open thread – October 1-2, 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.

{ 1,148 comments… read them below }

  1. Kath*

    You may remember me from my previous post regarding an unprofessional admin. I would like to thank those who took the time to comment. I really appreciate it.

    To summarize, the admin was playing favorites and I casually mentioned this to another coworker. This person relayed this to her and she went to my manager crying her eyes out (tell me about intense reaction) and stopped all communication with me. She was however picking holes in my projects.

    I followed the advice here and handled her attacks to my projects in a matter-of-fact manner. She seems to have stopped these attacks but continues to completely ignoring me. She would start a meeting, ask everyone (by name) how they are doing but skip me entirely. She is over the top with kindness in her messages to everyone else but very cold with me. She just treats me differently. She and her clique mock me but it’s very subtle so hard to prove. I brought it up with my manager and he told me that she doesn’t like me and he can’t get her to like me…

    I started therapy since but I feel like my confidence is eroding despite my efforts. I find myself ruminating even after hours. I feel so anxious to attend meetings she’s also involved. Overall, it’s negatively affecting my mental health.

    I have absolutely no clue why it’s affecting me this much. I grew up with an unnecessarily cruel narcissistic mother, perhaps it’s bringing back memories. I’d like to stay with this company for various reasons such as work-life balance, career development and flexibility provided. I’d like to stay here for another 3 years so that I get enough experience in my current position to move up when I do change jobs.

    I have good relationships with others. My manager thinks very highly of me/my projects. There’s no guarantee I won’t encounter a difficult person (or worse, a manager) in my next position. Lastly, I don’t want her to get away with driving people out.

    People say mental health and wellbeing is most important. I agree. But I also think that you need to make sacrifices for long-term benefits.

    With everything in mind, how realistic is me powering through in this company? Should I look for a new job yesterday?

    1. mreasy*

      Have you raised with your manager? This is something that they need to address directly with the admin’s supervisor. If they’re in danger of losing a good employee or even just lowered productivity they need to know.

      1. Kath*

        We report to the same manager. He said that she doesn’t like me and he can’t get her to like me as I mentioned above. I’m not surprised to be honest. He did nothing even when my work was directly affected.

        1. mreasy*

          Ugh that sounds like a manager problem. I’m sorry, you may need to job search. Not liking someone is fine, but actively bullying them and interfering is not.

        2. ArtK*

          She doesn’t have to like you. She *does* have to treat you with basic respect. I would go back to the manager and point that out. Ignoring you is unprofessional and has nothing to do with anybody liking anyone else.

          1. Daffy Duck*

            Yes, I would go back to your manager and give it one more go. Tell the manager how she is impacting your projects and that you don’t expect to be friends but do need to be treated with professionalism.
            I would low-key start job hunting at this time and if something great falls into your lap take it. If nothing changes after talking to your manager ramp up the job search and let them know why when you leave for greener pastures.

          2. HigherEdAdminista*

            This, absolutely. If her emails aren’t over the top warm, fine. But going around the room and asking every single person except you how you are is her making a show of it. That doesn’t need to be happening.

            I don’t know that you need to leave the position. I would see how therapy shakes out. Tell your therapist you are struggling and if you haven’t spoken about your mom, bring up that connection. It is likely the admin’s behavior being similar to your mom’s that is making you feel so stuck on it. You grew up having to do that for your survival, so your brain is trying to help you now by doing the same thing even though it isn’t needed here.

          3. Rachel in NYC*

            I ditto this. And if you haven’t gone to the manager with concrete examples of how she (and her clique) behave- I’d do that.

          4. Susie*

            Totally agree about treating you with basic respect. No one is going to like every person they encounter, but as adults, you need to show basic respect and politeness, especially at work.

          5. Katelyn*

            THIS. I have a coworker I don’t get along with at all, but if she says good morning I say it back, along with things like how was your weekend, did the recipe you were going to try turn out etc.

            I don’t like her, work from home more often than I would if she wasn’t there, but I’m civil and don’t ignore her, as much as I’d like to. TBH I’m pretty sure she doesn’t like me either but she says good morning to everyone else and so she says it to me too.

            I also don’t understand how no one else in these meetings notices/says anything, to me that’s a sign people are scared of this lady and she’s probably pushing around more people than Kath.

        3. Twisted Lion*

          That is ridiculous. She doesnt have to like you but she does need to act in a professional manner towards you. Not speaking to you in meetings but engaging everyone else is an example of this.

          I think if it is affecting you this much, you should start to look for other jobs. Think of it this way, you spend so much time at work each week that this is bleeding into your off hours. Staying there does not provide you any added bonuses at this point.

        4. Observer*

          He did nothing even when my work was directly affected.

          Your manager stinks.

          It sounds like she’s being overtly rude. Is there a good HR or does your boss have a decent boss that you could talk to? You are not asking that someone make her like you, but to make sure that you are being treated with basic courtesy and respect.

          In the long term, though, this says that there is a significant management problem here.

        5. Not So NewReader*

          This is so much bs.
          Okay. no she does not have to like you but that is not what we are talking about here. We are paid in part for our willingness to get along with people. If she is ignoring you or mocking you then clearly she is not willing to get along with you.

          It’s disturbing that the manager cannot handle this situation.
          When people show you who they are it is okay to believe them. This manager cannot manage.

          My best advice is to leave. This job is costing your health way more in dollars than you are earning here.
          Time to move on. You cannot make her into a decent human being. You cannot make your manager uh- manage. All that is left is to control what you do.

          So many people comment here that they are in therapy because of their job. wtf. Just no. Your being in therapy is not going to give this manager or this woman the therapy THEY need to modify THEIR behavior.
          You deserve better than this place. I understand you have goals and I think that is great. Find another place that will support you in those endeavors.

        6. LarryApples*

          He’s correct that he can’t make her like you. But you know what he can do? Demand that she treat you with courtesy and respect. She should not be allowed to single you out by asking everyone ELSE how they are doing, or treat you in a specifically negative manner.

        7. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Can you point out that she doesn’t have to like you, that she just has to treat you the same way she treats other people?

        8. JelloStapler*

          While she does not have to like you, she needs to be civil, professional and not outright and pointedly ignore you. My manager would not put up with that on our team.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      1) Your manager sucks.

      2) “She was however picking holes in my projects.” Is this actionable? If she’s damaging your work, is that something your company would be willing to act on even if they won’t act on the less concrete stuff?

      Honestly, I’d think about looking for another job. Powering through stuff like this depends at least in part on the company responding appropriately to your efforts and to people who might be getting in your way, and so far that’s not happening.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        Sometimes if you ignore these people enough they start digging their own hole. Eventually, they do this to others, and people begin to see that this person is a jerk. But this takes time.
        Also, she is an admin, but you are not on the same level, yes? So really, does she have any real power over you or your work?

        1. Sparkles McFadden*

          People like this always blow themselves up. Always. It’s just a matter of whether or not you have the time to wait for that to happen.

          1. Kai*

            Kill her with kindness. Being cold in return will only feed into her bs. Go over the top with kindness and let her look like a fool all by herself because her unprofessionalism will become more and more obvious. Say hello to her every time you see her. Ask how she’s doing, about her family, etc. and follow up with it. Help her when the opportunity arises, and even create the opportunity to. Compliment her work. And so on.

            You’re not trying to get her to like you though. It’s to show that you’re the bigger person and if she acts any less than professional, her behavior will be exaggerated. It takes time and effort, but it has worked well for me.

    3. Rara Avis*

      Can you tell your manager that you don’t need her to like you, but you do need him to insist that she act professionally towards you?

      1. RabbitRabbit*

        This. 100%. You aren’t asking to be liked, you’re asking her to be a professional rather than playing Mean Girl games.

    4. 867-5309*

      If you become completely burnt out or your mental health nosedives so significantly, it is going to skew your perspective and make it tough to transition. You will carry this baggage with you into a new role and the longer you stay, the more ingrained it will become. No one can make this decision for you but it sounds toxic.

      Also, your manager cannot make someone “like” you but they can make someone behave professionally. Treated one person notably different than everyone else is disrespectful.

    5. JB*

      Wow, she’s acting like an extra petty middle-schooler. How embarrassing for her.

      I think, in this case, you’re the only one who can decide whether it’s time to go. Some people are affected more by bullying than others, and how vulnerable you are to this sort of thing can depend heavily on where you are mental health wise. Your boss is right that it doesn’t sound like he could really take action on what she’s doing here. She’s, frankly, allowed to be extra nice to other people and just professional or cool towards you.

      Overall I agree with your instinct that this isn’t necessarily a ‘cut and run’ situation. As you say, there are mean people out there; you can’t guarantee there won’t be one at your next job. A lot of people would be able to put up with this level of unpleasantness, but it sounds like it’s affecting you very personally. You say you recently started therapy. Maybe give it a little more time to work – and also consider whether you’re getting the quality of care you deserve; not all therapists are created equal, and there are some truly useless ones out there. If you were raised by a narcissist parent you may want to find a therapist who specializes in DBT and ‘wise mind’ techniques.

      If there are internal opportunities, like to move to a different division in the company away from her, you may want to see if those interest you, as well.

    6. Generic Name*

      You are feeling awful because she is bullying and emotionally abusing you. OF COURSE that makes you feel like crap. Sure, your manager can’t make her like you, but your manager can require her to treat you with basic respect. You are not being overly sensitive. Your office sounds toxic if your manager allows this behavior to continue. I agree with the folks who suggest you look for another job.

      1. Camellia*

        I agree with all of this. Some things can’t be fixed and are not worth the toll it takes on us to suffer through.

        The only thing I can offer is what someone told me years ago but that I’ve never had to try for myself. She said that, when she found out that someone (anyone) did not like her, she would immediately start being all super-friendly with that person. Go up to them with a BIG grin and a LOUD “Hi! How are ya! I’m great, thanks for asking!” and basically just roll over any action or reaction that person would have toward her. I can imagine her, in the meeting where the admin addresses everyone by name, butting and and saying “I’m super great, thanks for asking!” with her biggest smile and loudest voice, like everything is just peachy-keen. It calls attention to the person’s behaviour while making sure yours is all friendly and nice.

        As I said, I’ve never had to do that and am not sure if I could pull it off. It takes a certain amount of hutzpah. You could practice with someone until you are comfortable with it. Sounds like you don’t have much to lose in trying it.

        1. Chris too*

          I’ve done something like this and got a lot of entertainment out of it. I wouldn’t have done it if it were just a plain case of dislike. The manager’s right, you can’t make somebody like you. Once the Mean Girl behaviour comes out, though, all bets are off. I am very good at acting oblivious and not noticing I’m supposed to be insulted, and I don’t think I ever said something mean to her. The problem was I was friends with somebody she thought had stolen her promotion.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Acting oblivious to someone’s bullshit is a fantastic way to take the wind right out of their sails. I used to do this to BullyBoss and it was hilarious to watch him deflate when he thought he was cleverly insulting me and didn’t get the reaction he was hoping for.

            And everyone’s right; your manager sucks. I’m sorry, Kath. I agree, though; give therapy time to work. It may be that it will help you deal with her.

            1. Windchime*

              I like this approach, too. Sometimes it’s hard when the crappy treatment is never ending. There was a woman I worked with who, when I needed information from her, replied, “Well, I suppose I *could* go through the entire ICD-10 book to get that.” I replied, “Thanks, that would be great!” I needed the info and it was her job to provide it, so I just pretended I didn’t see the sarcasm and I got what I wanted.

        2. Mr. Shark*

          Yes, that’s what I was thinking of. Just jump in and tell her you’re doing well! Negate the negativity with positivity, and make her look foolish for holding anything against you.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Google workplace bullying and look for the actions people do that constitute bullying.

        I was surprised and pleased to learn that frequent eye-rolls is considered a form of bullying. I worked with a person who could not get through a few minutes without rolling their eyes. It was so severe that I suggested she see a doc about her eye problem. But do read about actions that are considered bullying. It’s a good investment of your time and I found it helped me improve my ability to put into words what I saw.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Yes. The background is that she had been cited numerous times by the boss. She had also been reported by other people. I have never met anyone who rolled their eyes this much. She used her eye rolls to discredit people, mock people and let everyone knew that she knew better. It was impossible for her to go longer than 5 minutes without rolling her eyes at someone or something. I have never seen this extreme in my life.

            She said the same thing she always said, “I know, I know….:”. And then nothing would change.
            I gave the boss articles on bullying including eye rolls. And nothing would change.
            So finally *I* changed by leaving. This was a relatively small problem compared to other things going on there.

    7. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      “he can’t get her to like me.”
      That’s true.
      And you can explain to him that it’s not about liking you, it’s about treating you with respect. She is not doing that. And by letting this go unchecked, by telling you it is your problem and not a business problem, he is not treating you with respect, either.
      So ask him to help you understand why he feels she is correct and you don’t deserve respect.
      The perversely beautiful thing about your situation is the absolute freedom of knowing you have nothing to left to lose. I assure you that you will not feel worse than you do now by making your manager or this person uncomfortable.

      Good luck.

      Been there, come back

      1. DoggoMom*

        Which shows that the manager is not a good manager when they don’t recognize that an employee taking their personal dislike far enough that it has interfered with projects is a business problem. Surface civility and not interfering with the operation of business is not to much to require. Instructing a team member that they just need to accept that a coworker is going to make their position more difficult and nothing can be done is poor management

    8. NT*

      Have you tried speaking directly to the admin? Call her out but in a nice way and say that you’d like to get along. It might not change anything, but it might and then you have the good feeling of being the bigger person.

      1. Windchime*

        Calling people out can often work. I remember saying to someone once, “Coming over here and yelling at me isn’t going to get it done any faster.” She went back to her desk and cried. I didn’t say it snotty; just matter of factly as she was getting all up in my face. I’ve found that it will often make people back down.

    9. Riled Down*

      I’m so bored at work. I snagged it during the pandemic, so it was more of a need than a want. Still, It’s a good job, I’m getting great professional development, even finished a huge cert for an adjacent field I want to move into (marketing data analytics). But I am so BORED. There’s hardly anything to do because I finish tasks much faster than my team expects. To them, a metrics report should take a week (that’s how long it took in the past). To me, I look at Google Analytics and move on. I’m getting praised left and right, but there’s nothing else to fill the now empty week. Any advice to fill my time?

    10. Two Dog Night*

      Just throwing this out there: Do you think this therapist is helping, or might you make more progress with a different one? Sometimes it takes a few tries to get a good fit.

    11. Cold Fish*

      First, talk with your therapist about coping strategies to deal with this person.
      Second, could you also talk to you therapist about how to talk to your manager. Maybe do a couple of mock discussions with your therapist acting as your manager so you have some practicing saying what you want to say
      Third, think hard about what you would consider a satisfactory resolution. Then talk to your manager. The bullying and harassment are more than “she doesn’t like you” if it is effecting you so negatively. The admin can dislike you all she wants but she still has to be professional in her interactions.
      Fourth, be prepared that the talk with your manager won’t be productive. We can’t tell you if it is so bad you need to start job searching, only you can decide that.

    12. Jenna Webster*

      I really do hope you can find a way to make her feelings about you unimportant to you. She is obviously a petty, mean woman, so let her have her own issues and ignore her. The more you don’t care, the less mean she will be. That said, it’s absolutely fine to get back a little bit of your own – it doesn’t sound like you’ll get in trouble for it if it’s just little catty remarks or comments about her “interesting outfit” or how brave she is to wear that color. That said, the high road win is to realize she’s a jerk and to just smirk at her when she tries to get your goat.

    13. Observer*

      Lastly, I don’t want her to get away with driving people out.

      I would absolutely not worry about this. What goes round comes round. This will wind up biting her one of these days, regardless.

      If she’s being overtly rude to you, then it may be worth going back to your boss and pointing out that you are not asking for her to like you. But you need her to treat you with basic courtesy and respect.

      Please discuss this directly with your therapist. Perhaps you can come up with some strategies that will help you deal with this better.

      But the idea that you should stay in a bad situation because you “you need to make sacrifices for long-term benefits” is incredibly toxic. Would you stick around a job where you weren’t allowed to eat adequately using that logic? Or where you were not allowed to treat any other medical issue? Why is your mental health any different?

      1. Uranus Wars*

        I just want to add: She is not/will not be driving people out. Your manager is by allowing her to act this way.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        “Lastly, I don’t want her to get away with driving people out.”

        Going the opposite way she is getting away with driving up YOUR medical bills.
        Because you don’t want her to win it’s almost like your held hostage to this situation.

        I suggest learning about the power of “letting go”. We could start a whole new thread of stories with people who held on to things because they thought they should, but once they let go life got a lot better. And how is this possible, yet it happens.

        I have often thought about how hard it is to let go of something I think that I really need. It’s ridiculously hard in some instances. It’s after I let go that I find out that thing was actually more like a boat anchor holding me back. There is an Eastern saying – that I will horribly misquote: Which is stronger the mighty oak tree or the willow? The answer is when high winds come the oak remains rigidly upright and breaks. The willow bends. When the storm passes the willow can resume its upright position. There is great strength in flexing when a situation requires us to flex.

    14. Ginger Baker*

      Who does the admin report to? In many not-small places, the admin reports to an admin manager, separate from whatever department/executive they are supporting directly. If that is the case here, I would suggest you escalate ASAP to that manager, who would have the appropriate authority to deal with the admin (and should be HORRIFIED that an admin is acting this way).

      If that’s not the case at your job, I defer to other comments here, that you a) have a manager problem, b) hopefully therapy can help you to care less (though of course bullying is going to be upsetting, that is not a surprise), c) maybe loop in HR to assist with a, and d) if none of that fails, I would be very wary of staying in a bullying situation for long.

    15. school of hard knowcs*

      Maybe do both. Look for a new job and see what your options are. Difficult, rude people will always exist. Some different way of thinking about it.
      Use this an opportunity to build your difficult people skills.
      1. Practice and plan being polite and professional and matter of fact in your behavior.
      2. Sometimes mix it up and be particularly kind and nice. It give you the high ground and annoys people
      3. Use this as an opportunity to deal with why this bothers you so much (personal growth for the win)
      4. If her behavior is overtly rude, just ask politely if there is something wrong? Listen to her answer; respond a polite statement; change the subject back to business activities.
      5. Remember you have options in how you act and what your attitude is.
      6. I have used situations like this to ‘up my game’.
      7. Healthy choice, give yourself x time per day to think/journal about this. Then Stop.
      Hope any of this helps.
      Report back on what worked, what didn’t and just how you are doing.

      1. Regular reader posting anon (not the OP)*

        Thank you! Great wisdom here. In the end there may be no choice but to leave but in the middle (and there can be a LOT of “middle” time) we can never have too many tools in our toolbox.

    16. Grits McGee*

      Kath, I was in a similar situation at a previous job, and the only effective way I found to deal with it was to quit. To be completely honest, it did derail my career for a couple years because I quit without anything else lined up, but 10 years later I’m in such a better position (both job- and mental health-wise) than I would have been if I had stuck it out.
      For people who haven’t been in this situation, it’s hard to articulate how much that kind of atmosphere scratches at you, until you’re just a raw nerve. It would be one thing if your boss were truly an advocate, but from what you’ve written it sounds like he’s not willing to spend the effort to maintain a work environment that isn’t grinding you down.

    17. PollyQ*

      Reading between the lines, I get the sense that you feel like you ought to be able to power through this, and that it’s in some sense your fault if you can’t, and I’d like to redirect that. Some jobs require standing on your feet the whole 8 hours, and it’s tiring on everyone, no question. But if you’re someone with a bad back, it’s going to be far more difficult and painful, maybe even impossible. I suspect in this case the pain of your childhood is making this job impossible for you to thrive in. 3 years of it simply doesn’t seem doable, and I doubt it’s the only place you could get the benefits of the experience.

    18. Cordelia*

      “Should I look for a new job yesterday?” I don’t think so, but “I’d like to stay here for another 3 years ” seems a very long time – I can imagine that thinking you have to put up with this for another 3 years must seem impossible.
      I agree with other commentators that you have as much of a manager problem as you do a colleague problem, and I suspect that other things will arise in the next 3 years if this manager is so unable to address interpersonal dynamics in the workplace. So I wouldn’t aim to stay here for another 3 years. But will it really take that long to get meaningful experience, or are there other things you can do now, while in this job, to build your knowledge and skills? I’m wondering if this might be perhaps be part of a general lack of self-confidence, that you could usefully address with your therapist?
      Perhaps a multi-pronged approach – go back to your manager to say that your concerns aren’t about being liked but about being communicated with professionally, talk to HR (if you have one) if this doesn’t work, work with your therapist on self-esteem and confidence, and on strategies to deal with this woman – and yes, look for another job. But make sure its one you want, so you don’t end up feeling you have been pushed out, instead you can feel that you chose to leave a negative situation.
      Good luck to you

    19. Regular reader posting anon (not the OP)*

      Lots of wisdom here. I hope your decision is easy and your long-term life away from this company and colleague (whether that begins next week or in one or three years) improves!
      Sometimes it’s helpful to find tools to help us stay in an unpleasant situation. Sometimes it’s best to cut our losses and leave. The good thing is that you’re an AAM reader: you’ve already proven yourself to be resourceful and proactive. Go forth with confidence, both here and in your next positions, and know that you don’t deserve to be this unhappy at work.

    20. TheGingerGinger*

      Ultimately you have to decide what you can handle and how you want to move forward, of course. I agree that you need to try one more time with your manager because their response definitely missed the point of your request.

      Are you at all able to reframe this in your head (no shame if you can’t!)? Can you use the Alison-approved tactic of treating her like a strange alien you’re observing or finding her pettiness absurdly amusing? Because honestly, she is 100% acting like a pre-teen girl using relational blackmail to get her way. Can you find some emotional and mental distance from it this way?

      Also, I’m a bit petty, so I’d enjoy finding professional ways to call attention to her ridiculousness. Like just inserting myself into her greeting-fest in meetings. “I’m having a nice day too, thanks for asking Melinda”. Just subtly calling out to her petty-betty self. But I totally get if that would be more stressful than helpful to you.

    21. RagingADHD*

      I’m not sure I understand the role of the admin. Perhaps you’re using the term differently than what I’m used to. When I was an admin, we didn’t have authority to give criticism or pick holes in staffer’s work. We didn’t run meetings.

      She isn’t your manager, so I’m not sure why (in a work context) her opinion matters at all. Is there a pragmatic reason why (in terms of getting your stuff done) you can’t just ignore her back? Do you need her help to get your work done?

      I apologize if you already went over this and I don’t remember.

      I have certainly worked around people I didn’t care for, and vice versa. Sometimes it would bug me, but not to the degree it seems to be bugging you. Do you have someone IRL to talk to about it — not therapy, but casually? I dealt with annoying people in my circle a couple of different ways in different circumstances:
      1) by telling someone outside of work about their shenanigans and making it funny.
      2) by making a game out of winning them over with shallow gestures, or
      3) by really trying to understand what was wrong with them, or what void there was in their life that they were trying to fill with this nonsense.

      Perhaps if you can see the ridiculous side of a grown person acting like a four year old on the playground, it might help distance you from the situation.

      I don’t think anyone else can gauge when it’s time for you to go. It’s a cost-benefit situation, and only you can measure the costs and benefits to you, because so many of them are subjective and personal.

    22. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      Look for a new job. You have the opportunity to be on a team where EVERYONE values you, and even people who might not like you are capable of behaving professionally and working with you to get the job done.

    23. Joyce*

      Isn’t this behavior just another, less blatant form of favoritism? When I find myself in similar situations I have found that going into “Stepford Wife” mode is very effective. Which means I am super, over the top, fake nice and cheerful. It just makes the bad behavior of others stand out like a sore thumb and they have a hard time pointing the finger back in my direction. Plus, it is hard to be nasty to so much nice. I wish you good luck!

    24. anonymous73*

      Your manager does not have your back. No, he can’t force someone to like you, but he does have the power to make her treat your properly. It is good that he appreciates the work that you’re doing, but it’s also his job to deal with colleagues who are treating your poorly.

    25. Double A*

      Lots of good advice here, but I’m going to directly answer your question: No, you cannot power through. Because you can only power through something that has a specific end point, otherwise you expend more energy than you have and burn out.

      You may however begin to develop coping strategies that let you stay there longer term. Basically, you’ll need to learn to ignore admin’s bad behavior. Treat her like a robot. She has certain things you need from her, and focus on only those. Anything else she does is irrelevant. When you interact with her, act as though she is being kind and helpful to you. Act as though her petty acts are honest mistakes and that she will of course want to fix them. Basically, pretend she is the admin you want her to be. It’ll take the wind out of her sails if it’s not satisfying.

      I won over two rather sour coworkers this way. In each case, it took nearly a year. But during the period they were being unpleasant, I just ignored it.

      1. beentheredonethat*

        really good advice; it takes time and effort, but so worth it. The rep you get for professional and mature adult behavior no matter what is huge and very satisfying.

    26. allathian*

      This admin person doesn’t have to like you, but she does have to treat you with respect. This includes asking the same questions of every attendee in the meeting and giving you as much time to answer as she gives the others. Even if she isn’t interested in your answer, the others might be.

      Only you can decide what you’re willing to put up with to get the benefits you might get for staying in your current company, but even if you left, it wouldn’t be the admin who’d be driving you out, it would be your manager. He seems to be very ineffective at his job, or else he’d put a stop to the admin’s behavior. It costs him nothing to think highly of you and your projects, so that alone won’t make him a great manager.

    27. Ursula*

      The advice here is good, but if you can’t stand being overly nice to her, you could try simply naming the behavior. In a meeting where she asks everyone but you, just say, “You just asked everyone in this room how they are except me again.” And just leave it hanging. When she mocks you, repeat what she said and either let it hang or ask “what did you mean by that?” She’ll almost certainly find it embarrassing, and if your boss is around when you do it, make it very clear how unacceptable it is that she’s doing it. Return awkward to sender!

      Remember, she has no power over you! if this is triggering your coping strategies with your mom, it may help to remind yourself this is different -you have as much power as she does in this situation. If your alternative is job searching anyway, might as well fight, because the worst thing that can happen is she escalates and makes you want to leave (since it appears your manager won’t stop you). And you’re already there, so may as well try!

  2. Dolly was Right*

    In the last 16 months in the US, it’s become so clear to so many of us how Capitalism is hurting most of us. Everyday it discourages me more and more to see all the ways the system is rigged against 99% of us and how your upbringing/privilege is the greatest indicator of your future success/income. As a result, I’m no longer interested in my work and it’s hard to feel encouraged to do more than the bare minimum (I work in support services at BigLaw firm which probably doesn’t help).

    I’m wondering how the working of Capitalism have specifically affected anyone’s career path and choices? I know people are quitting in mass volumes- are people going to work for themselves? Looking for better work life balance? Changing career directions?

    1. too many too soon*

      My work involves supporting people in way better economic circumstances than my family, and I get sick of hearing how hard their lives are when their comfort and security is prioritized above everything else.
      I’m sticking it out though, because it’s a state job with decent bennies, I’ve been here long enough to merit a nice office and hybrid work arrangement, plus retirement is starting to be a glimmer on my horizon.
      In a perfect world I’d be working at home on my small farm that has been on the backburner when it became evident my full time wages could not be replaced in the household budget any time soon.
      Now we’re caretaking 2 disabled relatives, so freedom from the paycheck grind is something I try not to think about anymore.

    2. Emi*

      It wasn’t the pandemic for me, but Capitalism and all the associated inequalities, pushed me to quit my regular employee job, and move to freelancing in graphic design and marketing. That was 10 years ago, shortly after my best friend died in a car wreck. I thought that life was too short, sometimes unexpectedly and unfairly short, and that working my ass off so that the company owner could make a lot of money while I made a little, well it was just not for me.

      I don’t have a safety net, beyond the savings account I built up enough to cover a year of expenses. But, I can pick and choose my clients, and those who are unkind or unreasonable don’t stay clients. The money is better, but the self-employment taxes and paperwork were daunting at first. Mostly, it’s work/life balance for me. I used to skip vacations because I was intimidated to ask for time off, but now there is no one to ask. I just let people know when I will be unavailable. Ironically it’s easier on me than asking, though the time off is definitely unpaid.

      I won’t get rich this way, but nobody has yelled at me or been so cruel that I cried, in 10 years. That’s worth so much to me!

      1. T. Boone Pickens*

        A hearty kudos to you on the time off piece. I’m really struggling with that aspect of it as I feel I always need to be available for my clients. I feel like I’m always kicking the can down the road and telling myself that I’ll take some time off after I hit, “Insert imaginary milestone here.” Any advice on how you’ve done it?

      2. Office Pantomime*

        Not to put too fine a point on it, but in being an entrepreneur, you are engaging in capitalism. It works to benefit you this way, so more power to you.

        1. pancakes*

          All of us who aren’t living in a hermit’s cave are engaging in capitalism. Pointing out that people who criticize it haven’t opted out of isn’t any sort of point at all, though I suppose it’s reliable for a few upvotes in corners of the internet where people care about that sort of thing.

        2. tamarack and fireweed*

          Everyone in a Western country, absolutely everyone, engages in capitalism. Teachers have to struggle with the fact that they’re preparing kids for their role in a capitalist system (and balance that with giving them tools for liberation and self-actualization). The medical system in the US is fully part of the capitalist structure, and even in countries where it is largely public, it is still subject to the constraints markets put on it. Even people living as close to a traditional subsistence lifestyle up here close to and inside the Arctic have to deal with the capitalist environment.

          1. SoloKid*

            Agreed, I feel the best way I can deal with this is choose not to have kids to bring into the world, and help those that are already here. This includes teaching them stocks and other ways to make money off the system that they may not have learned from their parents/peers growing up. I don’t aim to be the top 1%, but not being in the bottom 1% has been my goal.

    3. Fiona*

      I know three people who have left their jobs to spend time pursuing their own creative projects (writing, photography, etc). Obviously it takes a lot of privilege to be able to do that – both folks left full-time jobs but they also have deep experience in these creative fields, so it’s not just leaving on a whim.

      I have worked remotely during the pandemic and it has really highlighted the massive and growing difference between white collar/computer-focused workers and people who can’t work remotely (grocery store cashiers, health care workers, delivery people, warehouse workers, etc). I also feel frustrated by the way American capitalism has us thinking a higher salary is earned through hard work and not just luck/the marketplace. I personally work quite hard but no harder than an EMT or the line cook during lunch rush or a pre-school assistant. So why do I make more money than them? Because I work at a large corporation where my product is valued at a certain level. The idea that what I contribute is somehow more inherently worth “X” dollars vs what a kindergarten teacher contributes is absurd. And yet we all still get sucked into it.

      1. too many too soon*

        My partner is front line and deals with angry violent people on a regular basis, including being spit on and death threats for enforcing mask rules. No hazard pay, no recognition that the job now includes much more personal risk of covid and injury, on top of an already rough client base.

        The work place? A public library, doing security and curbside.

    4. I have a happy hat*

      The US hasn’t been a true capitalist society for a long time. It’s more like an oligarchy of megacorps and venture capitalists.
      The market isn’t truly free and neither are the citizens.
      Capitalism isn’t the issue…the lack of true capitalism is.

      1. Xavier Desmond*

        Without wanting to get into an political argument, it’s worth saying that an oligarchy of megacorps and venture capitalists is pretty much what capitalism is. There isn’t some nice version of capitalism where everyone is completely free, the rich are always going to rig the system in their favour.

        1. too many too soon*

          Money-hoarding sociopaths have lived off the labor of everyone else for most of recorded history, and have no problem destroying our world (and individual lives) in the pursuit of more money. That’s capitalism.

          1. James*

            So…’re saying Ur was capitalist? Or pre-Roman Egypt? Or the Middle Ages? All suffered the same issue.

            My reading of history is that this is more or less the human condition–those with tremendous amounts of money are always willing to sacrifice the lives of others for their own comfort. To blame this on capitalism–a system of economics that has only existed since the 19th century, if we’re being generous–is somewhat akin to blaming all ills of society on Socialism (which arose at roughly the same time).

            By my reading of history the problem isn’t the specific system; different societies function better with different systems of economics, just like they do with different systems of government or money or writing. The problem is that some people are evil, and an evil person with a lot of resources (remember, money is useless without it’s exchangeable for resources) can always cause tremendous problems.

            1. no name today*

              Sounds like you have defined capitalism to suit yourself. Your reading of history is…your reading of history.

            2. tamarack and fireweed*

              Capitalism is a tool for achieving this. Not the historically only tool.

              Also, the US has always been a mixed economy. There are other tools available, for limiting the power of the rich even in a fundamentally capitalist society. One of the reasons things feel pretty bad right now is that this balance has tilted away from those who live on salaries to those who extract rents.

              I don’t have a recipe for a fundamentally non-capitalist social organization that would work in a 21st century society on the scale of a country. However, I’m all for funnelling the money that’s available to the many rather than to the few.

    5. Msnotmrs*

      I’m in an industry (libraries) that suffers from chronic underfunding, and this lack of money has definitely kept a lot of otherwise great potential librarians suffering in part-time no man’s land for years at a time. My city’s large, urban public library is run by about 50% part-time staff, all of whom were furloughed at the beginning of the pandemic.

    6. Excel Jedi*

      I decided years ago that I simply cannot work in a for-profit company. The cognitive dissonance between the world I want to see and the world I’m helping to create in my capacity as an analyst is too high. (I’m often the only statistician in an organization, and so even at a staff level, I have close relationships with upper management and my analysis and recommendations hold some weight.) I’ve left jobs with nothing lined up because I couldn’t take the feeling that my workplace was doing something unethical and having a negative impact on the world at large.

      I’ve since found that even some nonprofits are structurally just as bad – in my current one, the cabinet makes twice as much as the highest paid director, and all had salary increases equal to our lowest paid staff members’ annual salaries in the last year or two – but at least our work is doing something positive for the world, and shareholders are not getting paid for simply owning stock while our workers are exploited.

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        I worked only in not-for-profits after enduring the bottom rungs of soul-sucking business jobs in my 20s. I’d rather live with the low pay of not-for-profits than feel like I’d made a deal with a devil (atheist, so not sure how to word that!) I was glad I got the corporate nightmare out of my system while I was young and strong (10-12 hour days, 6 and occasionally 7 day weeks) and could do it. It was interesting to see the attitude difference at the cultural institution where I later worked. Those who’d been hired straight from college and had worked there for several years tended to complain a lot, while those of us with other types of work experience thought they were kind of whiny. I think everyone should have one shit job they’ve survived at a young age to give them perspective.

    7. kiki*

      I’m still working in the same field, but I consciously stepped back from my devotion to work. For a long time, I was surrounded by “career is life” culture. You know, stuff like:
      – Your career should be your PASSION.
      – Prioritize work above all else!
      – Don’t let relationships and hobbies distract you from your career.
      – Anyone who doesn’t understand that your career comes first is wrong.

      I bought into it for several years but became wildly depressed because, to be honest, my work just isn’t that important in the scheme of things. I do stuff that makes my company money; I’m not helping people or saving the world. I’m a lot happier now that I work to make money to support myself and my other pursuits, not living to work. I’m in a privileged boat because my career is one where I’m compensated well even after taking a step back and just striving to be solid and good, not “the best.”

      1. Jean Pargetter Hardcastle*

        My job satisfaction has improved 100-fold since I embraced the fact that love and passion are not emotions I want to bring to work, and stopped feeling bad about it. I want to feel satisfied that I’ve done something today; if I get some enjoyment from my work, that’s a nice perk! But really I am working to support the rest of my life.

    8. HigherEdAdminista*

      I actually picked my career based off of the realities of capitalism! I’m not married and I felt a need to be in a secure position, since I am supporting myself. I needed a position that would pay me enough to live as well as one that would provide me with good benefits. I knew even if things changed and I did get married, it would help my family to have someone with secure access to health insurance. In my whole generation of cousins, every person who is in a partnership has at least one partner who works in this kind of secure, we-have-the-health-insurance job.

      I like my job so it doesn’t feel like a huge sacrifice, but it definitely is a situation where I know that since I have to prize my survival, potentially without any support, I had to pick a safer option and hope that I can fit my artistic dreams around that work.

      Additionally, the other big way it has impacted me is in my regular life. I live where I live because it is the most affordable option to me; here I can have a quality of life without spending my money on rent. I will likely never own my own home, especially if I don’t get married, whereas people in my parents generation all bought homes, even the singletons. I don’t own a car. I don’t take the kind or consistency of vacation’s my parents generation took with similar jobs. I don’t say this to say I am entitled to any of those things, but just as examples of how much less buying power the same money has today.

      1. KX*

        I am upskilling now with plans to become a higher paid workaholic after kids leave home with ten years. I will step into a soulless corporation just to cram piles of money into my accounts before retirement. I am playing catch-up for ten years out of the workforce to raise aforementioned kids, which maybe was a mistake.

        If my crazy scheme works—if I can compensate for 10 years of lost income with 20 years of highly skilled labot—then that will prove it wasn’t a mistake. Which would be nice! Because those ten years were fun.

        I absolutely refuse to join the defense industry. I’d shill for big tech or big pharma though.

        Possibly if this remote work thing really sticks I could move to a lower cost of living area. I really like this high one and have trouble finding a lower one I like but every year the world changes and regions change too.

      2. Speaks to Dragonflies*

        I chose a job that I thought would always be needed. Things break, and I worked for companies that repaired the broken things. Work was cyclical and they didnt want to pay more as my skills grew. Applied for and got a job with the water and sewerage utility and now I do almost the same job making double what I was. Everyone needs water and everyone needs to go potty and thats not going to stop anytime soon, so there will always be work for me to do.

    9. The Smiling Pug*

      I wouldn’t say that this was Capitalism specifically, but I know that I’m developing my podcast because of the fact that I can’t find full-time work in my chosen field right now. It’s probably a combo of feeling used at CurrentJob and the pandemic, but I know that I’m a lot happier knowing that I have something to work on when I get home.

    10. Student*

      None of what you describe seem to be problems that are inherent to the system of capitalism itself. They sound more like problems of oligarchy and entrenched interests undermining actual capitalism.

      The US form of capitalism historically goes through swings where our rule-making bodies get captured by oligarchs, who then re-write rules to move away from capitalism and more toward protecting their personal interests. Then, when the problems are egregious enough, we democratically elect a group of people who commits to tossing the oligarchs out, erasing the rules they’ve written to undermine capitalism, and making some new rules to make it harder for the oligarchs to capture power again. Then, the oligarchs start again, trying to capture power to re-write the rules in their favor.

      Sure, we are at a period where the oligarchs are pretty powerful and have captured a lot of rule-making authority, with no real light at the end of the tunnel for tossing them out and clearing out the mess they’ve made. But, diagnosing the problem correctly – in my own view, a problem with oligarchs distorting the rules, not a problem with the capitalist system – is really important to actually fixing the problem.

      Switching underlying systems isn’t the answer to the problem you’ve described – oligarchs go out and try to capture ANY economic system. There are historic examples of oligarchs taking over in monarchies, in communism, in mixed capitalism-communism systems, in socialism, in feudalism. It’s… basically their entire underlying motivation in life, kind of like kudzu’s only real motivation is to spread to every surface with sunshine, regardless of the surface it’s living on.

      If you want a bigger piece of the pie, that’s quite understandable – but the things you’ve proposed aren’t going to impact the issue you’ve identified. Getting a new job or being self-employed aren’t really going to magically solve your issues in and of themselves. Getting involved in local politics yourself, advocating for politicians (at local, state, and national levels) who will root out entrenched oligarch special interests, holding those politicians accountable to deliver on their promises in concrete ways – not just in flashy speeches – will attack the root of the problem.

    11. Glomarization, Esq.*

      I am not going to single-handedly destroy Capitalism by unplugging myself from it. Therefore, I’ve used it to give me something approaching the life I want while being able to support the people and causes that I care about.

    12. RagingADHD*

      That’s a big question. I’m a creative who has done a lot of jobs just for the money, which of course affected the people I met and the experiences I had, which in turn shaped many other things in my life.

      My perspective is that creatives have always had to game the system in order to make time and space for the work they really want to do, because their purest artistic vision probably isn’t going to be profitable until far in the future (if ever). In the past, that meant sucking up to a rich patron or to royalty in order to finance their projects, and/or cobbling together a living out of teaching and odd jobs.

      Honestly, whether it’s feudalism, communism, or capitalism, that hasn’t ever changed. Even with grants, you have to please the grantmaker in order to get it. The artist makes the compromises they can live with so they can eat, and still have time and energy to pursue their own vision in their own time.

      If anything, it seems like many aspects of the modern economy make it a bit easier to make a decent living while preserving your mental & creative energy (thinking of Flaubert’s dictum to be regular and ordinary in your daily life, so you can be violent and original in your artistic work).

      The think I think has been so damaging is the huge increase in emphasis on “passion,” “dream jobs” and “living the dream” in your work. Work isn’t supposed to be your whole life and never was. Perhaps what we need is a movement to embrace your inner life and your inner “artist.”

      1. Anon for this*

        “My perspective is that creatives have always had to game the system in order to make time and space for the work they really want to do, because their purest artistic vision probably isn’t going to be profitable until far in the future (if ever). In the past, that meant sucking up to a rich patron or to royalty in order to finance their projects, and/or cobbling together a living out of teaching and odd jobs.”

        Yup, this. Tbh, the recent unexpected death of a wonderful friend has had me constantly reassessing what my goals are—publication? recognition? the time and space to create? I rather coldbloodedly went corporate in a field where most people choose public service work, and my cushy white collar job has definitely made it easier to follow Flaubert’s dictum. But I was only able to make that decision because of my parents’ much cushier jobs, which supported me through grad school. Some of my friends, who are brilliant writers, are struggling with college debt and minimum wage jobs that work them to the bone and leave them very little time or energy to write. Other acquaintances have decided to forgo the stability of the 9-5 to pursue MFAs and workshops and write full-time. I guess I like where I am (for now).

    13. JelloStapler*

      I have seen how students cannot afford college and are saddled with debt going into their careers, and have personally been impacted by salary compression and inflation.

    14. Joanne’s Daughter*

      Serious question, if Capitalism is hurting most of us, what type of system do you see working to keep us encouraged to work and solve the rich them/not privileged us?

      1. Olive Hornby*

        I mean, I’d question why and whether we *should* be encouraged to work. Part of my journey with understanding my role within capitalism has been unpacking the relationship between work and morality (especially the idea that “hard work” was a moral good.) It depends very much on the work—are you working hard to provide life-saving medical care, or to shield polluters from liability? And why are so many of us working so many more hours than people did in the past, despite historic gains in productivity? (Keynes famously assumed we’d all be working four hours a week by now.)

        So the short answer is probably some combination of basic income/strong social safety net, plus strong financial and other incentives for people to work in fields where we need people working—which don’t often line up with the most highly paid professions. Sanitation? Essential. Finance? A lot of those jobs don’t really need to exist.

        1. French Dino*

          I have been having this conversation in my head for the last 18 months. It’s been the longest existential crisis of my life. I waffle between doing what is socially acceptable to be in society and quitting everything, moving to a fishing village and living off the sea.

          1. no name today*

            Except that climate change has swamped the village and killed off the fish and climate migration means stable locations draw unsustainable populations.
            I say this as a wage worker who also lives in a rural community that routinely makes top 25 places to live lists, farming for the past 15 years.

            1. French Dino*

              Crushing the only dream I have left! Where do you suggest I choose for my hobbit lifestyle?

            2. Mannequin*

              Even without all the very real downsides you’ve listed, it’s a type of lifestyle that can’t be scaled up to a world with a population in the billions, or is workable for people who are disabled, chronically ill, old & infirm etc.

      2. Leela*

        Look to the cultures wiped out to serve capitalism. Look at WHY capitalism was so threatened by people who were able to sustain themselves for millenia, and why capitalists came for their healers, storytellers, and culture to take them down

      3. pancakes*

        This is beyond the scope of what people can really answer considering the no politics rule here, but there’s no shortage of other spaces online where people talk about this topic.

      4. Autumnheart*

        It’s not the system that is necessarily the problem. There are capitalistic countries with much fairer systems than the US has. It’s the enforcement, regulation, and legislation that’s the problem.

    15. pancakes*

      This is really hard for me to answer, because for me this has been in the background closer to 16 years than 16 months. I have been a work-to-live rather than live-to-work person for a long, long time as a result.

      I’m in law too, and want to point out that there’s quite a bit of variety between firms even within BigLaw. You might find it more satisfying, for example, to work for a plaintiffs’-side firm that sues companies rather than one that defends them, or to work with a pro bono coordinator rather than a litigator. There’s also a pretty wide range of legal work you might find rewarding outside of firms, too, like working in a law school clinic. There aren’t nearly as many of those, but there are some really good ones.

    16. tamarack and fireweed*

      Back 20+ years ago I assumed that success in both my work and general life would “of course” come from excelling academically. When that didn’t work out – as anyone less naive and inexperience could have predicted – it was a confusing and difficult time. After some casting about I ended in a place where the greatest need was to gain some financial and personal stability, so I figured out my way into an entry-level corporate tech job, in a not particularly prestigious corner. So my perspective went from some lofty-wooly ideas about increasing the knowledge of humanity to the concrete question of helping client X solve problem Y with our (pretty crappy) software.

      From there I built a career, learned how to lead a team, added more useful tech skills. Also, gained some confidence. The company improved, too, in how they managed the products I was part of. After a few years, and a job change, I did start to get a bit itchy. I realized that the ultimate outcome of my work wasn’t really something I wanted to spend my whole career for: me doing good work meant that some consumer-good multinational would be able to more effectively market their product (because that’s the sector of software I was technically contributing to). I also had a personal reason to move to a particular region of the world, in a place where the largest employer – and the only one to possibly sponsor a visa – was a university. So I applied for jobs to do tech there, and after a few attempts I landed one, supporting a research operations organization.

      From there I did end up re-integrating the academic track, now working on providing data product and analyses for managing natural hazards, or making maps that users may want to look at, and a fair bit of teaching or mentoring others (through outreach, student advising, teaching, giving talks). I’m fine with that! And even if this researcher lark isn’t forever, given how much instability researchers are supposed to put up with – and I’m not as mobile as someone 20 years younger – I still could go back to a professional research support role as a programmer.

      (There is a weird little prequel to this that may be relevant. When I got my very first degree – well before that unsuccessful bit I told above – I was in a very theoretical and abstract field. Not one that ever had many jobs openings, but one that in my home country is seen as a mark of being considered super-smart. Not that I feel that way! But a good number of companies hire graduates and then train them in whatever they want them to do, on the notion that if someone can get a degree in X, they can do Y. What was booming at the time was consulting companies – the McKinseys of the world, and less high profile ones. It was the heyday of mergers and acquisitions, strategical downsizing etc. etc. And quite a few of my cohort got jobs of that type. It was completely incomprehensible to me – I didn’t think I had *any* place or qualification giving advice to companies about anything whatsoever. I never even tried to apply for any of these jobs. Years later, when I was down in the dumps and had dropped out of my graduate program, a relative told me they always thought highly of me for *not* going into business consulting at that juncture. I didn’t think I had any merit in not doing something I thought I was unqualified for – and that, frankly, I felt quite unable to evaluate as to what the hell it was supposed to be *for*. These days I have more clarity of course, and am glad that this particular way of helping the rich get even richer was never my path.)

  3. Scoffrio*

    Does anyone have any advice on burnout, or some insight on when you would choose to leave a job/financial security and when you would choose to keep working (albeit not as well)?

    I have reached the point in my burnout that what I want most desperately is just to take a few months off. I’ve only been working for the last three years (I feel a little pathetic for already being burnt out), but my field (immigration) has been a tough place to be. I’m looking to transition into something a bit more removed (policy) so I don’t think that the job search process is going to be a breeze — I’ve applied a bunch in the last couple of weeks but haven’t heard back. I am worried about quitting to take the time off because of financial and future employment concerns, but I am crazy unhappy at my job (I posted about my terrible boss last Friday). Based on my boss’s prior behavior, I am hesitant to rock the boat because he has fired people with no notice in the past (I also worry that he is already hiring my replacement without my knowing because that’s how I was hired – but I have no proof). I have been hesitant to leave because the job pays over market rate so I’m finally financially comfortable, it is not particularly difficult or stressful, and has a great work life balance. I don’t have a partner whose income I can rely on to float me during this time, but do have some skills that I think could allow me to pick up some part time work if I was unemployed for longer than planned (service industry and contract work). Complicating matters, I am experiencing some long-COVID symptoms and am reluctant to give up health insurance.

    Is there anything I am not considering or taking appropriate account of? Am I not seeing the clear answer here? I have truly gone back and forth on whether to put in my notice on Monday like, a thousand times. My brain hurts.

    1. darlingpants*

      I don’t have a holistic suggestion, but if you live in a state that has expanded Medicaid and you quit you should be eligible, because eligibility is based on monthly income, not yearly income. Me and my husband were on it while we were job searching after grad school and the medical care was great (calling them to remind them of their own rules because they kept trying to kick us off because they kept loosing our paperwork was less great).

      You could also try to live on your “quitting budget” for the next two months, both to try it out and to stockpile some emergency savings quickly.

    2. BlueKazoo*

      I have found that having an end in sight is helpful. So maybe that is resigning in X months even if the search isn’t yet successful. And then you use that time to set up yourself financially as best you can. Go get all your checkups. Save as much as you can. Etc.

      For me, one day at a time also helps. I can do things for 1 day that would feel impossible to do for a lifetime.

    3. Sunflower*

      I totally get where you’re coming form because I’ve been in a similar situation and I hate to say there is no right or wrong answer here- it’s all going to be based on you comfort levels.

      What has helped me is to put a deadline on it. Let’s say you think you can make it another 4 months. Commit to doing 4 months. When the 4 month deadline hits, reassess how you feel. Are you dying to put your notice in or maybe you think you can make it another 2 months? That way you can give yourself permission to quit or stay on and you don’t need to make the decision today.

    4. WomEngineer*

      It sounds like you want out soon. Is there another role that could be a stepping stone between immigration and policy? Something where you can negotiate some of your preferences for the sake of finding something?

      Maybe see if you can connect with someone in your dream role and see what kind of skills and experience they had before they were hired. That’s something to look for in your “stepping stone” job, or something to highlight in your cover letter or resume.

      Also you mentioned long COVID. I don’t have experience here, but is taking paid medical leave an option for you? Or even a sick day for mental health)?

    5. Two Chairs, One to Go*

      Have you looked into FMLA? That would give you a break for a little and you can keep your health insurance.

    6. Vesuvius*

      Having hit bad burnout “young,” there is no time at which you are pathetic for burning out. Your field sounds incredibly stressful and if your boss is this bad you need an out. I’m still in my twenties, and I’ve spent half a decade in some form of burnout because of various medical issues and working in a field where overwork is not only common, it’s the baseline.

      If you have the ability to do so, make an exit plan. Your boss is terrible and your work is making your mental health nosedive. While you can survive longer, it’s not a good idea — so sit down and figure out a monthly budget, using Excel or Google Sheets, and figure out how many months you’re likely to be job searching. Set an end date that isn’t insane, and take a few days off to figure this out.

      If you need time off, call in sick, if you can’t afford to quit right now. (Call in sick on Monday or today. I’m assuming you don’t work weekends. If you do, take 2 days off in a row if you can afford to. Your boss is going to do whatever he wants, and if you are fired, you can also collect unemployment.) If you have a decent amount in savings (i.e. 6mo+ rent in my area, for instance — I live in a high rent area and have a partner who is helping with expenses, though), and can afford to quit, interviewers will understand if you reference burnout without calling it that in interviews. I think Alison actually has a few posts on this, which has helped me in interviews.

    7. New Mom*

      I also work with vulnerable populations and I have seen burnout happen with my coworkers over the years, and there are times of year (every year) that I consider quitting because work can be so relentless. I think since you are so at the end of your rope, you should just have a really honest conversation with your manager and say that you need to take some time off right now. Or look into FMLA and see if there is something that could cover a few weeks off.

    8. A CAD Monkey*

      I hit that stage a few years ago with my previous job. The final straw for me was a demand that we work during the worst Hurricane/flooding we’d seen in my city in nearly 60 years. I took a hard look at my bank accounts, realized if i cut some excess spending i would have enough money to last about a year. It took me 9 months to find a new job and i could have gone another 9 months before starting to worry (other factors i didn’t consider saved me more than i realized). I took a full month to decompress before i even began sending out resumes.

      My advice is to take a good look at your finances and make sure you have enough to live on for at least a year. Put in your resignation if you do and take the time you need to decompress from the work environment before starting the job search. it seems more places are becoming comfortable with gaps in resumes.

      Whatever you decide, good luck and favorable winds

    9. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      Do you have an EAP? Would your doctor or therapist authorize a break from work for health reasons?

    10. beach read*

      Could your Dr. assist with some kind of leave? In my opinion care for your mental and emotional health is just as important as the care for physical.

    11. Koala dreams*

      Do you have sick leave? If you have health insurance, you can make an appointment with a medical professional (a doctor, a therapist…) and discuss your options with them.

      I don’t think you can get a clear answer from strangers on the internet. Health and personal finances are both complicated and very individual.

      Lastly, there isn’t too early to get sick. Illnesses don’t follow a schedule. Anyone can get ill at any time, unfortunately.

  4. Book Pony*

    Been a while since I’ve posted in here! 

    Quick recap: Blue Diamond is my boss, second level boss is Yellow, top is White. Garnet and Pearl are my coworkers that don’t misgender me.

    So I ended up reporting Yellow Diamond to HR for the misgendering and also ended up talking to HR about Blue and Yellow’s racism towards me as well. Garnet went to talk to HR this week to support my report. Not sure when it’ll be Pearl’s turn.

    My probation has been extended since Blue felt she hadn’t coached me enough since she had a family emergency during my probation. 

    The new thing is I have to write down everything I do each day to the hour and minute, and send logs of all the documents and applications I use. (Insert This Is Fine Dog here) 

    A possible positive is White sent those resources y’all gave me to HR and HR wants me to teach a class on trans issues. No clue if I’ll get paid extra, but it’s something I guess. 

    If anyone has any coping tips while I try to electric slide on out, I’d appreciate it.

      1. Book Pony*

        Technically all the surveillance came before being told my probation was being extended. Blue is also the only supervisor that uses the tracking software.

        Unless you mean the HR thing and idk unless HR spoke to Blue and Yellow.

      2. PollyQ*

        But did it come before or after your reporting? If it’s after, I agree that it absolutely is retaliatory and is something you could take back to HR, since it’s a violation in itself.

        1. Book Pony*

          It came before my reporting. Just one day I had to start sending all that stuff and Blue started cc’ing Yellow on emails, even though they don’t get along at all. (Yeah I know that’s not good lol)

      3. YouwantmetodoWHAT?! *

        Hi y’all!
        Hoping that I can get some resume help. I’ve got about 25 years of retail (last one about 7 years ago). For the past 8 years (until covid) I’ve been Woking for someone as a ‘Jackie of all trades’. I sorted, scanned and shredded papers (so.many.papers!),
        clean the office and rentals, painted, did minor repairs, etc.
        I have also owned a business since 2007 – it is seasonal and dead due to covid (we work parties and festivals).

        How do I word this? Do I put any of the retail jobs, or just a blurb about retail/customer service work? And should I mention my biz?

    1. Panicked*

      Just continue to document every. single. thing. Build a case and keep HR in the loop. Hopefully you won’t have to go all Spinel on them. ;-)

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Send the tracking to who ever ordered it and HR. Each and every time you have to turn the tracking sheet in.

  5. AnotherAlison*

    Happy Friday everyone. I wrote a couple weeks ago about some job woes with a relatively new job and a job prospect.

    Well, good news – I was offered the job, and I’m taking it. I start 10/25. I’m extremely excited. The pay is 25% more than my base + bonus (if we were even getting them this year, which we aren’t) is now and I will be back to doing what I’m good at instead of trying to prove value in a newly created role to people who aren’t interested in that input. One of my new colleagues has already reached out and invited me to lunch.

    The crappy part is today I am giving my notice. I’ve only been here 10 months, so I’m sure it’s unexpected. I just got offered the job yesterday and planned to do this next week, but my boss is on vacation M-W and I want to give a full two weeks and have a few days off before the new job. I’m remote, too, so I have to resign via last-minute video meeting I scheduled last night, right before my boss’s vacation. Just gotta rip the Band-Aid off, I guess. My face has already been flushed for an hour worrying about this!

    1. Vesuvius*

      Congrats!!! I agree with other commenters; you’re trying to give a full two weeks of notice. You can do it, and hooray for a new job!!

    2. AnotherAlison*

      Thanks, everyone! I made it through. My boss was extremely kind. I mean, you would think it’s a given, but only with a good people manager. My last VP, who I knew for over 20 years and was a college classmate, genuinely asked “how could I do this to him?” and the guy at the only other job I left (back when I was 26) also gave me a hard time and told me I was making a mistake.

  6. Anongineer*

    Hey all, I need confirmation that this is not a normal work situation. Apologies in advance as this will be a novel.

    Important background: I work for the US government abroad, managing projects on a base. These projects get signed by both governments (US and host), and I work with a program manager, Mike, to get them signed. Mike manages the region I work in and is about 2-3 levels above me but we’re not in the same chain of command. Before this recent project I had never interacted with Mike, and he’s based in a different location than me – if we were in the states I’d be in Atlanta and he’d be in DC (but in a much smaller country so the real difference is about a 2 hour plane ride).

    For this most recent project, I needed to be more involved than usual so we called each other about every other day for no more than 6 times total. The first 3 calls were business as usual, but on the last 3 we did end up discussing some surface level interests. The first one we talked about things we missed in the states, the liquor stores we used there and what we typically bought (this stemmed from our discussion of Costco from what we missed), and a trip I had just taken to my favorite city here (think… Nashville). He’d never been and said he wanted to go so I offered to give him recommendations on where to eat and drink. The next phone call he mentioned seeing a type of liquor we had discussed and he mentioned that he had wanted to send a photo to me but didn’t have my number. 

    On the last phone call we had today, I gave him an update on our last signature and then he said “oh, there’s a holiday coming up right? We should go to Nashville! You can show me your favorite places.” I said something along the lines of “oh, I was just there but I’ll be happy to give you recommendations!” and the conversation ended soon after. 

    I told my coworker in a, “this was a weird thing that happened today, what do you think?” and she thinks that I was too hasty in saying no and that I should go. She said something along the lines of “you always shut down men (me: true) and I think you should give him a chance. This could turn into a missed connection and you’ll wonder what if, or he could mean it in a friendly way and he could help you land your next job! What’s the difference between this and online dating?”

    I’m not crazy to think this is strange right? I have never met this man, have never spent any time with him, and have no clue what he’s like or even what he looks like. Our conversations were definitely friendly but I never thought they bordered on “holiday trip together”. At best they could have been slightly flirty, but I just thought we were building a good relationship for work. He proposed a holiday weekend trip to a semi-coworker he’s never met in person.

    Side note: Part of me is wary of giving too much personal information to coworkers or people I interact with due to work, partially because of the stalker situation I had written in about earlier which could also be affecting this. It’s why I didn’t offer my phone number when he talked about wanting to send me a picture of the liquor.

    1. Scoffrio*

      Ooooh this is so juicy! I don’t think you’re crazy to think this is strange. You certainly do not have to do this if you don’t feel safe or comfortable doing so! However, if you do have some interest in this person then I don’t think it would be weird for you to go either! Can you figure out what he looks like if that would sway you? Did you have conversation that you enjoyed and is that important to you? My understanding of foreign posts (which, full disclosure, is limited to FSOs) is that this kind of thing is fairly normal (regardless of whether it results in dating, or friendship, or networking).

      1. Anongineer*

        I spent a somewhat embarrassing amount of time trying to find out any information on him that I could haha. There is literally nothing on this man anywhere. And I do mean anywhere. He has a higher clearance than I do so maybe that’s why? I don’t think looks would sway me but it moreso emphasizes that I have no information on this person that wants to spend an entire weekend together.

        This is my first foreign post so maybe I’m just not hip to how things are overseas?

        1. Scoffrio*

          Ooof that does make this harder, not having any information feels weird! Hard to say what I would do here. I think if it was a normal working situation in the States, I’d immediately say no because that IS weird lol. But I was an expat for a bit, and getting an invitation like this wouldn’t have shocked me in the slightest, and I would’ve assessed my safety and comfort levels to decide whether I wanted to go. My FSO family members have certainly taken similar trips with other FSOs in other cities. Your safety is paramount though, of course. The safest course of action could be what another commenter suggested – rebuff any trips together for now, but suggest that if he ever wanted to come to your city you’d be happy to show him around. Balls in his court, and you have a line to cite if it comes up again.

          1. Anongineer*

            Yeah, I think my initial response set me up for that (albeit perhaps a bit awkwardly in the moment). I’ll probably meet him in person in the near future and I’m sure he’ll be great, but this was just too much for me to agree to for now. Thank you for your responses!

            1. of course it's me*

              I really think you should trust your gut on these sorts of things — I don’t know if it’s “normal” or not, but this would make me wildly uncomfortable as well

    2. mreasy*

      Not weird to shut it down! Less weird if it’s a short drive away, but it doesn’t sound like it is. SUPER weird to ask a coworker on a first date (???) to another city??? Not weird would be, I am going to be in your town in 2 weeks, do you want to get dinner/drinks? It would not be safe to go to another city alone with a guy you’ve never met…on top of the weirdness of the ask.

      1. pancakes*

        Yeah, I agree. I would be very, very cautious about trusting the judgment of someone who suggests traveling together to someone they’ve never met.

        1. of course it's me*

          I agree — I think this sounds scary/dangerous (I’m a female person, for context)

          1. pancakes*

            I am too. I am pretty comfortable in a lot of situations that other people consider scary – traveling abroad alone, taking the subway home at 3 AM, that sort of thing – but even so, this sounds off to me. Best case scenario is that this guy does not have a lot of relationship experience at all and has no idea how this suggestion comes across. And that’s not great!

    3. Annony*

      That definitely seems weird. He may simply be lonely and trying to make a friend but I think keeping your distance is a good call. Wanting to keep things professional is perfectly reasonable regardless of his motivations.

    4. Dust Bunny*

      . . . I guess I would have interpreted this as a vague invitation that you both sort of knew you wouldn’t accept, but it’s hard to tell without hearing the tone, etc. Like, “we should get together sometime” with friends with whom you know you’re never going to get around to getting together. But from here this seems pretty vague–he didn’t press for scheduling or tickets or anything.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Anyway, I would have given a similar reply to the one you gave and then moved on.

        If he presses again later, yeah, that will be weird.

      2. Anongineer*

        Over the phone it was definitely more of a push for a solid plan, where he was saying “oh, we have this holiday so we can spend all three days there and you can take me to that bar you recommended” and some other semi-solid plan stuff. Nothing relating to tickets or such but I’d say more serious than the “we should get coffee sometime” conversation.

        1. ENFP in Texas*

          The first time meeting a person should not be “a weekend together in a strange city where you have nowhere else to go if things don’t go well or you don’t hit it off.”

          Just my gut reaction.

          1. Grits McGee*

            Ditto. Personally, asking for this kind of commitment for the first time you meet someone in person would make me very uncomfortable and have concerns about Mike’s judgement. (But feel free to disagree.)

          2. Anonosaurus*


            Do not allow well meaning friends to override your instincts.

            You can be both overly inclined to push men away and right to decline this offer. The two aren’t actually mutually exclusive. Even if you might benefit from being more open to possible dates In general you’re under no obligation to be open to this one specifically.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Maybe a bit shallow thinking on my part- but “pushing men away” in my mind is comes in when there is already some type of relationship history in place- meaning a year or more.

              Declining an offer because it does not feel right to you, is called “wise”.

              1. pancakes*

                I think colloquially it can mean a range of things, like hard to get to know, or a bit guarded, or, depending on who’s saying it, just not flirty enough for their liking. But big yes to your second paragraph! Whatever it means, other people shouldn’t decide what sort of relationships or dates feel right to you. Your love life is your own, not theirs.

          3. SnappinTerrapin*

            I agree.

            If there is any interest, I tend to err on the side of moving slowly, or even of forgoing an opportunity, when I’m not relatively sure where I stand with someone.

            But trust yourself. While trusting yourself, take whatever precautions you deem necessary – if you choose to move forward at all.

            For what it’s worth, I’d lean toward seeing whether a more natural opportunity arose to get better acquainted, rather than meeting someone for the first time in a third city.

    5. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Given that you’ve never met this guy in person, and only had a few conversations, it does seem weird.

      If this is a hardship posting, with limited opportunities for socializing, and if Mike hasn’t been doing expat stuff for long, then maybe I’d cut him a little bit of slack for just being homesick and lonely and awkward. But the way he worded it comes off really strong.

    6. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I don’t think it’s that strange, to be honest. Maybe overeager and forward, but I could totally see myself saying something like that to a colleague in a similar situation. More of a, “Hey, I’m thinking of going to X, we should meet up!” The type of position you have makes this less weird to me.

      But here’s the thing: you don’t have to go at all. Just be breezy and say you have other plans. If you do want to meet him, say you’ll get a coffee if he’s ever in your city. But you’re not wrong to decline, just as I think he’s not wrong to make the suggestion in these circumstances.

      1. Alice*

        I agree – not weird to suggest, not weird to decline.
        I would definitely not share a room with him if you decide to go but I also think it would not be weird to go on a trip together with plans to stay separately. If you want to….

    7. Anon for This*

      Having worked overseas, I can tell you this is weird – to agree to go on an international trip with someone you have never met in person? I understand you have a work connection with Mike, but if you are interested in exploring, invite him to visit the facility you are both working on, and plan to get together for a social dinner when he is there.

      Going straight to a holiday trip sets off alarm bells for me.

      1. Anongineer*

        Yeah he had previously mentioned us meeting in person the next time his work brings him down here, which would be in a couple of months and I agreed and said it would be great to meet in person.
        And if we when meet in person we do become friends or more, then I think the trip wouldn’t be weird to me.

      2. Lurker*

        It’s not international exactly, it’s the “Nashville” of the country they are in, roughly in the middle of their base cities. The first time I read it, I thought, he wants to go with you to Nashville in the US for the weekend?!? That would be weird!!

        It’s not inherently a weird ask, but it’s also totally fine to decline/deflect like you did. Definitely agree with wanting to have coffee before committing to a 3-day trip!

    8. kittymommy*

      Personally neither his comment nor your response seems strange to me. Truthfully, unless your dating life has been a topic of conversation your co-worker’s reaction seems like the strange (and one that for me would tick me off) one to me.

      1. Anongineer*

        Oh that’s a whole other story/post. She was my mentor when I moved over here and we became friends outside of work too. She’s older than I am, and is telling me that I don’t date enough or give the people stationed here a chance and could be missing all these potential future partners. For the most part I just ignore it. I have different priorities right now but she is definitely invested in my dating life.

      2. BTJ*

        I agree. Seems like a pretty typical foray into exploring the idea of common interests – as a friend or more. This doesn’t seem odd as long as no inappropriate power dynamics and each allows the other to gracefully sidestep or decline without pressure if not interested in pursing.

    9. LadyByTheLake*

      Agree — weird. It would be one thing if he’d proposed getting together for a drink next time you are both in the same location, that would be normal. But jumping from ordinary social banter to “let’s go on a trip together” is strange.

    10. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      You were making small talk with a coworker. He was making small talk. Why your coworker thinks you were in any way wrong to set a boundary on keeping a workplace relationship in the workplace shows more about her need to have some interesting distractions in her life and less about your unwillingness to have relationships with men (her words).
      She just thinks it would be fun to part of a burgeoning relationship.
      You are fine.

    11. CG*

      I work in an adjacent-ish field to this, and I get the comments below saying that it’s different for ex-pats and others abroad, but… there’s a power differential, there’s some gendered stuff, and you have LITERALLY NEVER MET THIS MAN. Definitely some orange flags going off for me – it could be fine, but I’ve had men at work do creepy things in this “but I was being friendly!” zone of plausible deniability before. Totally reasonable for you to think this is strange, IMO. Beyond that, super weird that your coworker is pressuring you into this, including in a “why don’t you get out there and see what love connections work may lead to?” kind of way! What’s up with that?!

      If this is actually something you might want to do but you’re not comfortable going alone with this guy, you could try to get a group together to go. (I say that you could rather than he could, because that way you can make it more likely that everyone in the group except this guy doesn’t mysteriously bail right before the trip…) Otherwise, the suggestion below to mysteriously have other plans (but you’d be happy to meet up for coffee when he’s in your town) is perfect!

    12. Texas*

      Definitely a weird thing on his part! Asking a person he’s had a handful of business phone calls with on a date that’d be a whole day trip after they already declined to share their phone number… Huh. And even if he wasn’t being like this, it’s always okay to decline a date for any reason or no reason at all.

      (I also don’t think people should ask generally someone out when that person is at work because they can’t leave and may feel pressure on their answer depending on hierarchy/structure position in the org.)

    13. Zephy*

      You’re at work. You aren’t trying to hook up with anyone, just making friendly conversation. Your boundaries are valid, and the way you enforced them was valid. You handled it well.

    14. HigherEdAdminista*

      Take this with the note that I tend to be concerned about anyone showing too much interest in me for my own reasons, but yeah… I would think this was weird.

    15. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      You made the right call. Sounds like Mike is interested in you, and that was their way of asking you out. You are under no obligation to date anyone, especially a coworker. Agreed it was weird, and agreed with just discussing the project and minimum pleasantries from now on.

    16. Girasol*

      Women in the workplace used to be thought of as a sort of perk for the men to enjoy in whatever way that they could. In some areas that sort of thinking is still part of the culture. Mike might not be that kind of man, and his area might not have that culture, but it’s best to play it safe. It could be embarrassing or even dangerous if you discover that he had a very different idea of the trip than you expected. It could damage your working relationship too. Of course, it might be a lovely trip and completely professional. But it’s a bigger risk to go than it is to say no.

    17. anonymous73*

      I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. Maybe he’s semi interested in you and wanted to casually put feelers out to see if you were interested as well. I wouldn’t be comfortable meeting someone I barely knew and had never met in person in a foreign country to hang out. And yes I’ve done the online dating thing – in fact that’s where I met my husband. But I always met people in public places that I was familiar with and my friends knew where I was going and what I was doing just in case. Maybe you’ve been there long enough that you would consider it, but you said no and that’s okay. Your co-worker is the one being weird.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        This is my take. I don’t think it’s super weird… you had a rapport and Mike sounds like he was putting out feelers for friendship… or maybe more. Lots of people used to meet in the workplace before that became somewhat frowned upon today.
        But I agree it was a leap considering you haven’t actually met in person yet. Meet first, then decide if you can be friends. Or not. You’re not obligated to socialize.

    18. Mr. Shark*

      I don’t think you should be concerned about saying no, of course, you are always allowed to say no.
      And it might be a little strange, but I wouldn’t assign anything really weird to it. It sounds like you both have some things in common and, to a point, enjoy each other’s company. It may be jumping the gun a bit on his part, but I don’t think you should feel awkward or weird that he mentioned that.
      I agree it makes more sense to continue to be friendly and then meet him in your own city when he comes to town, and see how things progress from there, either just as a co-worker getting together because he’s in town, a friend, or otherwise. Don’t shut the possibility off just because he was maybe over-anxious.

    19. RagingADHD*

      I think he was definitely sending signals that he was open to a social (and possibly potentially romantic) connection with you outside of work. Your response closed that door in a way that sounded quite clear to me.

      It was low-key and nonspecific enough that (to my mind) it was within bounds for a work acquaintance. A person of any gender could make a social overture like that to anyone else, and some colleagues do strike up personal friendships in similar ways.

      If he doesn’t bring it up again, no harm, no foul. That’s the way these things are supposed to work.

      1. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

        I feel a bit uncomfortable that you weren’t able to find out anything about him at all. On the flip side, what would he have been able to find out about you, through workplace searches, social media etc?
        It is good that you asked for thoughts on here, and you have received a fair range of answers! My safety-based suggestion is to wait until you have met in person in your workplace before you make any further decisions about spending non-work time together.

  7. Tuckerman*

    Has anyone moved from professional staff to a faculty position in higher ed, and what did that process look like? Did you get a doctorate first? Did you find faculty positions that were not necessarily teaching in a classroom?

    1. too many too soon*

      We recently promoted a classified staff from order clerk to tenure-track faculty/librarian. She had been doing all the background work, had teaching cred, library degree etc. plus stood out from the 144 other candidates for the job.

      It was touted as a triumph of socioeconomic equity, but the sad thing is she is really traumatized by how nasty faculty pissing contests and other institution-specific fkery.

    2. Gracely*

      I know some who have, but you always have to have the requisite degrees. In some cases that’s a doctorate, in others it’s a terminal degree (like an MLS).
      As for non-teaching positions, it depends on the school/university position you’re applying for. Your best bet might be in library faculty, but often those include a teaching component, even if it’s not the main thrust of the job. I’m sure there are some research-driven faculty positions that involve little teaching, but I don’t know enough about those fields to tell you if those are easy to get or reserved for rockstars or whatever. There are often admin faculty positions like director of a program or provost or what have you, but I think you’re generally expected to have teaching experience (and tons of other experience chairing or being a dean, etc.) before you could try for that.

    3. Zenovia*

      The “staff” and “faculty” classifications are incredibly school specific. Librarians, IT folks, and researchers can be staff at some places, faculty at others, and “professional” or “clinical” or some other qualifier to distinguish them from teaching faculty at still other places. It’s definitely possible to transition from staff to a non-teaching-faculty position in those fields, although you may have to get an advanced degree and move to another place (some universities are snobs about promoting from within; some are fine with it).

      If you’re looking at faculty=professor…. well, I’ve seen people with PhDs take staff positions to get their foot in the door and then pick up some classes through adjuncting. In 20+ years in higher ed, I’ve seen a handful of adjuncts then land non-tenure-track positions. I’ve never seen someone go from staff to professor.

      And if you’re looking at a different type of faculty, tell us more and we can probably be of more help.

      1. AnotherLibrarian*

        Yes, this! I’ve worked at four different schools and every one of them has had different ways of identifying and classifying employees. However, I agree as well with Gracely that you often need the terminal degree in your field. What your field considers terminal often depends on the accrediting agencies that work with your school.

    4. MyLifeInSocks*

      If you’re at a 4-year university, I can’t speak to that.

      I work at a community college. I actually went from adjunct to staff to faculty. I used professional development funds to get my master’s (did not need a doctorate.) It’s rare to go from staff to faculty even here, but I do know I’m not alone and that at least one other person on campus right now has done it.

      I think part of what worked on my favor was being very involved on campus. For example, I was basically the driving force for fundraising for our new food pantry. Which I did because I wanted to and was passionate about it, of course. But when an opening came up and I applied, it showed commitment to the students and college.

    5. LeiaNoon*

      It doesn’t happen often, and it definitely won’t happen if you don’t have a terminal degree. I work in an R1, and I’ve seen a staff member (instructional designer) move to a faculty position (in this case, tenure-track) once. On the other hand, I know a TON of professional staff who have part-time faculty appointments and teach occasionally; most have terminal degrees and tons of experience, but not all. If you want to pick up some teaching experience (and a few extra bucks–a warning that adjunct faculty roles do not pay well), look for departments that offer summer classes and find out who does the staffing (might be faculty, might not–I did it for many years as staff).

      The vast majority of faculty positions (tenure track or otherwise) have a teaching component. Clinical faculty at my institution almost always teach; non-tenure track faculty exclusively teach (as opposed to also doing research and service). Research faculty don’t typically teach, but it’s a job class that’s really hard to get hired into, in my experience, unless you’re bringing your own grant project (read: money) to a university.

      Why are you interested in a faculty position? (To insert my two cents: If it’s a case of “grass is greener” on the faculty side, they may get paid more, but they are just as dysfunctional.)

      1. tamarack and fireweed*

        To add what I wrote below: I could very well end up back on a staff position with temp teaching appointments. And that wouldn’t be the worst in the world, though I would prefer a meteoric faculty career :-) .

        1. tamarack and fireweed*

          Oh, and to add, research professionals and software developers and similar technical / scientific staff tend to get paid more at my institution than even some mid-career TT/tenured faculty.

      2. AcademiaNut*

        A faculty position that doesn’t involve teaching is a dream job for a lot of academics – teaching is often regarded as a necessary evil. Adjunct positions which are all teaching no support for research are much, much, much more common (and still require a PhD). In my field, non teaching jobs are generally at national labs and research institutes, not universities.

        In my field (hard science STEM), I’ve occasionally seen someone go from a non tenure track project based position to a faculty position, particularly in more technical areas, with the caveat that they had a PhD, and were publishing regularly in research journals. I can’t think of anyone who has gone from a non research/publication based staff position to faculty. I know lots of people who took staff positions (teaching or project based) with the hopes that they could publish lots of papers in a couple years in order to be competitive for faculty jobs, and in general, that doesn’t happen – if they hadn’t published enough in research focussed postdocs, it doesn’t improve when moving to a non-research focussed position.

    6. tamarack and fireweed*

      Oh, me! Though I’m so low on the faculty run ladder that in many places my job is not considered faculty.

      I started as term-funded staff (paid out of grant funding). Used my tuition waiver to take a few classes that piqued my interest. Liked the prof who taught them and who ended up mentoring me a bit. They suggested that I could expand a class project into original research and asked if I was considering getting another qualification. From there I ended up getting a doctorate. And from there I applied for postdocs (with some adjunct-teaching and visa-induced gaps in-between). I’m now on an NTT researcher track, which counts as faculty, and think I have a decent chance at a TT position should one come up.

      In retrospect: I should have stuck it out on my staff position while taking classes on the side for *much* longer than I did. In fact, I was a bit blindsided by an offer of a research assistantship, that turned out to be a lot more poisoned than I expected. There were some rather major snafus. I also lost money that had been paid into a pension fund because I didn’t know what “vested” means. In reality, and I didn’t know this, my staff job could very well even have dealt with me going part-time, keeping my benefits, and only switching to degree-seeking student status in the last phase. (If you’re in the US and are a US citizen, you don’t even have to ever switch – but as a non-citizen, this was a requirement.)

  8. Green Snickers*

    My company(NYC based) sent out the ‘back to the office’ email yesterday. It was worded a bit vague- they are starting the ‘transition’ back into the office in 2 weeks but folks will not be required to return in person until January. Some folks are really eager to get back to the office as we usually have lots of events and happy hours so I understood the email as those activities will resume in 2 weeks for those who want to join.

    I got an email from my director shortly after that she will be in touch with our in-office schedule for the next few months leading into January- and I’m not sure how to react. My director has a history of skirting HR guidelines and being a bit of a snake (ie will tell you something is OK to your face and then ding you behind your back). There are a few reasons this upsets me – including a fair share of petty reasons- but point blank, this is going against what the company is saying is the rule.

    I’m wondering how you would suggest I handle it. She is not dumb, she knows what she’s doing. I’m teetering between sending an email to her playing dumb, pushing back completely or just going right to HR. Perhaps there’s an in-between? My direct manager already told me about this email last week so it’s clear she doesn’t see a problem with it and won’t be helping.

    1. BlueKazoo*

      Are you sure she is requiring you to be in the office? It might be a situation where they are splitting up the days between depts/teams to avoid everyone being there at once. Sort of a soft reopening so that they can cope with any issues more easily.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      “they are starting the ‘transition’ back into the office in 2 weeks but folks will not be required to return in person until January.”

      This sounds to me like people can start coming in here and there over the next three months, but it’s not formally required to come back in until January. If that’s correct, then your manager is complying with that.

      1. Combinatorialist*

        yeah, but if HR is saying “you aren’t required to return in person until January” and your manager is saying “here is your schedule for when you will be in office starting in two weeks”, that is a mismatch

    3. ferrina*

      HR might have issued general guidelines and left it up to individual managers to decide what is best for their team. That’s not uncommon in general, and seems to be pretty common for the return to office. Unless your director directly contradicts HR or gives unsafe direction, I think you’ll need to go with it. (If she contradicts HR/gives unsafe direction, loop in HR). If you want to try to negotiate something, I’d come from a place of collaboration (and get everything in writing). In general, your manager does have authority to tell you whether you should work in the office or not.

      Side note: I’m sorry your director is so awful. That dinging-behind-your-back behavior is the *worst* and a fast-track to paranoia.

    4. Observer*

      Keep everything in email. CC / Loop in your grandboss and / or HR as necessary. Don’t jump. Make her spell things out. And let her be the first one to bring up anything that are against guidelines.

      1. LCH*

        “Based on our conversation today, just wanted to confirm I understood blah blah blah.” She doesn’t have to respond.

    5. Bagpuss*

      I think I would wait and see what she produces and then decide – it’s tricky that the e-mail from the company was so vague – did it explicitly say that you wouldn’t be required to come in, or that not everyone would be required? I think if I got a mail saying they were starting to transition back in the next couple of weeks I would read that as meaning that at least some people, some of the time, will be in the office in the next few weeks.

      Can you contact whoever sent the mail and clarify whether you are required to return sooner if your team lead wants you to or whether it is a personal choice?

      And possibly then see what the schedule looks like.

    6. Haha Lala*

      Sounds like the email from your director was super vague too. Maybe she meant she’ll talk to each of you to see who wants to come back sooner/how often/when etc… so then she can make sure the office set up is adequate. So it’s not necessarily going against the company policy.
      Maybe ask around your team and see if anyone else has more information?
      Or email your director and ask for clarification– that doesn’t need to mean ‘playing dumb.’ Tell her that you read the company wide email to mean “X” and her emails sounds like “Y” and ask if she can verify that your interpretation of both is correct.

    7. RagingADHD*

      I would wait and see what she actally says when she gets in touch. It’s possible she will be polling people to see who wants to come in, and how often, and is just going to distribute the schedule of what everyone agreed to, or coordinate shared resources and meetings based on those voluntary opt-ins.

      Maybe not.

      But don’t go complaining that she violated a rule until she actually violates it, which she has not done yet. Don’t blow your credibility when you may need it later.

  9. Lady Meyneth*

    Guys, I had the best, craziest week!

    A few weeks ago I saw an opening for a job I always wanted and figure was still several years in the future, experience-wise. I wasn’t actively job hunting, but figured, why not. Worst case, I’ll never hear from them again.

    I heard from them. They interviewed me twice, seemed to LOVE me, and apparently didn’t feel I needed those few more years in leadership before moving to this job.

    I received on Monday the most amazing offer, which was a promotion for me and an already large salary increase. Benefits were about the same I had, but they had a great WFH policy (only 1-2 days a week in the office, and that only after February). I was about to pounce on it, when I swear I heard Alison’s voice in my head: negotiate, negotiate, negotiate! I never had before (and to be fair, it’s not super common practice in the countries I’ve worked), but again figured why not. So I used the “can you do $X instead?” line, and as it turns out. They could!

    I’m moving to a job I’ve been dreaming about for years with a whopping 42% raise. FORTY FREAKING TWO PERCENT!

    I’m flying!

    1. You rock!*

      I am literally grinning from ear to ear after reading your post. Your excitement is infectious! Thank you for sharing your wonderful news, and congratulations!!

  10. Middle Manager*

    Can I say no to work assigned to me in public? My workload is absurd, numerous levels of bosses have agreed that it is absurd, and pay lip service to doing something about it. But they don’t/can’t because of understaffing (COVID hiring freezes in government that have been brutal and rigid). So that’s bad enough. But what’s worse is we do a lot of public meetings with stakeholders, contractors, etc who will make suggestions or asks of us, and they just keep saying “Sure, Middle Manager can look into that for you and will follow up with you.” The people making these promises for my time are generally 3-4 paygrades above me, so telling them no at all seems like a stretch. Telling them no in front of the public seems downright inappropriate. But then when I’m talking to my direct supervisor trying to address my impossible workload, he tells me basically it’s my fault because I don’t say no when they do this. I’ve asked him if he means I should say no in public, and while he doesn’t give me a straight answer, it’s pretty clear he doesn’t think I should do that, but also won’t say when/how I’m supposed to say no to these people that I don’t have daily interaction with as again, they are well above my paygrade. It feels impossible. Am I just missing something obvious here about how to shut down being publicly volun-told on the reg?

    1. Dust Bunny*

      No, your manager is throwing you under the bus. He doesn’t want to say no to higher-ups and he’s not going to take the work on himself, but he’s also not going to do anything about your workload.

    2. Eco-Logical*

      I wouldn’t say no in front of outside staff, but post-meeting I would 100% send an email/speak to the person who said you could do it using this script:

      ‘Hi Manager,

      In the meeting you asked me to look into X Y and Z for clients. That’s absolutely fine, but will impact on my deadlines for Petunia and the diamond project. Can you speak to her and get those deadlines moved to This Date please?

      Thanks, Middle Manager.’

      I used words like that to great effect when a manager a couple of rungs above my manager did the same to me. It works because you’re not saying no, you’re saying ‘yes but it’ll have this impact’. I actually think you could say it in the moment if you wanted to, but it’s worth trying it behind the scenes first. After 3 months of this, they hired another me so two of us were doing the job. Make it their problem and they’ll solve it. At the moment it’s your problem!

      1. Middle Manager*

        I love that suggestion. Thank you! Since a lot of our deadlines are legislated, it won’t work for everything, but I can think of some cases where it would.

        1. Eco-Logical*

          You’re welcome! And good luck. I’ve been in your shoes and it sucks having an unachievable workload and a manager who won’t go to bat for you to solve that.

        2. Bagpuss*

          for those where it won’t, could you say
          “‘Hi Manager,
          In the meeting you asked me to look into X Y and Z for clients. That’s absolutely fine, but will mean I’m not able to complete the work I’ve already got to comply with the deadlines for Petunia and the diamond project. Can you let me know who I should pass those tasks to, so we don’t miss the deadline?”

          Another option might be (especially if its the same people making these promises) might be to try to speak to them in advance.
          “In a number of meetings recently, when clients have asked for further details, you’ve told them I will look into it. Given my workload, often that’s not really possible. I don’t want to contradict you in front of outside people but it does mean that you’re making promises I won’t be able to fulfil. How would you like to deal with that moving forward? Would you prefer that I speak up in the meeting to say I’m not going to be able to do that, or that I speak to you afterward to reallocate other work to allow me to do those follow ups?”

          1. pancakes*

            Yes, I was going to suggest something along these lines. “How would you like me to handle it when this happens” rather than “would you like me to say no in public.” The latter is going to be an obvious no, and doesn’t force him to explain what exactly he has in mind.

      2. RosyGlasses*

        Coming here to say a version of that – but I would add – “are there projects you’d like me to re-arrange in order of priority in order to accommodate this additional deadline?” Doing that puts the onus back on them to set the priorities and not just assume you can get everything done in a short period of time.

        1. cynical*

          If your manger sucks, asking “are there any… ” will just get an answer of “no, there’s not”. The questions to ask should force them to name projects to deprioritize and you should also explicitly say deprioritized will not be completed by their original deadline.

    3. too many too soon*

      Have contact info for your supervisor handy and when this comes up, say ‘oh hey, manager so&so can best help with that, here’s their contact info’.
      When your supervisor complains, mention your workload conversations.

      1. Bagpuss*

        Ooh, yes, that’s a really good way of dealing with it. It turns it into supervisors’ problem, and they can speak to the higher ups to try to stop them from ding it, if they want.

    4. AVP*

      I don’t think you’re missing anything, they just want all of this done and don’t seem to care how it affects you.

      If ~anything you could try saying something more noncommittal in the moment, “Sure, great idea, let me look into it and check my calendar and see when I can get that done by,” and then following up with a date three months in the future with a note like, “unless you’d like me to push X and Y off so I can get this done earlier!”

      1. Massive Dynamic*

        +1 this – agree to do the thing in the meeting but tell them all you need to review your calendar AND connect with your boss before communicating a completed-by date. Let them know you’ll follow up separately after these steps are done.

        And for your boss, if you don’t already do start keeping a master list of things on your plate, time estimates, and due dates. So he can clearly see what’s going on. Don’t work OT to get things done but do add new projects waaaay out as your workload allows.

    5. TeaGirl*

      Can you talk to these people making BEFORE the public meetings? Basically, go up and be frank and then ask if they can temper their promises. It’s not a full solution, but it’s better than just saying “no” in front of the public.

    6. Distractinator*

      In the moment, I have sometimes said, “yes, I’ll give those details to (insert coworker name here) and we’ll see what they can find out” I am simultaneously agreeing to make sure it gets done but telling the boss that I’m not the right person to handle this directly. The “we” there is a nice compromise between fully passing the buck (Fergus will get back to you) and signing myself up to be a perpetual middleman

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Tell them to email you with their request. This transfers the whole conversation from public view to email.

    8. I heart Paul Buchman*

      I say something in the moment along the lines of (to the boss John) “certainly, and John I’ll be in touch with you about the logistics”. That flags that I’ll do the job but also that there will be some shuffling in the background to make that happen (and that at least part of the shuffle will be John’s problem). Then I’d send the email suggested below to John.
      Caveat: I’m in not for profits in a very egalitarian culture, not sure the impact elsewhere.

  11. working mom*

    Does anybody know if I pass on a GrubHub gift card to somebody else, will the gifter know that I didn’t use it for myself?

    1. Scoffrio*

      I don’t think so! I regifted a grubhub giftcard to a friend and my boss never brought up noticing. I doubt (similar to other giftcards) there’s any information follow up with the purchaser at all, that would be weird.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      No, I’m pretty sure they’d have to actually log into your account to see if you were using it.

    3. anonymous73*

      If you purchase a gift card, the only way you would be able to keep track of it’s use is if you took note of the number and pin needed to use it and checked on it. But even in that case, the only thing you’d be able to see is if it had a balance and maybe where it was used. But why would anyone take the time to do that?

      1. Deanna Troi*

        There was a letter here from a manager who did exactly that and wanted to know if she could use them herself if they hadn’t been used after a certain period of time. She was totally tracking the gift cards she gave to her staff.

        1. anonymous73*

          You still wouldn’t be able to see who actually used it. And if someone is willing to go through that with a gift they gave to others, then I wouldn’t care one bit if I re-gifted it.

  12. Rara Avis*

    For those who have an employer-owned smart phone or tablet, is it linked to your personal account for downloading apps? (Apps have to be approved and would be reimbursed by my employer.) This is the plan for tablets provided by my employer, and it seems weird to set up a link to my private account on a device I don’t own. None of my colleagues seem to be bothered by this plan. Am I being overly cautious?

    1. MissBliss*

      At my place of business, the solution we had here for folks who needed access to the Google Play store (as suggested by HR) was that folks create Gmail accounts specifically for that purpose. So maybe my personal email is but I made an account for work called I think folks were also supposed to share the login info to those accounts with HR.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, this. And it’s absolutely prohibited to use a private google account on my employer’s cellphone.

    2. Nom*

      Nope, it’s all centrally managed by IT. But also we basically can’t download any additional apps, IT has to do so on our behalf. (And it’s a state government agency, so the process of making that happen is long and arduous.)

    3. Generic Name*

      I would set up an account for yourself using your work email. That way it’s still your account, but it’s not connected with any personal accounts you have. I don’t think you’re being overly cautious.

    4. Don't Touch My Snacks*

      Do you mean personal account like your tech based account (like your Apple ID) or your personal payment account (credit card etc)? Because if it is the first one you should just be able to create an account with your work information although one benefit might be that if they are paying for your apps at least you’d get to keep them after you left the job since most paid apps are connected to an id not a device.

    5. NerdyKris*

      You should set up the account with your work email and not your personal. Definitely don’t link the two if you do anything not safe for work under that same account on a personal device.

    6. Bilateralrope*

      Chances are your work didn’t think about it beyond the phones needing an account to work and employees likely already having accounts. I’d create a second account that I only use on the work phone just in case there is something more happening.

      If nobody complains, it’s all good. If they complain that you’re not using your primary personal account, try to figure out why it matters to them.

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I set my work iPhone and iPad up with a separate Apple ID from my own devices, but it’s still a personal account. (I also put the two accounts together under family sharing so that a couple of the apps I’ve purchased on my regular account can be used on the work account as well without having to purchase a second copy.) So is that an option? Create a second email address (or use your work email address) and do a separate account rather than using your primary one?

    8. Observer*

      We manage the devices we give out. But if your company can’t / won’t do that, I agree with everyone else who is saying set up a separate gmail account just for work, and use that for the device.

    9. Policy Wonk*

      I keep two phones – government owned and personal. And I do my best to keep them completely separate.

    10. Rara Avis*

      Thanks for the suggests of a second account. I guess it never occurred to me that I could have two …

      1. anonymous73*

        If it’s google you can have up to 10. I have a main one, a second one for when I need my email to sign up for stuff, and created a third one when I lost my job for applications. I would NOT link my personal account to anything work related.

  13. Justin*

    Welp, two weeks into the office and it’s just boring. A lot of my coworkers are doing whatever they can not to come in, which I get, though part of me gives the side eye to those who’ve been on several (plane-based) vacations, including taking a toddler to Disney World during Delta, but now I’m just being petty (I don’t like most of them, lol). Anyway, though, I’m glad they’re not there because the office is quiet. Boring is better than stressful in these times.

    More importantly, though, I’ve found a way to be a lot more comfortable at work (I really just keep my headphones on unless someone needs to speak to me), AND, well, I officially got my evaluation and I do have ADHD. It’s too late at this job to get enough support not to struggle, that’s all in the past; I’ve found stability where I am, even if I don’t love it. But at least I know now. Wish I didn’t have to spend 30+ years in the “you’re smart, why do you lose/forget things/mess up details” cycle. I just lost my debit card this morning, always feels like there’s a hole in my brain. But any future jobs I’ll be able to build the environment I need and deserve.

    1. I.*

      Can I ask why you feel you can’t build support at this job? Because you’ve been here a while? Or something else? Because the former isn’t a reason not to try, even if it’s just small changes. With my ADHD sometimes small changes make a world of difference!

      1. Justin*

        The nature of what we do is a lot of the stuff I struggle with (creating very repetitive, long documents and delivering them in class). I can’t really opt out of what we have to do.

        But the headphones, changing desks like I recently did, and keeping more to myself have helped a lot.

    2. BlueK*

      I’ve got an old high school friend who didn’t get diagnosed until his 30’s. He takes medication now and wow. Night and day difference. I feel a little bad for how frustrated I used to get when he dropped the ball or took ages to be ready. But none of us knew that ADHD doesn’t always look “hyper.”

    3. LordyMe*

      Do you want to work from home? Do you find it easier working from home? (I certainly do with my ADHD, which I wasn’t diagnosed with until 2017.) If you work better and/or are more comfortable at home, stop giving your co-workers the side eye and follow their example.

  14. Hmmm*

    I was one of the last questions to ask this in last weeks open thread…. Waaaay to late for a discussion. It was kindly answered by two AAM readers. I’m hoping to get more discussion, thoughts and opinions on this…

    How do you know when it’s time to look for another job?

    I have a tendency to stay in a job for the wrong reasons- fear of not being dedicated, Am I too picky, am I complaining when things aren’t that bad, do I want to leave a great group of coworkers and managers.

    Regardless I seem to take forever to make a decision and always seem to end up with the short end of the stick.

    What is everyone else’s experiences?

    1. Mental Lentil*

      When the Sunday night dread starts happening earlier and earlier in the day on Sunday—that’s a bad sign.

      When it starts to happen on Saturday, that’s an even worse sign.

      1. Waffle Cone*

        Yep this. That’s when I knew it was time to quit my last job. That, and they refused to let me do any professional development (ugh).

      2. Laura*

        This was what it was for me. I could make up excuses in my head for why things that happened “weren’t really that bad” (they were!), could tell myself I was fortunate to have such a secure and well-paying job in a field that is notoriously low-paying and should just deal with it, but I couldn’t talk myself out of how the Sunday Scaries were taking over my entire weekend, because that was just true.

        The other thing – and this may not be helpful to you personally, now or ever, YMMV – is that now that I have a new job where I am SO MUCH HAPPIER, I think that if things ever start to go downhill, I will be able to see it more easily and make my decision to move on much more swiftly and firmly. I was moderately unhappy in my last job for about a year before I even resolved to start looking for new jobs, and it took another 18 months after that to find a new one. I feel more confident in my knowledge of myself and my limits now, and I don’t see myself hemming and hawing over whether I should stay or go like I did before.

    2. ThatGirl*

      There are a lot of reasons!
      You dread going in to work.
      You’re being underpaid and there’s no chance of fixing it.
      You feel like you’ve mastered your job and there’s no room for growth or promotion.
      You want to do something different, or do the same thing at a different company.
      Your boss/management/coworkers suck.


      1. Anongineer*

        I agree with this – every job I’ve left has tended to be a combination of about two of them. Just one would put me on notice and make me consider what would need to change for me to stay, but 2+ starts making a workplace not worth it. But that’s just my experience – sometimes all it takes is one experience that makes a person leave, and that’s okay too!

        I’d say one of the biggest indicators for me is if I feel bored in my day-to-day more than 50% of the time that has typically been an early warning sign.

    3. JB*

      You’re right, those are bad reasons to stay.

      Personally, I know it’s time to leave when there’s little or nothing left that I enjoy about a job. For me, it’s normal to have some portions that I don’t enjoy – whether they’re boring, stressful, etc – but there’s always some part of a job that I genuinely enjoy, whether it’s because it’s fun/stimulating, or something I can just zone out and relax while I work on, or just because I find it satisfying to get the task done.

      When I get to the point where none of my work is enjoyable (whether that’s because of some issue in the environment/coworkers that’s making it all stressful, or just because I’ve outgrown the position and learned all that I can), it’s time to start looking for a new job.

      Based on my observations, I think that is how a lot of people operate. Most people I know who have been in a position for a very long time find at least some part of the job to be satisfying or rewarding; that’s why they stay.

      1. JB*

        As an example, since I recently made such a decision:

        My previous job was in, let’s say, a specialized department of chocolate teapot customer service. I had a lot of very specialized tasks that the other CS reps didn’t know much about, to do with measuring the specs and testing the usage of, let’s say, the chocolate cups and saucers that are sold with some of our teapots.

        When I started the job, there were a few things I disliked – getting calls from angry customers, for example, is not fun for pretty much anyone – but there were also a lot of things I enjoyed. I loved charting the specs for the cups and saucers. I loved creating the necessary Excel tables and forms to estimate future cup and saucer specs. I loved writing letters to customers and creating form letters for future use. And I got a lot of satisfaction out of helping confused customers untangle and understand how their chocolate cups and saucers worked, and empowering them to know how to review the necessary specs themselves to see that their cups were operating as intended, so they didn’t have to just rely on my ‘I told you so’. I loved starting a call with an anxious customer and ending with a happy one.

        Early 2021, I’d been in the position about 3 years, and a lot of things had changed. Some in the position, some with me. The company is producing more chocolate teapots than ever before, and also more teapot sets, which is great! But we really needed a third specialist (I was one of only two) to support customer service for the growing number of customers with cup and saucer sets. Our vendor who shipped the sets was also getting lazy, and sets were arriving broken, malfunctioning, missing pieces. Most of my day was now taken up with taking calls from unhappy customers over things that were outside my control, and the rest was scrambling to play catch-up on other items that were falling behind. And I had essentially automated all the parts of the job that I loved; I had a form letter for every occasion, a pre-built spreadsheet for any data set. Gone were the days where I could get off the phone with an angry customer, sigh, and go ‘well at least I can spend the next hour on some soothing numerical calculations’.

        So I looked around, externally and internally. I knew I was absolutely burnt out on customers and only screened for jobs that wouldn’t involve any direct customer service. And within a few months, I found my way into a position in another department of the same company; it’s a technical writing position where I look over new chocolate teapot proposals and write a brief for the proposer to present to our higher-ups. I’m back doing many of the things I love: evaluating numbers and writing things.

      2. LadyByTheLake*

        I don’t stick with a job just because some part of it is enjoyable — I love the kind of work I do, so I will always enjoy that, and even the worst places I’ve worked have people who I enjoy working with. My list is along the line of ThatGirl’s, but I would add culture — there are some companies where my approach just does not fit with their culture — their appetite for risk is just not a match for mine (I am a risk professional). Today is my last day with a company that was a terrible culture fit and I could not be happier, despite the fact that I enjoyed the work and made friends with some wonderful people. I will not miss that feeling of dread when I signed in on Monday mornings one bit.

    4. Princess Flying Hedgehog*

      When you think it MIGHT be time for a new job, that’s when you start LOOKING. Looking does not commit you to taking something, what looking does is provide you with valuable information about what your alternatives are. It can also help you think through what’s most important to you in a job — is it meaningful work? is it good work-life balance? is it compensation? commute? office environment? It’s probably a combo of a few different things.
      Start looking around and see what else is out there. Do some research on what a competitive salary is for your type of job. Identify some companies that might be some good potential employers. etc. etc.

    5. Msnotmrs*

      A small sign for me is that I’ll start doing things like sitting in my car until exactly the time I need to walk into the building (not one minute ealier) or clocking out as early as I possibly can without actually clocking out “early.”

    6. Cold Fish*

      No suggestions. I’m nearing my 20th year here. I’ve stayed mostly because of the people and the fact I truly hate job searching (not just everyone dislikes job searching, but total loathing). I know I’m paid much less than I could have been had I tried switching up jobs. I’ve been close and desperately need to start looking (total burnout/boredom/need a new challenge). I dipped my toe in last year right before COVID hit full bloom.

    7. anonymous73*

      I tend to stay too long too because it’s scary to start something new. Even though in the long run it will benefit you, when you’re comfortable (even if you’re bored/unhappy/insert bad emotion here), it’s still difficult to make a change. I’d say if you feel stuck – no opportunities to advance/learn, or you’re so unhappy that it’s affecting your mental health, it’s time to move on. At the last job I left voluntarily, my manager made a comment that the newer people asked her why I was still working there if I was so unhappy. Apparently I had been complaining A LOT. And I was miserable. I had done a bit of job searching here and there, but nothing on a regular basis. That was the wake up call I needed to make a change.

    8. ten four*

      I think it’s time to start looking when you start wondering “is it time to start looking?”

      Job hunting can often take a lot of time, so the thing you DON’T want to do is wait until you’re completely 100% fed up and ready to walk to even start the process.

      I’ve been doing the slow-walk job hunt since spring. I started by updating my resume and starting to reach out to my network. I aimed for doing one practical thing a week, and sometimes I got on a roll a did a few things. I’ve had two sets of interviews so far, and I’m waiting to hear back on the second.

      Even now I’m undecided about whether or not I REALLY want to leave, but it’s nice to have options.

  15. Schmitt*

    One of my direct reports is struggling a bit with, well, direct communication. When they think something is kind of stupid, they say something is kind of stupid. My own technique for dealing with this (as someone who also thinks a lot of things are kind of stupid) is to ask questions and use softening language – like these examples

    * Have you thought about how X will interact with Y?
    * In my experience, doing X can lead to a problem with Y. What are your plans to counteract that?
    * Do you have any data to back that statement up?

    I have been trying to find a couple articles or books to recommend to my colleague, but I don’t seem to be using the right terms. Anyone have some resources to recommend?

    1. Not A Manager*

      I don’t know any books or articles, but have you suggested that Direct Communicator ask themselves *why* the thing is kind of stupid, and address that? That’s what your examples are, right? You think the thing is stupid *because* it will interact poorly with x, or *because* it sounds empirically false.

      Maybe you can coach Direct Communicator to talk about why the thing is [quiet voice] “stupid” instead of just saying that it is stupid. You also are asking questions instead of making statements. I think sometimes that’s double-edged (it can feel a bit snarky, especially if there’s only one right answer because the thing is kind of stupid). Also, women are trained to do this “softening” socratic thing a lot more than men are. Nonetheless, DC could think about phrasing the answer as a question, as well.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Since this person’s direct communication is a problem, have you been direct with them? One of my management mantras is that I have to adapt to the communication styles of my reports, not the other way around.

      “Fergus, when you said ‘that idea is stupid’ to the VP of Finance, it totally derailed the meeting and put us a week behind schedule. I also means that her department will probably delay processing all of our purchase requests. You could have gotten your message across just as well if you were polite about it, and avoided the negative consequences.”

      Without being told outright “your communication style is a problem”, how is he supposed to know? I think a direct approach from you to him is going to work far better than saying “here, read this article I found in Business Week” and hoping he gets the hint.

      1. BlueK*

        This. Have a one to one about this specific topic so your report can see that this is “an issue.” Coaching them by helping them translate in the moment isn’t always enough IME.

        1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

          OK, so they know and acknowledge that it’s a problem then? Well that’s 1 or 2 steps already taken care of.

          Do you think they just need to learn to bite their tongue in the heat of the moment?

      2. Reba*

        Yes, *you* can be direct in saying that your report needs to develop some tact.

        I like this suggestion to spell out the consequences and explain that collaborative communication is part of getting things done. I think this would appeal to people who want to resist “soft skills” because they feel it means being fake or obsequious. One can be blunt and still have positive interactions.

    3. Purt's Peas*

      “Soft skills” is probably a reasonable search term here.

      Also, I’d (directly!) tell them that this is a problem and why. My guess is that no training will stick until & unless they realize why it’s important to stop insulting their coworkers.

      The issue isn’t that they’re being direct–it’s that they’re characterizing an entire statement or idea globally, and in an ad hominem, mean way. Direct is, “that won’t work, because X and Y.” Mean is, “that’s a stupid idea.” Direct and respectful is, “in my experience, that way would be too difficult/costly/time-consuming/fragile, because X and Y.”

      If they’re empathetic (unlikely) you can emphasize that this actually does make people feel bad. If they’re a little machiavellian, you can emphasize that they’re giving people zero leeway for making a mistake, and they will receive zero leeway in exchange. If they pride themselves on being rational, you can emphasize that the mean response–“that’s stupid”–is actually the least rational of the bunch, and it shows that they’re frustrated instead of thinking objectively.

    4. lost academic*

      I don’t see this about being a problem with directness, but actually of value. A response of “X is stupid” is useless. It doesn’t advance the goal of the discussion, it doesn’t solve a problem, it doesn’t create any change other than insulting someone. They are actually NOT being direct – they’re being unhelpful. I would coach someone who does this frequently to stop and focus on asking a question that is intended to get relevant actionable information. Continuing in the previous vein is wasting other employees’ energy and time.

      1. PollyQ*

        Agreed. The problem is that he’s being rude & unkind, and insulting things (or people!) rather than providing analysis, critiques, or solutions.

    5. Actual Vampire*

      “Nonviolent Communication” by Marshall Rosenberg might help? Some of the book is about how to criticize by focusing on needs rather than judgements. (As in, “We need to pour water out of the teapot, so make sure your design accounts for that” instead of “Your spoutless teapot is useless.”) I don’t know if the book itself will be the best for your employee’s needs, but maybe it will help you find related resources.

      1. Mannequin*

        Huh. I would have thought that telling someone “your spoutless teapot is useless” is simply stating a fact, not making a judgment.

    6. MaybeTryThis*

      The book Crucial Conversations might be useful here.

      Caveat: I sat through the CC training and it was SO utterly awful. It was deeply gendered and very much “here, let’s teach white men to communicate in the ways women and BIPOC are already conditioned to speak so they don’t offend white dude sensibilities”
      The whole program seems to be white dudes discovering how to not be complete @ssh@ts when speaking –it was faaaascinating seeing who in the room found the material novel. (Also they were all ‘we’re having a safe space for TRAINING and it was 100% not a safe space’)

      But I know others have gotten more out of the material so the book might be a starting point

      Bon chance

      1. Sandman*

        I’m a white woman and have reread this book several times because I find it so helpful. I can’t speak to the value of the trainings, but IMO the book would be worthwhile to consider.

    7. Shark Whisperer*

      One book that I would highly recommend to your colleague is Feedback Revolution. It’s awesome at explaining how to give good feedback and at the end of the day, this seems like it is really about feedback. Your direct report and thoughts and opinions about a plan or a product but isn’t communicated that information effectively.

      When you talk to your direct report and if you give them resources, I would not frame the conversation as they are being “too direct” because I don’t really think directness. I do think your questions are better than just saying “this is stupid,” but not because they are softer, but because they get to the root of the issue and leave room for the possibility that whoever came up with the plan made the “stupid” decision for a valid reason.

    8. AuroraPickle*

      Thinking “that’s stupid” is a value judgement is common and there was a time where I needed that spelled out to me prior to this I thought it was as neutral an observation as seeing that the sky is blue. Direct communicator may not place value on intelligence or lack of it the same way that most people seem to. It was shocking to me when I found out that people tend to tie their self esteem to intellectual ability.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Tell him to eliminate the word stupid and similar words from his work vocabulary. Tell him he is insulting people and it is holding him back. Tell him this will remain an open discussion UNTIL he fixes it.

  16. Cold Fish*

    The five to five comments yesterday were high-jacked by responses to LW1 & LW5 and closed early but I had a suggestion for LW2. So I thought I’d put here. The letter was the one about the mentee who wouldn’t go to her team for questions, instead she kept coming back to her mentor (LW2) for help.

    My suggestion: Your first question should be “have you asked your team?” If no, send her back to the team for answers but if still stuck to come back and you would help. If you are consistent, she will stop seeing you as her first resource and instead look to her team first (knowing you are just going to send her there anyway). You are not being unhelpful when you are directing her to where the answers should be.

    It seems the bigger problem is her not connecting with her team, as her mentor, could you give her networking/connecting ideas that could improve her skills in that area instead of answering the immediate work question that she should be going to her team for?

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Thanks! I tried to get on there to suggest this but didn’t get back before the comments closed.

    2. learnedthehardway*

      It would also makes sense for LW2 to have a mentoring discussion with their mentee about when the mentoring relationship has run its course, and when it is and isn’t appropriate to go to the mentor for help. Eg. “Before you approach me with problems, you need to use the resources at hand – such as looking things up and consulting your colleagues. This is your developmental feedback for the week…”

  17. NerdyKris*

    How real is the hiring crisis? I see so many places using the excuse that they can’t hire anyone for why they’re understaffed, but we’re not having that problem at all in my office. I hear people say it’s because people don’t want to work for the low benefits and wages anymore, but didn’t the supplemental income end months ago? Aren’t we at the point where people have to look for work regardless? Is this a case of a few loud voices complaining while everyone else implements PPE and reasonable pay?

    1. many bells down*

      My daughter’s boyfriend, a former restaurant manager, applied to a bunch of restaurants that had “sorry we’re understaffed please be patient” signs and not ONE of them called him. I think some places are using that as an excuse to save money by short staffing.

        1. Mental Lentil*

          Yes, this. I saw a post on Reddit where someone who owned six franchise restaurants was not willing to pay more than minimum wage when all the other fast food restaurants around there (Seattle area, IIRC) were paying $15. Someone did the math for them. It was glorious.

        2. it's me*

          And shortsighted. People are going to start writing off a place that’s continuously understaffed because the managers are holding out to avoid pay raises.

      1. Msnotmrs*

        Yup. My husband is a restaurant manager as well, and they pay an actual living wage with annual raises and tips on top of the hourly. No worker shortage there…

      2. HigherEdAdminista*

        This is absolutely going on. A friend of mine lost his job during the pandemic. He has a stellar resume and cover letter, and he has the experience and education for the jobs he is looking for. He receives few interviews, and the ones that have panned out have all been a bait and switch with a lower paying, semi-related position. One of the recruiters he spoke with said that sometimes jobs are doing this to get people in the door because they know they wouldn’t apply for the lower level job, and they are hoping that they can pressure someone desperate into taking the position.

    2. Mental Lentil*

      All of the fast food restaurants and many of the sit-down restaurants around here have been trying to hire for months. FF is offering sign-on bonuses and tuition reimbursement.

      Meanwhile, the breakfast place close to where I live put a “help wanted” sign up. They offered $17-18 an hour (based on experience, I presume) and health care.

      Their sign was up for less than a week.

      1. SparkleBoots*

        This is what I’m seeing in my area of the US. The places that are paying decently and offering benefits are not having any issues hiring. The places that I know are crappy – low wages, bad conditions, no benefits – are not getting anyone.

      2. Generic Name*

        I think the benefits are key. People are complaining that even high wages aren’t attracting workers, so it must not be the money, and that’s partially true. People want fair pay AND benefits (plus humane working conditions). I guess some employers can’t figure that out.

        1. Aarti*

          I have a position open with full bennies, 403b, and strict 35 hour workweek and I’ve had THREE applicants. I am certainly struggling. We are paying as much as we can but we are not for profit so just can’t be as competitive. :(

          1. Msnotmrs*

            Not to be mean, but how’s your reputation in the nonprofit community? There’s a lot of places I wouldn’t touch with a 10-ft pole solely for that reason.

          2. lost academic*

            I think you’re going to need to look at your budget and plans if you want to continue at the current operating level, then. That’s a reality. It’s a chicken and egg problem – you can only shrink, even if you think you’re treading water, if you aren’t investing in some type of growth.

          3. too many too soon*

            I’ve seen postings for non-profits that look really cool until I see 3 people’s worth of work in the description, along with keywords like energetic, passion, dynamic, etc.
            Red flags for managers/companies that depend on employees’ vocational awe as fuel.

          4. WulfInTheForest*

            Not-competitive pay AND you can only work 35 hours? That’s a no-go for a lot of people due to finances honestly.

            1. LCH*

              the 35 sounds regular to me unless you mean because there is no overtime pay available? basically it’s an 8 hr work day with an hour for lunch. not crazy hours. the issue is probably solely the salary.

              1. Siege*

                The admin team in my office is limited to 35 hours a week (though OT is approved as needed). 5 hours a week sounds like not a lot, but at our salaries, we’re talking well over a hundred dollars a week they’re not being paid, and with housing/living costs as they are in this very high COL area, that’s a big deal. Add to that a non-competitive salary, and it’s going to be a problem. I’ve been casually looking, and non-profit jobs in my field that were paying $50K 8-10 years ago are still paying $50K – meanwhile, housing costs have quadrupled.

        2. Mental Lentil*

          This restaurant has an excellent reputation, both for food and culture/working conditions, so I’m thinking that’s what happened here.

    3. Rara Avis*

      Every retail establishment and food service location I pass by has a help wanted sign. I live in a HCOL area with a much higher than federal minimum wage. The post office in our area is also desperately recruiting. On the other hand, my husband hasn’t been able to find a job in his field in 15 months.

      1. mreasy*

        Minimum wage in NYC is $15 but rent for an average two bedroom would cost nearly as much as the take home pay of two people working FT at that rate. When business paying minimum or close to minimum say things like “nobody wants to work anymore,” I have to get out the worlds smallest violin…

        1. T J Juckson*

          Exactly. The living wage– per the MIT calculator– is something like $43K or so for Manhattan/Brooklyn, which is around $20/hour. And that will pay for an apartment share (maybe a studio or 1BR if you get very lucky and don’t mind rent being over 50% of your income), so it’s not like one is living large. I’d just like to be able to have a modest apartment to myself, thank you!
          And don’t get me started by the number of jobs requiring BAs and sometimes even MAs that are at or just above minimum wage…

    4. Parakeet*

      My workplace is having a lot of trouble hiring, but this is an emotionally demanding field with fairly low pay (funding mostly comes from the state and reimbursement rates that the state pays organizations for certain roles’ salaries are fixed and quite low, so while organizations can and do use unrestricted or less-restricted funds to make the salaries semi-reasonable rather than atrocious, there’s a limit to how much they can do), and some of the roles we’re trying to hire for require certain skills (language etc). We pay pretty well for this sector, but, well, “well” is relative.

      I do think that in general there’s a big piece of what you’re suggesting – companies not wanting to pay more.

    5. ThatGirl*

      I can’t speak to restaurants, but my husband is a mental health counselor at a small university, and they’ve had a position open on his team since May … with *zero* applicants.

      Now, the pay is kinda lousy. But it’s also not in the posting. (I know. But they do bring it up early in the process.) So his suspicion is people are reading the Glassdoor reviews or asking around and deciding not to apply. It’s hard to say for sure. They do have solid benefits and it would be a good stepping stone for a younger clinician. But given what he’s been through I can’t blame people for not wanting to work there!

      1. Gracely*

        There have been lots of higher ed positions opening up in my field at other universities, and mine is understaffed, so I poke around occasionally to see if there’s anything better. Right now, they’re either not posting the pay (so why would I even bother?) or the ones that are want someone to do 2-3x the work I already do for less pay (so hell no). But I’d consider less pay if the conditions were right (more flexibility, etc.).

        They really, really need to post the pay. There are so many things that *are* open that do post the pay that the places that don’t are hurting themselves.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Yeah. I agree. It certainly wouldn’t decrease their number of applicants :P
          I keep telling him it’s not his problem to solve, which it isn’t, but having another person on his team would help reduce his workload and stress level to a much more reasonable level so it definitely does affect him.

        2. Siege*

          I won’t say I would NEVER apply to a job that doesn’t list salary, but it would definitely need to be a prestige company or goal job or otherwise very standout to get me to apply to one that doesn’t list salary. That’s not most jobs. If you won’t tell me what you want to pay me, why should I put in hours of work only to find out that we’re 1/3 or more off on salary?

          1. ThatGirl*

            To be fair – I don’t see a lot of jobs with salary ranges, even now. Aside from one contract role with a flat hourly rate, I’ve never gotten a job where the range was posted in the ad. It IS usually discussed right away during a phone screen, and I think they should be posted in ads, but I don’t see it commonly.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I’ve gotten much more assertive about asking. “So I know we’re both on the same page, what is your range for this position?” If they’re cagey with me about it, I know they’re not paying squat.

              It’s especially important to know this if I’m pursuing a job in a higher-COL area. Like, I want to work there, but I also want to know if I can afford to.

      2. BlueK*

        Depending on location and whether the university is virtual, it might also have to do with COVID. Colleges are places that have been in the news as super spreaders enough to deter some folks. Although there is often an informal community in MH that people can turn to and ask about jobs that may be turning people off too.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Covid could be a factor, but right now all counseling is being done virtually (though his office is still required to be on campus for various dumb reasons). The college has not been in the news for its covid policies, though it has been in the news for various faculty issues, which is a whole other can of worms.

          I could definitely see that the general reputation of the university may be getting around, though, especially in informal networks. And to be clear, even though I want my husband to have another coworker simply because he’s overloaded and getting burned out, I can’t blame anyone for not wanting to work there!

    6. lost academic*

      I might also add that there’s people who are temporarily or maybe longer term out of the labor market who might otherwise have worked lower paying jobs full or part time who relied on having child care options. Child care options right now are extremely difficult to come by since so many closed during the pandemic, are seen as a risk to a family with the potential of viral spread, and quickly growing more expensive. It doesn’t make as much financial sense anymore for some parents to pick up those jobs and hours because of the real and potential costs. An extra couple of bucks an hour isn’t going to solve that problem.

      On top of that – ASK people who used to work for you why they don’t anymore.

      1. Oregon Mother*

        I wrote Alison a letter that she hasn’t answered yet about what to do if I can’t find childcare. It’s a huge problem in my area. I called a dozen places and there are either no openings or a wait list. The longest wait list I’m on has TWENTY babies in front of me. There might be an option in 4 months I can find, but it’s $1800/month. If you make $15/hr, that’s $2400 BEFORE taxes. No one is going to take a job for $15/hr if they need childcare in my area. Very frustrating. And sadly, the childcare workers pay even less. It’s a hard, physically demanding job with constant covid risk and it pays $12/hr. The whole oligarchy is built on devaluing children and childcare and education workers and it’s a MESS.

        1. lost academic*

          Plus you won’t keep your job long without significant flexibility, assuming the role even allows for it, if you have to constantly take your kid out of that care for illness (and everywhere is MUCH jumpier about that right now to prevent full shutdowns).

          Maybe if we could fundamentally change the attitude so ingrained in our culture that we shouldn’t be making it easier for mothers to work because they’re supposed to stay home with the kids…..

        2. Rachel in NYC*

          I have a new coworker who’s commuting from central NJ.

          why? well, his wife got a job at a college in NJ that had a daycare that would take their kid so it makes sense for him to do the commute in NYC, at that point.

        3. tamarack and fireweed*

          Yeah, this needs a political situation. Individual choice can’t deal with impossible situations.

    7. A. Ham*

      I am not in the restaurant industry, but I am actively hiring part time staff (multiple openings for the same role). The job notice has been up for three months I hired one person a little over a month ago, and have a second starting next week. I had two other interviews and gave offers to both last week and have not heard anything from either of them.
      We pay good but, admittedly, not top hourly wages (nonprofit). and are offering a bonus for new hires. The thing that has been happening over and over is: I get an application, if they seem ok I call the applicant, and then I never hear back. over and over.
      It’s very frustrating.

      1. Anon for This*

        Part time, so no benefits? That’s likely the problem. The people who applied last time I had an opening were interested in predictable schedule and benefits. Some were willing to take a pay cut in exchange for benefits.

        1. too many too soon*

          My household made some large financial adjustments so my partner could have a part time union job with full benefits. The schedule could be better, even for part time, but it’s nice to know there is a back up source of health insurance and some buffer in terms of union support.

      2. Chris too*

        Where I am, a very high COL area, it’s normal for people to be still living with parents into their thirties. Many of the younger generation lost their jobs at the beginning of the pandemic and the general feeling has been, oh, well, one more person to stick close to home with limited socializing, one less person to be out working in a high chance of exposure workplace. It might be the only time in modern history when parents prefer their adult kids living at home to be unemployed!

    8. Massive Dynamic*

      My company’s having great success because our pay is top of market on all levels. We contract our work to other companies that can’t find anyone at all, so they use our services to fill in the gap, costing them more than a high-paid full-time employee would cost. And round and round it goes….

    9. Firm Believer*

      As someone in charge of hiring it’s very very real. No one wants to put their businesses in danger by being understaffed but there aren’t enough people. I am literally throwing heaps of money at candidates but they have so many choices it’s challenging. Please don’t listen to those people saying it’s bad management. They don’t run businesses so they don’t have an honest point of reference.

      1. pancakes*

        What makes you so sure you can assess whether people online have “an honest point of reference”? Please don’t say it’s that they seem to have experienced different things in their industry and/or region than you have, because that would be a terribly silly answer. You seem to be saying that everyone who runs a business shares the same mindset and values, which isn’t at all correct.

    10. Alex*

      Our firm is going through a hiring phase after Covid layoffs cut us back in Q2 2020 and the pay is excellent, the benefits are great and the work is largely ethical but the hours are long. But I think it boils down to working conditions: teams with good management and culture have no problems hiring, teams with difficult managers are still empty and hemorrhaging employees. People know they don’t need to put up with unreasonable behavior, and that’s their prerogative. I like my current team management, but if that changed I would go too. I feel great about current hiring conditions.

      1. Windchime*

        Yep. I feel like the balance is finally shifting to favor the workers instead of the employers. I hope it continues on this trend because society just cannot keep squeezing out the normal working people….they need a bare minimum to live, and minimum wage isn’t keeping up with the cost of living. I have an adult child who works in a grocery store. I heard lots of lip service at the beginning of COVID about how grocery workers are essential. Well, then maybe they should PAY him as if he’s essential. He got a dollar an hour raise for a month, and then when it was obvious we were in for the long haul, they took it away. It’s crap, and people are getting sick of it.

    11. James*

      We’ve been trying to look for months to fill one position. Compensation is industry standard, work is normal (better than most companies), nice area. Field geos know what the work is going to be like early in our schooling. But people keep dropping out of the process. Some are understandable–they take other positions, sometimes in our company–while others just walk away. We keep tossing out our line, but no one’s biting.

      Also, almost every business I see driving around has a “Help Wanted” sign. Can’t speak to the working conditions there, but it seems unlikely that so many businesses are equally horrible.

      1. lost academic*

        Of course they know, I hire those people too. But they don’t have to be a field geo – they can take their education and experience and do something related that’s better paying/shorter hours/more opportunity/less risk/you name it. Kind of like how people used to take a couple years out on oil rigs – the compensation levels and potential for much better jobs if you paid your dues that way were great. But now that’s not the only pathway so people aren’t going to take it if nothing changes. And I will say that field geos don’t have a great prognosis for future career advancement that reduces their hours, significantly raises their pay or changes their working conditions. Even the project managers aren’t very desk bound. I don’t know what the future holds for those roles but right now there’s going to be a lot of need.

      2. pancakes*

        This comment doesn’t give any sense of where the “nice area” is. There is a lot of variation in what people consider nice! And in what they’re reasonably well-informed about. I mean, there are a lot of nice areas that aren’t on many people’s radar simply because they’re not high-profile for visitors.

      3. LordyMe*

        Plenty of businesses are absolutely awful.

        Have you tried paying above the industry standard?

        You say you work in a nice area, but is it hard to get to? Is it a long and/or difficult commute? Are you insisting people come into the office when they can do part or all of their job at home?

    12. Elle*

      My roommate has been looking for work for over a year, and nada. The furthest she got was one company went all the way through drug testing her and then ghosted her even though she passed. So weird.

    13. Lizy*

      I’m admin in the fuel/oil/gas industry, and it’s real. We have pretty competitive wages, flexible working hours (i.e., if a driver is done by 1, then he goes home and still gets paid 8 hours), decent benefits, and we’re struggling.

      Long-haul drivers are short-staffed, too. The average age of a long-haul driver is over 60, and there are stories all over the industry of drivers (younger than 60) literally just leaving the product/trailer on the side of the road and “quitting”.

      I haven’t heard of ANYONE around here who hasn’t been able to find a job (midwest rural).

      I’m looking, for various reasons, but I’m being super picky and am trying to find something remote (again, for various reasons). I’ve just started so I’m hoping I’ll find something soon…

      1. pancakes*

        There was an interesting NPR Planet Money segment on this in May, called “Is There Really A Truck Driver Shortage?” (The short answer: No). It’s on their website.

    14. Name (Required)*

      Since many replies are about hourly work,, I think there is a shortage because people don’t need to take 2-3 jobs anymore to make the same pay they were making. So there are many jobs that used to rely on being someone’s PT second job and there just isn’t a market for that anymore.

      But this worker shortage can be for professional industries too.

      I’m in an industry facing two competing problems: after being closed for a year, the technical side of the industry cannot find enough people because they all took thier skills and went to different industries.

      However, on the creative side, the opposite is true: there is a surplus of talent that still cannot find work because no one is ready to commit to bringing those people back.

      It’s a weird juxtaposition.

      1. no name today*

        I’ve found a lot of companies hiring PT workers don’t respect the need for stable, plannable schedules.

        1. Windchime*

          This is even true for full-time hourly workers. My son works in a grocery store. He’d love to pick up a second, part-time job but he can’t because his schedule is so variable from week to week.

          1. pancakes*

            This sort of thing makes me so mad. It drives people toward gig work for 2nd jobs, which tends to be even more exploitative and almost never comes with benefits.

        2. SnappinTerrapin*

          You got that right.

          I’ve supervised employees who needed two jobs to get by, and I know how hard it is on the employees and employers to make that work.

          But I see other employers expecting employees to be available to work on short notice – in other words, not giving them a schedule that allows for planning for another job, much less a personal life. That isn’t sustainable.

    15. Malarkey01*

      The new thing I’m seeing at my big employer is retirements. We’ve had about 5 years of people who “could” retire but just didn’t for whatever personal reasons they had (and we’re very top heavy on age). They all stuck around through CoVid when it was WFH, really flexible, and hey you’re stuck at home what else are you going to do. As things start to return to a little more normal and some positions are going to be hybrid, they are announcing retirements left and right. Every single group in my division is losing at least 2 people in December (most people here leave effective Dec 31st). We’re trying to start the process to fill these jobs, a lot of which are highly skilled, six figure positions, and aren’t finding a big pool in this area.

    16. AnotherAlison*

      My company has put on a massive effort to hire some field staff and engineers. Meanwhile, turnover has been terrible because other companies are hiring, too. The thing that annoyed me is that they are offering signing bonuses and huge recruiting bonuses to current employees, but we aren’t getting any of our regular bonuses this year. Well, I put in my notice today. I don’t think you can throw money at newcomers and short people who already work for you (the bonuses have been paid regularly for 10 years, I hear). You’ll be stuck in a cycle of turnover. Plus a lot of the current people have been picking up the slack due to shortages of staff for a while, and they’re tired. Sure, I could recruit people and get that bonus, but why would I want my friends to come work somewhere where you won’t get paid your regular bonus and the turnover is terrible? That’s why we have recruiters.

    17. LuckyClover*

      I think it depends on industry (and luck) as well. A lot of “normal life” is still in flux for us. I work in Higher Education and my dept. runs on student employees (part time, $1 above min wage) to provide other on-campus services. During the pandemic, we lost a chunk of staff due to students moving back home etc., and we were fine with the staffing level that remained because we had reduced services due to COVID. It meant our remaining student employees were able to work enough hours to not have their pay reduced by the reduced service hours of our office.

      As we transitioned back in person this semester, my dept filled back up after 2 months. I got a jump start over the summer but officially returned to full capacity just last week (please keep fingers crossed for me that it stays this way)
      My colleague in an adjacent dept however has also rehired from the same pool of applicants I used, but then subsequently lost half of her staff because their classes went virtual for the semester and it didn’t make sense for them to commute only for work.

      1. no name today*

        Our student staff are starting to work the ‘not feeling well? go home’ policy of the university, leaving mid shift or not coming in at all, leaving huge coverage holes. And we’re only 2 weeks into reopening.

        1. LuckyClover*

          That’s unfortunate. We have a similar policy here but haven’t had any trends of that happening. The only thing I know of is that a group from another team all called out sick the Friday of a football game – but that happens even pre-Covid times.

    18. JustaTech*

      I’m in a subset of biotech and I can tell you it’s been hard to hire.
      But we’re also looking for people with a very specific set of skills in a rapidly expanding marketplace. We’re actually one of the older companies in the field and we complain that we’re constantly getting our best workers poached (because we have to work the night shift and other places don’t), but even the places that poach from us can’t keep people.

      But I think we’d be having a hard time even without COVID.

    19. Flaske*

      Anecdotally, I have been job hunting since last year in a field that supposedly has a worker shortage now. I have kept the same sort of schedule in looking for & applying to openings, and I’ve tracked them for my own purposes. What’s happened for me is that over the course of 2021, the list of required qualifications for job openings with my title have gone up precipitously, and as a result I am qualified for fewer and fewer openings all the time. It went from me sometimes being able to apply for 15-20 jobs in a week, and now typically there are 0-3 openings a week for which I meet the list of requirements. These are roles in the same industry, same job title, same compensation as before, only they’re asking for more and more years of experience and additional qualifications or specialized experience that I don’t have. I’m still seeing a lot of these get posted, it’s just that the minimum they’re asking for is a higher and higher bar.

      I have no insight into most of these, but I have had a few where I knew someone at the company and got a little window into what happened internally. There would be an opening I was qualified for and my contact would be a referral for me when I applied, and I would get told politely by the hiring manager or recruiter that they said they only wanted 123 in the posting but they really considered their minimum competitive candidate to be 123456, so they were not interested because I had 1234. Months and months would go by and my contact would tell me no one ever got hired, and the job would eventually be reposted (sometimes actually asking for 123456) but it would continue to go unfilled for many more months. Of the ones where I have visibility through my friends, the jobs are all still unfilled, even the ones that were posted originally in like February.

      Then I’m seeing people here and elsewhere in this same biz say they can’t get enough applicants because there are so many good offers everywhere that they can’t compete, and I just wonder. Frequently these folks talk about offering more and more money, and I’m starting to wonder if that’s also causing them to raise requirements and expectations.

    20. tamarack and fireweed*

      Some of the examples in the comments look like selection bias to me – that is, of course there will always be a certain amount of fluctuation in how easy or hard it is to hire for a position, or a localized mismatch between what an organization can (or is willing to) pay (or to provide, re: benefits) and what workers are willing to accept.

      There’s a grey area between that and systemic issues.

      What seems to be happening – and I applaud it – is that in some corners of the labor market, the progressive erosion of the part of the money that ends up in the pocket of the workers is being redressed somewhat. We’ll see afterwards how much of an effect this actually has, but I hope it does. I also hope that stuff like childcare and fragile / unsustainable supply chains will see an inflection in how it’s been going.

  18. many bells down*

    Recently someone reported to me that a meeting they were in had been Zoombombed by a group that was able to claim the Host controls and kick out the actual host. My understanding is that no one can claim host if the actual meeting host is logged in. Has anyone else had an experience like that? I’m trying to figure out of they just had an issue with the security settings or if this is actually a thing.

    1. Generic Name*

      My son is in the same school district as Columbine High School. Yes, that one. All of my friends’ kids go there. Last year, one of my friends reported that a group zoom-bombed their virtual back to school night. They showed graphic images and swastikas. Apparently it was pretty awful. So yes, it’s actually a thing. I think it’s partially a security settings issue, but it’s also a challenge for things that are supposed to be public or quasi-public.

      1. many bells down*

        Specifically in trying to find out if anyone has experienced the actual Host being removed by bombers, because that’s the one thing I can’t control in my public events.

      2. Observer*

        There is a difference between zoom bombing (which actually can also be prevented) and taking control of the host – which should be preventable.

    2. Reba*

      Not an expert. It could have to do with the “Host Key” — this is a PIN associated with your account that you can use to claim hosting status of a meeting in some circumstances. (I only know about this bc I was told it’s a best practice to change this number in your settings once in a while.)

      You could also look into whether locking the meetings would be workable for your events.

    3. Texas*

      No one aside from the host of the meeting should be able to change host/attendee status, so definitely a good idea to double-check security settings on Zoom (I’m not sure Zoom allows changing that function/restriction). The host getting booted out is not the usual Zoombombing MO. Do you know if this Zoom was targeted or if the Zoombombers were doing it for general chaos? (I ask because if it was targeted I could see people putting more effort into really making a mess because they disagree/are angered by the Zoom content)

    4. tamarack and fireweed*

      What has definitely happened is that if a meeting host drops off (due to a shaky connection, or because of a mistake), and no backup or co-host is designated, Zoom assigns a random participant as host … and that host can then take advantage.

  19. SparkleBoots*

    I’m a new manager – just finished my second month. I was promoted into this role upon the retirement of my boss, and I now manage my current team. It’s going alright for the most part, but I feel like I’m basically in “maintenance” mode – just trying to keep the lights on and make sure all our tasks get done. I have an excellent, high-performing team who don’t really need a lot of “leadership” but I feel like I’m failing them on that aspect….like I just haven’t been able to rise to that level. I feel like my thinking is still stuck in maintenance mode while I figure out all the aspects of my job and my team’s work.

    The reason I feel like I’m failing on the leadership side is just some random comments from one employee, and another manager, that make it evident that I’m not really thinking about our work at higher level/bigger picture. Is it normal to not quite have the “leadership” part of it down yet? I’m trying to think of our work more long term, but I feel like I’m still learning a lot of aspects of my team’s work that I just didn’t have insight into when I was an individual contributor.

    I have managed one or two people before, and been a team lead in other jobs, but this is my first “true” management role. I guess I’m just still in that phase of learning a new job, which everyone goes through. Any advice appreciated!

    1. 867-5309*

      There are leadership skills and then strategy/big thinking skills – different skills set but both expected of managers. A former boss once told me that you have practice and learn these skills through training, just like you did the technical elements of the work as an IC. I find LinkedIn learning and HBR are good resources.

      1. SparkleBoots*

        Thank you! I will look into those. I took a new manager class this summer but they really didn’t cover those things.

    2. Jenna Webster*

      So, at 2 months into a new job, you should be delighted that you’re keeping things going, you have a high-performing team who don’t need you right away, and focus on learning the various aspects of your job. It is nice to have the luxury of not having to jump into fighting fires. At 2 months, you should be happy you’re not going home ready to scream at the end of the day. It takes a lot of time to learn a new job, and if you’re adding in new management responsibilities, it takes even longer. Talk to your manager about your priorities, and how they think you’re doing and adjust if needed, but my guess is you’re doing great, and it will get easier all the time!

      1. SparkleBoots*

        Thank you! This week I’ve been going home ready to scream. :) I do feel very lucky to be managing this team, I think they are awesome.

    3. smirkpretty*

      You’re picking up on a key difference between management and leadership, and it’s great that you are noticing the distinction. I think a lot of us use the terms interchangeably when we shouldn’t. After several years of management, I recently got promoted to low end of upper executive leadership in my org. And wow, what an eye-opener! I’ve always had ideas about how I think things should run. But now they actually look at me and say, “How should we proceed on X?” Or “How do propose solving this [very murky, thorny] problem?” And they expect me to weigh in and come up with solutions, like for real! And manage gobs of money responsibly! And come up with plans to increase all these metrics!

      It’s not just managing people or a team, it’s stepping into this strategic conversation about where we’re trying to get and how we’re going to get there. It is so new and hard. And there’s are some days where I just feel like I’m making it all up, barely keeping my own team on task.

      What’s helped me: Paying attention to the dynamics that are going on among the leadership and trying to track how the conversations are unfolding. Getting curious (in myself) about why certain approaches are being taken, and making guesses about larger issues that may be at play. Trying to get a little clearer about what the priorities are. Learning a bit about the history of challenges our org has faced that may be affecting people’s thinking. Digging into the trends in the field by reading articles, listening to podcasts, attending webinars, etc.

      Most importantly, having conversations with folks one or two levels above me that can provide insight into what I’m observing. It’s nice to set up a zoom chat or go get coffee. Ask them questions about how they’re making sense of it all. Then do that again with someone else. This of course is just a good thing to do – building relationships and showing interest and all that jazz. But it can also give you a lot of insight into how the leadership thing happens.

      I echo the other comments here… By all measures of success, you’re doing awesome! Be patient and enjoy learning your way to the next level!

      1. SparkleBoots*

        Thank you! That is a really great breakdown. I am working on doing some of those things when I can. I have been encouraged by my boss to find a mentor within our org – a different director-level person than him, just to get a different perspective and coaching. There’s someone I would love to tap for a mentor but she just seems so terribly busy that I feel like it would be a huge imposition on her. But maybe I can just start building that relationship in an organic way, quick conversations here and there like you mentioned.

        I’m struggling with “I don’t know what I don’t know.” But I guess that just comes with time, figuring out what I *am* supposed to be thinking about.

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          Ask that busy person anyway – mentioning that you’re aware that she’s busy. The worst that can happen is that she’ll say no. Even if she says no, you’ll have communicated to her that you admire how she works, and that may well be a great boost for her. She may be surprised, thinking that she must project this aura of “woman who’s always busy because she’s so bad at time management”.
          Or she may be one of these people who love being busy, the kind we mean when we say “if you want something done, ask someone who looks busy”, and she’ll squeeze in mentoring you in between all her other tasks. I would be careful make sure she realises your request is meant to be a compliment!

    4. Public Sector Manager*

      I’ve been managing for 11 years, and looking back, it probably took me at least 18 months to feel comfortable in my own skin as a manager. My original team had a lot of senior people on it, and I always felt like I was playing catch up because they always seemed to know more than me about our work. But the reason I was promoted wasn’t to do their job–it was to motivate them, encourage them, find ways to say “yes” to what they wanted, and keep them on target. I didn’t need to be an expert in tea pot making, I needed to be an expert it getting the most out of tea pot makers.

      Now I’ve been managing long enough where most people on my team have only known me as a manager. It’s the best job I’ve ever had. I really enjoy providing for my team and seeing the results of their hard work.

      For management resources, anything by Simon Sinek it a definite yes! Honestly, I would read everything from Simon twice! For a management book with a different take on things, “Leadership B.S.” by Jeffrey Pfeffer helped me quite a lot. It’s probably one of the best books on actually leading and managing that I’ve ever read.

  20. twocents*

    I have an interview today, and I’m a bit torn on whether I even want the job.

    My current role is something I like doing with people I like doing it with. It was announced a month ago that my team is going to completely shift focus, though, so once my projects wrap up, I’ll be moving to a “consulting” role, which is supposed to identify opportunities in other teams and present solutions. One of my new peers has been doing this for a year, and mostly has found it very frustrating because all of his suggestions get shut down because “this is the way we’ve always done this.” I’m not sure I’m keen to move to a role like that, where I could be spinning my wheels.

    The job I’ve applied for is at a salary that’d come with a 30% pay increase, the main reason I applied. I don’t have the background for it, though I know the team and I’ve heard through the grapevine that the manager was very unhappy with his applicant pool and directed one of his employees to ask me to apply. So I’m a bit scared to jump to a role where I don’t know the technology, and honestly, I don’t know that I’m actually more interested in doing that vs. my current team’s new plan. I’m not really a tech person; I’m not like “oh, boy, I get to learn tech protocol!” At the same time, I more than qualify for the overall job title, and I feel like I’m leaving something on the table staying at my current, lower role, so there’s something about taking the job and getting through it for a year, and moving on. I also worry a bit about getting offered the role, and burning a bridge if I decline it.

    I also have another application out for the same job title, but with something that is VERY up my alley. I don’t know anyone on that team, though, and the hiring manager is moving slower. We haven’t even done the pre-screen yet, so while I feel more than confident I could do this job, I don’t know that I’m even in the running for it.

    ARGH. Last job I applied for, I applied for one that I knew I wanted to do and got it. I’m much more torn with seeing my role change in potentially unpleasant ways and the easily available option isn’t really my thing either. How to decide?

    1. LizB*

      Well, you have the interview today for this questionable job – use that time to decide if you want it! Ask questions about the technology and what kind of training you’ll get. Find out what the day-to-day of the role looks like. It absolutely should not burn a bridge to decline an offer, but if you still feel meh about it after the interview, you could take yourself out of the running at that point. I think taking the job and only sticking around for a year would leave a much worse impression than declining to take it at all, honestly.

      1. Baby Fish Mouth*

        I always think taking the interview is good, if for the practice if nothing else! What if you get the interview for the one you’d prefer but are rusty? Go get the kinks out on this one!

        1. twocents*

          Thank you both! Got the interview over with. I was very upfront with them that I don’t have the technical background, because regardless of the money, I’d rather not take a position that I’m really just not qualified for on that standpoint. I found out it’s much more operational work than technical, so I feel a lot better about potentially moving into that role. We’ll see though! They had a stumper of a question that I felt I took a little too long to think of an example for, so I don’t have strong “it’s definitely mine” vibes either. If nothing else, good practice!

          Thanks for the advice! It helped alleviate my stress.

  21. "No Thanks" should be enough!*

    Just a rant: I know big tech organizations are all always competing with one another, but man it is really annoying that my employer’s competitors, who wouldn’t give me the time of day when I was job hunting, are now all of a suddenly super interested (some to the point of contacting me monthly even when I say “no thanks”) just because I updated my LinkedIn profile to show my new employer. My skills haven’t changed or improved all that much yet (I’m still learning), and it frustrates me to think of all the other talented people these recruiters are ignoring just because they are just looking to poach from their competitors. My latest message actually adresses me as “Dear [Current Employer] Superstar”, they aren’t even trying to hide that that’s why they’re suddenly interested! /endrant

    1. WomEngineer*

      If they contact directly, I usually say something like “I’m not looking at the moment but I’d love to connect.” Then the next time I’m applying, perhaps they’ll remember me or at least see some mutual connections on LinkedIn. It seems like it’s easier to move around certain industries once you have an “in” at one of the big ones (I’m in aerospace but tech seems similar).

      Rejection sucks, but these companies can have thousands of applicants. For me, even if I got ghosted, I still know which ones I liked (because of they type of work, employee satisfaction, reputation, etc.) and which ones I didn’t (no way to check application status, lack of diversity in leadership, etc.).

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I’m similarly annoyed. My current job at a tech company is my first job at a tech company, but I was doing the same kind of work in education before, and no recruiters reached out to me then. Now they’re reaching out all the time, even though in my LinkedIn profile I don’t have any description of what I’m doing in my current job… all they know is where I work!

      1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        I was only out of work once in my long career – and there is something true – IF YOU’RE NOT WORKING, POTENTIAL EMPLOYERS ARE LESS LIKELY TO CONSIDER YOUR CANDIDACY.

        Once I started working – my phone rang off the hook. Including some companies that “re-reviewed” things, and once I was gainfully employed again, they extended an outreach.

        That’s in IS/IT. Very strange field.

      2. learnedthehardway*

        It’s not entirely the same, from the recruiter’s perspective. A) they can see that you definitely have relevant subject matter experience because you work for the tech company. B) they can see that you must have a certain baseline of competence in the field, because you got through the tech company’s hiring process.

    3. voluptuousfire*

      Same! I got 4 inquiries from Facebook (agencies and 1 sourcing recruiter directly with them) attempting to get me to speak to them about some recruiting coordinator roles when up until the past 6 months, I don’t even think I’d get an autoresponse saying they received my application if I directly applied to a role there before now.

    4. BeenThere*

      Welcome to big tech, it’s particularly galling when they don’t even check my skills and are pitching positions that are either junior to me or in the wrong area.

      I’ll add my own rant, I also really hate the current line which makes them look like they have done their research: ” your experience at ‘big tech company’ and ‘insert random non tech company from my past’ are super relevant to this role”… actually no, no they are not. I’ll be when I ask you what specifically makes you think I’d be a good fit I’ll either get radio silence or another request for a 15 minute phone chat.

      /end rant

      1. Alex*

        I don’t even work in tech and I’ve gotten the same spiel from tech recruiters. First, I know my skills aren’t transferable to tech, so no. And second, the money is nowhere near as good as my current place, and everyone in the interaction knows it. Why would I want to work for grubhub corporate when I’m billing like crazy and doing work I’m actually trained for? Aaaa. Rage.

    5. The New Wanderer*

      I get a recurring one from a recruiter addressed to me personally about a job for which I have a specific tech experience they value. Thing is, I applied to that job about four years ago, made it to the final round, and was rejected because the specific tech experience I have was considered too old (fair point, though the underlying skills are still very relevant). So it’d be one thing if the message was actually personal, like “we really liked you before and think you’re a strong match for this new role,” but it’s not mentioned at all.

      I did get a funny one when my previous company made the news for exceedingly poor stock performance. Just after that news broke, a competitor’s recruiting team mass-mailed a lot of the engineers with a “if you’re currently looking for new opportunities, we’re hiring!” message.

    6. anonymous73*

      I’ve worked with some good recruiters but IME most of them are terrible and just trying to fill a quota. If I had a dollar for every email, text or phone call I’ve received in the last year that was for a position that I wasn’t qualified for or that entailed something I haven’t done in 10 or 20 years, I could pay off my mortgage. And I love the aggressive ones who call, email and text me all within the span of 5 minutes. I’ve started reporting emails as spam if they’re completely unrelated to my experience.

  22. Quitting Tomorrow*

    I’ve been at my new job for less than 5 months and we’re still working from home, which means I haven’t met most of my colleagues in person. Part of the job includes quality control of publications. Since starting, I’ve been working on a particular set, that due to many reasons, has resulted in a never-ending process.

    I work with a senior colleague on this, and our boss does a final review – she trusts the team and is not cc’d in the entire process. We’re finally at the very last stretch, and after my boss’ final review, we sent it back to fix a couple of issues she had spotted. After this back and forth, my senior colleague jumped in to say that one of the headers was wrong, and sent a product from a couple of years ago as an example. What she sent differed from an example she had sent just earlier on the same day. When I asked for clarification, she said to go with the second (wrong) example she had.

    Here’s the thing, I’m 100% sure she is wrong. Our team folder clearly has the new template it says 2021; she’s applying the change to just one type of product, but all the others in the set are aligned with the template; the designers we’re working with are also new (why would they have a wrong, old template?); and our boss would have most likely picked it up (she had changed something in the header already). So, we got it back the way she said was the right way, and in a last attempt to fix it, I wrote to her basically saying “They’ve used the template in the team folder (included a link to it!) that is aligned with all other products in this set. But here’s what you asked. Triple checking this is the way to go”. And she said yes.

    I don’t want to go behind my colleague’s back to my boss – she’s the most senior on the team, and I’ve quite enjoyed working with her. But I feel bad that we’re delivering something that is wrong. I tried to point it out to her but I keep thinking I should have been more direct/assertive and that it’s my fault. I’ve already resigned and we have the finalized files, but it still feels wrong to move on. Any advice?

    1. MissBliss*

      I think you need to keep an open mind that you *could* be wrong. You mentioned that she’s the most senior person on your team, and from what you’ve described, you clearly asked multiple times for confirmation, and she said yes. At this point, it’s out of your hands. If it is wrong, there’s documentation that you tried to show that. If it is right, then your repeated questions about it show that the 2021 template needs to be updated so there isn’t confusion in the future. But either way, it isn’t your problem anymore. (And, your boss is the boss – if she gets the final files and thinks it’s wrong, she can make the call about whether it needs to be fixed or not.)

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        This. Though you can be more direct about it, e.g. “This version has the header you specified on the product you asked to be edited; the remainder use the heading in the most recent template [linked here]. Could you let me know why we’re using the older version rather than the current template in this instance? I’d like to learn in case it’s something I should be on the lookout for in the future.”

        At that point, the coworker may realize she’s wrong. But if not, or if she is in fact not wrong, when you check with your supervisor you can note the change and cite your coworker and her rationale.

      2. Anonymous Koala*

        This, but also next time I would I just point out the issue directly and ask about it. Like “this doesn’t seem to match the last template you sent out/all the other templates we’ve been using, is there a reason this memo should be sent on the old template?” It’s okay to ask senior people for clarifying explanations sometimes, especially if you’re genuinely trying to understand an issue so you can apply it going forward.

    2. JB*

      Have you asked her why?

      I’d lay down for her what you’re seeing and ask for more information. ‘Everything else here we are following X formatting, which is from the most recent template. Can you tell me why we use this format for just this one type of product?’

      Keep in mind that this is not about creating a ‘gotcha’ moment. It’s possible that she’s making a mistake but it’s also possible that there’s context you’re not aware of, and this is an opportunity to learn.

    3. Deanna Troi*

      I agree with everyone else that you should be more direct. I would have said something along the lines of:

      “I’ll go ahead and make the revisions. Just so I know for future projects, is there a reason why we’re using the 2019 template for this one product when all of the other products have the 2021 template? Thanks!”

      Who knows, maybe there’s a good reason.

    4. Purple Cat*

      I think you should have an actual live conversation with her about this, not just email.
      And instead of framing it as “I know you’re wrong!” (because maybe you are the one that’s wrong) ask “Can you help me understand why it’s X instead of Y. I would have used the 2021 Template and that’s what Big Boss Approved, but we’re using this instead”.

      And you listen to the feedback, thank her for her time and move on.
      You did all the due diligence you could. And in your head you either you agree that it’s right, or you agree that it’s her responsibility if it’s wrong and you move on.

  23. Anon for this*

    Half the people who started the year in my department are gone. I’m trying to balance the frantic need to escape this incipient demonic rift with my desire to move on to a position that is a step up in responsibility for me. My field is hot enough I could probably find a position doing what I’m doing now in a couple weeks, but I want to grow. However, I also don’t want to stick around when half my coworkers have already fled the impending demonic rift.

    What should I do?

      1. Anon for this*

        The thought of continuing to do this for several years because I moved to a new place and have to build up time in a new place before I can apply for promotion is not appealing. And that’s hard to weigh against another department’s continued attempts to open a demonic rift and our growing inability to stop them as team members get fed up with trying to stop it and leave.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          Is this something that if you lose enough team members you’re likely to get stuck doing, anyway, because it needs to be done and there’s nobody else left to do it?

          I think it sounds like you need to decide what kind of unappealing you hate less and start there.

    1. Generic Name*

      Why has everyone quit? Would it be impossible for you to grow elsewhere? Why can’t you apply to a position elsewhere that is a step up?

      1. Anon for this*

        Everyone has quit because… well, I can’t give too many specifics before we’re all out the door, but suffice to say another department, which is in charge of determining whether we have the means to do our jobs, has instead decided to treat us like we’re magic and can do things with a snap of our fingers and no effort (and since it takes no effort to do, we don’t need any support).

        I’ve been applying to jobs one level above me, but they’re fewer and farther between. And I’m not sure if I should be just cutting and running and taking the setback of moving sideways instead of up.

      2. AnotherAlison*

        This. Go for the promotion now. If the field is that hot, why couldn’t you move into a more senior role quickly, too? I just got a new job and am leaving a place that has no demonic rift, but saw a lot of other new and old employees leave this year. I had my first contact from the HR recruiter at the end of August (no application, cold contact from them to me). I got the offer yesterday. This is a senior role. Their industry is hiring like crazy, while the one I’m coming from is pinching pennies.

    2. Aquawoman*

      Is there a clear promotion in the works/highly likely in the near term for you at your current place? Because if not, absolutely jump ship. If so, maybe stay a little while and leverage it into a new job elsewhere.

      1. Anon for this*

        I have no intention of taking a promotion to stay here. My choices are leave faster by taking a job doing what I do now, or leave slower and find a job that’s one step up.

        This will be a fun terrible people story once we’re all out of here.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      Some questions for you to ask yourself (not necessarily answer here):
      1. How long would you have to stay to grow enough at your current company?
      2. How long would you feel you have to stay at a new company if you took a position at the same level you have now?
      3. How long do you think a job search for a position one step up will take?
      4. Assuming conditions at your current job stay the same/worsen, do you still want to be working there in one month? Six months? One year?

    4. ten four*

      Take a job somewhere else. When an entire department starts to leave you gotta go – being the last one there holding the bag is a shitty spot to be. Plus that demonic rift means that even if you DO get a promotion you’ll be hamstrung from day 1.

  24. May have steered my husband wrong*

    My husband got a job offer on Monday (yay!) after waiting 3 weeks since his final interview. They told him in his interview that he basically got the job, but it still took them almost a month to send him a formal offer with salary.

    After waiting so long, he was planning to just accept the offer as-is, but I encouraged him to try to negotiate. The offer was 5K more than what he currently makes, but he’s severely underpaid in his industry. I also mentioned how I’ve read that women and POC can often receive lower salaries because of not feeling like they have the ability to negotiate (he is Black). The offer was for 35K, and he emailed back asking for 36K (only $1000 more!). He also asked for 2 weeks off in December for our honeymoon, which has been planned for almost a year.

    Now, he has gotten complete radio silence from the company. Literally no response to his email since Monday, and I’m worried that I gave him the wrong advice by encouraging him to negotiate. Did I tank his job offer?? Help.

    1. CatCat*

      I seriously doubt you tanked his job offer. He should call to follow up. There could be a lot of reasons they haven’t gotten back to him and it could be the recipient didn’t even see the email.

    2. AnotherAlison*

      I don’t think this should have tanked the offer (it’s $1000 – they’ll spend more talking about than giving it to him), but he probably should not have emailed. I’m coming from the world of a senior person, so I realize he could be in a position that doesn’t get much attention during the hiring process, or their HR is overwhelmed and can’t be reached by phone, but negotiations should happen by phone. You can explain that you appreciate the offer and why you’re worth the extra, gauge their likely response, and get an answer on when they would get back to you. My son works for everyone’s favorite blue big box retailer and he had one-on-one contact with the hiring manager through the whole process. Couldn’t get more than $11, but he at least had someone to talk to even for the most entry level of jobs. This company sounds kind of rude or disorganized, but I wish your husband good luck in closing the deal.

      1. May have steered my husband wrong*

        Yeah, the issue is that HR sent the job offer via email, and explicitly told him to email back with questions, and they did not provide a phone number. All his interviews happened via Zoom, so he didn’t have phone numbers for the hiring manager or anyone else either.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          Ah, that’s frustrating. I hope it’s just a delay because they’re busy or their process takes time, which sounds like it could be since it takes 3 weeks to get an offer.

        2. Two Chairs, One to Go*

          Wait they gave him the offer by email? Or had that been a discussion over zoom previously? Usually the time to negotiate is when they’re making the verbal offer. Regardless, it’s bizarre that they waited 1 month and then shot off an email. Don’t they need to discuss start dates and other logistics?

          1. May have steered my husband wrong*

            They told him in the Zoom interview that he “basically had the job” and then emailed the next week him congratulating him on getting the job, but with no salary listed. Then, 3 weeks later, HR emailed a PDF of the offer with salary. Then he replied to HR’s email, as instructed, with questions and counter-offer.

            1. Two Dog Night*

              This doesn’t sound like a company with good hiring practices. If I were your husband I’d keep low-key job hunting, just in case the whole company is a mess. Good luck!

              1. May have steered my husband wrong*

                Yeah, I have some concerns about the company as well, but a $5 salary increase is a lot so he was planning to accept.

            2. Two Chairs, One to Go*

              That is not an ideal hiring practice. You didn’t steer him wrong. Usually offers and negotiations take place over the phone.

      1. May have steered my husband wrong*

        It’s a non-profit community outreach type of organization. No, I don’t think so – it’s not retail or anything like that.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      If asking for $36k on a $35k offer tanks your job offer, that’s not a place you’d want to work anyway. It’s not unreasonable to ask for $1000 more.

      1. Observer*

        Yes, that’s my take also. Just tanking an offer – even in a non-profit – over such a request is crazy enough that I’d be very worried about taking a job there.

    4. Princess Flying Hedgehog*

      The person he responded to may need to get approval from a higher up, or may need to get multiple people to sign off. I get that waiting is agonizing, but I feel like if the answer was a hard no, they’d tell him quickly.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        The person he responded to may need to get approval from a higher up, or may need to get multiple people to sign off.

        Very possible, but it’s also good to communicate that to the candidate: “I’m not sure if we can do that. Let me look into it, and get back to you.”

    5. Aquawoman*

      I think you’re fine. I think the radio silence is probably benign. It seems very unlikely that they’d ghost him rather than say “No can do, still interested?”

  25. BRR*

    Two questions as part of the same issue, I’m stuck in a role that I’m overqualified for and underpaid. I am job hunting but I am in a semi niche field without many postings. 
    I was laid off in 2019 and was fortunate enough to get a new job right away. Unfortunately it was a step down in seniority and pay. While I really like my coworkers and my work is respected, which was absent in my last job, I’m handling a lot of incredibly basic tasks that should be handled by another department (and this will not change). I’m pretty miserable having to do these things since they shouldn’t be mine to begin with and take up a lot of time so any tips on how to deal with the resentment that grows inside me each day? 
    I also plan on asking for a raise soon. While I have a lot of simple tasks, I also have a lot of work that requires more experience but since I was overqualified when I applied, my salary reflects the original job description (I did negotiate up at the time but I’m still roughly 15% below the low end of market rate). I’ve briefly talked about this with my manager and since I am part of a union their response was “salary growth is built into the CBA.” The agreement does say a manager can raise someone’s salary at anytime but I’m pretty confident I will be told no to a raise and when I asked if I can do anything to earn a raise the answer will be, “it’s in the agreement.” Any advice for how to follow that up other than job hunt? I’m tired of my experience being taken advantage of but still handling entry-level work and being paid for that level of work. 

    1. Elle*

      When I re-entered the job market I also had to take a job I was underqualified for and at a lower salary than I wanted. Unfortunately, it took me 1.5 years to move back to just be where I was right out of college and now I’m looking at getting a Master’s just to get back to where I was at age 27/28. Luckily I’ve done it all in the same company and my pay right now is fair, but overall my experience taking a job that was below my qualifications was that it was a permanent setback for my career. People don’t look at the fact that I was a manager 7 years ago, they just see my current job title.

  26. Baseball1*

    Best tips for tackling imposter syndrome?
    I’m a transguy (male and binary presenting if that matters) in my 40s with close to 20 years of experience but unsure how to tackle internal postings for promotions in my organization?

    1. I.*

      Can you talk about this with your manager? Are they supportive of your career progression? Otherwise or additionally maybe Therapy (to tackle the underlying issues of imposter syndrome—even just the mindf%ck of having been socialized female but those rules no longer applying but not being sure what the new ones are, if that’s your situation) and mentoring/work coaching (to navigate your specific work place)?

      1. Baseball1*

        That makes sense and yes my supervisor is supportive, I think. I was told to bring some examples of internal roles I’d be interested but get stuck in a panic of “what ifs…” and freeze. I’m in therapy and really like you’re idea of bringing it up – especially because you’re right on that despite being many years post-transition I really do feel like I speak “male social expectations as a second language” and I take so seriously not taking another person’s place – especially being seen as a white male – that I tend to not try for any advancement.

    2. ecnaseener*

      One trick for imposter syndrome is to embrace the “fake it til you make it” mindset. Everyone is pretending to be more competent than they really are, you can too!

    3. Hillary*

      I (40s, ciswoman) regularly ask myself “what would a mediocre white dude do?” I picture some of the many mediocre white dudes I’ve worked with and do what they would do. 25% qualified? Sure, why not put coffee on the hiring manager’s calendar.

      Good luck!

      1. Elle*

        This is also what I do. You would be amazed what people with self-confidence believe about themselves and their work. It’s incredible the level of mediocrity a lot of people will accept as outstanding when the person talks it up that way.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I am laughing because this works. Since I have been doing life on my own I have told myself “Be a man, NSNR!” (I am a woman.) And that thought has pulled me through so many work and life situations.

  27. Riled Down*

    I’m so bored at work. I snagged it during the pandemic, so it was more of a need than a want. Still, It’s a good job, I’m getting great professional development, even finished a huge cert for an adjacent field I want to move into (marketing data analytics). But I am so BORED. There’s hardly anything to do because I finish tasks much faster than my team expects. To them, a metrics report should take a week (that’s how long it took in the past). To me, I look at Google Analytics and move on. I’m getting praised left and right, but there’s nothing else to fill the now empty week. Any advice to fill my time?

    1. Super Duper Anon*

      I commiserate with you. I also am a fast worker, built up from previous jobs where I had a huge workload and had no choice. My current job also didn’t have enough for me to do when I started. I had to pursue any side projects I could find (reorganize and do some rewrites for a manual, write some FAQs for a store site) but even that wasn’t enough in the long term. The only thing that saved me from looking for a new position was volunteering to manage the documentation of a company that was acquired by mine, and didn’t have their own writer. Migrating the content, rewriting it, and managing it long-term have finally provided enough work along with some of the other stuff I have so I am not bored.

      Anything you can scrape up to supplement your day-to-day work will help, but you may need to move on if you really can’t fill your day. Being bored is just as frustrating as being overworked.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Any advice to fill my time?

      Learn stuff that’s tangentially related to your job but isn’t your job.

      And/or just learn/do stuff that isn’t related to your job at all. If you have done your job, done things could sort of be part of your job that’s above and beyond, and then you’re still twiddling your thumbs, then write a novel, watch streaming video, read a book, knit, learn a new hobby. Do whatever.

    3. learnedthehardway*

      Talk to your manager and ask for more challenging work or special projects – not more of the same work, but things that will help you develop new skills. Ask if there are any inter-departmental projects you could take on – always good for getting exposure to other areas of the business, and by definition, not more of the same things you do in your regular role.

      Caveat – make sure that the quality of your work is high, as well as the speed at which you’re working, before asking for stretch assignments.

  28. mophie*

    This is a question for Alison, that maybe has been answered elsewhere. What letter holds the all-time record for number of comments. And can you predict which ones will be the most popular when you post them?

    1. Be kind, rewind*

      Most popular are usually:
      -Really wild and outlandish situations
      -Questions about clothing/appearance
      -Anything having to do with food
      -Questions involving marginalized groups
      -Coffee/thermostat/fridge wars
      -Anything having to do with being sick or sick days (even before COVID)
      -Anything having to do with misspelling or mispronouncing people’s names (You always get a ton of people wanting to tell their own personal name story)
      -Romance at work

      I’m probably missing a few…

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, and this year it’ll probably be something to do with the conflicts between those who’ve been able to WFH and are grouchy about being forced to return to the office, and those who’ve either worked in an office all the time, or are in hands-on fields that have to be done on site and in person (healthcare, manufacturing, retail…).

  29. ShipwreckedSarah*

    The job hunt is going tentatively well! I survived the video interview, had a virtual group interview yesterday, and have to do a creative test (and possibly more interviewing.) They like me and gave a lot of info about the job/company and I know I’ll be a good fit. My application was an impulsive choice so that I wouldn’t be emotionally invested, but now I’m at the point where I’ll be hugely disappointed if they go with someone else.

    From my understanding, they have anywhere between 10 and 20 applicants who are taking the creative test and there are an unknown number of openings but definitely more than one. I don’t know if knowing my odds makes this application process better or worse! I’m mentally writing my 2 week notice at my current job already…

  30. Slightly Overwhelmed Parent*

    This is a thank you to the AAM community. My 2nd grade son has been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and celiac disease in the last month, and we’re adjusting to all the changes that means. More often than I would have thought, I’ve remembered different discussions of office food and dietary restrictions and various disabilities on threads here, and it’s really helped me picture what these diagnoses may mean in his adult life. I’m sure he’ll run across some jerks, but y’all have also given me confidence that people have found ways to make it work in a wide variety of offices and types of jobs.

    I wouldn’t have expected AAM to be what I’d be thinking of in these times, but thanks to Alison for the community she’s built here.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Hello from a fellow celiac! I was diagnosed when I was young (elementary school age), and so far it has not been an issue in my working/professional life. I make sure to know where the restaurants with gluten-free options are so if I go out to lunch with co-workers, I can suggest places I can eat.

      Gluten-free food options and awareness has improved so much from when I was first diagnosed, so hopefully things will be even easier for your son by the time he is an adult.

      Best of luck to you and your son!

    2. automaticdoor*

      Hi! My husband has type 1 diabetes (not celiac) and as an adult, his a1c has stabilized — basically, with the wonders of modern tech, which is only getting more and more impressive!!, he can eat pretty much anything he wants as long as he compensates with enough/well-timed insulin. I wouldn’t even worry about that part of your kid’s adult life, honestly. The celiac is different, but there are so many options these days, as Hlao-roo says, and likely there will be even more as your kid gets older. Best wishes!

    3. WellRed*

      Hi from a fellow type1. Hopefully the jerks will be feet and far between. And, with all the ad play cgms are getting, it’s really gained awareness. You and he have got this!

    4. Stitching Away*


      I have Celiac and type 1 diabetes (having Celiac means you are more likely to have type 1, actually). I offer no advice, but will say I found learning the Celiac restrictions easier as they are a black and white no you can’t and yes you can, whereas diabetes is much more grey learning curve, and stuff will still trip me up occasionally.

      It gets better as you learn, and ugh, I guess I am giving advice, because what I will say is don’t tell him it doesn’t suck to not be able to eat what his friends do. It does! And it’s just frustrating to be told that it doesn’t. Acknowledge that it sucks and then find something else special, whether it’s something to eat or something to do, whatever.

    5. SnappinTerrapin*

      My son was a little younger than yours when his diabetes was diagnosed 24 years ago.

      I still remember being overwhelmed by the realization of how much I didn’t know. But we learn what we have to learn, and do what we have to do, because that is what parents do. Best wishes to your family during this adjustment period.

      God bless.

  31. Alice Quinn*

    Not a question, but I had to share as I thought this group would appreciate it! I had to have a serious big-picture conversation with one of my employees last week about their performance after addressing issues repeatedly in the moment. I was nervous about how they would receive it but prepared a script to keep myself on track and wrote it using situations Alison has addressed in the past. I’m proud to report that they took it really well, we were able to have a really productive conversation about it and make a plan for improvement. And I can see they really took it to heart as I’ve already seen great positive changes this week.

    As I manager, I was so relieved and it’s definitely to my employee’s credit that they’ve handled it so well. How you take feedback and act on it really matters!

    1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      It’s also how it’s delivered. If it’s a continuous, nagging form of feedback, then you get tuned out.

      I was in one place – it didn’t matter what we did, we always were nagged to somehow “do better”.

      As a team, one day we came to the decision = no matter what we did, it was never good enough. So keep on doing what we’re doing , because WE know we’re doing a great job.

    2. ecnaseener*

      That is awesome! On behalf of employees everywhere, thanks for being direct and not chickening out :)

    3. allathian*

      Congratulations! I’m glad your employee handled it so well, and that you were able to give them feedback that they can actually implement going forward. Corrective feedback doesn’t help unless it’s also actionable.

  32. Candace*

    Any advice on dealing with over-concerned management? Our whole team is still entirely remote, so we don’t see each other outside of twice-weekly meetings, but over the last two weeks I’ve been subjected to three separate calls with management entirely about my health.

    I can admit to being a bit burned out since COVID-19 ratcheted up my workload, but I think I’ve been handling it very well. Outside of some odd hours working internationally, which I was told was fine at first but have now explicitly been told to stop, I don’t think I’ve shown much sign of that fatigue. I’m on time with my assignments and if something will take more time, I’m quick to say so. I think I’m successful about remaining perky, the whole deal.

    Still though, these meetings asking what they can do to help, expressing concern over my sleep and health, scolding me about hours, about burnout specifically–they’re starting to seriously worry me that I’m being pushed out the door. Especially following a recent firing after that co-worker was meant to be promoted. How do I deal with mercurial and vague management when asking for direct feedback in the past has gone badly?

    1. LuckySophia*

      Ooof…lots to unpack here. Questions that might help you get to the bottom of this:
      —Is it ONE person (your boss?) calling you three times? Or three different people (Boss? Grandboss? HR?) all calling about your state of being?
      —If it’s just one person/your boss, is this characteristic of them? Are they always this meddlesome/intrusive or is this new/not typical?
      —If new: why are they fnow ocusing on your sleep/health? Have you volunteered info (either to boss,or teammates?) e.g., that you’re “not sleeping well” or “feeling run down”? If YOU are not the source of this info…could your teammates be conveying concerns about your fatigue levels? Do your teammates feel you are “off your game” somehow or not up to your usual level of performance?
      — Does your boss have actual/specific concerns about your performance or productivity?
      — If you’ve not volunteered that you’re having symptoms (fatigue, sleeplessness), could it be something as simple/stupid as: the lighting on your zoom calls, or the color of shirt you’re wearing, is making you look washed-out/pale/tired, when you’re actually fine???

      Sorry I don’t have any specific answers for you, but maybe working through these questions will help you weigh whether this whole situation is actually “about” genuine burnout symptoms …or some more nefarious scheme to push you out.

      1. Candace*

        Thanks for these questions! It’s certainly a help to try and consider multiple angles. The bosses are all at the same level, we work on the same team so it’s not uncommon for all of us to be on calls at the same time–it’s actually the norm. As for hours, they’ve made reference to how late I am up since they get emails from me at 4-5am etc. pretty regularly (well, until I stopped). I tend to work better in the late evenings since noises and distractions make concentrating in the day-light hours difficult. I also made mention that I’d been sick recently, which I worked through because it wasn’t quite bad enough to take time off–especially since I work from home.

        The rough part about all of it, is that if my performance were suffering, I wouldn’t be told. I’ve asked for years for straight up reviews or areas of improvement using every skill and script in the AskaManager database, but I always get “You’re great! Exactly what we’re looking for!” and a conversation pivot. So, no, I’m not getting any specific comments about performance or productivity and haven’t gotten any since I started.

        Honestly, the wishy-washy nature of management has me on a constant roller coaster of insecurity and no amount of asking for clarification has led to a result. It may be a sign to just move on. Though, in this job market, it couldn’t have come at a worse time.

        Thanks again for your questions! This was a big help!

        1. LuckySophia*

          Oh, thanks for your follow up! That makes more sense to me now. Not to go all Pollyanna on you, but:

          If I had an employee who was doing great (e.g., I had no complaints about their work), and I saw that they were working even while they were ill, and also doing work at 4 or 5 a.m. as well as (presumably) throughout normal business hours….I would be concerned that they were pushing themselves too hard, also. Because I would not want to lose a valued employee because they burned themselves out when the company wasn’t REQUIRING them to burn themselves out. Isn’t it possible that your management (however wishy-washy they may be) is actually pretty darned happy with you, and doesn’t want to risk losing you?

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          “This job market” depends on your industry. Travel industry is still hurting, for example, but we do hear about positions that people can’t fill. I will point out that a poor manager will stress how bad the economy is, even if it isn’t. They will keep you there by fear. Spend an hour or so looking at job postings yourself before you decide not to search at all. Good luck.

  33. Enn Pee*

    Asking for a former coworker:
    I used to work (and coworker Louise still works) with a lady (Zoe) who is lovely outside of work — truly! — but at work shirks responsibility, just wants to apportion blame, is nasty when she doesn’t get her way, etc.
    Example: last week, Louise was working on something. There were problems, and (as this is supposed to be a very collaborative team) asked others for assistance and perhaps details if they knew why these problems were occurring.
    It turns out that Zoe had done something that gummed up the process, and had even been aware that it might have caused a problem (as she had tested this and it caused errors!). Zoe was unwilling to help, and, indeed, waited HOURS to tell Louise that she’d experienced that problem when she tested. Later in the week, when Louise needed assistance, she asked Zoe for help and was rebuffed.
    The boss is of no help, unfortunately. (Yes, this IS a proverbial boss problem.)

    Anyway – how do you handle a coworker who is supposed to work closely with you, but who is routinely mean, demeaning, and also doesn’t get a lot done?

    1. twocents*

      Leave. Honestly. The problem isn’t even so much Zoe, but the fact that management doesn’t care enough to do something about it.

      You can’t make another person do anything. And when the person who actually has leverage to do something about it (aka the boss) refuses to, your option is to work around the roadblock. Don’t use Zoe for anything unless absolutely necessary, and plan the exit.

    2. The New Wanderer*

      I think this is also a case of the “truly lovely” person being her real self at work (a jerk). People can certainly be nice if and when they choose to, but she’s actively and routinely choosing to be terrible at work. That’s who this coworker is.

      How I would handle it primarily is the same as twocents suggested: to avoid relying on Zoe as much as possible and make it clear why. Ultimately, though, if the boss knows this is all happening and isn’t willing to do anything to fix it, then it’s on each non-terrible coworker to decide if they can tolerate the missing Zoe stair or not.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Change the definition of who Zoe is. She is a nightmare of a coworker who plans to get by on being known as otherwise Nice. I believe her true colors show at work.

      I guess every time I asked Zoe something I would CC the boss.

  34. Exif*

    Small talk and professional norms around quitting a job are wild. I’ve had four different people approach me and say that they’re glad for me and it sounds like a great opportunity, when I’ve told literally nobody anything about where I’m going or what I’m doing. I can only assume either they mean that being literally anywhere else is better, or the rumor mill is creating some crazy nonsense.

    1. ecnaseener*

      LOL if it happens again you should try to coax some details out of them and see what they heard!

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

      Perhaps wherever you are going to, someone there (who knows you will be joining them) knows someone at your current place?

    3. JustaTech*

      I mean, I congratulated a coworker when he said he was leaving, even though he didn’t tell me (and I don’t know) where he’s going.

      Probably your coworkers think that if you’re choosing to leave it must be for something better (rather than if you had gotten laid off or had to move for some reason), and so, congrats.

    4. RagingADHD*

      I think it’s more likely that they are saying these common stock phrases because that is the polite thing to say to a coworker in order to acknowledge the news that they are leaving.

      They probably wouldn’t remember where you are going even if they knew, so they throw the “great opportunity” part in there, just in case they were supposed to know.

  35. Alice*

    One of the colleagues with whom I share an open office declines to wear a mask at her cubicle.
    Our workplace policy does not require masking at your cubicle.
    She is aware that I would prefer that everyone wore masks. I didn’t share info about the reasons why people in my household are at high risk, and I don’t want to talk about my personal life in the office.
    How shall I maintain a productive and collegial relationship with this colleague? And how do I stay motivated and committed to the company and managers when I don’t trust the company policy re workplace safety?

    1. Alice*

      More context: out state doesn’t have a mask mandate, just encouragement. So, there is no leverage to change the company policy that way.

    2. Colette*

      It’s an open office, so it’s not like you can move to a different place. And honestly, I don’t blame her for not wanting to wear a mask all day. I wouldn’t either (which is why I don’t want to go back to the office until that’s not necessary).

      This isn’t a problem with your colleague; it’s a problem with the company policy.

      Is it possible for you to work from home? If so, I’d go to your manager and ask to move to working from home because you’re not confortable working around people who are unmasked.

      Or find a new job. Those are pretty much your choices.

    3. Princess Flying Hedgehog*

      It does not seem your colleague is interested in maintaining a productive and collegial relationship with you. I think the polite and professional, but not friendly/warm, approach is warranted.

    4. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I’m in the same situation.
      We’ll be mandated to show vaccination proof or test weekly some time this month. Currently it’s “mask if you’re not vaxxed, or if you don’t know the status of those around you” with permission to stay unmasked if you’re 6 feet away or seated at your desk.

      I believe a neighbor (on the other side of a low wall) may not be vaxxed (as she said as much a while back to a different colleague). I stay conspicuously masked when I’m walking around (and actually at my desk, most of the time) and have said out loud in casual conversations that I have immune compromised individuals in my pod, and am committed to keeping them safe.

      Maybe it’s a little passive aggressive, but it’s also safe, and I’ve got a small air filter on order as well. I don’t believe that our temperamental HVAC system can be trusted, no matter what management has said.

      It’s super easy to be professional and productive with a mask on. And I can stay a bit farther away.

    5. allathian*

      It might help to wear an N95 mask at all times when you’re not eating or drinking, that’s really all you can do, since your employer doesn’t require people to wear masks.

      I haven’t been able to find a mask that I can wear with my glasses. They always fog up, so the masks aren’t as well sealed as they should be. I can’t wear contacts because of a phobia I have about putting things in my eyes, and in any case I need a different prescription for daily life and for my computer screen. So I’m not planning on going to the office until they lift the mask recommendation.

      Could you ask to WFH?

      1. Alice*

        Hi Allathian — no, it’s work in person half the week or quit, I’m afraid. I can find and afford N95 masks so I feel pretty protected as an individual. But I fear for my colleagues, who are being told that recommended precautions are unnecessary. And I am struggling with realizing that my colleagues aren’t willing to make what I think is a small and justified “sacrifice” (wearing masks at desks) when I asked them to. I thought we had a good relationship but….
        I am also getting sick (no pun intended) of leaders in my department asking me to absolve them of responsibility for the situation. (I don’t know if that’s their conscious goal but that is definitely how it comes across.) Not only do I have to work in an open office with unmasked colleagues while they get to work in their private offices, meeting others only in conference rooms where everyone still has to be masked — they also seems to want me to tell them “it’s ok, no hard feelings.” Frankly, if they are feeling bad about being part of a leadership structure requiring me to come back in these circumstances, it’s not my job to make them feel better.
        I’ve thought about telling them, hey, I am not changing the rest of my conservative lifestyle (conservative re COVID risk I mean), so if I/my at-risk household members get it, it’ll will probably be through a workshop exposure, ie, your fault. But that would be impossible to prove, and I don’t think it would be good for collegial relationships. And with my N95s, it hopefully won’t happen.

  36. DC*

    Looking for advice/to vent.

    I’m about to turn thirty, and have a 7+ year history as an events and communications professional. I’ve never struggled to find a job in the past.

    I had started a new role in January 2020, and was laid off as a result in March. I took a few months of the pandemic to rest and not apply places, and then started applying nonstop.

    Since then, I’ve gotten a few contract gigs to stay afloat but otherwise just rejection after rejection. I’m told repeatedly my cover letters are great (thanks Alison!), but don’t get past the first interview (despite in the past having a record of getting an offer out of every interview I had.). My resume has been reviewed by numerous folks and reworked repeatedly based on advice from Alison’s columns.

    How do I turn this around? I’d like to have a stable job, not paycheck to paycheck contract work. This is taking a serious toll on my mental health.

    1. James*

      Hey DC, I wish I had advice for you, but I’m literally in the exact same boat. Keep trying, the market is terrible right now, but I have faith in you!

    2. 867-5309*

      Are you looking for communications or events roles? I am an exec in marketing communications and roles for the latter are going by the wayside. A comms person might do events for media, employees, etc. but there no longer a dedicated function for events. (I work for a publicly traded company with no such department, and a former very large company where I work that had a dedicated events team since disbanded them.) “Events” are now often considered a tactic vs. standalone function.

      If you did comms and events, I would focus on your work in communications – public relations, social media, etc. – for more opportunities.

      1. DC*

        I’ve been hunting for comms roles for exactly that reason- I also don’t want to be the first cut again in the future. I’m a little worried that folks are seeing me in that niche of events right now and discounting my experience elsewhere.

        1. 867-5309*

          If Alison would be willing to help us exchange emails, I would be happy to look at your resume and make any suggestions so you can strengthen those areas. Beyond that, definitely take a critical eye and retool.

          I would probably not hire someone with mostly events experience into a PR or social media role, since at 6-7 years in their field it’s manager level and I need someone who has been deeper into those work areas. If you need to bolster the experience, then can you do some volunteer work? Is your contract work at least focused in the other areas of communications?

    3. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      I don’t know what type of events you worked on – but in the business world, events such as conferences and seminars, and training and marketing events have slowed down to a trickle.

      People have scaled back weddings. Organizations cut back on parties. Professional groups don’t hold as many conventions. In Boston – which was a convention city – it all slowed down to a crawl or stopped entirely.

      That’s one of the reasons I retired from the IS/IT world for good – I worked for software vendors. I used to enjoy going to conferences, seminars, meeting face-to-face with customers. And that’s all stopped with the pandemic, and a lot of it won’t be back.

      The other thing – about never getting past the first interview. It isn’t you.

      When I first started being more mobile in my career, in the early-mid 1980s, you could get a job rather quickly. I know of one guy who was let go at 10 in the morning and had another job at 3 in the afternoon. When I was in trouble at one job, I wound up with three offers – within two days!

      Then times changed – the 1989-90-91 recession – I would interview for a position – but it was difficult because instead of one, or two qualified applicants, they had FIFTY!

      When I did get hired by someone – the first week we posted an ad for a very specific, hard-to-find candidate – we put an ad in the Boston Globe.

      We had 450 responses. Perhaps 35 knew what the job was, was about, perhaps 15 were qualified for it. The rest were “gumption” applicants. But we still had to go through 15 applications and determine the best five to call in. And all five could have done the job well.

      Since that time, the world has gone toward networking for hiring, rather than solicitation. So, that, too, is a factor.

      I wish you luck.

      1. DC*

        I appreciate this- the context helps, and I’m trying to network without overtaxing my network at the same time. I know I’m fighting a lot of folks, which makes it hard to know how to stand out when I am cold-applying without being “gumptiony”

        1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

          Well, one GOOD thing – you’ve been getting some consulting gigs. That should give you a step above others because some aren’t as entreprenurial as you are.

          Best of luck – and – I’m assuming that as things improve, you’ll land a permanent position.

      1. DC*

        Not at this time. I’ve discussed it with them and while they’ve considered bringing back roles I’d be qualified for, they haven’t actually done it yet.

  37. Aarti*

    I am made so uncomfortable by an incident that happened this week. So we serve a single gender. I am not going to name the organization. I am comfortable with serving a single gender, i happen to think this gender needs a lot of love. No boys allowed.
    However, I have a young lady who is transitioning and it has come to light that corporate policy is to remove him from the org! “Gently facilitate his transition out”. While I agree we should accept no boys I have never kicked a child out and dont want to.
    To make it more complicated we have been sued by a rival organization in the past for allowing boys to remain after transition.
    I don’t want to get us sued.
    I also don’t want to kick a child.
    It is making me seriously question my committment to the organization. :(

    1. Colette*

      What does the child think?

      If you don’t accept boys and the child is transitioning to being a boy, then there’s not much of a choice to make – the child no longer qualifies to be part of the organization. And the child has probably already figured that out, so I’d have a conversation with him and/or his parents.

      1. Compassion*

        Really good question, no good solution unfortunately. This comes up at Women’s colleges from time to time. Your organization serves women. This person is transitioning- ultimately, is a man. Trans people have needs, and absolutely are marginalized and there are a lot of things an organization that originally serves “women” might be able to overlap into serving transmen. Would it help to go back to the specific mission of your organization? For example, breast cancer screening – what needs would a transman who had top surgery have that might also be able to be served by your organization? Or is this a “let’s get women in STEM” type mission? Transmen (and women) are also underrepresented, is there an avenue to serve that community too?

        And I agree with the above as to what does this specific kiddo want to do. I can definitely see someone who identities as male not want to be in a women’s organization, because, Not A Woman. It might solve itself.

        1. Colette*

          And in fact, if you say “boys aren’t allowed here but you are because …” – how does that sentence end? You’re essentially telling him he is not a boy, which is pretty awful.

    2. Not A Manager*

      What’s your preferred outcome, though? Apparently the organization would be subject to legal liability if they continue to serve this child. And, in fact, the organization’s mission is in at least some conflict with continuing the serve this child.

      I totally understand why you’d want to provide continuity of care to people during and after transition, and why it feels horrible to “reject” a child. But I’m looking at the words “gently facilitate his transition out.” That doesn’t sound horrible and rejecting to me. It sounds like helping him accept the reality that, as a male individual, he needs a different support structure – and helping him find it.

      Children “gently transition” out of support structures all the time, for all kinds of reasons (change of professionals, relocation, aging out). Those transitions don’t have to be big rejections or personal insults. I would really focus on helping this child transition to new support in the way that is safest and best for him.

      1. I.*

        Yes! The kid might feel awkward after transition, like people don’t actually see him as a boy, if he stays in your organization. And maybe he won’t. But there is almost always loss as well as gain in a transition and I’d say your job is to help him with that, including helping him find support and friends in a different one. Maybe there’s a GNC youth group, or maybe he’d prefer being in a coed or boys group. I totally get why it feels like kicking him but it doesn’t have to be, and it sounds like you can make a real difference there.

    3. LizB*

      No boys allowed means no boys allowed, and this child is a boy. I know it’s hard to see a child leave an organization when you’ve built a relationship with them, but he’s not part of the population you serve. You can and should see him off with lots of love and support and help him find new communities, but it sounds like it does need to happen.

    4. JustMyImagination*

      Is the rival organization the boys-only version of yours? If so, maybe the two can work together to create some sort of a bridge between the two so that kids don’t get kicked out but moved over to the other?

    5. Llellayena*

      Do you have a “brother” organization that provides boys with the same/similar services? You can approach it with the child and parents that part of the transition is to move to the “brother” organization.

    6. Minerva*

      I volunteer with a similar org with a similar policy, where it is phrased as that at some point a member who is transitioning gender will come to a point that they no longer fit in a “girl” organization, and it is a mutual departure. It’s not really kicking out a child, it’s a conversation about when it becomes not a great fit.

      1. Bon voyage*

        What does the child (or his family, if he’a really young) want? How can you honor his relationships and requests? If your org serves him, yes, you are serving a boy–but one with existing and potentially meaningful ties to your organization, which is categorically untrue for most boys if your org by definition recruits girls.

        I remember an old advice column with Danny Lavery where he and the guest host discussed that for transitioning youth, one of the first ways their transition is recognized is when they are *barred* from activities/spaces based on their gender, which is really crappy! Exclusion with nothing else is not care. What does continuing to support this boy look like?

  38. Warrant Officer Georgiana Breakspear-Goldfinch*

    Retroactive title changes — how far back do they go? My boss is trying to promote me to a senior title, and I’d like to be retroactive to when I started here, two years ago; is that a reasonable thing to ask for, or am I stuck with “just” the past year (all promotions and raises were frozen last year because pandemic)? I honestly don’t care about a retroactive pay raise to match the title, but I’ve been doing the work at this level since Day 1, and I’d like that recognized if it’s possible.

    1. Two Dog Night*

      TBH I don’t think it matters much, and on a resume it might look more impressive if it shows you were promoted after a year. Next time you job hunt you’ll have the title and presumably the accomplishments to back it up–that first year at a lower title won’t have an effect.

      If there are other advantages to having the title from the start maybe ask, but otherwise, personally, I wouldn’t use the capital on this.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Just check how HR lists your initial X years there before claiming it on the resume. Hiring managers are very very particular about scrupulous accuracy on resumes.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          And why not point out the promotion? List Old Title for two years, and include “Acting New Title” as one of your bullet points.

    2. 867-5309*

      I have not experience retroactive title or pay range go back more than six months, the exception to pay being if there is a legal reason for the pay adjustment (e.g., they were accidentally underpaying your salary by $5k and need to make up for it).

      It’s not uncommon to do the work before getting the promotion.

  39. Paralegal Part Deux*

    Well, we’ve let go our new hire that started 2 weeks ago. She was an hour late on day one, late almost 2 hours on the second day (and wanted me to call her to make sure she got to work on time from then on out, like wtf), then missed 2 days this week – which lead to her being terminated.

    She interviewed really well, had a great resume and cover letter, and was somehow a complete disaster.

    Anyone have any pointers on how to avoid this pitfall in the future?

    1. twocents*

      It sounds like you did everything you can? I know multiple people who interview well. Like stunningly well. They come across charming, competent, easy going, and excited for the role. I understand how they get the jobs they get, and I also understand why they move jobs frequently after people know how they actually function day-to-day.

    2. awesome3*

      Did her references mention anything about tardiness and missing days? Otherwise I think you did everything you could have done, and realized it wasn’t going to work out early on.

      1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

        Yeah, references are just about the only way you even try to forestall this kind of thing.

      2. Paralegal Part Deux*

        AFAIK, the office manager did check references. I know she checked mine when I was hired. I just am cynical enough to think they were fake references.

    3. Mental Lentil*

      I’ve experienced this in the past. Some people interview really, really well. But it’s all froth on top of the coffee.

    4. irene adler*

      References- may be your best bet. But even they strive to keep a neutral tone or (if a personal references) put the candidate in the best light.

      We had this issue with a lab tech. Only, she was allowed to continue this- for over a decade!

      However, when I was hiring additional lab techs, I was coached to make it very clear what the hours were (6:30-3pm) and then to ask if getting to work -on time- every work day would be an issue for the candidate.

      Not one indicated it was an issue.

      So I concluded this was a non-issue.


      Six-thirty soon became 7 am, which morphed into 7:30 am, and then 8 and finally 8: 30 am.
      Apparently they really needed the job but also had extra-curriculars that kept them up very late in the evening- like after midnight. I was not allowed to fire them. So I had to just put up with it.

      Might impart that the job cannot be done if the candidate is unreliable. Maybe ask how many days the called in sick, and how many days they were more than 15 minutes late to work, in the last year. Course this is predicated on the candidate giving you the honest truth.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Oh that sucks. You were told to state, and screen for, a clear job requirement which presumably applied to everyone and then not allowed to enforce it when someone ignored it.

        Most of my jobs have not had fixed start times so I didn’t make a point of showing up at a regular fixed time. My references probably wouldn’t speak to my punctuality because it’s not really a factor in our industry (and in fact, if a reference ever proactively mentioned that a candidate “always showed up on time” that would be a big sign that they had nothing else positive to say!).

        However, assuming this new hire was told “we start at X:00, no exceptions” and just ignored that twice and no-showed twice in the first week or so… Wow. I’m not sure you can screen for that outside of references, which wouldn’t apply unless your industry is known for having fixed working hours. Someone who interviews well is going to seem like a good fit up until they prove they aren’t.

      1. Paralegal Part Deux*

        As far as I know, the office manager did check references and nothing came back weird. I’m cynical enough to wonder if they were true references at this point, though.

        1. ecnaseener*

          Sure, they could be fake references – but it seems more likely to me that they were real references but the office manager didn’t specifically ask about attendance and people didn’t want to volunteer criticism. Or they hinted that her attendance was “less than stellar” and office manager took that at face value. Or maybe her previous managers didn’t pay enough attention to know who was in the office. Who knows!

        2. Zenovia*

          Do you know what “checks references” entails? What questions does the office manager ask? Do they have a good sense of when hints are thrown out by references? We had a few bad hires that we traced back to the reference checker clearly not reading between the lines.

    5. Water Everywhere*

      I don’t think you can entirely avoid it. Some people do seem to be great fits, interview well, have great references, and indicate that the specified start time/hours/commute is not at all a problem…until it is. In my experience it doesn’t become so obvious a problem so soon; at least you were able to let her go immediately, before she became a burden on the rest of the staff.

      1. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

        Perhaps they were fake references, but it is also possible that something had occurred in her personal life or health that was having an impact. Do you know anything about the termination interview? That might have turned up a bit more information. Burnout, new partner, low iron levels, inadequate transport issues, could have been anything really. The only information you have is that she asked if you could call her to make sure she got there on time. I guess there’s a clue there, maybe there was someone who always did that in the past, who is no longer doing it.

  40. Nisie*

    I took a job because it allowed me to work certain hours, work from home, used my degree and made good money for a part-time job. I homeschool my kids. Covid came and the work dropped down- I’m earning 1/3rd of what I made last year. I take a second job and I’m having issues… I’m getting push back from my pre-established hours (Do you really need to be off that day? That’s when the client can meet.) I was misled about the amount of work I was doing for the contracted pay, and things are being added on to the duties but because I’m paid per tea kettle, I’m not seeing an increase in pay. I want the experience to do something else in the field. Because of the state I live in, the contract I had to sign said I’m forbidden from doing work for the tea brewer for 4 years after the contract ends. I’m using this for as long as I need to get the experience and then move into another market…. but I’m so close to just quitting now it’s not funny. Evidentally, the rate my boss is able to charge for my tea kettle is enough to justify an administrative assistant, an executive assistant, a billing department, a quality reviewer for my work, and make a profit without making tea kettles herself. Or she’s floating some significant debt. I’m trying not to vent, I’d like to know what you would do here.

    1. mreasy*

      Do not competes are often not legal or enforceable. Could you check with a local employment lawyer or office?

        1. pancakes*

          Enforceability is always going to depend on how the particular non-compete is drafted. There are some general guidelines about what tends to make them enforceable or not, but it’s not so broad as “are you in Florida or no?”

  41. Mehshoot*

    How trusting should you be of a staffing company?

    I have been working in my role for a few months that I got through a recruiter. It is a six-month contract. I like the work I do and the pay, but my opinion of the company I work for is not that great, but I think that it could just be the department that I work for. My department and boss are super unorganized, unprofessional and off-putting. To the point that I’ve heard that no one else in the company wants to work with them. I feel like if my contract renews, gets extended, or I get a permanent position at the company, I definitely want to be moved to a different department.
    I don’t know how much if this I should relay to my staffing company, as I’ve heard that staffing companies in general are more loyal to their client than their employees. I’ve gotten great, positive feedback from my boss and he really seems to like me as a person, which he has told to me and the staffing company, but I truly don’t want to be under his supervision anymore as he is a bad manager that never meets deadlines, always blames others for his mistakes, talks behind his direct reports’ backs etc.
    There is a huge overarching department in which I am currently in a small subsection of that. Think, I am a strawberry teapot painter within the fruit teapot department, within the B2B teapots department, within the teapot division. So, there are plenty of other teams and departments within the huge organization that I could move to.
    Should I voice my concerns to the staffing company? Should I apply for any openings within the company at different departments? Should I do a job search outside of this company?

    1. Alldogsarepuppies*

      My take is there is nothing wrong with letting your contact at the staffing firm know your thoughts. If you are a good candidate for them, they can use that to place you with another client now that you have a proven track record – or there may be another job order they have with this company and they can help negotiate your switch. Of course, their loyality is to their clients. Its their job, paycheck, and mission. But it won’t hurt you to say what you want to say.

    2. Two Chairs, One to Go*

      Since it’s a 6-month contract you have an easy out. You can talk with your agency and let them know you are looking for X type of work. Or bring up the manager – you can use diplomatic language like your styles are mismatched and you’d love to stay on at the company if there was another manager.

      I’ve worked with agencies in the past and they were helpful in getting me into another office if it wasn’t a good fit. These weren’t contract roles so I brought it up quickly, but having the end date of the contract approaching is a good time to talk.

  42. I forgot my old username, here's a new one*

    Oh wow. I am starting a new job with a new company on the 11th, after 15 years in my soon-to-be old company. Different departments, different positions (not always promotions, just different). This is so cool, yet also nerve-wracking.

    Good old Old Company. We suited each other well for a long time. But it’s time for me to pick up my bindle and stick, and head out.

    Oof. Yay! Oof. Yay! Etc.

      1. I forgot my old username, here's a new one*

        Thank you! The new job at New Company comes with a 40% pay increase, which would never happen at Old Company (not even for an amazing promotion)! I am excited about that, but honestly more excited about doing work I really want to be doing! There was no more chance of that at Old Company. It was time.

  43. Mojo021*

    Does anyone know of a position management system that is free? Or does anyone know of an excel spreadsheet system that is already created? I work in the HR department for a school district and we don’t have a solid position management system in place, and can’t afford to purchase a software for this.

  44. V. Anon*

    A rant: We are hiring, hiring, hiring, which is GOOD after 20 months of a hiring freeze, attrition, and being so busy as a result we’re all half insane. BUT: some roles are being combined. Predictably, the company is cheaping out by trying to have existing employees “double up” and take on an empty role in addition to our regular job. And yes, I’m one of those people. Someone who has the same job title as me is leaving. When her boss tried to post the role HR suggested I could do it. Not instead of my job: in addition. My boss and my boss’s boss have hit the roof because they don’t want to lose the head count and share one employee. I do not do not do not want to do two jobs. (Are they offering more money you ask? I laugh at you. No.) Nothing is certain but I’m not the only one in this boat. Managers are trying to defend their teams and insist on hiring more people, but the very highest level seems to think the crap ton of work they rain on us can be done by a skeleton crew. Me hates it.

    1. Alex*

      Maybe helpful, maybe not, but we’re also on a hiring spree. But employees with specialized skills are (unsurprisingly) hard to find. So our firm is doing a two-prong retention-and-hiring push. Which means that all the involved parties had to talk to each other, but also nipped the kind of stuff you’re discussing in the bud. Can your boss & their cohort push for “retention to prevent needing more new hires” ? It requires upper management to be smart, but it might help reframe things. Otherwise I think you need to start job searching, your position clearly has more openings in the field than applicants….

    2. lost academic*

      Start looking for a new job and make it clear you’re doing it. Someone will eventually get the picture or you’ll get another/better job and it won’t be your problem.

    3. PollyQ*

      It’s great that your boss & grandboss are pushing back. I think you can help keep their resolve strong by saying something like, “That’s not a situation that would work for me.” It sends the clear message that you would leave over it without making an explicit threat.

      1. V. Anon*

        I like this wording. Thing is, the top brass would be fine w/me leaving, because I’m expensive. They can replace me w/someone younger and cheaper. My boss/grandboss would NOT be fine because I know where all the bodies are buried and I’m fast. So I’m treading very carefully right now and hoping my managers win their fights.

    4. V. Anon*

      It’s getting worse. I just got word that someone had a convo and was told, “I’ve spoken to V. Anon about this” and no, no you haven’t. I have not had a conversation with you, Lying Manager Person. We haven’t so much as talked about the weather this week.

      This is going to be bad.

      1. no name today*

        Company gaslighting. My workplace will bring up some dogawful idea or change that everyone shoots down. We hear nothing about it for months or years even, then the change is announced out of the blue, with ‘there’s nothing new here, you’ve all known about this since forever’.
        We’re down 25% because people not rooted to the location/employer have left or retired. New hires lack the historical context and are not yet able to recognize the gaslighting, so we also have a crop of bright-eyed pollyannas bouncing around the place.

  45. Alldogsarepuppies*

    Two weeks ago ya’ll gave me advice on how to pass my first interview in 5 years…and it worked! Next week I will be in the final round – two hour series of interviews. I’m nervous about being able to do so long of a video meeting, but I know I can show my best self and prove that I am a great candidate that can bring a win to the department!

  46. Two Dog Night*

    Help me decide if doing a bootcamp is worthwhile?

    I’ve been working as a data analyst for a while. Most of my effort is spent on cleanup–we get data from a whole lot of sources, and it all needs to be standardized and merged. The actual analysis is usually pretty straightforward. I write a lot of SQL (for SQL Server) and a lot of VBA code in Excel and Access. I don’t know R or Python, but I pick up programming languages really quickly. I’ve got 25 years of experience doing all sorts of techie things.

    I’m trying to figure out what kind of data jobs I’m qualified for. I’m in the suburbs of a major city and would be looking to make low six figures.

    Springboard has several data science bootcamps, and I’m wondering if one of them would be worth the money and effort. Basically, would the bootcamp be enough to get me hired into a mid+-level analyst job?

    And if anyone has any suggestions for how I can find jobs I’m more or less qualified for, I’d really appreciate them. “Analyst” is such a widely-used term that my search results tend to be way too broad–I’m having trouble figuring out how to make them more effective.

    TIA! And have a good weekend, everyone!

    1. I forgot my old username, here's a new one*

      It depends on the bootcamp, really. Research what you can about this one, maybe talk to people who have gone through it (if you can). Some bootcamps are better than others. Some offer job placement/coaching, too, but again the quality of that depends on the bootcamp and how it is run. So researching and getting information from former students can help shine a light on it.

      1. Two Dog Night*

        Thanks–I do know someone who went through a bootcamp by this company, and she thought it was useful, but it didn’t get her the kind of job she wanted. (Her background is very different from mine.) But you’re right that I should do some more digging.

    2. Caboose*

      I did a bootcamp through the University of Denver– web development, but still a decent amount of database stuff since it was for full-stack development. It took me a while to find a job after I finished, but I was also freshly out of college (couldn’t get a degree in CS for Reasons), so I had zero experience in *anything*. I think it was about three months of actively hunting and applying to anything even vaguely in the right direction– but after getting that first job, it’s been pretty smooth sailing!

      I’d say with all your experience, you could definitely use a bootcamp to pivot into higher level jobs.

      No advice on searching for jobs more easily– I’m in the same boat!

    3. photon*

      My cynical take is that bootcamps, particularly for-profit ones, are almost uniformly terrible.

      So I guess I’d say, going into it, don’t expect that line on your resume to be meaningful. (To be clear, if you don’t have tech experience, you should still *include* the line – it just may not make a huge impact.) However, if the *curriculum* of a bootcamp looks good, that experience may still be useful to you in terms of being able to build projects & get passed the interview process.

      But if you’re experienced in sql & pick up languages quickly, why not pick up a copy of How to Think Like a Computer Scientist for Python and learn on your own? Get some small projects on Github, maybe spin up a website, go from there?

      1. Two Dog Night*

        Your last paragraph: Because I know nothing about Github, and I’m really intimidated by having to figure all this stuff out on my own. I do better learning when I have a clear objective and some structure. But maybe I could find some classes that aren’t a full-blown bootcamp….

        Thanks, you’ve given me some more things to think about.

        1. anonymath*

          Get yourself a mug of tea or whiskey and sit down and give yourself 3 hours to do a Git tutorial.

          Or join the a local or non-local Python Users Group or R User Group. Ask for a mentor, potentially, or go to a coding night.

          You can do this. It’ll yield great benefits.

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I had the opposite experience with bootcamps – my workplace went through a year or two of doing a lot of hiring from them a couple of years ago, and I can honestly say that some of our best hires came from there. However, my workplace hired everyone who came from a bootcamp as entry level (though followed that up quickly with promotions). I don’t know how likely it is to go to a midlevel after one.

    4. TheGingerGinger*

      When I was looking into them (ultimately couldn’t make it work, so didn’t end up doing it), one of the things I really looked at with skepticism was if they specifically gave a percentage of graduates who were hired out of the program, how high that number was, and how they talked about it. Some of the scammier places will hire their own graduates as part time instructors in their program for a bit just to say “look! 99% of our graduates get hired after using our program!!” which is totally bogus. The better places (in my experience) will not emphasize that number, or warn you that number doesn’t really represent the quality of the program, etc. I also tried to focus on the programs that were associated with colleges or universities I could trust.

      One thing to consider is taking a look at extended learning programs through local/community colleges. A lot of them have online coding/web dev courses for a reasonable price. It may take a bit longer than a boot camp, but it’s a lot easier to manage around a full time job, and you can commit to a much easier cost to make sure you even LIKE it before committing to more money and time to it. For example, I’m going to take an intro to HTML5/CSS class online through my local community college in Dec/Jan. It’s an 8 week class, and it’s only $179. If I like it, there are a couple more courses I can continue with.

  47. Clementine*

    People who do a mix of telecommuting and working in the office part time: How do you make the most of your in-office time? How do you coordinate with your team?

    I’m a government employee in an area that’s taking the pandemic seriously. We’re required to wear masks when indoors and stay six feet apart. We worked fully from home from late March 2020 to July 2021. Our current work arrangement is to work 1 day per week in office and telecommute the other 4 days. My team of about 6 people is all in the office on the same day of the week.

    But I’m wondering if we should try coming into the office on different days of the week, and wanted to see what others think. It’s nice to see my team when we’re all there on the same day, but it’s hard to have meetings for a lot of reasons (masking, a big enough conference room for six feet apart, technology, etc.). It can also be hard to concentrate on quiet work when the whole team is there. Do you think our team should keep coming in on the same day, or try being there on different days?

    I’d appreciate any advice, lessons learned, and pros/cons. I brought this up to my manager, and we’re going to talk about it as a team on Monday. Thanks!

    1. Policy Wonk*

      The solution depends on the reason for coming in to the office. If the idea is coverage, then people should be taking turns in the office. If the reason is espirit de corp, then it makes sense they wanted everyone in on the same day.

      If the idea is sort of a combination, I’d create two three-person teams and have them alternate days in the office.
      Six is not many people for this, my office is bigger, but the red team/blue team concept worked for us. We alternated weeks so that there was no need to worry about daily hand-off of in-office issues, it only happened once per week.

    2. Elle*

      For my job, I see zero point in being in the office if at least half or more of my team isn’t there. Then I might as well stay home. There is nothing that I physically need to access at the office, my work can be done entirely virtually. Think about why you’re going to the office – to connect with people, or to access physical items?

      1. allathian*

        And is it to connect with your own team, or with other teams? Pretty much the only thing I’ve missed from being in the office is ad hoc meetings at the water cooler with people I don’t work with regularly. There’s still a strong recommendation to WFH, exceptions can be made if necessary with managerial approval. We’re going to switch to some sort of hybrid system in two weeks, but we’ll see how that actually shakes out.

  48. THANKS*

    A job requires 2 years of industry experience. I have 6 years of experience. Can I take my earlier jobs off my resume to look less experienced just to get an in?

    Alternatively, can I apply as is and, if I get an interview, negotiate for a more senior title or more money?

    1. Annony*

      Trying to look less experienced and then negotiate a higher position and pay is unlikely to work. You are probably better off applying with your actual experience. If they discount you then they weren’t willing to pay you more for your experience anyway.

    2. JB*

      Definitely don’t lie about your experience. First of all, it’s just a silly thing to do – 2 years is their minimum, I assume, because I’ve never seen a company state a maximum number of years of experience! And second of all, it’ll look VERY strange if/when they find out.

      You can definitely leverage your experience to try and negotiate a higher starting salary. You can try for the more senior title as well, that would depend on how the company determines titles.

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

        Not to mention that if 2 years is their minimum, and she alters her resume so it appears to show 2 years of experience… how will it feel if she’s rejected with (a nicely worded version of) “you met the 2 years experience requirements but unfortunately we got a lot of candidates with more experience this time and are going with one of them instead”!

    3. Princess Flying Hedgehog*

      You probably will be able to negotiate for some more money (although probably not nearly as much as you’re envisioning), but probably not a more senior title — they’re hiring at that specific level for a reason. If they wanted to higher someone into a higher title, that’s what they would have posted.

    4. Overeducated*

      Honestly, I usually see people with more experience than the minimum requirement getting jobs in my organization. You can try to negotiate but I am not sure a more senior level title is reasonable if what you have is more time in the same position, rather than more senior-level experience. YMMV by industry I’m sure.

    5. 867-5309*

      I think you need to apply as-is and accept that is the level they need – and the salary will be commiserate to that. If you remove years of relevant experience (especially when you’re only six years into your career) and they find out, it is going to seem odd. People with more experience often apply to role that require less; however, that means accepting the role as its outlined.

      As a hiring manager, I would be annoyed that someone applied to my job, made it through the interview process and then said, “I actually want to be a manager and not a specialist. Will you do that since I have the experience?” The answer is no – I need a specialist and that’s why I leveled the job the way it is.

    6. BRR*

      Usually it’s not an issue to have more experience than a position requires as long as it isn’t like 20 years as a senior executive applying for an entry level role. I think you’ll be able to negotiate for a little more money but I think you always can try to negotiate. You probably won’t be able to turn the position into something that suits you. The company is likely hiring for its need.

    7. LPUK*

      My advice would be to do neither. The experience topic is one that could be tackled in a cover letter explaining why you think you are right for this specific job and why you are considering it despite having more experience than they ask for. And interviewing for one job level and then pushing for a more senior role in the interview is likely to annoy the interviewer. Of course, applying, interviewing and then having them come to that conclusion themselves is different….

    8. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Only way I can see too much experience working against you is if it gives away your age, and your age is… like my age :) One of the reasons why my resume and LinkedIn both only go back to 2000. 6 years when they want (I’m assuming a minimum of) 2 is certainly a plus!

  49. Not an Egg*

    Ugh! It seems the disorganized and arrogant muckety-mucks from another division may be trying to poach me from my current team. Any ideas on becoming unpoachable?

    1. ENFP in Texas*

      Would it help to let your boss know how much you like your current position and that you’re not interested in moving? Don’t mention the possible poaching, but just making sure your boss is aware that you don’t want to go anywhere else.

    2. ferrina*

      If you can, loop in your manager or project leads as an ally. It helps if they can advocate for your value where you are and/or plant an idea that another person would be better for poaching. If anything, at least they know that it’s not something you actively want.

      I’m also tempted to say that you should look for a pet peeve and be the living embodiment of it. One of the muckety-mucks is a big Steelers fan? You are now the world’s most passionate Raven’s fan. Not sure if that would actually help though.

      Good luck!

      1. Not an Egg*

        LOL! Worth a try! Especially since I’d start talking about how many home runs the quarterback made.

    3. JB*

      Uh-oh. I’m guessing it’s the kind of situation where you don’t have final say in being poached?

      Are there any essential projects you could get yourself heavily involved in in your current division?

    4. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      “Poaching” is a term that is used to describe something illegal, like illegal hunting or fishing. It does not, and never should be used, IMHO, in a situation involving people’s employment status.

      Those “mucky-muck” are trying to RECRUIT you, not “poach” you. When one company attempts to hire people away from another company it is not “poaching”, but taking advantage of the market value of peoples’ services.

      Protected by anti-trust laws AND the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. Managements who wink at those concepts and make “anti poach” deals, well, they’re only hurting themselves.

      1. Alex*

        “Poach” is commonly used in the context, and since the commenter refers to “another division” it’s likely within the same organization. Not illegal, they could certainly transfer her regardless of whether or not she or her direct boss wanted it.

      2. Not an Egg*

        They are trying by underhanded methods to get me assigned to work in their division and not my own within the same company. If they were trying to “recruit” me, I would have the power to decline without repercussion.

        I am a whole educated adult and quite capable of expressing myself, thank you very much.

      3. RagingADHD*

        1) It’s an internal transfer.

        2) Don’t nitpick people’s words, it’s obnoxious and against the site rules.

    5. Not an Egg*

      Thanks, folks. The good news is, my supervisor is the one who told me about the efforts. She is definitely helping me get “hopelessly” entangled.

  50. Elle Woods*

    Anyone have experiencing or advice on making the leap from freelancing back to a corporate (or corporate-like) job? I began freelancing a number of years ago due to health issues, which have now been resolved. One of the biggest obstacles I’m running into is recruiters and hiring managers don’t seem to think I would do well working as part of a team because I’ve been working independently so long.

    1. londonedit*

      I have. I was freelance for about five years and then went back to an in-house role (no regrets!)

      I definitely had people asking me about whether I’d be able to work as part of a team after having freelanced for so long. I took that as a chance to point out some of the negatives of freelancing – you are on your own all the time, you don’t have anyone to bounce ideas off, and you’re solely responsible for bringing in work and getting yourself paid on time. I’d also point out examples of working well with a team from before you were freelancing, or any freelance experience where you can say ‘I realised I actually really enjoy being part of a team’. I work with books, for example, so I’d say ‘I’ve enjoyed the independence and freedom of being freelance, but I’ve also realised that it’s quite isolating – I work on my copy-edit or my proofread and I never see the book again. It’s made me focus on the fact that what I really love is being part of a team and seeing the progression of a book through the whole editorial process. There’s nothing like seeing a book you’ve spent months working on finally being published. So I really want to move back into an in-house position, because I’ve realised my skills lie in bringing whole projects together and being hands-on from start to finish’. People seemed impressed with that!

      1. Cute Li'l UFO*

        Yes, all of this. I’ve been mostly freelancing for the last 7 years and really do miss the teamwork. In interviews I’ve really talked about how I loved working on collaborative projects, I leave my filepath very clear so anyone can find their way, etc. It really does feel isolating, especially now. I would talk about the support that working on a team holds.

        I’ll be moving to an in-house role at last in a couple weeks. The recruiter and all my interviewers really held the freelance work in high regard–great work ethic, organization, communication. You can absolutely do great moving from freelance to in-house!

    2. Elle*

      I ran my own business for a few years (in the same industry) and then went back. I kept getting interviews and having the interviews go well (I’m a good interviewer) but couldn’t clinch anything except for things that didn’t even require a bachelor’s. I eventually had to take one, and it took me 1.5 years of doing that to land a job that was the same as I had as a new college grad. So my experience was not great.

    3. filosofickle*

      I’ve been there — 15+ years freelance, and I just (this week) accepted a regular job. In the past I’ve totally run into what you’re saying, a mistrust that you could go back inside. And TBH I’ve questioned that about myself so I get the concern! How this one worked was a group I was freelancing with hired me. That’s definitely a way in, because they’ve seen me work and know I can play well with others.

  51. Nic the Librarian*

    I started a new job a month ago and I am having horrible allergies because one of the supervisors is a smoker. Can anyone recommend a good air purifier under $100? (I’m probably gonna have to buy it myself.)

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      on Amazon: “TOPPIN HEPA Air Purifiers for Home Large Room Up to 215ft²- TPAP001 Ultra-Silent Bedroom Air Cleaner with Brushless Motor H13 HEPA Filter for 99.97% Pollen, Allergies, Pets Hair, Dander, Dust” It’s super quiet and does really well despite my house being full of pets. $80, currently with a $5 coupon as well.

  52. Re'lar Fela*

    Happy Friday!

    I recently started a new job where I’m in charge of intake for 5+ program areas, each with multiple services. I’m juggling SO MUCH information and the work isn’t very streamlined (for example, someone might send in a web request for services, I’ll call them back and leave a voicemail, they’ll call back anywhere from five minutes to a month or more later). I’m finding it difficult to manage the flow and track calls/callbacks/emails/etc. I’m also working as a case manager and an (intern) therapist. I know I’m still new, but I really need to find a good system before I lose my mind.

    (I also have ADHD and am a single parent/grad student, so my brain is easily overwhelmed and then I shut down…but I really love this new job and having my job and internship with the same agency is just amazing. I want to do well).

    Any and all advice welcome!

    PS I have multiple planners and a bullet journal and a notepad for tracking intakes and email folders and just…so many organizational tools and systems, but none that are working the way I want!

    1. Elle*

      I am in a similar pickle myself. My only advice is keep trying things, but one thing that helps me is to literally shut down my email program when I’m working on something so the constant pulling one way or the other calms down and I can actually get something finished.

    2. ferrina*

      This may be useless, but as a fellow ADHDer, I’ve found one things to be true:
      -Use whatever system works with your brain. I change information management systems every 3-6 months. I don’t know why, but I do, and it works for my brain (folks at work have asked how I track everything so well. Answer: I follow the worst possible practices).

      I’m not familiar with intake, but it sounds like it moves at the clients’ speed? Is this something where you could have one (admittedly long) excel doc to track a lot of the contacts? Have columns for things like Name, Email, Phone Number, Last Contact Date and Status.
      It also sounds like there’s a lot of putting information in various places, and that takes time. Make designated time to organize your information. As you get more settled, you’ll find what systems are unnecessary.
      Good luck!

    3. BlueK*

      Sometimes you can have too many organizational tools! And switching between then can result in overlooking something. I have EF challenges too (not ADHD but can look similarish). Sometimes for me I make myself having a set procedure I follow each day/week to see where I am at w/ seemingly never ending tasks. When I’m looking at the info, I select some subset to work on and highlight that or somehow mark it so I don’t forget what I decided to do (I typically use Excel to track).

      When I have a million tasks to do and can’t decide where to start, I do sorting them on a paper into 4 categories (urgent/important, urgent/not important, not urgent/important, not urgent/not important). Just getting it down helps me make a meaningful to-do list. Otherwise I just have a list of a million things that all need to be done.

      Good luck!!

    4. Pocket Mouse*

      If you have MS Access on your work computer, there may be some template databases that fit your needs. If not, maybe LibreOffice does?

  53. Full Time Fabulous*

    I worked for a toxic boss for close to 5 years before she laid me off through a non-reappointment in late August. While working out my notice in a different unit of the same organization, I interviewed with 2 other entities in a different town and the new unit offered me a very competitive offer to stay on with them. I ended up declining one job offer and accepting the one to stay with the new unit. Here’s my problem: staying here is a good move for me but I will have to interact with Former Toxic Boss on occasion and her two Favored Employees. Any advice on how to deal with these individuals? And how to rehab myself from 5 years of workplace hell? I am a newer reader to this blog and now I know that 5 years in a toxic workplace was WAY too long and I won’t make that mistake again! Thanks!

    1. BlueBelle*

      I am so glad you got out from under them and your new position! Interacting with old bosses when they are no longer your boss is a tough transition. You just have to constantly remind yourself that they aren’t your boss and you don’t have to take any of the sh*t. Be upbeat and treat her like any other occasional colleague. If she reverts back to trying to tell you what to do you can smile and say “I know it is hard after 5 years, but my manager is so&so and I have different priorities or direction” or whatever it is that is appropriate. Good luck!

    2. ferrina*

      I like to use the anthropologist trick. Pretend you are an anthropologist (or alien, or David Attenborough) observing these creatures and their odd society. These strange beings are not a part of your culture- you are just visiting and will leave very soon. (This is also how I survived several very strange Thanksgiving dinners)

      1. Full Time Fabulous*

        Thanks so much. I think this is a good idea and also handy for awkward family gatherings too!

    3. Alex*

      Other people have awesome specific comments but I want to add: after I left 2 years of toxic workplace hell, the big thing that really helped me readjust to “normal” standards was therapy. And time. 7 years later, I still have panic attacks when I hear someone cock a shotgun, or when I get a message from my boss that says “do you have a minute” but therapy has ironed out a lot of my worst coping habits and expectations. I work a great, competitive, high intensity job now, so old job didn’t stop me from reaching my goals. I wish you the best with yours.

      1. Full Time Fabulous*

        Thank you so much for the advice. I have actually been thinking over the idea of talking to a professional just to help me cope in a healthy way. I have a lot of people saying “just move on” but I don’t think that is the most productive way to handle it for my long-term health.

        1. Windchime*

          Therapy helped me, too. I was on leave from a boss where I was being horribly bullied, and it really helped me to talk to the therapist who would confirm that yes, my boss WAS bullying me. The therapist also helped me to see that leaving was the right thing to do for me. So that’s what I ultimately ended up doing. (I did try to transfer and get under another manager, but that didn’t work out.)

  54. LQ*

    So, bringing in help for my unit and it will be an entire new team (3-5 people including new supervisor). Current unit has all been around a Long time. Shortest is a decade and that’s me, 20, 30, 40 years is where the rest of them are mostly at. New people will all be internal promotions but will all be people who are like 6 mo-2 years.

    I think the current people are going to be welcoming and friendly, but it’s tough to have conversations when they can shortcut everything because they have a deep shared history.

    Any tips for helping the new folks become a part of the group and get up to speed without frustration? None of them will have experience in this either, so it’s not like they went to school or have training. This will all be entirely new to them. I’m not worried about the team being mean or ugly or exclusionary, those are clearer issues, but I am worried about it just being overwhelming and frustrating to talk to them.

    1. JB*

      Are there some people in your current group who will volunteer to be mentors to the new crew? I recently started a very new (for me) position, and it helped a lot that I had a more senior peer who specifically made himself available to me to answer any questions I had, in addition to training etc from my boss. There are some questions that are just awkward to ask your boss or that can be answered more accurately by a peer.

      1. LQ*

        That’s a really interesting idea, I think I could work with that. Some direct time to ask folks who are the senior level folks. This is really helpful, thank you! I keep thinking of more things I can personally do so this is a helpful reminder that part of this is supposed to be handing off work too. Not just doing more.

    2. ferrina*

      Coffee. I always recommend coffee.

      Each person in the Long Time crowd should set up a 1:1 coffee/tea/chat with each person in the New Folks crowd to take place within 1 month of New Folks getting there. I love doing this because 1) it lets you get to know the person as a person, 2) it lets them know that you are friendly and welcoming, so they are more likely to come to you with questions and 3) it can be helpful in getting your footing and getting some informal knowledge about the company.

      Make sure that you are intentionally mixing up your socializing, and you can even announce that you are doing that! “Hey, I know that we are pretty tight, and we also want to make sure that you know that you are welcomed. Today I’m going to chat with Aster and Brandon because I haven’t chatted with them for a bit. Let’s catch up tomorrow!”

      1. LQ*

        We are for the most part still fully remote so that makes it harder. It would have absolutely been a part of the plan otherwise, but I think maybe think a little more about that, or maybe I throw it out to the team and see if they have ideas about how to include them socially as well….

        1. ferrina*

          Virtual coffee still counts! I’ve had remote team members for the last 5 years, and virtual coffee is how we stay connected on a personal level.

          One other thing we did was designate fun Slack channels for different people’s interests. There was one for pets, one for kids, one for music, etc. It helped mix up groups a bit.

  55. JH*

    Weird problem but I have close connections with several industry partners who insist on giving me SWAG. How do I deal with a really hot item that I was forced to accept, but don’t want?

    When it’s the mass stuff like pens and trinkets, I can usually deflect with no thanks or take without guilt. None of it is expensive, but sometimes there’s a HOT item and the office/salesperson only gets so many. I don’t use this stuff. Even the cute WOW-look-what-it-does! things are only entertaining for 5 minutes.

    This week – as a semi joke, a vendor friend gave me a bag with several kill-for items. Nothing expensive. But they literally only got so many for the office and these particular items proved very popular. Sales people are BEGGING for “one more”. Everyone at the gathering enjoyed the history behind them. But now what? I feel so guilty, these will end up in the trash or thrift bin when it’s an item he and his co-workers dearly want.

    1. Anon and on and on*

      I’m sorry. I don’t understand. Is it that you don’t know who to give them to or that you want to give out some more but you don’t want to go back to your contact? Or do people at your contact’s company want them themselves or for their clients?
      I want to tell you to give the items to people who want them and have a clear conscience about it. They are advertising tools, the companies want them out there. Get what you can for people who will sow them like Johnny Appleseed.

    2. JH*

      This time, one of the pieces has historical, sentimental value. So imagine it was a cutesy wind-up robot thing that was THE hot item at an event 2 years ago. At the time they went like hot cakes. NOW, the item is long gone and various members of that company horde any piece they still have. This sales person had THREE left and gave me one. It would be hard to give it BACK without being rude. But I hate to take something I have no need for. And it’s the kind of thing a regular person would enjoy for about 5 minutes and be done. It’s one thing to pass that stuff on to a thrift bin when I’ve returned from an event and they gave out hundreds. But this one has sort of become a sentimental collectible for people within that company.

      It’s sort of the same as when a family member passes down an item that has sentimental value but you don’t personally want. Do you keep it? Are you expected to display it? Is there any way to politely return it? or do you just junk it and forget about it?

      1. Annony*

        Put it on your desk and give it to the first person who notices and expresses interest. If asked later you can say “I gave it to Tony. He seemed really excited about it.”

      2. Parcae*

        Like everyone else here, I’m confused about what the problem is. If I have a sentimental family item that I don’t want, I send a quick email to all the cousins to see if anyone wants it. If they don’t, I dispose of it in whatever way makes sense.

        First, if you’re not trying this already, decline the stuff people try to give you. Say there’s no room in your luggage. Pretend to have devoted yourself to Marie Kondo. Or, you know, just keep saying no thank you like a broken record. What are they going to do, ship it to your house behind your back? (OK, maybe, but in that case at least you tried and you have no further moral obligation.)

        Failing that, give it to the first person who asks about it. Or if it’s a REALLY hot commodity, collect the names of people who want it and do a drawing. If you just generally know it’s Officially Cool but don’t know anyone who wants it, donate it or put it up on eBay. Who cares? It’s marketing swag. Most of the stuff people are “begging for” at the convention ends up at the thrift store after a month anyway.

    3. Undine*

      The reality is, they are just items. And one more or less isn’t going to make much difference to anybody. In six months, no one will care one way or the other.

    4. The Other Dawn*

      Ultimately these are still just cheap marketing items. Give them to someone who wants them, or put them in the community area that’s widely known as the droff-off point for unwanted items–someone will grab them quick.

    5. Maxie's Mommy*

      Hand them out as a reward for a job well done that week? Let people choose between the robot and the dancing bear?

  56. Llama Wrangler*

    CW: Covid

    For folks that live/work in places with mask mandates, I’m curious how your offices are handling mask wearing for eating and drinking.

    My opinion (backed by the public health scientists I follow) is that (a) 6 feet of distance in an enclosed space is not sufficient to protect from covid if people are unmasked, unless there is a high level of ventilation and (b) we have a weird blind spot in which people feel like removing a mask for eating and drinking is somehow okay, when normal mask removal is not okay. Obviously, this is complicated by the fact that eating and drinking in offices is a functional requirement of working where going to indoor dining is optional (and something I’m choosing not to do).

    Right now I’m handling this by eating outside, but that won’t work as it gets colder or if it’s raining. I don’t personally feel safe removing my mask to eat or drink in our open plan office where we have desks that are spaced to the inch 6″ apart but no other major ventilation (and about 6 people in the immediate space, not all of whom are vaccinated to my knowledge). I’ve asked about getting air filters (“they’ve been ordered” – but no sign of them yet), and every time I ask about plans, my boss just says that there’s no good solution.

    I’m wondering what other offices are doing, or how other people who have been relatively conservative about covid protocols are handling it.

    1. photon*

      Being unmasked around 1 other person indoors for 8hrs is 24 times worse than being unmasked around 1 other person for 20min. It’s not unreasonable to think that keeping your mask on most of the time is reducing most of your risk, while taking comparatively smaller risks in order to do things like eat lunch.

      Think about it like driving a car. If you stay at home, you’re almost certainly not going to get in a car crash. But realistically, you’re probably going to accept a small amount of risk when deciding to drive, and you’re probably going to do things to reduce some (but not all!) of that risk by wearing a seatbelt and driving cautiously.

      Science can only tell you about the probability of outcomes. It can’t tell you how you, personally, should value the risk vs. reward.

    2. WulfInTheForest*

      I live in FL and about 90% of the population just does not care, or doesn’t wear masks ever/ doesn’t wear them properly even if they do wear a mask. Both companies I’ve worked at since Covid have policies where we can only have our masks off when we’re in our own office or an enclosed space like a break room where occupancy is limited to 1 or 2, and that applies to eating and drinking as well. Not everyone follows it, and it’s not fully enforced, but that’s what’s going on down here. I hate it here tbh.

    3. Valancy Snaith*

      The perfect is the enemy of the good. It’s better to have your mask on for the vast majority of the day and remove it only to eat than to not wear a mask ever, or not eat at all.

    4. Colette*

      Do you drive to work? Becuase your car might be an option.

      But I don’t think there is a perfect solution. And if you’re vaccinated and wearing a mask except when eating or drinking, you’re doing everything within your control to reduce your risk. The only remaining thing would be to order your own purifier.

    5. Glomarization, Esq.*

      We have a mask mandate in the office, and my co-workers and I remove our masks to eat in our little lunch room. The number of people around the table is a finite and regular number, whereas one individual walking around in the hallways could expose anybody at all in the office as well as clients and other visitors. We can’t eliminate the risk so we reduce it as well as we can.

    6. Hlao-roo*

      I take my mask off to drink water when I’m in the office (only when I’m sitting at my cubicle, so there’s at least 6 ft of space between me and any coworkers). I have a short commute, so I’ve only been going in to the office for half days, either for the morning or the afternoon. That way, I always eat my lunch at home.

      If you have a car, I would eat there. Otherwise, I’ll just echo what others have said. Sit as far away from other people as possible, eat as quickly as you can, and accept that wearing your mask for 90% of the day is leaps and bounds better than not wearing a mask at all.

    7. Bucky Barnes*

      I’m spaced fairly far away from coworkers (at least 10 feet), and I occasionally eat at my desk. I’m usually done in about 20 minutes or so. If I was in a more populated area, I probably wouldn’t.

      What I’ve been doing for the last 18 months is eating in my car. That way it’s just me for an hour and I can dawdle over my meal as much as I want.

    8. PT*

      I wear a mask with headstraps and two cord stops. It’s fairly easy to eat/drink with the mask on, if you just loosen the cord stop that’s holding the lower strap in place. Then it works like a flap you can move out of the way to sip/bite.

      I figured this out at the sample stations in Costco. They had cinnamon buns. I am not turning down free cinnamon buns!!

    9. Mynona*

      My office policy is that you can take off your mask to eat or drink and does not specify needing to go to a special location. However, out of courtesy, me and my neighbors will go to the lunch room or outside for a longer meal. Quick drinks of water, coffee, or snacks are fine at the desk.

    10. ThatGirl*

      Do you have a break area you can sit in with some space? Maybe when it’s not very busy? My immediate teammates are all vaccinated, though I can’t speak to everyone in the office. If you’re vaccinated, taking your mask off for 20 minutes to eat alone is pretty low risk. And like others have said, perfect is the enemy of good.

    11. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

      If it was me, I would carry on eating outside even if it was raining. I’d think about what kind of food would be compatible with holding an umbrella in the cold, e.g. soup in a thermos.

      I realise this would make me an outlier, so to speak. But I’m very interested in not catching covid, and not all that bothered if some people think I’m weird.

  57. Jamalama*

    What do you all think of getting info on a potential hire during the interview stage, when I’m not the HR person or the person who will make the final hiring decision? In my industry, people move around and are known, or you know someone who knows them. I’m involved in hiring for a position at my company, but am not in the position to make any decisions, just provide feedback on the interview. I reached out to a trusted old friend/former employee who had worked with one of our potential hires and she had nothing good to say about them. Mostly things I knew and just wanted to verify. The interview was actually really good but I am concerned about hiring them. Does it seem sketchy or like I’m overstepping if I share what I learned with the people who make the decisions?

    1. Elle*

      I wouldn’t think so – if it’s the type of close-knit industry where people know each other, you might just know those things even without specifically asking around. But the norms in my industry are little messed up so it would be good to get advice from someone in your area.

    2. Observer*

      Why would it be sketchy?

      You used legitimate means to find solid information about someone who your company is considering hiring. Given the potential cost of a bad hire, I think it would be a lot more sketchy to NOT share the information.

    3. RagingADHD*

      If you knew negative info firsthand or from a trusted, knowledgeable source, and suppressed it in order to make sure someone got hired who should not be, that would be sketchy.

      Giving accurate, appropriate info to the decisionmakers is the right thing to do.

  58. What DOES come next?*

    Are there any good resources/advice you’d recommend for someone trying to figure out what type of role/industry to go into? For context, I’m in my early 20s, and after a year or so of working post-college, it seems like my skills & interests don’t actually align well with the type of job that would be most obvious after what I studied. I don’t need to *love* it, just not be terrible at it. Looking for suggestions of *how* to figure it out.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Your college placement office should have resources for this, and are usually happy to work with grads well after they leave the nest.
      Do you have any professors that you got along with well, who could suggest some ‘diagonal’ careers that aren’t obvious to you?

    2. Anona*

      My best tools were doing true informational interviews with people in whatever industries seemed vaguely relevant to my degree. Friends’ parents a bit, but mostly strangers I found via LinkedIn or friends of friends. I really gives perspective. I know not everyone has access to that kind of stuff, but it can be useful.

    3. Elle*

      Assuming you work at a company with more than about 20 people, it’s likely that networking within your company would give you a good idea what direction feels appealing.

    4. RosyGlasses*

      I believe onetonline (dot) org is a great option because it goes through skills / tasks / education needed for different roles, how in demand those roles are, target compensation, etc. I know my son’s high school used that for their career and college class, and I’ve used it as a compensation benchmarking tool for work.

  59. RabidChild*

    Would love the Commentariat’s advice on how to approach being hired-on as a permanent employee by a current client.
    Some background: I am a marketing person with 20+ years experience running that function, mainly for high tech firms. I have been working with a startup since Q1 that is well-funded and based in another country. They are just getting a toe-hold in the US and I have been providing content strategy and other services.
    I am sure they will be looking for a more permanent marketing person at some point–how do I let my client know I am interested in going from contractor to full-time hire?

    1. 867-5309*

      I think you can just… tell them. “Hey Founder/Boss, I love the work we’ve been doing and want to let you know that I would love to be considered if and when you open up a full-time marketing role in the U.S.”

  60. Crystal Stair*

    Hey y’all, here’s another wild story from my previous awful job. My last post is here, for context:

    ** The Employee Survey of Doom **

    This being the government, there were a couple of big annual employee surveys. The surveys asked the typical questions on a scale of 1-5, such as “I feel the work that I am doing contributes to my office’s mission,” “My colleagues treat me with respect,” etc. Those answers got aggregated into an overall happiness score, which then got published broken down by agency and office.

    One day, in our weekly staff meeting shortly after that year’s survey, the Director flipped out at us about our survey results because our overall happiness score was too low. That’s right, she literally got mad at us for saying that we were unhappy. The Director spent around 35-40 minutes just ranting about the survey results. This is not an exaggeration; I was texting my colleagues throughout the meeting and I have the timestamps.

    We later found out that the average happiness score for the overall government organization (~10,000 people) was 70% that year. The average happiness score for my office was 33%. For reference, the office with the next-lowest happiness score got a 57%. We were 2.6 standard deviations below the mean happiness. That’s exactly how unhappy we were.

    We were unhappy for the various reasons that I alluded to in my previous post: the workload was overwhelming and unsustainable, management kept piling on unnecessary procedures and menial tasks, and most of the managers themselves were incompetent, unprofessional, and/or just mean. (I say “we,” but I actually didn’t take the survey because I got hired after they’d collected the surveys for that year. I mean, I was still unhappy. I just didn’t get my response recorded.)

    The Director said, among other things:

    – We have heard that you’re unhappy because of the workload. We are listening; however, the workload will not change in the foreseeable future.
    – If you cannot handle this work environment, the environment will also not change.
    – We have put so much into keeping you all happy and engaged. We gave you 12 Days of Holiday Cheer. Was that not enough to make you happy? (Please kill me.)
    – We buy you birthday presents and holiday presents, when we don’t have to. Should we stop buying you presents?
    – If anyone wants us to stop buying you all presents, now is the time to speak up. (Cue long, awkward silence. Obviously, nobody took the bait here.)
    – We don’t have to give you performance bonuses either. If you tell me these efforts to make you happy aren’t working, we will stop and put that money towards something else instead. (Again, nobody took the bait.)
    – If you are unhappy, you should think hard about if this office is the right place for you. (Two permanent employees, out of a ~20ish person office, quit in the first 3 months that I was there. One of them literally went back to her same previous job after only 8 months in our office.)
    – Life ain’t no crystal stair. This was a refrain that she kept repeating. It’s a line from a Langston Hughes poem: In the poem, a black mother says to her son that “Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair,” but she’s still climbing, and encourages him to keep climbing as well. Martin Luther King Jr. frequently invoked this poem as a metaphor for civil rights — however difficult things are for the present generation, we should honor the struggles of those who came before us by continuing to fight for equality. I hope Langston Hughes and Martin Luther King Jr. would’ve been proud to see it being used to say, “If your working conditions are bad, just STFU about them.”

    Everyone who had their cameras on for this meeting looked extremely uncomfortable. At the end of the meeting, the Director went down the list of each person in attendance and asked them one-on-one, “Is your heart and mind clear, or is there something making you unhappy in this office?”

    I said no.

    To her credit, some people, when put on the spot in front of everyone, did mention concrete actionable changes that they felt would improve the office. As far as I can tell, none of those changes were ever implemented in the six months between this meeting happening and me quitting.

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      Langston Hughes would’ve been grateful for a milk frother, why aren’t you? Yikes haha

    2. tangerineRose*

      I’m glad that’s your previous job. I hope people who work for that person start leaving in droves.

    3. Windchime*

      I once worked in a very unhappy department. One of the things we were supposed to do was to post evidence of all our mistakes on a board as a “learning opportunity” for others. Anyway, they implemented this thing where we had to (anonymously) turn in a slip of paper every week and rate our stress level from 0 -5 (5 being the most stressed). We all quickly learned to say 2 or 3, because otherwise we would get comments and pointed questions from the bosses.

  61. Re'lar Fela*

    Hi all! Happy Friday :)

    I recently started a job doing intake for an agency with five different program areas, each encompassing multiple services. There is so much information to keep track of and the workflow isn’t streamlined (for example, I might get a web contact from someone, call them back and leave a voicemail, answer the phone and do three intakes during which time they call me back and leave a voicemail, then I’ll send them an email since they left it on the message, then we email back and forth for a week or so, during which time I do any number of other things…it’s just a lot of bouncing back and forth and multi-tasking, which is fun but also slightly overwhelming for my ADHD brain). I’m also doing case management and working as an intern therapist for the agency. I absolutely love it so far, but I’m feeling very scattered and unorganized. I have a planner, a bullet journal, a notepad for tracking intakes, plus our online systems, but I don’t have a solid system yet. My previous jobs have been very project-heavy and self-directed, so I don’t have a good sense of how to work when my day is largely dictated by the whims of others (I never answer my phone unless I’m expecting a call, but suddenly I’m insanely frustrated by the lack of phone answering I’ve encountered lately).

    I’d love any and all tips, tricks, advice, or commiseration. I am a single parent and grad student with ADHD working a job and an internship (thankfully at the same organization, which is HUGE) while trying to also juggle commitments such as my relationship, the PTA, volunteering, etc, so organization is CRUCIAL and also not a strength of mine!

    1. lil falafel wrap*

      sounds like you might be in an MSW program! I don’t have ADHD so my experience is somewhat different from yours. But for my, the system that worked best was the online calendar (even though I hate outlook). I just had to be religious about putting something on it the second it came up, and sticking to my blocked time when I need it. I also put in tasks that weren’t meetings—I am going to follow-up on intake paperwork from this time to this time, I am going to review my old notes and plan my next session from this time to this time. I set the reminder on the calendar to ping 10-15 minutes before, which gave me wrap-up time.

      I also kept a running list of any action item that I needed to remember but couldn’t tackle immediately, and one of my calendar events was reviewing those at the end of the day and making a plan for completing them (maybe by making a new calendar event).

      The other thing I’ll add is that there’s no one right way to be a social worker. Some can bounce around as needed, and some work better with clearly blocked out parts of the day. It’s okay to do the one that works for you!

  62. Peon1*

    There’s a bit of a shake-up going on at the Executive level in my company right now. I’ve been trying not to get rattled this past week, but I allowed myself to feel sad yesterday. Any changes at the top will DEFINITELY affect my team, i.e. we could be reporting to an entirely new set of supervisors.

    I do know my team and I will get through it fine… eventually, but – whew – it’s going to be a rough couple of weeks.

  63. Imaginary Number*

    Due to construction, being moved from an office to an open set of desks that are positioned basically in the hallway right in front of several executive and manager offices. I’m one of the only women in the organization and I’m really concerned that I will be the assumed “admin” when people come to see any of these folks (I’m in a senior technical role.) There was a letter-writer who was in a very similar situation and there never seemed to be a great resolution on that.
    Does anyone have any suggestions for setting up my workspace in such a way that says “I’m not the admin, so please don’t interrupt me unnecessarily” without saying it like that. Because I have no problem with someone interrupting me for usual reasons. I just really don’t want to become the “is so-and-so in?” and “do you know when so-and-so will be back?” person.

    1. WulfInTheForest*

      Personally, I’d wear headphones. And maybe face my computer and desk in such a way that it doesn’t look like you’re the “barrier” person to the execs.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’ve had some luck with the phrase “No idea, everyone maintains their own schedule here.” If you can pull it off, don’t even look up from your work, because you’re too busy for interruptions.

    3. Watching the Drizzle*

      Is the admin’s desk out there, too? A sign on your desk that says Admin with an arrow pointing to their desk? A big sign over or around their desk that says Admin? A sign on your desk that says NOT Admin, please do not disturb? A sign on your desk with your title on it? An invisibility cloak? And if people do ask you admin questions, shrug, say you don’t know, and point them to the admin. But I suspect that anyone in that area will probably be asked questions simply due to proximity. And the people who are asking will just think, oh it’s just one little thing, not realizing that this one little thing happens over and over and over each day.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      Can you position your desk so you’re not facing the entrance? Making people awkwardly walk around to the front of your desk to greet you might make them a little more inclined to at least look for a sign first

  64. Supporting New Legal Secretary*

    How can I best support a new legal secretary, when I’m new-ish to the firm myself?

    For context: I’m an associate at a midsize law firm. My legal secretary (assigned to me and four other associates) just retired after 15 years with our firm. She was an expert! The firm is hiring a new secretary, and may fill with temps in the meantime. How do I best support the new person when I don’t really know their role at all? What can I do to make their life easier? Thank you!

    1. Ginger Baker*

      I live for this question! OK. So, my best advice is, think about what Old Secretary did that was helpful to you and make sure you ask for those things (“I’ve found I need a little chasing to get my bills done so if you can follow up a few times I appreciate it” “feel free to escalate to my cell if there’s something urgent” “I find it really helpful to have a scheduled weekly one-to-one, let’s get that on the calendar”). If your new admin is good, they hopefully will come in and have a list of questions to get your preferences (everything from how you like your printing to travel preferences to food allergies to the best way to answer your phone and whether clients get your cell #) but if that is something New Hire does not do on their own in a few weeks, go ahead and set a 30-minute get to know you meeting to cover all that stuff.

      With any luck your Old Secretary also left good handover notes and there are good training/support processes at your firm, so that should cover a lot. You should also check in on what tech skills your New Hire has or may need training on (my associates 100% rely on my excel and ppt skills in addition to word and I personally think those skills should be mandatory for any admin…). Also, try not to get caught too often in the “it’s faster to do this myself” loop: that may be true in the short run but the goal is to have your assistant able to take things off your plate and free up your time for writing briefs or contracts or whatnot.

      I may pop back in with more later if I think of other things.

        1. SnappinTerrapin*

          Reading those handover notes yourself couldn’t hurt. It may give you ideas about how you and your new secretary can work well together. It’s easy for a professional (or any manager, for that matter) to assume their support staff simply magically conjures the desired end product. Any familiarity with their actual processes can improve your insight into the secret processes that convert your ideas into finished product.

  65. Ex-Tech Jobs?*

    Didn’t get any bites last week, figured I’d try one more time.

    Any former software engineers (big tech or startups) shift to something else over time? What do you do? Library or university sysadmin, maybe? Any interesting nonsoftware jobs where you could use your skills? I’d love ideas/insights/etc to industries that people have gone to after tech.

    1. JB*

      I’m not in tech and am not sure what your specific skills would be applicable to, but have you looked at what kind of jobs banks and other financial institutions are posting? There’s a lot of technology used in banking and a lot of jobs to go along with it. Just thinking of a medium-sized local bank a family member of mine works at – they’ve got external app development and support teams (to run their online banking platforms), internal app development and support (for the systems the tellers etc. use), a cyber-security team, a telecommunications team, and a team who specialize in a sort of aggregate program that pulls in data across the different internal systems to generate reports used for audits and stuff like that. And, of course, there’s the help desk.

    2. It's a Beautiful Day*

      I was a software engineer that eventually moved over to Project Management for Information Systems at a hospital. Many of my projects are installing new software systems (usually with hardware/equipment involved), although I do projects that are supplying computer/phone equipment for renovations or new buildings.

    3. Wings*

      I’m not current or former software developer but one idea to consider: Are you looking to leave tech or software? If the former, then you could look for in-house software development for corporations in other fields, something you are interested in as a business? I work for an airline and we have such a team. It’s bigger (and obviously more structured) than your average startup but on the other hand they don’t define the company culture like in big tech as it’s just a small department in the whole company. They develop several products but none of them are what we actually sell and all support the actual business goals. Once in, you could (depending on the company and your interests) look maybe moving internally into project management, more general IT management or something else related? Our sysadmins are outsourced though they too could be in-house somewhere else.

    4. GoryDetails*

      A friend of mine did transition from software to librarian/library-IT-specialist; many of her skills transferred directly, and she’d already been doing volunteer work at a local library AND on the library board, so she was familiar with the day-to-day work as well as the political structure, budgets, etc. It still wasn’t easy, but she made a good second career out of it until retirement. She did take courses in library science so she would qualify for promotion, and had to put up with local politics, budgetary concerns, and some frequently-scary interactions with the public, so it wasn’t all recommending books and answering reference questions – which made me glad I never followed my own youthful dream of working in a library, where I could read all day and nobody would bother me. [Yeah, it doesn’t work like that!]

  66. WulfInTheForest*

    I’d really love advice about how to get over the disappointment I feel about my new job. Hopefully someone has had a similar experience.

    I recently had a job offer practically fall in my lap. I wasn’t actively applying, just more like browsing, and after a great interview, I ended up accepting an offer that sounds amazing.

    On paper it all seemed great. The benefits were through the same companies, and seemed exactly like my previous job. The hourly pay was a big jump for me, and the company seems a lot less toxic and better funded than my old job. The one downfall was that I’d have a much longer commute, but I’m okay with that for the time being. It’ll cost more in gas and car maintenance, but I factored that in when accepting the job.

    However, on my first day, I found out that this company has it’s staff work 75 hours a paycheck instead of 80, meaning that my pay is short what I’d thought it would be. That wouldn’t be such a big deal on it’s own, but there’s more. Another unknown cost came up as well: the benefits cost nearly double what they do at my old job.

    Due to the cost of the commute, the shorter hours, and the expensive benefits, I’m going to be making just a bit more than I was at my old job. I thought I’d be making soooo much more money, but now I’m kind of floundering how to manage my disappointment. I rearranged my life for this new job, but it feels like I’m not making enough to actually justify all this extra restructuring, commute, and time. Any advice on this?

    1. 867-5309*

      That is disappointing.

      My advice is probably not as helpful as you were hoping but I think you have to just decide to accept that which you cannot change (e.g., 75 hours, expense of benefits) or change what you can (find a new job). If you can lean into the better environment and find some positives around the pay, notably that it positions you to request an even higher rate next time, then it might not make it so crushing. Beyond that, I think it’s just a tough lesson to learn, specifically to asking about the benefits costs.

      1. WulfInTheForest*

        Thanks, yeah it sucks. I did think about how my next role would probably be higher paid because of it, and that’s promising. I’ve also been thinking about how to cut costs as well in order to stay at this job, because I really do like it.

        One thing that hit me after accepting and finding out the costs was that when I asked about benefits in the interviewing/offer acceptance stage, HR was a bit tight lipped about cost estimates because they said it’s different for each person because of how many people insured (family vs. individual) and also because there were different options. I think next time I’ll just be more wary about half-answers…

        1. Annony*

          That does sounds fishy. How hard would it be to show you a chart with the range of options/prices? Or say something like “For an individual plan, the cost ranges from $X-$Y for health insurance but if you have dependents you would like to add the cost is higher.” We all understand that it varies, but what is the ballpark?

        2. 867-5309*

          Never hesitate to ask for the benefits package so you can look at pricing. They have this.

          At many companies it’s standard to provide it alongside the offer and when it is not, it should not raise eyebrows to request it, for sure! If it does, then I agree with Annony that there is something fishy.

          1. RosyGlasses*


            I always include a breakdown of total compensation with an offer letter and let the individual know the range of what their premium would be depending on the plan they choose at the end of our interview when I go over benefit offerings. It’s not hard to make that transparent.

        3. Sea Anemone*

          “how many people insured (family vs. individual) and also because there were different options.”

          Well, yes, that’s always how it is, at every company and every insurance option. And yet, every company and every insurance provider is able to provide a matrix of insuring self vs self + spouse vs self + dependents, etc., including all of that for the basic plan and the premium plan with the lower deductible. Since you recently started, you probably know the matrix I mean bc you saw it when you selected your options. Next job, try pressing for that matrix. FWIW, I never ask about the cost of benefits, so you are not alone in that blind spot.

          I’m sorry you are having this experience. I would focus on the slightly higher pay, bc higher is higher after all, and on the slightly shorter hours, bc fewer hours is wonderful, even when it’s only 5 fewer.

          Can you negotiate some wfh? That would save car wear and tear and gas. Or did you already do that and it’s still more wear and tear and gas?

          To give a little comradely support of being in similar boats, I was all excited that I got two more days of PTO at my new job, and then I found out I have 5 fewer paid holidays. womp womp.

    2. Haha Lala*

      Make sure to appreciate the little joys– does that also mean your work day is 30 min shorter than it used to be? And if this company is better functioning and more stable than old job, that’s still a win, even if the financials break even.
      (and consider this a lesson learned for the next time you get a job offer).

  67. Overeducated*

    Any recommendations for building better relationships and feeling part of a team virtually when…your team is just really busy and doesn’t have time for extra meetings?

    I changed jobs six months ago and have been increasingly unhappy in my new position, and I really think this is the major reason why. I did get to do some neat work in my old position that I miss, but I also did a lot of pretty mundane work that I hate, and it didn’t bother me as much as it does now. I think it’s the lack of camaraderie in the grunt work and bureaucracy that makes work feel like more of a grind than it used to. There’s also no regular space for those brainstorming conversations where you get excited about new ideas. We’re teleworking until early next year, but even then my direct team will be mostly remote, and we’re busy enough that they do not have a lot of interest in virtual lunch breaks and such. There are people on related teams who show up to those sometimes (we have them regularly scheduled three days a week as drop-in, with 0-5 people showing up usually), and I occasionally get to see them when we have to be on site, but overall I’m just lonely and isolated.

    So what do you do to foster more of a sense of belonging and being in it together, specifically as it relates to work? (I have PLENTY of general human contact, this isn’t that.) What’s worked for you?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I think a variety of 1-to-1 contacts might be better for you than trying to get groups together.

      Such as a Slack conversation that starts “Hey Bob, I saw your cat in the background of the video call today. What’s his name? I have a tuxedo cat named Clark Gable but he’s camera shy”.

      You can use any kind of common point of interest – food, college, whatever.

      1. Overeducated*

        Thanks, I guess my problem is that I’m not sure WHAT kind of interaction people would be amenable to given their workloads. In my old job I had a couple coworkers I chatted with pretty regularly, mostly informally about ongoing work stuff, but here people are more like “check my calendar for a time in the next 3 weeks when we can discuss that specific issue,” so I’m not sure they’d be open to non-work chat at all.

        1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

          Ah. If you’re in a group of heads-down worker bees, that makes it much harder, yeah.

        2. RosyGlasses*

          Do you have informal slack channels where you can try and connect with folks? For us we have a variety of non-work related slack channels and it can be a good place to have a quick laugh – but also find folks that might have similar interests and pick up a conversation later. It might also be worth talking to your HR/Head of People contact to see if they have plans for informal zoom get-togethers to help with those ad-hoc conversations.

    2. sara*

      Depending on the type of work you do, could you sometimes work on video chat – like you’re all working in parallel and as little questions come up you ask them instead of DMs? We have a slot for that type of work once a week on my team just for an hour. It’s optional, and also sometimes turns into a brainstorm or pair-programming session depending on what’s happening and who shows up.

      Also we’ve found that any existing meetings that were scheduled for 50min (to give time to get out of the room before the next) we now schedule for an hour and give time for like the normal water cooler/work-adjacent chatter.

      Oh, and especially with my closest coworkers, if we have something to ask or discuss even if it’s only 1-2 minute chat, we’ll often do on a slack call rather than DM. It’s like the WFH equivalent of spinning your chair around to ask a neighbour.

      1. Windchime*

        I love the video chat work session. I don’t know why that never occurred to me to do with someone. I used to do it with a friend when we would sew “together” (Facetime on iPads), but I never thought about doing it at work!

    3. Elle*

      I started a job during pandemic WFH, and I had decent luck with 1 on 1 half hour coffee chats. About 20% people hate the idea but most were good connects. If any meetings at all are out of the question, you could try sincere praise to open the door to a relationship — a separate email or chat at the end of a task, “Nice work on this Bob! You seem to be the expert on llama haircuts!” Or even “Wow, Sarah, that was great! How did you learn so much about goat stomachs?” to really start a conversation.

  68. The Dude Abides*

    Following on from yesterday’s fidget post:

    When I’m WFH, my favorite fidget item is a stack of clay poker chips that I maneuver with my off hand. Bringing chips to work is untenable for multiple reasons, but I’m struggling to come up with something similar.

    1. RabidChild*

      Could checkers work? Same basic shape, possibly not quite on the weight and tactile feel, though. Quarters?

    2. Albeira Dawn*

      A couple thoughts:
      – Craft stores often have smooth colorful glass stones for centerpieces/various art things. They’re also usually at dollar stores. Maybe a nice looking bowl with those in it?
      – My local tabletop game store is absolutely filled with tokens, dice, and all manner of shapes and materials. Maybe something lowkey in that vein would work?
      – I have a pinback button maker and in the course of figuring out what I can do with it I’ve come across “scrapbook medallions” which are just buttons with a smooth back instead of a pin. There are lots of them in tons of patterns and colors on Etsy. You might even be able to customize them to match your needs!

  69. Lowered Expectations*

    I currently work in a place where everything you do is wrong, but it’s not explained why things are wrong or what the expectations are for the project in the first, second, third, or last place anyways. Especially if there’s just frustration when you don’t do a project to their standards, but when you ask for the standards your questions are ignored or dismissed. Even if you frame your question as, “Last time, there was some confusion about the output on my part. I just want to make sure we’re really clear this time.” They just reassign things to someone else and you’re told not to work on the project anymore.

    They brush you off and act as if they don’t have time/it’s an inconvenience to explain things, yet when the blank hits the fan because something went wrong, you’re the one in trouble.

    It’s embarrassing because everyone knows/talks about it- it’s a small place and word gets around.

    My boss is avoidant, so she doesn’t address it head on, but will lash out and act passive/aggressive and make comments.

    I’m trying to get out of the place, but until then, how do you survive in a place like this without losing your mind? Any tips or similar experiences?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      It’s very difficult to survive in that kind of toxic environment, but while you’re looking for a new job, sometimes some commiserating can help? Presumably your co-workers are also experiencing the same thing? Venting to each other can also help affirm your experience, as you’re kind of being gaslit.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Oh, I have SO been there and it stinks and I’m sorry. I left that job with nothing lined up. I was too stressed out to job search.

      Honestly? Therapy. I should have done it while I was still there. I needed help coping and setting boundaries. I wish I had better advice.

  70. Delighting in daffodils*

    My partner recently returned from a higher ed conference, and I was surprised to hear that the closing reception at an art museum featured drag queen performances. (This closing reception was hosted by a third party vendor, rather than the conference organizer.)

    I’m curious, has drag performance become so mainstream (and less risqué?) that this doesn’t raise eyebrows for most people? I work in a very conservative industry, so I realize my perspective may be skewed.

    1. Princess Flying Hedgehog*

      What type of higher ed conference? I could totally seeing this being a hit for some. It really depends on the topic/focus of the conference.

    2. Alex*

      I work in a conservative industry, so it wouldn’t fly here, but in general it’s not considered risqué in my (northeastern, urban) area. Our library frequently does drag story time for kids, and commercially-oriented drag shows are pretty easy to find here. I have mixed feels: I’m queer (but gender-conforming), so it used to be an easy way for me to identify safer spaces and people, but it hasn’t been since at least 2016 in my area. On the flip side, more people are enjoying the art, and more queens are getting recognition.

    3. Overeducated*

      I have seen announcements of drag queen programming at multiple museums (put on by the museums, not external vendors) recently. I think it’s an effort to be more inclusive and try to engage new audiences who may not be traditional museumgoers.

    4. SJ (they/them)*

      Seconding what someone said above that ‘drag storytime’ is a thing in the children’s section at libraries! A drag performance can be super risqué or completely family friendly (just like any other stage performance).

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I wouldn’t bat an eye at drag performers at a conference, especially at a museum, and that may be because I attended a gala at a museum and they hired drag performers to mingle and get the conversation started and I loved it.

    6. Annony*

      I think it is becoming more mainstream but also higher ed tends to be less conservative than a lot of other industries.

    7. RagingADHD*

      RuPaul’s Drag Race has been on TV for something like a dozen years, and it was picked up by VH1 what, five years ago?

      VH1 has been mainstream since the late 80s. A primetime reality show on basic cable is the epitome of mainstream.

      1. Mannequin*

        This is exactly what I was going to say- how is drag ‘risqué’ when RuPaul has been on prime time mainstream television for years?

        Even my late parents, who would be in their 90s if they were still around, didn’t think drag was risqué because they grew up close enough to the vaudeville era that “female impersonators” were just considered a regular part of (often comedic) entertainment.

  71. Elenna*

    Kinda curious if anyone familiar with US labor/tax laws can comment on this.

    Back in 2019-ish, my sister did an internship with a large company in California, and agreed to work for them after graduating. We’re Canadian citizens, so she would have needed to move to California and get a visa – pretty standard. Her start date was meant to be in Aug 2020.

    For obvious reasons, she did not move from Canada to the US in August 2020. After some discussion, the conclusion was that she would be officially employed by the Canadian branch of the company, but would in practice be working with the US-based team that she was originally meant to work with.

    There’s been a bunch of pushing back her move date since then (not really relevant to this question), but she finally received an official offer letter to start working for the US branch in early October 2021 (i.e. less than a week from now). She wasn’t really happy with the short notice, especially since the team she’s working with is still going to be WFH until at least 2022, so there’s really no advantage to her moving (she prefers WFH). At the same time, however, she’d be getting a higher salary from the US branch (due to higher COL there) and she’s be able to get her stocks earlier (important because the stock price is currently relatively low so she’d get more stocks).

    She checked with her manager, who checked with HR and then told her that she could accept the offer letter and get the US salary/stocks while still working in Canada until they’re told to go back to the office. Which seems weird to me, since AAM has often said that there are tax and labor law reasons why you can’t work for one country while living in another. But maybe it’s different because this company is international?

    I’m not going to do anything about this, anyways, since a) it’s not my job and b) the company is big enough that their HR ought to know what they’re doing. But I’m curious why this works.

      1. Elenna*

        Yeah, that makes sense, but also it’s a little weird because I thought the reason they originally gave her an offer from the Canadian branch was because of those legal issues, but now apparently it doesn’t matter? I guess they probably wanted to pay her the (lower) Canadian salary, which is reasonable.

    1. Colette*

      Well, she’s allowed to work in Canada, so that’s one issue they don’t have to resolve. And the company also operates in Canada, so that’s another one.

      But … is her official work location the US? Where is she paying taxes? I’d want to be clear on that, because that could cause problems.

    2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      Which seems weird to me, since AAM has often said that there are tax and labor law reasons why you can’t work for one country while living in another. But maybe it’s different because this company is international?

      That’s not the message. The message is that it’s complex and gets messy quick, and it’s not trivial if it’s not something the employer didn’t intentionally sign up for and intend to get itself into.

      Sounds like this company knows the ropes, trials, and tribulations, and I wouldn’t worry about your sister getting let go because that’s easier than figuring all that stuff out.

    3. Hillary*

      I work for a big organization with a lot of companies worldwide – this is pretty common. I have a lot of colleagues who are employees of a company in the country they live in, but do all their work for a different country. Sometimes they’re citizens of a third country and only moved to where they live because it was in the right time zone and we could get them a visa to work there. The salary etc. is ultimately paid by the cost center they work for, not the business that legally employs them.

      Moving your sister to her CA salary and stock is a retention ploy so they don’t lose her, a good manager is going to see she’s frustrated with being told to move asap.

  72. Ayla*

    I’m trying to figure out how/if to break some personal news at work. I work in an office where people are generally friendly but not super personal. My coworkers know that I’ve been seeing the same guy since before I was hired, and that he’s a doctor (covid was really rough, which is how this became known). A few months ago I shared that he had taken a job at a new hospital, mostly because it impacted a bit of my off-site project schedule. He recently broke up with me, which was blindsiding and really painful. As a result, my off-site schedule is free again, and I will need to take some personal time off to move apartments. What’s the most low intensity way to get this info out there and move on? I absolutely do not feel ready to talk about it, but I need to handle the logistics. At minimum, I want to prevent another polite water cooler conversation about “how are things at Local Hospital”?

    1. 867-5309*

      Sorry to hear, Ayla.

      Matter of fact and brevity:
      YOU: “I am taking off a couple days to move.”
      THEM: “Where are you and doctor moving?”
      YOU: “We are not moving together. I’ll be back on Wednesday but there’s anything urgent, feel free to shoot me a text. Now, can you tell me about that report/your weekend/etc.”

      THEM: “How are things at Local Hospital?”
      YOU: “Oh, I am no longer seeing doctor. How is your weekend/that report?”
      THEM: “I’m so sorry.”
      YOU: “It’s fine. I want to hear about kids/grandkids/your new house.”

      If they ask, “What happened,” reply with “One of those things” and then redirect.

    2. JB*

      I’d seperate it into two different problems.
      1. Work logistics: address this only with your boss (or whoever is in charge of scheduling) and present only the facts they need to know. ‘I want you to know that my personal schedule has changed, and I’m able to return to the usual for my off-site project schedule.’ ‘I need these dates off to move.’ If whoever you’re addressing this with ferrets out why and how these things are connected and asks you (my prior boss was terrible about this), have something scripted you can say, like ‘it’s all very recent and I’d rather not talk about it right now, let’s just stick to logistics’.

      2. Personal interactions: is there a coworker you can get on your side? Preferably someone with good judgement and social skills? You could pull them aside and tell them privately that the relationship has ended, it’s still very raw and that you don’t think you can handle answering the same painful questions multiple times about it, and ask if they can quietly spread the word for you.

      1. Anthony J Crowley*

        Totally agree with these, particularly 2. People who will spread your news around so you don’t have to, without being gossipy about it, are worth their weight in gold.

  73. Free Meerkats*

    A question for those who have gone out on their own to freelance.

    As I’ve mentioned, I’m considering doing some consulting after I retire. I’m looking for recommendations for online resources for someone doing this. Advice on setting up business, things you don’t think about until they come back to bite you, taxes, etc. Hopefully as useful as Alison has been these years.

    1. 867-5309*

      1. Put 30% of every paycheck into a checking or savings account for quarterly taxes.
      2. Get an EIN number, even if you are not setting up an LLC.
      3. I found a business checking account for payments and a CPA were invaluable but I ended up doing an LLC and then an S Corp.
      4. Continue to contribute to a Roth and if you max that out, look into a SEP. (My financial advisor got me set-up.)
      5. Decide if you want to find clients on your own (and then just a good a contract template) or work through a staffing agency (pay isn’t as good but I like that I can sometimes find a consistent gig through them while taking on higher rate clients in addition)
      6. Do not use the “Open to Work” image graphic on LinkedIn

      Check out Freelancers Union – they have some great resources

      Good luck!

    2. tab*

      If you’re in the US, I highly recommend the SBDC. It’s a collaboration of a university and the SBA, and they will meet with you monthly for free (my favorite price!). They really helped me during the first couple of years of my business.

  74. sara*

    Would love some help checking my assumptions on some hiring stuff:

    I’m a senior software developer helping our team manager with some hiring (reviewing resumes and doing technical interviews). We’re looking for someone with 2-5 years experience, no education requirement and pretty flexible on tech stack. We were hiring a few positions and filled them with great candidates who were less experienced but with our last slot we’d really like someone with a little more experience.

    The problem that keeps happening is that candidates will say in there application that they have, for example, 5 years of experience in front-end and 2 years in back-end. But then when we probe in the interview, it turns out that they’ve had one job (current job) for 2 years where they did mostly front-end, one part-time freelance job (before their current job) for 3 months where they did mostly front-end with a little back-end, and then they did school/hobby projects for just over 2 years before that.

    So I’d count that as 2 years of front-end experience, with maybe some brief back-end. Doing a few months of back-end 2 years ago doesn’t add up to 2 years of experience. And for front-end, the school/hobby stuff counts in terms of knowledge but I don’t think should be factored into years of experience.

    I guess it’s hard because people do code for hobbies or just for fun. And in some cases that would count – if they had some good examples to show of their work during that time, we’d definitely take it into consideration. Especially if they’d completed the projects fully and/or worked with collaborators. But a github portfolio with some school assignments and partially completed side projects is not equivalent to two years of work experience.

    So when it comes to the technical interview, I really try to keep an open mind in terms of non-traditional backgrounds and the advantage of experiences outside of like a normal tech job. But when someone says they have 2 years of experience in something but they really have some very limited experience for only a couple months, it’s hard not to consider that to be a little deceptive.

    Am I off base on this? Is this just candidates trying to get in the door of a competitive job market? Am I counting years of experience wrong?

    1. photon*

      “Years of experience” in software development is a bad metric in general. I wouldn’t focus on that in either direction just because of how vague that is – better to focus on their actual projects, or accomplishments in professional roles. Instead of “how long have you been working in X?”, ask them to describe the type of projects they’ve done with X, the challenges, integrations, user testing, etc. There are much more interesting questions to target here.

      1. sara*

        Oh yeah, that’s the kind of stuff I focus on in the interview for sure. The years of experience is either in the HR phone screen or their application or cover letter. It’s more then about the mismatch, like if I’m asking questions assuming they have 2 years of experience doing X, I expect that they can answer some questions about the work they did. Also, if we’d known they have barely any experience (in terms of activities, not years) they likely wouldn’t make it past the screening.

        So maybe it’s about screening better but we also don’t want HR/recruiter to be excluding candidates just because they don’t have exactly the right formal experience.

    2. Camellia*

      Well, at a minimum, I would think you could look at their resume and see if they list one or more full time jobs that total at least 5 years. If they are only listing a two-year full time job and one part-time job, I don’t think they are going to meet your five-year job experience requirement.

    3. Spearmint*

      I can’t speak for software development in particular, but I know it’s very common for job seekers to be told to treat years of experience requirements with a grain of salt, and to be frank, that’s often good advice. So many jobs overstate how many years’ of experience are needed. How many entry level jobs out there say they require 2-3 years experience, but don’t really? If I had only applied for jobs where I met the literal years of experience required, I wouldn’t have applied to many jobs at all because so few say “actually, 6 months experience and college degree is fine”. I don’t know what you can do about it, but I thought I’d give the perspective of someone early in their career.

      1. Windchime*

        Yeah the years of experience benchmark should be a guideline and not a hard rule. I’ve been doing SQL development for many years and am pretty good at it. A guy I work with started doing it a couple of years ago and he is just as good (if not better) than I am. So yeah, sometimes people who don’t have as much experience can still be really, really good. Exceptional, even.

  75. weird question trend in interviews*

    I’ve been interviewing recently, and I’ve noticed a strange trend: interviewers are asking me questions that really, I’d need to already work there to answer. Or, would make more sense if I asked them. Questions like: “How would you improve the Teapot LLC Customer Management System?” or: “What skills or qualities do you think are most important for success in this role?” I’ve also been asked to tell them my understanding of the role, before they’ve given their own introduction to the role.

    Is anyone else experiencing this? The first time I thought it was weird but shrugged it off as a fluke…. but after several times, it’s very perplexing.

    1. Overeducated*

      One of my worst interviews started off with “how would you improve X program if hired to manage it?” There were about 3 celebratory sentences about X program on their website. I tried to start by asking questions about what the actual needs and issues were, and the interviewer was not impressed.

      This was more than five years ago, so I don’t know if it’s a trend so much as bad interviewing.

      1. weird question trend in interviews*

        Yeah when I’ve tried to turn the question around to them it seems like they think it’s a cop out but…. literally how is a total outsider supposed to have a coherent answer to that?

    2. WulfInTheForest*

      So for that second question “What skills or qualities do you think are most important for success in this role?” they are expecting you to have knowledge of the job qualifications based on you reading the job description listed in the ad. I ask similar questions, because if you’ve read the job ad for “library student worker” you would know that the duties include shelving books and customer service, meaning organization and good people skills would be good in the role, etc.

      1. weird question trend in interviews*

        Yeah, and I’m able to do that, but when I have a chance to ask that question, the real answer is something like “the biggest hurdle is depending on overworked colleagues and being able to motivate them and get work out of them with no direct authority” or “the company recently had a reorganization and so the team is being built from scratch and we need someone who can fly the plane while building it” (or whatever, just examples), which isn’t the kind of thing in a job ad. I kind of feel like an idiot being like “well, I feel that this data analyst job needs someone who knows data and works well with others!” No sh*t.

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      That’s happened to me before too, years ago.

      I also got the flip side of that, where they spend 5 minutes explaining a thing they do, and then just ask “So, do you think you could work on that?” Like they will be happy if I say “yes” and move on to the next question.

      I think it’s just another sign of a bad interviewer.

      1. weird question trend in interviews*

        lol yeah, another trend I’ve noticed is them just being like “great, thank you!” after each answer and moving to the next question. I know some employers (namely government) have policies against follow up questions, but in general it feels like bad interviewing to me.

    4. AnotherLibrarian*

      These questions, in my mind, are designed to tell if you understand the job. I agree improvement questions are often absurd, but asking about skills for the role may not be. Maybe it is just my field, but I have had people apply for jobs that involve arranging and describing collections that seem to think they are interviewing for a public services role, or people interviewing for a public service role who seem to think they are going to never have to interact with humans.

      1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

        Good point. But the questions need to be better & more explicit. And they mostly only apply to more senior candidates.

        “Given what you know about the customer management products offered in the caffeinated beverage industry sector, what are the typical challenges that we would face in dropping our home-grown system and migrating to a cloud-based offering?”

        “One of our challenges is managing volume discounts for customers who are franchisees of the major tea and coffee chains; do you have any ideas about how we’d improve that part of our pricing strategy?”

    5. Vesuvius*

      If you’re getting the question a lot, it’s possible interviewers are often getting candidates who don’t think that hard about what they’re applying for. It may be bog-standard as well. In my field, at least for a government job, it’s not bog-standard but it IS one of the secondary not-associated-with-panel-scoring interviews. (I have taken multiple civil service examinations to qualify for jobs. My state has some very strict hiring laws and the county I live in has even stricter ones. Most people don’t qualify for round 2 or 3 of the process without knowing what you’re interviewing for but in informal or private industry interviews this is also not uncommon.)

      According to your other responses, the interviewers get angry with you for asking questions. If this is happening a lot, see if you can find an open source version of the software to compare with — and if you can’t, your interviewers are making questions on Pluto, unfortunately. I’ve never actually encountered this, but I will say, if it’s that common and they’re all getting snippy, you’re dodging the ENORMOUS red flags they’re waving at you. And if the interviewer is expecting you to restructure the team — run. You don’t need it that badly.

      For government job interviews: While technically they aren’t allowed to ask you follow-up questions, sometimes they do anyway as a way of getting to know you. It’s still something they shouldn’t include in why they do/don’t hire you. Unfortunately, some people Don’t Care and will do that anyway. Discriminatory hiring practices (even if it’s just “I don’t currently have a job”) can get the entire agency in trouble, so at least for those job interviews, treat that as “this is an oral exam,” rather than “this is an interview.” I’ve found thinking of them like oral exams helps me see past that. I don’t know if that helps any?

      I am sorry you’re running into so many red flags. I’ve been job hunting for about 6 months myself, and I know it’s discouraging.

    6. PT*

      They already have an internal candidate, and are just interviewing you because The Rules say they have to interview X external candidates.

  76. no dogs on the moon*

    struggling to keep my spirits up in a frustrated situation! i work on a team with someone who is just consistently uncooperative or bringing a bad attitude to the table. everyone knows, but management basically just hopes that problems will escort themselves out. i’ve talked to my team lead about it to no avail and have been job hunting for a few months, but am getting increasingly demoralized by the situation (in addition to other people not being managed, my only reward for trying to be a good employee is just the acknowledgement that yes, it does suck i have to add things to my plate because my teammate just won’t do them.).

    it’s making me really negative, making me sick with stress (week long tension headache!!), and really dragging down the quality of my work, and also making me so eager to leave that i’m getting twice as stressed about my job hunt. any tips for trying to keep my head up so i can finish strong and not let the bad vibes follow me whenever i do manage to land a new role?

    1. Elle*

      Just stay strong! Job searches are so difficult and stressful and always take longer than you hope. Searching while in a bad situation is even worse — but it WILL be worth it in the end!

  77. Calgon, take me away*

    This week I was offered a job (great!), but no one mentioned until the offer stage that it was a temporary contract role. My current job is a permanent role, which will have been clear from my CV, and I would never have applied for a temporary role in the first place. They were somewhat apologetic when I pointed out that this was new news, but not as much as I might have expected considering what a waste it was of everyone’s time, especially theirs. They were also very cagey about salary (at the offer stage – again, I would have thought this was highly relevant data!). So strange. This is a major employer in my industry in my city and I’ve had a few unpleasant interview experiences with them over the years, but this has really soured me on ever applying for anything with them again.

    1. WulfInTheForest*

      Didn’t it say anything about a contract or temp role in the application itself? If not, definitely a red flag and you’re right to not apply with them again. That is wildly misleading.

      1. Calgon, take me away*

        It did not! Not in the application, not in the subsequent communications or interview.

    2. Calgon, take me away*

      I guess this is mostly a vent rather than a question, but – am I right to be as annoyed as I am? I’ve had a disappointing last few months of job searching so maybe the experience is grating on me more than it usually would.

      I keep reading about all the hiring going on right now, but I guess with all the people looking for a change (Great Resignation, etc.) the supply is meeting the demand. I’m having a hard time getting interviews for anything that’s not basically my current role in my current industry at a different company (when ideally I’d like to change either functions or industries).

      1. PollyQ*

        Yes, absolutely right to be annoyed. That’s a major, major piece of the role that they left out, either deliberately (my bet) or because they’re incompetent. And the facts that they were only minimally apologetic about this and also unclear about salary while they were making an offer are also definite strikes against them. If it’s a big organization, it’s possible this is just a dysfunctional team or department, but I don’t blame you for wanting to the whole company in a “do not apply” pile.

    3. JB*

      Ooh I ran into one of these during my recent job-search. It came out during the interview stage, at least – but not until I asked about something (I think benefits) and the interviewer sort of admitted it was a contract position. The posting on Indeed and the application on their website both made it sound like a permanent position.

      I think companies are having trouble getting interest in contract work and are getting sneaky about it.

      1. Calgon, take me away*

        Thanks for commiserating – I feel slightly better it’s not just me (though sorry you’ve gone through the same frustration). I’m in the UK and contract roles seem maybe to be more common here (due to the need for long-term mat leave coverage) than when I’ve worked in the US – though they are always clearly advertised as such! (Well, not always, I guess).

        As with all the lede-burying tactics we read about here: what is the point? The candidate will just be so allured by the recruiter’s pitch that they’ll jump at the chance to take a role even where it clearly doesn’t make sense?

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, that’s odd. I at least work for the government in the EU, and there are clear rules about what a job posting must include. I’m very grateful that the salary band/starting salary, and whether the job is fixed-term or indefinite, are among the mandatory items. Most postings also include the phone number of the hiring manager, which is helpful, if only to ensure that I answer the phone if the hiring manager calls, because I already have the number in my contact list.

          1. allathian*

            For non-executive jobs, there’s usually very little room for negotiation in salaries, and especially benefits, because of legal requirements. I have more vacation days than my manager because I’ve been working for the government longer than she has, for example.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        That’s just really egregious. What if you moved and got stuck with it, then the contract ended and you were out of a job? This terrifies me.

  78. moron5*

    The project I’m on is on the verge of failing beause of a massive scope creep – a massively growing scope we are expected to deliver by a deadline which remains the same. I’m the project manager.

    My boss (who isn’t involved in the project) has asked me to signal issues to himself when I notice them, especially when it comes to scope creep. He has worked with the customer before and knows that scope creeps happen a lot.

    I signalled the problem to him last week giving examples.

    And then my boss wrote an email to the project leadership, very senior people *without* me in cc, telling them that I “feel overwhelmed” by all the tasks I’m getting and they are giving me too much to do and asked for a better prioritization of my tasks.

    It feels like my boss made a problem on the project into my problem with dealing with tasks, which it’s not.

    Am I right in feeling strange about it or am I overreacting?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Not overreacting. That was a weird mental judo move he pulled off, and I’d go right to him and ask him (a) what he was trying to do, (b) why didn’t address the actual problem with the client THAT HE SPECIFICALLY TOLD YOU to let him know about.

    2. AnotherAlison*

      I have so many questions. How long has the project been going on? How long has it been in trouble? When did he make the comment about scope creep vs. when you said something? Were the project sponsors aware the project is in trouble before, and if not why not?

      I think you have a right to be annoyed at what your boss did, but I’d want to know the other details, too, because I’m not sure that you’ve done everything you should have done the way it’s been described here. However, the action your boss took isn’t going to solve anything. It’s not the right problem to address.

      1. moron5*

        The problems have been going on for months and I have signaled them before. I’ve also made proposals how to improve the situation of course, which helped to an extent.

        I’ve now signaled them again since the situation became unbearable and I wanted to at least have in writing that I’ve signalled them.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          Makes sense. Thanks, sounds like you did your part. At my current job, which I’m leaving, I dealt with that. The client got pissed off whenever I said I’d have to take a look at doing whatever out of scope request he had before we agree to it, and my project leader would just do everything anyway. So between when we submitted a lump sum invoice for phase 1 and got approval for phase 2, we just worked for free doing every iteration and request the client wanted. I knew I wasn’t going to be the phase 2 PM, and the sponsor was giving that direction, so fine. I moved off the job and the new PM came on board and the sponsor got fired the next week, so I’m sure it’s been real fun for the new PM to sort through the mess. Just commiserating. It’s not an easy job to be the PM.

    3. Girasol*

      Remember the triangle of scope-resources-time. When scope is increased, resources and/or time must be increased. If time is decreased, scope must be decreased and/or resources increased. And so on. With that in mind, you should be able to offer options: “We can increase the scope as you asked, as long as you increase the budget so that we can hire on more people for tasks A and B. Or we can increase scope with just the resources that we have if we push the deadline out until X. If you do not wish to increase staff or push out the deadline, then we can’t increase the total scope, but we might trim the scope here to allow you to add scope there. Those are your options. Which would you prefer?” (Whatever makes sense in your circumstance, of course.) You say it professionally, like, “That’s the way the life works. Your choices have consequences. Make your selection,” and not like you’re bothered or begging. You have to enlist your boss’s backing in that approach because he’s already introduced the idea that this is somehow about feelings. He’ll have to help you to back that idea out of the discussion.

  79. bardicartist*

    Any one have any advice for keeping track of projects when there is a ‘Wall of Awful’ of shame feelings in the way?
    I write technical documents and coordinate getting approval signatures for several projects. I have a constant sense of stress of “I think there is a document (0r 5) that has fallen down the cracks and needs to be revitalized, but if I check I might FIND IT and HAVE TO DO IT.”
    Some documents don’t have external deadlines and I’ve been putting them off for MONTHS.
    Other tasks are NOT ROUTINE and I put them off till the last minute and half-ass the task.
    I know I have ADD symptoms and take meds to focus and talk with a therapist, but there is just some times (everyday around 1pm) when my brain is just “No Work Can Be Done”.
    I hate the feeling of overwhelm and shame. I hate the feeling of just scraping by in my job. I hate the looming pile of unknown tasks.
    Organizationally, I work for several project managers and report to the supervisor of the project managers. I’ve asked about how others perceive my work. Supervisor: “Solid 5/10. Look for ways to really improve your processes/the job processes so you can be rated exceptional.” PMs: “I’m so glad I don’t have to worry about the documents anymore. Also, timelines moved up, can you get this document done in a week?”

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Oh gosh, given what you’ve said and the feedback you’ve gotten, this is totally a process problem, not a motivation problem.

      The PMs have some kind of tool for keeping track of all the balls they and their teams are juggling, right? Even if it’s just some shared spreadsheets. Can you get access to that tool, so you can clearly see what things you need to do now, and what things will need to get done in the future? Talk to the PMs for advice on the minutia of how they keep their days organized, how far ahead in the schedules they are looking, etc.

      Have that tool open in a tab **all the time**; refer to it first thing in the morning to get your priorities set; whenever you achieve a milestone, mark it as appropriate in the system, etc. Maybe if you feel like you’ve got momentum, the 1:00 blues won’t hit as hard.

    2. Overeducated*

      This is a huge challenge in my job too and I try to put on mental blinkers. Like, keep track of things on calendars and spreadsheets, but only try to push forward one project at a time or it’s totally overwhelming. When it’s that project’s turn, I’m ON IT, and I ignore the rest. The calendars/spreadsheets are critical for this though, because they help you keep track of whether something has fallen through the cracks in a BAD way.

      My next strategy that I plan to pursue is having a very detailed conversation with my managers about expectations, because the person in this job before me left a huge backlog, and all the internal clients are sending me emails about when I can move forward their backlogged projects, but there is absolutely no way I can do all of them in a year, or all of them at once. I need to set up an actual realistic work plan for this next year, and have management’s backing to essentially tell the clients “it’s not your turn, sorry” (which is the hard part).

    3. Elle*

      I struggle with the Wall of Awful regularly. The only thing that gets me over it is setting the stage, dipping a toe in the water and then riding the adrenaline wave until I’m exhausted. So wake up early, put on my favorite sweater, get a fancy coffee, then do a fast, mildly awful task. Then I can usually ride the adrenaline high for about 6 hours or so and slam through three quarters of my task list in one chunk.

      1. bardicartist*

        That’s kind of what I do, but the adrenaline lasts only 2-3 hours. How do you get 6 hours?

  80. Llama Wrangler*

    (unrelated to my other question)
    When is it appropriate to have an incoming staff member attend a training before they start?

    I have a new staff member who will be starting in two weeks and there’s a training next week that will only be offered then, and won’t be recorded. Is it appropriate to invite her to attend? Or overstepping?

    1. moron5*

      Overstepping. Unless you pay her for attending. And even then you should be ok with her saying “no”. She might be on vacation or still in her last job.