open thread – October 22-23, 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.

{ 1,108 comments… read them below }

  1. Baron*

    Hi, everyone! Occasional commenter, first-time open-thread-poster! (If anyone remembers a letter from a few years ago about a person from a minority group whose coworker signed them up for an alt-right political party, I was the LW on that.)

    I spent a month interviewing for a role as ED of a mid-sized nonprofit (I’ve led nonprofits before, but this one is much bigger), only for the recruiter to go quiet for two weeks after doing a reference check. My references have historically been weak and have cost me jobs before – I’m not the best at calibrating who’ll give me a good reference – but I feel like they’re much better now than they were. Anyway, the recruiter going quiet left me concerned. I called him yesterday (after two weeks) to ask for an update on timelines, and he sounded a bit put out that I called (up until now, he’s been very friendly), and said the board is finalizing their decision and he’ll let me know today or early next week. His tone was civil but chilly—I’m used to recruiters (especially this one) seeming a little more enthused to hear from candidates—and I don’t know how much to read into that.

    What do you think? Is there any chance I’m still alive for this job? If I’d been rejected based on the reference check, would he have told me that when I called? Was it wrong of me to call the recruiter? Or is this kind of delay with the board / radio silence for a couple of weeks just how bigger nonprofits work?

    1. Eirran*

      There’s really no way to know any of this for sure. If they want you, they’ll let you know when they’re ready. Asking for updates wasn’t wrong, but he may just have been busy or not had anything to tell you. Hiring timelines are always longer than you expect, in my experience, and I don’t think you should read anything into the two week silence either way. It’s pretty normal.

      As Alison always recommends, the best thing you can do now is try to put it out of your mind, move on and let it be a pleasant surprise if they offer you the position.

    2. RagingADHD*

      Internal recruiter or external? I would read less into the tone of an internal recruiter, since dealing with the board and the hiring process is probably a circle of hell and they are being stressed from multiple directions.

      If it’s an external recruiter, I’d take the tone as a bad sign since they generally want to keep excellent candidates in the fold to submit them for other jobs. Being really chilly could mean that they felt blindsided by a surprisingly bad reference, because you should have warned them if you knew there was problematic stuff. They might feel that you aren’t working with them as a team to get you the best placement. But again, they could have just been having a bad day that has nothing to do with you.

      The upside of an external recruiter is that you’re more likely to hear back one way or the other, and get useful feedback on the reasons for a rejection.

      But overall it’s a good idea to assume all jobs are “no’s” and move on regardless. As the other commenter said, pleasant surprises are nicer.

      1. Baron*

        External recruiter, and I did prep him (and the board) for possibly problematic references, but it still could’ve been worse than he expected.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Or he could be annoyed at the organization for some reason, and it spilled over into his tone talking to you. But hopefully when you do hear back you can find out if the reference was an issue.

    3. BRR*

      You really have no way of knowing.

      I would have emailed instead of called the recruiter but it wasn’t a huge faux pas. He might have even sounded a bit put out if he prefers email (Or he might not have actually been put out at all, who knows).

      I think delays/radio silence isn’t a bigger nonprofit thing but an overall hiring thing. I imagine with a board, it’s hard to coordinate schedules for time to talk etc.

    4. The Dogman*

      I would recommend you assume you have not got it, that way if you do get the job it will be a nice surprise and if they fail to contact or say no then you are ahead of the game on being rejected!

      Good luck getting a job you like that pays you well!

    5. FashionablyEvil*

      Have you considered having a trusted friend call your references and see what they say? Could be very illuminating.

      1. Esmeralda*

        I did something like this many years ago — faculty jobs at colleges and universities. I told my friend I could not tell her what the reference letters *said*, but I would let her know if any of them should not be sent.

        I had to tell my friend that she should not have one letter sent; she was crushed, it was a prof who had mentored her, but the letter was so petty and mean for sure it was hurting my friend’s chances.

        This is why the prof who guided grad students on the market in my program read all of the letters in our dossiers — and then contacted profs who wrote crappy letters and told them to rewrite them! (He was a big name, he could not only SAY that to anyone, he could make them DO IT).

    6. Your Local Password Resetter*

      Going by Allison’s advice, try not to think about it. You’ve contacted them and asked for an update, and I don’t think there is much more you can do. Trying to divine what a hiring person is thinking from context clues is mostly blind guesswork.

      If you knew for certain that it was a specific problem that you had a good explanation for, it might be worth asking them if that was the problem. But if you guess wrong, that would probably lower your chances quite a bit.

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

      I would say don’t worry too much about it. The board is probably taking their time and the recruiter could just be in a bad mood.

    8. Leela*

      Having worked in recruiting, I’d say 2 weeks (which can feel like ages as a job seeker!) is no time in recruiting, as there are usually a ton of steps and approvals that anything has to go through, and often the people who give a yay/nay on moving forward, hiring, looking at more candidates etc can either be on vacation, too busy with their non-hiring work, or for other reason just not to get back to you at all. Sometimes we get the update that they’re restructuring the team or the role and until that’s done they don’t want to move forward (is their best coder going to a different team entirely and the 2-10% coding job is now going to be 50-80% coding? is the team being entirely absorbed into other teams and no one wants to hire someone until they know what that means for their team? Is the role now only going to pay 60% of what was offered due to budget cuts and no one’s sure how that impacts their hiring? etc)

      As far as the chilliness it’s really hard to say without intimate details you wouldn’t have been exposed to, like a really stressful meeting they just had, or like they know some of the above examples but not what they mean so they have no idea what to tell you (these calls are incredibly stressful with candidates who expect us to be in the loop but we aren’t and can’t do anything but apologize and tell you that we’ll keep you posted), or something else. I wouldn’t say your prospects are bad here, just that there’s no way of knowing right now which I’d also say if the recruiter was super warm and friendly and excited. AAM’s advice on this is good – move on as if you didn’t get it not because that’s what’s necessarily likely, but because there’s just no way of knowing. Good luck though, if you liked the company/role I hope you get it!

    9. Kiera*

      I’d definitely make sure your references are as strong as they possibly can be, given your situation (member of a minority group who has been mistreated at jobs in the past), I get very nervous about asking for references but enthusiastic about giving them for others. So maybe you can straight up go to the references you’ve provided and make sure they are strong references for you (and not, say, lukewarm, petty or problematic), this is where you might able to lean on any allies at your old workplaces, whether they are your direct manager or not, if you’ve done consulting at all, ask your clients, since you’re going for leadership roles, don’t shy away from asking people who had a good experience being managed by you. For example, a friend, who was an early member with me at a small non-profit, asked me to be a reference for her because her because I’d done a little consulting work for her as well. I’ve known this person for seven years, and even though we didn’t work together at a traditional job, I feel like I can be a strong professional reference. I hope that makes sense.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      After reading your old post…go search for yourself on the Internet and make sure your name hasn’t resurfaced on some hacked list of that group someone else signed you up for!

  2. Toodie*

    Anybody else think that yesterday’s column about the most outrageous things people have been asked to do was … less entertaining (I thought it would be popcorn reading!), and mostly horrifying? I was appalled.

    1. JelloStapler*

      It made me want to post the link for any articles about the Great Resignation being because people are lazy and don’t want to work… with saying “THIS. THIS is why.”

    2. OtterB*

      Me too. I quit reading after a while. Some amusing, some out in left field, but many horrifying in one way or another.

    3. James*

      On the one hand, yeah, some of that was really bad.

      On the other, we were asked for the worst. It’s going to get pretty bad.

      There’s a thing called the Clinician Fallacy. Folks working in clinics only see the worst outcomes of a disease–those with better outcomes never come in. Because all they see is the worst outcomes, they tend to think that the worst 10% represents the average. It’s human nature; what we consider normal is what we see every day. But in reality it’s a very skewed view of the disease; normal progression and symptoms are much less severe than the clinician will assume.

      Same thing is operating here. If you ask for the worst, on an advice blog, you’re going to get things that are pretty bad. But you can’t equate that with normal. I mean, I’ve been asked to do some insane things in my career, and if you look at the job based on the worst 10% you’ll run screaming (in fact, people do, it’s why my industry has a huge turn-over in the first few years). But on the whole, I’d say about 75% of it is pretty boring, routine stuff that honestly a reasonably intelligent monkey could do just as well, and is about as objectively crazy as driving your kids to school. “Yay, another well to purge. Same crap I did for the last two weeks”. There certainly ARE bad jobs–I’ve had a few really bad projects–but for the most part judging a job by the worst part isn’t accurate.

      1. CaviaPorcellus*

        Yeah, I feel like “what’s the silliest outlandish thing you’ve been asked to do?” would have garnered some more entertaining fodder. You’d need to strike a tone like Carolyn Hax’s Holiday/Wedding Hoots.

        (Although, even those have gotten pretty depressing lately.)

    4. Your Local Password Resetter*

      I suppose you get what you ask for.

      And there were quite a few amusing and ridiculous anecdotes in there too.

    5. Esmeralda*

      Yep. I didn’t post, because mine were all #MeToo situations. It was depressing.

      It was also sad, but not surprising, at how many of the postings were from people who were young and/or in low-power positions.

    6. The Prettiest Curse*

      I found a lot of them sad – but as someone who spent years working medical conferences where doctors and nurses would discuss (at times) really distressing situations, I didn’t find many of the stories to be really upsetting (except anything involving serial harassment or assault.) Apparently, that job just recalibrated my internal sensors somewhat.
      The weirdest thing you’ve ever had to do at work might be a topic that yields more amusing stories. I have a pretty wild story to share if that topic ever rolls around.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          Oh, I’m saving the really wild story, but it involves emptying a safe…
          And the medical stories are, alas, too depressing to share. There’s only so many times you can hear variants on “things for our patients would be so much safer if we did X, but we can’t because Y.”

    7. Nerd*

      I suppose I was expecting kind of… laughably horrible stories? Is that a thing? Like the midnight airport pickup/dress code violation, off the top of my head. That’s not to suggest the #MeToo stories shouldn’t be posted, it just wasn’t what I had expected to read and after a while I had to stop. The whole thread could use a mild TW. (Sincere apologies & disregard if I have overlooked it.)

      It brought back some things I hadn’t thought about. Different times and all that. Anyway, nobody’s fault, certainly not AAM’s. Threads just take a turn sometimes. No idea if I had a point. Pay no attention to me…

      1. Amaranth*

        I kept feeling a desire to ask ‘this was 30 or 40 years ago…right?’ which wouldn’t make any of it right, but it would be a relief of sorts to think we’ve moved past that. But then I knew someone would say ‘no, this was a few years ago’ and I’d be depressed.

    8. WFH with Cat*

      Yes. I found so many of the stories upsetting that it started to feel like secondary trauma. I feel for the people who experienced all of that abuse and mistreatment first-hand but really had to stop reading for my own peace of mind.

      And, yeah, I was also expecting popcorn and laughs …

    9. Generic Name*

      There were so many comments that I didn’t make it very far through. Like others, I kept thinking “THIS is why nobody wants to work, even if the wage is $20/hr”. There was a thread on Bored Panda yesterday that was “show how you quit your crap job” or something like that, and folks posted screenshots of managers asking people to work back to back 16 hour shifts (or something like that) when they previously were approved to have time off because their CHILD DIED. The person rightfully quit via text with a lot of FUs. My husband used to work in restaurants, and he says he’ll never go back because of the abuse and toxicity. It’s interesting so many experts assumed that the economy was going to come rarin’ back as soon as covid restrictions were lifted, and that’s just not happening. People are saying no to being abused, and I think companies are facing a huge reckoning right now, whether they realize it or not.

      1. PT*

        I ran a pool where we were short-staffed. We had four employees and we were open about 100 hours a week, 7 days a week. These employees were regularly working 5 and 6 hour shifts with no bathroom break and they often had to work 8-12 hours with no meal or bathroom break.

        This was against the rules in our handbook and a MASSIVE safety violation against our insurance so I went to my manager and said, I want to change the schedule so that we’re closed for 20 minutes every 2 hours so the staff can run to the restroom, tidy the pool area and test the water, and have a quick snack. We used to do that at my last pool- break the schedule into swim “sessions”, it’s quite common at ice rinks, and it’s in the lifeguard manual as a safety recommendation. I see no reason why we could not do this here.

        I got shot down. “No. Your staff don’t need breaks. This isn’t a real thing. Nobody does that. They will just have to deal.” I asked multiple times. I got told no multiple times. Instead, I got in trouble that the lifeguards were being “lazy” because they were “just watching the water” instead of “multitasking” and doing other things, which again, was a violation of their training and our insurance (they are supposed to watch the swimmers! that is their job!)

  3. Spooky Doodle*

    This question is purely hypothetical because it has not actually come about but a friend raised it. I recently broke my wrist and am in a hard cast. Because of the season, I picked an orange cast with black stockings for Halloween colors. While hanging out with my friends this past weekend, I invited them to draw Halloween doodles on my cast. I now have a ghost, jack-o’-lantern, black cat, owl, and skull and crossbones on my cast. One friend was surprised I would do so, concerned that it would be against my work rules. When I asked why it would be, she wondered if it would be like rules against tattoos, since my cast was clearly visible, as would be any doodles on it.

    This is actually the second time I’ve broken my wrist in the month of October while working and therefore the second time I have decided to get a Halloween cast and decorate it with Halloween sketches. In both places I’ve worked while in a cast, tattoos have not been against the dress code. But now I’m curious, if I was in a job that did not allow for tattoos that could be seen, with drawings on my cast apply as well?

    And yes, I am in my 30s, working in an office job, and still have friends drawing on my cast. If I have to be in this miserable position of breaking my bones, I will at least have some fun with it via little drawings on my cast. As long as they are appropriate; it certainly won’t be like that story posted on here of the employee who drew inappropriate art on on an intern’s cast.

    1. Dasein9*

      Nah. It’s a temporary thing. If your work has a problem with it, they may ask you to cover the cast. If that happens, just get some sports wrap for it, then take it off after work.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      This is less like a tattoo and more like a decorative tie or scarf– it’s temporary. And cute. There might be some industries that would frown on this, but if you were in one of those, you’d know it.

    3. Sharpieees*

      Unless there is something offensive drawn on there, or it’s a very conservative work environment, I can’t imagine most places having a problem with it. I’d think of it along the lines of holiday-themed clothing or jewely that people wear a couple of times a year. If the employer is fine with those I can’t imagine they’d have a problem with drawings on a cast.

    4. anonymous73*

      I could see it being a problem if you were in a more formal office where suits, ties and pantyhose were the norm, but for most places I think it’s fine.

      1. a tester, not a developer*

        I worked in an office that had closed toed shoes and pantyhose as part of the dress code. Exceptions were made for the lady who was in a walking cast. But there were people that wanted her to wear one stay up stocking on her good leg, and continue to wear a skirt suit. It was shot down, luckily.

      1. acmx*

        I don’t know where you are, but many cities in my state cops have lots of tattoos. The military has even relaxed standards.

        1. Database Developer Dude*

          Unfortunately, the military hasn’t relaxed its standards THAT much. I was disappointed because I encountered an outstanding noncommissioned officer who WANTED to be a warrant officer, and I was more than happy to recommend him, but the tattoo on his neck disqualified him.

    5. WellRed*

      I don’t think it’s necessarily inappropriate but it seems … young? Kids in school do this. I certainly don’t think a workplace should monitor it though.

      1. James*

        It seems a bit silly, but silliness has a place in the workplace. It’s a broken arm, bad enough that it warranted a hard cast. That’s not a small injury. I’ve had my share (I joke that I’m slowly shattering the right side of my body), and they don’t put you in a hard cast these days unless you NEED to be in a hard cast. Too many other options. At that point, anyone who objects to someone doing something a bit silly but ultimately irrelevant to the work is a jerk.

      2. Esmeralda*

        Haha, seems like I’m posting this a lot lately, but…I’m in my 60s. I would totally do this. I’d ask my students to draw on my cast!

      3. Spooky Doodle*

        As I said in my post, I know it’s silly but it makes me happy. I am prone to breaking bones from a combination of low bone density and general clumsiness. If I don’t have a little fun with it, I will go out of my mind with how fragile I am. And frankly the world could use a little more silliness in it. Everyone at work has loved my drawings so far, they say it makes them smile. I embrace silly things. I will be dressing in a very silly looking costume for Halloween because I am doing a costume fundraiser for a Children’s Hospital. I ran it by my boss and she loved the idea. Lighten up a bit and enjoy some fun.

      4. Casts are Cool*

        We all decorated a cast at my mom’s temporary care facility for her friend- a 64 year old retired marine who had a full leg cast from a snapped femur. If people were doodling I heart Bob maybe it would seem young, but this doesn’t seem an age restricted thing to me.

      5. Anonymous for identification*

        Whimsy has a place!
        Fortune 100, division hq… the executive assistant to the engineering director had foot surgery that put her on one of those little kneeling scooters for weeks.
        Someone gave her a elementary school bicycle basket for the front complete with fake flowers.
        The day of the holiday potluck, engineers snuck in and decked it out with reindeer antlers and a red nose. I seem to remember tinsel and working lights for the early part of the day.

    6. Your Local Password Resetter*

      Not unless your workplace is very formal. And then a reasonable manager would just ask you to cover it up.

    7. Rayray*

      If I worked at a place that was going to be on my ass about how my cast for my broken arm looked, I’d get right on my computer as soon as I got home and start sprucing up my resume.

      I understand a certain dress code, like no graphic tees, no sweatpants, etc but I think anyone would cut some slack for someone who had a cast, even if it was decorative. It’s by no means “unprofessional” because you HAVE to wear it to heal. You can’t just swap it out.

      Besides that, it seems more workplaces than not are fine with tattoos these days so that argument doesn’t hold too much weight anyway.

      1. Mr. Shark*

        Exactly this. If they are that uptight about an obviously temporary situation and something that is bad turned a little fun, especially with Halloween writing on a orange and black cast, then they have some serious problems. I wouldn’t think twice about it.
        If someone up higher said something, I think I’d have a shocked look on my face like, “are you !#&*# serious? This is nothing.”

    8. Disney sticker boot*

      I’m in my twenties and walked around my office in a walking boot covered in Disney stickers. I don’t think most people even noticed. No one had any problems with it, some coworkers thought it was funny.

      Story: I broke my foot when I was a teenager and decorated my boot with stickers from the doctors office. A few years ago I broke the same foot and didn’t feel like buying a new boot. And I kept the Disney stickers

      1. Disney sticker boot*

        I 100% agree that if you’re stuck with a broken bone you deserve to the chance to make the best of it, like adding Halloween decorations and fun stickers

      2. James*

        A pair of women who used to work on my jobsite (they moved up in the world so don’t come out here anymore) used to sing Disney songs while sampling wells. They were in their 30s.

        I also know people–scientists working on multi-million dollar projects, senior project managers, eve VPs–with unicorn stickers, World of Warcraft stickers, Marvel/DC comics characters, and the like. No one bats an eye.

        I did have a client ask about the dragon pictures I have on my wall, but mostly because they’re hand-drawn and really good (with a few in-jokes our team would get but no one else would see). When you work 12-hour days in 110 degree heat at 100% humidity, you need a brain break!

        None of us has suffered professionally.

    9. Paris Geller*

      Like others have said, I think unless you work in *very* formal and conservative environments most people probably wouldn’t care. Rules against tattoos have relaxed so much in most fields anyway, and I don’t think they’re comparable — the cast is temporary.

      1. Rosie*

        I was going to say! I was surprised about the rules against tattoos argument because that seems very out of touch

        1. Butterfly Counter*

          Just a few years ago, my department had a meeting with professionals in our area who were likely hiring our graduates. In one particular group with similar employers, there was a very strange consensus that tattoos were a no-no. However, the jobs they were hiring for were minimum-wage (to start), high stress, physically and emotionally draining jobs that they were having a very hard time keeping filled with all of the turnover. I didn’t wonder at all why they struggled to keep employees, but could not understand why on earth they’d turn away willing employees because of a bit of ink. Just, really?

    10. BlueK*

      I don’t think it would be prohibited per se. But yeah, there are environments were it would get raised eyebrows and comments. I had a custom brace on my wrist for awhile and chose bright pink Velcro straps. I was working in early childhood mental health. And my uptight manager commented. Some people just can’t help themselves it seems like.

      1. James*

        People like that are why we, as a culture, can’t have nice things. Some people strive to eliminate any trace of individuality from the people working with or for them, and what you end up with is a bland environment that just demoralizes everyone. This is exactly why office jobs are considered soul-crushing.

        I’ve also found that idiosyncrasies don’t detract from work. I have a collection of skulls and bones on my desk at my office (it’s tangentially related to my work). I know a guy with tattoos and rings and piercings, working in the South; I know another who routinely drives his tiny-house van to the jobsite. And the thing is, all of us are worth at least three people (that’s not an exaggeration, that’s actually part of our risk management assessment). I’ve also known some very formal and professional people who are worth three people on a job as well. And I’ve known people on both ends of the spectrum that I wouldn’t have back on a site. There’s simply no correlation–though if I’m honest, I’d rather work with someone with an interesting personality than one without.

        Expressions of individuality that don’t bear on the job should be ignored. Obviously there are limits, of course, but those limits are MUCH broader than people generally think.

    11. Blomma*

      I agree with others saying that it depends on the office, but in general as long as it’s ‘clean’ go for it! When I broke my ankle I had a walking boot for the first 4 weeks, then a hard cast for two weeks (I wish I’d had a hard cast for longer as the boot was unbearable), then once I was allowed to start moving my ankle and put weight on my foot, I wore the boot until the swelling reduced enough that my shoes fit. My hard cast was put on right before Halloween and I drew a cat face on it. A month or so later, I decorated my boot with metallic washi tape and cutouts of starts and a Christmas tree. It’s a miserable experience dealing with a broken bone (esp in my case because of other health issues) and I think decorating a cast/boot is a small thing to make it slightly more bearable.

    12. Elizabeth West*

      If they’re not drawing dicks or anything like that, I don’t see the problem unless you work for an uber-religious manager or organization that objects to Halloween in general. I think it sounds like a fun way to make wearing a cast a little bit more bearable.

  4. Sandie*

    I am a woman in tech, in my fourth week of a new job. It’s a promotion and a 64% pay raise, but the part that has me nearly in tears of joy is the culture change.

    I spend almost a decade supporting construction, and every stereotype you’ve heard is true. It’s a red-hat wearing, lily-white, anti-vax, misogynistic nightmare. I had customers refuse to acknowledge me or shake my hand because I’m a woman, I had a colleague mock my genitals in a department meeting (he introduced the new packaging engineer by saying “Hey, Sandie, now we have someone who knows even more about ‘boxes’ than you do!” while crudely gesturing to his crotch as if he had the female version), I had another colleague directly ask my preference between two sex acts. Not a single other (male) colleague who witnessed any of this happen gave a damn. Even the “nice” ones.

    My new job is in SaaS, so I braced myself for a slightly different version of the same thing. But more than 50% of my department are women. Everyone is kind. The men are respectful. Nobody showboats. One of the company holidays is Juneteenth.

    Even in the careful early stages where people are still feeling you out, I sense nothing lurking underneath. I no longer hold back tears when I get on the train for my commute. Something in my gut is slowly loosening, like a scared animal peeking back out of its burrow after the storm is over.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      That’s amazing! Sad you had to deal with your previous workplace, but I’m glad you’re in a new space. It does show, too, how wildly different workplace cultures can be.

    2. Warrant Officer Georgiana Breakspear-Goldfinch*

      I’m so so happy for you. Please bask in the feeling of safety.

    3. Construction Safety*

      “It’s a red-hat wearing, lily-white, anti-vax, misogynistic nightmare. ”

      Yeah, that’s us. The rest of it is truly horrifying.

    4. Bean Counter Extraordinaire*

      I’m in an adjacent industry (heavy equipment), and it really is true!
      Congrats on getting out and moving on to a better environment – the fact that they have Juneteenth as a holiday is an awesome sign. Enjoy!!

      1. James*

        I’m feeling more and more fortunate. I’m in another adjacent industry (environmental remediation), and most of what Sandie listed would result in being immediately kicked off a project and immediate disciplinary action. The only exception I see is the red-hat-wearing bit–honestly I met some great folks who wore those hats, mostly haz waste haul truck drivers.

        Maybe the environmental part is what does it?

      2. Quinalla*

        I work in an adjacent industry too (engineer in an A/E design firm) and while construction has gotten better overall since I started in this adjacent industry 20 years ago, yeah it still far too much that. A/E engineering firms are still really poor on gender and other diversity measures ourselves, but overall the attitudes towards things like climate change, masks, etc. are generally more reasonable because folks understand or have experience with the science of it. We still have plenty of sexism too and it needs to get better, but yeah nothing like construction.

        It is hard talking to people about the fact that both things can be true:
        1. Lots of progress HAS been made AND
        2. The industry is still SO FAR behind

        1. NotRealAnonForThis*

          I am about ready to write to the heads of the two largest programs we hire E’s from and demand that they figure out HOW they keep graduating these fools. I don’t accept the blatant sexism, veiled racism, and over the top homo/transphobia (they are both rampant) from my 50-something coworkers, but I expect to encounter it.

          But 20-somethings fresh from university?

          There is a LOT more to do.

          1. Femgineer*

            But then they would have to look at their tenured faculty – who are more than likely incredibly sexist themselves – like the professor who graded my male study partner consistently two points higher on his homework for the exact same work – and when confronted with the evidence, threatened to flunk me out of his class for cheating (note: we did the work together, we both double-checked each others work, and there was no copying happening, simply mutual figuring-out).

    5. Leela*

      Congrats! I’m sorry to hear about your past experiences, I have a lot of friends in the trades who keep trying to hint I should come work for their construction companies because “we need more women” and all I hear is “we are so toxic and hostile to women we can’t attract or keep any, come be our badge so we don’t have to address that”

      Very happy for you!

    6. Hillary*

      Congrats! I’m ridiculously happy for you.

      FYI from someone who’s been there, you may feel really exhausted or get sick in the next couple weeks and that’s ok. Last time I came out of this kind of stress I physically fell apart when the stress let go. Suddenly sleep worked better.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      I’m so glad you got away from that nasty mess (also, thanks for the warning, eeeep). Congratulations on the new awesome job!

  5. What's in a name?*

    I know we are getting close to the season of worst boss of the year. And boy, have we had quite a few nominee worthy submissions in the past week.

    But before we get started, I was hoping to throw out an idea that might make the contest, and the winner selection, clearer this year. It will also help with the problem faced last year of having so many nominees to evaluate.

    I recommend we have two categories. A category for Worst Boss of the Year and a category for Worst Management of the Year. Maybe even with a vote between the winner of each category for top worst of the year.

    Worst Boss of the Year – Anything to do with an individual manager ex. communication issues, overbearing/micro-managing, unusual mannerisms, etc.
    Worst Management of the Year – Policies and action/dis-action that comes down from on high ex. office supply policies, evidence required for sick days, absorbing stimulus checks, etc.

    Worst Management of the Year could be a policy that individual managers disagree with but have to impose because the powers that be are firm over any objections while Worst Boss of the Year could have freedom to run their team how they want.

    I hope other people think this would be a good idea.

    1. Littorally*

      That’s an interesting idea! I like the notion of individual vs collective badness. One person going off the rails is very different from a committee sitting down and all deciding that some outrageous demand or policy is definitely the way to go, yup, no problems here, everything copacetic.

    2. not a doctor*

      I like it! Sometimes bad individual bosses have little to no choice in the matter, and there are some deeply horrible policies out there that deserve the light of day shone on them.

    3. Beth*

      I think it’s a GREAT idea — there have been years in the past where a horrific boss was up against a horrific management, and it really shouldn’t be that kind of choice. The awfulness is very different.

    4. BayCay*

      I like this idea! I think it’s more fair to bosses who aren’t “bad,” they just have made maybe some poor choices.

    5. Rayray*

      I want to write about the boss I had 2019-2020. I vented about her a few times here (it’s when I became an active commenter) and I know people were stunned by some of the things I talked about. For example, getting scolded my second week in because she didn’t like the size of paper clips I used.

      Oh the micromanaging and blatant disrespect got waaaaaau worse than that. It was an awful 11 months.

    6. Mr. Shark*

      I agree with this. And I think we should come up with some trophy or award that we should be able to send the actual boss to let them know they are honored in that manner! Haha.

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        I believe you can get something like that at poopsenders DOT com.

        NOTE: DO NOT go to that web site from a work computer.

    7. AcademiaNut*

      If I were to split the categories, it would be into cartoon villain and petty evil. It’s often hard to pick the worst when one is so over the top (boss demanding an employee’s organs) that it sounds like the plot of a bad direct-to-cable movie, and the other is horrible but more mundane, like the boss who demanded an employee pick them up at 3 am at the airport, disciplined them for being casually dressed, and ended up fired for financial misconduct.

  6. Kelly*

    Venting ahead…I have someone on my team who doesn’t listen or retain information and is lazy, and our boss isn’t doing shit about it. I am slightly above her and manage a much larger account, but we both report to the same boss.

    It’s just weird little things she does:
    – She skips vendor calls she is supposed to be on, my boss usually declines those as well so I doubt he knows she isn’t on them
    – A while back during the merger, she had to hand off another account to me. She did a terrible job of managing it, she wouldn’t dig into any issues, she would make big changes and then not check how those changes would affect the accounts, sloppy account set-up with tons of errors, etc. In fact, my boss told me he was frustrated with her because he had to dig into something she was supposed to do, then he asked me to look into the account. At the time I did what he asked, but I wish I would have told him I shouldn’t have to do someone else’s job
    – Also with this account she was handing off, my boss told us he wanted me to update a weekly powerpoint deck. Then my coworker told me (only!) separately that she talked to another coworker she worked with and they would be updating the deck. I told her to tell our boss. Then the next week I asked my boss for clarification on who would be updating the deck. He asked me why my coworker told me about it and not him. Then he messaged us both to say I would be taking over
    – My boss is currently on paternity leave, so before he left, he showed our team how to update a dashboard that we would need to take on for our accounts in his absence. He walked us through how to get the numbers and how to troubleshoot. My coworker actually took notes on it and sent it to the rest of the team. But then last week she had multiple questions about the dashboard, which my boss had gone over and she TOOK NOTES ON
    – We had a merger about 6 months ago where they sent out a new required email signature, instead she created a new one for herself with just her name and phone number
    I also have a bad impression of her because when she first started last year, she came on with a huge chip on her shoulder saying how this position was a step down for her and how our accounts were set up terribly. But when the merger happened, she actually got a new title which was technically a demotion. I’m just like, do other people not see how incompetent she is? 

    I don’t want to tattle on her, but really, how clueless and conflict avoidant is my boss? No, I don’t want to leave, I like the rest of my job and the company.

    1. anonymous73*

      Here’s how I put “tattling” into perspective for myself. If their lack of doing their job is continuously affecting MY job (which in this case it seems to be doing), then it’s not tattling. You can’t get your job done efficiently and effectively, because you’re having to do things for her since she can’t seem to handle them herself. You’ve brought these concerns to your boss and they’re doing nothing to address it. If there is someone else you can bring this to, and you trust that they will actually DO something about it, I say go for it. And make sure you document examples of things she’s done (or hasn’t done).

    2. Lisa B*

      I’m dealing with something similar, re: colleague who gave me a bad impression and does things that continually make me think she’s unprofessional and does not know or care how to do her job.

      It’s so difficult because I kind of just want to shake our shared boss and say “can’t you see she’s not a good fit for this role!!” but since I can’t, I’m REALLY focusing on the fact that what my boss and her agree she will work on and the level to which she performs those things are not my business and not worth my time, and if there are things she does that DO end up affecting me, I can bring those to our boss and ask for help or guidance. I trust my boss and generally trust her judgement, and if she felt the way my coworker acts is an issue, she would address it, so I’m trying my best to do my own thing and let Coworker do hers; there is nothing I can actually do about it other than mind my business, so I’m trying to release myself from worrying about it.

    3. Cold Fish*

      I’m so sorry you are going thru that. I’ve been in very similar situations and unfortunately there is not a lot you can do other than minimize your contact with coworker in whatever way you can.

      In my situation, there is a sister branch office that is a huge source of frustration for us. My manager’s response is to just put up with it and “let them hang themselves”. So we endure months of frustration, a huge blow up by Big Boss, then us having to clean up other branches mess, rinse and repeat.

    4. Your Local Password Resetter*

      It’s not tattling if she’s causing real problems. And that includes impacting you and your ability to work.
      If you have to constantly fix her problems for her, deal with the consequences of her incompetence, and stop doing your work to explain things she was already told, then she’s causing problems.

      Of course, try to focus on her actions and the impact, not on how terrible she is. That will also help to avoid being seen as a tattler.

    5. Beth*

      I’m a bit concerned that some of these items you describe are, well, very minor — which makes me wonder if she’s annoying you so much that you’re looking for more sins to add to her docket. For example, her email signature shouldn’t have any impact on you. Her skipping vendor calls should only be relevant if it means that you end up doing work for her as a result, or being expected to cover up her absenteeism.

      The issue of her not doing her work well, and you being the one who has to clean up the mess, is the part that’s central to your job. It might be something you need to address with your boss — but don’t undermine your legitimate job concerns with things like complaints about her email signature.

    6. Hiring Mgr*

      The parts of this that affected you directly seem to already be in the rear view, while the current stuff seems pretty minor (do you really care about her email sig?)

      If some of this still impacts your work, then yeah go ahead and mention it, but it also sort of seems like you just don’t like her and are looking for ways to vent about it

      1. Cold Fish*

        It could be BEC stage but it could also be that all those little things are a pattern of behavior that lead to more work for OP. Just one… no big deal. Taken together…grrrr. If she is ignoring direction to use company required email signature, what other company directives is she ignoring? She is lying to boss about taking vendor calls, what else is she lying to boss about? She told OP that X is handling updating the deck, what is she telling others OP is in charge of handling that isn’t getting done?

        1. Kelly*

          Exactly this. It follows a pattern of her not doing her job, reading emails and following instructions. Combined I am totally at the BEC phase, but I’m also way more annoyed at my boss for enabling it and making me do everything.

        2. Cj*

          And it she always instant messages the boss on Teams or whatever, and never e-mails him, he might not realize she isn’t using the company required signature.

    7. Quinalla*

      Agree with other posters that while all this sounds annoying, the stuff that doesn’t affect you try and reframe it as not your problem. When she does make stuff your problem, 100% no longer hesitate in bringing it up. You try and address it with her once, then escalate as needed. Keep it as unemotional as you can, though I for sure would show at least some frustration, but at keep your feedback to the facts and how it affects your work. But yeah, you’ve got to make these problems her boss’ problem.

    8. Hiring Mgr*

      Not to derail, but is it common for places to have a “required” email signature? I’ve never worked anywhere that mandated that sort of thing and I’m not sure what the benefit is?

      1. Scotlibrarian*

        I work somewhere where our marketing dept has set the rules for our email signatures- it’s rather annoying as I used to put my working hours (I work part time) in my signature, but that’s not allowed. Also, every couple of months we are all sent an image promoting some nonsense my organisation (but not the libraries dept) wants to promote. But… the image is so large that my mailbox fills up really quick. I’m a very rule abiding person, but I rebel against putting the data hogging image under my signature

  7. Anonymous Educator*

    Any Gen X’ers (or older) in a predominantly Millennial/Gen Z workplace? Do you ever feel out of place? Any funny stories to tell?

    1. Cj*

      I’m at the tail end of the baby boomers, and I actually love my younger co-workers! There are only two of us out of 10-15 (depending on if it’s tax season) that are boomers – the rest are all millennials.

        1. Speaks to Dragonflies*

          I once had to explain what “the force” was to a couple of coworkers half my age. They had no clue what I was talking about. This was sometime between Revenge of the Sith and The Force Awakens. After I explained it, I told them to get off my lawn.

    2. JelloStapler*

      Here – but I’ve found it enlightening and fun tbh. There have been times I felt out of date but it was usually a passing feeling and all in my head.

    3. Oh, Yes, Anonymous!*

      I got called a “kid” by our Project Manager on a call with a client this week. The client was the only one on camera but displayed a delighted grin at my deadpan, “I’m 52.”

      1. Use your words*

        I’m 41 and look my age in person but don’t present as old as I am in a virtual work environment. I love dropping “yeah actually I’m 41!” in conversations with young teammates around the world I haven’t met in person yet. They assume I’m 30 plus or minus 2, like most of them are.

    4. Sharpieees*

      It wasn’t a workplace, but a college class I was taking. We were getting started on a group project and exchanging contact information when one student in the group asked if I knew how to text lol. This was about five years ago – I was in my mid-40’s.

    5. Lady_Lessa*

      I’m a boomer, and got a kick out of two co-workers not knowing the song, “If I had a hammer”.

      (It came up when one was pounding down some can lids and I mentioned the song.

    6. talos*

      I’m the reverse! I’m Gen Z in a predominantly Boomer/ Gen X workplace (I think it’s actually just the site I’m at the skews older).

      Mostly, I appreciate the “war stories” and the experience people have. It is occasionally awkward when someone makes a general comment about Gen Z people (or our marketing people come up with some new insight about Gen Z, one real quote is “for Gen Z creating is a way of life”) and I have to suppress a cringe.

    7. The Old Greybeard*

      I’m the oldest in my office by at least 15 years (I’m 49), and I love the energy of the younger staff! I’m new to the company and was brought in to help with project management as the company grows into more complex and larger projects. It’s been rewarding to help out and offer advice from my career when they need it.

      There was a group lunch a few weeks back, and somebody referenced “…this old song about a ladder to heaven by Lead Blimp or something…” Sigh…I played Zeppelin the rest of the day in my office.

      1. Uranus Wars*

        On my team I am about 12 years older than everyone else and I think they have lightened me up a little bit! I love having some young energy around!

    8. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’m an elder Millennial, but once had to pause a grad school seminar so that me and the instructor (also elder Millennial) could explain to the three other students, all GenZ, what a boom box was. :P

    9. pcake*

      I’m a boomer who generally works with much younger people, and I get along with them very well. Sometimes they’re nervous that I’ll live up to the “older gen” stereotypes, but after they get to know me, we’re good. I also played in bands in the 90s and 2000s, mostly with people many years younger, and often I preferred their musical tastes and styles. I found them more open to a wide variety of music where that wasn’t always the case with my fellow boomers.

    10. Anon for this*

      I am the oldest generation of Gen X, and my team are all Millennial/Gen Z. And we all get along great. When we were still in the office the thing that had me struggling to keep a poker face were the discussions or show & tell of Tinder, and similar apps, and the approach to dating now. One of my colleagues said, “Oh, I met my partner my first year of university when we had a class together,” and then followed that up with, “But most of my friends have met because of apps, etc.”

      I wondered if I should regale them with tales of meeting people in the ’80’s, you know, at bars and concerts. Like something out of a movie.

      1. Jessica Ganschen*

        My parents met through a singles’ magazine in the late 80s, which I always like to tell people around my age was basically the immediate precursor to internet dating.

    11. Charlotte Lucas*

      I’m GenX in a workplace with a mix, but a good number of younger people. The funny thing is that I have to remind people that I am as old as a am! (I come from a young-looking family.)

      I’ve sometimes explained slang from the 80s & 90s to people. Also how completely banana crackers some of the children’s TV was in the 70s. (Gigglesnort Hotel is my go-to, “People did a lot of drugs in the 60s & it’s reflected in the children’s programing of the 70s.” Also, The Banana Splits.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        But I like the mix. I think it helps people “get” each other. Just, everyone, please stop assuming age has anything to do with knowledge of tech. It seems more based on inclination to me.

        1. Cj*

          Yeah, re the tech thing. I started working right when PCs first came out. We actually had to know the DOS commands, not just click on on icon. And didn’t have dedicated IT staff so had to troubleshoot our own problems. So I can certainly figure out how to use today’s tech.

        2. CatMintCat*

          The tech thing drives me nuts. I’m a younger boomer, and have been working with computer tech in one way or another since the mid 1970s. I’m not scared to try something new, or to teach older skills. But there is always somebody who assumes I know nothing and want to stay that way, purely based on my age.

          My workmates are mostly millennials and know that I know stuff (and that I am the fastest “typer-person” in the place). However, when we have an outside training it’s different – the trainer always assumes and starts showing me where the ON button is even though my current job is one where at least basic tech knowledge has been essential for the last twenty five years.

    12. A Small Cat*

      I’m a Gen X with a lot of Millennial/Gen Z in my workplace, and the other day I overheard one of them telling someone else how much they had learned from me as a colleague. I was so flattered! Was it my collaborate leadership style? My commitment to professional development for new staff? Then she said “she showed us all how postage stamps work!”

    13. Bernice Clifton*

      I’m on the cusp of Gen X/Millennial. At my previous company, a college intern couldn’t read my instructions because I handwrote them in cursive. I was also blessed with great skin so I look younger to a lot of people than I am. At that same company, a young colleague, when finding out my age asked, “So do you remember 9/11?”

      1. Rosie*

        hah literally today i mentioned being in high school during 9/11 during a meeting today (we were talking about disaster preparedness in different areas of the country and I was like yeah we were all super aware of how close we were to a major target) and everyone else was like yeah no I was a baby and I had to go evaporate

        1. Hotdog not dog*

          Rosie, I’ll need to go evaporate with you! I remember 9/11 vividly, as I was working on Wall Street at the time. Fortunately I was visiting a branch office in NJ on that day. I was in my early 30s.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          My moment in the stun was the Reagan assassination attempt, which happened in real-time for me (I was hanging out in the school library tech room which had TV). But was 20th c history for others.

    14. Hiring Mgr*

      I was at such a place several years ago.. someone wrote an entire book about that company and this exact topic

    15. Joyce To the World*

      I am Gen X, most of my coworkers are at least a decade younger. For team ice breakers, the manager did a 90’s TV trivia. I was too busy in the 90’s trying to finish college and get that first job to watch “Saved By The Bell” so I didn’t do well.

      1. Cj*

        Did *any* college students watch Saved by the Bell? I thought that was for a younger crowd, and a limited amount of employees would know anything about it.

        Although I’d do great on a Buffy the Vampire quiz, and I’m 60.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I watched a lot of NickToons and Nickelodeon shows to rest my brain from all the heavy reading I had when I went back to college. And Buffy. I’d probably be okay with that stuff.

    16. Sleet Feet*

      No but I’ve experienced the opposite a lot – 15+ years younger then everyone in the department. I’ve found it helpful to not blame the age difference for every negative interaction and to focus on treating my coworkers the same regardless.

    17. Quinalla*

      Yes, most of my team is millennials. I’m at the young end of GenX, but I do feel sometimes like I have to be the translator between millennials and older or other GenX folks and Boomers and vice versa. Like the dress code thing recently where several Boomers don’t get why everyone doesn’t want to wear a suit and tie to work and Millenials are like WTF who would ever want to dress up like that for work. There are a lot of situations like that were I can see both sides and have to help explain it. It is a weird spot to be in. I also get very uncomfortable that far too many GenX and Boomers still see all millennials and “kids” and don’t think they should be in high up positions yet. And I am only a couple years older than the oldest millennials. It is like they forgot the kinds of career opportunities they had in their 20s and 30s (and 40s – yes some millenials are in their 40s now folks!)

      It is pretty moot now with the shift in dress code after so much WFH time – people are all wearing shorts/t-shirts to work now except the rare client meeting.

      1. NotRealAnonForThis*

        Same. I’m one of two Gen-X (and as a tail-ender, I may or may not actually be a true Gen-X) in a workplace with a significant number of both Boomers and Millenials/Gen Z. Sometimes the translation is not fun.

    18. Renee Remains the Same*

      I’m a Gen X’er in such a workplace. (My boss, who is a few years younger than me, is on the cusp of Millennial). Generally, the workplace is perfectly nice. Everyone is very collegial, warm, supportive. While I occasionally joke about the fact that I’m old, it’s not an indictment on anyone’s youth. I usually say it when someone doesn’t know my cultural reference point and it is not a big deal on my end. But, interestingly, one of my Millenial coworkers once jokingly commplained that someone was too young because they didn’t understand her cultural reference point. I immediately told her that while one can comment on their own age, one should not comment on someone else’s.

      In recent news, one of my Gen Z colleagues was wearing a pair of shoes that was VERY reminiscent of a style I wore as a teenager. I told her that her shoes were very 90s, which she 100% took as a compliment, which is exactly how I meant it.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I saw a teenaged girl (or maybe younger college-age), with an older woman I assumed was her mom, in a flea market in OldCity not long before I left. The girl was dressed head-to-toe in authentic, vintage ’80s garb. I’m talking acid-washed jeans, the porkpie hat, booties, etc. Even her hair and makeup were on point. It was like looking through a portal back in time.

        I freaked out and told her she looked incredible. She was very happy to hear that—she said she loved the fashion from that time period. It was a really fun moment. But when I walked away, I thought, goddamn, I’m old, lol.

    19. Grace Poole*

      I’m GenX and have a friendly relationship with my Millennial/GenZ coworkers. I’ve learned important things from them, like “bones/no bones day” and the importance of using exclamation points in our Slack discussions (apparently there is a world of difference between “thanks,” and “Thanks!!”) :)

    20. BlueK*

      I’m an Xennial (sticking with that, old millennial makes me feel old). I’ve always felt old for my age, tend to have friends few heads older than me, etc. I generally enjoy Gen Z’rs. Of course it varies, just like any age group. I do think my experience of growing up with the tech boom gives me an edge in understanding both older and current cultural references. I do remember life pre cellphones. Cassette tapes and VHS. And haha we had old school projector movies in school sometimes. But I also am used to getting used to the next new thing. Mark Zuckerberg is my age, I remember MySpace and AIM. TikTok is a bit much at times but I get the appeal. Etc.

    21. too many too soon*

      I make full use of the expectation that Gen Xers are reclusive and snarky. I’m old gen X and enjoy knowing what ‘the kids’ at work are up to, but really enjoy trotting out war stories about life in the olden days/grunge years in Seattle. Younger coworkers seem to like hearing about life with 3 TV channels and dial phones, when sidewalks were rolled up after 5 and on Sundays :)

    22. Elizabeth West*

      Old Gen-Xer here. One of my younger millennial coworkers at OldExjob had never seen a black-and-white movie. Not one. He didn’t understand why anyone would watch them. I tried to tell him there were plenty of younger people who like old movies for their artistic value, but he couldn’t seem to get his brain around it!

      Most of the time, I don’t feel out of place with millennials. In terms of general relatability, we have more in common than you’d think, especially if they’re on the older end of the spectrum. Same with Gen Z, if we’re on the same page about work. All I care about is whether people are collaborating effectively and doing their share, regardless of age.

      I don’t look my age (although that might not be true anymore; the last two years have been rough!). Boomers tend to think of me as a millennial and treat me thus.

      1. BlueK*

        I bet he would have been beyond shocked then to learn silent movies were a thing. Only one I’ve ever seen was in college for a politics class – Birth of A Nation (first film watched at the White House).

        But B&W seems so classic to me. I can’t imagine the Wizard of Oz without it for instance. I remember testing the Pink Floyd thing back in high school. And it worked, just have to start exactly at the third (?) MGM lion roar.

          1. Astor*

            I’ve never done it, but: watching Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” synced up with “The Wizard of Oz”. The album is shorter than the movie, but there’s synchronicity during the overlap.

            You can search for “Pink Floyd” and “Wizard of Oz” together, and I’ve always heard it called “Dark Side of the Rainbow”. Wikipedia also claims “Dark Side of Oz” or “The Wizard of Floyd” (which I particularly like).

    23. smirkpretty*

      I’m GenX in a place with lots of Millennials and GenZ folx. A group of the GenZs had gotten together to arrange some kind of group chat and I overheard them trying to decide what platform – email, text, whatever. One of them suggested FB messenger and this one dude piped up, “Facebook? What is this, my grandma’s book club?”

      1. Generic Name*

        Ha! My teenage (rightly) says Facebook is for old people. He is uninterested in having a profile. He communicates with friends mostly via group text and Discord.

    24. allathian*

      I love working with people of all ages. I’m Gen X, but most of my teammates are millennials, and we also have a couple of younger boomers, and recently hired our first Gen Z teammate right out of college. I work for the government, and in my team everyone has a Master’s degree, which is why the youngest people we hire are around 25 years old.

    25. Malika*

      As a Xennial who works with mostly gen Z, I definitely note the difference. Work-wise, I feel that the collaboration and effectiveness of the workplace is pretty much the same. Pop Culture touchstones of the past are different, but we all watch the same shows on Netflix and listen to the same music on Spotify in the present. The differences come into play when you see what a Gen Zer is willing to put up with, which is way less than a X/Baby boomer. Toxic management gets called out quicker, inequity is a talking point rather than something to sweep under the carpet, and differences due to background, upbringing and genetic makeup are accepted way more than in workplaces past. I love this development and feel far more at home in this space, rather than being surrounded by people my own age.

  8. ThatGirl*

    I’m curious what you would do in this situation. Yesterday an admin sent out a division wide email (several hundred people) raffling off tickets to a football game this weekend. The game is vs the Washington Football Team, which is their official name at the moment, but she used their former name, which is a slur.

    It made me cringe, especially since we’ve had increased DEI training recently. I did reply and nicely point out that the name has changed and the old one is considered a slur, but she hasn’t responded. Would you have said something?

    1. Not really a Waitress*

      I will admit… I have been a fan of the Football team in DC for 40 years, and I slip up verbally sometimes. And I hate myself when I do it. But I think when sending a business email company wide, you need to be (and have the time to be) extra careful, and re-read it before hitting send.

    2. Dwight Schrute*

      Yes I think I would have said something too. It’s one thing for people to slip while speaking out of habit and then correct themselves, but in email there’s no excuse

    3. Captain Raymond Holt*

      Yes I’m glad you spoke up about it! It’s problematic and wrong. The Football Team does not use the name anymore for good reason. It could also be worth sending to the DEI folks if they wouldn’t have gotten it.
      That being said, I’m very jealous of whoever wins those tickets.

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

      It was probably a slip up, as I’m sure many people have because they have been the old name for so long. And she may not have responded because she is embarrassed. It was bad that it happened in such a public context, and hopefully she can change it. But I wouldn’t worry to much about it. You nicely pointed out the error. Thats all you need to do.

      1. ThatGirl*

        It was just one email and then the followup for who won – I kinda hoped she’d address it in her second email, but she didn’t. But I am glad I said something either way.

        1. Hiring Mgr*

          It’s fine to have said something, but imo it’s also fine that she didn’t respond or bring it up again – i don’t think a mea culpa is required.

          Also, as an admin I wonder if she was forwarding along the email from someone else, or did she actually write it herself (im imagining they’re the CEO;s tickets or something)… speculation I realize..

          1. ThatGirl*

            Not sure if someone else wrote it or whose tickets they were, though they probably did come from the C-Suite. She does a lot of all-company emails given her job.

            I didn’t need her to publicly flog herself; I think a correction or reply to me would have been nice but I didn’t have any specific expectations.

            1. Cj*

              As long as you replied just to her, and didn’t do a reply all, I agree that it’s a good thing to have done.

    5. HM MM*

      I think it’s great that you said something, but at this point I’d leave it alone (unless she continued to use the slur – that would be a different story). The right thing for her to do would have been for her to respond, take ownership, apologize, etc, but just because she didn’t, it doesn’t mean that your point wasn’t taken and that she hasn’t learned/won’t change in the future. People don’t always react gracefully to criticism in the moment or in the near future (no matter how valid the criticism is).

      You did the right thing and that’s the part that matters and effects you. Again, though, this would be a different story if she continued to use the slur. Then I’d escalate it to management.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I don’t plan to say anything else unless it comes up again. Management would have gotten the email too, and she’s an admin for the C-suite.

        1. Uranus Wars*

          I also wonder if you weren’t the only one who corrected her. I know sometimes I’ll get a date wrong, like say Friday, April 1 when it’s really Friday, April 2 and about 50 people will let me know what I did. Which I don’t mind at all, but I also don’t reply to them all.

    6. Sleet Feet*

      I probably wouldn’t have said something, but I tend to be shrewd with my capital spending. If it were in person I would have spoken up kindly so others felt supported if they were also uncomfortable, but in an email I wouldn’t reply all or to just her either because email is too blunt a told for these conversations imo.

      But to each their own in these things.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I did not reply all, I’d never do that! She knows who I am (though we don’t interact a lot), and I did my best to be kind, I certainly didn’t accuse her of anything.

        1. Sleet Feet*

          I am not accusing you of accusing her, although this serves as an excellent example of how easy it is to read into/misconstrue tone in written communications.

          I generally stick to face to face corrections for this reason.

    7. RagingADHD*

      Assuming the people in charge of the DEI training got the email, I probably would have internally rolled my eyes and let them handle it. If they were a different department, it would depend on who the admin is and my relationship with them.

      If we were on a friendly, regular speaking basis I might send a “Hey, your slip is showing” kind of thing. If we weren’t, I’d let someone with better standing handle it-like their own boss.

      I don’t think this kind of correction “sticks” without context. TBH, if I were the admin and made an embarrassing error like that (or was forwarding something that someone else composed and didn’t have the authority to alter it) I would not think well of someone who never gave me the time of day except to pile on. Particularly someone outside my reporting line, when I would already most likely be getting the stick from my actual reporting line.

      IDK if you’re in the “never give the time of day” category or not.

      1. ThatGirl*

        We’re friendly, though she works on a different floor. She’s older and has worked there a long time. The nature of her job is that she sends out a lot of company emails and gets a lot of them.

        my main worry was that nobody else noticed or decided not to say anything, I have no idea if that’s true or not, but if she got 20 emails about it, oh well, I have no way to know that. For all the DEI training I fear we’re not well educated on indigenous/native issues.

    8. Clisby*

      Honestly, I would have seen the words “raffle” and “football tickets” and deleted it without a second thought, since my interest in football is less than zero.

  9. Lizy*

    Admin jobs: how does one advance? What is considered “entry level” verses … not entry-level? What’s considered a “reach” position?

    I have 10+ years of experience at this point, all good (excellent) reviews, a solid resume, good references… I enjoy admin work, but would like my next position to be a little more challenging than what I have now. Thoughts?

    1. Neosmom*

      Receptionist is often considered an entry-level admin position. I was one myself back in the mid 1980s.

      I have been an executive assistant for the last 18+ years. I practically barked at a co-worker this week who introduced me as “our receptionist” – just because the company has deemed my workstation must be in the midst of our 2nd floor lobby.

      I advanced by asking lots of questions, volunteering to assist in varied departments, experimented with software I use daily, requested and got training in software I thought would be helpful to my employer and myself, and finding ways to improve or expedite tasks I handle regularly.

    2. The New Normal*

      For many admin positions, it’s about the person you are assigned to. First you start handling for an entry-level manager, then a middle-level manager, and move your way up along with the management levels until you end up in the executive suite. Or if you are on a department track, you start with a smaller department and move up to a more “prestigious” department, depending on your industry.

      Think about the areas you enjoy the most and which departments or managers handle that more heavily than others. That’s where I would direct my search. At a previous job, I did some events and really enjoyed it, but moved away from it with my next position. I wanted to get back into it so I took a position in a marketing/communication type office and did ALL THE EVENTS.

    3. anonymous73*

      Can you ask to help out on other tasks that would give you experience in another area? When I was at a former job, I was in a support position and I was bored. I had previously been a Business Analyst and was interested in Project Management. So I went to the PMO Director and asked if there were any projects I could help out with to gain some experience. She out me on a smaller project, and shortly after I was able to move to another company as a Project Manager and eventually get my certification.

    4. AVP*

      My friends who have done this were admins > exec assistants > exec assistants for more important and busier execs, or execs at bigger brands > project manager of a system or manager of other EAs.

    5. Bernice Clifton*

      If you have interest in becoming an Office Manager, I’d recommend taking a bookkeeping course, especially for Quickbooks.

      Also, in my experience, working in admin support at a smaller org gave me more opportunities to work with more departments and learn additional skills to add to my resume.

    6. Ashley*

      Sales support positions can still be admin style work but depending on who you are supporting and what they do is where you can be challenged. A lot of admin can get lumped in with accounting activities so if you like you could try to move more into accounting roles.

    7. adminatlarge*

      Another idea is to look into project management roles. I feel like it’s a lot of the same work that an admin does.

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        I mostly agree. There’s project management and then there’s Project Management (i.e., certifications). In my experience, there are more of the former type for jobs (not always labeled as project manager), but companies sometime want someone with the (expensive) certifications. Luckily, the former can be a foundation towards the latter.

        This is based on own career (project management-esque roles for about 10 years), where I keep asking myself, “Am I an admin…?”

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Coming down here to say this. I got a project certification and now I’m going after project coordinator positions. It’s specialized administrative support for project teams and project managers; I did it at my last job, although it wasn’t formalized. The career track veers more toward PM work than executive administrative support.

        In the right company, moving up can get you off covering the front desk. I did front desk for years and I am sick to death of it.

    8. EmKay*

      Hello, hi! I’m an admin with more than 15 years under my belt, and I don’t intend to change careers anytime soon.

      My advice is to focus on tasks you genuinely enjoy and try to take those to the “next level”. Me, I like organising events from A to Z, so I volunteer to “help out” other admins and departments with their events as much as I can. And I keep very detailed notes about what worked and what didn’t, as well as people who are useful to know for future events.

    9. Anonymous Educator*

      If you have 10+ years, you’re way beyond entry level, so I would think about what kind of challenges you’d want at your next position, and then try to find job descriptions that match—hopefully something with some overlap with what you currently do (so you’re actually considered as a candidate) but also a lot of other different things (so you’re challenged and growing).

    10. Malika*

      Have you thought of operations management? A friend of mine advanced by going to work at a scale up and becoming the head of developing hr/finance systems along with some routine office management development. She is going to transition to either specialty from there or go into management. It does require stepping with one foot out of the admin comfort zone, but in the right workplace it can be an impetus for your career.
      Another friend of mine went into event management and that is now her specialty. Once you have been an exec assistant, running events is a great stretch and can feel more fulfilling as with a great event your impact is much larger than being of good assistance to an individual.

  10. Newbie*

    Hey folks!! I’ve been with my company since January first as an intern and then starting in May as a fellow. On Sept 27 my boss said that a formal offer letter would be coming before my contract is up (Nov 1) and that we are just waiting on our managing director to write it up. Then last week I checked in with my boss and asked if there were any updates on getting my offer letter and she said she had reached out to management about it. On Monday, she said she was “hopeful” I’d get it this week. Well now its Friday and I’ve heard nothing!! I know our higher ups have a lot going on, and this probably isn’t there priority but I can’t help but feel a little disrespected. Monday I will be exactly one week out from the end of my contract and I NEED A JOB!!! I also can’t help but feel like they should be more concenered about my contract ending since we are a very small firm (less than 20 full time employees) and in the past month 4 people have left. If my contract ends with out them extending my offer letter they will have only ONE person who’s job is solely working on my team (my boss). Should I reach out to our managing director or executive assistant (who is most likely the one who will be sending me the letter) today??? What can I say??

    1. Big 4 Denizen*

      Don’t go around your boss. This is key. Don’t burn that bridge with them.
      Email your boss and reiterate that your contract is ending next week and ask what you can do to wrap things up/provide process documentation for your job responsibilities. Start acting like you will not be extended, and start looking for jobs. Poor planning on their part should not constitute an emergency on your part.

    2. Reba*

      I agree, don’t skip over your boss. But I think you could go back to her and say, “thanks for following up on this — could you do so again? I know there is a lot going on, but people may not realize this is really urgent for me. As far as I know, my job is ending after next week! If a contract is not forthcoming, I need to transition my work and be looking for another position. So, you can probably understand that I’m anxious to get this resolved.”

      You’ll know best if this should go in an email or call. Good luck! This stinks!

    3. WellRed*

      I doubt it’s about disrespect. It’s simply not urgent to them in the way it is to you. Talk to your boss.

    4. bee*

      Yeah, I bet they’ve all just been assuming you’ll stay on and so it just seems like some paperwork and not an emergency (even though it is for you!)
      I think I’d talk to your boss again but really underline the urgency of it, like, “I need the offer in order to be able to keep working past November 1st, I won’t be able to continue without it and will have to start wrapping up my current projects.” And I’d basically check up on it daily from here on out, even if it feels like you’re being annoying.

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

      If it’s unusual to reach out to the director or the assistant I would not do that. If you have a relationship with the assistant maybe ask them if they have heard anything.

      Otherwise, I would send an email to your boss asking for next steps and explaining that if the contract is not renewed what you should do with X projects etc. Maybe ask him to be a reference if the contract is not renewed.

      It kind of sounds like your boss is just not getting that you need to have a job.

    6. calonkat*

      Put out applications ASAP. Your boss may not know that they don’t have funding for a new job. My daughter was in exactly this situation, verbal job offer, the written offer was “in the works”. We were looking for an apartment for her and when we needed written confirmation from the company, that’s when they told her she had no job offer coming.

      Continue asking your boss, but don’t put all your eggs in this theoretical basket! This is a weekend activity for you now. You can ask your boss if you can use them as a reference because you apparently won’t be employed by the company any more after the following Monday. Reba and Big 4 Denizen had good wording. But you need to look for another job ASAP!

    7. Newbie*

      Update: thank you for all your very helpful advice!! Right as I was about to hit send on a message to my manager I thankfully got my offer letter!!! It’s on the lower range of what I wanted in terms of salary but after talking to some coworkers (who are about one step ahead career wise) they encouraged me to negotiate, and said that I was in a very good position to do so. So I’m waiting to hear back on that front but either way I’m very happy to finally have the offer letter in my hands(virtually) thanks again for all the advice!!

  11. Trivia Newton-John*

    I hate that I am spiraling but here we are.
    The job I’m in the running for, the one with the amazing interview with the COO where everything seemed to click in such a crazy, serendipitous way – I’ve never had an interview go this well and I can’t remember wanting a job this much….but now, it’s been silent.
    Last week Tuesday, they emailed to say they hoped to touch base with me “soon” and they really enjoyed our conversation — it’s been over a week since that email (which I already responded to letting them know I also enjoyed speaking with the HR director and the COO and very much looked forward to hearing from them).
    Do I wait to hear from them? Do I email them and remind them I still exist?

    1. Baron*

      I just made a post upthread about a similar situation – I know exactly where you’re at! And I’ve been spiraling too, even though I’m usually pretty good at putting jobs out of my mind after applying/interviewing.

      If I were giving someone advice, I’d say, “Take a breath, they’ll let you know when they let you know, just try to move on in your head.” But finding myself in that situation, I ended up calling the recruiter at the two-week mark. He had no news, but at least was able to give me an updated timeline. So I understand the impulse to send that e-mail.

      1. Trivia Newton-John*

        I saw your post after I posted mine and it made me feel better to know I’m not the only one! So I should wait until next week Tuesday if I have not heard back from them and send a follow up email?

        1. Baron*

          I would try to wait until at least next week Tuesday, or, based on my experience, longer if you can bear to – the guy didn’t seem too impressed that I checked in, and you don’t want to risk that.

        2. Cj*

          It seems like *soon* can be several weeks when it comes to hiring. For my current job, I started interviewing in mid-July and didn’t get an offer until the end of September (phone screen with the hiring manager, who is a partner), and two in person interviews with two partners and a potential team member.

          They never really gave me a timeline, but I did contact them in early September after it had been a couple of weeks of no contact, and found our the hiring manager had been out on paternity leave since mid-August, and that was the hold up. I’m glad I contacted them so I knew it would be at least two weeks until a decision was made, but since you’ve had relatively recent communications with them, I ‘d hold off for now.

          1. Cj*

            Almost forgot about the job (probably because I try to forget about that job) that I first interviewed for in January and didn’t get an offer until mid-June. They’d been without anybody in that position since the previous October, and the backlog of work was tremendous, but they didn’t want me to start until after the 4th of July. Based on other things about that job, I assume it was because 401(k) matching only kicked in for the remainder of the year if you were employed before July 1.

            I contacted them every month since they had never rejected me. I wasn’t really job searching, so it wasn’t a matter of continuing my search or not, but I still wanted to know if they weren’t going to hire me for sure. I *hate* that companies will ghost candidates that they have interviewed.

    2. FashionablyEvil*

      No, don’t contact them. The ball is in their court/they definitely haven’t forgotten you. A week is hardly any time at all in a hiring process.

      1. WellRed*

        Yes, they know you exist. If they want you, they want you. If they don’t want you, emailing isn’t gonna change their minds. Hopefully you can report back next Friday that you got it.

    3. Leela*

      At only a week, I’d hold off! That’s a very short amount of time for a lot of hiring managers/recruiters. Also you run the risk of looking like you require a lot of touch/assurance which as a candidate they might take as a red (or at least yellow) flag, not because they should, but because it’s A Thing People Guess About (if you remember AAM’s story about knowing someone who “could tell” things about a candidate based on whether they accepted her offer of water or not).

      It can take much longer than a week, even if nothing’s going on that changes the role or team, to move forward if the people they need to hear back from are on vacation, unavailable, or simply not responding to the hiring team’s e-mails (this happened to me a lot at some companies, not others). I’d proceed by continuing your search if you’re on one, and maybe reaching out in 3 weeks or so? I don’t think that’s a hard and fast rule but just so you’re not left wondering

    4. LadyByTheLake*

      They haven’t forgotten you exist, they know that you are interested. And a week (or two) is nothing in a hiring timeline. If you haven’t heard anything in a month, you could maybe consider checking in, but for now try to put it out of your mind.

    5. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      One thing to keep in mind:

      The fiscal year just ended, so everyone in finance & operations are likely sprinting at full speed to close their books.

  12. DC*

    Two interviews this week. Both ended with “we really want to hire you but I want to find a different position that’s a better fit. I don’t want to let you get away.”

    And then radio silence.

    Were those just easy letdowns? I’m qualified for both, would enjoy and be good at both. Both interviews had good rapport and I didn’t feel like I tanked.

      1. Trivia Newton-John*

        I feel like if it was just this week, give it a little time — see what happens next week.

    1. Reba*

      Well, I know this may not help much, but it sounds like those interviews *just* happened, right? It’s way too soon to even qualify as “radio silence” imo.

      They very well might be gentle let-downs, but they don’t have to say things like this, so I imagine they are sincere. (They can just say, “nice talking with you” and end the conversation, right?) Now, whether that sincerity translates into another actual opportunity… whether that opportunity materializes on a timeline that works for you… all uncertain. Even if they really do want to find another opening, or create one, that could take weeks.

    2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      You didn’t tank, they appear to like you and want you — and want you enough to stay happily, so they want you to know they will keep you in mind for other things (which may or may not be coming up soon).

      Keep applying to appropriate jobs in the company, maybe check with your interviewer about what you should be looking out for, and either drop their name in your next cover letter or send a heads-up email as you apply for other positions there

    3. christmas candle*

      It’s definitely possible they were being sincere. I wouldn’t expect another position to necessarily be open immediately. But I think you have to assume that it’s a letdown and proceed accordingly, and let it be a pleasant surprise if one of them does get back to you.

    4. Echo*

      It’s both—an easy letdown, and sincere. I would interpret this as a “no” on this specific role but a strong recommendation to apply to jobs with them for positions that are a better fit with your skills and experience. I would not expect them to reach out to you, especially if their searches tend to be competitive. Did they explain what kind of position might be a better fit?

    5. Leela*

      If they were easy letdowns, it’s really poor practice on the company! Because it sends a clear message that you should stay tuned, and they’d have to keep spending time (and money) responding to your questions about it versus turning you down. Having said that, not every company avoids poor practices that hurt themselves too.

      I’d take it at face value but proceed like there’s no offer incoming until you hear something different. I know this is frustrating though!

    6. Girasol*

      I’m guessing that they think your skills might be too advanced for the open position, that if you got it you’d be bored with it and quit. So they want to find something at your level. Opening a position to hang onto a very impressive candidate can be a real bureaucratic minefield, though. It will probably take extra time, and in the end they may not be able to pull it off. It’s pretty clear you impressed them though.

  13. Gipsy Danger*

    I am looking for advice on how to handle anxiety over mistakes at work. I find myself having a hard time telling what are normal mistakes to make at work, and how frequent mistakes can be. I know everyone makes little mistakes at work, but when I do I always worry I’m going to be in trouble, or worse, going to be looked at as unreliable or a bad employee (why yes, I have had some toxic work experiences, why do you ask?). I notice when other people make little mistakes, which makes me feel better, but does anyone have any overall advice?

    I normally see a counsellor but am not able to right now because of COVID and my work hours. I have contacted my work EAP to see if they have someone I can see outside of work hours. I am not in need of a diagnosis (I have GAD and panic disorder as well as Atypical Depression and am well medicated).

    1. The Golden Spine of Engineering*

      Do you feel comfortable talking with your current manager?
      It might be a good idea to ask them for general feedback to make sure you’re meeting expectations. If you’re making too many (or too large of) mistakes, they should let you know.

      (Also: Love the user name!)

      1. Gipsy Danger*

        I am getting good feedback, I am on a temporary contract and have been told informally that I’ll be kept on. It’s more about my own anxiety, I guess. I have had a couple bad experiences where I was laid off suddenly, or I left a job and found out after leaving that my colleagues thought I was terrible at my job, but no one told me that or gave me any feedback at the time. I am trying to focus on the fact that I am getting good feedback, and that I see other people making the kinds of mistakes I make, and that small mistakes are part of being a human being and not indicative of my overall worth as an employee. It’s just hard sometimes.

        I think it’s also that I really want to stay at this job – it’s taken me a long time to find a job that really fits both my skills and my needs as an employee.

        1. BlueK*

          So, I have a tendency toward catastrophic thinking. Something small happens and in three steps my brain has predicted the end times (joking but not). Beyond reminding myself how unlikely whatever I’m afraid of happening is, I find it calms me to have a plan for if that thing did happen. Like, I might say to myself “even if X did happen, I’d be okay because of A, B, and C.” Takes the sting out of the fear kinda. YMMV of course.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Noticing when other people make little mistakes is a good reminder that you’re not alone in making mistakes. Can/do you also notice how your coworkers correct those mistakes, or respond when others correct them?

      Planning your response when you make a mistake might help lower your anxiety about mistakes. If it’s something you notice first, either correct it or notify the proper person right away. Example: “I noticed I made a mistake in the TPS report; how do we correct it so the customer has the right data?”

      If it’s a mistake that someone else notices and brings to your attention, a good response is along the lines of (1) thanking them for bringing it up, (2) fixing the mistake, and (3) noting you will look out for this particular mistake in the future (if applicable).

      In a non-toxic environment, noticing/correcting your own mistakes and responding well when someone else notices your mistakes will go a long way towards looking like (and being!) a reliable employee.

    3. BayCay*

      Are you me? haha

      I also get quite panicked over small mistakes at work, also because of bad experiences at former toxic workplaces. Besides therapy, which it sounds like you’re already pursuing (good for you!), I’ve found it helpful to just give myself little pep talks whenever I’m feeling nervous to remind myself of how my job and boss now are not the toxic job and boss I left. It sounds like, *My boss now understands that mistakes happen. She does not penalize me needlessly for mistakes.* It might sound silly, but it’s been a small, handy way to address my anxiety in the moment.

      1. Gipsy Danger*

        This is actually really helpful! It sounds like we’ve had similar experiences. I do tell myself that this job is not the other job(s) I have had, that my bosses here are very reasonable and don’t expect me to be super human. Thank you for the reminder to give myself positive self-talk.

    4. SarahKay*

      Pretend your mistake was made by a co-worker who is now telling you about the mistake. What would you say to them? Would you think they are unreliable?
      If your response to them would be something along the lines of “Not to worry” or “it’s an easy slip” or “everyone makes mistakes sometimes” or “that’s an easy thing to fix” then try and apply that response to yourself.
      I really do sympathise, because I’m very prone to noticing the one thing I got wrong (in my mind I see it in HUGE 100 font print) and barely noticing the 99 other things that were fine (which seem to be in tiny 4 font print). I found that thinking about what I’d say if someone else made the error has helped me bring it back into proportion and be kinder to myself.

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

      Following this because except for the mental health diagnosis I could have written this.

  14. No right answer*

    Option 1: Dream job, new field, dynamic humanitarian work, lots of growth, 10 days PTO, big (200+) organization, eventually in person (or at least hybrid), three round interview.

    Option 2: Routine job, new but an eventually more lucrative field, little opportunity for growth, 24 days PTO, fully remote, small (<10) but growing business, one thirty minute interview.

    Within 5k of each other. There are no dream jobs. Have had terrible luck at prior small businesses in comparative field.

    What say you readers?

    1. Baron*

      I would go with Option 1, just because I do better in bigger organizations and care a lot about humanitarian work. I’ve had plenty of “eventually more lucrative” jobs, and…that doesn’t pan out, always.

      1. What's in a name?*

        Agreed, I get a bad feeling about number two. Not sure why, but my gut doesn’t like it.

        Also, 24 days PTO? why not 25?

        1. CBB*

          Maybe it’s actually 15 days PTO, plus 9 paid holidays.

          That’s no what most people would call 24 days “PTO”, but it would technically be 24 days when you’re paid but don’t work.

        2. College Career Counselor*

          Probably because it accrues as 2 days per month. But I get the same vibes about the <10 person org.

        3. Xena*

          Yes–how is there simultaneously a “small growing company” and “no opportunity to growth”? I feel like those should be opposites.

          1. No right answer*

            They do sound opposing don’t they? They’re adding a bunch of roles at my level, but my level is the second highest, with the highest being owner. So growing business but no opportunity for growth in the role.

      2. No right answer*

        Yeah I’ve been considering that. Plus doing something I’m bored by my whole career doesn’t sound appealing, though the money definitely does (this salary would be considered average for someone with no experience).

        But option 1 is a new role within a super small department (1.5 others – manager and part time assistant) so I imagine I’ll be wearing a lot of hats and I’m wary of taking that on. I’d also be close to the cap of what I could make in this field.

    2. Littorally*

      Option 1, but see if you can negotiate more PTO.

      I am biased, though — I like working for big organizations. While they can certainly still be dysfunctional, I feel like you tend to have less extreme lows of individual bad behavior. Additionally, room for growth is a big element — go for a career, not just a job.

    3. Bex*

      I am incredibly leery of small but growing companies if the growth is fast. It’s come back to haunt me every time I’ve taken one. Usually it means there’s a lack of HR, favoritism/nepotism reigns when it comes to setting up management positions, and job roles aren’t clearly defined because “everyone pitches in!”

    4. Claire*

      The amount of PTO is a bummer, but I think I would go with Option 1 especially if the salaries are similar. I similarly have had terrible luck at such small businesses, and would prefer something that is beyond the “tiny” stage.

    5. Lady_Lessa*

      I’m a lab person, and personally prefer a small company. For me, it is a more varied work load and less formal structure.

      My personal experience has been the opposite of yours, I’ve had more problems with the larger ones.

      Example, I am sensitive to a common material that lab gloves are made from. Large company complained about having to get the material that they were avoiding. Small company, purchasing saw my hands and immediately ordered the other material. We have to be careful, because we have at least one person sensitive to the material I have to wear, and I am sensitive to the material that everyone else uses.

    6. The Smiling Pug*

      I’m going to go with Option 1. I’ve been burned too many times working at small companies to say yes to the second choice.

    7. anonymous73*

      It honestly depends on what is important to YOU. For me, PTO and commute are my #1s. It sounds like you would prefer option 1 – 2 weeks is nothing for time off, especially if it’s all in one sick time/vacation time bucket. I would try negotiating for more. But that’s me.

    8. pcake*

      The only reason I could see going with job 2 is that they’ll let you work remotely, so it would depend on how you feel about in-person work. I love working remotely – I’ve been doing it since 1996, and it rocks – but I am nervous about small, new companies.

      Since you don’t mention benefits, I’ll assume they’re close to equal, and in that case and if remote work isn’t an issue, I’d definitely go with job 1.

      1. No right answer*

        Job 2 will eventually get me more money – the industry is more lucrative. My salary will be the same at either place, in job 1 I will be almost topping out the salary band for that field, in job 2 I will be being paid for just two years of experience.

        I love remote work which is why job 1 is making me hesitant. Fully remote now, hybrid down the line tbd with the manager, but I don’t know that it would ever be fully remote.

    9. Beth*

      Are these both solid job offers?

      For my part, I’d probably go with Option 1; but I’ve already put in time in a field that went nowhere, and I wanted something different when I left it.

    10. LadyByTheLake*

      Option 1 seems to me to be the clear winner, especially since Option 2 is counting normal paid holidays as PTO (which is BS right there), so the PTO actually might be about the same. I’ve learned to distrust short interview processes — that isn’t enough time for either side to get the information they need to make a decision, and doesn’t bod well for the company as a whole.

      1. No right answer*

        Option 2 doesn’t count paid holidays as PTO. It’s 24 (2/month) plus the regular 12 fed holidays.

        Yeah I am really worried about the short interview. I was so thrown by it I offered to speak again at the end of the interview lol.

        1. LadyByTheLake*

          My bad, I read another commenter’s comment as yours. I still would go with option 1 — option 2 is giving me bad vibes.

    11. snarkitect*

      Based on the way you described the two options, I get the sense you’re leaning toward option 1, even if you haven’t admitted it to yourself yet. Ask yourself – does one feel appealing and the other feel like you’re considering it because you *should* for some reason (money, opportunity for advancement, etc)?

    12. Square Root of Minus One*

      Well, I say option 2 because I wouldn’t even consider option 1. So little PTO is a dealbreaker. I absolutely couldn’t handle it, I’d snap like a twig.
      But that’s me, not you. And if it were me I’d choose 2 but I’d still be keeping an eye out there.

    13. Quinalla*

      Yes option 1 and negotiate for PTO and if they won’t budge, does it bump significantly after 1 yr (to 15 days at least)? I could live with that for 1 yr, but wouldn’t put up for longer than that. The growth opportunities is what I would want for sure, though fully remote for me right now is a huge sell, depends how important that is to you.

  15. Rock Prof*

    I’ve had some students send me there resumes recently to look over, as they’re applying to graduate school and jobs in their fields. A couple of them have listed details of every job they’ve had but then just listed really relevant internships as single bullet points under a different heading (like, ‘internships’ or ‘extracurricular’). I’m thinking of telling them that for jobs where they’d be relevant, I’d put the internships under the job headings and maybe include less detail about some of the less relevant-job experience. This wouldn’t be off-base right?
    Some of them have done county-wide water testing, have trained people on different environmental techniques, or have worked as park rangers over their internships, but you’d never know that from their resume!

    1. BlueWolf*

      I agree with you. When I was fresh out of college, I had a related experience section including internships, and then listed unrelated jobs under other experience. An internship (paid or unpaid) is still work and they should not downplay them if the experience was directly relevant to the jobs they are applying to.

    2. MechanicalPencil*

      Oh my gosh, please tell them. If I were a student, I would love that sort of feedback. They’re looking for something in their field, and that’s the sort of critique they need. Give them a helpful shove in the right direction!

    3. lemon*

      This is why it can be helpful to have “Related Experience” and “Additional Experience” sections on the resume. The internships that are relevant can be listed under “Related” with more detail. Other jobs, like shelving books in the library or working in a cafe, can be listed under “Additional” with less detail. Like Alison always says, resumes are a marketing tool.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        This is how I formatted my resume in (and just after) college. Internships are jobs (even if they were unpaid) and should be listed with the other jobs.

      2. College Career Counselor*

        This is exactly how I advise students to list their experiences. Sometimes students give more weight/space to jobs that paid vs. experiences that are relevant to the job/field they’re applying to. RockProf, you’d be steering them in the right direction to have them make these changes.

        1. fueled by coffee*

          Yeah, I think there’s a lot of (correct) resume advice out there for college students that actual, paid positions are more valuable than volunteer experience. But I think some students interpret this incorrectly, and give their relevant internship experience the short-shrift in favor of unrelated paid experience. Telling them about this is doing them a service for their next several job searches!

      3. Esmeralda*

        If the internships are especially relevant and/or substantial, make sure they are foregrounded on the resume — put them closer to the top and use a header that highlights them. Like, not just Related Experience, but Llama Industry Experience. Make them really pop out

      4. Rock Prof*

        Thanks! As someone with a 7+ page academic CV, I never trust my resume instincts. Would it be inappropriate for a straight-out-of-undergrad student to have a resume that is over 1 page? This particular student has a double-major, so they have internships, lab-based jobs, and a few other positions that fall within the major fields. They also have some retail experience and other jobs, that I think they could just list without details to save space. I think we could get it to 1.5 pages and highlight a lot of good stuff, but it’s hard to know what to cut. They aren’t even listing

        1. MissCoco*

          I think it’s good to stick with a 1 page rule right out of college, but this sounds like it’s not a resume *for a job*, but rather a draft or master resume, and in that case I think a “too long” resume that includes things that might get cut for a specific job is completely fine
          That said, I usually don’t blink at the top 1/4 of a second page getting used, even right out of undergrad.

          Also, narrower margins (within reason) is a an easy way to gain space on a page without making things look crowded

        2. lemon*

          Probably best to try to stick to one page. If they have enough relevant experience to fill a full page, I wouldn’t think that they’d need to list non-relevant jobs like retail.

        3. Quinalla*

          I highly recommend right out of college keep it to one page, there just isn’t that much that is relevant that needs to be on their resume right now – as much as that can seem incorrect when you are in it. I mean, I wouldn’t turn someone down that went to page 2 or anything, but I know there would be a lot more “fluff” on the resume in that case based on 2 page resumes I’ve seen from recent grads. My resume with 20 years experience is only 1.5 pages, it can vary, but generally keeping it short and easy to read is key for resumes. Flesh out some stuff in cover letters and then of course in interviews.

    4. Rayray*

      Does your school offer resume workshops or have career services center that can help? I think you could offer your feedback and let them know about any resources the school offers to help.

      1. Rock Prof*

        They do, but the advise at the career center hasn’t been super relevant. They’ve reported that some of the career center advise has included things like listing “good penmanship” on their resume.
        I teach our senior seminar class, so this is also literally part of my job in that course.

      2. Ina Lummick*

        I would seriously pause with the advice centre. I got my CV checked over by them first and sent it to a friend for proof reading. Friend said there was a lot of things that needed work and had I spoken to the careers centre?

        After getting it fixed from there, I’ve since followed Alison’s advice, editing it a bit for norms in the UK, and it’s worked great so far.

  16. Disgruntled*

    I currently have unlimited PTO. I know why “unlimited” PTO can be problematic, but I’m really good at taking it. I probably take about 4 weeks a year annually. My company also closes for the last two weeks of the year, which we don’t log as PTO. My job is mentally demanding and requires long hours, and I’ve always appreciated that I’m trusted to take the time I need to rest and recover between big assignments.

    The policy is changing at the end of the year. As of January 1, I will have 15 vacation days a year. There is no longer an end of year shutdown, though we’re encouraged to use vacation time at the end of the year to take those two weeks off. Assuming I use some of my accrued time at the end of the year, that would leave me with less than two weeks of vacation time for the entirety of January to mid-December. I’ll technically have unlimited sick days.

    I nearly cried when I read the announcement. I truly don’t believe I can be a mentally and emotionally healthy worker under this new policy. It also seems incredibly short sighted to be rolling back employee benefits during the “Great Resignation” which has already led to high turnover and understaffed projects in my industry.

    Am I overreacting? I know there are many people in the US who get little to no time off at all and that this rant may make me seem privileged or out of touch. But the new policy is such a departure from my current situation that I feel like I’m losing a lot.

    1. Littorally*

      You’re not overreacting. Changing the unlimited policy to a solid 15 days is one thing, but taking away two weeks of free time off at the end of the year is huge. You’ve gone from 5 weeks to 3.

      1. Green Goose*

        The two week closure is what seems the worst to me. When I take my own vacation, work goes on and my projects and emails pile up. During our three week closure, everyone is off so when we come back we aren’t returning to a pile of work. It’s nice to ease back into work like everyone else, instead of returning to a mountain of emails.

    2. Epsilon Delta*

      You are not overreacting. Going from unlimited PTO to 15 days(!!) is ridiculous. At least you have a separate bucket for sick time. Do you think your boss will be pretty flexible with letting you use some sick time as PTO? I had a boss who used to tell me he didn’t care how I logged my time off and that it was ok to use sick days as vacation days, as long as I was quiet about it.

      1. cat servant*

        Mental Health is still Health and therefore sick leave can be used for Mental Health days! I had a manager that made it very clear we could use our sick leave for a mental break and encouraged it. He was my favorite manager. Unfortunately they moved him on up and out of our group :(.

      2. Disgruntled*

        Yes, they’ve told us mental health days can count as sick days. Probably a week’s worth of the time I take each year is individual days here and there for personal appointments, planned rest days when there’s a lull in my work, etc. I expect to be counting a lot of those as sick days next year!

      3. Black Horse Dancing*

        15 days annual leave is really pretty average. Two weeks a year plus holidays is pretty normal.

    3. Eldritch Office Worker*

      You’re absolutely not overreacting. Are other employees feeling the same? Any chance of pushing back as a group?

      1. Disgruntled*

        People are somewhat disappointed, but no one seems as disappointed as I am, which is what made me wonder if I was overreacting. I think I’m probably better at using my PTO than some people, for whom 15 days is equal to or an improvement from what they’re already taking.

    4. Oreo*

      Not overreacting at all, that is a lot of time that you once had and won’t have in the near future. I’d have to bet others in your company are equally as disappointed as well. So sorry!

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      That is bs and I’m sorry. Did they give any explanation for the change? I would be livid– if you’re encouraged to use PTO for those last two (!) weeks, you’re down to a single week of PTO.

      This would be a good reason to job search if you’re leaning that way. That’s a pretty drastic change to your benefits.

      1. Winter Tech*

        Also, mental health days are totally a thing. A day here or there, especially in the middle of the week, is pretty normal. Won’t help with things like trips, but sometimes having a day off where you just give yourself permission to decompress works wonders.

      2. Disgruntled*

        Yes, my company was acquired a while back (still operates as an independent subsidiary) and this is standard policy at our parent company. There are some other minor changes, like transitioning to a new HR system and transitioning insurance plans, but this is the one big change that will drastically impact my quality of life.

        I expect I’ll start looking for a new job soon—I’m not passionate enough about the work or my career path to have my PTO essentially cut in half.

    6. CatCat*

      You’re not overreacting. You feel like you are losing a lot because you are, in fact, losing a lot.

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

      You’re not overreacting. Hoping that everyone takes their PTO at the end of the year is ridiculous. Management is in for a surprise I think. If they are counting on still “shutting down” for two weeks — there is a business savings for doing that I bet — they’re going to find that they won’t be able to, and then they’ll end up being open with 20-30% staff doing nothing because nothing can get done. I hope they walk this back.

    8. Nonprofit Foot Solider*

      Not overreacting! This is a big change and I’m sure you’re not the only one worried and anxious about it. Depending on your relationship with your supervisor I’d recommend at least talking to them and asking if maybe the amount of vacation days (15) is negotiable at all (based on how long you’ve been there).

      I work somewhere with “unlimited pto” and it works for some people here, but for many they never actually get time off (because each department handles it so differently) so they may be responding to feedback that it’s hard to take pto when it’s technically unlimited.

      No closing for the end of year is probably the biggest gut punch, my job took this away last year after I had it for more than 10 years and was shocked that people were upset. They kept it and started a rule no time off was allowed during that period (to be “fair” since everyone couldn’t be gone at once).

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with this as it’s truly sucky. Not more advice unfortantely, but just confirmation that you’re allowed to feel anyway you want!

    9. anonymous73*

      If I was offered a job that started with 3 weeks of vacation and unlimited sick time, I would be okay with that. But to go from unlimited time off AND 2 weeks auto vacation at the end of the year to 3 weeks and unlimited sick time is a bit harsh. So no you’re not overreacting. I’d be pissed.

    10. Irish girl*

      Not an overreaction. You will need to use your sick time as mental health days for the break that you need to recover mentally. Hopefully they will allow that.

    11. Sea Anemone*

      I used to have your new time off allowance … it was awesome. We were allowed to take our unlimited sick time for doctor’s visits, which was really helpful, so check into that. And sick time includes mental health time! Yes, you are getting less time off over all. With some reframing in your mind and an adjustment to how you use your sick time to manage your mental health, I think you will find it works out much better than you are anticipating.

    12. Little Lobster*

      This would be a really legitimate thing to quit over. Definitely push back as a group if you can!

    13. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I went through a HORRIFIC couple of years at my current job where an employee was simply making life miserable for the entire office by being incompetent, combative, obstructive, and racist/sexist while claiming he was being discriminated against for race (when really we just wanted him to STFU).

      I carefully planned my schedule so that there were days that I could call in with minimal disruption to others. I didn’t often actually take the day off, but the little sticky note discreetly blocking the day was a lifeline for my mental health.

    14. HigherEdAdminista*

      You aren’t overreacting. If I was used to having essentially six weeks of vacation a year and they cut that in half, I would be looking for something else.

      I bet they are going to see sick leave usage go up quite a bit because now instead of people feeling they can plan a rest day here and there without losing vacation days, they are going to hoard that time off.

      The last year should have taught employers that being as flexible as possible with employees who are getting results is the way to go, but it seems for many of them all it did was instill a need to try to control as much as possible.

      1. Disgruntled*

        Nope, no rollover! And no payout for unused days except where required by law. And if when you leave the the company you’ve taken more vacation time than what you have accrued, they’ll dock your last paycheck.

        1. Cj*

          I guess I don’t know why they wouldn’t dock your last paycheck if you’ve taken more vacation than you’ve accrued. I would be shocked if a company didn’t do that.

    15. Charlotte Lucas*

      I agree that you’re losing a lot. And everyone is not going to be OK with just using 2/3 of their vacation time in a way that benefits management.

      Are they at least letting you roll over unused days? And is there any upping of time based on seniority?

      When my benefits changed due to a position reclassification, I s

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Didn’t finish! I started job hunting hard. Much happier now.

        And I hear from former coworker that my old position has been re-reclassified. Because no one would do it for what was on offer. And this was before COVID.

    16. I never saw Dune*

      2 weeks is pretty standard in many jobs. I wonder if the company is needing to cut costs and the C-suite or an advisor noticed 6 weeks off for all employees isn’t sustainable for the company. That said it does suck to go from 6 weeks to 2. Maybe you can be creative with sick leave.

    17. Clara*

      I think losing that last 2 weeks is such a big deal. I started a new job that I think is 15 days off, but we do have the last week off and that really makes a difference.

    18. Niniel*

      Not over-reacting AT ALL. You went from 6 weeks of vacation time to 3. I would be job hunting if I were you, that is ridiculous.

    19. The Ginger Ginger*

      No overreaction. That is a HUGE cut. They’re giving you only 15 days, then encouraging you to use MOST of it to have time off that you’ve always had “for free” before. That’s a horrible downgrade in benefits and the fact they don’t recognize that is hugely disheartening. Is there a group of you who can point that out to them and express that concern?

    20. anon attorney*

      Good Lord I would have cried too. That is a huge change. I would absolutely quit over something like that. I don’t live in the US and I find many of the postings on here about PTO quite horrifying (how can any human function well on one week off out of 52, I do not get it) but the fact that many other people have even less PTO than this does not mean you should have to be cool with such an enormous cut – it means the culture around PTO is broken. (Not wanting to get into a big flame war about US/non-US work cultures here – I just wanted to validate the OP’s feelings about this even though she acknowledges many people have less PTO.)

      1. Cj*

        I understand it’s a significant downgrade in a benefit that the OP had previously. However, 15 days of PTO of combined vacation and sick pay is actually pretty standard. They still have unlimited sick days, which is huge.

        1. NancyDrew*

          I feel like people on this board always argue that 2 weeks is standard US vacation leave, but since I started working professionally 20 years ago I’ve never worked at a place that offered less than 3 weeks (not counting paid holidays!). So I’m always surprised when people think 2 weeks is normal, because it’s so abnormal in my experience!

          I’ve always worked for larger companies based in NYC, so I wonder if that’s it.

          Just want to flag to people that jobs absolutely exist where much longer vacation allotment is given!

    21. Green Goose*

      I would have cried too! I like my job, but even during times that I’m feeling really frustrated with it, our very generous PTO keeps me here. We close for three weeks and I also have about six weeks I could take (but don’t usually take, not bragging). But that guaranteed long closer over break has made it possible to see family every year, including ones that live really far away and that’s actually made me less interested in moving on because I have not found other orgs that do that. I’m so sorry, I would be re-thinking my time at the company if they did that.

      Did they offer any explanation?

    22. Anonymous Hippo*

      I would have a fit, so no, you aren’t overreacting.

      You can negotiate this number. You can any time, but I think right now when they changed the policy is a great excuse. 15 days is a travesty outside the US. Ask for the 6 weeks.

  17. STONKS*

    For those of you who have moved a significant distance for a job — what advice would you give? If you were going to do it over again, what would you do differently? If you had a lease, did your job cover breaking the lease? Did you work remotely until your lease ended? Did you just eat the cost? How long did your job give you to get settled?

    1. Baron*

      I have done this and it went poorly.

      My advice would be to get as much time as you can to get settled. I flew in on a Saturday and started work on a Monday, and that just started me off on the wrong foot.

      And, yes, I had to eat my lease, but the relocation package they gave me more-or-less compensated in other ways.

    2. House Tyrell*

      I’ve moved cross country for work twice. I worked remotely until my lease ended each time, my company was not paying to break it. Neither job gave me time to settle, I “lucked out” and moved over long weekends both times and then just settled and unpacked etc after work. Neither job had the option to cover the cost of my move and they are really expensive so I would double the amount of savings you think you need to pay for everything if you also pay out of pocket.

    3. BayCay*

      I got lucky and found a sub-leaser for my remaining 6 months. The job I moved to also paid my my moving expenses so that was helpful. My best advice is to weigh your options. If your new job is open to you working remotely until your lease ends, that’s probably going to be a good option. If not, you can look into finding a sub-leaser. Keep in mind that many landlords charge a fee to find a sub-leaser for you, so if you can find one yourself, might help.

    4. Little Lobster*

      If you can afford it, give yourself a LOT of time off before and after moving, like at least 2 weeks before and 2 weeks after. Negotiate for moving expenses. DON’T use movers. I didn’t, and had all my things with me every step of the way. Several of my coworkers used moving services, and they all had to threaten legal action against their movers for their stuff to show up. I talked to my landlord and offered to take the reins on finding someone to take over my lease. I did, and didn’t have to break my lease.

      1. House Tyrell*

        Oh yes second not using movers! None of them can guarantee an arrival date, there are a million horror stories of lost/broken/stolen items, etc. Rent a truck, use TaskRabbit or something to hire people to load/unload, and then drive yourself if you can!

    5. christmas candle*

      I have done this three times, albeit in a field where it’s somewhat common (academia). First time no lease to break (staying w family), second time ate the cost of breaking lease, third time end of lease fortunately coincided with new job. Working remotely wasn’t an option pre-covid. I think each time I probably moved a couple of weeks before I started work. Hiring is so slow in academia that postponing a start date by a couple weeks isn’t a big deal. If that’s not possible I would see if you can at least negotiate a few days of personal time here and there to get things done during the workday–stuff like transferring car registration and getting a new license if you’re moving between states, etc. I had a relocation allowance of $3000-4000 for each move and I think I paid above that every time. I am a single person with no kids and a 1 br apartment’s worth of stuff. So on the one hand, it cost less to move than a full household, but on the other hand I paid for long-distance movers each time as opposed to a cheaper option like renting a U-Haul or a pod because I couldn’t move my furniture myself.

    6. Sea Anemone*

      If you hire a mover, understand the difference between movers and moving brokers. Hire a well-known nationwide brand. The initial quote will be more expensive, but the final cost will probably be the same. Understand what a binding estimate really means. Get an in-house or video visit for the estimate.

      I just moved states for work. I asked about working remotely for a while so I could change jobs sooner (it can take up to two months for a mover to have a slot available), but it was a no-go for this company. I did not have to break a lease, but I do have to sell my house. For previous jobs, breaking the lease was not covered. For this job, I got a fairly generous lump sum moving allowance which will partially-but-not-completely cover the realtors’ fees for selling the house.

      If you think you want time off to find a new place to live, negotiate that as part of your start date. I’ve previously had house hunting trips as part of my package to find a new place, but not always. This time, I just stayed in a hotel and looked on the weekend. Bosses have always been understanding about my needing time off to do things like register my car, but I was always expected to use PTO or make up the time.

    7. Em from CT*

      I’ve done this.

      If I were to do it again, I’d start off by requesting relocation assistance and/or would reconsider whether I’d take the job if they wouldn’t offer extra funds. It cost me easily $3k—and that was as cheap as I could get it to move from New England to CA. (Maybe if I were younger, I could have been okay with moving with just what I could fit in suitcases on a plane, but in my late 30s I have things like good kitchenware it’d be expensive to replace/replicate.)

      Also—and this may just be anecdata—I discovered that my body didn’t adapt well to a cross-country move. Maybe this isn’t something you can prepare for—but the first week I was in my new place, the first week I was on the job, I came down with an awful fever/flu/cold thing, and had to call out sick.

      1. LabTechNoMore*

        I discovered that my body didn’t adapt well to a cross-country move

        Seconding this. Cross-state moves are extremely stressful, particularly if you’re moving to a different region of the country. Something about how completely disorienting it is to have a new environment, different regional culture, new grocery stores, traffic norms. It takes time to adjust.

      2. new kid*

        I also immediately got a flu-like illness after my cross country move! Thankfully I had a week before my start date so I was on the mend by then and didn’t have to push it back, but I was definitely still talking with a hoarse voice introducing myself to all my new coworkers. That type of move can take a lot out of you!

      3. allathian*

        Yeah, for me just switching time zones would be a problem. Heck, it takes me at least a month to adjust to DST and ST every year.

        1. allathian*

          That said, I did a 6-month Erasmus internship in Spain as a college student. I lived in an apartment owned by my parents. They didn’t charge rent, but obviously I paid for utilities, etc. So I didn’t have to put any furniture in storage, and it was all waiting for me when I got back. The local university helped me find a room.

    8. Filosofickle*

      It’s not something I’d do differently but something I’d do the same: I got a 3 month furnished sublease and put my stuff in storage. In a highly competitive and expensive city, that gave me time to properly choose a neighborhood and an apartment. Doing that well long distance is incredibly hard (unless you have buckets of money and/or local help).

      My landlord let me out of my lease without penalty as they were able to re-lease immediately. I got zero time to get settled, but that was okay because of the sublet.

    9. College Career Counselor*

      Negotiate moving costs separately from pay/benefits/PTO. Get clear what they will cover and how (rental, movers, whether you pay up front and it’s out of pocket do they reimburse you and what limits).

      Sometimes you can get the company to set you up with a realtor or have someone take you around to neighborhoods if you don’t already know the area. I did not have a lease, but I did have to sell a house (2007 and 2012, so that wasn’t too hard, as it turned out). Company would not have bought out my mortgage, so I would either have rented or had to pay two mortgages at once. Comparison shop your long distance movers and ask for itemized quotes. One company wanted $2500 to put my car on the truck and move it. I could drive it there faster and cheaper.

    10. Jellyfish*

      Give yourself some time between completing the move and starting the job if you’re able to at all. You didn’t indicate whether you’re in the US, but if you are moving to a different state, it takes time to reestablish things a new driver’s license.

      If you’re in an area where the stores and brands are different, even things like grocery shopping are unexpectedly exhausting. Getting settled takes a lot of mental energy right after you’ve expended a whole lot of mental and physical energy on the move itself. It’s rough to start learning a new job under those circumstances.

      A week or two without work to unpack, destress a bit, fill out a zillion change of address forms, and familiarize yourself with the area can really help.

    11. AcademiaNut*

      I’ve done this internationally and nationally, both for short term work and longer jobs. I had month to month leases, so no problem there. I sold off or donated large stuff, as nothing I had was with the cost of shipping, and sent smaller, more valuable stuff. One of the big moves I took some time between jobs, which was a really good idea, the other I didn’t (too broke), which was not.

      I started work immediately after arriving, had temporary accommodation while finding a place, and my job was accommodating about letting me do apartment and paperwork stuff on work time. Remote work wasn’t possible, particularly for the international stuff, as they couldn’t pay me until I had physically entered the country and applied for my residency card or SSC and had a local bank account.

  18. SunlightShelter*

    I’m applying for a more junior version of a job I wasn’t hired for – what should I do?
    This past August I applied for museum job in a subfield that is very niche; this is one of the few institutions that has an entire department of people working on it.  I got fairly far along in the application process but they ultimately chose another candidate.  While I do not know why for sure, I’m guessing that they were looking for someone with more formal education in the subject.
    Now a much more junior position has opened up in the department.  Even though it’s more junior and the pay isn’t as good, I’m still very enthusiastic about this position.  
    How can I put my best foot forward in my cover letter and application questions?  They’re definitely going to remember me – but I’m not sure if that would be a good or a bad thing.  I want to convey that I would be very happy with this position and the growth opportunities it would provide (and not have any weird resentment at the person who was hired for the first position) but I don’t want to undersell myself either.  
    I’d appreciate any advice.  

    1. Soup of the Day*

      I think you can say what you said here! “While I was interviewing last time, I got the impression that the position would require more formal education than I currently have. This position seems better aligned with my experience level and I’m very excited about the opportunity.” There’s nothing wrong with realizing you might not have been completely qualified for the other position. As long as you acknowledge it up front, you should be good. But do address it, so you don’t seem like the kind of person who applies for every open position in the hopes that one of them will work out! They probably liked you but would worry that the lower pay would mean you’ll leave eventually, so you can ease those fears by talking about the things that excite you about this position.

    2. T J Juckson*

      I have no advice on how to approach this particular application, but museums are very often staffed with wildly overqualified people. PhDs, for example, in essentially entry-level research positions (depending on the institution, titles like cataloguer, research assistant, or curatorial assistant). Sometimes people are promoted from those titles, sometimes not. Find out what the culture of the institution is on that. In some places (cough, MoMA), certain jobs are understood as term appointments, after which you are contractually obligated to be promoted or fired. There’s the hope that the experience will mean you are very well placed for a job elsewhere, but that doesn’t always happen of course and timing can go awry so you spend 4 years in the lower titles and nothing ever works out.

      And some institutions are better at letting lower titles do interesting work. Will you get to organize your own shows? Or work on major exhibitions? Write and publish? Be involved more broadly? Or will you be doing work unseen, uncredited, and that doesn’t really give you the experience for the better title?

      Finally, I had the experience of overhearing a curator from a major institution talking with glee about how great it was that all their assistants were MAs and PhDs and how there was an endless stream of them. Yes, it’s so fantastic you have PhDs doing your initial bibliographic research and filling out paperwork! What a wonderful use of their skills!

      In short, applying for a junior position in the museum field with significant experience is not at all unusual.

      1. Black Horse Dancing*

        When the Big Three automakers mostly worked in Detroit, think mid 90s, I worked in a bank, dealt with auto workers constantly. They had Masters and PhDs on their assembly lines. Because the pay was great and OT was common. Your comment comes off as somewhat classist/snotty. If a doctor wants to do museum paperwork, good for them. You have a doctorate and want to flip burgers? Okey Dokey.

  19. Pumpernickel Princess*

    I have my first office job in ~2 years and holy. Freaking. Cannoli. The emails.

    I’ve finally fine tuned my Outlook to the point where it’s less miserable (anything is better than the open source webmail client I was using until yesterday!), but OMG. So much respect for y’all who are able to stay on top of this stuff! I’m finally settling into the role and doing well, but with the number of balls I have in the air (coordinator role), it was time for a new system.

    Any email tips, tricks, or treats from the commentariat?

    1. The New Normal*

      I swear by Trello for coordinating. There’s an add-in for Outlook so I can take an email I receive, add it to Trello, then filter the email out of my inbox and work off of Trello for progress tracking.

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

        Ditto trello or other software. There’s a bunch that link to outlook. Also just the TODO function is handy, although it could be better.

        1. Pumpernickel Princess*

          I LOVE Trello, I use it on a project by project basis for collaborative work. I like the kanban method for longer term collaborative projects, but I have a lot of day to day tasks that I prefer an Eisenhower matrix for. I’ve been using Priority Matrix in Teams, but it’s pretty slow and doesn’t integrate well with Office products. Any tips on how to organize tasks on a priority basis in Trello or Office?

          1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

            Well, with a Kanban board, could you create columns by priority? High, medium, low. And set a limit on how many items can be in high or medium.

            Regarding email:

            I turn every email into a task in my Kanban board/to do list (unless it’s something I can respond to in 5 seconds or less), then Archive the email. I’ll dig up the email when I’m ready to respond, so it’s all still in the thread.

            I also use Outlook Categories to make searching easier: each project gets a category and each team/department. I use Quick Actions to add multiple categories and Archive the email after I’ve turned it into a task in one click.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Oh, get a project management tool. When Jane who’s been assigned “draft the flyers for the park clean-up day” has the draft done, they just mark it that way in the tool, attache the file, add any special notes or caveats needed, etc. Fergus is the designated reviewer: he just refreshes his queue every few hours, sees the draft, and handles it.

      As opposed to Jane emails you, you email back for clarification, then you email Fergus, etc etc.

        1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

          I use TargetProcess and I really enjoy it (I do Agile Scrum software development).

          It doesn’t have a lot of overhead, so it’s pretty easy to get up and running right away.

        2. KX*

          Microsoft Planner isn’t bad, if you are in an Office environment. If you are savvy, there are things you can do with Microsoft Flow and Outlook to tag emails and have them automatically added as a task in Planner, too.

    3. TechWriter*

      Rules are your friend.

      I don’t have a huge amount of email, so mainly I just have one rule set up. We get a lot of “WIN ANNOUNCEMENT!” emails from the sales org that like 500 people feel the need to reply-all “Congrats!” or “Nice!” or “Well done!” to. Anything with that in the subject line goes straight into the trash without bothering my inbox at all. It’s nice.

      1. AVP*

        I can’t believe anyone gets those and has that level of follow that! That is…out of control.

        My *one* rule is that calendar invites go into a different folder as I only get them for meetings I’ve already agreed to so they don’t need to be in the main triage area.

      2. Pumpernickel Princess*

        Having Rules has been so helpful! I set up a rule that sends all messages from a professional listserv to a folder, and I’m loving how much it cut down on my inbox. Definitely sorts out the wheat from the chaff (three week long discussion about the precise definition of a legal term that I’m not involved in, eh?).

    4. Ex-Dog Coor*

      I’m a fan of a lot of folders and flagging emails. Currently, I use my work inbox only for emails I still need to address. Everything else, once it’s handled/responded to/needs no response goes in a folder based on the client I’m emailing, or in a general folder I have for “all other msgs complete”. Keeps my inbox focused, but doesn’t require me deleting emails in case I need them later. Not sure that would work for everyone, but it keeps my inbox low and mostly uncluttered.

    5. anonymous73*

      I create tons of folders and use my inbox as my to do list. Once I read an email, I either file it or delete it (if it’s a thread there’s no need to keep every single email). And if you get a ton of emails every day, block off time on your calendar to dedicate to getting your emails read and in order. I know there’s a search option, but I get anxious having thousands of emails in my inbox, and find it much easier to find something if it’s filed under a relevant subject folder.

    6. Nerd*

      Folders! I had folders and subfolders for topics, some of my coworkers preferred to have folders for every person or department. I also changed the setting to manually mark emails as read. That way, I could keep my inbox pretty clear but see that I had three unread emails in the Widgets folder and five unreads in my Llamas folder that I had to get back to.

    7. Admin of Sys*

      I get ~200 messages a day, so I’m an inbox-zero fan. The only things that stay in my inbox are active in-progress items i need to do something about. /Everything/ else goes into folders and subfolders.
      A saving grace for me is rules to autosort at tag things, and color coded categories. I’ve got status categories for: to do, in progress, info, info needed, follow up, meeting, and done. Messages in the inbox get tagged with a category, anything that gets tagged as ‘done’ leaves the inbox. Everything that isn’t an action item goes into a project folder, plus I’ve got a subfolder up at the top that’s named ‘inbox zero’ which gets anything I may want to refer back to, but doesn’t have a project folder yet.
      Also – outlook desktop client has a search folder function where you can setup searches and save them – so it’ll gather anything from a certain person or with a certain topic, etc, from across all your folders.
      General note: Outlook actually works better if you have multiple subfolders than lots of messages in a single folder. The client pre-loads messages in the folder you have selected, so the more messages you have directly in that folder, the more memory outlook consumes. So if you can, commit to folders.

    8. Mockingjay*

      Search Outlook tips in the archives. I got a LOT of hits – too many to list links here.

      Color Categories; I set up custom and create folders to match. I tag emails by category while I’m working on them. When complete, sort by category, select all items in the color, and drag to the folder as an archive.

      Use Flags for due dates.

      Best tip I learned from AAM: you can drag an email down to the Task icon and it automatically creates a task.

      Configure your view to show the task list.

      1. Pumpernickel Princess*

        That’s such a good tip! I wish I could figure out a way to sort tasks by priority level instead of making them time bound (a lot of my work is on a rolling basis/without firm deadlines). Anyone know how to do this?

    9. Pumpernickel Princess*

      Another email question! Is there a way to automatically file emails that I respond to into a “the ball is in their court” folder? I want to keep my inbox as close to empty as possible but still have a place where I can keep track of pending conversations. I appreciate all the advice in this thread so far!

      1. Hotdog not dog*

        I have a folder called Pending, which I use for long range items without a firm follow up schedule. For other things, I flag them for the specific follow up date and use color coding to indicate the general subject (i.e Alerts, Compliance, Complaints, etc)

      2. Ron McDon*

        I created a folder called ‘awaiting info’ which sits just under my inbox in outlook.

        Anything that I’m waiting to hear back from someone else about goes in there. I go through it each morning or afternoon to clear out items that have been resolved.

        It helps me to keep them all in one place; I’m much less anxious that I’ve forgotten something!

  20. LimeRoos*

    Itty bitty success story from my post a few weeks ago! Mid-September I won a lunch with 2 others and the CEO, e-mails went out, and a month goes by. A few lovely commenters said yes, e-mail the EA, that’s literally her job and she was already looped in earlier. So I did yesterday, and she responded and was lovely. And now the lunch is happening soon, and while it’s not at the fancy-ish seafood restaurant (it’s just used as a placeholder), the EA suggested a few fun/nicer places and we’ll be going to one of those instead of the local brewpub watering hole (which is a fun place, but well, it’s the CEO, let’s go faaancy). So thanks everyone!!

  21. Epsilon Delta*

    I’d love to hear about sabbatical style leaves from work, by which I mean about 3-12 months of unpaid time off work. Not for a life event like having a baby or dealing with illness or going back to school for work, but just time off work for the purpose of personal enrichment/enjoyment. Examples would be things like taking a road trip around the country, taking an extended trip to visit family (not caregiving, visiting!), learning a foreign language that has nothing to do with work, writing a novel, researching your family history, etc.

    How long did you take off? What did you do with your time off? (Probably also relevant: are you in the US?)
    How did the conversation with your boss go?
    Were you able to come back to the same job/company?
    If you had to find a new job, how was the job search?
    What’s something you wish you knew before taking your sabbatical?
    Would you do it all over again?

    1. Dasein9*

      Huh. You’ve given me an idea for using that vacation money I’ve got saved up. Also commenting so I can find this easily, as I’m interested in the replies too.

    2. SheWanders*

      I took a year off after leaving my last hell-hole of a job – a place I had worked for 16 years. I had been planning for a long break and spent months saving in preparation.

      How long did you take off? What did you do with your time off? One year. Rested and recalibrated. Did a lot of home projects. Spent time in my garden everyday. Got out in nature. Did projects for family members. I didn’t put a lot of pressure on myself to DO a lot of things. I needed to just have the unstructured time to feel like me again.
      How did the conversation with your boss go? I resigned without mentioning a sabbatical. I had no interest in returning to that company.
      Were you able to come back to the same job/company? No – intentionally.
      If you had to find a new job, how was the job search? Easy. Surprisingly, they didn’t even ask about the gap. I was ready to have to explain myself, and it was just a non-issue.
      What’s something you wish you knew before taking your sabbatical? The days go by so fast. I look back and wish I could have done more in that year, but, in reality, doing more was not what I needed. My focus was mostly on my mental health.
      Would you do it all over again? YES. I wish everyone could take a substantial amount of time off mid-career. It really helped me to think about how I ended up in such a bad work situation and to prepare to thoughtfully job search in alignment with my priorities.

    3. Formerly in HR*

      Not what you asked for, as I did not personally take a sabbatical. But our company ( Canada) allows them, for leaves that last 6-12 months and are self-funded. There are forms to be filled in and discsusssions with the manager about the leave start (based on finding a replacement) and things get documented like some kind of contract. People get a portion of their paycheque put aside for a while to fund for their sabbatical, so while they are away they are actually paid from the money they first carved out (that the company keeps, with interest). This also allows for benefits contributions to keep rolling, but not for unemployment or pensions contributions. People have to return at the end of their sabbatical for a period at least equal to that of their leave, i.e. are not allowed to go from sabbatical to retirement.

    4. RagingADHD*

      In my 20’s I used to take temp jobs in law firms or in-house corporate legal departments (which often transitioned into FT), save up money, and then take anywhere from 6 months to a year off in order to focus on taking acting classes and auditioning.

      When accepting a FT job, I always made it clear that my creative career came first and I did not intend to stay long term. Then when I was ready to leave, the conversation was along the lines of “yeah, it’s time.” Very friendly. I never went back to the same firm, but stayed in the same industry and often worked with the same placement agencies again.

      It was awesome. In addition to the life experiences in my creative work, the frequent moves gave me a wide exposure to different skills and practice areas, and both the creative and day-job experiences are paying off handsomely now in my current work.

      I’m really glad I did it when I was young, childless and healthy, because if I’d waited it never would have happened.

    5. allathian*

      Not me, but my mom did in her late 40s. I was in high school at the time, and it was a bit odd to have a SAHM again, as I’d been a latchkey kid since I was 8 (not in the US). My mom taught herself Spanish, read a lot, and probably spent more time than she would’ve wanted to with her MIL (they always had a difficult relationship).

    6. Comp Expert*

      I did it! My company allows you to apply to take a sabbatical after 5 years of service, up to 4 months off for ‘rejuvenation’. It’s partially paid (a % of your salary).

      How long did you take off? What did you do with your time off? (Probably also relevant: are you in the US?) – Not in the US. My husband and I went to live in a foreign country and did lots of travelling while we were there. We took 4 months off.
      How did the conversation with your boss go? – I was the first person to try to use the policy but they couldn’t see any good reasons to deny my request.
      Were you able to come back to the same job/company? – Yes, I even got promoted the month before I left and came back to the new, higher position,
      If you had to find a new job, how was the job search? – not applicable
      What’s something you wish you knew before taking your sabbatical? – Planning and saving up for it was essential. Having the finances sorted made the whole experience much more fun. Also, don’t hesitate. I now know a number of people who’ve used the same policy and we all have NO regrets.
      Would you do it all over again? Yes, 100 times over. One of the best, most enriching experiences of my life

  22. alynn*

    I am hoping for some insight.
    My dept makes custom teapots. (It is a small dept that is part of a much larger company.) My dept now has an opportunity to learn from another custom teapot maker -their dept. structure/processes. It is very exciting! It looks like we can learn a lot and improve our own structure/processes. During a recent conversation with my boss, they asked me to consider being part of the (team I guess) reviewing the other dept practices and seeing how that can be introduced to our dept. This sounds like it would be extremely interesting!

    Anyone have experience with this? What does it look like in action? Any questions I should be sure to ask?

    I don’t know if this would be a new position or in addition to my current responsibilities. If it were a new position, what happens when the project is complete? That could take years so maybe I do not need to be worried about it.

    1. Cold Fish*

      I think going in excited and with an open mind is crucial. So it looks like you are 70% there :) A few questions that spring to mind…

      Is the goal more of a “general ideas to bring back to your team” or “get into the smallest detail” review?
      Is there a reason that this dept is being reviewed but not your own? More efficient? better turnaround? Why does the company think this is the team to build off of?
      How/who would be in charge of determining a change in your dept needs to happen? How/who would be in charge of implementation?
      Will part of your role on the team be to bring some of your dept practices that work well to this other team?
      Will this bring about advancement opportunities and are you up for that if it does? If the review does not go well, will it hurt you in moving up within the company?

    2. Cj*

      I’m confused. How can evaluating the practices of another department and seeing how it could be introduced your department take years? Or possibly be an entirely new position? Since it sounds like it would be a much shorter term project to me, I would think you would just be assigned to the project in your current position.

      If you’re not talking just about evaluating, but actually implementing and training your coworkers, it would take longer.

      1. alynn*

        Thank you for pointing out the difference. I don’t know if I would just evaluating or if it also include implementing. I’ll be sure to ask about that as well

  23. W*

    My contract is ending in a couple months so I’m applying to a bunch of jobs. If I don’t land a job, I won’t have a reason to stay in this city away from family after this year (I really don’t want to move back for good, just want to visit family). I’m desperate for any job that will let me stay here, even another contract job while I continue to look for the right opportunity for my next career move.

    I’ve found and applied to a dream job at an art gallery. I am fully qualified for the operational role and super excited. Except because it’s a dream opportunity (a permanent, mediocre-but-not-badly-paid-which-is-great-for-arts position at a leading art gallery), many would kill for it. But I have the unique operational skills and experience for it and I am very confident in my chances. Of course, I’m applying to other jobs as well. But they’re not exciting. One is a contract job but at a leading company that I would enjoy working for. The others are boring, not exciting, but well-paid and comfortable positions.

    Any opinions on if I should just take whatever comes my way because I am desperate or hold out for my desired job? I don’t want to just rescind on offers either.

    1. miro*

      One possible approach, if there are a fair amount of jobs in that area that you’re qualified for and you don’t seem to be having trouble getting interviews, I think you can set a somewhat high bar for acceptance (so, not just take anything that comes your way, but also don’t hold out for just that one job). Maybe you could make a list of criteria (salary above X, hybrid options or other kind of flexibility, certain fields you’re passionate about–it’s hard for me to be specific here because I don’t know your life, but I think being specific yourself can make this most useful) and then tell yourself that you’ll accept anything that fulfills 3/5 ideals (or whatever makes sense for you).

      I feel like this approach can also be positive mentally, since it gives you more of a feeling of agency over the situation but also doesn’t totally let your heart rule at the expense of your wallet. Obviously, take this all with a grain of salt depending on your financial situation, but when I read this it sounded like almost exactly the situation I was in earlier this year and used this approach (spoiler: I didn’t get my awesome first choice arts job but I did get something I’ve ended up being quite happy with).

      1. W*

        Thanks for sharing!

        My financial situation isn’t bad. It’s more that I don’t have a valid reason to stay in this city. But rating the offers according to a criteria is a good idea. Even though the arts job is my favourite, it doesn’t pay as high as the others, so -1 star there. The other jobs are boring (legal) but pay better and are stable.

      2. Cj*

        This isn’t actually what you asked, but wanting to stay in the city where you are is one of the most valid reasons you can have.

        It seems like what you really mean is a valid reason according to your family, who wants you to move back and you don’t want to.

        This is your life, not theirs. Live where you want to as long as you are able to afford to.

    2. Little Lobster*

      I know this isn’t what you’re asking, but as someone who has worked in Fine Arts for a long time, BEWARE of art galleries. Even “leading art galleries.” It’s a notoriously exploitative industry. If you get an interview, go in with a LOT of skepticism and don’t be afraid to ask hard questions. Ask about how many hours people actually work, how much PTO your would-be supervisor has taken this year, what the pay raise schedule is like, how many “hats” people typically wear, why the position is open, etc. Everyone thinks working in a gallery is a dream job. They’re called “gallerinas” for a reason.

      1. W*

        Wow, thanks for the insight! I’ve looked into this art gallery and the Director I’d be reporting to. This is a recognized gallery and the Director is an art historian and has curated other galleries before (even has an official Order of Arts and Letters). I’m also impressed that the salary range is listed in full transparency and all job responsibilities are included. It comes off as a very neat, orderly job post, even more than the other corporate jobs I’m applying to. Should I still be wary that it can be a disaster behind the scenes even if it appears very professional and orderly?

        1. Little Lobster*

          Yes, you should still be wary. I’ve worked at a couple galleries and a couple museums. They’re all a mess behind the scenes, for various reasons. One of my best friends worked at one of the top galleries in the world (the blue-chip type that represents artists that sell work for seven and eight figures), and she quit because she was literally stress-vomiting every day. Any mess of a workplace can put together an orderly job posting. Just be aware!

          1. W*

            Thanks for sharing! Please, tell me more. I had to look up “gallerinas” and haha, that would describe me. I work in a boring legal-related industry and want to get away from that. Even if it’s to another corporate position, I want to get away from legal (but I’m desperate to stay in the city now that I would even take another legal-related job).

            What are some key things to watch out for when I go to interview? Any dos and don’ts besides red flags and the questions you raised? Anything would be appreciated because it’s a whole new field for me.

            1. Little Lobster*

              Just what I said above. It’s the type of work that people take very personally. Being a little too “passionate” about it could be a red flag.

            2. Art person*

              Hi! Commercial art person (10 years) here currently at a blue chip gallery. Going to try and not dox myself too much but here is my insight and advise. The commercial art world is driven by buyers and collectors. Every decision will come down to that. The dealers who cater to these individuals get a lot of leeway. Key thing to know: this is a very “devil wears Prada” type world. If your potential job is within the “gallerina” (which is a bit of an insult) scope, then you will be a lower stature position. I know many a gallery and dealer assistant horror story from colleagues. I’ve never held either position for a reason. When interviewing you want to know the following – 1) how protected will you be. Will you have a boss that would stand up for you if say a stapler is thrown your direction. 2) Will you be in a role far enough separated from toxic employees. Do you know anyone at this particular gallery who can give you the real insight on how it operates and who to avoid. 3) you will want to know about the overall structure and internal hiring practices. Lastly be prepared to do a few years and move on to somewhere else for a raise. Best of luck. Please watch for red flags – there are so many in this industry.

    3. RagingADHD*

      What “valid reason” do you need for staying in your current city other than “I like this city and want to stay because I like it?” The fact that you’re “desperate” to stay is reason enough. You are allowed to choose things just because you like them. It’s valid.

      As to whether to take a long shot job or a boring sure thing, you don’t have to make that decision until you have multiple offers on the table. Apply to everything, see what opens up, and use the interview process to sort good from bad.

      It is impossible to make hypothetical decisions because all the data is imaginary. Wait until you have real data and real choices, then it will be much easier.

    4. Cj*

      This isn’t actually what you asked, but wanting to stay in the city where you are is one of the most valid reasons you can have.

      It seems like what you really mean is a valid reason according to your family, who wants you to move back and you don’t want to.

      This is your life, not theirs. Live where you want to as long as you are able to afford to.

  24. miro*

    I’ve recently read a few “rise and fall of [insert valuable start up/founder]” books lately and was thinking about the normal (non-senior/CEO, probably not super powerful) people who work at those places and what their job prospects look like after the start-up falls apart. Are hiring managers (or just future coworkers) sympathetic to the fact that junior employees are often mistreated by these kind of powerful start-up founders, and that these ordinary employees are often lied to as much as the public? At a place like Theranos, how much of a red flag is being a cog in an unethical wheel?

    Theranos is one thing since the product was so deeply a lie, but what about something like WeWork which was selling an actual thing (office space) but just radically overstated how world-changing it was and has become kind of a joke since then. How does that look on a resume?

    1. Texan In Exile*

      One of the VPs at my job came from WeWork and I wish I knew him well enough to ask, “WTF?”

      1. Clara*

        I had a horrible experience at a company started by a former WeWork. They had worked at WeWork pretty much their whole career and it was clear that they had learned some bad habits and unprofessional behavior.

        The day that Hulu documentary came out we weren’t sure whether to mention it or not, and then they did mention it.

        1. miro*

          Ugh, I’m sorry to hear about that. If you don’t mind sharing, what did the former WeWork person say about the documentary?

    2. W*

      I’ve worked for 2 startups that have gone under. The first was just after university and I NEEDED a job. It was practically an internship. I did everything as an assistant to a temperamental boss who didn’t know how to manage (she had been a journalist, never a people manager). I got out under a year to my first real job after university. The startup went under a few years later because no one was doing the work (because me and the other assistant got out). The second is as a freelance writer for a startup that went under during the pandemic. The startup’s website is still around even though they’re out of business and I still have written work I did for them I can use as samples, so I leave that on my resume.

      Both aren’t high profile as WeWork or Theranos, but I think people understand startups can go under. As long as you have tangible material (like my writing samples in the latter) or additional skills and experience to show for the future, I don’t think my time and energy for the startup was a waste and that it would reflect badly on me.

      1. miro*

        Thanks for sharing, and I’m sorry to hear about that first job in particular (but glad you got out). The point about having tangible materials and being able to point to skills learned/used makes sense–I guess it’s probably like non-startup jobs in that it comes down to how well you’re able to highlight your skills/accomplishments on your resume.

        As someone who works pretty far outside the startup world, this also helped me realize/remember that startups as a category are so much broader than just the ones that are household names because they either make obscene amounts of money or crash and burn (or both).

    3. Rana*

      I think there’s a big difference between “decent idea that didn’t work out” (I was in a failed startup of this kind), “deeply and obviously flawed idea,” and “active Theranos-level deception.” And then there’s a big difference between low-level employee and director/exec.

      I would not blink an eye at any level of employee at a failed startup that was a “decent idea that didn’t work out.” That happens all the time. I live in the Bay Area and many, many people have been through the ringer of this.

      I would not fault a low-level employee at a “deeply and obviously flawed idea” company – the founders were obviously good enough at pitching the idea to investors that they got millions in funding for it, they probably could also convince low-level employees; not to mention many people just need a job/income and even bad-idea companies can give you good experience in your area. If the person was high enough up at the company, I would question their judgement a bit on joining and supporting an idea that makes no sense. Maybe not too harshly, as sometimes people really can make stretch ideas work.

      For “active Theranos-level deception” I wouldn’t fault anyone that joined but left relatively quickly. Things looked great from the outside so there would be no reason not to take a job. Staying after you learned it was all smoke and mirrors is a bit tougher to swallow, but I would try not to judge low-level employees who again may just have needed the income. Mostly I would want to pepper them with questions about what it was really like! I would definitely judge a high-level person who stayed at a company like that – either you knew and didn’t care or you should have known and weren’t paying enough attention.

  25. desdemona*

    Theatre-worker here….TL;DR I referred some people to a gig that is being super shady. Not sure if I can do anything.

    Long version:
    I got an email from someone (Jack) about a decent-paid hourly job, saying I was referred by Jill. Jill is someone I’ve worked for before who is on top of her shit. I wasn’t super available, but I went and interviewed as a way of sussing the place out. They seemed great, and Jack mentioned he’s actually Jill’s romantic partner.
    I decided my schedule wouldn’t allow me to take the gig, but passed it on to some friends. My friend Sam jumped on the opportunity, interviewed, got the gig, and has been on shift 2-3 days per week.

    Well, last week Sam told me that he hasn’t been paid yet. In his interview he was told it would be biweekly pay. When the first check didn’t come, he followed up and Jack told him that the contract states monthly pay. Sam never signed a contract. He told me yesterday that his last invoice email was not acknowledged, and he’s asked to see this contract dictating pay schedule but has not gotten a response.

    I suspect the “contract” may be Jack’s contract with the venue. My understanding of setup is Venue hired Jack, and Jack is responsible for hiring the technical staff, who are on 1099s.

    But…what do I do? Obviously I’ve asked Sam to keep me posted, and I’m not planning on ever referring someone to Jack again. I’m horrified that my friend has been working there for almost a month and has not received any pay nor a clear explanation of the pay schedule.

    1. not a doctor*

      You don’t need to do anything other than what you’re already doing, which is not referring anyone else to Jack. Your part in this situation ended when Sam got and took the job on his own merits and of his own free will — you’re not responsible for anything that happened after that.

      1. desdemona*

        Yeah…I just wish I could do something more? I’m pretty mad at Jack, and wondering if this is something Jill should know about, since she referred a bunch of people (myself included) to him. I haven’t spoken to her much recently, but pre-pandemic we were pretty friendly.

    2. WellRed*

      There’s nothing you can do but your friend should look up state laws regarding getting paid. He should consider not putting in more hours until this is resolved.

      1. desdemona*

        We’re in NY, so the “freelance isn’t free” act will apply. I think he has to be paid w/in 30 days of invoice unless a contract states otherwise.

    3. Admin of Sys*

      Have you talked to Jill? I would definitely mention it to her, both to verify if Jack is actually her partner, to explain what’s going on, and to ask if she has insight. In a standard business world environment, I wouldn’t do that, but theatre is built somewhat on the relationships folks have with eachother.

      1. desdemona*

        Based on some instagram checking, they are indeed a couple! That was not a lie. Jill is pretty private about her personal life / we mostly hang out in a work context, so it makes sense that I’ve never met him before.

        Because we are mostly friends-in-a-theatre-workplace (slightly more casual/personal than office work-friends, as you seem to know but for anyone else reading!), I’m not sure if it’s appropriate or not to approach her. On one hand, she referred me to someone being unclear at best or shady at worst about paying people. On the other hand, that person is her romantic partner of several years. Aaaaah.

    4. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      Need to do? You’re doing it.

      What more could you do? Contact Jack and say “I referred someone to you and they haven’t been paid, I’m disappointed”. In fields where reputation and referrals matter, that may motivate Jack to pay up.

      Could also contact the venue and/or Jill. They should be mortified to find out this is happening.

    5. Policy Wonk*

      Did you ever confirm what Jack told you with Jill? If not, I’d start there. If he lied about Jill, this probably can’t be saved.

      1. desdemona*

        Based on some instagram checking, they are indeed a couple! That was not a lie. Jill is pretty private about her personal life / we mostly hang out in a work context, so it makes sense that I’ve never met him before.

    6. RagingADHD*

      Ex theater person here. The only thing for sure I’d do is apologize to Sam and assure him that I believed Jack was totally legit. And warn any other friends I referred that “nope, this didn’t turn out well.” Jack may tap that list again if Sam leaves, so they need a heads-up.

      This isn’t Jill’s problem. She isn’t Jack’s manager or his mother, she’s his romantic partner. Don’t cross the streams and make her responsible for his behavior. If you have occasion in the future to talk to her or work with her, it might come up in conversation, but for now the only thing to do with her is that you can take it under advisement if anyone else uses her as a reference. Apparently she has questionable taste in romantic partners.

      You have no relationship with Jack outside that one interview. So he has no reason to listen to or respond to you. You can’t be sure if he’s deliberately being shady, or if he’s incompetent and trying to cover his ass with BS.

      I think you are a random in this. Sam needs to self-advocate.

      1. Cj*

        Its not Jills responsibility, but she, like anybody who is referring people to someone who doesn’t pay, should be made aware of this so they don’t make referrals in the future.

        I know it’s awkward since their romantic partners, but it doesn’t sound like the OP and Jill are all that close anyway.

  26. BlueWolf*

    I agree with you. When I was fresh out of college, I had a related experience section including internships, and then listed unrelated jobs under other experience. An internship (paid or unpaid) is still work and they should not downplay them if the experience was directly relevant to the jobs they are applying to.

  27. Shouting Into the Abyss*

    Some days it feels like my job is just translating from one part of the team to another.
    I’m not the PM or anything, just an individual contributor.
    Language barriers are minimal, but jargon barriers are considerable.

    This is not helped by the fact that the company has acquired other companies that don’t have the same processes and I fear that instead of training them in our way of doing things, management is going to just let every project use a different process, based on who’s on the team.

  28. Need somewhere to sit*

    New job is 100% remote and desk work. My home office setup is….not great. But I do have some money to put into it.
    I need a new office chair for my plus size self.
    Any recommendations for a chair for plus size people?
    (Please I *just* want chair recommendations. No diet or exercise advice, no suggestions for a standing desk or a treadmill desk or anything like that. No concern trolling. Just chair recommendations, please.)

    1. christmas candle*

      I bought a Modway Clutch for myself. I got it from Target but it’s available at several online retailers at the moment.

    2. Anony*

      Aeron! They’re not specifically plus size but they have different sizes that are spec’d for different heights/weights. I’m short (5’3) and plus size-ish (14/16) and the B chair fits me perfectly. You can get them used for about $300-400; a lot of cash but they last for ages. I’ve recently seen knock-offs in Costco and Office Depot for around $75, so those might be an option too.

    3. My chair dumps me on the floor*

      It might be pretty expensive for a good office chair. I spent $150 (a lot to me) and the chair is absolute crap. The setting to keep the seat level is worn out or just never that strong and every time I sit down the seat tilts forward like it’s trying to dump me on the floor even after trying all the things to fix it.

      1. Filosofickle*

        You’re correct that $150 isn’t high end when it comes to chairs, but what’s most frustrating is that price doesn’t tell you much about quality or how it fits your body. I’ve sat in $400 chairs I’ve hated, and $150 chairs I’ve loved, and currently use an inexpensive IKEA dining room chair that is perfect for my pinched nerve. (My back prefers hard to soft, go figure.) Even with free shipping, I’d hesitate to spend hundreds on a chair without being able to try it out IRL first.

    4. Brownie*

      Steelcase Leap Plus. Expensive new, but refurbished can be found online occasionally. I’ve been using the one my work bought for me for 6+ years of 9+ hour days now and it looks and feels like new. First office chair I’ve ever had that didn’t break under my weight and constant shifting/wiggling within a year. If you’re short/have shorter legs it’s a wonderful chair as the seat depth can be adjusted to be short. No digging into the back of my legs, I can have my feet on the floor without weird leg positions, fully adjustable armrests that actually sit out from the chair so they’re not digging into my hips, it’s a fabulous chair. Take a look at the regular Leap v2 as well, due to the armrest and flatter-than-most seat shape I can fit into one of those without hip discomfort and those are much cheaper and easier to find refurbished, though the extra wiggle room on the Plus is fabulous.

      1. LadyByTheLake*

        I was coming to recommend the Leap chair. Not cheap but I’ve had mine for ten years and it is still as good as new. I am tall with long legs and I’ve gained nearly 50 pounds since I first got it, so the ability to adjust pretty much everything makes it the most comfortable chair I’ve every tried. Don’t get a knock off, get the real thing.

      2. MissCoco*

        My partner picked up a Leap from an office liquidator in our city for a good price, so that’s another route to look at (regardless of the chair you want to try). He was also able to go to the warehouse and sit in a few to make sure he picked one without any issues, so that might be a good option if you have a couple models that sound interesting

    5. The Ginger Ginger*

      Plus size myself, and when I bought my last chair I specifically looked for chairs that called out a weight limit that met my needs. Then I bought lumbar and butt support pillows to flesh out any pain points I was (already) having in my back. It’s worked really well for me, and the chair has already lasted longer than any other I’ve had. It’s much more durable. I ended up buying from office depot, I think. But I got there by google office chair weight limit and throwing some numbers around in there.

    6. Observer*

      Is your chair the only issue you have?

      In my experience the things that make the most difference to overall comfort at a desk setup are your chair, the right lighting (fluorescent vs LED, avoiding glare, etc.) and making sure that your monitor and keyboard are the right height. Once you have a chair that works for you, that’s when I would look at whether you should adjust those heights.

      PS Aeron makes nice chairs, but you don’t necessarily need the highest end ones.

    7. Sonoma Gal*

      Plus-size gal here. I love my SitOnIt Wit chair. We got these at work and I happily traded in my Aeron for it – it’t that comfortable. For WFH they offer a discount code that is more than 50% off – just google SitOnIt and you’ll see a place for work-from-home. Give them your zip and you get the code.

      I also liked the Leap chair when I had one, it is very good. There is a major seating liquidator online called Seatingmind which sells refurbished chairs. They have lots of options from every major manufacturer. Not a lot of info on their site though, so you may need to go to the manufacturer’s site to get spec information.

  29. suffering through grad school*

    I’m currently in my second (last) year of a professional master’s degree and trying to weigh when I should start putting real time and effort into applying for jobs (likely mostly nonprofit, but some corporate and government will probably be in the mix). Ideally I’d be relocating across the country if that changes anything. I graduate in May, and have started looking to know what’s out there, but am not sure if I should be firing into the ether yet? I’ve generally been planning on starting over winter break. And on a related note… even if it is too early to be applying as a rule, if a dream role catches my eye, any thoughts on whether it would be a detriment to my candidacy at the organization to apply 6+ months in advance?

    I think I’m focusing so hard on this because I very much did not even look at jobs until after I graduated undergrad (~6 yrs ago) which, in the year following that, felt like a colossal mistake so I want to be ahead of that now.

    1. Midwestern Data Analyst*

      Six months is probably a bit too early. At my governmental job, it’s usually about two months from advertising a job to the person’s first day. I would maybe start looking in January, but be aware that you might still get turned away for not being available sooner. (Sometimes this can work out though! I applied for similar type jobs starting in January with a May graduation, and ended up hired by someone who originally passed because they needed someone to start sooner but were unable to find anyone so waited for me to graduate!)

    2. lemon*

      I’m in a similar boat. I also didn’t think about getting a job until like… two weeks before graduating from undergrad and that was a terrible decision. I’m in grad school now and trying to avoid the same mistake.

      I would say right now is the time to do things like go to job fairs to connect with companies who try to get new grads in their hiring pipeline early. And also apply to any development-type programs targeted towards students graduating in the spring. But as for applying to actively open positions, I’d say to hold off until March or February at the earliest. Unless you’re prepared to start working now.

      A really cool opportunity recently crossed my path, and I was hesitant to apply because I won’t graduate until spring. But, I decided to apply on a lark and got the job! They did ask about how I plan to balance working full-time with school. But I explained that I’ve worked full-time during my entire program, and it’s a program for working professionals, so all it’s all evening classes. They were totally fine with that. This might mean I have to push back my grad date since I may not be able to take the full course load I had planned. But, I’m okay with that since the whole point of grad school was to get a job like this, and now I have it.

    3. Scoffrio*

      I’d suggest a few things:

      1. Corporate and gov jobs are going to be on really different timelines than nonprofit. Nonprofit organizations often need to hire quickly. So I’d probably start applying to government jobs now (notorious for taking a long time) and corporate as well. Nonprofit jobs should maybe wait until 1-2 months before youre thinking of starting.

      2. Definitely keep an eye on job listings of all types, and I’d recommend making a list of some job description lines or organizations that catch your eye. The lines so that you can begin to easily recognize jobs you may want, the organizations so you can routinely follow up to see if they have openings.

    4. Attractive Nuisance*

      This would probably be something to ask your professors (if they tend to be in tune with the industry, which I hope they would be!) You also should ask others in your network… and if you don’t have a network, now is the time to develop one. Could you reach out to recent alumni of your program?

    5. Policy Wonk*

      You don’t mention your field, but if you need a security clearance they can take months, so it’s not too soon to start looking.

  30. bee*

    This doesn’t feel like a full letter worthy question, but I’ve been percolating about it and could use some feedback: I’ve realized I am more flexible and accommodating with people who are nice to me, and kind of a stickler with rude ones. Is this… okay?

    More context: There are some hard no’s of what I can and can’t provide for people, but a lot of grey area that’s up to my discretion. I tend to be more lenient about getting into that grey area with people who are even just baseline polite, but not with people who are rude or condescending. This very much isn’t a life or death industry, but I do deal with a lot of people with (IMO outsized) egos.


    1. TechWriter*

      Sounds like rude/condescending people are dealing with the consequences of their actions.

      I mean, if you were a pure and ethical beacon of light in These Trying Times, sure, you could set aside your personal distaste for egos and rudeness and delve into the grey for everyone equally. Maybe you could assuage your guilt by occasionally doing this. But, eh, I don’t see it as a moral failing.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Totally agree! When I worked customer service, rude people got their stuff done on time, but polite people got it done just that much faster. (Also, they were generally more likely to get their point across better, because they actually listened & answered questions.)

        On the other side, I now work with other areas & am known to be someone who is helpful and polite. It goes a long way when you need something from someone way above you on the food chain.

    2. Texan In Exile*

      I hope I am nice to people just because it’s the right thing to do, but I also think – at work – “I might need to work with this person someday so it’s a good idea to have a good relationship.”

      1. Cold Fish*

        I just want to push back a little on the idea that always being nice is the “right thing to do”. Being professional is the right thing to do. Being nice should be reserved for those who are at a minimum polite. Otherwise you are just re-enforcing the egotistical, rude, condescending behavior you don’t want to deal with.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I think as long as you’re doing your job, that’s a fine approach.

      I’ve generally seen two types of approaches—one is more Pavlovian (which I think is what you’re describing) and focused on rewarding good behavior and punishing bad behavior; and the other is more in-group/out-group… sort of like the dad from Meet the Parents and his “circle of trust,” where it’s about a sense of “I like this person and will treat this person well, and I’ve decided I don’t like this other person, and won’t treat them well.”

      Again, as long as you’re keeping it professional… but we’re also all human, too. You won’t treat everyone exactly the same if they’re crappy to you. You can sometimes force a smile, but you aren’t a robot.

    4. Sea Anemone*

      It’s very human, but it’s also a little petty. I think the question to think about it, are they making a reasonable request, albeit in an unreasonable manner? If the request is reasonable and within your ability to grant at that time, then just do it. Try to reframe it away from sticking it to this one person and towards making an entire system composed of multiple people work smoothly.

      If you have ever seen The Big Lebowski, there is a scene where The Dude is telling Walter he should not have made such a big deal about this one guy violating a rule. The Dude says, “You’re not wrong, Walter, you’re just an a**h***!” So. Don’t be Walter. Be The Dude. You aren’t wrong, but don’t be petty.

    5. Esmeralda*

      I sure hope so. Because I’ve had jobs where I’ve done that…
      In grad school I was a secretary for a group of 8 profs (not my department). Students who were polite — I was super helpful, gave them the extra secret info on just who in X department would expedite their revisions forms, that kind of thing.

      Arrogant and rude students who treated me like I was an idiot because I was just-a-secretary: Well, professor A would get their request for a reference letter. But it would be at the bottom of the stack of things for Prof A to deal with. And it wouldn’t have the sticky note that said “do this asap!” And I would not follow up with Prof A to see if that ref letter had been done yet.

      I tell my students now: you should treat everyone with respect. But you should be extra nice to the staff (secretaries, receptionists, admins, waitstaff, delivery people, etc) Because they’re so often treated disrespectfully. And because they’re the actually indispensible people and can smooth your way or make it miserable.

      1. Jennifer*

        I was … golly, it was not even my job. I am a female-appearing person, and I went in to help the high school admin who supports the athletic director with filing, because hundred of kids drop off their required forms for fall sports in two weeks, and at the time (pre-COVID, so paper) everything had to be logged and filed.
        I did the filing, so she could do all the logging — I manage a team that had had problems with kids not getting their paperwork checked off, and thus not being able to try out, so we sent in a couple of volunteers over the week to help out..
        So, yeah: I’m standing at this huge lateral file cabinet, filing paperwork. The office conversation around me was kind of astounding, especially the voluntary levels of inappropriateness from the new Assistant Principal. I even look like a parent! I was dressed like a parent (i.e. not really office casual). But apparently the act of filing made me invisible, and I learned a fair amount that day — much of which I’d honestly prefer not to know, honestly.

    6. Eldritch Office Worker*

      So I made a rule when I became a manager that I would not reinforce negative behavior in adults to the extent that was in my power. I think that’s not only the consequences of the actions of rude people, but a kindness to the next person who has to deal with them to not justify the assumption that rudeness will get them their way.

      I see how this can be read as condescending or unprofessional when it’s written out like that but in practice I’ve had a lot of people work for me really appreciate it, and I feel a lot more ethical about it than I do when I have that icky feeling of letting someone ‘win’ by being rude.

      I’m sure there will be different schools of thought and I make major allowances for people who are clearly having like, A Day, but just because it’s a pandemic? We’re all dealing with that. Exhaustion or exasperation I can excuse but not shittiness.

    7. Hare under the moon with a silver spoon*

      Maybe head over to r/MaliciousCompliance – lots of fun!
      I’d say it’s fine not to extend yourself to rude people etc – in fact I think its prob a good thing not to allow them to benefit from poor behaviour.

      Maybe just double check you’re not writing people off on the basis of one interaction as everyone has bad days!

    8. ecnaseener*

      I know for me, when people are rude and demanding it stresses me out…and the natural response to that is avoidance. (Like you I of course DO the work that needs to be done, but the approach is a little more “get through this quickly and with minimal drama” rather than “do as much as I can.”)

      Rather than let that guide me, I try to remind myself that this grey-area decision might be taken as a precedent, and that helps me figure out how much effort really needs to go into the request. Still perhaps a little less than a request for someone who’s being super respectful and makes me want to help them, but more than the bare minimum.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Wanted to add: I put that effort in not for ethical reasons – rude people totally don’t need to be protected from consequences – but because it benefits me in my particular job to be seen as helpful & not put hasty precedents out there.

    9. Zephy*

      I think it’s very common. I also have hard limits around what I can do in a professional capacity, buuuut I don’t feel ethically obligated to fully lay out *all* the things I *can* do for people who want to be rude or hard to reach. I’ll answer honestly if asked but if you’re rude to me I’m not going to give you ideas and options for how to suck away even more of my time, I’m steering you toward the resolution that finishes this interaction ASAP for *me*.

    10. Kathenus*

      I agree, in theory, with being more accommodating with people who are nice versus rude, with a couple caveats. First, as long as the level of service to all is professional and at an acceptable standard. Second, there may be a lot of people in the gradient between actively nice and rude, and that people who may have a more serious persona but are still polite (versus more overtly nice) are also given the flexibility in accommodation. This is so you don’t inadvertently penalize people who might have a more neutral personal style, or have RBF, or similar – but are not actually rude.

      1. Cold Fish*

        Yes, don’t penalize us that have more of a quiet, reserved personality. Society in general does a fine job of that! But don’t reward bad behavior for the sake of being seen as “nice” or “ethical” or even “fair”.

    11. Zona the Great*

      I for one am very sick of mean and rude people being permitted (by default, even) to continue that way. I stopped engaging with aggressive people, rude people, mean people, and especially bigoted people. In my little world, there is a woman with the best qualifications of perhaps anyone in her industry. She wins awards every year and is recognized nationally for her knowledge but she is a Grade-A Snatch-Face (patent pending) and she is constantly left out of important collaborations and discussions because no one can stand her. She always reaches out with extreme aggression when she finds out she was left out again. It’s too bad because I normally am pretty protective of my fellow tough women (I am one-I take no shit) but when there is no sense of any kindness ever, I don’t put too much emotional stock into it.

    12. RagingADHD*

      That is the way society works. It’s normal interaction — even animals do this. It’s the reason we teach our children manners in the first place. Social orders are based on cooperation and reciprocity. Cooperation is a 2-way street, and rudeness is a loud, bright signal up front that they have no intention of cooperating or giving reciprocal help. So it makes sense not to invest extra energy.

      Now, on a spiritual level, is there value in scrupulously treating everyone with the same generosity you’d give a friend, whether they “deserve” it or not? I think so. I won’t say I follow through on that all the time, because that would be a bald-faced lie. I do think it’s a real value and a spiritual discipline. It’s up to you whether you believe and practice it.

    13. Rara Avis*

      When I receive client emails that start, “Could you please …” or “Is it possible …” receive a quick and easy response. Demanding or rude emails get postponed until I can shape my first response in more professional terms. Often this means letting them sit overnight. Natural consequences.

    14. Undine*

      One way to think about it is you have X amount of energy to give to each person. If the person is rude, that takes up some of your energy, so you have less energy to give to the actual work. If the person is helpful and makes it easy to interact with them, you have the full X to give them.

  31. A&D*

    Doing my first panel interview next week and have no idea what to expect! Any tips? (I’ve read everything on AAM of course). Also any particular questions that are good to ask? This is coming after a phone screen with the manager, a longer interview with the manager, and a interview with HR.

    1. L. Ron Jeremy*

      When asked a question, start with eye contact with person who asked it, then have brief eye contact with everyone on the panel. Keeps the panel engaged and you will look better than if you just focused your attention on the person who asked the question.

      Good luck.

  32. TechWriter*

    Well, my laptop stand just reached the #1 Best New Acquisition position for WFH accessories.

    I absentmindedly knocked my tea over, sloshing it all over… the laptop stand/desk, rather than my laptop! A quick wipe with a cloth and all is well, rather than me saying many choice and panicky words while dunking my laptop in a bag of rice.

  33. Lemming22*

    Small question, but is it ok to withhold notice of leaving for a period of time (2 months)? I have a potential job offer and was going to ask for an early January start date. My current job has historically not let people work out their notice period, so I am assuming as soon as I tell them I will be out of a job.

    1. Nonprofit Foot Solider*

      It’s absolutely ok! Even if you didn’t suspect they’d handle it by pushing you out early. Just remember if they were ever deciding to let you know I’m sure they’d know way before they decided to tell you.

      I’m in a similar situation now, I have a signed offer and am waiting on my start date (talked about starting January) and I’m debating when to put in my notice. I was originally going to wait so I’d just have 2 weeks in between jobs, but frankly they’re driving me crazy so I’m more anxious to get done now. :)

      1. librarianmom*

        Do not EVER give notice with anything but an actual confirmed job offer and acceptance by you. Then notice between 2- 4 weeks.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      It’s not only ok but also a really good idea, especially because you know the culture of your current workplace.

    3. Ashley*

      Just make sure your new employer doesn’t announce you starting in January if you plan to delay notice. (And really don’t give more then two weeks. Notice periods can be painful, but you can do some quite documentation now and be extra diligent tying up loose ends.)

    4. Zephy*

      How long could you afford to not get paid? I don’t know about you, but especially after living through the last couple of years, if I were in a position to delay starting a new job for a couple of *months* I would want as much of that time to decompress as possible. I would need to look at my budget and figure how long the gap between the last check from OldJob and the first check from NewJob could be before things got a bit close for comfort. If you can be pretty sure of getting perpwalked out as soon as you give notice, wait until the ink is dry on your offer, take whatever time you need to build whatever documentation you want to leave OldJob with, then enjoy your vacation.

  34. Mimmy*

    The misspelled names question this morning made me think of something I want to get your take on.

    I work for a state-run Voc Rehab training program for adults with a specific disability, and management sometimes spell and/or mispronounce their names; think “Marla” instead of “Maria”. It has happened in front of the students a couple of times recently during group sessions. To be fair, the names are a bit unusual (the samples I gave are for anonymity). I just want to shake the managers and say something–it’s one thing if it’s a coworker, but when it’s the people you are serving, it’s an extra level of disrespect in my opinion. Plus, it’s not like we have dozens of consumers; we only have like 5 or 6 right now.

    With one student, we were welcoming them but before they came on, we were all trying to figure out the spelling and pronunciation, and someone piped up saying that we shouldn’t be discussing that, which is true… what if they came on and heard us working out how to say their name!

    Anyway, I’ve tried saying it in the moment once but I don’t think it’s productive. It’s low priority compared to separate questions I have for my supervisor, but since it’s happened before, I want to privately say something about being really careful going forward with spellings and pronunciations. Thoughts?

    1. Baron*

      As someone with a disability myself, I feel that this kind of thing happens more to disabled folks than able-bodied folks and *can* feel like a microaggression – “Your name isn’t worth learning.” “Maria” to “Marla” is a much different thing from “Katelyn” to “Kaitlin” – it suggests they aren’t actually learning the people’s names. But I’ve had plenty of people get my name wrong i.e. in e-mails where they couldn’t have possibly known I have a disability, so I try to give people the benefit of the doubt.
      If you feel you have the standing at work to raise this, I think it would be a good thing to do, but if it’s management doing it and you’re more junior, it may not be worth it.

    2. Policy Wonk*

      What I’ve done is correct in the moment, sometimes looking puzzled. Marla? Oh, you mean Maria. In the case where someone isn’t sure how the name is pronounced, I would simply ask. Is your name Maria? Please help me out – how do you pronounce it?

    3. PollyQ*

      Why shouldn’t you be discussing how to pronounce someone’s name in advance? Sure, you may still need to ask them, but there might be someone in the office who already knows, and then you’ll be getting off on a little bit better of a right foot.

      1. Xena*

        It sounds like there’s the potential for students to hop on early right into the middle of a discussion on how to pronounce their name and things could get awkward.

      2. Cold Fish*

        I was wondering the same thing. I don’t know why it would have to be awkward if they overheard unless their name was super common, you were making fun of them, or it’s an issue that has been clarified with them already. I think most with an unusual name or unusual spelling are used to/expect some level of clarification. If they happen along while discussing you can just respond with a “Oh good, we can ask the expert. How is your name pronounced/spelled?”

      3. RagingADHD*


        I mean if someone was saying stuff like “ew what a strange spelling, how do you even *pronounce* something like that?” then they need to be smacked down whether the client could hear or not.

        But if it’s just “anyone know whether this is pronounced with emPHAsis or EMphasis?” “Not sure, let’s just ask,” I don’t see why it would be awkward or problematic.

    4. Zephy*

      I usually make one, possibly two good-faith guesses at pronunciation (e.g. Karena – “Is it Karen-ah or Kah-ree-nah?”) and let them confirm or correct me (“Kah-ray-na, okay, thank you.”) and then just move on to whatever I’m meeting with the person about. No need to dwell on it; for a Maria-Marla situation, maybe a quick “Oh, I must have misread, I apologize. Anyway, Maria, let’s discuss X…” and again, move it along. I agree with you that pronouncing a person’s name correctly is pretty much the absolute bare minimum for treating them like a human being, so it’s a thing that’s worth paying attention to and getting right.

      If it’s really not obvious, you can just ask them how to say their name. “Welcome, thank you for coming in! How do you pronounce your name? I just want to make sure I get it right.”

    5. Double A*

      I think it’s actually polite to ask someone how to pronounce their name if you’re not sure, so there’s not really a need to discuss it beforehand (I say this as someone whose name is mispronounced more often than not if someone tries to guess based on spelling).

      For a Marla/Maria mistake, I think it’s kind to both the speaker and the client to just say something like, “Oh, I think you misread that, it’s actually Maria.” Especially because a mistake like that could be due to slight dyslexia or just vision problem. There are just a million non-malicious reasons that people make mistakes about names. For one-off (or even the first few times), it’s a kindness to everyone to just correct them like it’s no big deal, because it mostly isn’t.

      Believe me most of us with unusual names have long ago come to terms with the mistakes, corrections, and repetitions you need to make when people first are learning your name.

  35. Hatchee Malatchee*

    Hi, everybody — I manage one of the larger teams in our organization, which is a large but kind of underresourced company that lacks a ton of structure and training across the organization. However, because I have the largest team, I managed to bring a great deal of training to my team last year, either by paying for private contractors to provide it, by getting internal experts to do them, or in some cases by doing them myself — in fact, I did a half hour of training every other week for the entire team for the entire last year, which is not something that any other team has. So, it’s review time and employees do their self-evaluations, and this person’s self-eval content is overall pretty good — but they filled out sections that are reserved for my remarks with their own, and included several comments that are either not in proper context or would not reflect well on them when they are seen by the next-level reviewers. For example, they included a comment that despite having very little access to training, they managed to learn x, y, and z. There’s also a somewhat barbed-appearing comment about the longevity of their client assignments, when their client pool was realigned specifically to give them a more efficient and better client pool, from which they are now performing much better than they were prior to the alignment. We have what I would consider a pretty direct and positive relationship, so it’s possible that they do not realize how this comes across — however, normally I’d share it with senior management for input, and I don’t want to do that at this point because I think they would provide me with negative input based on the wording. So, should I talk with this person and give them an opportunity to revise, or just roll with it and address it in the actual review?

    1. Policy Wonk*

      You don’t say how long this person has worked for you, but where I work it is more-or-less expected that you will give your boss a suggested draft for their section. If this person is new (or new to your supervision) this might be what they have been taught to do. I would definitely call them in and talk to them about it. The part about training is particularly odd, but it could be a copy of something that they used in a prior eval – I’ve seen that happen before. (They will generally copy something from an eval from two or three years ago so if the new one is compared to last year’s the lift isn’t obvious.)

  36. Midlife crisis?*

    Hi all! I’m feeling very dead-ended in my job and am not really sure what to do. The issue is that I invested a decade and a half into a passion field, and am now in a mid-level position where it just feels like everything about it is a compromise. Money: by leaving the “front lines” (aka the underpaid, insecure positions where work felt meaningful), I can now support a family, but in a pretty frugal lifestyle that is a downgrade from my middle-class upbringing in a lower cost area. Impact: my work is a project management/compliance role that is relatively isolated from the work that happens on the ground, and honestly, sometimes I’m not sure if it’s more about checking boxes than making meaningful contributions. Fun: it’s not. I’m not getting to do any of the things I used to enjoy about work on a day to day basis.

    I never planned to spend my days in front of a computer, but if I’d known I would have end up here just to have a modestly middle class salary and health insurance, I would have gone into engineering or law school or something where I’d be better compensated (I had very good grades). But now I have kids and a spouse in a passion field who makes less money and has worse benefits, so I can’t take a huge pay cut or $200k in loans.

    So…where do I go from here? Try to network to the extent my isolating role allows, and apply for related positions that either pay more or are closer to the public-facing work I miss, with the hope that even a little bit of a positive shift will feel better? Or spend the next 1.5 years grinding away while trying to figure out a career change to leave this field entirely? Has anyone left this field mid-career to make six figures elsewhere? I have former peers who’ve been poached away for 50% raises and director-level positions…how do I make that happen?!

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Put yourself on the market. Read job postings every day. Write a damn good resume for the ones you want. The more that you actually apply to with carefully targeted resumes , the better your resumes will get, and the more other employers will get a chance to be exposed to your particular share of brilliance.

      Also, do whatever you can to step forward — volunteer for outward facing projects, join an industry group, attend a training outside your work walls — you need to meet people and have them understand what you are passionate about.

      You will not get poached if you stay in the back, checking boxes.

      1. Midlife crisis?*

        Thank you. That last point is a wake up call. My job does not really lend itself to putting myself out there easily, so maybe I need to really think about one or two specific and finite ways I can try to do that and build my network this year, instead of driving myself crazy thinking about all the things I CAN’T do.

        1. Camelid coordinator*

          If you haven’t already, you can start your networking with the people who moved on for larger salaries. I really like the way Aspiring Chicken Lady described the costs of not getting out there.

    2. Policy Wonk*

      Good compliance people are worth their weight in gold. Get your resume in shape and see what is available out there. Good compliance isn’t limited to the computer screen – there should be lots of interaction with those who are carrying out the work.

      Or, if you are tired of compliance, look at working it from the other side. What agency’s rules are you complying with? Do they need people who can help develop policies that can really make a difference as opposed to create a lot of paperwork?

      Finally, there is the industry association angle. Are there associations for the industry? The compliance experts? Project managers? Those associations also need staff and often pay well. Good luck!

    3. Honor Harrington*

      Project management and compliance can be very lucrative jobs in areas like finance/banking, medicine and IT. Build a resume and change industries. If you are doing PM/compliance now, you are extremely employable by calling out your transferable skills.

  37. $$ for Learning*

    I am in the process of evaluating/negotiating an offer.

    I am quite happy with the salary and other elements of the offer, but want to negotiate a budget for myself to support my own learning — taking courses related / semi-related to my job function, etc. I’ve seen folks talk about this benefit before in forums and I love it, as due to my own psychology I won’t always sign up for courses on my own, but if I have money to burn for it, I would do it on the regular, and it would make me more happy than a 10% salary increase might.

    Who out there has this as a benefit? What sort of restrictions are on it? How much per year is it? If you negotiated for it, what argument did you make?

  38. Somewhere in Texas*

    I just want to know how prevalent is lunch stealing?
    Who steals lunches?
    How often does this happen?
    How do people think it’s okay?
    If you’ve stolen a lunch, why?

    1. Gracely*

      Thankfully, lunch stealing is not at all prevalent at my workplace. I think the worst any of us do food-wise is sometimes steal some flavored creamer for coffee (and then only if our own creamer runs out).

      The weird thing we had pre-pandemic was an absolute epidemic of spoon and fork stealing. When ours dwindled to none, I bought like a dozen cheap metal spoons and forks to restock. They are ALL gone except for the two I kept at my desk.

      1. Bagpuss*

        I suspect with cutlery it’s often that it gets accidentally dropped in the bin , especially if people have been eating anything in a disposable container or where they might be craping leftovers or paper napkins off into the bin . Which I think is also why spoons and forks go more often than knives, as fewer people are actually eating with a knife.

        And maybe some accidental stealing where someone takes a fork home in their plastic container having brought lunch in, and forgets to bring it back.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          *guiltily raises hand* I have done this at home and can attest that bin-dropping is a thing among the absent-minded. If I can’t find a utensil, the first place I look is the trash.

      2. Don’t put metal in the science oven*

        Not food stealing but the company would occasionally set out leftover pizza from a meeting. One VP would take a bite & if he didn’t like it, set the piece with a very obvious bite mark back in the box. Ewww. One day he and others were in the break room & there it was. I loudly said to everyone in general but nobody in particular, “What is THIS? Who takes a bite and a puts it back? Were they raised in a barn? Jeez!” And walked out. I was nervous and very proud.

      3. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

        We CANNOT maintain a fork/spoon inventory in our break room. Drives me bonkers. I just keep a spork in my lunchbag.

        1. Robin Ellacott*

          Small spoons have such a high attrition rate here that I am always getting them from the thrift store to restock. Other utensils, if anything, breed overnight.

          I’m pretty sure that people take the spoons home by accident. One of our managers, who used to complain with me about the vanishing spoons, sheepishly brought about 15 back in when she was moving and realized she had a bunch of extras.

          We haven’t had an issue with lunches being stolen.

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

      In my 30 years in the work force, I’ve only been aware of (not personally affected) food stealing for a short 1 month stint in the office — it was the cleaning person and they were caught on cameras that had been set up. Because theft was so unheard of in our office up to that point, nobody locked anything up, so they also stole a bit of petty cash out of an unlocked office managers drawer and small things laying around like headphones and charging cords — the kind of stuff a person might think was misplaced rather than stolen.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This exact thing happened at Exjob. They were also stealing out of the cupboards in people’s cubicles; many of us kept snacks in our cubes in case we forgot to bring lunch or whatever. The powers that be put up a camera and it stopped, but I think they eventually found out it was a cleaning person. They told us the camera was fake—I suspect it was not.

      2. Robin Ellacott*

        Our cleaner routinely takes most of the candy in any candy bowls left out. It’s not theft, but I admit that when I spend more on “good” candy, I put most of it away when he is coming.

    3. Bagpuss*

      I’ve never worked anywhere it was an issue – the only incidents I can remember were mistake rather than theft (e.g. someone taking the wrong yogurt pot out of the shared fridge )

      I don’t really get why anyone would think it was OK, maybe a sense of entitlement and an excuse that it’s only a sandwich so no big deal? I wonder if it is more likely to be an issue in bigger offices where people don’t know all of their coworkers? If stealing a random lunch is easier than stealing Jane’s lunch, for instance?

    4. Charlotte Lucas*

      I worked somewhere that had big fridges that everyone in the (four or five story) building was expected to use. Food would be stolen regularly, & it definitely was not the cleaning crew. I think it was just a toxic workplace where some people felt like they were owed things. And they didn’t care who paid.

      I kept my lunch in a insulated bag at my desk. Sometimes I would put sealed leftovers from lunch in the fridge for the next day. Interestingly, nobody ever touched my spicy tofu.

      But a coworker had a cheesecake for a potluck cut into by persons unknown. They took the piece out of the middle. She tossed it, because who knows if the person had clean hands and didn’t do something worse than steal a piece?

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        By the way, I have always wondered about the psychology behind this, too. Because when people find the food thief, it often seems to be someone who shouldn’t “need” to steal food. I assume it’s due to an outsized sense of entitlement.

        I also worked somewhere that the VP of our division would come by anytime a department had a potluck & eat some of the food, sometimes making comments on what he’d like to see again for next time. He never ever contributed or provided food in other ways. Not exactly the same, & one person in my department found it amusing. I thought he was acting like he was some sort of medieval nobleman who deserved tribute from the serfs. Oh, and if you weren’t a direct report, he pretty much ignored you otherwise.

        I would not have been surprised if he had been stealing lunches, too.

    5. CBB*

      No one has ever stolen my lunch.

      The closest I’ve ever witnessed was a case where one my coworkers had ordered in lunch for a meeting, and one of my other coworkers (who wasn’t part of the meeting) helped himself to some of it at 10 AM.

      He knew it wasn’t okay. When confronted, all he could say was, “I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist.” I got to know him over the years we worked together and it was clear he had a very troubled relationship with food, probably a serious eating disorder.

      I know that’s not an excuse, but his story tempers my sense of outrage when I hear other stories of lunch thieves.

    6. Paris Geller*

      I wonder this too! I’ve never worked anywhere where there was true lunch stealing. There have definitely been some accidents of people bringing similar things and grabbing each other’s soda/yogurt/granola bar without realizing, but I don’t know of any true theft. However, I’ve only worked in relatively small offices. My current job has about 38-40ish employees and it’s the largest place I’ve worked (technically the organization I work for has several hundred employees, but I’m counting the ones on-site).

    7. pancakes*

      I’ve never worked someplace where it was a persistent problem, but a couple times I have heard of it happening. I have no idea why people do it! Opportunity and poor self control, I suppose.

    8. Dark Macadamia*

      I had one coworker who was notorious for… “previewing” potluck food. Like you’d bake brownies for the staff party after work and find a corner cut out, or a plate of cookies with a mangled cover and a sparse-looking patch on the plate. I never caught him in the act but it was generally accepted that we knew who the culprit was

    9. Kathenus*

      Early in my career, so quite young in a workplace with primarily young people, we had this very odd thing called the ‘5 o’clock rule’. Any food left in the refrigerator was presumed fair game after 5pm unless the person wrote ‘No 5 o’clock rule’ on it. Stupid and juvenile, but it was the practice there and people really did go out of their way to eat other peoples’ food right after 5pm if it wasn’t marked.

      Other than that the only time I’ve seen it is when someone mistakes someone’s food for communal/up for grabs food.

      1. pancakes*

        Not stupid, it’s a decent way to discourage people leaving leftovers unattended to go bad. A number of places I’ve worked have had a rule that anything remaining after 4 or 5 pm on a Friday (with the exception of coffee milks) will be removed by cleaning staff, and it works well to keep the fridges from getting overloaded with moldy old forgotten stuff.

    10. Somewhere in Texas*

      I am enjoying seeing everyone’s reply. For a little context, I saw the episode of Friends this week where someone steals Ross’s lunch. That led to me reading some of the letters here, but I’ve also never seen it in person.

      We did have a rule that all food had to be labeled with a name/date. If it wasn’t, it was thrown out. It was also a grocery store with 300+ employees, so there needed to be some semblance of order in the fridge.

    11. Kimmy Schmidt*

      I’ve never stolen an individual’s lunch, but I definitely took more than my fair share of communal leftovers (Subway sandwiches, potlucks, fruit, donuts) when I was in grad school. My grocery bill was tight and I was trying to stretch it anyway I could, but mostly I got so frustrated when leftovers would be left in the fridge for a week and no one would finish them!

      1. The Dude Abides*

        This was me, but at my first “real” job where in hindsight I was grossly underpaid (maybe $2k/mo take home with a masters and $60k in student loan debt).

        I always found a way to contribute, but between the tight grocery budget, my natural metabolism and rugby training regimen, I made sure everyone else had a chance to eat lunch before smashing 1-2 more plates of leftovers. This was crucial, as potluck lunches eventually became a weekly ritual.

    12. Cold Fish*

      While in college, I was working in an office but my schedule was staggered around my classes so I was never there at lunch and so never went into the breakroom. I was unaware that for about 2 months someone had been stealing lunches out of the fridge in the breakroom until one day a company wide meeting was called. Someone had stolen the lunch of the VP’s very pregnant wife (who worked in the office). It was a very interesting meeting. Turned out it was one of the field guys. No idea why he was doing it.

    13. Chauncy Gardener*

      The (very well compensated) CFO at a company I worked for went into the company fridge and took someone’s yogurt and said “Well, I guess I’m Bob today”

    14. Chauncy Gardener*

      Oh yes, there were also amazing posts here about someone stealing a co-worker’s super spicy lunch and then the HR person tried to get the spicy lunch bringer fired.

      1. Somewhere in Texas*

        I read that one when I was curious about the prevalence of the issue and was blown away! That was a wild ride.

    15. Clisby*

      I’ve never worked at any place where it would have been all that easy to steal someone’s lunch. By that I mean – I never worked in a place with a kitchen/refrigerator set aside for employees, so if you brought a lunch you had to keep it at your desk. I guess someone could have come around checking everyone’s desk for a cheese sandwich, but I don’t ever remember it happening.

  39. Boring Nickname Rachel*

    First time here in the open thread! So, my company switched insurance providers recently, which was incredibly stressful as I have $2k of medical bills out of pocket monthly, and have to get reimbursed. This new provider covers less, only accepts claims by mail, and takes forever processing them. The real problem is the lack of coverage but the other points are also annoying! I really only want to deal with the old insurance provider since it was easy, good coverage, and fast turnaround. Medical bills are a huge part of my life and this is an enormous stress for me.
    Im at a point now where I am living paycheck to paycheck (as a software engineer— I make about 50% of what my peers make). I know I need more money and better insurance. My question is, if insurance provider is a really big factor for me, can I ask about that at the same time as salary negotiations? A plan that covers a lot of out of network claims makes a huge difference in how much money I have to live on, so it’s almost equal to salary in terms of importance for quality of life.

    1. Texan In Exile*

      Yes, ask! It does make a difference and it’s fair for you to have that information.

      (Avoid Blue Cross if you can – they are awful.)

      1. Gracely*

        Which insurance provider is good depends heavily on where you are and what the insurance market is like in your state, and what your work provides. In my previous state, with my previous employer, Blue Cross was great. My current state, current employer? Not so much.

        1. BlueK*

          This. My BCBS plan is quite good. But that’s because of the industry I’m in and the expectation that employers will offer a decent plan. Definitely can’t go by name alone. They provide us a one sheet summary during open enrollment annually that lays out the options at a high level. See if they have something similar?

          1. Clisby*

            Yes. We’re insured under my husband’s policy, which has been BCBS of SC, NJ, and MA. They’ve all been good.

      2. Joyce To the World*

        I work for the Awful one. It really does depend on your employer and which one they select. There are different packages available for the employer to choose from. Some larger employers have several different selections as well. Also, your location. Insurance companies have to have competitive offerings in different markets. Plus states have different legislation that affects some offerings.

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

      How good or bad an insurance provider is can also heavily depend on what your specific medical needs are and what the org’s policy covers; so you might not be able to judge just on provider alone. You should ask about ALL benefits during offer negotiations, but yes, medical coverage would be normal to inquire about.

    3. Reba*

      Yes, it is normal to ask about the insurance details. You don’t have to get into your medical situation at all, just say that you want to evaluate the whole benefits package as well as compensation. I’m not sure how easy it will be to be able to tell the level of convenience or customer service from the outside, but if they have HR you could ask to speak to someone who handles benefits too.

      Good luck getting that bread!

    4. The Teapots Are on Fire*

      It also matters if the benefits office has someone whose job it is to advocate for you with the insurance company if there is trouble.

      1. Clisby*

        Right. For example, all 4 of us are on my husband’s policy. The deductible is, I think, $1250/individual and maybe $2500/family. That might sounds exorbitant – but we pay exactly zero for the premium. The employer pays the entire premium cost for a family plan.

  40. Blink*

    I’m looking for some low-stakes virtual group activities.

    I’ve just started managing a team of 10 fully remote customer support agents. They’re based in the EU and the Caribbean. We have weekly meetings that are focused around planning and issue management, but we also have a monthly ‘fun activity’.  Organising this is now part of my role and I’m not one of life’s natural party-planning committee members, so I’m feeling really out of my depth here. 

    Everyone is completely fluent in English, and quite chatty, but don’t all have the same pop-culture touchstones, so most trivia games are out.  

    I’m looking for something that will take 30-45 minutes, can be done as a group or in small teams, and something that has a win condition (there’s a small cash prize)
    Previously they’ve done 
    – virtual escape rooms
    – scavenger hunts
    – bingo

    Has anyone done anything similar that’s been successful?

    NB: “everyone hates team activities”/ “just give them the hour back”/ “here’s an anecdote about how I had a bad time at zoom bingo”. Yep! I know! But I’ve been here fifteen minutes and I do not have the capital to just cancel it. 

    1. bee*

      My office did a trivia game that was all word games and riddles, and it worked pretty well since nobody had to have any baseline knowledge. Jackbox games might also be a good option? They’re not all work appropriate, but Quiplash and Trivia Murder Party are usually crowd pleasers and pretty tame.

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

      If it weren’t for the win condition for a prize, I’d suggest a cooking demo /cook along or art project / paint along; you send out a small kit ahead of time and the employees follow along with an instructor. I guess to make it into a game, you could award a best cupcake decorating or best painting award based on votes of the group.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Similarly I was going to say something like a show and tell, “share your favorite kid’s book,” something like that.

        Have everyone send in a picture of their dream car/favorite animal/favorite movie or whatever, share them anonymously, have people try to match them up at the beginning, then do the “show and tell” part afterward where everyone can talk about their shared thing? And your winner is whoever got the most matched correctly?

    3. Anony*

      We recently did ‘office bingo’ where everyone volunteered fun facts about themselves and the organization and the organizers made bingo cards with the answers to the facts instead of numbers. It was pretty well-received, because we played in groups and got to learn more about each other/the office. I personally hate these kinds of activities but it wasn’t too bad.

    4. Boardgames*

      If you can get access to the website, has a lot of games. We play codenames / codewords (can’t remember which is the correct name) a lot on there. You’re split into two teams, there is a board of words, someone on each team has to provide clues for their team to guess which words out of these belong to their team. First team to guess all their words wins. You can find proper rules online

      1. Koala dreams*

        I would also recommend Codenames. It’s easy to learn and fun. If people speak English as a second language, just make sure everyone knows the words before the game starts.

    5. TiffIf*

      If you are willing to do smaller groups you could split out and do Among Us or some JackBox games. I’ve done that with a team and it was really fun!

      Trivia games might be fun, but you’ll want to make sure the questions are accessible to EU and Caribbean audiences.

    6. Girasol*

      We did a rube goldberg game once where people in small groups were assigned a random object to design on a whiteboard that must use three given random objects. We used a couple of lists and a spreadsheet’s @rand function to select the object and the parts. It was more of a thing to do to let people chat and have a good time, not a competition.

    7. someone*

      I’ve done online Pictionary, not for prizes, just as a fun team game. skribbl .io is the site we’ve used. It was fun seeing how well or badly some of us were at drawing. More fun when we’re all on a separate voice chat to hear/say stuff about the drawing. For your timing and prize purposes, it does keep score and can change the number of rounds and length of rounds for timing.

  41. baroncorbin*

    I worked at a job where they paid me 50 cents less than the contract I signed said. I was issued 2 short paychecks. They said they were going to pay me what I was owed the last pay check I got but nothing. How long should I give them before I report them to the state labor board?

    1. Reba*

      Different states have different payday rules, so check your state department of labor website. But then don’t give them any longer than the minimum before you complain! You do not have to be generous about this! Since it sounds like they have been underpaying you all along, the minimum might be “now.”

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

      Is it they shorted your paycheck a net total of 50 cents, or more like 50 cents per hour is missing? If it’s short a whole .50, I would simply ask payroll to cover the difference in petty cash, right now; but I doubt the labor board would do anything for a total of 50 cents. If it’s 50 cents PER HOUR, report them now for wage theft because I doubt it’s a simple “mistake” and they’re doing it on purpose.

    3. OtterB*

      If it’s a job you like otherwise and you haven’t already done this, you could try escalating the problem up the management chain, either through your boss to your grandboss, or to the payroll person’s supervisor. But other than that you don’t owe them any extra time.

      I’m thinking of the letter from earlier this week where the LW thought the worker was insufficiently deferential but the HR person jumped all over the place to get the problem fixed.

      1. baroncorbin*

        I have brought to the attention to the district manager and area manager. They said they were going to fix it but didn’t.

  42. ChaosBiscuits*

    Has anyone ever had a job where references weren’t checked (or maybe weren’t even requested)? How did the job eventually turn out?

    1. Baron*

      Sometimes, the less seriously a job takes reference checks, the less rigorous they are about other things. My last job had a very lax reference check policy, which seemed great when I got the job, but then I started the job and found out that there were plenty of other routine things (to do with the work) that they also didn’t care to do. That job lasted about six weeks.

    2. Ashley*

      It depends on why they aren’t checking my references. I have a job where they know me from previous work and there were soft checks done without a doubt before we ever talked.
      If the company policy is checking references to verify employment the reference check is a little useless.

    3. SciDiver*

      Not any job I’ve had, but I worked with someone who hired a good number of people into contracted entry-level jobs in a niche field. He never checked references, but wanted to know who people listed because “it’s a small field” and “it’s more important to see who they know”. I enjoyed working with him, but all-around a bit of an odd guy.

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

      I worked at a place where HR requested an employment history, but didn’t ask for references, and then sprung a “reference” request on a few of my previous employers. It wasn’t good; the ambushed person thought I put them down as a reference without asking, and they couldn’t/wouldn’t really answer the questions. The job turned out OK, but it did indicate the level of disfunction within the HR department.

    5. Damn it, Hardison!*

      My current job didn’t check my references, which was a big surprise because it’s a relatively senior position. It’s turned out even better than I expected! Having been at the company almost a year, I think it’s because the team really values “fit.” (Just for reference, when I joined, the company was just over 6,000 people.)

  43. Female Executive*

    Hello AAM friends, a friend and I were having a discussion that I’d love to get other opinions on. For background, we are both women working at executive-level positions (senior director, vice president) in different industries, both of which are fairly conservative. Pre-covid, neither of us was super into makeup, but working from home we both stopped wearing it pretty much at all AND LOVE IT. My skin looks better, my eyes don’t itch, I never worry about accidentally smearing it. She’s starting going back to the office part time, but I haven’t yet, and while for her it’s been mostly fine, she did get one comment along the lines of “that early morning meeting is a phone call so at least you don’t have to wear makeup!” and when she responded “haha, no one wears makeup anymore!” it was a complete shock to the male person who had made that comment. (Because of course it was a man. Of course.) She still doesn’t wear makeup to work, and I still don’t have intentions of starting to wear it again when I go back to the office. However my industry is definitely more conservative and I’m wondering if I will get comments.

    So, what’s everyone’s thoughts on makeup as a requirement these days? In my younger days I didn’t think of it as optional, but now I just don’t care that much. I know people who love to wear it but that has never been me.

    1. Texan In Exile*

      I am done with makeup. And if I were going back into an office and if it weren’t freezing cold, I would go sleeveless.

      Yes. I said it.

      I would go sleeveless to work.

      I am done with all those stupid rules.

    2. House Tyrell*

      I never wear makeup anymore to work. I barely wear it out. I was similar to in that pre-covid I wasn’t a big makeup person as it was but now I don’t even throw on some mascara for work anymore. My industry is not conservative but my office leans more that way and I am in a junior role. I think most women here don’t wear makeup to work either.

    3. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I do manage to wear a bra when I go to the office. Sometimes I brush on some powder to even out my face before I do a virtual presentation to the public. I still haven’t quite figured out how to manage my pandemic haircut, and have been known to use fabric scraps to tie back my hair even at the office.

      Government job. No public coming into the building right now. They’re lucky I’m wearing shoes … even if they are still athletic sandals. (I’ll pull out my red merino slip ons once it finally gets cold.)

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I haven’t worn makeup of any variety since an unfortunate green mascara incident when I was 14.

    5. kiki*

      I had a really minimal makeup routine before the pandemic and it’s completely gone by the wayside now, even when I’m back in person. I work in a really casual industry (tech) so nobody seems to have noticed or cared; I could see some folks in a more conservative industry bristling a bit but ultimately they really can’t tell you that you have to wear makeup– they certainly aren’t requiring men to.

      1. ecnaseener*

        The question isn’t really about explicit requirements though – it’s will they (consciously or unconsciously) perceive her as less put-together

    6. Gracely*

      I wear makeup to cover up blemishes that are still visible when I’m wearing a mask, and sometimes I put on eyeliner/shadow if I want to feel fancy. That’s it. I do not bother with makeup anywhere my mask covers.

      My skin was actually much worse when I was WFH and wearing no makeup, but I’m pretty sure those were stress-related breakouts. The only time I put makeup on when we were WFH was when I led video Zoom meetings (and again, that’s because my face was super broken out; if I’d had clear skin, I’d have skipped the makeup).

      1. The Rural Juror*

        Similar boat over here. I wear foundation where my face will be seen because I’ve been dealing with acne and psoriasis (grrreat combo) on and off my whole life. I have very fair-toned skin, so a lot of my scars make my complexion look uneven. I wear mascara because my eyes look odd (to me at least) if all I’m wearing is foundation. Really, though, my makeup is for me more than it is for anyone else.

    7. Irish girl*

      I only wear makeup for special occasion like weddings and such. Only time I have wore it to work was for headshots. Been out of college for 15 years and no one has ever said anything about it to me.

      1. Bagpuss*

        Same (expect I am older than you)
        I work in a pretty conservative profession (law). I once had one guy (slightly senior to me but not by much) comment on it, saying I should be wearing make up. I pointed out that he didn’t appear to be wearing any, and I wasn’t aware that the dress code required it of either of us, and he shut up. But that’s the only time I can remember any comments and it’s got to be at least 15 years ago (and coming from someone who was a bit of a d*ck in many ways)

        In my case, it’s partly because I have a lot of skin sensitivities and react to a lot of products, and often find I can use something a few times then start to react, and it gets depressing (and expensive) to have to throw stuff out after using it a few times, because you can’t wear it any more. Also the sensitivities started after I have n allergic reaction to something else, when I was in my early teens – it was literally a few months after I have first been allowed to have any make up and all my beautiful (well, it was the 80s, so not-actually-beautiful-at-all) new eyeshadow and mascara and pale lipstick, that I’d been given for Christmas and bought with by birthday money all had to go, and so I think I missed out on the peak period to learn and practice and get in the habit of wearing makeup. I couldn’t use even hypo-allergenic stuff for ages.

        Now, weddings, passport photo, maybe the odd party, and sometimes a bit of SPF foundation is all I use.

        1. Rain in Spain*

          Also same. In house lawyer. I wear makeup once in a while if I really feel like it, but do not wear it on a regular basis. No one has commented on the lack of makeup, but if I do wear some along with fancier clothes for an important meeting I may receive some (positive) comments.

          Frankly I just… can’t be bothered. Like many others have stated, I don’t have any personal investment in whether anyone else is/isn’t wearing makeup- it is up to them!

    8. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I stopped doing my hair and applying my makeup for work about 2-3 years before Covid hit. But I’m rank and file and am in IT. No one noticed. If makeup as a requirement could go away, I’d be thrilled.

      In previous life, I absolutely hated the morning routine of getting up, waking the kids up, getting the kids off to school, blow-drying and styling my hair and applying my makeup, frantically driving to work in rush hour traffic, and running into the standup meeting only to find my seven male, bald teammates glaring at me. “You are two minutes late again!” Easy for them to say, when their morning “making yourself work-presentable” routine included, I don’t know, putting on some pants and a shirt and calling it a morning? I see nothing wrong in having the same morning routine apply across the board, to anyone who’s willing to keep it down to that.

      1. Thursdaysgeek*

        I’m in IT too, and I’ve always just said that I barely know how to dress myself – it’s a great excuse to not care about clothes or hair or makeup. Embrace the stereotype of a geek (when it’s to your advantage, and you want to).

    9. Hlao-roo*

      I have never worn makeup to work, and I’ve never had anyone comment on my lack of makeup in any way. If it matters, I’m in an individual contributor role in a male-dominated industry/profession.

    10. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Gen X lawyer here. I don’t wear makeup. Maybe the last time I used it regularly was 15 years ago, when I’d put on some eyeliner and mascara.

      The answer I keep in my back pocket for any man who asks why I don’t wear makeup is, “Why don’t you wear makeup?”

      1. Female Executive*

        Oh that’s a good one. I work in a polticially-adjacent field (dress code is suits, no exception) and it’s definitely not the norm for women to not wear makeup. But I’m tired of wearing it at work just because men expect it.

        1. Glomarization, Esq.*

          Yeah, I mean, I hate to be an Internet Tough Guy, but I’m closer to 50 than 40 at this point and IDGAF. If some dude actually asked me, I’d say first that that I don’t wear it because I don’t like it, simple as that. So “why don’t you” is in my back pocket for any weirdo who would choose to press me further about it. I mean, why don’t I wear makeup? I dunno, I guess I was too busy today meeting my billing requirements and getting my clients closer to their goals.

    11. Careerless in Chicago*

      I have no experience in high level roles or even particularly conservative industries, but I have never worn make up to work (or anywhere) and it has never been commented on. I would be pretty offended if it was, personally. I don’t care what anyone else does but this is literally my face? Why would someone tell me, and not a man, to smear some beige stuff around my eyes and cheeks to be allowed to be seen in public? Seems bizarre to me but I don’t have any corporate experience so ymmv I guess.

    12. Bernice Clifton*

      I like the way the way I look with basic makeup: powder foundation, mascara and neutral lipstick. I personally feel better about myself when I have it on, but that’s for me and I don’t care what what other women wear or don’t.

      1. Law School*

        I’m like you. I wore very basic make up and a bra throughout my year+ at home because it made me feel more “normal” and created more separation between work time and home time.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Same here. I like to play with eye makeup sometimes. One advantage to wearing masks is that I don’t have to worry about lipstick that wears off quickly.

    13. bee*

      I generally don’t wear makeup, and in my experience people don’t tend to notice if you’re wearing makeup or not—what they notice is if you look Different. So if you go from full face one day to bare face the next, people will probably say something, because you look way different than you did yesterday. But if your baseline is no makeup then that gets categorized as Just What Your Face Looks Like in people’s brains, and they won’t be thinking about what makeup you are or aren’t wearing.

      1. mreasy*

        Yes, exactly. If you usually wear it & one day won’t, someone may say you look tired or ask if you’re okay – just because the stuff you usually use to cover up, say, the dark undereye circles you’ve had all your life, isn’t there to do it.

    14. Ginger Baker*

      I don’t wear makeup at work and never have and in 20+ years of working it has never once been an issue. I did sometimes wear lipstick if I felt like it, but that was pretty rare; I did throw some on the few times I went to court [not a usual part of my job]. I also default to wearing a blazer in the past five years [and no bra – a patterned top + blazer means it’s not noticeable so that works out great, ymmv depending on boobs] but of note, that was not a thing I did the first 15ish years of working and my face was never an issue then either.

    15. fueled by coffee*

      I typically wear eyeliner because I like how it looks. Beyond that, I find that makeup just smears all over the inside of my mask these days so I haven’t been bothering. Even in conservative industries, I don’t think wearing makeup reaches the same level of professionalism as, say, clothing or hairstyles, and I think most of our societal feelings about “needing” to wear makeup are really just sexist socialization/expectations (if you like makeup — great, wear it! But if you’re not interested, don’t bother).

    16. Anon for This*

      I have never worn makeup to work unless it was for a big, formal, evening event. When I was younger it was sometimes mentioned (By men. How is this even appropriate?) It hasn’t been an issue. I work in a male dominated field and it took me longer to get to my position than it would have taken a man with lesser skills, but that is because of sexism, not my lack of makeup.

    17. The Teapots Are on Fire*

      Yeah, bug-bye, makeup! I might wear some eyebrow pencil if I want to look more authoritative because I have invisible brown eyebrows, but that is IT!

    18. MagnusArchivist*

      Pre-pandemic I wore a full face of make up every day (foundation, eye makeup, lipstick, concealer). Now I just wear eye make up because I’m a pale, fair haired person and I look very washed out on zoom without it. Most of my meetings are still over zoom even though I’m in the office, and when I do talk to people in person I’m wearing a mask so they can only see my eyes anyway. Foundation though? Nope, forget it. Lipstick? Maybe. If it’s an important call.

    19. Double A*

      If I went back to classroom teaching, I would probably go back to my minimal make up routine. I long ago figured out how to have a professional enough for teaching wardrobe that feels more or less like pajamas, so wearing make up kind of enabled that by adding a tiny bit of polish. It also feels a bit like a “mask” of my professional persona that helped me kind of step into my role, and prepare mentally for my day. But my make up routine took about 3 minutes.

      I do like how I look with make up. It just makes me look a bit more alert.

    20. Cold Fish*

      I didn’t wear make-up before the pandemic, I’m not about to start. I’ve never had anyone ever make a comment to me about it.

      At most, you might get a couple of comments since people are used to seeing you with makeup, but they’ll adjust pretty quickly and they’ll stop. Just like people will make comments if you were blonde and dyed your hair dark brown. I know makeup comments can often feel more personal than comments about a hair style change. Just remember it is the change they are reacting to, not the fact that you aren’t wearing make-up.

    21. HBJ*

      I don’t think it should ever be a requirement, but I absolutely still wear it as much as I did before. I lessened my makeup routine the summer before Covid, actually, because I just got tired of always wearing foundation (to cover blemishes), and I didn’t think it looked great. I always dab concealer on any blemishes and 99% of the time put on some eye makeup any time I leave the house.

    22. Workerbee*

      I am done with makeup. Professionally and personally. In fact, I deliberately didn’t wear any for the job I interviewed for and got, because I wanted to go in as I meant to continue.

      No one has said anything to me. If they did, I may have to inquire why they are looking so closely at my face, why they think shellacking on visible makeup is as important if not more than my knowledge, skills, and expertise, and invite them to examine just who told them it was that important in the first place.

      I refuse to give my money, time, and energy to someone profiting off telling me I am Less Than.

    23. Buni*

      I’m 45 and have never worn a ‘face’ of make-up (foundation / powder) in my life. For a fun night out I might wear eyeliner and mascara, and I’ll wear lippie literally to weddings and funerals.

      BUT, I’ve never worked in an environment where it’s been ‘expected’ – I did about three years of traditional office work but was very young, and then went into teaching 7-9yr olds who didn’t care, and now I rock up to work in jeans and a t-shirt and army surplus boots. I confess I don’t know how to do the whole foundation / blush /eye-shadow thing.

    24. Girasol*

      Nope nope nope. Never. It’s too much of a reminder of the days when the reason to hire an office gal was to use her as a sort of decoration at the front desk or as a perk for the senior men. I’m old enough to remember when “36-24-36 and blond” was considered a job requirement. Makeup and heels in the office are traditions left over from those days and the sooner they’re gone the better.

    25. Anony*

      Not required. I never wear makeup except for special occasions. I will say though that when the women who usually wear makeup opt out one day, it tends to be very noticeable.

  44. Texan In Exile*

    Question about COBRA and ACA.

    If I take ACA starting two months after my work insurance ended, will ACA make me take COBRA for those two months? I would rather not pay the COBRA premium if I don’t have to.

    And the ACA would start two days before the COBRA election deadline, so if something does happen before ACA starts, I could always take the COBRA for those two months.

    1. Sea Anemone*

      “If I take ACA starting two months after my work insurance ended, will ACA make me take COBRA for those two months?”


      “If something does happen before ACA starts, I could always take the COBRA for those two months.”

      I considered this for myself. I don’t know your situation, but consider your risk acceptance in the case of something happening that resulted in you being incapable of signing up for COBRA–like being in a coma or something.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        I like the way you think and thanks for helping me prepare for that scenario. That means I will need to make sure my husband has my signin information (and an HR contact at old job) so he can sign us up if necessary. I hadn’t thought of that!

      2. Double A*

        I had a 3 month lapse in insurance between jobs. I did not pay for COBRA, figuring I could elect in during the 2 month period if needed, and then just taking a risk that I wouldn’t need it in that 1 month. Your comfort level and needs might vary, but I would not pay for COBRA unless I had to!

    2. Jen, from the library*

      Not sure if you’ll see this but you may want to check if you’ll be penalized when you file your income taxes. You have to show if you’ve had insurance for
      12 months; I was penalized the 1 year where I went 2 months without. Not sure if the laws have changed; my situation was 5 or 6 years ago. I ended up having to pay almost what COBRA would have been for the same amount of time.

  45. SheWanders*

    Has anyone ever been “forgotten” when their team is recognized at work? I work in software development as an analyst and have been working as part of a small team for the last three years. For various reasons, I have had to take on responsibilities not normally part of my role: UI design, QA, etc. I can confidently say that my work has been integral to the project. We successfully launched our application a few months ago. and the workgroup it was created for have been using it without issue.

    Earlier this week, the email newsletter for our IT department went out and included a couple paragraphs explaining the impact of the project and naming the four other team members and PM. My name was not included. The copy was provided by the PM. So, yeah… gut punch. I don’t think it was intentional. I have great relationships with everyone on the team. It especially hurts, though, when this project has been such a long slog, and I have gone above and beyond to make sure it was successful.

    My initial reaction was to draft an email to the PM with a slightly snarky “Ouch.” I didn’t send it. I do want to call it out, though. How do I do that without coming across as whine-y? I certainly don’t need a revised email to go out to the department saying “oops, we forgot SheWanders.” It’s more about acknowledging the mistake and doing better next time.

    1. Beth*

      I think you should definitely bring it up, ASAP, with PM — maybe not in an email. Can you pick up the phone? Maybe you can ask them “Hey, did you notice that the announcement left my name off? What gives?”

    2. Texan In Exile*

      As the person who writes the department newsletter, you have just described one of my nightmares – that I inadvertently leave someone out. I ask my SMEs for the names of the people on the project I am writing about, but even with that, sometimes names are left out. It has never struck me as intentional. And because my longer stories are housed online (the newsletter itself is an email with links to those stories), I can add names as I learn them.

      I would say something. Your PM may have been sending the info while she was in a meeting and got distracted. The newsletter publisher might not have sent the story back to the PM for review. I am thinking of all the ways I could (and have) made mistakes with my newsletter. :(

      1. Beth*

        Well put — the oversight sucks, but the odds are that it was an error that the people in question would really like to correct, and they can’t correct it if they aren’t told.

    3. MechanicalPencil*

      Happened recently. The division recognizes “milestone” anniversaries. Mine wasn’t recognized. Curious to see if it gets brought up at the department meeting next week, but I have zero confidence it will be. But I get a pin! That is mailed to the office. When I work remote.

      1. Gracely*

        My company used to recognize people at their 5, 10, etc. work anniversaries. When I got to my 5 year anniversary, that was the year they decided to cut out the 5 year work anniversary. And I’m coming up on my 10 year one, and it’s looking like they’re just stopping any recognition at all, so…

        1. MechanicalPencil*

          Oh nooo! I’ve been in that situation before, and it’s like chasing a ridiculous carrot.

          The division had a section for people with the same milestone I’m in; I was just missing from the list. Confusingly, I don’t really WANT to be recognized since I’m not big on attention, but don’t recognize some and exclude others.

    4. Charlotte Lucas*

      My (very small) department was left out of an announcement for a project once. Apparently, communication doesn’t count for when you do a project? Especially annoying because two staff members had worked a Sunday (not standard, & the building climate controls weren’t on that day) to make sure all the comms were ready for rollout (no other team worked that weekend).

      Years ago, but it stung & showed how little management valued us. And the person in charge of “hitting the switch” for the change forgot to do it first thing Monday, & implementation was delayed by a few hours.

      Since the reward was crappy pizza from a national chain, not a huge deal but still annoying.

    5. Animal worker*

      Yes. I came up with an idea at a past employer that was to raise money for our animal enrichment fund. The team that implemented the idea won an award, I was never even mentioned. While I can see that the award committee might not have known the details, not one person on the team that won the award acknowledged my role, even in something as simple as an email saying thanks, or great work, or anything. I didn’t say anything, still at times wished I had but had your same concern as it coming across wrong so I didn’t. My boss knew what I had done and I had gotten some internal credit for it that way but it did irk me for a few years at the award ceremonies when I remembered.

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

      Happens all the time for me, which is one of the reasons for my user name. I often feel like the person hidden behind the curtain because I almost never get credit for my work. I’ve had people hand me my work and then ask if there’s anyone I know who can do this type of stuff. It’s super awkward to then say, “Yes, me. That’s my work right here.” (it’s best to be chipper about it) or worse when they attribute it to a coworker who had nothing to do with it: “Jack did this (thing) for us last year…” no, no he didn’t. They sometimes look a little put off, like I’M trying to steal credit from someone else.

      What to do? I don’t know other than try to respectfully ask to correct the error. Instead of “Ouch,” maybe “I’m really excited that the project was such a resounding success. Is it possible to add my name to the Kudos in the next newsletter? I was proud of my contributions in XYZ because it was a stretch for me and not normally my area.” If there were any other people you know were part of the project but not in IT, maybe boost them too.

    7. Office Pantomime*

      Oh, yes, please mention it and then be prepared for a follow up email that adds you and your contributions. As a PM (and other leaders I worked with) those emails are carefully written, double checked and still sometimes someone gets left out. It’s almost never intentional. And never let this make you feel devalued unless stuff like this is a pattern. Most managers would be appalled at the oversight and in my experience will want to make it right. Pay no attention’s post has some good wording.

  46. Nonprofit101*

    When applying for internal promotions in a national organization do you need to apply only for roles one step above your own role or, if you are qualified, can you jump multiple steps. In my case I left a high stress role in chaplaincy to work in an adjacent field in a nonprofit. Do I need to go one step at a time or can I apply for internal promotions that relate to former roles but are multiple steps above what I’m currently doing?

    1. Nonprofit Foot Solider*

      It depends a little on your overall org structure. But in every nonprofit I’ve ever worked it wouldn’t be unusual if you jump multiple steps and promote a bit higher (just gotta make your case that you have the experience). Go for it!

      1. WorkerBee*

        Does it make a difference if it would also put someone in a role above their current supervisor but in a different department? For national orgs what about if it puts someone in a national role vs what had been local?

  47. Beth*

    I have a REALLY great item to share, for anyone who’s agonized over whether or not to speak up when they hear terrible comments and unfunny jokes at work (or anywhere else).

    Earlier this summer, I attended a virtual workshop that GREATBIGCOMPANY holds every year. My own small firm is a close partner with GREATBIGCOMPANY, and I’ve been attending these events for years.

    At this one, in one of the sessions, the presenters — two white guys — were engaging in some joking and banter as they wrapped the session up. One of them came out with a staggering unfunny, tone-deaf crack about voting access and voter fraud. I don’t actually remember what he said; I just remember how furious it made me. Ours is a deeply privileged industry dominated by old straight white cis males, and GREATBIGCOMPANY has a wobbly record in this area — they’re trying to improve, but they have a long way to go.

    I seethed and seethed and then sent in a comment in the feedback channel, along the lines of “Did I *really* just hear two straight white guys joking about voter fraud? Have they got ANY idea how awful they sound?”

    Early this week, I got a call from one of the regional managers at GREATBIGCOMPANY. She reminded me of the incident and my comment, at which point I braced myself for fallout . . . and then she thanked me for calling it out, and told me that not only had they reviewed the episode and made the presenters aware that this was a gaffe — they had also edited out the awful joke from the online posted recording of the session. Because GREATBIGCOMPANY agreed that this was a terrible comment to make, and they did not want to perpetuate it.

    Then she thanked me again and said a lot of very nice things, which I actually don’t remember, because my head was all wrapped up in a happy pink cloud. And I hope you can share my happy pink cloud now.

    1. irene adler*

      yeah- nice going!
      I’m glad they took steps to fix things (as best they could given the presentation is over) instead of telling you how you are off-base in some way for having a complaint.

    2. Working with Professionals*

      Way to go! So glad your feedback was heard, acted on and they followed up to let you know how you helped them!

    3. retired2*

      I did this in a training from ANOTHERGREATBIGCOMPANY. I can’t say what the specific statement was, because that would be recognized, but it involved a racial reference. I made a snarky comment in the chat. Several weeks later a top exec contacted me to say that it had been researched and I was right about it being racist, but they had never thought of this…this in the context of diversity training at the same session. It was not subtle. They are not stupid. They are all privileged white professionals. No diversity in the exec group.

  48. Always Ask for More Money (especially women)*

    I was recently looking at an employee list with salary. There were a few men who made WAY more than anyone else on their level, and frankly more than they should (none of them are high performers). I can only guess that they negotiated a high amount at hire and probably every year as well.

    As a woman, it makes me feel like a schmuck for not negotiating harder for myself. It sucks that “people with the most gumption get paid the most” is the current system, but as long as it’s what we’re stuck with, we gotta work for it.

    I know this isn’t brand new information to anyone, but it does feel realer to me now.

    1. BayCay*

      Just came here to sympathize. I worked for a public university that publishes employee salaries annually. I found out one year that my new new coworker, a white dude, was being paid the same as me even though he 1) had less experience at that company and in the field 2) had one less degree than me and 3)had less job duties overall.

      Never brought it up with the boss because that workplace was toxic and I knew my chances of that convo going anywhere near well were equal to the chance of a squirrel successfully orbiting Saturn.

    2. Thursdaysgeek*

      Yeah. We’re penalized for not having a skill that is only needed when we get a job, and not needed for the job itself.

      1. pancakes*

        Sometimes we’re also penalized for having the skill! Or being seen as too bold for using it, to be more precise.

        1. Sleet Feet*

          Yeah que this week’s letter: I had an employee who learned with no training but is sometimes to big for her britches!

  49. SoManyJobs*

    I’ve been at my job for a little over five years but I thinks it’s time for me to move on. I want a change, but I’m not sure what I want to do or where I want to go. With that said, I’d be very interested in hearing what YOU are doing! What industry are you in/what type of job do you have/any pros and cons that you see? I’d just like to know more about what’s out there, if you’re interested in sharing. Thank you!!!

  50. The Dude Abides*

    Short version – interviewing for a managerial job with no concrete managerial experience, likely going up against others who do

    Next week, I’m interviewing for the role of manager of the unit I left six months ago, and am still helping out some amount every month.

    My main issue is that this is going to be my first time managing people in a serious capacity. In one prior role almost five years ago, I was forced into a supervisor/lead role with zero notice, and my direct report was fired less than six months later, and I never received a second direct report before leaving six months later.

    My main worry is that I won’t be able to cite concrete examples if they ask about situations that would come up as a manager. The best I could do is describe hypothetical “what I would do” in situations that actually did happen within the unit I would be managing.

    The non-managerial tasks the job entails, I have covered a million times over, since doing those tasks well and getting little more than a pat on the back is what caused me to look elsewhere. These tasks also make up the bulk of what I’ve been asked to help with in the six months since I left.

    Any advice/things to bring up would be appreciated immensely.

    1. SomebodyElse*

      I think you’ll be ok. You are interviewing so they have already made you a manager once and inviting you to interview now. Your background and light official management experience isn’t going to be a surprise to anyone! Below are some things that I look for when I’m hiring new managers. (most of these are variations of responses I’ve received from successful candidates)

      Informal leadership/’leading without authority’:
      – You lead a project and were able to get x, y, and z done by coordinating people in A and B departments
      -You documented and trained on ‘big new tool’ rollout
      -You were the team point of contact for X and rolled out new procedures directed by Y
      -Your manager tasked you with doing Z for the team or helping the rest learn whatever
      -You were trainer for all new team members
      -You were unofficial spokesperson for the team – meaning they would come to you with problems and you would work with your manager.

      Don’t discount your experience 5 years ago:
      -What did you learn from that experience? I imagine you were part of the dismissal, working with HR, PIP, etc.
      -What did you do as a manager to that one employee? Delegate, plan, coach, etc.
      -What plans did you have for your team or did you start some changes that you weren’t able to implement because of the termination

      If you got the new job, what types of things would you be planning to implement? Have a 30d/90d/1 yr highlight reel prepared to talk about.

      Good Luck!

      1. The Dude Abides*

        To clarify – I was never made the interim manager. I took on a lot of the higher-level tasks that fall under the manager’s JD, but had no supervisory/managerial authority.

        RE: prior experience – HA. I was directly involved in all of jack shit. The HR person left without warning 1-2 months previously, and no one was told why. I was told to give her a chunk of my day-to-day work, and train her on it with zero lead time or room for error.

        I do have some ideas for what I would do differently, it’s just a matter of having the time to build the tools when there’s not eleventy million other things to do that should have been done months ago.

  51. Gracie*

    I asked last week about being interviewed for a position that seemed like a huge leap in responsibility and required more experience than I have. Thank you for the advice, I kept them in mind while preparing.

    As I predicted, the proposed position did turn out to require more experience than I currently have. I’d say it needs at least 5 years experience in the field, while I only have my degree and 3 years experience in a distantly related field. By the end of the interview it was obvious it was not a good match.

    I was a bit disappointed, since I’d love to work on some of the projects they mentioned. But at the end of the day, I would’ve been out of my depth if I’d gotten the position. I filed it as an education experience and prepared to move on.

    And then the HR person called me and invited me to a final interview for the original position I applied for! I mean, I’ve had that final interview before, where the would-be grandboss said my qualifications weren’t exactly what they were looking for. Now the HR rep said that they’d offer me the position during the interview.

    Obviously I won’t make any decisions before hearing the complete offer, but if the salary suit me, should I take it? The duties will be similar to my current job, plus I hope I can ask to be included in projects mentioned above.

    I have to admit that I desperately want to leave my current job because I’m so over this place. I want to start fresh somewhere else. So I realize that I may be looking at this with rose colored glasses.

    (Please burst my bubble!)

    1. Camelid coordinator*

      Congrats on the interview! You don’t have to decide on the spot if they offer you the job. Is there some other information you need about benefits, PTO, or work culture? And, even if there isn’t, you are allowed to take a few days to make a big decision. Good luck and keep us posted!

  52. Academic glass half full*

    Work/life Balance. Work-not so much anymore.
    For the last 30 years there has been severe lack of life in the work/life balance equation.
    Full time job- that was over 40 hours plus night and weekend gigs to make ends meet (for luxuries like gym memberships and eating out once a week)
    I kept saying- when I pass probation, when I get tenure, when I am promoted to Full. Then I can relax.
    The good part was that my work was engaging, something both my husband and I loved (he was in an adjacent profession, we met at work)
    The Covid time was teaching remote and I was as busy as ever.
    He died unexpectedly last May.
    To say I have a lack of engagement would not be exaggerating.
    I do almost nothing above the job description.
    I force myself to show up at zoom meetings.
    Colleagues who I trust say that my c+ is everyone else’s A and not to worry.
    I seem to be able to turn on to teach but again- nothing above meeting expectations.
    I have professional help- the therapist says treat myself as if I have a traumatic brain injury.
    I do need the paycheck.
    For the first time I am thinking about what retirement might look like.
    Has anyone had this experience?

    1. Beth*

      Make no decisions until next year at the earliest. Grieve. Get through each day. That’s more than enough for now.

      1. Patricia Paddock*

        First rule with catastrophic loss (death of parent, spouse, child) is to make no major changes for a year at least—if you’re in a position to do so. You need time to mourn both him and the loss of your future with him. You need to time to rest, recuperate, and recover from this loss. You need time to discover the you that’s separate from you-the-couple. You need time. Right now you do not need passion at work, loss of income, stress of job hunting or stress of new job. Later, the first one and the last two will seem like opportunities and challenges—then you can start exploring them.

        Know that there is no “right” time table for this—everyone mourns in their own way/in their own time. Take care of yourself. Be kind to yourself.

        And I am so very sorry for your loss.

    2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      You’re performing well enough at work. Let it keep running.
      As you go along, take a few notes about what you’d like out of your next handful of years. Sticky notes on the fridge, a little journal of lists, a vision board … whatever works for you. Then, as you continue to go along, make tiny steps toward making those things happen. Let the tiny steps feed your soul.
      By the time you’re ready to regroup, you’ll be partway there.

      Also, grieve. Give it room.

    3. After 33 years ...*

      Deepest sympathies.
      Please take and make time for yourself. You’re fulfilling the job description. Meeting expectations is just fine, and your colleagues see that and appear supportive.
      You have the right to put yourself first.
      I think I understand when you say “I seem to be able to turn on to teach”. When my step-daughter passed away, teaching was my major grounding point. Sometimes, I left class not knowing what I had talked about, but my students (who didn’t know what had happened) felt that I was meeting and exceeding their expectations.
      Help, support, talking, and time …

      Take care and best wishes.

    4. RagingADHD*

      Just that your therapist is 100% correct. Grief is a traumatic brain injury.

      And that it’s totally normal for a major life upheaval to change your priorities. In a way there would be something terribly wrong if a devastating loss left you with exactly the same goals and attitudes as before. Your life is different now. You are different now. That’s as it should be, under the circumstances.

      I’m very sorry for your loss.

    5. Phoenix from the ashes*

      Not quite the same but… the job where my manager thought highest of me was also the job where I performed poorest. Not deliberately- but I’d had glandular fever (as an adult) just before starting that job. It left me with horrible post viral m.e. which took about a decade to clear up. But it also taught me that there’s less of a correlation between how I think I’m contributing, and how others think I’m contributing, than I had ever dreamed was possible.

      I felt guilty every day I went to work because of how poorly I thought I was performing – but I was giving it all I had to give and it sounds like you are too. Grief can take years to recover from. You have my permission to just do enough to get by while you heal :-). Sending my best wishes and sympathy to you at this difficult time.

  53. BayCay*

    Today, the university I work at announced that the federal vaccine mandate applies to all employees and there will be no testing option. I’m all for it.

    Does anybody have any suggestions/experience on how to navigate this topic with colleagues in the next few weeks, up until the deadline? As you can imagine, it’s been a hot button topic this morning and I’m not sure what to say or how much to say when people bring it up. I’m not shy about showing my support for the university and the mandate, but I don’t want to potentially step into an argument with a coworker who is unhappy with the mandate.

    Any advice?

    1. Cruciatus*

      I’m also at a university that just announced this week the mandate will apply to all employees, including student employees.

      My level of sympathy is in the negative at this point, if I’m being honest. I would just keep my comments short though. If they go on about how terrible the mandate is and blah blah blah I’d probably just say “I’m sorry you feel that way” and say very vague things like “Hmmm” and adding in some topic changes. If they go on a misinformation rant about the vaccine I’d mention that I’ve had it and things have been just fine (and try to fight whatever specific misinformation with facts). But mostly I’d just be trying to get away from that person/that discussion.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      I wouldn’t bring it up, but if someone asked what I think I would go effusive even if I know they’re hoping we can complain together: “Oh I’m thrilled/I’m so grateful we’re taking this seriously/I definitely support prioritizing public health measures!” And then move on to a different topic. If someone complained to me though I would go more grey rock and avoid the rant/argument. “Hm/that’s too bad/you’ll figure out what works for you/sorry to hear that.”

    3. Anon for this*

      As one co-worker put it when asked about the mandate in my workplace: “Well, a guy’s got to eat! Of course I’ll get vaccinated.” Pivot to new topic.

      1. pancakes*

        Maybe not a bad approach in some circumstances, but I fear that some who are anti-vax will take it as, “I share your views and I feel coerced by our employer.” It is so, so common for people with fringe views to feel their views are more widely shared than they in fact are, in part I think because so many people want to avoid conflict on topics like vaccines, politics, etc. It would be easier for the rest of us to move forward if these people had a more accurate sense of how out-of-step / regressive their views are.

  54. cat socks*

    Anyone else work on software development? I’m not a developer, but I’m a system analyst and I support a team of developers who work on the Teapot Assembly system. We get a lot of work requests, but a limited number of developers so only the high priority items get considered.

    We are planning for our next software release and some VPs from the product team have some requirements they want to push through. The answer from my management is to grab resources from other teams and add them to the TA system. They don’t seem to understand that it takes time for someone to come up to speed with working on a new system. And it takes time away from the experienced developers to teach new people. It will help to have more developers in the long run, but just throwing bodies at the problem isn’t going get stuff done faster in the short term.

    I’ve expressed my concerns about this plan. It’s frustrating, but there’s not much I can do about it.

    1. SheWanders*

      Yep. This is a common management approach, and, you’re right, it often doesn’t work. At my last job, they brought in a bunch of contractors to work on highly complex, in-house applications. I spent HOURS training and responding to questions instead of actually doing work. Seemed rather counter-productive.

    2. Thursdaysgeek*

      Are you familiar with The Mythical Man-Month? Apparently, your management is not, but the gist is: adding people to a late project will make it later. For just the reasons you specify, plus more people means more time needed for communication and more opportunities for miscommunication.

      1. Thursdaysgeek*

        A related point, which might also be in this book: if 1 woman can make a baby in 9 months, management sometimes thinks that if they have 9 women, they can get the baby in 1 month. But adding bodies simply doesn’t help for some processes.

        1. Clisby*

          Yep. If you have a software project that’s estimated to take 4000 hours, assigning 400 programmers to it will not reduce the deliverable time to 10 hours.

  55. I love Almond Joy*

    Can I push back against having to attend event meetings I’m in?

    I’m in a team of three, marketing, at a non profit. We are managed by a marketing manager who’s been with the nonprofit for 3 years, but everyone else on the team is fairly new, to non profits and marketing in general. Each of us specializes in different aspects, like, one does videography, another focuses on web management, another is a copywriter, etc, but we kinda dip here and there when needed.

    As a team, all of us attend our organization’s weekly event meeting where we discuss progress of events, planning, etc with all the other departments. In this meeting, everyone else but my team members and I are supervisor/management level. To clarify, our marketing department itself does not plan/lead these events. Event leads are usually divided among one of the head staff of the departments.

    These meetings last for an hour and TBH, they stress me out as of late. Many times, these meetings ramble off topic into conversations that are more like management level discussion such as talking about how to decide on X or planning out next year’s schedule. Lately, I’m starting to feel like these meetings are not contributing to my work. In this hour, I could’ve been accomplishing other tasks. Granted, we always have the option of not attending if we have other urgent matters.

    I know I’m part of the marketing team, and so some info discussed is relevant to me, such as event details and stuff, but I’m wondering why my manager doesn’t just relay that information to the team. I don’t understand why the marketing team ALL needs to be there for this particular meeting, especially when the room doesn’t even hold capacity for everyone present. Most of the time it just ends up being the top four managers who discuss.

    I’ve asked my manager before if my presence was necessary at these event meetings, and they’ve responded with yes, but then followed up with “don’t you find them entertaining?”

    On the other hand, from my short time there, the organization tends to have lack of communication from top down so the meetings are useful because they allow me to aks whatever clarifications I need from folks who have been hard to contact via email communication, or in person.

    But still, a part of me feels like I’m not being paid high enough to contribute actively to weekly high level discussions about the organization welfare and improvement. I’m down for talking about marketing efforts and endeavors and trajectories, but rarely do those things come up in these event meetings.

    I’ve been at this org for a year and this is my first “real” job outside of academia so I’m lost on if this is just a difference of work culture, typical of nonprofits, or what.

    Any help on how to navigate this is appreciated. And if I have to attend event meetings, I would love some advice on how to make the most use of it.

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      They’re giving you some access to folks you need to have quick conversations with, and sometimes it’s tangentially useful for you to be there.

      If you’ve got something extremely pressing, then stay for half, politely ask if anyone needs you for anything else and claim deadlines for escape. Prep your manager that you’re planning to do so.

      If not, then write your to-do list or do some menu planning and zone out. It’s something your workplace thinks is useful, so hang in there. Later you might have a chance to streamline the attendee list, but for now, follow their lead.

    2. retired2*

      I would attend. I was specifically taught early that I needed to understand my grandboss in order to support my boss and that was very helpful. You may hear or learn something you wouldn’t hear or learn anywhere else. Watch body language; hear what isn’t being said. Your current work is less important than learning these survival skills.

  56. BadApple*

    Help! I just submitted a cover letter with the wrong name (a huge blunder I know — but they were very similar university names and I’m firing off a million apps.) Is there any recovery? Should I email HR and ask to switch the letter out? Thanks in advance for any tips. :,)

    1. Soup of the Day*

      If they’re similar, there’s no harm in asking. I actually did this when I was applying for jobs en masse once, except instead of sending the wrong cover letter, I just completely butchered the name of the company. I was tired and thought I remembered one thing from the job posting, but it was something completely different!

      I just resubmitted the application the same as before, prepared to say “oh, I wasn’t sure it went through!” if they asked about it, and just prayed they’d only open the most recent one after seeing that the name was the same. It worked and I got the job, and they never realized my mistake!

    2. fueled by coffee*

      You might as well ask! I’d phrase it as “I’m so embarrassed that I made this mistake, but I’m applying to roles at several universities and accidentally attached the wrong cover letter to this application. Would it be possible to replace it with the correct version (attached)? I’m very excited about the opportunity here because [one sentence of something unique at their university so it’s clear you did your research.]”

      It’s not a secret that you’re applying to more than one job, so I’d just make it about “oops, attached the wrong letter” rather than “your names sound the same!”

    3. Midwestern Data Analyst*

      Ask! I have had this happen to candidates that I am interviewing, and I would rather that they notice and try to correct it. Our HR kept the original application but noted and included the updated cover letter.

  57. thethatcher*

    A former coworker from previous toxic job is quitting, gave a 6 week notice period, which would have ended on Nov. 5th. The company accepted the notice, thanked him (over the phone) for a long notice period initially, until this week when they told him they are moving his last day to Oct. 29th, because the training of his replacement is going so well.
    The company will only pay out 40 hours of PTO (no sick payout).
    So I have 2 questions-
    1) Is the company allowed to move the last day like that? Is it still considered that he is quitting on that date, or is he being fired? (he stated that he disagrees with the move in date, and would prefer to keep the last day as the 5th)
    2) Is it ethical for him to use PTO during the last week?

    1. House Tyrell*

      Yes they can shorten/waive notice periods and generally companies have policies against using PTO during your notice period but he could ask. Personally I would prefer a payout depending on how many hours he has accrued, but if he has more PTO than 40 hours it would be worth asking.

      1. thethatcher*

        He does have 80+ hours of PTO, so they are going to be wasted anyway.
        My thoughts on it are that since the company has stated that the training of his replacement is so good, and that was the primary purpose of a long notice period, there shouldn’t be an ethical dilemma using PTO if allowed.

    2. CatCat*

      Yes, they can move the last day, but if they’re not paying him out through Nov. 5, that’s bad form on their part and they should (rightfully) expect the impact of treating him this way will mean others will not provide a generous notice period in the future. Could be categorized as a firing or layoff (not sure which, sounds like maybe they don’t have work for him that last week), but certainly easily explained if ever asked about it. (“I gave 6 weeks notice, but the company decided to shorten my time to 5 weeks since they did not need me in the last week since they had backfilled my role.”)

      It’s not really unethical to use PTO in your last week at a job, it’s more a function of whether it will be allowed.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        The main reason for not taking pto is that the time is needed for wrapping up the new job. So if they don’t need that, it’s entirely ethical. On the employer’s side, legal but crappy, and a good way to ensure no one else ever offers notice longer than two weeks.

  58. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

    Hi everyone – what is a scrum team contract and how binding is it, will the team members’ performance be measured against it at review time, etc? My team’s scrum master is in the process of creating one and none of our other teams have one, or know what it is. Nor have I ever heard of one before. Will be thankful for any information and any personal experiences! Trying to figure out what to expect.

    1. thethatcher*

      I am familiar with Scrum, but haven’t heard of a scrum team contract. my guess is it’s part of this managers management style. You should ask them directly about what to expect, because my guess is that they are the only one who really knows. If the contract is revealed and it’s crazy, I would express your concerns to the manager, and go above them if they don’t respond well.

    2. Sea Anemone*

      The scrum master is calling it a contract? That seems unusual. Sometimes there are agreements in place that establish expectations on how the team will work. The idea is actually to reduce interpersonal friction based on working styles. As with anything, how effective it is depends on the implementation.

      In all team based environments, team cohesiveness impacts results, and as such, your part in contributing to or taking away from team performance will impact you at review time. I would expect a scrum agreement to be treated the same way.

      Why don’t you just ask the scrum master what they have in mind? A working agreement that impacts the entire team should have team input. Take this opportunity.

    3. I should really pick a name*

      Best thing is to ask them.
      I suspect no two companies use Scrum the same way, so the personal experience of other might not be relevant.

    4. Big 4 Denizen*

      This sounds more like the rules of engagement for the project, as it were. I think of them more as project charter documents that lay out the goals, timeline, how each sprint will work, etc. Confirm with the scrum master, though.

    5. Person from the Resume*

      I doubt it’s a legal contract.

      It’s much more likely an agreement the scrum team makes about what they are going to deliver each sprint or some other period.

  59. No Longer Fencer*

    I’m 17 weeks along in a couple of days. When do most folks tell their workplace? I was going to tell a few days after signing my latest performance review (so my health status doesn’t get factored in as to how much/how little of a performance bonus I’d get). That would probably be at the 20 week mark or so. I’m also kind of paranoid since my mom had a stillbirth in her 1st pregnancy and…you know…fear.

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Feel free to not tell anyone for as long as you can manage.

      They SHOULDN’T take future health considerations into account for anything, but that doesn’t mean they won’t.

      Let things get squared away as far as your bonus and review go, and then tell them whenever it is that either it will become extremely obvious, or when you’ll have to start organizing projects for coverage while you’re out.

    2. Mockingjay*

      There’s no rule other than “when you feel comfortable.” I’ve had colleagues wait until the end of the second trimester to announce (even if it was ‘obvious’), which still provided ample time to plan coverage for maternity leave. You can do a lot of the planning yourself right now, then whip out your SOPs, instructions, and status reports when the time comes to discuss with you manager.

      Best wishes for a healthy baby.

    3. Charlottemousse*

      I waited until after my performance review since the timing was pretty close to around my 4-month mark. I was paranoid that I was starting to show, and I feel very comfortable and stable in my employment, so I told them what I think is kind of early for most, around the 4.5-month mark. They had no idea, and here I was thinking it was totally obvious! Ultimately, I was glad to get to tell them in person, as it was just a month before we all went home for the pandemic. Anyways, I think as others have mentioned, it’s really up to you when you want to talk about it at work and when you are comfortable. I was starting to worry more about showing and them knowing without me talking to them, and that tipped the scales for me. I just wanted them to know and me not worry about whether they knew!

    4. alynn*

      First, congratulations! :)

      As others have said, tell whenever you feel comfortable. I told pretty early because I was so sick. I didn’t want anyone to think I had a contagious illness.

      Have there been any other pregnancies at your company, how did that go over /how was that person treated? In theory, giving a heads up will allow them to make arrangements to delegate your work load while you are off -so maybe by the 7month mark?
      With my first pregnancy, they seemed to forget it was coming. The second time, they did better with dispersing my workload onto multiple people

      1. No Longer Fencer*

        Thanks to all who replied. Where I work, the last pregnant person was from 1-2 years ago. Work threw her a shower. She was in leadership. She had the baby, went part time, decided to quit altogether. I have no idea what to expect…as a non-leadership person.

  60. This Old House*

    Is there any data on how effective masks (cloth and/or surgical) are at preventing COVID transmission when you’re in prolonged contact? Is it just another aspect of hygiene theater for my officemate and I to wear masks when we’re sitting in the same room for 8 hrs/day, because transmission is more or less inevitable after that length of time, if one of us were to bring COVID to work? Or are we (both vaccinated) actually measurably safer wearing masks than not?

    Officially our office’s policy is masks while indoors, but many departments seem to be “podding” and not masking around close colleagues the way they do around others, while the two of us are suffering behind masks all day every day. (I’m pro-mask, but also, wearing one 8 hrs/day is turning out to be more annoying than I anticipated. I’d rather not do it if it’s not actually helping.)

    1. Irish girl*

      i would think looking at transmission in schools where kids are in class together might be a good example of how it works and doesnt work. From what i can see in my child’s school system, especially with the test and stay testing going on, the spread is limited to 2-3% of the close contacts are getting Covid. They are masked all day except for lunch and outside activities. My daughter was exposed to a kid in her class that was positive and from what i know, no other kid caught it from them. They were exposed to that child for 3 school days before the results were in.

      1. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

        If they’re good masks then it definitely isn’t just “hygiene theatre”. I’d pick FFP3 (the FFP stands for “Filtering Face Piece”).

        1. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

          (oops that nested slightly wrong – was meant as a reply to This Old House’s original q)

    2. bee*

      I would talk to your officemate about it! I’d feel perfectly comfortable not wearing a mask in a situation like that, but not everyone would, and I think it’s really up to the two of you.

    3. Beth*

      From what I’ve read, it is genuinely effective — including against breakthrough infections of variants, which is what you’re facing. I hope that the room you share is well-ventilated and that you have some space between your desks (and that you aren’t facing each other directly).

      In addition, wearing a mask normalizes mask-wearing, and pushes back against mask resistance, which helps everyone.

      You might try different types of mask. I ended up making my own, out of 100% cotton with a lining of soft cotton knit, and they’re way more comfortable than anything else I’ve tried. I have multiples so I can wash them before re-use.

      1. This Old House*

        Space between us, yes (6+ ft); well-ventilated, only until it gets cold enough that we need to close the windows. We are not in a particularly visible area of the office, so I don’t think what we are or aren’t doing when no one else is around impacts anyone

    4. Hlao-roo*

      I’ll link the article I found in a different comment because it will be held up by moderation, but the short answer is yes, masks work for a full 8 hr work day.

      Respirator masks: maximally effective for 3.2-9.5 hrs, 97% effective in stopping virus particles
      Surgical masks: maximally effective for 2.6-7.3 hrs, 81% effective in stopping virus particles
      Cloth masks: maximally effective for 4-8.8 hrs, 47% effective in stopping virus particles

      The masks become less effective the longer you wear them, but they are still protecting you and your coworkers. I find surgical masks are the most comfortable for me to wear when I’m in the office because they fit my face the best.

        1. This Old House*

          Thank you, this is very helpful! I would not have even anticipated that masks become less effective the longer you use them. I was really just thinking about the idea that even if a mask is 95% effective, that 5% that’s not getting filtered out, over 8 hours, could add up to an infectious amount of exposure.

          1. Sea Anemone*

            I would not have even anticipated that masks become less effective the longer you use them.

            That is not really the takeaway. It’s not like the masks become more porous over time. The take away is that cumulative exposure matters, i.e., 5% that’s not getting filtered out, over 8 hours, could add up to an infectious amount of exposure.

      1. Bagpuss*

        Those look similar to figures I’ve seen, I believe that cloth masks vary a lot – if you are wearing a cloth mask which is 2 or more layers thick and you use filters with it it’s a similar level of protection to surgical masks. Which I found reassuring as I find surgical ones trigger my asthma, but my double, pleated cloth masks with a insert for a filter, and using disposable filters, are OK.
        I am meticulous about washing them after every wear, and using a new filter every time. I don’t normally have to wear them all day but when I have had to, I tend to have more than one mask and change every few hours

    5. Ginger Baker*

      As an aside not directly relevant to your question, I *strongly* prefer masks that tie behind the head versus any that go behind the ears (even with “ear savers”, they are set up to hit the ear area and agitate me). Just sharing in case that could help make 8-hour mask wearing a bit easier for you.

    6. MissCoco*

      Microcovid . org has a great article on this, but the headline is: it’s helping unless you’re wearing really poorly fitting mask.

    7. RagingADHD*

      Anecdata: Our school district is in a high-transmission area with a LOT of antivaxxers. After a little over a month of mask mandate, they had less than 1% positivity in the school, with most schools having 0 cases. During the mask mandate, they allowed kids to sit 3 feet apart and remove the masks while eating lunch.

      Now, I doubt that’s entirely accurate in terms of positivity rate because I’m sure most parents are not doing precautionary tests after exposure. But any kid or staff member who is symptomatic has to be tested before returning to school. So if they are passing it, the viral load is low enough that they aren’t getting noticeably sick.

      I’m sure there’s data out there if you look for it that compares masked with maskless schools. That’s 7+ hours a day with very imperfect compliance, and it still makes an enormous difference.

      OTOH, if you and your coworker are both vaxxed, have no high-risk people in your lives, have similar risk levels outside of work, and want to make a “pod” I don’t see why you shouldn’t if the company allows it.

    8. PregAndMasked*

      What type of mask are you wearing? Not all masks are created equal. I personally find disposable surgical masks more comfortable than most cloth ones, so I’d do those if I was in the office all day.

      As is, I wear kf94 masks which I can tolerate for the half days I currently spend in the office. I’m vaxxed, around only vaxxed people, but in my third trimester of pregnancy so still are pretty high risk. I couldn’t do those masks all day, though. The kf94s are less effective than n95s, but not dramatically so and they are significantly superior to regular surgical masks (which are superior to cloth).

      If your masks aren’t comfortable, i recommend trying different types. Behind the head ones work better for many

    9. Tali*

      Just wore masks for 48 hours straight due to travel. I recommend finding comfortable masks that fit snugly over your face with stretchy ear loops. Surgical masks are more effective than cloth ones, you can also double mask with a cloth over a surgical and if the room isn’t too hot, it wasn’t that uncomfortable–the cloth can help the surgical fit better against the face.

      Personally the toughest part is against the ears, so looking for solutions there can make a huge difference. For example, search for “ear savers” or make your own, basically two buttons or snaps sewn to a strip of cloth, you put the ear loops on that at the back of your head. Or attach buttons to a headband and put the mask on that. Or get a mask that ties at the back of your head.

  61. Careerless in Chicago*

    Hello! I have never commented before but have been reading for a while (apologies for the cheesy username, that’s not my real city of course). I would love some outside perspective on what my next move should be. I graduated a couple years ago with a bachelor’s degree but have been working in the food service industry since then. Ultimately, I don’t love food service, I want to get out but I have had no luck getting even interviews in any other kind of role. I think the main problem is I don’t have a clear view of what I do want- not particularly ambitious beyond knowing I want to work somewhere I don’t feel miserable and exhausted and can afford to pay my bills. I am currently unemployed but in a position where I can take some time to be a little more picky than usual. So my question: should I accept a job in food service that has benefits and seems pretty decent to work at, or should I hold out and keep trying to get an entry level role in a degree-adjacent field or literally anything else? I’m afraid if I don’t get something else on my resume I’ll never get considered for any other kinds of roles and I don’t have a specific path or desire to go into debt in grad school that would make sense to pursue. I try to stay positive and keep looking for opportunities and improving my cover letters/resume but I just feel so stuck.

    1. The Smiling Pug*

      Hello there! In the process of my own job-search, I’ve tried to do these things.
      1. Is the job posting something I can see myself doing?
      2. Do I reasonably see myself working here for the next (fill-in-the-blank) years?
      3. Do I see any red flags during the interview process?

      Also, when writing my cover letter, I’ve found that Alison’s advice about personalizing the cover letter with information from the job advert is helpful. Also, when trying to look for a job, I look at my interests and try to find careers adjacent to those. For example, I’m building a podcast revolving around reviewing indie books, so I looking for a job in entry-level marketing that would give me transferable skills.

      You said that you were in food service? That has many transferable skills such as dealing with people and interpersonal conflict. If you were a server, you probably handled money or call-in orders. If you were a manager/owner, you directed people and ordered new supplies for the place. All these skills are transferable. On the resume, use these skills to highlight accomplishments. For example, “I handled a large group with my team with such finesse that the guests remarked on afterwards,” would work.
      NB: Please feel free to switch out the examples I give with your own experiences. These are not hard and fast rules. :)

    2. Soup of the Day*

      Would you be open to doing temp jobs? I’ve worked with both a recruiting company for temporary positions as well as a temp agency that was part of a major university. It was a fun way to work different types of jobs that were related to my experience and see what I might like doing. At least with the university, once I got my foot in the door I even had some say about the departments or jobs I could work for. And once I did a temporary position for a while, they liked my work so much that they offered me the full-time position! But some of my coworkers just kept doing the temp jobs because they liked the variety.

    3. Bayta Darrell*

      I made the leap out of food service by going to banking, and it’s a good transition for anyone who is front-of-house. Lean hard on those customer service and cash counting skills, especially if you hand to count drawers or do anything with larger amounts of money. Banking has better hours and benefits, plus gives you office skills and has growth potential in the industry. I used it as a stepping stone and ended up in a great office position in green energy (and I have a liberal arts degree, not science).

  62. WomEngineer*

    Is it appropriate to add to a resume book if I’m not looking for a new job?

    In college, I was part of a student design contest that is being presented at a conference. I graduated in the spring (Master’s) but have still contributed to my team. In total, I was involved for 1 year.

    The conference is making a resume book for other student participants. People from an organization [that laypeople would recognize] will see the resume book.

    If I’m only open to networking opportunities, would it be acceptable to add a disclaimer or objective statement that clarifies my position?

    1. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Why close a potential door by putting some kind of restrictive language on the resume you submit, though? Worst-case scenario is that someone gets in touch to offer you a job. You can take that offer or leave it, but in any vent you’ll have made a professional connection that could prove useful in the future.

      1. ferrina*

        +1 Just because you have an up-to-date resume doesn’t mean that you are looking for a job. This is a networking conference; this sounds like a hardcopy of having an updated Linked In.

        If you’re worried about how it will look to your current org, you can give your manager a head’s up. Maybe something like “Hey, I’m going to be at this cool conference and they are going to include my accomplishments in this book. Any chance we could use that for [networking/clients]?” (That’s not my favorite language though)

  63. How Many Hours is this Job Really?*

    Do any of you have tips for discerning how busy a role is? I’m a high performer but I’m not interested in a high stress, no downtime job. But I feel like everyone I interview with makes it sound like the companies are very busy, and it’s hard to tell how true it is. Which I get because most interviewers aren’t going to want to say “usually I’m done by 3 each day.” For example, when I asked how busy my current job is, the panel all talked it up like it was a super busy company where they were often coming in on weekends. That didn’t end up being true at all. I rarely work more than 20 hours and the “coming in on Saturday” folks rarely more than 30.

    Any tips for getting a real answer without coming off as lazy?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Maybe you can ask for what the tasks look like on a typical day? I’ve definitely seen cases in which people claim to have worked 14-hour days, and it turns out the work can be done far more efficiently. But there are also times when it’s genuinely that hectic. You can also ask how many hours they spend in meetings, because meetings tend to be a huge time suck, whereas project time can vary widely based on the type of work and the person doing the project.

      1. How Many Hours is this Job Really?*

        The meetings question is a good idea. I recently turned a job down because it was something like 25 hours a week in meetings with clients… for a technical role. No thank you!

    2. cubone*

      Agree with asking what tasks look like typically and how many hours in meetings (a great question all around!). Also maybe asking “is the workload/pace consistent, or are there peak times where things are very busy and other times that are a less-busy pace?”

      If they say there are busy times and slow times, then I would ask what does a typical work week look like during a peak period, versus a slow period.

      I think you could also ask some questions about how they make sure their employees maintain a good work-life balance, or avoid burnout (or something like this). I would see if they talk about lieu time, boundaries, how people feel (versus “we celebrate the end of our 90 hour busy period with a pizza party!”)

  64. Overeducated*

    Just a vent: I have a senior colleague who won’t take part of my job duties out of their title, which makes it sound like they are my boss and results in unnecessary correspondence. This person has overseen Area X for about 10 years, first hired into a position to do that under my predecessor (in the role that is supposed to be in charge of X), and then as an “additional duty” of their second position in Area Y as a peer to my predecessor because he didn’t want to. So their email signature says “Area Y & Area X Manager.”

    However, when I was offered my job in early 2021, it was specifically discussed that the Area Y Manager is NOT supposed to work on Area X, that is supposed to be part of my job, so we’ve been transitioning projects. It’s still not 100% there since there are so many long-running projects that Area Y Manager has institutional knowledge for, but I’m fully managing all the new Area X projects and slowly taking on more and more of the long-running ones as we go. I get that it’s hard to let go, and I still need to call on this person at times, so the cord has not been fully severed. The issue with the email signature is that this person is sending out lots of correspondence, invitations to talks, etc, with their position listed as “Area Y & Area X Manager,” which means…people contact them about Area X. And then they loop me in and say to the other person “oh, haha, me being Area X Manager means I’m the expert advisor on all these projects, Overeducated is now responsible for the process.” I did mention after one such occurrence that this may be leading to confusion but they didn’t change it, and I think it wouldn’t politically be good to bring it up to my boss. It’s driving me crazy though! AAAARGH.

  65. JustaTech*

    I need a “am I being unreasonable” check: is it OK for me to send my “congratulations on your promotion!” email only to the person who got promoted, rather than hitting “reply all” on the all-company email announcing their promotion?

    I know that the reply-alls annoy me (lightly, they’re easy to delete), but is there some kind of social value for the promoted person or me for everyone to know that I am happy about their promotion? Or is it fine to just keep the “congrats!” private? (These people don’t report to me, or me to them, but they are people I work with directly, so I actually know them, rather than them being just like, someone in another state.)

    1. Anony*

      This is what I do. I hate the reply all storms when the response only needs to go to the person being congratulated. It’s so performative to publicly congratulate, IMO.

    2. cubone*

      I prefer keeping it private, since I’m telling that person I’m happy for them, not informing the whole team I am happy for that person.

      The exception to me is if you are their manager, where I think it can be nice to communicate to the wider group (meaning your team/dept, not all staff) why you’re very appreciative of the work they do (but also only if you know they would appreciate that too! if they prefer private/1:1 praise, you’d be a better manager to respect that)

    3. Beth*

      NEVER use Reply All unless it’s essential for every person to get the email. This is a perfect example of when NOT to use Reply All.

    4. Overeducated*

      I keep it private, but then if reply-alls roll in after me I get paranoid that people will think I don’t support my colleagues! Appreciate that the answers so far say I’m not alone.

    5. Kathenus*

      My organization is terrible with the reply-alls for things like this. I hate it! 90+% of the time I reply directly to the person involved, and then I pick a small percentage of high profile ones to do reply all for the culture aspect/social value you mentioned. Mostly thought I take the philosophy of ‘be the change you want to see’. I occasionally get a reply thanking me for NOT replying all!

    6. Policy Wonk*

      Another vote for keep it private. Depending on the circumstances I may also write a longer note with the congrats.

      I also do this for births, marriages, retirements, you name it. As someone already noted, no need to start or contribute to an e-mail storm.

    7. I should really pick a name*

      I’ve never heard of someone gaining social value for replying all in that situation.

    8. The Ginger Ginger*

      Yes do it. Plus it feels more genuine on the receiving in because there’s no element of “performing” for the rest of the company audience. And it annoys literally everyone else on the chain to see all those follow up reply all emails.

  66. NolongerOfficeRomance*

    Looking for a script… I’m dating someone I used to work with at a different company. I try not to talk about my partner at my (new) workplace just for my own personal privacy, but inevitably they do come up, especially as we’re returning to the office and socializing more. I am very nervous about how to respond when/if my coworkers ask “How did you two meet?” It feels really weird to say “we used to work together” to my current coworkers. I know I’m overthinking it, and it’s a common enough way to meet people.

    But any good phrasing I can use to avoid the question without outright lying? I was thinking something like “we had mutual acquaintances” or “He lives in my neighborhood,” but those fall apart on a follow-up question.

    1. Blink*

      I think you’re overthinking it. ‘We used to work together, we really got on, and now here we are!’ is a not uncommon story (it’s mine as well) and is unlikely to raise eyebrows.

    2. The Rural Juror*

      It’s an extremely common way to meet. You’re definitely overthinking it. No one else will think anything of it!

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        I agree with everyone else, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with saying you met through work.

        1. A Simple Narwhal*

          Oops not sure how this nested here instead under the original comment, but ah well, here we are.

    3. Bagpuss*

      I think you are over thinking it, but perhaps you could say “We used to work for the same company” which might feel less weird than “we used to work together” as it doesn’t sound so much like you were on the same team or might have had a relationship which could be against the rules in many workplaces.

      1. NolongerOfficeRomance*

        That’s great! Yeah, I don’t want to give off the impression there was anything scandalous, and that extra distance in “for the same company” phrasing is great.

    4. Policy Wonk*

      We met through work. And have a pivot ready. Something like – you never know where you will meet someone – how did you meet your significant other?

    5. RagingADHD*

      Why would you lie or obfuscate? There’s nothing weird at all about meeting someone at work and becoming friends or dating them.

      “We met at my old job” or if you just can’t stand it for whatever reason, how about “we met through my old job.”

  67. An Arrrtist’s Life For Me*

    I’m planning to throw it all up in the air, aged 46, and apply for an MFA.
    Anyone else experiencing this kind of madness? How’s it going?
    Im putting my personal statement and portfolio together, and a friend who is well known in the field has offered to be my referee!

    1. Invisible Fish*

      I haven’t done this, but doing it sounds marvelous!! Congratulations! Have fun!! Enjoy everything! You’re making the right choice!

    2. Alex*

      I have an MFA. And, I don’t mean to burst your bubble, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

      I’d think carefully about what you hope to get out of it. If it is any goal other than “personal enrichment because I am independently wealthy and/or have someone to happily support me forever” then really truly rethink. If you want to teach, know that jobs that pay a living wage for an MFA are REALLY scarce and competitive. If you want to do your art professionally, how about taking individual workshops and participate in whatever amateur activities you can to sharpen your skills? Getting your art out there really does not take a degree.

      All of my classmates, young or old (and I had several “mature student” classmates) struggled to find a job with a living wage after having graduated. I know only one person who actually did it and it took a LONG time. Like most of my classmates, I do not work in my field, and I have not done any of my art since graduating almost 20 years ago.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        This has been my experience as well. I’ve been looking at an MFA and everyone, EVERYONE – friends, colleagues, advice columns, random articles – says not to. Even people I know who have done it (or especially them maybe). It’s not necessary or helpful for most people who want it, and if it is necessary for what you’re looking to do you should be ready for some really fierce competition.

        I’d give it a long think. If you have the disposable income and it will make your soul happy that’s one thing. But it’s not a career booster. I’ve done a ton of research on this, trying to find a nugget of information to cling to because I did want to do it…it’s just not worth it.

        1. An Arrrtist’s Life For Me*

          Thank you both so much for taking the trouble to share your experience!

          I don’t have any expectation that this will change my career or benefit me financially – this is purely a year of pleasure for me, the one I didn’t take aged 21 because I needed to earn money – and then it’s back to the good old reliable corporate career again.

          1. Alex*

            Would you be able to take that year to work on your art in a….less expensive way? It sounds like what you might need most is a break, and graduate school is definitely not that. It is an emotional wringer (in a bad way), it is a lot of work, and a lot of doing stuff you don’t really want to do. I definitely did not enjoy my graduate school at all and I would say that is true for most people I know who have MFAs.

            If you have the ability to just take a year off and do something that will fill your soul, you can do that without shelling out thousands of dollars. Work on your art! Join a group of artists if you can find one, sign up for workshops…there’s so much more fun stuff you can do than go to graduate school.

            1. An Arrrtist’s Life For Me*

              Interesting! Would you mind telling me more, Alex? When you say ‘doing stuff you don’t want to do’ what kind of thing is that? Is the emotional wringer the level of criticism?

              1. Attractive Nuisance*

                I don’t have an MFA but I have a similar design degree. I think it’s common for people to think “oh I’ll get a degree in art! It’ll be so fun!” and forget that they are actually enrolling in a professional program whose goal is to produce commercially or academically successful artists. It’s school; you have to show up and do the assignments even if they don’t interest you and you have to listen to your professors even if you think they’re full of shit. I will say that I personally think my program totally changed my life in a good way. I was miserable the whole time, but the skills and ways of thinking that I learned have been so important to my life and career. I think that’s the key thing I’m getting at – if you want career development, getting an MFA may (or may not!) be useful. If you’re just looking to have fun and explore for a year, an MFA might not be what you’re looking for.

              2. alynn*

                I went to art school for a BFA. I have friends who got MFAs at the same time. The sheer volume of work required to be produced is staggering. Look closely at the requirements for the programs.

                I do remember hearing about an option to pay (less) to sit in on college classes but not be tested/graded. I cannot remember what it is called. I believe it was related to more academic classes but that may be an option worth exploring too

                1. An Arrrtist’s Life For Me*

                  That’s so valuable – thanks everyone, for taking the trouble to share your experiences.

                  I’m not in the US so I think maybe the expectations and costs are rather different – I did read about one US MFA where the workload seemed absurd, but the one I’m interested in has a good reputation and is seen as a perfectly sensible thing to do if you can get accepted.

                  Oddly enough, I do get a lot of prestige in my day job for my art form. We work in corporate teapot juggling, while I’m also a porcelain teapot juggler, and people in the organisation do see it as reflecting well on the org that there’s a porcelain teapot juggler in a senior role. So I’m expecting that people won’t be too thrown by me listing a MFA on my resumee.

  68. Branching out?*

    Seeking ideas on potential career moves…
    I’m a litigation paralegal, have worked in law firms for the past 10 years or so. It’s fine, I’m good at it, but I feel like there’s a limit to my earning potential and career growth on my current trajectory, and I definitely don’t want to just jump to a different law firm for a small salary bump (better the devil you know!). Anyone have ideas for certificate programs or courses that might help me along in branching out? I’d also love to switch to full time remote or hybrid work, which my job currently is not. Contracts, compliance, corporate paralegal… I’d welcome input and insight! TIA

    1. Rain in Spain*

      Definitely compliance and contract negotiations could be pretty easy transitions for you. I think picking the right industry is really important. Eg finance and healthcare are both heavily regulated, so if you want to do compliance work those could be a great fit. If you like contract negotiations many positions that entail contract review don’t require any legal experience but it’s often seen as a bonus, so you could probably branch out into pretty much any field in that sense! I have seen both positions offered fully/mostly remotely.

  69. Asking about Chemicals*

    Kinda niche question here. Is there a way to ask in an interview if the job would require interacting with anything that could be dangerous for a pregnancy? I’m interviewing for several positions at various places that include occasional assembly of equipment in a clean room. It’s clean mostly for dust and ESD, but I don’t know too much about what else is used. (Leaded solder? Cleaning solutions?) I’m also planning on getting pregnant a little more than a year from now, but I wouldn’t want to have to disclose super early at a new job, and I wouldn’t want to be unable to perform essential duties right after getting started. But I don’t know how to *ask* that without being like hi, yes, I wanna be preggo sometime soonish.

    1. Name Goes Here*

      I think you just ask what’s embedded in your question above: Can you tell me more about the type of cleaning solutions / equipment / material used? Give the examples like leaded solder to help people “see” what you mean, and you should get your answer.

      If you’d like you could frame it generically about a “health condition” or “health and safety,” but if that feels too risky, I think the question about solutions / material stands ok on its own too.

    2. This Old House*

      Could you ask for the MSDS for any materials you’d have to work with? I might wait until the offer stage for that, or even when you start and then just deal with possibly needing to disclose early, unless you’d really sooner not accept an offer than do that.

      1. LabTechNoMore*

        This is my thought too. Assuming they’re on top of their game re: safety compliance, someone (somewhere) has a stack of SDSs (aka MSDSs) that you use. You might be able to avoid disclosure by stating you take safety seriously, and want to know what kinds of occupational hazards you’d be taking on by working there. (Not sure how convincing of an excuse that is, but having specialized in handling acutely toxic chemicals, safety and safety compliance are definitely an areas I’ve probed in interviews.) It might not be useful to you if it’s a large workplace, as they may list reagents in other labs you’d never even step foot in.

        1. LabTechNoMore*

          OTOMH, for a clean room I’d mainly watch out for methanol-based cleaning solutions (abbreviated as MeOH on bottles. If you’re in the clean room itself, take note of any squeeze bottles with red or blue caps, and look for methanol/MeOH labels).

          Other than that, a vanishingly small chance of esoteric strong acids (HF, looking at you), or possibly organic solvents or nasty inorganic/organometallic reagents, but those aren’t common outside of a chemistry lab. Now, I don’t know whether or not these are more dangerous to pregnant folks than in general, so take this with a grain of salt.

    3. Reba*

      I would not ask about pregnancy per se, but I think asking about safety and materials handling in general would get at this and is a great thing to ask about! I would like to say that you could include reproductive risks specifically, but I worry about the possibility of discrimination. (Reproductive risks apply to all people! but I just worry that raising the notion of pregnancy could activate biases.)

      Now, if/when you get pregnant, assuming that the workplace is subject to the ADA, they would need to engage in the interactive process of accommodating you. Of course, that doesn’t help if your concern is about things that could affect you before you are pregnant or before you know. You might also look at the NIOSH guidance on reproductive health.

    4. elizelizeliz*

      I would use some sort of phrasing about, “I want to make sure that when i commit to this job, it would be a long-term fit for me. A piece of that would include really understanding the safety risks, for various health and family reasons. Could you let me know more about what materials i would be interacting with if i were in this position–like cleaning solutions or leaded solder, for example? The use of the clean room just makes me realize that the specifics would be really helpful to plan around in order to determine long-term fit.” or something like that.

    5. James*

      Ask about their safety protocols. They all are required to have the SDSs available, safety plans for dealing with the chemicals, PPE provided by the company, annual testing, and the like. This is all required by OSHA, by international law, and by a bunch of other laws and regulations. If they even hesitate walk away. I can show you where every one of these are in my field office today, and the clean rooms I’ve worked on are even more diligent about it.

      Don’t make it about pregnancy, make it about general safety culture. All of this stuff is intertwined.

    6. Lady_Lessa*

      Chemist, who writes some SDS (Safety Data Sheets) (new name for MSDS).

      If possible, I would try to get a position that avoids as many lab, production and cleaning materials as possible. Main reason is that we just don’t know all of the effects of every single material, and your new baby is most vulnerable before you know that they are there.

      Off topic. You might be interesting in learning how motherhood affects you and your brain. I am currently reading “Mom Genes” by Abigail Tucker. Fascinating, but some of the things done to lab mice are not necessarily for the sensitive.

  70. buttercup*

    any tips on leaving before a major major event? I know I’ve seen letters here about feeling bad or guilty leaving your team in the lurch, but I don’t really feel that guilty. I just don’t want to burn a bridge and to be honest, I don’t think my boss will see it coming at all (which she definitely should) and I’m trying to gauge if it’s seen as a not great thing to do.

    details: my team is planning their first in-person event for March 2022 in two years and I am the lead, basically running all of it. I’m on a contract which ends Feb 2022 (started Feb 2021). My boss has alluded to keeping me on (and obviously we discuss planning the March 2022 event, so it’s clear she expects me to still be here), but no one has asked if I want to stay and tbh I don’t. When I think of this event, I dread it and can’t even imagine physically being there. It’s not the sole reason for me leaving (moreso the dysfunctional workplace), but it has been stressful enough planning virtual events and programs, and the idea of adding in travel, policies, etc. just seems beyond exhausting to me. For context, it was sort of clear from the contract that this would be part of the role, but also since it was only a contract (during a time when they knew they would be 100% virtual), it wasn’t 100% clear to me if they would even keep me, or have that responsibility on this role.

    Should I tell my boss really early I plan to leave in the hopes I can hire and train someone? A few people I’ve asked have said I should just ask to extend my contract to see out the event and then go, which does seem more helpful, but other friends have said why bother, it’s not your responsibility to manage their turnover and projects (I would absolutely do everything in my power to plan and organize things to the best of my ability, I just am basically looking at ending my contract as currently planned, which is 6 weeks before the event)

    1. Reba*

      Would you consider staying on if you could get someone hired to work with you and then maybe replace you? Just wondering if having another person to share the work would make it less dreadful. I think it will definitely leave a bad taste in your boss’s mouth, especially if she is surprised as you predict! So maybe it’s worth leveling with her and trying to approach in a collaborative way?

      I don’t think you need to do everything in your power to stay, but I also don’t think you can leave with everyone still being happy. That is ok! It may be what is best for you.

      1. buttercup*

        I fluctuate with this. There’s a lot I like about the job, but the reality is it’s dysfunctional and everyone is overworked. I’d like to tell my boss I would consider staying if there were more staff and the workload was more manageable, but I also hear everyone else on my team saying in every team meeting they’re very stressed, overworked, and struggling to keep up and her response is “you can do it!”… lol. Like I don’t have much faith in her ability to adequately plan and manage the needs of our team (she’s very hands off and checked out).

        I think I’ll probably take a few weeks and then consider sharing in Dec so it can be more collaborative. I’m just a bit hesitant they’ll see it as me being checked out and it’ll become tense and uncomfortable.

        1. Reba*

          IDK sounds like it’s rather tense and uncomfortable now, so maybe there’s not that much to lose there.

    2. Blink*

      “My boss has alluded to keeping me on (and obviously we discuss planning the March 2022 event, so it’s clear she expects me to still be here), but no one has asked if I want to stay and tbh I don’t”
      You should say something. At the moment she thinks you’re on the same page, and if you don’t want to burn the bridge you should correct that assumption. Just email her – say that you know you’ve talked generally about extending the contract but you now have unavoidable commitments in March so you won’t be able to.

      1. buttercup*

        yeah this is a good call. I’ve avoided it so far because it seems weird to say in October that I plan to leave in February – I don’t think they actually think of my job as a contract, just a full-time employee with no benefits or job security (massive eye roll). I’d asked why it was a contract when I was hired and they said COVID, funding, etc. but they seem to 100% treat it like a full time, permanent role.

        It still does seem a bit odd to me to give my boss basically 4 months notice and frankly, I really don’t know if she’ll respond well to it or get very grumpy (like I don’t think they’d fire me, but I absolutely think she’ll be annoyed and the decent working relationship we have now will become tense and awkward).

    3. ferrina*

      Lol! They are seriously having you plan a March event, knowing that your contract ends in February. That’s amazingly terrible!

      I’d be tempted to feign surprise- “Oh! You thought I’d be there? I have no idea why- my contract is ending. Oh no, unfortunately I won’t* be able to extend it/come on full time” (No need to mention that the “won’t” means “the hounds of hell could not compel me to set foot in this place once my contract is done”). I’d also start casually dropping hints that you’ll be leaving “Of course, I won’t be at the March event, but this part should be really fun!”

      1. buttercup*

        this is exactly how I feel, lol. I’m sure it seems childish and stubborn, but I’m just so over managers who don’t even consider asking or checking in and just assume you will be on board for whatever they need (I know that’s like, the terms of work om some ways, but I’ve had good managers who check in and ask what *I* want in my career, it’s not unheard of!). I do think a key takeaway here is I need to give her more of a heads up.

  71. interviewee*

    Is it advised to “flip the script” and ask what the salary range for a position is if asked by an interviewer? I’m preparing for an upcoming, 15-min phone screening and I don’t think I will get enough specific information about the specifics of the job to give an accurate number – would it be best to ask what the range is and then only offer a number if really pushed to? Thanks!

    1. irene adler*

      Yes- when they ask you to name a salary (or a salary range), ask them to state the hiring salary range
      (be prepared if they demur on this. Some will tell you they cannot give out a range until the second interview).

      You might also ask for a quick rundown of the benefits offered as well.

      And, if they balk, your thought on not knowing enough about the job specifics to give an accurate number is a good one.
      Be aware: some will ask you what salary (or salary range) you are looking for, as though this was something separate from the job you have applied for.

    2. ecnaseener*

      You can use the lack of details as part of your script – something like “I would need to know more about the responsibilities before knowing what a fair salary would be. Can you tell me what range they’re planning on?”

    3. RagingADHD*

      If you are getting asked for a salary expectation before you have sufficient details about the job, it is absolutely 100% fine to ask what they have budgeted for the position. And I would use the word budget, because you know for a fact they have one. If they say they don’t, they are lying to your face. No business stays in operation without budgeting their payroll.

      Asking you to name your price while being cagey about responsibilities is a jerk move, and you should feel free to be quite assertive in return. They will run you flat over if you aren’t.

      As a matter of fact, if I only had 15 minutes to find out if I wanted to stay in contention for a job, I’d ask anyway. No reason to waste time if they aren’t going to make it worth your while.

    4. Filosofickle*

      That’s how I’d approach it.

      In California, employers are required to disclose if asked so recent job interviews were smoother than I’ve ever experienced. They’d ask me, I’d flip it around, and I’d get my answer. It was so nice!

  72. CryingTilChristmas*

    I’ve only been able to take five days of PTO this year (mostly due to workload) and I’m transferring to another area of my company very soon where I’ll have a different manager. I’m feeling incredibly burnt out from my current role and I would like to take at least five more days off between now and the end of the year (we have unlimited PTO). How do I broach this with my soon to be manager? Im cringing at the thought of asking for time off right away, but at the same time I need a break.

      1. CryingTilChristmas*

        Do you mean have my current supervisor approve it? I’m not sure whether she would feel comfortable approving leave for a period she won’t be my supervisor for.

        1. not a doctor*

          Yeah, I think it’s worth asking about it. If not, though, I don’t feel like it’s the same thing as taking PTO at a new job would be — the new manager SHOULD understand that you’ve been working hard at your current/previous role with little actual PTO taken and you need a break.

          A third alternative: could you take a week *during* the transfer? That is, finish out your current job, take a week off, then come in fresh on the new one?

        2. ferrina*

          You can ask your future supervisor before they can technically approve it. Email Future Supervisor and Current Supervisor saying something like “I’d love to take time of on [DATES]. I know I’ll be reporting to Future at this point, but would love to get this in the [PTO Software] now. Future, does this sound okay to you? If so, I’ll submit the dates and ask Current to approve them.”

  73. Cowgirlinhiding*

    Waiting to hear back on a job interview I had this week. The suspense is killing me even though I have been trying to put it out of my mind.
    Bonuses of new job: <10 minute commute, a company that realizes salary employee can come and go as needed as long as the work is completed, company car, phone, laptop, some travel to make things exciting, new atmosphere, during the interview found out I know people that work there already, so not starting from ground up, an HR group and a brand new office with a training area, storage area, assistant and one direct report.
    What I would be leaving: boss that require perfection in everything, no mistakes-ever, but also no clear expectations, co-workers who are burned out but they cannot stop because if they do the roof will fall in, 24/7 coverage, working when on vacation, no corporate support, I think the building maybe on a Hellhole because nothing ever works right.

    1. ferrina*

      Apply to more jobs. If you get the new job- hooray, new job! If you don’t get the new job- at least you’ve got more irons in the fire.

      It’s hard to wait to hear back; I’ve found that moving on and ignoring it is best for my sanity.

  74. Finally free*

    Weird week for me. Tuesday’s “big britches” evil boss post triggered me and I spent the rest of the day in a spiral of rage over my toxic, abusive (now-former) manager. I don’t know what it was about that post exactly – of all the issues with my old job, at least I never had trouble getting paid. No thanks to old boss, of course, who was completely indifferent about being available to sign my timesheets. More than once he took off on vacation without signing and I humiliatingly had to go to his boss (the BIG boss) to have her sign in his place. At least her assistant was nice about it.

    Anyway…spiraling. Crying. Fury. I started making a list of all the awful things he’d done in the five years I worked for him. I got about eight pages down, though it could fill a book. Then the next day’s post from the person who googles her old tormentor every six months and the chorus of “let it go” in the comments snapped me out of my trance and made me realize I need to do the same.

    Easier said than done, natch. Tomorrow will be three months since I left toxic job and my main takeaway so far is that it’s taking A LOT longer than I had expected to recover. I thought I would be pretty well into a job search by now but I still don’t feel ready. I have enough savings to put it off a little longer but not forever. My biggest comfort right now is that hiring tends to move very slowly in my field so even if I started applying right now I’d still most likely have a few months before having to show up for work every day.

    For others who have been there – how long did it take you to feel “normal” again after leaving a toxic job/bullying boss? Anything (besides time) that particularly helped you move past your anger?

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      I’m not sure of the specific timeline, but starting to see a therapist really helped me move past my awful former jobs. And now they help me deal with the occasional (normal, non-toxic) frustrations of my current job in a healthy manner, as well as address the residual feelings from my past jobs that still pop up from time to time. So I’d recommend therapy if you aren’t already, it’s honestly made a huge difference to my mental health.

    2. Beth*

      Leaving a toxic job is a breakup with an abusive partner. If you’d had a five-year marriage to an abuser, you would not be expecting yourself to “snap out of it” in only three months!

      There are some key differences: you aren’t expecting to start dating immediately after a divorce; you might never date again. But you do have to start job-hunting again, and the timeframe for that is never as long as the timeframe for healing from the toxic relationship.

      Another important difference, at least for me: the damage done by an abusive partner can’t be “healed” by a subsequent good relationship; the healing has to come from within. But getting into a healthy work environment is a HUGE assist to healing from a toxic job. And finding the healthy work environment can start with the “dating”, that is, the job-hunting process.

      Can you make a gentle start now, so that you can ramp up in slow stages? As you say, your field means it’s a slow process — hopefully, by the time you have a new job to go to, your future employer will already have sent out signals that you’re finding a place where you can heal and thrive and know that you’re valued.

    3. Sea Anemone*

      Three months is not actually that long. It took me years to accept the bs I experienced in one position. I find it helps balance the negativity to have positive experiences–which means seeking out those positive experiences and also avoiding additional negative experiences. This doesn’t mean at work necessarily, although that would be nice. The goal is to lift your mood overall so that you have enough buffer that when thoughts of work bring you down, you end up at sea level instead of in the Mariana Trench.

    4. ferrina*

      Yes to what Beth and Sea Anenome said! 3 months is not long at all.

      Be gentle with yourself. This whole process will take time. You spent 40 hrs a week for 5 years dealing with this person. That’s a lot.
      And those flashbacks are normal. Something will happen that will trigger you. Some of these will be obvious, others won’t be. The trick is to recognize them when they happen, understand what’s happening, and build a strong foundation to move forward. Don’t ignore them (denial doesn’t work), but deal with them. You realizing that you need to let it go is good! But it will also take time to let it go.
      I don’t like the word “normal” (it vague and encompasses a very, very wide spectrum), so instead focus on how you want to be going forward. You may never feel the way you felt before starting that job, but you can feel content, at peace, confident, intelligent, high-functioning, etc. Take the crap and use it to fertilize something beautiful (sorry for the hokey metaphor!)

      Good luck!

    5. Malika*

      Therapy and meditation helped me to accept the past and move forward in the present. It took a long time of mourning, I would say more than a year. It is very much like leaving an abusive relationship, it takes active steps to heal and to get past the inevitable emotions and rumination. Meditating felt like a win every time i was able to get the thoughts to stop being so intrusive and move my focus to the great things of my life in the present and the realization that the past really is another place. I hope you are able to have a good healing journey.

  75. Absent teacher*

    Hello, fellow adults. I’m off for the second day due to some sinus infection that incapacitated me. I am a teacher, so not only am I fighting the reality that being off means more work than just suffering through a day on campus, I’m fighting guilt at being off at all. (The students will get behind! We’ll lose momentum! What if the sub is a jerk?)

    What do you tell yourself to cope with this guilt? How do you calmly prioritize your health? How do you keep from getting stressed about the situation? I try to calmly and rationally think things through, but it’s easy to backslide into old, unhealthy habits …

    1. ferrina*

      The students can recover from a bad sub (as we all have at some point). They can’t recover as easily from a bad teacher. If you go in today, you will certainly not be a good teacher. This is the responsible thing to do.
      Plus, it teaches a very good lesson to the students that health should be prioritized! Hooray for role modeling good behavior!

      (at least, these are the two things I tell myself to make myself take a sick day. Good luck, and hope you feel better!)

    2. Hlao-roo*

      As a former student, the worst sub I ever had was one who told us to work on our class assignment and not talk. The horrors of sitting next to my best friend in English class and not being able to talk to her for a whole 50 minutes in high school! All the other subs were better than that, so in all my K-12 schooling I can confidently say I never had a jerk substitute teacher. The students will be fine.

      And I want to echo ferrina’s points that (1) you won’t be a good teacher when you’re sick and (2) staying home when sick is great role modeling! I hope you’re able to fully recover over the weekend.

    3. Former STEM HS teacher, current STEM prof*

      Every time I’ve been ill, and should have taken time off to recover but decided to keep working, I’ve regretted it. It’s only ever worsened or extended the illness, sometimes both. A few times I’ve ended up having to take time off anyways, and it was at least as much, if not more, time as I would have taken if I’d done the smart thing from the beginning. Now, if I’m tempted to push through my illness, I remind myself of the misery I’ve suffered in the past and I do what I need to do to *not* have to go through that again.

      If you try to teach through a sinus infection you will be miserable, and, as others have pointed out, not as good of a teacher as you normally are. Plus, any responsible school would send you home anyways, since sinus infection symptoms match some COVID symptoms, and even though you know you have a sinus infection, it’s best for you to not be at work regardless.

      Sometimes trying to repress your feelings (like guilt) just makes them push back harder. What helps me (ymmv) is to acknowledge that I’m feeling guilty and stressed about the situation. I tell myself that it’s okay to feel that way. That doesn’t mean I give in to those feelings, just that I acknowledge them and treat them as valid. I also remind myself that even if the worst-case scenarios come to pass, I will be able to handle them. After I do that I find it’s a lot easier to make the decisions that prioritize my health.

    4. RagingADHD*

      I remind myself that anxious thoughts can be triggered by the physical sensation of being unwell. Part of the reason you feel bad mentally is because your body feels bad physically.

    5. Rara Avis*

      Staying home now means you will recover more quickly and be back there sooner. I took a personal day yesterday and pulled my kid out of school because neither of us has missed a day since January 2019, and we had a family obligation that I wanted to prioritize. I never have a sub that can teach my extremely niche subject, so I build into my planning the idea that not every day will be a useful day.

      And finally, my entire school has adopted the idea this year that less is more. One of my classes started the year 3 units behind where we usually do. Just now, in October, have we caught up to where we usually start the year. I have to adapt the curriculum — but so does everyone. The students need more time because they are behaving younger and not used to being in school. And we’re all going with that. It will be okay!

  76. Anonymous Educator*

    Anyone else with “unlimited” vacation actually able to use it?

    Before I worked in a job with “unlimited” vacation, I’d heard horror stories of people feeling pressured not to use it, managers not approving time off, people putting pressure on themselves not to appear to be “slackers.” I also know a huge advantage to companies with “unlimited” vacation is they don’t have to pay out unused accrued vacation.

    But I’m actually finding it so much better, in my particular circumstances, to have “unlimited.” I can take a day off any time my spouse has a day off. I don’t have to worry about running out. I am actually using a lot more vacation than I had at my previous jobs with accrued time off. And my manager approves pretty much every request I’ve made (and quickly).

    Am I the only one?

    1. Decidedly Me*

      I’m currently on a 6 (work)day vacation that was originally 5 days, but had to add a day relatively last minute due a plan changing outside of my control. I also took a little over a week in July and another at the end of August/beginning of September. I never would have imagined taking this much time so closely together if not for our vacation policy.

    2. I should use more vacation time tbh*

      My manager basically approves all my time off, though some of the upper management do not respect this time off and have contacted me while on PTO. Kinda a mixed bag.

    3. I should use more vacation time tbh*

      I have unlimited vacation time and my manager always approves it no questions asked. I should really use it more.

    4. TC*

      I use it. I mean not nearly as much during pandemicworld, but yeah. Never any pressure not to use it at my large company. I don’t tend to find others seem to use it as much, but I’m a) not *really* keeping track, just going by what I seem to see. I’ve never abused it and don’t feel guilt over using it.

    5. Software Dev*

      Nope, this has been my experience as well, my boss always approves. Even when I don’t use as much as I might if there were use or lose days, I find it far less stressful to know I can just take a day whenever I want. Something about the psychology of having “enough.” Not looking forward to our policy likely changing next year due to an acquisition

  77. goldengrove1*

    Looking for some solidarity (I guess?) from academics (or other people in conference fields) about the shift to a virtual conference format.

    I presented recently at an online conference and the (brief) Q&A was dominated by one person asking a completely unrelated question and then continual follow-ups when my responses didn’t satisfy her (both the question-asker and I are young-ish female grad students, so I don’t think there were any wonky power dynamics going on here). I’m usually pretty good at shaking off the expected unrelated/”Let me tell you about my own research”/”Your paper sucks” questions.

    But for some reason I am stuck fuming about this one. I think part of it is that the virtual conference format means that there are no opportunities to bump into someone with more feedback in the hallway afterwards, so the limited chance I had for feedback was dominated by these unrelated questions. How have other people navigated this aspect of virtual conferences? Am I just being more sensitive now because it’s been a year and a half since I’ve had any actual interaction with people in my field? Do I have rose-colored glasses about previous conferences?

    1. Overeducated*

      That person was straight up rude, but I think the virtual format actually offers a tool for this that you don’t have in person, it just takes someone with courage to use it. I was in a virtual conference where someone tried to do something like this (a senior man in the audience repeatedly speaking over a junior woman on the opening plenary panel). Eventually, albeit not quickly enough, he was muted by the organizer. That’s what needs to happen – your sessions chair needs to say “thank you, now we will move on to questions from the rest of the audience” and MUTE HER.

      That said, it’s hard to go have lunch or a drink with your colleagues afterward to commiserate in virtual. I’m sorry that happened. So frustrating.