacking on this, as I’m about to apply for the manager job in my old unit. Ex-boss took a lower title in a different agency after less than a year, and the new big boss and former co-workers are all practically begging me to come back.

    5. Engineer Woman*

      Congratulations! Absolutely confirm that this is an official promotion with change in title and pay.

      Onto my story: be prepared for difficulty. In my case, my peers and I each had our own projects and I wasn’t aware of how some of them were struggling in some aspects of the job. My job became to coach them and help them improve, along with the goals and vision setting for the team. Some of them had been there even longer than I and were more senior in both tenure and level! It was awkward but my team are professionals. The dynamics of course have to change. I was closer to some then others and you need to pull back on the closer relationships to treat everyone “fairly”, note that not equal as some will require more of your time.

      You may understand once you do take over the team why you were selected to do so. Remember: your manager and their level of leadership selected you for this because they believe you to be the best person for the job.

  38. CharChar*

    Hey AAM community,
    I would like an outside perspective if this situation warrants chat with HR to prevent this in the future or if its me taking things too personal. I recently applied to a role that is a level higher than mine, 3 teammates (same level) applied too. One of my teammates got it because they have more experience in complex project management. It was not shared that this experience was needed and there is full faith I can do that work, I just have not done it yet.
    This project work could have been available to me 4 times in the last year, if the managers had given it to me, all of them went to him. I didn’t know the importance so I didn’t ask for it forcefully, though I did raise it last year that a project went to him that could have gone to me.
    The teammate who got it has been the ‘right hand man’ of a senior manager for long time and has worked an unhealthy amount of overtime. I also suspect the senior manager has some unconscious bias going on when it comes to working with women, in the sense that he thinks the world is equal already while never having promoted women on this team (they do get hired rarely when they apply for roles, I’m talking about the yearly promotion system). He was not involved in hiring for the role, but is involved in who does what project task.
    On paper I understand why the role went to the teammate, but I’m so annoyed that my teammate was set up for success in the long run. Fair working environment should not just be to ensure a balanced hiring pool, but equally setting people up for success, but these are my emotions talking. Is this something I should raise to HR or is it just me being annoyed?

    1. Internproblems*

      I totally get why it seems unfair, but in your place, I wouldn’t raise this to HR without far more damning specifics. I think this sort of favoritism is sadly quite common, and it could be more about personality and the promoted person’s willingness to work an unhealthy amount than genders. (It does sound like gender is a factor, I just think you’d have a hard time getting HR to see it that way/act on it). You could raise to your manager that it’s important to you they support your long term development with project assignments. But you likely have to go to a different firm to get a more supportive/equitable working environment..

      1. The New Wanderer*

        This is exactly why I got a new job. Very similar situation to CharChar but nothing substantive or specific that I felt I could take to HR or the union, so I found something else.

        I’m sorry, it totally sucks to feel passed over like that.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Before you go have a conversation with HR, ask yourself what you want the outcome to be.

      If you just want somebody to listen and sympathize, then HR is not the place to go.

      If you want advice on how to set yourself up for success in the future, then HR may or may not be the right place to go. I’d start with your managers. Do they know that you want to get this kind of promotion? That you are interested in learning about and doing project management? Etc. Just a one-time “I wish that assignment had gone to me instead of him” isn’t enough. You probably need to proactively ask. You probably need to keep your ears to the grapevine, and when you hear about a new project, go directly to the managers and tell them you’d like the project management task.

      1. foolofgrace*

        You probably need to proactively ask

        And have in your mind a list of the things you’ve accomplished that would indicate your suitability for the role. Facts.

    3. BRR*

      Based on what’s here, I don’t really think there’s enough to raise anything to HR. The thing I’m not seeing is whether or not his work is actually good. Because I’m wondering if he was given these projects because his work is good and the company was setting him up to retain him (but totally not dismissing that he got these projects due to unconscious bias!).

      I agree with Alton Brown’s Evil Twin that you should go to your manager and be very direct in asking for things that will help you grow into whatever role you’re interested in.

      1. WellRed*

        Yes. You can even use not getting the job as a reason for having a conversation about getting these projects in the future.

    4. AnotherAlison*

      Oh, you work for my former company. I was constantly fighting this. My role was more subjective (PM work) where it was harder to say you are qualified or not, but I had some earlier career coworkers in very straightforward situations, like, “You can’t become a structural engineer 3 because you haven’t done steel and only have concrete experience.” Um, y’all are assigning the projects. Why didn’t you give her steel instead of 5 concrete projects in a row, esp. when she’s asking for that experience? What always happened to me was certain men were in the inner circle and were stockholders. They were “due” for a promotion to keep moving up. I was a female and not a stockholder so I got passed over.

      Anyway, I wouldn’t go to HR. I’d go to your functional management and ask for feedback on your candidacy and what you could do to improve to be considered in the future. Then you can also point out how the assignments you need haven’t been made available to you and have them clarify why you aren’t being considered for the assignments. Then when the promotion doesn’t happen, or assignments don’t happen repeatedly, quit. (HR may be a place to go when you get to the point of having nothing left to lose, but I’d work through the management chain first.)

      Sincerely,
      The runner up for department assistant manager in 2016 who was completely shut out from that role, AND a separate director role my departing director had groomed me for, in a backroom deal in 2020.

    5. Aquawoman*

      It’s not just you being annoyed. Giving one person all of the assignments need for a role is giving them the role. That’s hugely problematic, but I don’t know how actionable/probative it is. You may want to focus on that going forward and make sure you get those opportunities.
      What might give you a leg to stand on re bias is the the lack of promotions, but I’m not clear on what kind of promotions you mean–new roles or from assistant llama groomer to senior llama groomer? There could be a pattern there if all of the men with four years experience are senior llama groomers and all of the women with 4 years experience are assistant llama groomers.

      1. CharChar*

        Sorry, I could have been more clear! I meant the yearly compensation cycle with promotions, going from standard llama groomer to senior llama groomer (after already doing senior work for ages). I’m keeping an eye on tenure, that is a good point!

    6. Cold Fish*

      I wish I had a good response for you. The passive aggressive jerk in me would love to see you find a bunch of articles about bias in regards to women in the workplace (bonus if they are specific to your industry) and just randomly emailing the links to HR in a “Oh, this was very interesting…” kind of way. See if anyone gets the hint that perhaps some training and policy revisions may be warranted.

    7. CharChar*

      Thank you all, these are great perspectives! I am getting the project experience in the next few months, I will also add it to my regular 1:1s with my manager that I want more check-ins on long-term development for me.
      Most likely I will also look for a new role in the new year when the project is done, I am tired of the male favoritism in this team and its too subtle.

    8. Engineer Woman*

      It’s frustrating for sure, but what isn’t clear is whether your case is truly “good old boys network” or someone being more aggressive in their career trajectory. You also need to take a firmer hand to say: I want to be promoted (although your application for that higher level position now does signal that). Talk to your manager about how to develop you to be ready for the next such opportunity. You say you mentioned once about a project that went to him that should have gone to you. Did you agree that the next time such a project comes up, you will get it? Ask what else you can do to develop? What are the criteria for getting to the next level? Your manager should be helping to achieve your career goals BUT, he needs to know what they are. And you work together on them.

      All said: it is possible it’s a good ole boys mentality and you need to look elsewhere.

    9. Chaordic One*

      The part about, “It was not shared that this experience was needed and there is full faith I can do that work, I just have not done it yet,” is a kind of passive/aggressive way of setting you up. Not for failure, but to be passed over. It’s not something your employers are likely to acknowledge, but even if they do, the best you can realistically hope for is an empty pro-forma apology. A lot of employers are good at such apologies.

      The other commenters are correct when they tell you it is time for you to start investing in a job search.

  39. Internproblems*

    My boyfriend makes enough money to support himself and contribute to shared expenses. But he’s never asked for a raise, and his compensation reflects that, despite the fact that the company he works for would be at risk of going under if he was to leave. I really want him to ask for a raise or job search, but he just won’t. I’m trying to explain that his company isn’t treating him fairly and that there are better options, but he’s been there for a long time so I guess he’s comfortable there? Does anyone have advice to motivate a partner to job search? Just want to commiserate if you’re in a similar situation? I’ve gotten to the point that I tease him I’ll send out his resume on his behalf (I won’t, of course, and he’d be mad if I did, so it’s not like he’s hoping I’ll do the legwork for him).

    1. Pascall*

      If he’s not driven enough to ask for a raise or look for a better paying job, honestly, I’m not sure there’s much you can do to encourage him to do so. Especially if his finances are fine otherwise. There has to be an internal motivation for him, since you can’t do it for him.

      I would say just keep encouraging him to advocate for himself and perhaps he’ll come around. But if he’s content where he is, there likely isn’t much you can do to push him to look for higher pay.

    2. Colette*

      How is this your problem? He’s supporting himself, so it doesn’t seem like this is a problem that affects you.

      If it does, I think you name the problem (e.g. You’re paying your share of the rent, but I have to save more for emergencies because you won’t be able to cover your share if the car breaks down) and leave it to him as to how to fix it.

      1. Zweisatz*

        Yes, this. Something is bugging you about this situation, but the relevant question is, what is bugging you that is affecting you? Do you think this is somehow leading to an unfair distribution of expenses? Are you planning for a big purchase and believe it could be achieved years earlier, if he asked for fair compensation? Whatever it is, address that.

      2. Internproblems*

        This is very good advice, thank you! Framing it in how it impacts me instead of the raise itself. I know I am late in replying, but wanted to let you know I appreciate your response.

    3. Alexis Rosay*

      Let it go–it’s not your why should he job search if he’s satisfied? My partner could make considerably more money in the private sector and we both know it, but the fact that he’s overall happy with his position is worth any amount of $$$ to me.

    4. BRR*

      If he doesn’t want to, you can’t motivate him. I would ask yourself why do you want him to ask for a raise or job search. Do you just want more money coming into your house hold? Does it bother you that he’s not advocating for himself enough? etc. There is something to be said for stability and being comfortable. If bills weren’t able to be paid or something like that it would be different. But if it’s just that he’s uncomfortable asking for a raise, you can’t motivate someone who is not motivated (speaking from experience).

      Commiserating now. This sounds a bit like my husband. My husband recently got a promotion at work. Just given to him, he wouldn’t ask. Did he try to negotiate salary? Nope. He didn’t want to.

    5. Esmeralda*

      Figure out what is actually bothering you about this situation — and the following questions are NOT judgy, they’re real questions that come out of my own experience:

      do you feel that if he made more money, it would be possible to / easier to accomplish joint goals?
      are you comparing your own attitude toward work and career to his and they are just…different?
      are you resenting doing without/having to work more/having to shape your own career path around his not-moving/not-earning-more?
      are there other things going on in your personal and/or work life that are affecting how you feel about this situation?

      My husband is a tenured professor. He spent a long time as an Associate Prof, is not an ambitious person, and thus did not get the big pay boost that comes with promotion to full until just a couple years ago. Every year it bothered me more, because it meant we didn’t have money for X and Y goals; I have a good job but by comparison his is cushy (independence, flexibility, creativity, and it has always paid more) — it takes additional work to be promoted but he wouldn’t do for a long time it because, additional work and he didn’t want to do it unless it was something he really cared about researching; and other stuff was also going on.

      So I really feel for you. I doubt you can change his mind. You can change yours, either in accepting it or not accepting it, but that probably means not staying together, especially if it makes you very angry or resentful. Therapy is helpful for situations like this, I highly recommend it.

    6. Bex*

      This is a relationship problem, not a work problem. If your boyfriend is happy and financially stable, then you don’t really have any grounds to try to convince him to do what you want instead of doing what he wants.

    7. Mints*

      I think this is a pretty innate trait. People can become more ambitious, especially if they see their peers moving up, but some people aren’t. I don’t think either one is inherently negative. But I do think extreme differences here might be deal breakers. If he never became more ambitious, would you be okay with that? Some people prefer less demanding jobs because they value work life balance. There’s a tradeoff either way

  40. Cold Fish*

    Early this week I saw an article about people “ghosting” potential employers during the job process becoming more prevalent. (Sorry I don’t have a link) Basically it was about getting to the interview stage and then silence when the companies try to contact them again. Based off data from well known job search site, the main reason given the potential employee got a better offer.

    How common is it to get to the interview stage and then not respond at all if that company tried to contact you again? Even if you are interviewing/accepted a job at another company. I can’t imagine not responding with at least a quick email that I found another job. But then again, it seems incredibly common for companies to “ghost” job seekers even after interviews. Is turnabout fair play?

    1. Twisted Lion*

      My experience since last winter shows this is getting more common. For five sets of interviews, half of the people who I tried calling to set up interviews never called/responded to my emails. And of those who did agree to interview I would say half cancelled before the interview and then 40% just ghosted with no word that they were cancelling. I had a week with 6 interviews scheduled and only one person showed up.

      Is it fair play? I dont know. But honestly its at the point where if you get through selection, get called for an interview you might land the job because you are the only person who showed up. Unless you do something crazy in the interview or dont pass the background check.

    2. PollyQ*

      I don’t know if it’s fair play, exactly. I’d certainly recommend that job-hunters be professional & polite and spend the 1 minute it takes to send an email saying they’re withdrawing from the process. But I do suspect that many applicants have been ghosted many times themselves by other employers and am not terribly surprised that they’re saying “f*** it” in return.

    3. ampersand*

      I can see employees/interviewees feeling like this is a fair response given how often they’re on the receiving end of being ghosted. It can feel like the norm, so why not ghost an employer?

      OTOH, I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t ghost a potential employer because I don’t want to burn bridges, and I have to live with myself. I would feel too guilty about it.

  41. UpUpAndAway*

    Asking for advice in leveling up on my contributions to a team/unit/company.

    I am a hard working person with an advance degree. However, I was a first generation college graduate and I carry a lot of “servile” (for lack of a better word) attitudes at work. This usually manifests as excess deference to peers and superiors, a strong work ethic, trying my hardest to solve a problem before I take it up to others, etc. I have been in my position for 5 years now and I recently realized I’ve been pigeon-holed into the “do-er”. My bosses come up with the ideas, I implement them (I fully admit I have contributed to that perception and I have been proud of it in the past). But this now really affects my prospects for advancement because I’ve become essential to a lot of processes at work and I can’t seem to move up from there.

    Recently, an opportunity for advancement came up that I expressed interest in. My grandboss thought it was a great idea and that my background really fit what they were looking for. My direct boss, however, decided that that would be better off contracted out because I’m essential to the other things I currently do, and I’m already overworked. I feel like I’ve gotten further and further away from my advance degree specialization and I’m now just the glue that holds everything together (no disrespect to glue-people but I’m tired of it).

    Combined with other issues that have compounded over the last couple of years, I’m now frustrated and looking for other jobs. What I am looking for now is advice on how to level up my work persona. How do I move from an implementation attitude at work to a strategic thinking, planning and influencing? How do I ensure that other people think of me as an intellectual contributor as opposed to the person that figures out how that thought can be rolled out? More importantly, how do I retrain my brain to question whether something is worth doing versus how something might be accomplished?

    Any books/podcasts/blog resources are welcome. I love a good rabbit hole of research.

    1. HRH*

      I can’t remember specific names, but I would definitely recommend looking at some TedTalks on the subject! There are a lot about rethinking your work persona, how you speak to people, and even your body language during meetings. They’re fairly short too–I’ll often watch a few over my first cup of coffee in the morning.

      Also, it seems cheesy, but try keeping a file or notebook of emails/messages/phone calls you get praising your work or validating an opinion on how to approach a topic. It really does help counteract imposter syndrome when you start taking notice.

      1. UpUpAndAway*

        Thank you, that’s a great idea! I used to watch a lot of TED talks way back in the day but got out of the habit. I just watched one and set a search alert so hopefully I can get back on track!

    2. Ginger Baker*

      You may want to check out VanillaBeans’s post below also as there may be replies there that are relevant for you.

    3. Kathenus*

      Would your direct boss be open if you had a conversation with them about your desire to become more involved in strategic issues and your interest in advancement? Outside of talking about that specific project, having a career development discussion of where you’d like to grow and what steps might help you get there. This way your boss will know that you would like to move up and/or refocus at least some of your time on other aspects than implementation. Best case scenario is she’s open and supportive and you begin a path towards that goal; worst case is you learn that it isn’t likely to happen and you have more facts to help decide if moving on is the best course of action. Best of luck.

      1. UpUpAndAway*

        Yes, sadly, it is the latter. I have brought up the career development conversation many times with my direct boss who is always a pleasant and interested party while we talk about it, but then never follows up. After two years of conversation I finally realized it was either not going to happen or it was going to happen at a snail’s pace. Which I am no longer willing to accept so I’m looking elsewhere.

        I am suspecting that the career growth I am looking for does indeed require some more active mentorship so, hopefully, I can look for that in my next position…

  42. Mannheim Steamroller*

    What is the deal with people including their vaccination status in their resumes and LinkedIn profiles? Is that really necessary?

    1. Pascall*

      I haven’t seen that, but it sounds bizarre. I guess maybe to differentiate themselves from other candidates who might not be vaccinated?? But job searching shouldn’t be about that at all. Might also be a way of posturing and letting people know where on the political spectrum they lie (since, unfortunately, vaccines have been made political).

      Very strange. Definitely not necessary or recommended.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Plenty of people go out of their way to give information up-front on any number of things in order to remove doubt on the part of their employer. Think US Citizen or green-card holder; security clearance; CPA or CISSP certification date and number; etc. Covid vaccination status just seems kind of weird because it’s medical.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        This! But now I want to list all my vaccinations on LinkedIn. C’mon, employers! Don’t you feel better knowing I’m up to date on my tetanus shots? No fear of rusty nails here!